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What shall we do with our Convicts? This has long been a question with politicians, disciplinarians, and philanthropists. While the Australian and other colonies were willing to receive our discharged prisoners, the inquiry was not so urgent, They could hew down trees, cut openings through hills, make and repair roads, reclaim the wilderness. There was ample employment for ten times the numher annually disembarked. Suddenly, however, our colonies refused to receive them,-we need not now discuss their motives, and thus a vast number of men, women, and juveniles became a species of permanent charge upon the State, with scarcely a hope of its diminution. What were we to do with them? The object of their committal and imprisonment was the diminution of crime by their punishment, as well as the protection of others, by their removal from intercourse with the society they had outraged. Both objects might be effected by perpetual imprisonment or banishment. Where there was a vast disparity in crime this was manifestly unjust, and yet, to retain men in merely penal custody for the period of their respective sentences, and then to let them loose again upon the world, was in the highest degree cruel towards the prisoner who might possibly be reclaimed, and especially dangerous to society, for to their former evil passions the yearning for revenge would inevitably be added. These considerations led to the institution of a course partly penal, partly reformatory. As far as regards the improvement of the prisoner's conduct, the best results followed. But the plan failed in one great point: the community refused to receive our reformed criminals. Fairly enough, it was objected that a character obtained in a situation where there was no temptation or inducement to crime was no just criterion of reform. Society refused to receive into her bosom and absorb within herself men who had been manifestly guilty, and who had given no reliable proof of their repentance and reformation. The remarkable success of the plan pursued at Mettray and similar institutions suggested a course by which this difficulty might be obviated, with important benefits to all. Hence in 1855 it was proposed to add to the Penal and Reformatory stages, a third, which we may call Probationary. In this stage the prisoner is assailed by, or at least exposed to temptations. He is no longer secluded within the walls of his prison; he is sent out to mix with his fellow-men in the stirring business of laborious life. He is employed, without the immediate presence of control, in such occupations as suit his skill or strength. He executes commissions, is trusted with sums of money, and is taught thus by experience to estimate the value of character. He is not thrown suddenly from the gloom and silence of a prison, into the glare and

"Not so Bad as they Seem. The Transportation, Ticket-of-Leave, and Penal Servitude Questions, plainly stated, and Argued on Facts and Figures; with some Observations on the Principles of Prevention, in a Letter Addressed to Matthew Davenport Hill, Esq., Q.C., Recorder of Birmingham." By Patrick Joseph Murray, Barrister-at-Law. London: Cash. 1857.

tumult of busy life. He is sheltered, rather than detained, in what is called "an intermediate prison," until a satisfactory offer of employment is made to the authorities for him, or until the full period of imprisonment, to which he was originally sentenced, has elapsed. Under this new system, which commenced in March, 1856, in the space of eighteen months there have been launched again upon the world no less than 1,067 convicted prisoners! It is high time that the public should be fully informed of the method pursued, and of the practical result of the new mode of treatment. Our information is derived from a lecture delivered at the recent scientific meeting at Birmingham, by Mr. Hill, an official statement by Walter Crofton, Chairman of the Directors of Irish Convict Prisons, and other sources.

A convict, on coming under the control of the Board, is placed first in the new cellular prison, called Mountjoy, situate on the North Circular-road, near Dublin. By day and night he is separated from his fellows. Even in the chapel, the exercise ground, and school-room, though the prisoners move amongst each other, all conversation is forbidden. When a prisoner is taken suddenly from the flurry and excitement of criminal existence, the deep silence and monotony of this first stage form a broad line of demarcation between his past and future life. At this time the ministrations of the chaplain are all-important. Much time is devoted separately to each prisoner. His wants and tastes are studied, lessons and admonitions are given adapted to his whole character, and gradually an ascendancy is obtained over his mind and affections. At the end of nine months, unless he has misconducted himself, the prisoner is removed to Spike Island, where the shores are the limits of his prison. Here the first preparation for the intermediate stage is made. During the day he is toiling at the repair and enlargement of military works. The transition from the confinement of Mountjoy to free exercise, however laborious, in the clear air, is looked upon as an inestimable blessing, the more satisfactory as it has been earned by nine months' good conduct. By night he is shut up in a strong building, separated from his comrades, but no longer in solitude. The compartments of their dormitories are so constructed as to admit of conversation, under proper surveillance. They are amply provided with books, not merely religious, but also secular, with a moral tendency. Courses of lectures are given, chiefly upon geography, the character and climate of our colonies, &c. It is found that the really reformed criminal is anxious to leave the scenes of his former misconduct, and to begin a new life in a distant land. If their conduct has been exemplary at Spike Island, they are removed from it at the end of two months, otherwise at the intervals of three, four, or six months, as their probation has merited. On their departure from Spike Island begins the new phase in the treatment of our convicts.

