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subordinate regulations for the government of the jails; and the sheriff supersedes those regulations. Their respective jurisdictions and powers should be clearly arranged.
The female prisoners should be under the care of a matron with proper assistants. Where this is not the case the female part of the prison is often a mere brothel for the turnkeys. Can anything be so repugnant to all ideas of reformation as a male turnkey visiting a solitary female prisoner? Surely women can take care of women as effectually as men can take care of men ; or, at least, women can do 50 properly assisted by men. This want of a matron is a very scandalous and immoral neglect in any prison system.
The presence of female visitors and instructors for the women is so obviously advantageous and proper that the offer of forming such an institution must be gladly and thankfully received by any body of magistrates. That they should feel any jealousy of such interference is too absurd a supposition to be made or agreed upon. Such interference may not affect all that zealous people suppose it will effect; but, if it does any good, it had better be.
Irons should never be put upon prisoners befo trial ; after trial we cannot object to the humiliation and disgrace which irons and a parti-coloured prison dress occasion. Let them be a part of solitary confinement, and let the words “ Solitary Confinement” in the sentence imply permission to use them. The Judge then knows what he inflicts.
We object to the office of Prison Inspector for reasons so very obvious that it is scarcely necessary to enumerate them. The prison inspector would, of course, have a good salary; that, in England, is never omitted. It is equally matter of course that he would be taken from among Treasury retainers, and that he never would look at a prison. Every sort of attention should be paid to the religious instruction of these unhappy people, but the poor chaplain should be paid a little better ; every possible duty is expected from him, and he has one hundred per annum.
Whatever money is given to prisoners should be lodged with the governor for their benefit, to be applied as the visiting magistrates point out--no other donations should be allowed or accepted.
If voluntary work before trial, or compulsory work after trial, be the system of a prison, there should be a task-master, and it should be remembered that the principal object is not profit.
Wardsmen, selected in each yard among the best of the prisoners, are very serviceable. If prisoners work, they should work in silence. At all times the restrictions upon seeing friends should be very severe, and no food should be sent from friends.
Our general system then is—that a prison should be a place of real punishment; but of known, enacted, measurable, and measured punishment. A prisoner (not for assault
, or refusing to pay parish dues, but a bad felonious prisoner) should pass a part of his three months in complete darkness, the rest in complete solitude, perhaps in complete idleness (for solitary idleness leads to repentance, idleness in company to vice). He should be exempted from cold, be kept perfectly clean, have sufficient food to prevent hunger or illness, wear the prison dress and moderate irons, have no communication with anybody but the officers of the prison and the magistrates, and remain otherwise in the most perfect solitude. We strongly suspect this is the way in which a bad man is to be made afraid of prisons, nor do we think that he would be less inclined to receive moral and religious instruction than any one of seven or eight carpenters in jail, working at a common bench, receiving a part of their earnings, and allowed to purchase with them the delicacies of the season. If this system be not resorted to, the next best system is severe work, ordinary diet, no indulgences, and as much seclusion and solitude as are compatible with work—always remarking that perfect sanity of mind and body are to be preserved.
To this system of severity in jails there is but one objection. The present duration of punishments was calculated for prisons conducted upon very different principles; and if the discipline of prisons were rendered more strict, we are not sure that the duration of imprisonment would be practically shortened, and the punishments would then be quite atrocious and disproportioned. There is a very great disposition, both in judges and magistrates, to increase the duration of imprisonment; and, if that be done, it will be dreadful cruelty to increase the bitterness as well as the time. We should think, for instance, six months' solitary imprisonment to be a punishment of dreadful severity ; but we find, from the House of Commons' Report, that prisoners are sometimes committed by county magistrates for two years * of solitary confinement. And so it may be doubted, whether it is not better to wrap up the rod in flannel and make it a plaything, as it really now is, than to show how it may be wielded with effectual severity. For the pupil, instead of giving one or two stripes, will whip his patient to death. But if this abuse were guarded against the real way to improve would be, now we have made prisons healthy and airy, to make them odious and austere-engines of punishment, and objects of terror.
