« السابقةمتابعة »
strict and perfect system of inspection and controul, is absolutely necessary to afford a chance of reforming the greatest number of prisoners, and of restoring them to usefulness with those habits which alone can render them useful. Withcut habits of steady, persevering industry, they must remain the same vicious and noxious members of society as they had been before. But habits of labour can only be acquired by constant labouring ;-a point on which it is evidently unnecessary to enlarge.
The means of obtaining (at least under adequate inspection, which is an indispensable requisite,) vigorous and persevering labour up to the limit of the labourer's strength, are sufficiently understood. They consist in attaching advantages to the performance, disadvantages to the non-performance, of the labour. The natural mode of attaching advantages to the performance, is by allowing the labourer to share in the profits of his labour. That of attaching disadvantages to the non-performance, is by allowing him nothing for pleasure,-nothing beyond absolute necessaries, except what he purchases by the fruits of his labour.
We do not think that in the several trials which have been made, these motives have been often skilfully applied. We shall, however, take another opportunity to pursue this important practical subject a little more in detail.
Many interesting facts respecting the present arrangements for attaining the benefits of labour in the several prisons and penitentiaries of the united kingdom, are presented to view in the Third Report and Appendix, to which we have so often referred, of the Society for the Improvement of Prison Discipline. In an instructive extract from a publication entitled "Observations on the Expediency of erecting provincial Penitentiaries in Ireland," &c. which the Society have inserted in the appendix, we perceive the following words:" Penitentiaries properly constructed being once erected, the annual expense of maintaining them will gradually decrease. At the outset it must be expected that the produce of labour will fall short of the expense; but as the organization of these establishments advances towards perfection, there is reason to believe that the produce of labour may nearly cover the expenditure, as at Preston in England; or even leave a surplus, as in Maryland in America."
The account of the Preston House of Correction, which we inserted p. 94 of our first number, is exceedingly encouraging.
These effects, considerable as they are, were produced under unfavourable circumstances; for we are informed that "this prison was erected in 1792; and its plan does not therefore partake of the advantages which have since that period been introduced. There is no inspection; and the classification is not so complete as is desirable, especially with the females, who are often much
thronged. The effects of these disadvantages in the construction of the building, however, are much counteracted by the system of management.
This therefore shows how much may be effected, when to a system of good management are added all the advantages which are capable of being derived from a prison constructed upon the best possible plan. No doubt can be entertained of the economy, as well as the other unspeakable advantages which it is possible to attain.
4. We come now to the last of the heads under which we enumerated the objects of prison discipline, as it relates to the prisoner himself, namely, Instruction.
Under this head, little more seems to be necessary for us to do, than to adduce the proofs, which this Report so largely supplies, of the wide diffusion of proper notions on this subject; and the exertions which are so generally making to give practical effect to the convictions thus happily and generally entertained.
The Report informs us, that
"In many prisons, the instruction of the prisoners in reading and writing has been attended with excellent effects. Schools have been formed at Bedford, Durham, Chelmsford, Winchester, Hereford, Maidstone, Leicester House of Correction, Shrewsbury, Warwick, Worcester, &c. Much valuable assistance has been derived in this department from the labours of respectable individuals, especially females, acting under the sanction of the magistrates and direction of the chaplain. There are indeed many matters, in which the interests of the prisoner are deeply concerned, which, although incapable of being made the subject of direct legislation, are of considerable importance works of usefulness, in which the magistrates, chaplain, or governor, cannot be expected to engage, but in the performance of which a Visiting Association might be rendered highly beneficial. No one will dispute the benefit of such labours, who has witnessed the admirable exertions of Mrs. FRY and her benevolent associates."
In the Appendix, p. 1, under the head of Bedfordshire, we are happy to read that
"In both the county prisons, a library of religious, moral, and instructive books has been established, for the use of the prisoners, in addition to the usual supply of New Testaments and religious tracts."
The following passage from the Report of the Chaplain of the Maidstone County Jail and House of Correction, inserted at page 32 of the Appendix to the Report, is so full of both encouragement and instruction, that we can do nothing more useful than contribute to its circulation:
"I beg to acquaint the Magistrates, that their order for allowing such of the penitentiary prisoners as stood in need of instruction, two hours in each week, during the winter, for the purpose of attending a school, has been pro
ductive of the best success in the short period of time during which the plan has been adopted.
"The number of men in attendance has generally amounted to about twenty-five. The progress of adults must, in general, be slow, but many of the scholars have made considerable improvement. Their behaviour at the school has been uniformly such as to give me no cause for correcting, or even finding fault with them. The wardsman acts as schoolmaster, without any compensation, and has given entire satisfaction. I have had many opportunities of observing his conduct and useful services, as I always attend the school the whole, or part, of the time during which it is assembled.
"I am happy to state, that the plan of adult instruction has become genetally prevalent throughout the gaol. I have been invited by the greater part of the prisoners for trial, to assist them in forming themselves into Schools for their mutual instruction.
"In Ward No. 1, there are twenty-six prisoners for trial, for felonies, now partaking of instruction. In No. 2, there are thirteen for trial for misdemeanors and in No. 3, twenty-eight prisoners charged with capital felonies, all pursuing the same important object. These, together with the twentyfive in the Penitentiary School, form a total of 92 adults who are in a course of instruction.
"Of this number, twenty-four could read but very little, thirty-five were unacquainted with the alphabet: at this time several of these are able to read the New Testament; and in those who were previously instructed I have found, with few exceptions, a total ignorance of the first principles of Christian doctrine and duty.
