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Holland took occasion to make some peace. An examination of the state very ingenious remarks on the nature of crimes during and after the war of of punishment, showing that dispro. 1756 would afford a similar result. portionate severity led inevitably to The number of the convictions was the multiplication of crimes, by in- in 1759, 15; in 1760, 14; in 1761, creasing the chances of escape to the 13; in 1762, 25; in 1763, 61 ; in criminal, from the reluctance which 1764, 52 ; in 1765, 41. men felt to prosecute for petty of. The Marquis of Lansdown did not fences for which the law had strange. concur in this view of the causes of ly provided a capital punishment. the increase of crime, and instanced, Lord Liverpool was of opinion, that as a proof, the great number of juvethe increase of crimes was partly nile offenders, the cause of which he owing to the change from war to took to be the state of our prisons, peace; and he remarked, that if there. which had become seminaries of vice, cords of London and Middlesex were in which the youths are formed and examined, with the view of ascertain- tutored to the commission of crime. ing the state of crimes during and The petition was ordered to lie on after the American war, the propor. the table. tional increase would be found to re- On the 28th of January Sir James semble, in a very remarkable manner, Mackintosh moved for certain returns what had recently occurred. It ap- of forgeries on the Bank of England, peared, that during that war crimes and in the course of his speech took had at first diminished, then increased occasion to animadvert on a document towards its conclusion ; and during recently laid before the House, namethe first years of peace, had stili ly, the Report of the Commissioners greatly increased. In 1777, the num- appointed to inquire into the means ber of capital convictions was 63; of lessening the facility with which in 1778, they were 81; in 1779, they Bank-notes had been hitherto imidecreased to 60, a circumstance weil tated. The remarks of the honour. worthy of their Lordships' attention. able and learned gentleman called In 1781, the number increased to 90; up Mr Courtenay, who made a num. in 1782, the number was 108; in 1783, ber of observations explanatory of still increasing, 173; in 1784, the the course that had bee. pursued by convictions were 153; and in 1785, the Committee in question, -of the they were 151. Hence it appeared, plans, nearly 200 in all, which had that the increase of crimes during been submitied to their consideration, the last years of the American war, nine of which only promised to be in and the first years of peace, compar- any degree useful in accomplishing ed with the first year of the war, was the great object they had in view,-nearly in the proportion of 3 to 1, and of the experiments which were which was precisely the proportion still in progress, for ascertaining the which had been observed to take effect of combining an improved plan place with respect to the late war. with an improved paper. After a From these facts it was natural to few words from Mr Tierney and look to the increase of crimes, to Mr Manning, Sir James Mackintosh which their Lordships' attention was amended his motion, by including in now called, as having for its principal the lists for which he had moved the cause the state of the country pro- number of forged notes detected by duced by the change from war to the Bank during the period which VOL, XII, PART I.
his motion embraced; and the mo- prevalent in which he described in tion, thus amended, was agreed to. strong and perhaps somewhat exag
A petition from a number of Qua- gerated colours. The motion, howkers, and signed on behalf of the ever, though warmly supported by whole society resident in Great Mr Wilberforce, Sir James MackinBritain, was, on the 9th of Febru- tosh, Mr Tierney, and others, was fi
, ary, presented to the House of nally lost, by a majority of twenty; Commons by Mr Wilberforce, in Lord Castlereagh having moved the an eloquent speech, in which that previous question, upon the ground great and good man took occa- that it was not expedient to make sion to eulogise warmly the quiet this a separate inquiry, as the system and sober but active philanthropy of transportation was intimately conof the body from whom the petition nected with the state of prisons, for emanated, and to allude, with peculiar inquiring into which he meant soon felicity and force, to the exertions to move for the appointment of a of the late lamented Sir Samuel Ro. Committee. The debate was promilly for the amelioration of the Cri- tracted to great length; but the ex. minal Law of this country.—The tensive mass of materials we have petition was read and ordered to be before us on the more immediate printed.
subject of this chapter, prevents us Sir James Mackintosh having ex- from laying before our readers any pressed his astonishment that Minis- detailed analysis of the topics urged ters had given no bint of their sen. on both sides. timents as to an alteration of the In the House of Lords, on the Penal Code, and Lord Castlereagh 25th of February, Lord Sidmouth having answered, that the time for rose to call their Lordships' attendoing so would be when any mem- tion to the returns of the state of ber made a motion on that subject, prisons and penitentiary houses. gave notice that he would make a Every pains had certainly been taken motion on the subject on that day to produce accuracy. Letters had three weeks.
