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But some zealous partizans of the new light, are now providing schools and teachers of trades, and establishing manufactories in prisons. Thus they abridge the already well known insufficiency of employment for honest persons, and diffuse and trifle away that employment among the dishonest.
If this course be pursued it will afford a proper climax to the new system, and at length solve the difficult problem of bettering the condition of the poor. The destitute will then only have to qualify themselves by the commission of crimes, and besides superior and abundant food, warm and clean lodging and clothing, the daily visits of friends and cheerful society, the anxious enquiries and kind treatment of superiors, they will also have ready prepared for their enjoyment, education to raise them above the vulgar honest herd; the rank of being mechanics instead of common laborers, and constant employment for bad work idly performed.
The necessaries and comforts of life being thus ready prepared to their hands, and the disgrace of convictions being wiped away, by the condolence and good offices of the prison visitors, as well as by the frequency of such occurrences, no strong reason will remain to prevent the lower orders from laying aside their old prejudices in favor of honesty, and turning thieves altogether!
Not to dwell further on this subject, it may be considered as sufficiently shewn, that the system of rendering imprisonment comfortable, and providing gentle employment and religious consolation to convicts, has not led to their general reformation. It may also be assumed as an ascertained fact, that very many instances occur, in which criminals acknowledge they committed their misdeeds to get into prison. THIS TREATMENT, THEREFORE, DOES NOT LEAD TO THE REFORMATION OF CRIMINALS, BUT IT DOES TEND TO THE PRODUCTION OF CRIMINALS.
THE DELAYS IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE are also much to be deplored. A young man or woman of moral habits, taken into custody upon an unfounded charge of pilfering, in most parts of the kingdom, may lay in prison half a year, and in the northern counties a whole year, before the case is brought to a hearing. The accused are, during this confinement, suffering a debasement of habits and character, which can never be restored. Besides the injustice and cruelty of thus punishing the legally presumed, and oftentimes actually proved, innocent, justice is defeated by the delay, the necessary witnesses are not forthcoming, or if they are kept together, it is at an expense or loss which "
individuals ought not to be subjected to, when furthering the ends of justice. Besides, the punishment after such a delay loses much of its effect, for the purpose of example: the crime is forgotten, the punishment only is considered, and the offender becomes an object of compassion.
As a consequence of the over-severity of punishment in some instances of its total insufficiency in others of the uncertainty, delays, and expense of prosecuting-of the knowledge that throwing a juvenile offender into prison will ruin his principles and character for ever, arises the evil of unwillingness to prosecute. This disinclination is well known, and duly appreciated by offenders, and forms a prominent ingredient among the encouraging circumstances of their vocation. To overcome this disinclination, and to procure informations against offenders, public rewards are permanently offered. This has led to shocking cases of false witness, conspiracy, and unjust convictions. It has produced an order of men, who make Informing the business of their lives. These men are pests of society; they must find offenders, or their occupation is gone. If offenders ready made to their purpose are not discoverable, we have seen that they either excite men to become offenders, or falsely accuse them of being so. A modern act of parliament, to prevent the falsifi cation of parish registers, rather unwittingly, it is presumed, has offered a check to this tribe. It gives to the informer half the penalty, as usual, the other half to the king; but the penalty to be divided betwixt these parties, IS SEVEN YEARS' TRANSPORTATION.
INTRODUCTORY PROPOSITIONS TO AN IMPROVED
THE OBJECTS ENTERTAINED ARE:
1. The formation of a Code of Criminal Laws in which crimes and penalties are clearly defined; justly proportioned, and systematically arranged.
2. The rejection of all laws and restraints which are not of obvious public utility, of all fictions, and of all presumptions inconsistent with plain sense, and also of all unnecessary verbage.
3. The prevention of crimes in preference to the reformation of criminals.
4. The pure, speedy, and cheap administration of justice.
THE DUTIES OF ALL MEN ARE:
5. To render to every one his due.
6. To act without causing unjust annoyance to any one. 7. To co-operate under the direction of Government for mutual security and welfare.
In furtherance of these objects and duties, the following propositions are submitted.
8. The law ought to extend equally over all the members of a community, and to reach its highest as well as its lowest members." "Either law or force prevails in civil society." (Bacon's Doctrine of Governments, p. 242. Ed. 1793.) "Of Law there can be no less acknowledged than, that her seat is the bosom of God, her voice the harmony of the world. All things in heaven and on earth do her homage; the very least as feeling her care, and the greatest as not exempt from her power, both angels and men and creatures of what condition soever; though each in different sort and manner, yet all with uniform consent admiring her as the mother of their peace and joy." (Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity.) Of Force, it may be added, her best commands are received with reluctance, her authority lasts no longer than her power is superior, and the individual whose will directs it, is invariably marked by jealousy, and oftentimes becomes the victim of hatred and revenge.
9. The laws ought to be consistent one with another, and ought not to be more numerous than is absolutely requisite for the maintenance of Justice and the good of the community. Individual enterprise, exertions, and enjoyments, ought never to be restrained or embarrassed by laws of questionable utility.
10. There ought to be no wrong without a practical legal remedy .or punishment. It is not in the nature of man to sit down contentedly under injuries. Resentment of wrongs is a natural and useful feeling, for the dread of it checks the unjust in their designs. But sufferers are bad judges of the quantum of retribution due to their respective wrongs. The law of society undertakes this important task, but if it fails to provide redress, the law of nature supplies the deficiency. Individuals then endeavour to obtain satisfaction by means of their own; whence acts of personal vengeance, open or secret, chiefly prevail in countries where the administration of Justice is defective.
11. Fiction, deceit, and chicanery, ought not to be endured in the construction and administration of the laws. The object of all good legislation is to discourage these bad qualities, and to support truth, sincerity, and honesty; words and expressions therefore ought to be construed according to their received meaning with the generality of mankind, and no exception or plea allowed which is inconsistent with good sense and plain dealing.
12. In defining the boundaries of offences, care should be taken to set out the exact limits, the whole of the limits, and nothing beyond the limits., While comprehensiveness is aimed at, let not the arm of the law extend so far as to include the innocent in its grasp; for when this is done, the quiet of the people, and also their safety, are exposed to the attacks of vindictive and corrupt men. "Certainty is so essential to a law, (says the great Lord Bacon,) that a law without it cannot be just. A law ought to give warning before it strikes, and it is a true maxim, that the best laws leave least to the breast of the Judge." The same authority adds in another place, "That may be esteemed a good law which is, 1st. clear and certain in its sense; 2nd. just in its command; 3rd. commodious in the execution; 4th. agreeable to the form of government; and 5th. productive of virtue in the subject."
13. Small offences ought to be vigilantly noticed and promptly punished, they are the first steps toward great crimes: by arresting these effectually, crimes are checked ab initio. It is much better to prevent men from becoming criminals, than to endeavour to reform them after they have been suffered to become so. Lord Bacon says, "In courts of Justice, let the first overtures and intermediate parts of all great offences be punished, though the end were not accomplished. And this should be the principal use of such courts, for it is the part of discipline to punish the first buddings of offence, and the part of clemency to punish the intermediate actions and prevent them taking effect." Doctrine of Government, p. 248.
14. The measure of punishment due to different offences, ought to be ascertained and laid down by the law, as nearly as possible; so that the citizen may distinctly see the punishment he will incur upon misconduct; that that important part of a law, its penalty, may not be subject to the favor or aversion of a Judge, and that the Judge may be relieved from the pain, trouble, and responsibility of determining the amount of penalty.
[To be continued.]