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crimes. Some, we have accordingly found, go to their vo cation of thieving, with religious tracts in one pocket and instruments of death in another. Others have been discovered at prayers, or at meeting, immediately after having committed a barbarous murder, and numbers have been heard in their way to execution shouting, "glory, glory," &c. and exulting in a belief that their crimes on earth will be followed by endless joys hereafter. But where are the men who from being convicted thieves have become honest and useful citizens? Alas, once a thief always a thief," is the sad rule of the convicted! The loss of honest character with men, as of virtuous character with women, is seldom redeemable. Alike they feel themselves to be outcasts from the respectable part of the community, and, according to constitution and circumstances, pine or riot under the infamy of their new condition. Commixed, as that infamy now is, with condolence and comforts, they feel less inclination to shun itorturn from it than formerly. Comfortably fed on the ready provided bread of dishonesty, they are willing so to feed on rather than to renew endeavours to earn their daily bread by hard labor. Indeed the discourses they hear, and the acquaintances they make, in prison, disqualify them for a return to honest pursuits. There the youth who în an unguarded moment has pilfered some trifling article, the man who has committed an act of dishonesty to relieve a pressing want, and the clown who has been enticed into the commission of a crime by an old offender or a common informer, are mixed with and compelled to hear the discourse of hardened thieves-their contrivances, their daring, their hair-breadth scapes, and their jollity, are recounted, compared, and often lighted up with the fire of genius and talent; they are interested, amused, instructed; their outcast condition is seen to have charms of its own, which they never thought of; they think lightly of their offences when they see that all around them have done the same, and are still comfortable and merry, and from having entered their prison bowed down with shame and compunction, they come out of it reconciled to the abode, load in the praise of its comforts, and qualified by what they have learnt to engage in a series of higher crimes against the peace of society!
And if the hearts of some few criminals be sincerely turned during the term of prison association, and prison instructions, who will repose confidence in them? who will employ them? who will deal with them ?-Scarcely none but those whose dealings are of an illicit nature. Even if the criminal conceals the disgrace he has undergone, and re-establishes
himself in an honest line of life, his prison acquaintances find him out, and drain his earnings from him, or drive him away. There is a sort of commonwealth assumed among the criminal and profligate. Those who are in luck are sure to be beset by their destitute or greedy associates, and compelled to supply their demands under pain of impeachment, exposure, or violence. Thus a man who has been initiated into prison associations, must go on in the course he has entered, the bad acquaintance there formed will not quit him, if he would quit them!
But the new system aims at creating habits of industry in the convicts while under confinement, and thereby expects to qualify them to gain their living by hard labor after their discharge. The labor of prisoners, however, is at best mere play, in comparison with the intense persevering attention, and the laborious efforts, to which men are driven to support their families by honest means. The loitering employment of a prison, therefore, is not the training by which they can afterwards support their families by honest labor.
There is not a prison in England, it is confidently believed, where the earnings of the prisoners amount to one-tenth of the expense of their board and lodging as single men.
We need not go far for examples on this subject. The county gaol of Middlesex, built on the modern system of spaciousness and comfort, and called "The House of Correction;" but which might with more truth be called the " House of Attraction or Seduction," cost 60,000l. building; the annual expense of accommodating and superintending the prisoners, is about 90007., to which add 5 per cent. on the cost of the building, and the annual amount is 12,000/.; the annual produce of their labor is 260/.! Thus, in this house of correction or industry, the earnings of the prisoners amount to no more than a 46th part of their expenses as single men!! At the Penitentiary, Millbank, the building of one half of which has cost the public about half a million sterling, comforts are provided unknown to hard working men who are honest; among which is the warming of the whole interior by a steam apparatus, of great cost, lest the air from heaven should visit the criminals too roughly. The annual expenses of this establishment were stated in the House of Commons, to amount to 100/. for each convict. Thus, a laboring man, who at honest labour can earn no more than about 307. a year, to support his family, if he turn rogue and lead his family in the same path (a wife and four children we may suppose), will then draw from the public for their support, in the way of punishment, six hundred pounds a year!
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 uside 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 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.