Four prisons, if they can be called so, are set apart for the working out of this experiment. Two-Forts Camden and Carlisle-on cach side of Cork Harbour, are occupied by men employed on public

works; Smithfield Institution in Dublin is set apart for tradesmen ; and at Lusk, fifteen miles from Dublin, the men are employed chiefly in agricultural operations, such as draining, road-making, levelling, &c. The men now are allowed a certain portion of their earnings: this sometimes amounts to half-a-crown a week. Each keeps a book in which the gradual increase of this fund is recorded. He is allowed to draw 6d. weekly, and spend it as he pleases, intoxicating drinks alone being forbidden. The rest is reserved until his departure. When the men have acquired some self-control, they are sent out on messages, or work is procured for them at a distance from home. They pay the prison bills, and prepare to enter into a life of liberty again, but under fairer auspices than before. They are taught outlines of history, the benefits of emigration, the forms of government prevailing through the world, elementary science to extend their knowledge of common things, and even the principles of political economy. On Saturday evenings there is a species of competitive examination in the school lectures of the past week. Preparations for the contest are going on every night. It is stated that the men's progress is wonderful, and that the alteration of their moral character singularly improves their external appearance.

The results of this most careful training are highly important. Of the 1,067 convicts discharged from the intermediate establishments, 559 are discharged on letters of license. They are to report themselves monthly to the Constabulary, and the smallest instance of misconduct is reported. Of the rest, several have received unconditional pardons; many have emigrated; some have enlisted; and forty-two are at the present moment employed in Dublin, at wages varying from 9s. to £1 6s. a week. Even in the establishments their industry is remarkable. These institutions are not only self-supporting but profitable. After deducting every expense, even interest on money spent, share in directors' salary, &c., the establishment at Lusk exhibited a clear profit of £236 in the six months! The reformatory effect of their instruction is proved by the fact, that out of 1,067 licences granted, but seveenteen have been revoked. And during the whole period of eighteen months but one man was convicted of having been drinking, though all were constantly exposed to the ordinary temptations of public-houses, &c.

Such important and gratifying results solve the question-What are we to do with our convicts? Even supposing there was no demand for their labour,-which is so far from being the case, that the supply is not equal to the demand,-yet men thus trained must be most valuable to the State. There are numerous works to be executed which, because not immediately remunerative, will not be taken in hands by private individuals or companies. There are piers and harbours to be erected for many a little fishing town, now without a shelter for its boats or crews. There are marshes to be drained, rivers to be embanked, bogs to be reclaimed, sanitary works to be executed. Such measures may fairly be executed by Government with such instruments, and may be carried out rapidly by the extension of the system. There is but one painful point in all this, one sorrowful thought which will come uppermost. Why is there not

the same zealous care taken to instruct the young? Why are there not in every city and county establishments opened, not reformatory, but educational, where the peasant's or humble tradesman's child, growing up to manhood, may be rescued from the vices and contaminations of the street, and all their evil consequences.

The second opinion is from The Freeman's Journal, a Dublin paper, of Saturday, October 17, 1857.


