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Art. III.-CONVICT SYSTEMS-PAST AND PRESENT. 1. Reports of the Directors of Convict Prisons, on the Discipline
and Management of Pentonville, Parkhurst, and Milibank Prisons, and of Portland, Portsmouth, Dartmoor, and Brixton Prisons, and the Hulks, for the year 1853. Presented to both Houses of Parliament, by Command of Her Majesty. London: George E. Eyre and William
Spottiswoode. 1854. 2. Annual Report of the Inspectors of Government Prisons in
Ireland, for the year ending 318t December, 1852. With Appendices. Presented to both Houses of Parliament, by Command of Her Majesty. Dublin : Alexander
Thom and Sons. 1854. 3. Report on the Discipline and Management of the Convict
Prisons, and Disposal of Convicts, 1852. With Notes on the Convict Question, Construction of Prisons, Hard Labour, &c., fe. By Lieutenant Colonel Jebb, C.B., Surveyor General of Prisons, Chairman of the Directors, &c. Presented to both Houses of Parliament, by Com
c mand of Her Majesty. London : George E. Eyre and
William Spottiswoode. 1853. 4. An Act to Substitute in Certain Cases, other Punishment in
lieu of Transportation, 20th August, 1853. 5. Chapters on Prisons and Prisoners, by Joseph Kingsmill,
M.A., Chaplain of Pentonville Prison, London. Third
Edition. London: Longman and Co. 1854. 6. Crime: Its Amount, Causes, and Remedies, by Frederick
Hill, Barrister-at-Law, Late Inspector of Prisons. Lon
don : John Murray. 1853. We have endeavoured, in a previous paper, to lay before our readers some information respecting the improvements which, from time to time, have been adopted in Prison DISCIPLINE, from the period when Howard first awakened public attention to the subject by his indefatigable exertions, and exhibited in detail the enormities then practised in the management of common gaols. In the course of the narrative we took occasion to dwell, at some length, on certain principles, the importance of which is generally acknowledged, and which
cannot be overrated; principles which must more or less form prominent features in any system of punative discipline which would now claim or deserve public sympathy and support,- Educational; Reformatory, 'as distinguished from deterrent, discipline, and Separate confinement.
On the harmonious combination in practice of each of the above principles, depends the successful issue of our efforts for the reformation of the criminal and the diminution of crime: without them, no matter how severe the course of discipline applied may be, failure and disappointment must assuredly follow ; nor is the necessity of such a result difficult to understand. Fear, though exercising an important influence over men's minds, is far from being the most powerful passion implanted in us by nature ;-hence the error. Love, hatred, jealousy, and revenge, influence the human mind, and rouse men to the commission of deeds which neither the consequences entailed by the actions themselves, nor any fear of personal pain or punishment is sufficient to restrain. To address therefore, all our efforts to the single passion of fear, to heap penalty on penalty, and to write the sanctions of our penal laws in blood, if such were possible at the present day, would manifestly be unphilosophical, and must naturally fail to check the progress of crime. At a time when the penalties imposed by law were far more deterrent than they now are, when death awaited the unhappy man who, suffering perhaps the pangs of hunger, stole some matter of trifling value to support a miserable existence, honesty was as rare a virtue as at the present day, nor were men deterred by so formidable a penalty from the gratification of their vicious appetites. We do not disregard the importance of acting on that fear of punishment which is implanted in mankind, or of dealing with it as a valuable instrument in frightening men from crime; but it is clearly a mistake to rely upon it as the only, or even as the most efficacious means of attaining the desired end. By subduing the stronger passions of our nature-revenge, jealousy, and lust; by encouraging and promoting the nobler qualities of love and gratitude, and by stimulating the innate consciousness of right and wrong, we may safely hope to reform the criminal, and deter him from a course of sin, not by the mere dread of physical pain or suffering, but by the action of a higher principle
“ For fear but freezes minds, but love, like heat,
To the classes of society whence criminals of superior education come, prison discipline ought, without question, to partake of the deterrent character, since by the education they have received they are in a measure left without excuse,
-and in point of fact it does so. To such, the loss of liberty and the various luxuries of life to which they are attached, the discipline of a prison and the deprivation of that self-indulgence and ease in which they love to spend their existence, must prove a powerful deterrent, where higher motives are wanting. But the number of such persons forms a small proportion to the masses of our criminal population. Of the latter, destitute of education, and fit objects of our pity
6. All are wanderers, gone astray
And never won." With these, mere deterrent punishment must fail in its object, uuless accompanied by an amount of cruelty against which our feelings of humanity rebel, and which under any circumstances, is criminal and unwarrantable, -"What is the waste of gold," inquires Mr. Recorder Hill," or of precious stones, or of any earthly wealth, compared to the waste of human suffering ?"*
We came to the conclusion therefore, that Education, Reformatory treatment, and Separate confinement, must form the chief and prominent characteristics of an improved system of prison discipline. It may be, and no doubt is, a question, upon which much difference of opinion exists, and one which we can hardly expect to solve without the benefit of further experience, how far they inay be best combined in practice, to what extent each should be carried, and during what period of the sentence separate confinement should be enforced.
