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their duty, and to sacrifice time and money to the lower orders of mankind. Their first resource was, to deny all the facts which were brought forward for the purposes of amendment; and the alderman's sarcasm of the Turkey carpet in jails was bandied from one hardhearted and fat-witted gentleman to another : but the advocates of prison improvement are men in earnest-not playing at religion, but of deep feeling, and of indefatigable industry in charitable pursuits. Mr. Buxton went in company with men of the most irreproachable veracity ; and found in the heart of the metropolis, and in a prison of which the very Turkey carpet alderman was an official visitor, scenes of horror, filth, and cruelty, which would have disgraced even the interior of a slave-ship.
This dislike of innovation proceeds sometimes from the disgust excited by false humanity, canting hypocrisy, and silly enthusiasm. It proceeds also from a stupid and indiscriminate horror of change, whether of evil for good or good for evil. There is also much party spirit in these matters. A good deal of these humane projects and institutions originate from Dissenters. The plunderers of the public, the jobbers, and those who sell themselves to some great man, who sells himrelf to a greater, all sent from afar the danger of political change ; are sensible that the correction of one abuse may lead to that of another ; feel uneasy at any visible operation of public spirit and justice ; hate and tremble at a man who exposes and rectifies abuses from a sense of duty; and think if such things are suffered to be that their candie-ends and cheese-parings are no longer safe ; and these sagacious persons, it must be said for them, are not very wrong in this feeling. Providence, which has denied to them all that is great and good, has given them a fine tact for the preservation of their plunder. Their real enemy is the spirit of inquiry—the dislike of wrong, the love of right, and the courage and diligence which are the concomitants of these virtues. When once this spirit is up it may be as well directed to one abuse as another. To say you must not torture a prisoner with bad air and bad food, and to say you must not tax me without my consent, or that of my representative, are both emanations of the same principle, occurring to the same sort of understanding congenial to the same disposition, published, protected, and enforced by the same qualities. This it is that really excites the horror against Mrs. Fry, Mr. Gurney, Mr. Bennet, and Mr. Buxton. Alarmists such as we have described have no particular wish that prisons should be dirty, jailers cruel, or prisoners wretched; they care little about such matters either way ; but all their malice and meanness is called up into action when they see secrets brought to light, and abuses giving way before the diffusion of intelligence, and the aroused feelings of justice and compassion. As for us, we have neither love of change, nor fear of it ; but a love of what is just and wise, as far as we are able to find it out. In this spirit we shall offer a few observations upon prisons, and upon the publications before us.
The new law should keep up the distinction between Jails and Houses of Correction. One of each should exist in every county,
either at a distance from each other, or in such a state of juxtaposition that they might be under the same governor. To the jail should be committed all persons accused of capital offences, whose trials would come on at the Assizes ; to the house of correction, all offenders whose cases would be cognizable at the Quarter-sessions. Sentence of imprisonment in the house of correction, after trial, should carry with it hard labour; sentence of imprisonment in the jail, after trial, should imply an exemption from compulsory labour. There should be no compulsory labour in jails--only in houses of correction. In using the terms Jail and House of Correction, we should always attend to these distinctions. Prisoners for trial should not only not be compelled to labour, but they should have every indulgence shown to them compatible with safety. No chains--much better diet than they commonly have—all possible access to their friends and relationsand means of earning money if they choose it. The broad and obvious distinction between prisoners before and after trial should constantly be attended to; to violate it is gross tyranny and cruelty.
The jails for men and women should be so far separated, that nothing could be seen or heard from one to the other. The men should be divided into two classes : Ist, those who are not yet tried ; 2dly, those who are tried and convicted. The first class should be divided into those who are accused as misdemeanants and as felons; and each of these into first misdemeanants and second misdemeanants, men of better and worst character ; and the same with felons. The second class should be divided into, Ist, persons condemned to death; 2dly, persons condemned for transportation; 3dly, first class confined or men of the best character under sentence of confinement; 4thly, second confined, or men of worst character under sentence of confinement. To these are to be added separate places for King's evidence, boys, lunatics, and places for the first reception of prisoners, before they can be examined and classed :—a chapel, hospital, yards, and workshops for such as are willing to work. The classifications in jails will then be as follows :Men before Trial.
