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Crimes and Offences.
December, 1825. December, 18%.
Males. Fems. Total. Males. Fems. Total Number of commitments dur- 10 usd ing the year,
558 703 1261 688 713 1401
) Deduct re-commitments of the
same individual in the currents for Roi besoin cy of the year,
101 279 380 124 281 405 Remains nett number of differ- upon ent persons,
457 424 881 564 432 996 Whereof in custody for the first
oslabel. 972 time,
360 209 569 444 189 633
97 215 312 120 243 363 .He has observed that offenders committed for the first time, for only a short period, almost invariably return to Bridewell for new offences; but if committed for a long period, they return less frequently. This fact is established by the following table, framed on an average of ten years, ending 25th December, 1825.
Of prisoners sentenced for the first time to 14 days' confinement, there returned for new crimes, about.me
now down. 75 per cent. 30 ditto dittoman
60 ditto. 40 ditto ditto..........
50 ditto. 60 ditto ditto.co.id
ditto. 3 months dittomamma
25, ditto. 6 ditto ditto......and
.10.ditto. "9 ditto ditto.
7 ditto. 12 ditto
4 ditto. 18 ditto ditto...cocomaco
1 ditto. 24 ditto
During the ten years 93 persons were committed for the first time for two years, of whom not one returned.
GIBT Mr Brebner conceives that punishment must never be lost sight of. The effect of the two years' confinement he attributes partly to the fear of punishment, and partly to the habits of order and industry acquired during it.
When prisoners come back two or three times, they go on returning at intervals, for many years.
He has observed that a good many prisoners committed for short periods for
first offences, are afterwards tried before the High Court of Justiciary, and transported or hanged. ; These results confirm the doctrine, that individuals cannot change their character and conduct by a mere act of volition, but that their minds must be operated upon by longcontinued influences, and gradually ameliorated ; just as disease cannot be removed from the body by a spell, but by a sanative process, requiring both attention and time for its completion. The present practice is founded upon ideas of punitive justice, which appear, at first sight, natural and beneficial, but which do not stand the test of reason and rigid analysis. A boy picks a gentleman's pocket of a handkerchief,and is sente nced to 14 days' confinement in Bridewell ; which seems a moderate and just punishment for a trivial offence ; and if any one were to propose to imprison him for two years, the extravagance of the infliction, in proportion to the crime, would startle the public mind, and he would be come the object of universal sympathy. Yet, if the real welfare of the boy be kept in view, and if we believe the foregoing facts, we shall find it difficult to resist the conclusion, that the sentence of 14 days is, in its ultimate results, attended with far greater severity, and more positive injustice, than would accompany confinement for two years. The offender, in the former case, becomes familiarized with crime, almost invariably returns to Bridewell, and proceeds from step to step till he is transported or hanged ; in the latter case, his whole habits are changed, and so deep an impression is made on his mind, that he very rarely re-appears in the criminał kalendar. We say rarely, because the circumstance of his not afterwards becoming an inmate in Glasgow Bridewell is no proof of his entire reformation : he may have removed to another territory, where he thinks the law will be administered with less severity. But if the great majority of those confined for long periods did not abandon their criminal pursuits, some would undoubtedly find their way back to their old quarters; and as none appear to return, we may safely infer that many are permanently reformed.
It seems to us, then, that a sentence of fourteen days for a first offence is, in its ultimate consequences, more prejudicial to the welfare of the criminal than one for a long period; and yet there appears an evident absurdity in proposing to punish a grave delinquency with imprisonment for fourteen days, and a trivial one with confinement for two years. But this just proves that there is an error in the principle on which criminal justice is administered. The absurdity arises from this circumstance, that the criminal law regards every offender as a voluntary devotee to crime, and occupies itself exclusively in administering a certain quantity of suffering for à certain degree of guilt, without the least reference either to the causes of the transgression or the consequences of its own treatment. If this principle were sound in nature, it would be successful in practice. The infiction of fourteen days' confinement would not, in its general effects, turn out more severe than imprisonment for two years. In short, the facts contained in the table of “ prisoners returning" could not bappen.
