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For the latest research on how punishments sentences correlate with actual punishments received, see the Digital Panopticon page on Penal Outcomes.

A large number of eighteenth-century statutes specified death as the penalty for minor property offences (the "bloody code"), meaning that the vast majority of the people tried at the Old Bailey could be sentenced to hang (one could be executed for stealing a handkerchief or a sheep).

Those found guilty of misdemeanours could be punished with a fine, whipping, the pillory, imprisonment, or be asked to provide sureties for good behaviour.

A gradually growing reluctance to use the death penalty in the eighteenth century (except for the most serious cases), combined with an increasing concern that those who received benefit of clergy were let off too lightly encouraged the development of alternative forms of punishment.

The criminal law reforms of the nineteenth century, abolishing, as they did, the death penalty for many crimes, led in the same direction.