In this age of charity and of prison improvement there is one aid to prisoners which appears to be wholly overlooked ; and that is the means of regulating their defence and providing them witnesses for their trial. A man is tried for murder, or for housebreaking, or robbery, without a single shilling in his pocket. The nonsensical and capricous institions of the English law prevent him from engaging counsel to speak in his defence, if he had the wealth of Cresus; but he has no money to employ even an attorney, or to procure a single witness, or to take out a subpona. The Judge, we are told, is his counsel—this is sufficiently absurd ; but it is not pretended that the Judge is his witness. He solemnly declares that he has three or four witnessess who could give a completely different colour to the transaction ; but they are sixty or seventy miles distant, working for their daily bread, and have no money for such a journey, nor for the expense of a residence of some days in an Assize town. They do not know even the time of the
* House of Commons Report, 355.
Assize, nor the modes of tendering their evidence if they could come. When everything is so well marshalled against him on the opposite side, it would be singular if an innocent man, with such an absence of all means of defending himself, should not occasionally be hanged or transported, and accordingly we believe that such things have happened. Let any man, immediately previous to the Assizes, visit the prisoners for trial, and see the many wretches who are to answer to the most serious accusations, without one penny to defend themselves. If it appeared probable, upon inquiry, that these poor creatures had important evidence which they could not bring into Court for want of money, would it not be a wise application of compassionate funds to give them this fair chance of establishing their innocence ? It seems to us no bad finale of the pious labours of those who guard the poor from ill-treatment during their imprisonment, to take care that they are not unjustly hanged at the expiration of the term.
THE TREATMENT OF UNTRIED PRISONERS.
(E. REVIEW, 1824.)
1. A Letter to the Right Honourable Robert Peel
, one of His Mlajesty's Principal Secretaries of State, &c., &C., &c., on Prison Labour. By JOHN HEADLAM, M.A., Chairman of the Quarter Sessions for the North Riding of the County of York. London : Hatchard and Son.
1823. 2. Information and Observations, respecting the Proposed Improvements at
York Castle. Printed by Order of the Committee of Magistrates,
September, 1823. T has been the practice, all over England, for these last fifty years,
not to compel prisoners to work before guilt was proved. Within
* From the “Clonmel Advertiser” it appears that John Brien, alias Captain Wheeler, was found guilty of murder at the late assizes for the county of Waterford. Previous to his execution he made the following confession :“I now again most solemnly aver, in the presence of that God by whom I will soon be judged, and who sees the secrets of my heart, that only three, viz., Morgan Brien, Patrick Brien, and my unfortunate (self, committed the horrible crimes of murder and burning at Ballygarron, and that the four unfortunate men who have before suffered for them were not in the smallest degree accessary to them. I have been the cause for which they have innocently suffered death. I have contracted a debt of justice with them, and the only and least restitution I can make them is thus publicly, solemnly, and with death before my eyes to acquit their memory of any guilt in the crimes for which I shall deservedly suffer?!”—Philantrophists, No. 6. 208. Pereunt et imputantur. + Headlam, p. 6.
these last three or four years, however, the magistrates of the North Riding of Yorkshire, considering it improper to support any idle person at the county expense, have resolved, that prisoners committed to the House of Correction for trial, and requiring county support, should work for their livelihood ; and no sooner was the tread-mill brought into fashion, than that machine was adopted in the North Riding as the species of labour by which such prisoners were to earn their maintenance. If these magistrates did not consider themselves empowered to burden the county rates for the support of prisoners before trial, who would not contribute to support themselves, it does not appear, from the publication of the Reverend Chairman of the Sessions, that any opinions of Counsel were taken as to the legality of so putting prisoners to work, or of refusing them maintenance if they chose to be idle ; but the magistrates themselves decided that such was the law of the land. Thirty miles off, however, the law of the land was differently interpreted ; and in the Castle of York large sums were annually expended in the maintenance of idle prisoners before trial, and paid by the different Ridings, without remonstrance or resistance.
Such was the state of affairs in the county of York before the enactment of the recent prison bill. After that period, enlargements and alterations were necessary in the county jail ; and it was necessary also for these arrangements, that the magistrates should know whether or not they were authorised to maintain such prisoners at the expense of the county, as, being accounted able and unwilling to work, still claimed the county allowance. To questions proposed upon these points to three barristers the following answers were returned :
" adly, I am of opinion that the magistrates are empowered, and are compelled to maintain, at the expense of the county, such prisoners before trial as are able to work, unable to maintain themselves, and not willing to work; and that they have not the power of compelling such prisoners to work, either at the tread-mill, or any other species of labour.
