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the less able he was to put that advice into practice, and move as a free agent in a sphere of his own. Under the old plan he was reformed; under the new plan he reforms himself, and the difference between the two processes resembles that between being told the meaning of a difficult passage, and making it out for one's self, a distinction which every schoolboy can appreciate. If this system approves itself to the reason in such a degree, that we feel disposed to wonder that it was not adopted long ago, we must be more astonished that in this country there should still exist any prejudice against it. Admitting all the difficulties attending upon the discharge of prisoners, the worthlessness of a prison character, the incredulity of society, the inability of the strictest and most carefully organized prison discipline to prepare a man for the battle of life, we own to feeling no little confidence in a system which seems to meet these very difficulties; and so far from deeming it incredible that adult prisoners should be reclaimed, we confess that looking to the revolution effected in a man's whole character in less time by the accidents, as they are called, of ordinary life, we should consider it far more strange if, after undergoing such an ordeal for a period varying from two years and a half to ten years, any considerable number should remain unchanged. This result however when it does occur, is not unprovided for; and should it happen that the trustworthiness of any individual liberated on ticket of licence has been overrated--that he falls into bad habits and dissolute company, or exhibits any
other symptom of relapse--the revocation of the licence consigns him again to the probation which he has quitted prematurely; and when his time is fully completed, the system of registration will increase the punishment of every subsequent crime, until if he cannot himself be trusted at large, he will at least be restrained from injuring or corrupting others. We have thus endeavoured to give our readers an outline, though necessarily a very imperfect one, of the Irish system. The results hitherto attained are thus summed up by the directors in the report before us :-"A large field of experience has been obtained, through so great a
number as 2000 having been subjected to the intermediate system in this country. In addition to good and hopeful conduct during detention, we have the still more satisfactory fact of their very generally maintaining it after liberation ; out of 1000 prisoners liberated on licence, it has only been necessary to revoke fifty-nine, not 6 per cent.: twenty-one of these having been for irregularities of conduct not criminal. During the last three years, 700 have been discharged unconditionally from the intermediate prisons, of whom eight only have been recommitted.”
We are told moreover, that the system has not only succeeded with the prisoners who were able to earn a remission of their sentences, but even with those who committed under the act of 1853, had no prospect of this kind before them, yet whose conduct, when employed in small bodies on the public works without guards, had been quite unexceptionable ; and Captain Crofton the chairman adds, that he could give many bright examples of well-doing coming under his own personal observation, which would shake the scepticism of the greatest unbeliever in adult reformation.
Such has been the experience of the system of adult reformation in the Irish convict prisons; and it appears that these results are not attended with any increased expense, but that the system is one of great economy, and may be made almost self-supporting; an important fact, for otherwise it is useless to recommend the cumulative punishment of long sentences. We consider any scheme of reformation which lays heavy burdens on the tax-payer, wrong in principle; and if the honest labourer is compelled to spend his day in toil, surely the least that can be required of the criminal, whether as a sign of reformation, or as a compensation to the community, is to do his utmost towards maintaining himself. To Captain Maconochie, we believe, the credit is due of insisting on this salutary principle, and of inventing the system of marks for carrying it into practice, which has been adopted with various modifications both in the English and Irish prisons. The old objection of
interfering with honest labour, is unworthy of serious notice. The prisoner if at honest work, as he ought to be, would interfere in at least as great a degree; and the non-criminal classes of society lose far more from the depredations and maintenance in idleness of the criminal class, than they would do from any competition that can be created by the most selfsupporting prison system. We must not overlook an incidental, yet important benefit arising from this system, which may be called the self-adjustment of punishment. Unequal as are the degrees of guiltand various as are the motives of those who commit similar offences, their sentences must be the same, or nearly 80-the judge can seldom make much allowance for various degrees of moral obliquity; but in prison the man of better character will himself be enabled to rectify this unavoidable injustice, by raising himself quickly to a more tolerable position in prison, and eventually shortening the time of his detention there.
