« AnteriorContinuar »
and all the duty, that can be expected, is the service of the church upon a Sunday, attendance upon the sick when required, and one or two visits in the course of the week; but for the care of a large prison, the sum of 1207. does not seem to be a sufficient remuneration; it is the lowest sum allowed by the legislature in the Act relative to stipendiary curates, for the curate of a non-resident rector in a parish in which the population shall exceed five hundred persons; but there is no parish in which the clergyman, having the cure of souls, can be supposed to be in habits of communication with all its inhabitants; a large portion of them must be infants, or persons with whom he can have no intercourse; whereas, in a prison there is no individual who ought not to be an object of attention to the chaplain, and few who do not demand much more spiritual assistance than would be required in the case of an ordinary parishioner. Perhaps it may be expedient in fixing the limits to which the justices shall have power to raise the chaplain's salary, to adopt the principle taken with respect to the stipendiary curates, and to let the amount depend, in some degree on the average number of the prisoners confined, or on the number which the prison is calculated to contain. We must be aware that parsimony on this head is not economy, for laying aside all higher considerations, (which however ought not to be disregarded) we cannot but see, that the amount of any addition which could be made to the salary of the chaplain of a county gaol, would soon be saved to the county, if a few prisoners only should be replaced by his exertions in the paths of honest industry, instead of being turned loose at the end of their imprisonment, to commit fresh offences, and fall again under the censure of the law; since every re-commitment adds to the expenses of the gaol, and a very large proportion of the charges incurred in the prosecution of offenders is immediately repaid out of the county purse.
That offences of every description have of late years become more numerous in this kingdom, is a fact too notorious to be dişputed; it is unnecessary here to inquire how far this may be owing to the increase of the wealth and population of the country,-or to the growth of large towns, (among the inhabitants of which we must expect to find more crimes committed than among an equal number of persons living in villages, or spread over the face of a large district,) or to the fluctuations of trade incident to a great extent of commerce and manufacture, by which large bodies of workmen are often thrown at once out of employment, or to the imprudence and want of forethought resulting from the dependence which the lower orders have of late years been accustomed to place in parish relief, for their support in the hour of distress, or to the tide of blasphemy and sedition, which is poured inces
santly from the public press, to subvert the principles, and deaden the moral feelings of the people; all these causes probably contribute, more or less, to swell the list of offenders, but it is amongst the circumstances which have the largest share in producing this evil, that the ordinary penalties of the law have ceased to carry with them any terror: transportation is no longer dreaded as an exile to an unknown and savage [land; but on the contrary, is hailed by the hardened criminal as holding out to him the prospect of being settled in a country which is represented as possessing many advantages, and where he hopes to meet again the companions of his former dissolute life; while imprisonment, no longer aggravated by hardships, with which it ought never to have been attended, has lost those which should properly belong to it; we have passed on this head from one extreme to another. In former times, men were deterred from pursuing the road that led to a prison, by the apprehension of encountering there disease and hunger, of being loaded with heavy irons, and of remaining without clothes to cover them, or a bed to lie on; we have done no more than what justice required in relieving the inmates of a prison from these hardships; but there is no reason that they should be freed from the fear of all other sufferings and privations; and I hope that those, whose duty it is to take up the consideration of these subjects, will see, that in penitentiaries, offenders should be subjected to separate confinement, accompanied by such work as may be found consistent with that system of imprisonment; that in gaols or houses of correction, they should perform that kind of labor which the law has enjoined; and that in prisons of both descriptions, instead of being allowed to cater for themselves, they should be sustained by such food as the rules and regulations of the establishment should have provided for them: in short, that prisons should be considered as places of punishment, and not as scenes of cheerful industry, where a compromise must be made with the prisoner's appetites to make him do the common work of a journeyman or manufacturer, and the labors of the spinning wheel and the loom must be alleviated by indulgence.'