Men after Trial.
Sentenced to death.
But there is a division still more important than any of these ; and that is a division into much smaller numbers than are gathered
together in prisons :-40, 50, and even 70 and 80 felons, are often placed together in one yard, and live together for months previous to their trial. Any classification of offences, while there is such a multitude living together of one class, is perfectly nugatory and ridiculous; no character can escape from corruption and extreme vice in such a school. The law ought to be peremptory against the confinement of more than fifteen persons tegether of the same class. Unless some measure of this kind is resorted to, all reformation in prisons is impossible.*
A very great, and a very neglected object in prisons, is Diet. There should be, in every jail and house of correction, four sorts of diet: ist, Bread and Water; 2dly, Common prison diet, to be settled by the magistrates ; 3dly, Best prison diet, to be settled by ditto ; 4thly, Free diet, from which spirituous liquors altogether, and fermented liquors in excess, are excluded. All prisoners before trial should be allowed best prison diet, and be upon free diet, if they could afford it. Every sentence for imprisonment should expressly mention to which diet the prisoner is confined ; and no other diet should be, on any account allowed to such prisoner after his sentence. Nothing can be so preposterous and criminally careless as the way in which persons confined upon sentence are suffered to live in prisons. Misdemeanants, who have money in their pockets, may be seen in many of our prisons with fish, buttered veal, rump steaks, and every kind of luxury; and as the practice prevails of allowing them to purchase a pint of ale each, the rich prisoner purchases many pints of ale in the name of his poorer brethren, and drinks them himself. A jail should be a place of punishment, from which men recoil with horror-a place of real suffering painful to the memory, terrible to the imagination; but if men can live idly, and live luxuriously, in a clean, well-aired, well-warmed, spacious habitation, is it any wonder that they set the law at defiance, and brave that magistrate who restores them to their former luxury and ease ? There are a set of men well known to jailers, called Family-men, who are constantly returning to jail, and who may be said to spend the greater part of their life there—up to the time when they are hanged.
Minutes of Evidence taken before Select Committee on Gaols. “Mr. WILLIAM BEEBY, Keeper of the New Clerkenwell Prison.—Have you many prisoners that return to you on re-commitment? A vast number ; some of them are frequently discharged in the morning, and I have them back again in the evening; or they have been discharged in the evening, and I have had them back again in the morning.”—Evidence before the Committee of the House of Commons in 1819, p. 278.
“Francis Const, Esq., Chairman of the Middlesex Quarter-sessions.Has that opinion been confirmed by any conduct you have observed in prisoners that have come before you for trial? I only judge from the opposite thing, that, going into a place where they can be idle, and well protected from any inconveniences of the weather, and other things that poverty is open to,
* We should much prefer solitary imprisonment; but are at present speak. ing of the regulations in jails where that system is excluded,
they are not amended at all; they laugh at it frequently, and desire to go to the House of Correction. Once or twice, in the early part of the winter, upon sending a prisoner for two months, he has asked whether he could not stay longer, or words to that effect. It is an insulting way of saying they like it.”—Evidence before the Committee of the House of Commons in 1819,
The fact is, that a thief is a very dainty gentleman. Male parta cito dilabuntur. He does not rob to lead a life of mortification and self-denial. The difficulty of controlling his appetites, in all probability, first led him to expenses, which made him a thief to support him. Having lost character, and become desperate, he orders crab and lobster and veal cutlets at a public house, while a poor labourer is refreshing himself with bread and cheese. The most vulnerable part of a thief is his belly ; and there is nothing he feels more bitterly in confinement than a long course of water-gruel and flour-puddings. It is a mere mockery of punishment to say, that such a man shall spend his money in luxurious viands, and sit down to dinner with fetters on his feet, and fried pork in his stomach.