“J. GURNEY. “ Lincoln's Inn Fields, ad September, 1823."
“I think the magistrates are empowered, under the tenth section (explained by the 37th and 38th) to maintain prisoners before trial, who are able to work, unable to maintain themselves by their own means, or by employment which they themselves can procure, and not willing to work ; and I think also, that the words shall be lawful,' in that section, do not leave them a discretion on the subject, but are compulsory. Such prisoners can only be employed in prison labour with their own consent; and it cannot be intended that the Justices may force such consent by withholding from them the necessaries of life, if they do not give it. Even those who are
* We mention the case of the North Riding, to convince our readers that the practice of condemning prisoners to work before trial has existed in some parts of England; for in questions like this we have always found it more difficult to prove the existence of the facts, than to prove that they were mishievous and unjust,
convicted cannot be employed at the tread-mill, which I consider as a species of severe labour.
“J. PARKE. “September 4th, 1823."
“2dly, As to the point of compelling prisoners confined on criminal charges, and receiving relief from the magistrates, to reasonable labour; to that of the tread-mill, for instance, in which, when properly conducted, there is nothing severe or unreasonable ; had the question arisen prior to the late Act, I should with confidence have said, I thought the magistrates had a compulsory power in this respect. Those who cannot live without relief in a jail, cannot live without labour out of it. Labour then is their avocation. Nothing is so injurious to the morals and habits of the prisoner as the indolence prevalent in prisons; nothing so injurious to good order in the prison. The analogy between this and other cases of public support is exceedingly strong ; one may almost consider it a general principle that those who live at the charge of the community shall, as far as they are able, give the community a compensation through their labour. But the question does not depend on mere abstract reasoning. The stat. 19 Ch. 2, ch. 4, sec. I, entitled, an 'Act for Relief of poor Prisoners, and setting them on work,' speaks of persons committed for felony and other misdemeanors to the common jail who many times perish before trial ; and then proceeds as to setting poor prisoners on work. Then stat. 31 G. 3, c. 46. sec. 13, orders money to be raised for such prisoners of every description, as, being confined within the said jails, or other places of confinement, are not able to work. A late stat. (52 G. 3, c. 160) orders parish relief to such debtors on mesne process in jails, not county jails, as are not able to support themselves; but says nothing of finding or compelling work. Could it be doubted, that if the Justices were to provide work, and the prisoner refused it, such debtors might, like any other parish paupers, be refused the relief mentioned by the statute? In all the above cases, the authority to insist on the prisoner's labour, as the condition and consideration of relief granted him, is, I think, either expressed or necessarily implied : and, thus viewing the subject, I think it was in the power of magistrates prior to the late statute, to compel prisoners, subsisting in all or in part on public relief, to work at the tread-mill
. The objection commonly made is, that prisoners, prior to trial, are to be accounted innocent, and to be detained, merely that they may be secured for trial; to this the answer is obvious, that the labour is neither meant as a punishment, nor a disgrace, but simply as a compensation for the relief, at their own request, afforded them. Under the present statute, I, however, have no doubt that poor prisoners are entitled to public support, and that there can be no compulsory labour prior to trial. The two statutes adverted to (19 Ch. 2, c. 4, and 31 G. 3) are, as far as this subject is concerned, expressly repealed. The Legislature then had in contemplation the existing power of Magistrates to order labour before trial, and having it in contemplation, repeals it; substituting, (sect. 38) a power of setting to labour only sentenced persons. The 13th rule, too (p. 777), speaks of labour as connected with convicted prisoners, and sect. 37 speaks in general terms of persons committed for trial, as labouring with their own consent. In opposition to these clauses, I think it impossible to speak of implied power, or power founded on general reasoning or analogy. So strong, however, are the arguments in favour of a more extended authority in Justices of the Peace, that it is scarcely to be doubted, that Parliament, on a calm revision of the subject, would be willing to restore, in a more distinct manner than it has