That I am guilty of no exaggeration in thus describing a prison conducted upon the principles now coming into fashion, will be evident to any person who will turn to the latter part of the article, "Penitentiary, Milibank," in Mr. Buxton's book on prisons; he there states what passed in conversation between himself and the governor of Bury gaol, (which gaol, by-the-by, he praises as one of the three best prisons he has ever seen, and strongly recommends to our imitation at Millbank). Having observed, that the governor of Bury gaol had mentioned his having counted 34 spinning wheels in full activity when he left that gaol at 5 o'clock in the morning on the preceding day, Mr. Buxton proceeds as follows, "after he had seen the Millbank Penitentiary, I asked him what would be the consequence, if the re
The designs for prisons, published by the Society for Prison Discipline, are all formed on what is called in prison building the windmill plan; that, on which I mean here to remark, is the large one,' intended for a county gaol, and calculated to hold 400 prisoners. It consists of central buildings, in which are the governor's apartments and those of the chaplain, when residing within the gaol, and of six ranges of building stretching out from the centre, like the radii of a circle, or the arms of a windmill, in which the prisoners are to be placed: each of these six ranges of buildings consists of five stories, of which the three upper stories are night-cells, and the two lower, day-rooms, being each divided in the middle by a wall, which runs down the rooms longitudinally, so that the two stories make four day-rooms, or work-rooms: at the further end from the centre, where the staircases, privies, &c. are placed, there are two rooms for a superintendent, the one above the other, with an interior communication between them, from one of which rooms he can see into each of the four work-rooms; and the governor
gulations there used, were adopted by him." "The consequence would be," he replied, "that every wheel would be stopped;" Mr. Buxton then adds, "I would not be considered as supposing, that the prisoners will altogether refuse to work at Millbank-they will work during the stated hours; but the present incentive being wanting, the labor will, I apprehend, be languid and desultory." I shall not on my part undertake to say, that they will do as much work as will be done in those prisons in which work is the primary object; but besides the encouragement of the portion of earnings Jaid up for them, they know that diligence is among the qualities that will recommend them to the mercy of the Crown, and that the want of it is, by the rules and regulations of the prison, an offence to be punished. The governor of Bury gaol, who is a very intelligent man, must have spoken hastily, in his eagerness to support his own system, and did not, I conceive, give himself credit for as much power and authority in his prison as he really possesses. It is not to be wondered at, that the keepers of prisons should like the new system; there is less trouble in the care of a manufactory than in that of a gaol; but I am surprised to find that so much reliance is placed in argument on the declaration of some of these officers, that the prisoners are quieter where their work is encouraged by allowing them to spend a portion of their earnings. It may naturally be expected, that offenders will be least discontented, and consequently least turbulent, where their punishment is lightest, or where, to use Mr. Buxton's own words, "by making labor productive of comfort or convenience, you do much towards rendering it agreeable;" but I must be permitted to doubt, whether these are the prisons of which men will live in most dread.
can see into the other end of the same rooms through an inspection hole, or he may enter at that end, but he must, for those purposes come out of his apartments, and go up a few steps from an outer gallery, which runs round the centre building. The first objection which I see to this plan is, that these twenty-four day-rooms are all of the same size, viz. about thirteen feet wide, and eighty-five feet long, and all, by the construction of the building, incapable of being sub-divided; whereas, if a passage were to run by the side of a range of cells, or small rooms, there might be any number of entrances made from the passage into the day-rooms, some of which might in that case be used with one or other of the adjoining wards, as occasion might require; and the partitions running across the cells, would not create any obstruction to sight through the inspection holes from the passage. The space taken up by this passage would not be thrown away, for the prisoners might exercise in the passage when the weather would not admit of their going into the court-yard for that purpose; according to the present design, they must, in wet weather, remain during the whole of the day in their work-rooms, which are not very well ventilated, having windows only on one side.
My next objection is, that there is not sufficient inspection. It must be difficult for a person looking through an aperture at one extremity of a narrow room eighty-five feet long, to see what prisoners are doing at the other end of the room, even if there were nothing in the apartment to obstruct his sight; but this difficulty seems increased to an impossibility, when a number of human bodies and looms, or other implements of manufacture, shall be interposed. If it be said, that the governor will inspect at the other end, it may be replied, that very little expectation can be entertained of inspection into twenty-four work-rooms from a governor, who will have the general care of the whole prison thrown upon him, especially as he cannot inspect at all without coming out of his house for that purpose; but even while he shall be looking in upon the prisoners at one end, and the superintendent inspecting
1 In this figure cells B and C may be used indifferently with A or with D having a communication with either, as well as with the passage P.
at the other, they would neither of them know much of what was passing in the middle of a room eighty-five feet long, and would hear nothing of what might be said there. Inspection must be very imperfect, if an officer cannot occasionally approach near enough to prisoners to ascertain what is going on, and even to hear them converse, without their being conscious that they are under his observation. You cannot prevent cards and dice from being brought into a county gaol, and if you could, pieces of money have heads and tails, and very good dominoes may be made out of leather. The only way to prevent gambling is, occasionally to come upon the prisoners unawares.
In their court-yards the prisoners will be still less under inspection than in their work-rooms, or to speak more correctly, they will be under no inspection at all. The superintendent having four wards, (or classes of prisoners,) under his care, to which two court-yards are attached, (one on each side of his building,) must have two classes at work, while two others are taking exercise in the two yards, and his room is so placed, that he cannot see from it into either of the yards; either, therefore, the prisoners in both the court-yards must take air and exercise without being seen by him, or he must abandon his working wards, and one courtyard, to attend to the other; and if the number of superintendents be doubled, still one of the yards, or both the work-rooms, must remain uninspected by either of them, while the inspection of the governor, from the gallery round the central building, can be of very little avail; for the ranges of building radiating from the centre create so much obstruction to sight from thence, that I do not believe there is a single point in that gallery from which the whole of any one court-yard can be seen at once. It is also very objectionable to place the superintendent at the greatest possible distance from the governor, as the inspection of the governor should be directed much more to his officers than to the prisoners; but this defect might perhaps be remedied, by putting the superintendent at the other end, next the centre building, as the loss of the governor's power to look in at the opposite end to that of the superintendent's rooms would not be very important.
The fourth objection to this windmill plan, is the little security against escape which it affords, compared with those in which the court-yards are surrounded by buildings. It must be a very high wall that can keep in a prisoner who has a friend on the outside to throw over to him the end of a rope-and the practice of placing loose bricks at the top of the outer wall of a prison, for the purpose of giving alarm in case of an attempt to climb over it, may be useful in small prisons, but the bricks would fall without being heard, from the top of a wall of sufficient extent to enclose three acres of