See charge of M.D. Hill, Esq. Q. C. Recorder of Birmingham, to the Grand Jury, at the September Sessions, 1854.
The cruelty of Lieutenant Austin, late governor of Birmingham gaol, is justly denounced in England, yet the “shot drill," a species of punishment, which we consider both cruel and ridiculous, but on which Mr. Corry Connellan appears to pin his faith, is being introduced into the gaols of Ireland. It would seem that the observation of the learned Recorder, that “the walls of the gaol have not only kept the bodies of prisoners in durance, but have had a somewhat analogous effect on the minds of the gaolers," is about being verified in the case of Mr. Connellan-we can now understand how it is that “shot drill" is 80 generally approved by gaolers and Inspectors General of Prisons.
The foregoing questions are of vast importance, and present no small difficulty in their investigation ; but as we have already devoted so considerable a space to their consideration, and fully explained the views we entertain respecting them, we may proceed to the question more immediately before us. With respect however to education, we would again repeat that it must be based upon God's inspired word, and directed and guided by the truths of His revelation ; by inculcating, not the cold maxims of the Arminian School, but the heart-stirring, love-exciting and soul-influencing precepts of true religion. Bitter must be the fruit borne by any other system, disappointment, the natural and inevitable result. In addition to the facts mentioned in our former paper upon this branch of the subject, we would call the attention of our readers to the following extract from Plint's Crime in England, p. 182.
"If elementary instruction in reading and writing is of the value stated, or may be taken as an index of other and more powerful influences, then, if the proportion of the criminals who can read is increasing, there ought to be a diminution in crime. The following tables will show whether that is so, or not:
“ It will be seen at a glance, that whilst the ratio of all crime in the period was nearly at par, except in the county of Middlesex, the proportion of those who could not read and write' had fallen 4:3; and the proportion of those who could read and write imperfectly' had risen 6:5 on the average of all England. Now, accord. ing to the theory under consideration, crime ought to have diminished, but it was ai par ; and there is the further contradiction of the theory, that the total of the offences committed by both sections had risen 2-2 per cent. The theory is palpably at fault.”
Events which have taken place within a very recent period, in the condition of our Australian Colonies, and the changes effected by a late act of parliament for "substituting in certain cases, other punishments in lieu of transportation,”* render the subject now before us, to adopt the words of Lord St. Leonards, “one of the most important social questions of the day.” In one particular indeed, Prison Discipline so far as it concerns the management of government convicts, possesses advantages which are not enjoyed under the system pursued in county gaols. The former is placed directly under the control of the executive, and the details of discipline are subject to the direction of a Secretary of State, who, though of course responsible for the proper performance of his duties, is not tied up within the four corners of an act of parliament, and consequently possesses a certain amount of freedom in the exercise of his judgment, and in the introduction of useful and necessary measures of reform. One great object is thereby obtained, -uniformity in discipline, and the speedy reduction to practice of approved principles. Reforms in the management of county gaols cannot be so easily secured or
* 16 and 17 Vic. chap. 99. 20th August 1853.