The Executed Prisoners’ Plaque

In May 2005 a historical plaque was laid in section 6B, the site of the graves of prisoners executed at the nearby Boggo Road prison during 1883-1913. The project was undertaken by the Boggo Road Gaol Historical Society in conjunction with the Brisbane City Council. The plaque not only highlighted a fascinating local history spot, but also acknowledged the fact that Queensland was the first part of the British Empire to abolish capital punishment.

The project received widespread public support, as was seen at the unveiling ceremony. Speakers at this ceremony included Aboriginal and Islander elders, politicians, and numerous religious ministers of different faiths were also in attendance to lend their support to the project, as were some descendants of the victims.

The sandstone block behind the plaque came from a now-demolished part of the Boggo Road prison.

The plaque in 6B. (FOSBC)

The plaque itself lists the names of all those executed, where they came from, when they were born, and when they died. Beneath this is a quote from a parliamentary speech against the death penalty in Queensland:

‘The criminal is not a wild beast… he is an erring brother whose feet have wandered from the narrow path which we all weakly strive to follow. To take his life is not the way to cure him; you only brutalise him. It has been condemned by history as a failure. If I should fail I can only fail and somebody else as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow, will take the matter up where I leave it. I feel perfectly satisfied that it will not be many years longer before the humanitarian feeling now spreading through the colony, and through all civilised communities, will demand once and for all the abolition of flogging and the death penalty.’ (Joseph Lesina, MLA, 1899).

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