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will have well nigh done their work, and if not altogether superseded, will be confined to exceptional cases, instead of as at present, performing the greater portion of the preventive and reformatory operations of the country.
Let us however do justice to the men who struggled for years against public indifference and incredulity, while striking out the new path which has now become only too fashionable. Fault indeed has been found with them, that they look upon criminals as interesting experiments, and are too much inclined to indulge those who deserve punishment. But this proves only that their heart is in their work; few can devote themselves entirely to one object without other feelings towards it than those which animate the world at large. Physicians and surgeons regard terrible wounds and diseases in a very different light to those who suffer from their effects.
But even among these voluntary workers there now prevails a far more healthy tone, and the various papers read at Birmingham and Liverpool, in the Punishment and Reformation Department of the Social Science Association, prove that the objections to Reformatories, on the score of indulgence, are more conjectural than well founded, and that the managers of the greater number, as well as the inspectors who visit them, are fully aware that crime is not only a misfortune, but a sin, which must be expiated by suffering. The tendency of this country, as of all others where popular influences predominate, is to proceed from one extreme to another, till the practical common-sense of the nation settles down eventually in the middle course. The pendulum swings from side to side, but the clock goes on. It is plain, however, that the action of individuals upon a population like that of England can only be experimental. The machinery of the State is necessary to deal with the enormous mass, and it is no slight or doubtful proof of the soundness of a principle, that it has been approved and adopted by the executive of the country, a body proverbially and most properly incredulous, and slow to break through long-established routine. Another
very satisfactory evidence that the new system has
passed out of the region of enthusiasm into that of commonsense and cool judgment, is found in the moderate language of the reports. The pious speeches and touching writings of prisoners are no longer quoted as a proof of reformation, nor indeed do the managers of Reformatories, or the authorities of prisons, pretend to bring about the change of heart which is not in the power of man, though too often presumed with an overweening and fatally mistaken confidence.
“I confess," says Mr. Barwick Baker, one of the earliest and most successful of the new school— I confess that I never like to apply the term reformed to any who leave our institutions. If it means that they are so far reformed as to be safe from relapse, it would be absurd for me to state more of them than I can of myself.”—(Transactions 1857, p. 271.)
“ The only reformation, perhaps," says the Rev. J. Kingsmill, Chaplain of Pentonville, “ of persons under correction for offences against the laws, expected by the State or society at large, is simply such a change as that they shall cease to be criminal, and addict themselves to honest, quiet, and orderly pursuits.”—(English Reports, p. 28.)
“If,” says Mr. Organ, “we can turn out a man from prison, whose character is so changed, that instead of providing for his wants by plunder, he settles down and earns his bread by honest labour, that man, I hold, is reformed, at least so far as the public have any right to inquire.”—(Irish Reports, p. 129.)
“I have long felt,” writes the Rev. Sydney Turner, " that the individual reformation of the offender is a matter rather of individual religious charity than of social duty. The statesman and the community are most concerned with the effects of Reformatories on the general amount of crime, in reference to the protection of the property of society at large.”—(Report, p. 12.)
This surely is an object which will approve itself to every man who has any thing to lose. It must not however be supposed that the Reformatory effort stops here. The chaplains of jails, and the devoted workers in Reformatory institutions, have a higher aim on which we do not propose to dwell, though
we trust it may never be entirely lost sight of. Nor do we intend delaying the reader with any remarks on voluntary Reformatories. These can be only the pioneers to the main army; their statistics are incomplete, and lack the official guarantee; but above all, the results they shew depend far less on the system than on the hand which works it; and while the success of such men as Mr. Baker and Mr. Bowyer is undeniable, though almost beyond belief, there are many who sadly mistook their powers when they attempted this difficult work, and some even, we fear, who are not sufficiently impressed with the responsibility attaching to it
It is, then, to the dry and unromantic pages of parliamentary Blue Books that we turn, to prove our position that the reformation of adults, in the qualified sense to which we have restricted the word, is not only not impossible, but has been most successfully accomplished ; for surely we may lay claim to more than partial success, if we can shew that the majority of those convicts who have passed through our present system, do not return to prison, or fall under the cognizance of justice, and that their places are not filled up by a fresh series of criminals.