been written to all the Sheriffs of As in some degree german to counties, requiring returns of the this subject, we may notice here, state of all the gaols under their that on the 18th, Mr Bennet made a superintendence. All the Clerks of motion in the House of Commons, the Peace had also been directed to for the appointment of a Committee, make similar returns of the prisons to inquire into the system of trans- under their control or management. portation, and into the state of the Similar directions had been sent to Colony of New South Wales, and the Magistrates of cities; and he was to report their opinion to the House. happy to state, that, with one or two The grounds of this motion seemed exceptions, the directions given had to be the sufferings of the convicts been correctly complied with in the in their outward voyage, the expen- returns. From England and Wales sive nature of the punishment itself, the returns were nearly complete, as and its total inadequacy in effecting well as those from Scotland; but
; the reformation of convicts sent thi. some were still wanting from Ireland. ther at so great an expence to Upon the whole, about five-sixths the State; chiefly, as he said, ow- of the returns had been received, ing to the relaxed system of police and he regarded them as in a state that prevailed in the colony, the vices of sufficient completeness to be re
ferred to a Committee of their Lord. he conceived that it was completely ships' house. With respect to the contradicted by the returns on the number of persons committed, con
It appeared, from the returns victed, and executed, their Lord for the county of Middlesex and ships were now accurately inform- London, which commenced in the ed, by returns regularly 'made for year 1749, down to the year 1805 the whole country, from 1805, when when the regular returns began, that the regulation commenced, down to the annual average number of conthe last year.
There was also a victions was 62, and of executions return from the county of Mid- 52. He was sorry to say, that in dlesex and the city of London, of consequence of unavoidable circumthe convictions and executions, from stances, the punishment of transpor1749 to 1808. Some persons had tation had lost many of its salutary been of opinion that the state of terrors. The number of persons the prisons was the principal cause liable to transportation had so greatof the increase of crimes during ly increased within the last seven late years; others had attributed years, that when they arrived at the that increase to the circumstances place of their destination, it was difin which the country was placed. ficult to find the means of classifying He had little hesitation in assert- or properly disposing of them, In ing, that had every prison in the the hulks, however, a classification kingdom been in that state which the had taken place, religious instrucmost benevolent person could have tion was administered, and constant wished, still the circumstances in and regular labour performed. A which the country had been placed regulation had, also, within these would have increased them. The three years, been adopted, which had pressure of the necessary burdens proved of the greatest advantage, which the country had sustained, the with reference to the behaviour of deficiency in the demand for labour, the convicts. It had been thought the number of individuals discharged proper to discharge those who befrom the army and navy, and all the haved in an exemplary manner, upon other circumstances of derangement certificates to that effect. The ininto which the country had been stances were few in which the perthrown by the sudden change from sons so recommended were not parwar to peace, formed a variety of doned; and he was happy to say, that causes which could not fail to induce the instances were also few in which a tendency to crimes, even if the the persons who had experienced gaols had been in the best possible that favour were found to return to state with respect to the means of their former situation. He should classification and labour. The state not enter into the question of the of the Criminal Law, as it respected propriety of confining convicts in punishments, would also demand hulks. Those who attribute the intheir Lordships' attention. By some crease of crimes to the state of the that law was held out as a sanguinary prisons are generally of opinion that
Others had conceived that the object of making imprisonment lenity in enforcing it was a great effectual in this respect, would be cause of the evil under which the attained by a reform of the gaols. country laboured. As to the sup- He did not mean to say that much position that the execution of the might not be done by a good system laws had become more sanguinary, of prison discipline, and due atten
tion ought to be directed to that that the consideration of the state important object; but it would be of crime and punishment might be found that there were many local advantageously conjoined with an ixprisons, the abuses of which depend- quiry into the discipline of gaols and ed on circumstances which could not places of confinement. be corrected without great labour Sir James Mackintosh remarked, and expence. He wished to go into that he had already stated his dethe inquiry with a full conviction of termination not to open the merits rendering the investigation useful. of his ensuing motion before it came The information laid on the table He should not follow the Noble must form the basis of inquiry. The Lord, in replying to the objections evil was one which called upon their he had made to that motion ; but Lordships to apply their utmost la- when it came on to-morrow, he should bours to remove. Under these im- urge whatever he might feel neces. pressions he should move, that a sary; and if the House judged proSelect Committee be appointed to per, it would of course reject it. He consider of the papers presented on sbould to-morrow move,
" that the 19th and 23d of the present Select Committee be appointed to month, relative to the state of the consider the operation and nature of gaols, prisons and crimes in the uni. the Criminal Laws relative to the ted kingdom, and to report thereon. capital punishment of felony."