Restriction to diet in prisons is still more necessary, when it is remembered that it is impossible to avoid making a prison, in some respects, more eligible than the home of a culprit. It is almost always more spacious, cleaner, better ventilated, better warmed. All these advantages are inevitable on the side of the prison. The means, therefore, that remain of making a prison a disagreeable place, are not to be neglected ; and of these, none are more powerful than the regulation
; of diet. If this be neglected, the meaning of sentencing a man to prison will be this-and it had better be put in these words :
“ Prisoner at the Bar, you are fairly convicted by a jury of your country of having feloniously stolen two pigs, the property of Stephen Muck, farmer. The Court having taken into consideration the frequency and enormity of this offence, and the necessity of restraining it with the utmost severity of punishment, do order and adjudge that you be confined for six months in a house larger, better, better aired, and warmer than your own, in company with 20 or 30 young persons in as good health and spirits as yourself. You need do no work; and you may have anything for breakfast, dinner, and supper, you can buy. In passing this sentence, the Court hope that your example will be a warning to others; and that evil-disposed persons will perceive, from your suffering, that the laws of their country are not to be broken with impunity."
As the diet, according to our plan, is always to be a part of the sentence, a Judge will, of course, consider the nature of the offence for which the prisoner is committed, as well as the quality of the prisoner: and we have before stated, that all prisoners, before trial, should be upon the best prison diet, and unrestricted as to what they could purchase, always avoiding intemperance.
These gradations of diet being fixed in all prisons, and these definitions of Jail and House of Correction being adhered to, the punishment of imprisonment may be apportioned with the greatest
nicety either by the statute, or at the discretion of the Judge, if the law chooses to give him that discretion. There will be
Imprisonment for different degrees of time.
Imprisonment with free diet. Every sentence of the Judge should state diet, as well as light or darkness, time, place, solitude, society, labour or ease; and we are strongly of opinion, that the punishment in prisons should be sharp and short. We would, in most cases, give as much of solitary confinement as would not injure men's minds, and as much of bread and water diet as would not injure their bodies. A return to prison should be contemplated with horror-horror, not excited by the ancient filth, disease, and extortion of jails ; but by calm, well-regulated, wellwatched austerity-by the gloom and sadness wisely and intentionally thrown over such an abode. Six weeks of such sort of imprisonment would be much more efficacious than as many months of jolly company and veal cutlets.
It appears, by the “Times” newspaper of the 24th of June, 1821, that two persons, a man and his wife, were committed at the Surrey Sessions for three years. If this county jail is bad, to three years of idleness and good living-if it is a manufacturing jail, to three years of regular labour, moderate living, and accumulated gains. They are committed principally for a warning to others, partly for their own good. Would not these ends have been much more effectually answered, if they had been committed, for nine months, to solitary cells upon bread and water ; the first and last month in dark cells ? If this is too severe, then lessen the duration still more, and give them more light days, and fewer dark ones; but we are convinced the whole good sought may be better obtained in much shorter periods than are now resorted to.
For the purpose of making jails disagreeable, the prisoners should remain perfectly alone all night, if it is not thought proper to render their confinement entirely solitary during the whole period of their imprisonment. Prisoners dislike this—and therefore it should be done; it would make their residence in jails more disagreeable, and render them unwilling to return there. At present, eight or ten women sleep in a room with a good fire, pass the night in sound sleep or pleasant conversation; and this is called confinement in a prison. A prison is a place where men, after trial and sentence, should be made unhappy by public lawful enactments, not so severe as to injure the soundness of mind or body. If this is not done, prisons are a mere invitation to the lower classes to wade, through felony and larceny, to better accommodations than they can procure at home. And here, as it