An 18th century innovation in the treatment of convicted criminals. With the outward aim of reform and deterence and an inward satisfaction of having removed criminals from society it was used extensively and not just for hardened or career criminals, as an alternative to the death sentence or lengthy imprisonment. Even 'shaming' puishments like the stocks were shunned in favour of transportation.
Transportation occurred from the 17th century but was not state funded until the early 18th century. Convicts from Britain and Ireland were initially transported mostly to the New World (America). After the America Revolution in the 1770s during which it was suspended, Transportation resumed but to Australia or Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) with voyages up to 6 months and a low survival rate.
In Australia, life was lived in barracks in compounds or prisons and the work was hard labouring on roads and similar construction jobs. Some worked on farms. Most stayed in Australia after their sentence was finished.
Transportation ended in 1857 as a backswell from Australia started objecting to Britain dumping its criminals on a country which was been settled in other ways by people paying to emigrate.
France famously (through the book and film Papillon) used Devil's Island (French Guiana) as a transportation location until 1938 - just a small part of their notorious penal colony system.