An idea for Anne Tolley

Perhaps Anne Tolley might like to re-introduce the “treadmill” to NZ prisons.

Exercising on a treadmill often feels like torture, and that’s not exactly a coincidence.

In 1818, an English civil engineer named Sir William Cubitt devised a machine called the “tread-wheel” to reform stubborn and idle convicts. Prisoners would step on the 24 spokes of a large paddle wheel, climbing it like a modern StairMaster. As the spokes turned, the gears were used to pump water or crush grains. (Hence the eventual name treadmill.) In grueling eight-hour shifts, prisoners would climb the equivalent of 7,200 feet. The exertion, combined with poor diets, often led to injury and illness (as well as rock-hard glutes), but that didn’t stop penitentiaries all over Britain and the United States from buying the machines. In 1824, prison guard James Hardie credited the device with taming New York’s more defiant inmates. He wrote that it was the treadmill’s “monotonous steadiness, and not its severity, which constitutes its terror…”


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  • Dave

    Brilliant idea, put the “prisoners” in teams, 30 minutes each, 30 minutes rest, 8 hour shifts, in between the tread-wheel shift they can undertake other activities. But, no, not in NZ, that would infringe on their civil rights, and mean they actually had to pay for their crime. Think how fit they would be on their release from prison…… Employable even, god forbid that.

  • Scanner

    Awesome, this is the most progressive prison reform to see the light of day this century, finally a cheap and effective system to ensure prison is actually a deterrent to criminal behaviour and not a holiday camp.
    Hell why not even go the whole hog, lets give it a Maori name and add it to the treaty, if it makes the majority of the jail population feel more at home, now that’s real progress.

  • Marc Williams

    While a prison sentence is considered by many repeat offenders as a holiday with the boys, we will continue to have a problem with mindless violence in our society. Hell, we even segregate them in accordance with their preferences. Ever wondered why there is a zero recidivism rate in our military prisons? Once sampled, no-one wants a repeat dose. It’s simple really, and when the corrections chiefs realise that the first time is HARD time, and it will get HARDER if you come back for another dose, then we will be on track to a less criminal community.

    • Gazzaw

      I believe that the recidivism rate at the Burnham Military Correction facility is extremely low. I had a mate in the Navy who did 60 days at Ardmore years ago & he never reoffended. Said it was 60 days of absolute hell. I don’t think that there is much thought given to rehab just hard out punishment and instilling a major fear factor of ever returning. It’s not rocket science.

  • rockyr

    Even the Greens would support the introduction if it generated power otherwise generated by coal or gas.

  • 2ndAmendment

    We still have to pay at least $100,000 per annum for these crims board, food, lodging.

    We should charge them & their families – or pinko liberal charities if they want to get into the game – the nominal dollar cost of their sentence at sentencing.

    If they can’t pay that, then charge their estate $10 for a bullet and handling fees.

    Why should our tax dollars go on warehousing crims?