We find from the Reports before us, that the same principle is recognised in the English and Irish prisons; but the system seems to have been more elaborately worked out in the latter, and to these we purpose chiefly directing our attention.
The principle is that of hope. “The recent enactments,” says the chaplain of Chatham prison, “by which a small portion of their time will be remitted as a reward for exemplary conduct and industry, is very beneficial. The cheering principle of hope is thus cherished within them, and nerves them to that exertion which improves their habits and advances their true interests.”
“The method of advancing prisoners to successive stages of merit,” writes the governor of Portsmouth,' continues to work satisfactorily; during the year a class has been formed of prisoners who can be trusted to perform their own labour without the supervision of an officer, and no bad results have followed.”
“ The v. g. (very good) for work, is as earnestly sought for as ever," writes the governor of Portland.
“That advantages,” says the governor of Dartmoor, “conferred by the several stages of advancement, are highly prized by the prisoners, is evidenced by their general desire to obtain the privileges they confer."
These extracts have been taken almost at random from the reports made by the authorities of the English convict prisons, which abound in willing testimony to the beneficial effect of the lately established system.
In Ireland, we are told, that the object is to train and instruct the prisoner so that he may be able to resist temptation after he leaves the jail. This is done by placing his fate as much as possible in his own hands, enabling him, by industry and good conduct to raise himself step by step to a position of much less restraint, and eventually to regain his liberty at an earlier period. The Irish convict is first sent to Mountjoy, a cellular prison, where he is retained in separate confinement for a minimum period of eight months, during which he is never allowed to converse with his fellow-prisoners. In these hours of solitude he is led, perhaps for the first time in his life, to wholesome reflection. His earliest thought will probably be that crime does not pay; the chaplain may fail indeed to convince him that it is his duty, but his own senses will prove that it is his interest to keep bis hands out of other people's pockets.
It is well ascertained that this discipline of silence and solitude, has a greater deterring effect than that produced by punishment apparently much more severe; so distressing indeed is it, that, after a short interval, employment is gradually given as a relief, and gladly accepted. If he has earned a good character, the prisoner leaves the separate prison at the end of eight months, otherwise he is retained for nine, or even longer. According to his previous occupation, he is then transferred to the government works at Spike Island, or to indoor employment at Philipstown, where he is associated with others, and placed, according to the character he brings with him, either in a state of probation, or a
degree higher, in what is called the third class. From these he has to work himself to the second and first; and lastly to the advanced class, which he can do in less than two years after leaving Mountjoy. At each stage he gains fresh privileges, and eventually, after an interval dependent upon the length of his original sentence, he is sent to an intermediate prison, where he works out the remainder of his time, or if deemed worthy of the indulgence, is conditionally discharged on licence at an earlier period. The practical effect of this is, that the three years' man may work himself out on conditional licence, six months before his time; that the four years' man may gain nine months, and so on; and that, by continuous industry during their detention, they may have earned, the first £3, the second £4, to which they are entitled at their final discharge. We have mentioned the intermediate prison. This is the distinguishing, and as it seems to us a most excellent feature of the Irish system. adopted in November 1855, for the purpose of carrying into effect a scheme of reformation less artificial than any other which had up to that time been adopted, and consequently more likely to be accepted by the community as a test of improvement. These establishments are intended in fact, to act as filterers between the prison and the world without. In them the prisoner supports himself in a great measure by his own labour. Very considerable confidence is gradually placed in him; he is exposed to the risk of almost unrestrained association with prisoners possibly less reclaimed than himself, and is thus step by step brought back into the world from which he has so long been severed, instead of being, as in former times, thrust into it without preparation, in a state which has been aptly likened to the bewilderment of a bat driven suddenly into daylight.
It will be seen that the characteristics of this system are confidence, hope, and work. Under the old method the prisoner was passive, and the longer he remained so, the more unfit he became for the active life which was necessary on his re-entrance into the world. The longer he sat listening to good advice, and formed part of the regular clockwork of the prison,