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utmost, first, by not procuring the universal education of the people, and next, by making the worst of such regulations as we have; administering our punishments capriciously, and enhancing their mischiefs by bad modes of infliction. Two great works, then, have to be achieved, in preparation for the enlightened penal system of which our philosophers and philanthropists descry a glimpse in a coming age: the nation must be educated into a state of moral discernment: and, while this is doing, our present penal institutions must be purified from the executive abuses which render them ten times more cruel and pernicious than the most barbarous of their originators intended, or than there is any occasion for them to be made.
We quote some remarks from the Report before us, on the first of the two objects we have specified:
'The distressed condition of juvenile offenders on their discharge from prison has continued to occupy the attention of the Committee, and they have afforded such relief to these necessitous objects as the very limited state of the funds would allow. The prevalence of crime among the youth of the lower orders is well known to be alarmingly great. On the causes which contribute to this evil, the Committee have fully enlarged in their former Reports. Whatever operates to the production of indigence among the adult poor, has, of course, a most unfavorable effect on the moral condition of their families; and the juvenile depravity, which now unhappily prevails, derives its origin and strength from circumstances too deeply rooted in the present state of society to be materially diminished by any plans, however wise, for the mere punishment of the offender. The diffusion of education is, in every point of view, the most efficacious remedy for the prevention of crime. By education is meant, not merely instruction in the elementary arts of reading and writing, but a course of moral training which shall impart religious impressions, control the passions, and amend the heart. In their previous Reports, the Committee have enlarged on the
benefits which the establishment of Infant Schools is calculated to impart to the most indigent classes, and especially in those crowded parts of the metropolis where a single room often contains several families. Beset on every side by the most profligate associations, breathing a moral atmosphere the most corrupt, no benefits can be conceived more precious than those which are presented by these Institutions; and it is therefore to be regretted that, notwithstanding their obvious importance, they should not have become universally established. In regard to the education of the poor generally, it must be acknowledged that the experience of the last thirty years has proved the inefficiency of the exertions made for this purpose, as well by public associations as by private individuals. In the metropolis and populous towns throughout the kingdom, the want of education is severely felt, while in the agricultural districts a large proportion of the working classes are in a state of profound ignorance and great moral debasement. But a slight consideration of the subject will show that the moral and religious education of the people is an object too vast in its importance to the well-being of the State, to be left to the voluntary exertions of benevolent individuals and charitable associations. An Education Act, framed on broad and liberal principles, and securing the concurrence of all sects and parties, would be one of the greatest blessings which the legislature could confer; and it is earnestly hoped that the period has at length arrived when a national measure of this high character will provide for every child throughout the kingdom an education comprising the elements of useful knowledge, and based on the solid foundation of Christian principles." — p. 85-87.
Our business, then, is to favor infant and other schools to the utmost, and to go on thanking government for the Irish School Bill, and reminding it that we want more, till general education becomes the law of our English land. Then there will be, among an incalculable number of other advantages, a wide opening for an improvement in our penal government.
The second great object, that of rendering our penal institutions no worse than they need be, is that which the Prison Discipline Society espouses.
None of the objects, with a view to which imprisonment should be conducted, can possibly be answered by the methods which prevailed before the Society began its exertions, and which have not yet given place sufficiently to the better system of discipline which they have partially introduced, and are striving to make general. Those objects
1st. The security of the community.
2d. The reformation of the offender.
3d. (a subordinate, though still important object)That the resources of the community should not be uselessly consumed by its criminals.
The security of a community is little promoted by a system which lodges a man in prison a debtor, and brings him out a ruffian; which imprisons him erring, and discharges him depraved; or turns a merely suspected man into a guilty one. Of the 120,000 prisoners yearly contained within the jails of the United Kingdom, a very large number must have gone in, in a moral condition less threatening to society than that of many whom they were about to join. Thousands of them were only debtors, thousands were young, many guilty of a first offence only, many innocent. For the short protection afforded to society by the temporary confinement of these 120,000, how dearly must it pay on their return to it! Some of its foes are removed by the gallows, others are sent abroad to spread
the contagion of their vices elsewhere; but in compensation of this riddance, the debtors come out ready to steal as well as defraud; the young educated to crime; the once over-tempted now hardened; the innocent corrupted. Thus is moral evil propagated by the very mode adopted to con
fine it, and society injured by the means ordained for its protection. The remedy must be found in classification, in restriction of intercourse, in keeping our prisons as clear as possible of offenders whose misdeeds are not of so bad a character as to render their seclusion necessary to the peace of the community, and in shortening, as much as possible, the period of imprisonment previous to trial.
"In respect to classification," observes the Report, "the prison-act directs that in every county jail or house of correction, the prisoners shall be divided into ten classes; and where these prisons are united together, twelve classes are required:" it is further enacted that "such further means of classification shall be adopted as the justices shall deem conducive to good order and discipline." "It appears, however, from the jail returns, that upwards of forty prisons have not even the lowest scale of classification required by law; and that there are only twenty-two united county prisons in which the minimum is exceeded. Wherever the numbers are large, a further division of classes in respect to age, character, and degrees of crime, is indispensable, in order to promote individual reformation, and prevent the mischievous effects of contamination.” — p. 23. There is much to be done then in rectifying the execution of the law while waiting for the amendment of the penal code.
The difficulties in the way of classification are much increased by the crowded state of too many of our jails,
an evil not wholly arising from the increase of crime, but from an increased disposition in the magistracy to avoid the responsibility of bailing offenders who are brought before them; so that stealers of hedge-stakes and boys guilty of street-rows are shut up in a school of corruption for weeks, instead of awaiting, under better influences, the punishment of their offences. It should be remembered 25
that every committal to jail is a misfortune to the community as well as to the culprit, and therefore a deed not to be needlessly done. "There cannot be a question," says the Report, "that the number of untried prisoners — the most unmanageable class might, by the general acceptance of bail, be reduced to one-half, or even a third, with no injury to the community, with great benefit to the individual, and with material advantage to the discipline of prisons. The large proportion which the number of persons discharged by grand juries, and of those acquitted, bears to the whole number committed, affords strong presumptive evidence of the unsoundness of the present system." And this, though much greater license of bailing is allowed by law than formerly.
An analogous evil is the infrequency of jail-deliveries. Something has of late been done, and more is, we trust, in the way to be done towards rectifying the inequality of the law under which a prisoner belonging to a certain county may be kept in prison a year before trial, while the perpetrator of a similar offence in London is tried in six weeks; but, in the meanwhile, incalculable injury has been and continues to be done to the safety of society by the congregation of numbers, of whom such as are not guilty are exasperated, and therefore prepared for guilt, and all of whom are suffering gross injustice. Magna Charta was framed with a view to other results than this: it provided that justice should not be delayed, any more than denied or sold.
It is evident that these grievances, which affect the security of society, have an immediate bearing on the moral state of the offender. As long as they exist, the reformation of the criminal cannot be looked for. It is plain that, previous to trial, before he is subjected to any other infliction than the loss of liberty, every precaution should be taken to avoid his sustaining any kind of injury. He should have means to pursue his own employments; instruction