On the phrenological principle much greater consistency is obtained. According to it, no' man can become criminal unless from predominance of the animal organs over the moral and intellectual, or from strong external temptation. Neither of these are voluntary conditions on the part of the offender; he is therefore to be viewed as unfortunate ; and, that he may be cured, the cause of his depravity must be removed. On this principle, pocket-picking is one symptom of moral disease, lifting tills another, house-robbery a third, swindling a fourth, and so on. The extent and depth of the disease are to be gathered from the whole symptoms and condition of the patient, and the sanative process ought to be
conducted with reference to these. A boy whose father is ? out of work, and who has tasted no food for twenty-four
hours, may steal a loaf from a baker's basket standing temptingly on the street; another boy, well-fed, clothed, and educated, may pick a pocket, and drink the produce of his depredation. Both of these acts are thefts; but the one may
happen with a boy of very considerable natural morality, who would be completely protected from offending again by removal of the temptation ; in other words, by being supplied with food. The other indicates, a decided deficiency of natural morality, with great strength of depraved appetite; and to protect the offender from repetition of his crime, his mind would require to be subjected to a long course of discipline, one part of which will necessarily consist of measures for abating his evil tendencies, and another of means for elevating his moral and intellectual principles. According to this view, the treatment of each criminal would bear reference to his depravity, and not depend exclusively on the external form in which his evil qualities manifested themselves. One man may fall senseless to the ground through inanition, and another from apoplexy. What should we think of a physician who should treat both in the same way? The case of the mind is parallel ; and it is only gross ignorance of mental philosophy, that can perpetuate the present system of criminal legislature.
We have been assured by an enlightened friend connected with the administration of the criminal law in Scotland, that the imperfection of the practices, now in use is seen, felt, and greatly deplored by almost every judge in the country, from police-magistrates, up to the president of the High Court of Justiciary and that, if the public mind were enlightened, and brought to desire a thorough reformation with the introduction of a rational treatment, the judges would hail it with pleasure. Mr Brebner admitted, that a boy confined for a long period for his first offence was really more fortunate than one confined only for a few days; bụt he objected to the apparent injustice of long imprisonment for slight offences. The injustice, however, is obviously only apparent; the real severity is in the short confinement. No doubt, as long as offenders are committed with the view of punishment exelusively, Mr Brebner's objection is unanswerable; and the
principle of cure or reformation must be adopted, before consistency between intention and result can be obtained. In the Glasgow Bridewel), every thing that can be done, in the way of restraining evil tendencies, appears to be accomplished. The solitary confinement, regular employment, and mild treatment of the prisoners, are well calculated to allay the excessive activity of the animal propensities, but we repeat, that much is wanting to elevate their moral and intellectual faculties. The effects produced by long confinement, even with this deficiency, however, show forcibly how much good might be accomplished by a well-conducted penitentiary.
Y PORN An Address to the Members of a Society for Phrenological
Inquiry at Hull, on their first Meeting, April 5, 1827. k. By J. ALDERSON, M. D., P..rdB El IP THE study of mind has in all ages been a source of the bighest pleasure to the wisest' men, and as a new direction has been lately given to the mode of investigating and ascer taining the laws which regulate our actions as rational and social beings, it is the object of this association to inquire
We insert this Address, not because it contains any thing new, but as a record of the spirit with which Phrenology has been opposed by intelligent and ! respectable men in Hull in the year 1827. In Edinburgh, some of the firmest, supporters of the established church, men whose intelligence, piety, and sin. cerity are known and respected by the public, openly profess their belief in Phrenology, after full examination ; and nevertheless in Hull it is considered as subversive of religion by persons ignorant of every fact and argument by which it is supported. When will philosophers become ashained of this miserable appeal to the prejudices of the vulgar? We sincerely hope the opponents of Dr Alderson will, on reflection, feel ashamed of this weapon, and leave it to bigots and the followers of unfounded superstitions.--EDITOR. I