Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

scending that of any other city on this continent, if not in the world; and while there is much which is worthy of high commendation; it cannot be disguised, that this very reputation may induce a spirit of complacent and contented apathy, which is at war with a healthy progress in this direction. The most remarkable phase which our institutions at present afford, is the paramount provision which has been made for crime, rather than for misery and misfortune, – the result,

it may

be feared, of a sickly and sentimental sympathy with the lot of those who are overtaken in their warfare upon the best interests of society, and who are therefore made the subjects of that discipline which the experience of all mankind declares to be necessary, and according to which all systems of rewards and punishments must be interpreted. While we have a structure of surpassing elegance and comfort, erected and furnished at immense cost, as a house of detention for criminals; and a large investment in almost equally elegant and comfortable Houses of Correction, of which too, we have duplicates, one at South Boston, and one at Deer Island; the honest poor, the virtuous sons and daughters of misfortune, helpless infancy and equally helpless old age not excepted, may be found huddled together in temporary wooden buildings, insecurely constructed for protection, either against the inclemencies of winter, the oppressive heats of summer, or the constant peril of conflagration; and even these accommoda

tions are divided with those who are sentenced to the

institution for criminal offences. Such a condition of

things in our pauper department is not in keeping with the intelligence and moral sense of this community, nor with that bounteous liberality which in this and other particulars, has always characterized the people of Boston.

It is due to truth and to the public reputation to say, that this state of things is the result, not of design, but of accident; that it has arisen mainly from a change in the amount and character of immigration, and from a change in the policy of the Commonwealth respecting the support of its own paupers; neither of which changes could have been anticipated, and for neither of which were our pauper arrangements adapted. There is now no reason for continuing these unsuitable and inadequate accommodations for the poor. Doubtless other provisions would long since have been made, but for the differing policy and views of succeeding municipal administrations, and the real difficulty of so comprehending the actual necessities of each department of our institutions, and so arranging and disposing of the property at present appropriated to their use, as shall be justified by future wants and experience. Under the head of Public Institutions we embrace the House of Correction, the House of Industry, the House of Reformation for Juvenile Offenders, and the Lunatic Hospital. Appropriated to the use of these institutions are the whole of Deer Island, and 987,745 square feet of land at South Boston -- being at least twice as much land as is necessary for this purpose. At South Boston are an old stone building, formerly used for an Almshouse, the Insane Hospital, the House of Correction, and the House of Reformation. Of these, the old Almshouse is vacant and unsuitable for its former purpose. The Insane Hospital is well located, of sufficient capacity for present purposes, and though not a model building, has, on the whole, but few deficiencies, and those not of the most important character. The House of Correction buildings are of sufficient capacity and are well arranged and convenient. The House of Reformation is not well located for such a purpose, and its capacity is insufficient. At Deer Island are the residence of the Superintendent, who is also Port Physician, the temporary buildings for the Almshouse, and a massive and extensive brick structure built for an Almshouse, capable of accommodating not only our local poor, but a large number of State paupers, now withdrawn. This building has been in part altered within two years into a House of Correction, and is at present under the control of the Board of Overseers of that Institution. The original cost of this building and the subsequent alterations upon and within it amount to not far from $350,000. This large property has long stood idle, and is now appropriated to no use whatever. Much of the property within it is of a character to be

rapidly impaired, such as the numerous and valuable locks upon the cells, the apparatus for heating, &c., besides the general and gradual decay of the whole edifice, for want of those small repairs and that constant attention which ordinary use would secure to it. The cost of this building at Deer Island, is probably nearly equal to the value of the buildings at South Boston. No argument is necessary to demonstrate the absurdity of keeping property of the value of several hundred thousand dollars, appropriated to those institutions in each locality, one-half of which will remain year after year unoccupied, and with no prospect whatever that both will ever be required for one and the same purpose. In my former communication to the City Council, I recommended the consolidation of the government of these several institutions, which are now under different supervision, into one Board, in a manner and for considerations then set forth. One of the greatest services to be sought under such a Board as is there recommended, is a judicious and impartial disposition of the surplus property in this department, and the adoption of some policy according to which future wants therein shall be supplied and improvements made. The House of Correction being a County Institution, an act of the Legislature will be necessary to effect this consolidation; and I recommend that the requisite application be made at the ensuing session. Should it be deemed inexpedient or impracticable to effect this new organization, I may take occasion at an early period to submit further considerations to the City Council respecting the disposal of these institutions. And I now recommend to your investigation, the expediency of removing the paupers at Deer Island, and also the inmates of the House of Reformation, into the unoccupied wings of the brick building, either permanently or until other accommodations can be provided. To the fidelity of those who are intrusted with the supervision and internal management of these institutions, I am happy to improve this opportunity to bear full and unqualified testimony. Neither the several Boards of Overseers, nor the heads of the respective houses have been wanting in the diligence and good judgment which are so essential to the accomplishment of the most beneficial results. Long and valuable as have been the labors of some of their predecessors in these offices, the places have never been filled by those who brought more intelligent, disinterested, and pains-taking devotion to their duties, than the members of the present Boards.

The House of Correction continues to sustain its high reputation, in point of order and discipline, as a model institution, and commands the commendation of visitors at home and from abroad. In its present inadequate and unsuitable accommodations, the House of Industry preserves its accustomed order and neatness, with the evidences of all the incidental appliances for the relief and

« PreviousContinue »