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which may ultimately call for great expense; for, the time may at least be as favourable, as one of great prosperity, for a serious consideration of existing evils, and for calm discussion respecting the means of mitigating, or of obviating them. I shall have done some good by the exposition which I have to make of the condition of these prisons, if I shall but call the attention of one to the subject, who will treat it more faithfully, and who can act more efficiently upon the public mind, than I can. And I will not think my labour to be wholly lost, even if I should never see any good resulting from it.
The character and operations of the public institutions of a city, it is too often taken for granted, are well understood by its inhabitants. But, like other objects which are near, and to which attention may at any time be given, they are, for the most part, passed unregarded, by those who should feel a strong interest in them; or, even if they obtain a temporary notice, it is felt that, for the present, too much of the spirit of self-sacrifice is required, for an examination of them in all their details; and they are soon forgotten. Hence it is that many, who have passed their lives in a city, and who are well informed concerning many foreign objects, have first learned the character of some of the most important of the establishments, by which, perhaps, they have been passing every day, from the narrative of some traveller who has visited, and carefully observed them; and from his account of them have first understood the evils of one, and the beneficial influences of another, which for years may have been enlarging within a short distance from them. This, to say the least, is very unwise. Public institutions, of all kinds, are necessarily committed to the judgment and
care of individuals, who are considered as responsible for the proper conduct of them; and the directors, and other officers of these institutions may, or may not, be culpable for the evils to which they may be conducing. But if great evils, in which the public ought to feel a strong concern, exist in any of the establishments of a city, these evils should be made known, that, as speedily as possible, a remedy may be found for them. My own opportunities have indeed been more favorable than those of many among us, for attention to our institutions, both for charity, and for punishment; and this is my apology, if I need one, for bringing this subject before the public. I do not, however, propose at this time, to attempt a full review of our charitable and penal institutions; but alone, within as short a space as I may, to give the results of my observations respecting our House of Correction, and our common Jail. Of these prisons, I cannot but think, that very little is generally known among us; and I therefore wish to state a few facts concerning them, which, from their character, will supersede the necessity of any long course of reasoning in regard to them.
But, before exhibiting these facts, it is important that I should distinctly state, that I have no intention of inculpating any who are in the government of these institutions. In my visits to the Jail, I have always received, both from the Sheriff, and from the Jailer, every facility that could be desired, for the freest intercourse with the prisoners; and, equally in visiting the House of Correction, from the Overseers, and from all the subordinate officers. For the facts comprised in the statistical tables, which I shall give of commitments, &c. to the House of Correction, and which could be obtained only from the
records of this prison, I am not only indebted to Mr Badlam; but I am under obligation to him for having devoted many hours to an examination of his records, that, with as much accuracy as possible, he might answer the queries which I had addressed to him. Nor have I any objections to offer against either of these prisons, as far as their temperature, or their cleanliness is concerned. They are well warmed, and they have sufficiently large windows; and the whole interior of each of them is so often white washed, that the atmosphere to be breathed in them is perhaps as pure, as can reasonably be expected within the walls of a prison. The evils of which I complain lie beyond the power of any, or of all these officers. They are inherent in the establishments as they now are. But they form so very great a grievance, that they ought to be exposed, and kept in view, till means can be devised for their removal.
A thorough knowledge of these prisons is not to be obtained, merely by passing through them, and by the impressions which will be received in a single visit to them. And yet, an intelligent and inquisitive stranger, by the inquiries and observations of a single hour, will not only be satisfied, that they are not what they should be, but he will leave them with an undoubting conviction, that all their moral tendencies are the worst that can be dreaded in such establishments. Let us look at them, as they may at any time be seen by any one, who will allow himself the leisure of a single hour for their examination. It is not easy to give descriptions of places, by which very definite conceptions may be obtained of them.
But even general ideas of the structure of these prisons, and of the characters and condition of their inmates, cannot
fail, I think, to convince any one, that they are, and necessarily must be of a character, which ought not to be endured in a christian community.
The Common Jail, and the House of Correction, are in one yard, and are contained within one inclosure. We descend into this yard, and here we see two buildings of granite, about one hundred feet apart, running in a direction nearly from south to north, and parallel with each other. Each of these buildings contains three stories. The whole of one of them, and the middle story of the other, are for the confinement of those who are sent to the House of Correction. The upper and lower stories of the latter building form the common Jail. All the men belonging to the House of Correction, except the colored people, a few who are disqualified for work, and the lunatics who have been sent here, are confined in the middle story of the building, the upper and lower stories of which are used for a jail. In the lower story of the other building, the colored people are lodged, and a few invalids and lunatics are confined ; and the stories above are appropriated to the females. Here is a very fair exterior. The male convicts of the House of Correction are at work in the yard ; and the females in their apartments. Here, as far as I know, is no unnecessary severity ; and something, at least, is done by the prisoners, to defray the expenses which are incurred for their punishment. But to form any just idea of these prisons, we must enter them. Let us, then, first look into that for the female convicts.
The lower story of this building is divided, through the length of it, by an archa nine feet wide, and eight feet ten inches high. Here are ten rooms on one side, and nine
on the other, each measuring about ten feet by seven. Five of these rooms are for solitary confinement; and the other fourteen are for the colored men, and the invalids and lunatics, of whom I have before spoken. A few white men,-three or four,-may generally be seen in this arch, who either have the charge of the lunatics, when they are out of their cells; or they are temporarily here, while passing through the horrors,' occasioned by their sudden deprivation of spirituous liquors; or they are those who are too feeble for work, and not sick enough to be sent into the rooms which are used as hospitals. The average number of colored men who are lodged here is eight or nine.
Here I must be permitted to say, that I have no language in which to express my sense of the injustice, or of the inhumanity, of committing a lunatic to the cell of a prison. Let him be poor as he may, and let his derangement be caused as it may, supposing it to be permanent, or of long duration, he is a proper subject for a lunatic asylum ; and if he be taken from his family, he should be sent alone to a lunatic asylum. If the law does not require this disposition to be made of him, it ought to require it. The confinement of a single deranged man to this prison, merely to save the expense of his board at the asylum, fixes a deep stain on the moral character of our city.
But we leave the pitiable objects who are to be seen here, and ascend to the middle story of this building. Here also are nineteen rooms. One of them is used for the solitary confinement of females, and one for a store room. Here is an arch of the same length, and width, with that in the lower story, and the rooms are of the