"The Magistrates will be aware, that the adult schools amongst the unconvicted prisoners cannot be carried on with the most exact and constant attention; and from this cause, that attendance must proceed from the option of the prisoners; and the services also of the teachers are wholly gratuitous. I make it a rule to hold out no inducement whatever to perseverance, beyond the single circumstance of their own comfort and self-improvement, as I am desirous that their motive for pursuing the path of duty should be founded on a higher principle than that of any temporal consideration. But many of the prisoners give up a daily portion of their time for the purpose of instruction; and I can state, that it has been attended with the best effect upon their general conduct.
"It is affirmed, by the officers of the prison, that the change is very visible in the general conduct of the men, which they state to be very much better in every respect than they have witnessed at any former time; and observations to the same effect have of late been frequently entered by the Visiting Justices in their Journal.
"Profane language, which is usually so prevalent in prisons, is now very seldom heard. The conduct of the prisoners at Chapel is very materially improved; and the propriety with which they behave at all times during my instructions and intercourse with them is very satisfactory.
"I am most happy in stating, that the school for juvenile offenders is now going on in the most satisfactory manner. At present, it contains ten boys under seventeen years of age, of whom four did not know their letters when they entered the school. The most favourable change has lately been effected in the discipline of the school, and in the general conduct and progress of the scholars,
scholars, which I principally attribute to the appointment of a different master, and the diligence he has exerted in the discharge of his duties."
To the evidence afforded in the above passage of the small proportion of prisoners who can read, we add the testimony adduced (5th page of the Appendix) in the account of the County Jail and House of Correction of Cambridge: "The Governor states it as his belief, from observation, that not more than one-third of the prisoners can read." Of this important fact a large body of evidence might be collected; but with much of this we believe that our readers are already acquainted; and we think it best on the present occasion not to travel beyond the facts which the Report before us supplies.
On the best plan of instruction to be adopted in prisons, we have it in view to deliver our thoughts at large on some future occasion. This is a subject of sufficient importance to deserve our best consideration; and in the mean time we invite the communications of those whose experience and attention to the circumstance have best qualified them to advise.
We have now gone over, the different topics which relate to one grand class of the benefits to be derived from prison discipline; namely, those which accrue to the prisoner himself.
We should proceed to those which acrue to the community at large. This is a subject still more extensive and important than that which we have discussed. It is therefore more than we can attempt to embrace in the present essay. We shall endeavour to do justice to it on a future occasion; and shall conclude the present article with some miscellaneous facts and observations, presented to us or suggested by the Society's present valuable Report.
We have great pleasure in notifying the fact of the establishment of a Royal Society in France for the amelioration of prisons. A Royal Ordonnance has been passed, regulating its establishment.
"A circular has been issued by the Minister of the Interior to all the departments, containing an account of this Institution, with a list of questions which were to be answered; and the Council General formed itself into Committees, in order to prepare Reports on different subjects. These Reports have been published, and afford a body of interesting and important information."
We cannot afford space for an account of these Reports; this however the reader will find summarily given at page 138 of the Appendix to this Report. It concludes with the following passage:
"These Reports having been delivered to His Excellency the Minister of the Interior, the Comte Decazes, they were, with an exposé of the French law of prisons, and a particular account of each prison, made the ground
work of a very detailed document, drawn up with great ability by the Minister, and which was presented to the King.
"In this statement is detailed the general system of the prisons in France, They should be of five kinds. 1. Maisons de Police Municipale, for crimes only requiring five days' detention. 2. Maisons d' Arrêt, to secure the accused, and to confine those who are sentenced for less than a year. 3. Maisons de Justice, for those who are about to be tried at the assizes. 4. Maisons de Correction, for children under twenty-one years, and condemned for more than a year. Of these there are nineteen existing in France. 5. Maisons Centrales de Détention, where women, and old men who are sentenced to the hulks, are confined. In these were about 20,000 prisoners. These two lastnamed prisons have the means of employment. The Bagnes are placed under the Minister of the Marine. There is also a sketch of the laws relative to Prisons, and a particular account of each prison where abuses exist, under the heads of Health, Food, Separation, Work, Infirmaries, Clothing, Religious Instruction, and Building. It is suggested that a large grant of money should be levied by a slight additional rate in each department. The sum already granted amounts only to 500,000 francs, little more than 20,000l.
"The Appendix to this document contains accounts of the number of prisoners confined, the crimes for which they are condemned, the situation in which they are placed, the work which they have done, and the produce of that work."
Here we see that separate prisons are made for separate classes of prisoners. This, however, is by no means necessary; as all the ends can be most perfectly obtained, in prisons properly constructed, though containing within the same walls all descriptions of prisoners. The expense of so many prisons would, in many places, render the object unattainable. This is to aim at something brilliant and grand in the means; not to study, as the one thing needful, the sure accomplishment of the end. As one of the grand obstructions in the way of prison discipline is the art of obtaining proper prisons, the reduction of expense is on that, as well as on other material grounds, a matter of the very highest importance.
There is a Report from the Ladies' Committee, confirming by continued experience the certainty of the happy effects which judicious management is calculated to produce upon the worst specimens of human kind. Our readers will be gratified with the following
"At this period, we have but few comparatively under our care (about thirty tried and sixty un-tried prisoners): some have been sent to various Houses of Correction, and fifty-seven have just been conveyed to the ships for transportation; the latter all left the prison in a quiet and becoming manner. Many alleviations have been provided for these, which, with employment and regulations for their conduct during their voyage to New South Wales, may tend to promote good order, and thus be the means of procuring for some of them reVOL. I. NO. II.