From 1889 to 1918, more than 11,000 persons were convicted and sentenced to the hard labour camps of Florida's piney woods region. Vivien Miller presents the first intensive examination of the workings of Florida's pardon board and penal system during this period, often called the Progressive Era. Where most previous works on southern crime and criminal justice have focused on the arrest, trial and sentencing stages, Miller instead follows cultural prejudices through the workings of the penal system and pardon board. She explains how such notions as "respectability" and "proper" behaviour were interpreted, selectively applied, and finally considered to be of paramount importance in evaluating clemency appeals. By comparing letters, petitions and endorsements from prisoners and their supporters, Miller demonstrates that Florida's criminal law and its prosecution often functioned as an ideological instrument reinforcing white middle-class male dominance and restricting black and lower-class freedom. She also explores the effects of gender, race and class on offenders after conviction and sentencing.This book should be an important source of information for scholars interested in the workings of criminal justice during the era, as well as for anyone interested in the history that lies behind current debates on crime and punishment.