We are not surprised to learn that employers are gradually becoming more reconciled to the employment of these men. This however is still the real difficulty, for unless the community lend a helping hand to the prisoner when discharged, all schemes for his improvement within the prison must be comparatively fruitless. Absolute want indeed, is as rarely the original cause of crime, as hunger is of poaching, and much sympathy has been wasted on this supposition; but on the discharge of a prisoner with a tainted character, the difficulty of obtaining employment has frequently driven him back from sheer distress to his old courses; and so urgent is this exigency, that in Sweden prisoners whose term has expired are employed for a time by the state, whilst lists of their names are read from the pulpits, and the congregations exhorted to afford the applicants a chance of reformation. In this country the Discharged Prisoners' Aid Society has been recently established for a similar purpose, and the marked success which has crowned its efforts, is freely acknowledged in the reports of the various prison authorities to which we have so often referred.
To sum up our argument; it may be taken for granted that the causes of crime are strength of temptation, and weakness of a counteracting motive, whether principle, habit, or senge of self-interest.
In prison the temptation is removed, and attempts are made to strengthen the opposing tendencies or motives. Our knowledge of the world would lead us to anticipate what seems to be the invariable result of the experience of the chaplains, that the number actually converted—that is, the number of those who on their discharge, will abstain from crime from purely religious motives because it is in itself wrong-are very few, though perhaps, if the truth were known, not in a very unequal proportion to those who, in the world without, keep clear of indictable offences, and even maintain fair characters.
Among boys, the strongest opposing tendency will probably be habit, the original bias to evil not having been so powerful with them.
Amongst the men, it will be a sense of self-interest-a feeling that crime does not pay, and that honesty is the best policy. With them stronger perception of interest counteracts stronger bias to evil; a low motive if you will, but practical and powerful, and one with which the community, as such, and individuals too, if they examine their own hearts, may well be satisfied. The State has no right to insist upon conversion, if she can obtain simply reformation. This frame of mind is inculcated by good practical exhortation and advice from the authorities, and the still more practical system of marks or good-conduct badges, carrying with them substantial benefits, and eventually even achieving the remission of a portion of the sentence, a system not only attractive to the individual, but so contrived as to enlist in its favour the all powerful vox populi, the public opinion of the prison, and to make it creditable to earn these distinctions, instead of a fine thing to set at nought all selfcontrol and care for the future. This public opinion re-acts again on individuals, till at length the prison records abound with instances of industry, order, good conduct, and even of a high tone of feeling rarely met with beyond its walls.
Now however comes the difficulty of deciding, in the absence of opposing influences, whether the habit, or principle, or motive, whichever it may be, is strong enough to resist temptation, to wear well in the rough weather outside the calm precincts of the prison. The prisoner himself cannot tell; and if he could, the time is fortunately gone by when the religious ejaculations and moral sentiments of jail-birds were looked upon as signs of real change of heart.
The authorities have learned a lesson on this point from frequent disappointments. The necessary test is found in the admirable system of probation, by which the moral infant is gradually trained to walk alone; the new-born morality is weaned from the milk of the prison to the strong meat of the world ; old scenes are gradually brought back to the renovated sight; and even old temptations are allowed to try the newlyformed resolutions. Passing unscathed through these trials, the probationer attains at length to complete but not unconditional liberty. The eye of no unfriendly suspicion watches anxiously; the strong arm of the law is ever ready to check in mercy, any one who may show, by his conduct, that the old propensities are slumbering but not destroyed—that he who yields easily to indiscretion and excess, will soon again slide down the facile road to crime. The discipline is recommenced, and, as far as prison records go, without causing much of the recklessness and despair we should have imagined incidental to such relapse.
In conclusion, we must repeat that the greatest difficulty which surrounds the re-entrance of the prisoner on an honest career, arises from the community itself.
Quick to suspect, prompt to punish, and very slow in believing a desire to amend, society in general does absolutely nothing; nay she discourages by every means the process of amendment. She throws a slur on those who make the reformation of the criminal their aim, by suggesting that their exertions are robbed as it were from the honest poor. She absolutely refuses to grant a new trial to the repentant convict : with a loud voice she upbraids him for falling into the gulf of crime, whilst at the same time she thrusts him