Colonial Williamsburg Public Gaol
The Public Goal was the British jail. There is a nice room for the person who ran the jail. There were different jail cells. Inside there was the nicest of the cells. Then you went out through a courtyard area and there were cells on both sides. One side were cells that probably only had a couple men inside. On the other side were cells not quite as nice that held several people in each cell. I imagine your level in society would determine which cell you were held in. The people held in this jail were being held for felonies and were held here until their trial. Trials were only held every two to three months. A person found guilty would either be branded on the hand or put to death. They did not have sentences holding people in jail. Justice was swift. If you were branded, you were let go right then. If you were sentenced to death you would go into the jail cell for only a few weeks, just enough time to be sure your affairs were in order, and then you would be hung.
The jail looked unpleasant. There were small individual cells that were tiny. There was a flap to give you a small tray of food. The large cells were for more than one person in it.
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