The Marquis of Lansdown having Afier a few remarks from Messrs expressed his satisfaction, that the Lawson, Wynn, Alderman Wood, object which he had in view, when and F. Buxton, the motion was ahe first addressed them, came now greed to, and a Committee appointrecommended to them by greater ed. authority, the question was put, On the 2d of March, Sir James agreed to, and a Committee appoint- Mackintosh rose, pursuant to the noed accordingly.
tice he had given, to move that a On the 1st of March, Lord Castle. Select Committee be appointed to reagh moved for the appointment of consider so much of the Criminal a Committee of the Commons, "toin. Law as ordained capital punishment, quire into the state of gaols and other and to report their opinion to the places of confinement, and also into House. In making this motion, he the best means to be taken for their followeda precedent long established, improvement, and for the preven- for in 1770 the same authority had tion of crime." This motion seem. been delegated to a committee for ed calculated to anticipate, and ren- the same purpose. If it were only a der unnecessary the motion of Sir J. question between him and the Noble Mackintosh, which stood for the fol- Lord (Castlereagh), the only sublowing day. His Lordship, in the ject of discussion would be, which course of his speech, went into a long of the modes of inquiry proposed and elaborate detail of particulars, was the most convenient; but bethrough which we cannot follow cause the House and every member him; he contended principally that of it was a party to the question, a the increase of crime was local ra- few observations were necessary on ther than general; that there was this preliminary point, - That the nothing symptomatic of any augmen- state of crimes themselves, uncon. tation of moral depravity in the nected with any other subject, called great mass of the community; and for investigation, was agreed. The Noble Lord included this investiga- tary. The Noble Lord, for the purtion among the objects of his com- pose of avoiding the impossibility of mittee, thus admitiing the necessity his plan, had proposed to invade the of inquiry, and also that that inquiry practice and usage of Parliament. should be as extensive as he propo- His second objection to his motion sed by the present motion. The being included in the Noble Lord's question here clearly was, which was was, that it was contrary to the usage the most convenient mode; for as of Parliament. Upon this he had to the necessity of inquiry, the ap- already in some measure animadvertpointment of a committee to inquire, ed. What was the object of his and the inquiry being equally exten. Lordship's motion ? It was to “ insive, the Noble Lord concurred with quire inio the state and description him. These admissions brought the of gaols and other places of confinequestion between them into a nar- ment, and into the best method of rower compass. But he had two providing for the reformation, as material objections to state against well as the safe custody and punishincluding his motion in the Noble ment, of offenders.” It was “ for Lord's. First, the physical impos. the reformation as well as the cussibility of conducting the inquiry he tody of offenders.” These must proposed to any effect, if so included. evidently be the same offenders. The House had on all sides allowed, They were the same offenders whose that the most laborious committee reformation, and whose custody and would require a whole session for punishment, were to be provided for. the investigation of the state of gaols. There was therefore a necessary exThe member who had last year pre- clusion of capital prisoners, since sided in the committee for inquiring their reformation and punishment into the state of prisons (Mr Ben- could not be contemporary. Det) had also stated, that that was a too plain to be stated, that this was subject equal to the utmost exertions the necessary meaning of the conof any committee in one session. Struction of the motion, and that the The state and merit of the Criminal same persons were to be reformed Law, transportation, and the little and punished. It would, indeed, be adjunct of ihe hulks; these were the a monstrous thing, and, in his estiadditions proposed by the Noble mation, beyond all example, that in Lord to be made to an inquiry which an inquiry into the state of gaols, the of itself must outlive the longest ses- Criminal Law of England should sion of Parliament. It had been skulk into that inquiry under one even admitted by the Noble Lord, vague and equivocal word. Neither that the committee must be subdi- of their motions assumed more than vided into two or three committees. this, that there was room for inWhat was the inference from this quiry. The Noble Lord's motion admission? The Noble Lord had assumed this; it assumed no more. proposed a committee, which must His no more reflected on the laws divide itself, contrary to the usage of and magistracy of the country than Parliament. He proposed the ap- the Noble Lord's. How should it, pointment of a committee in the for the Noble Lord's motion was