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A convict is "a person found guilty of a crime and sentenced by a court" or "a person serving a sentence in prison",. A convict is sometimes simply called a "con". After a conviction, convicts often become prisoners in a gaol. People convicted and sentenced but not sent to gaol are not usually called "convicts". An ex-convict (or short: ex-con) is a person who has been let out of prison.
One use of the word means the huge numbers of prisoners who filled British gaols in the 1700's and early 1800s. Many were sent to the Thirteen Colonies as cheap workers, but that stopped after the War of Independence.
British convicts were transported to the Georgia (US State) between 1733 and the American Revolution. After this, Britain looked to the newly discovered east coast of Australia to use as a penal colony. Convicts were transported to Australia in 1788, the very start of European settlement. They were used as cheap workers in five out of the six major Australian colonies. Transportation was stopped in 1868. British convicts were also sent to Canada and India. France also sent convicts to French Guiana and New Caledonia. Russian criminals who were sent to Siberia can be called convicts.
- Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language, p. 311 (2d Coll. Ed. 1978).
- Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language, p. 292 (2d Coll. Ed. 1978).