The Times sneers at such simple fare as social science compared with Indian curries, and its earnest propagators now assembled at Birmingham. The occasion is unfitted for such maudlin demonstrations! When Lord John Russell, in the full blaze of the Russian war, could see no reason why a Reform Bill, long promised and long delayed, should not occupy the attention of the Legislature, there can a fortiori be none why the good people of England should not have their minds directed to the consideration of social questions, "because" British troops are everywhere successfully grappling with the military revolt in India. In our opinion the time is very opportune for the friends of social improvement, and the public zest for Indian news will not be in the least dulled after listening, in the telegraphic intervals, to the sound deductions of practical men on questions of the utmost social importance. The Society now sitting in Birmingham is called the National Association for the Promotion of Social Sciences. Like the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, the Amendment of the Law, and the British Association, the new body undertakes to impress the public mind, by the collection and dissemination of facts and arguments, with the necessity of urging social reforms on the Government and Legislature. The field of operations is of vast extent, including everything, proximate or remote, which could be referred to any of the subjects into which social science is, or is supposed to be, resolvable. This diversity of questions, involving diversity of opinions, appears to us to be the reef on which the Society is in danger of going to pieces. The public mind will be distracted with the multitude of discussions and conclusions. For instance, on Wednesday, papers were read on Juris. prudence and the amendment of the law, on education, reformation and punishment, public health and social economy. These are only the generic heads which comprise a vast variety of sub-divisional topics. In the first department, discussions took place on the transfer of land, Reform of the Bankrupt Law-ditto, the Scottish-on Commercial Law-Insolvency-Partnership, Registration, and Limited Liability-Commercial Legislation and Commercial Morality-the 17th section of the Statute of Frauds, &c.-This is only a sample of the work which the Association has cut out for itself. However worthy of attention are many of the papers, we would particularise one, because the scene is laid in Ireland and just praise is lavished on our prison authorities. Irish skill and discipline have done more to solve the difficulty, which weighs like a nightmare on social philoso

phers, than all the plans, premiums, and Panopticons of the Homeoffice. From time to time the press has drawn attention to the success of the experiments in our metropolitan and provincial convict prisons. The novelty of criminals in their well known garb passing through our streets on errands involving honesty, punctuality, and attention, and no turnkey or policeman dogging their steps, was singular enough-but not more singular than the continued patience, intelligence, and religious and moral inculcation which produced such a phenomenon as a thoroughly reformed convict. The Recorder of Birmingham, Mr. M. D. Hill, a very enlightened judge and well-known philanthropist, came over to this country to see the reformatory process in operation. He had heard of its success-but he would see with his own eyes, methods and results. So he came, and the fruits of his experienced observation are communicated to the Birmingham Society.

Before we allude to the system which has impressed the Recorder so forcibly, we shall quote the concluding passage of his speech :"I have to express my belief that the directors of the Irish convict prisons have practically solved the problem which has so long perplexed our Government and our legislature-What shall we do with our convicts? The results of their great experiment answer thus-keep your prisoners under sound and enlightened discipline until they are reformed-keep them for your own sake and for theirs. The vast majority of all who enter your prisons as criminals can be sent back into the world, after no unreasonable terms of probation, honest men and useful citizens. Let the small minority remain, and if death arrive before reformation, let them remain for life." This was the supposed charge of the Irish Prison Directors to their English visitor, and they contain in a few words the substance of a long course of discipline, tested by experience and crowned with success. Mr. Hill described the object of the Irish system to consist in training and instructing the prisoner so that he may be impenetrable to temptation after his discharge. It will be at once seen how perfect must that discipline be to secure such a result as effectual resistance to temptation in minds once steeped in guilt, and now fortified against crime by a moral and religious armour of true Irish manufacture. The convict is sent in the first instance to the Mountjoy Prison, where he is retained for nine months in separate, not solitary confinement, for he meets his fellow-prisoners at chapel and the exercise ground, though the hideous black mask forbids recognition, while the officer imposes unbroken silence. After this long probation he is transferred to some of the Government provincial prisons, and employed in healthy manual labour, to which he takes heartily after his long separate confinement in Mountjoy. He is now in good spirits, and in a mood to observe the restraints of discipline without a murmur. He is also more open to religious and moral exhortations, which the clergy sedulously inculcate in sermons, lectures, and conversations. The schoolmaster is not idle. He shares with the clergyman the grateful task of sowing the seeds of knowledge in an unpromising soil. And his pains are not unrewarded, for Mr. Hill testifies to the wonderful proficiency some of the convicts have attained in a very short time. On the expiration of a period, which varies according to their

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