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little effect, unless some means were used to discover the cause, and to remedy the evil. A firm conviction was soon produced, that the severity of the lars. with the disgraceful mode of carrying them into effect, joined to a want of gorernment in the prison -the admission of all kinds of characters to a free communication with the prisoners-the unlimited use of spirituous liquors-the indiscriminate mixture of all descriptions of prisoners, without regard to character, sex, or condition, and idleness in the house, were amongst the principal causes of the evils com plained of: to remedy which, the society, in conjunction with the corporation, made an application to the legislature for an alteration in the penal system ; to place the prison under the inspection of some of the citizens ; to erect solitary cells; and, to form a plan for its government. This was complied with, and inspectors were directed to be chosen ; who were empowered with the approbation of the mayor, two aldermen, and two judges of the supreme court, or two judges of the common pleas of Philadelphia county, to make rules and regulations for the government of all convicts confined in said prison, &c. The first care of the inspectors was, to remove the debtors into another house, entirely distinct from the convicts' prison; to put a stop to all improper out-door communications ; to separate the sexes; to suppress the use of spirituous liquors of all kinds ; to introduce a system of labour suited to their situation, trades, and strength"; to frame a plan of government for the house, and directions for the officers ; aud, generally, to introduce order, decency, economy, and industry. The business before them was laborious; but the necessity and importance of the work encouraged them to exertions, which, for a time, were arduous, and attended with many unpleasant circumstances; but a steady perseverance overcame many long-establis! injurious customs, and produced the present agreeable change.
“ The prisons, instead of being dens of vice, are converted into congregations of our fellow creatures, desiring to turn away from the wickedness which they have committed : instead of riot and profaneness, there
is order and regularity-instead of drunkenness and sensuality, there are the sacrifices of a broken spirit, of broken and contrite hearts.”
• In going through the prison,” says Turnbull, in a visit to the Philadelphia prison, “ you are not disgusted with those scenes of filth and misery which generally distinguish jails from other places. On the contrary, industry, cheerfulness, and cleanliness, meet the eye in every direction. By the laws of the prison, the house must be swept every day, by some one of the convicts. The duty is taken in rotation. Independent of the individual comfort naturally arising from a strict attention to cleanliness, and its powerful conduciveness to health, it is more absolutely neces. sary among criminals, than with other persons. In a prison government, which contemplates the amend. ment of its subjects, it cannot with propriety be neglected. The convicts are called to their meals by the ringing of a bell. We saw the men sit down to supper, and I do not recollect a scene more interesting. At one view, we beheld about ninety fellow-creatures, formerly lost, as it were, to the country and the world, now collected into one body, and observing that air of composure and decency to each other, consequent only from a long and continued practice of moral babits. We witnessed no laughing, nor even an indecent gesture; but a perfect and respectful silence reigned along the benches. They remained seated, until all were ready to rise, of which notice was given by the attending keeper.' They then immediately repaired to their respective employments.”
They lived to see the following Act, for the better preventing of crimes, and for abolishing the punishment of death in certain cases, pass the legislature:
66 Whereas the design of all punishment is to prevent the commission of crimes, and to repair the injury that hath been done thereby to society, or the individual; and it hath been found, by experience, that these objects are better obtained by moderate but certain penalties, than by severe and excessive punishments : And whereas it is the duty of every government to endeavour to reform, rather than exterminate offenders; and the punishment of death ought never
to be inflicted where it is not absolutely necessary for the public safety: Therefore,
Sect. 1. "Be it enacted by the Senate, and the House of Representatives, of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in general assembly met, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That no crime, whatever, hereafter committed, except murder of the first degree, shall be punished 'with death, in the State of Pennsylvania.”
Howard, when speaking of this Society, says, “ Should the plan take place during iny life, of estabJishing a permanent charity under some such title as that of Philadelphia, viz. A Society for alleviating the miseries of public prisons, and annuities be engrafted thereupon for the above-mentioned purpose, I would most readily stand at the bottom page for £500.; or, if such society shall be constituted within three years after my death, this sum shall be paid out of my estate.”
With this example before us, in the year 1808, a Society was formed in London, “ for the diffusion of knowledge, respecting the punishment of death, and the improvement of prison discipline.” Although this Society cannot yet boast of having produced any considerable effect, yet they trust that foundations have b
i laid, which rest for support upon a rock. Their first object was, to collect and publish the sentiments of various authors who had treated directly or incidentally upon these topics, and whose weight, either of argument or authority, was likely to influence the public. This collection extended to a greater length ihan was originally anticipated ; and the expense of publication has been a heavy charge on the funds of the Society.
Another source of expenditure has arisen from the expediency of possessing as complete a body of information as it was practicable to obtain, occasioning the purchase of books, pamphlets, sessions' papers, and other public documents. Other disbursements have been made, for original discussions; for the pubJication of debates in parliament, of curious facts, and
occasional advertisements. Much, however, remains · to be done, before these objects can be even partially accomplished; facts and circumstances will occur to be made known; new views will be constantly presenting themselves ;' and various means, which it is not practicable to define or enumerate, must be re- . sorted to, to obtain tbe attention, and secure the cooperation of the public. For these ends, a constant supply of funds is requisite; and the pecuniary aid of those is solicited, who are anxious to promote a cause, at once important in its consequences to the public welfare, anıl interesting to the best feelings of human nature. · The Society have published three octavo volumes, in which the opinions of the most celebrated authors on this subject are collected ; including some very important debates in Parliament, which, as well as all future publications, may he had at Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown's, Paternoster Row.
Every Subscriber is entitled to receive the amount of his Subscription in the works or tracts published by the society.
Subscriptions, for promoting the objects of this Society, are received by any member of the committee:Basil' Montagu, Lincolu's Inu; Edward Forster, St. Helen's Place; Thomas F. Forster, ditto; Benjamin Meggot Forster, ditto; Frederick Smith, Croydon, Surry; Richard Phillips, East-street, Red Lion square; Samuel Woods, George-yard, Lombard. street; 'Halsey Janson, Stamford Hill; Richard TayJor, Shoe-lane, Holborn; Luke Howard, Tottenham; William Allen, Plough-court, Lombard-street. HONORARY MEMBERS-Rev. J. Wrangham, Hunmanby, Yorkshire ; Thomas Clarkson, Playford-Hall. near Ipswich ; Sir F. Linley Wood, Bart. Hemworth, near Pontefract; George Frederick Stratton, Ranger's Lodge, Oxfordshire ; Walter Fawkes, Yorkshire; Sir George Cayley, Bart.; Stephen Lushington, LL.D. Doctors' Commons; Dr. Tuthill, Soho-square; Daniel Parkin, Lincoln's-inn; Lord Nugent; Thomas Forster, Tunbridge Wells.
All communications, respecting the objects of this society, are requested to be addressed to the care of WILLIAM ALLEN, Plough Court, Lombard Street, London.