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constitute a very “dark side" indeed. “ The Tombs” has been thus described in an official report to the Legislature: "The Tombs Jail is a disgrace to New York. It is defective in every modern appliance. It is dark, damp, and ill-ventilated. The closets are a filthy nuisance. There are no facilities for bathing, exercise, employment, or religious instruction. Worst of all is the hideous system of keeping two or three men in a cell, which is nothing but a means of indescribable torture to a decent man, and a prolific school of vice and crime to a criminal."
Having thus cleared the ground, I come now to consider what are really the representative institutions of the penal science of America : namely, the State prisons and reformatories of New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. These institutions have recently been visited by Mr. RugglesBrise, the Chairman of our own Commissioners of Prisons, and his report upon his visit has been presented to Parliament. This is a very interesting document, and while a strong bias in favour of our English system is apparent and was of course inevitable—and I shall have occasion hereafter to criticize with great respect some of the conclusions and arguments of Mr. Ruggles-Brise-one cannot but recognize the broadmindedness with which he has entered into the spirit of the American institutions which he describes, and the general fairness of his report. In the remainder of this paper I shall sketch, from many and widely various sources of information, the leading features of these American institutions, in so far as they differ from our own penal system, and incidentally I shall notice the principal points of Mr. Ruggles-Brise's report thereupon.
In the first place it must not be supposed, from the identity of name, that the State reformatories of America are intended to fulfil the same function as our reformatories in England. In the latter the maximum limit of age for detention is only nineteen : whereas criminals are eligible for admission to the
State 'reformatory at Elmira up to thirty, and to the State reformatory at Concord up to thirty-five years of age. Moreover, the fact that the offender has committed serious crime is no bar to admission to these institutions. In a recent report upon Elmira it is stated that “the convicts received here are felons sentenced to the reformatory for offences among the gravest known to our laws. They come largely from the lowest stratum of society, ungoverned and ungovernable, ignorant, intemperate, contaminated from carly youth by bad home surroundings and associations, without trades or legitimate callings.” Even Mr. Ruggles-Brise himself states in his report (p. 11) that “in many cases the crime is of a serious nature, such as would in England entail probably a long sentence of imprisonment. This is shown by a list of the offences committed by the inmates received at Concord during the past year (799 in all). There were 33 assaults, 9 robberies, I manslaughter, I attempt to murder, 163 breaking and entering, 13 embezzlements, 6 forgeries, 9 frauds, 253 larcenies, and 13 receivings of stolen goodsa truly formidable list of crime, evidencing a large reserve of faith and hope on the part of the public opinion of the country, which is willing to forego the ordinary satisfaction for these offences in consideration of the prospect that, by the use of reformatory methods, their perpetrators can be rehabilitated into honest citizenship.” I emphasize this description by Mr. Ruggles-Brise of the material with which the State reformatories have to deal, because, when subsequently he comes to estimate the value of the system by its results, he takes a somewhat different view. Then he says that "the majority of the inmates of State reformatories are first offenders, or persons whose characters, antecedents, and positions are such as to justify the judge in believing that there is a fair presumptive reason to suppose that the offender does not belong to the criminal class." And, further, he suggests that the inmates of State reformatories may be
compared with the “Star Class” in English convict prisons. With great respect, I consider that this statement is entirely misleading: for the “star class.” . consists: exclusively of "prisoners who have never been previously convicted, or who are not habitually criminal or of corrupt habits.”
Mr. Ruggles-Brise scems to enter thoroughly into the spirit of the reformatory movement. Its fundamental principle cannot be stated better than in his own words. It is this, that.“ up to a certain age every criminal is potentially a good citizen; his lapse is presumably due either to physical degeneracy or bad social environment; it is the duty of the State at least to try and effect a cure, and not to class the offender offhand and without experiment with the fullblown professional criminal. Hence it is further the duty of the State, having got this man into its clutches, not to punish him, i.e. by cellular immuration for a definite period, and at the end of that time to let him loose upon society, probably no better than he was before, but to regenerate him, physically and mentally, and fit him to take his place amongst honest citizens.”
Such being the principle, certain methods of “reform" are deliberately adopted. They are, shortly, physical development by gymnastic and military exercises; intellectual training, i.e. from the grammar school of the illiterates to what are practically university lectures on political, ethical, and economic subjects; industrial training in the ordinary outside trades, masonry, carpentering, etc.; and manual training, from the elementary Sloyd process to advanced technological study, e.g. engraving, etching, and carving. The Elmira Reformatory makes a specialty of the “physical method,” based upon the principle that physical degeneracy lies at the bottom of the criminal character. Mr. RugglesBrise tells us that he saw a batch of inmates at Elmira going through a course of Turkish baths, fitted in a most costly and elaborate manner. Thence they were taken to a shower-bath
and given a cold douche, and then put through a course of gymnastic exercises, the purpose being to repair and fit the organism for its normal and healthful functions, increasing the amount of nervous energy, and by this means strengthening character. The military organization at Elmira is also highly elaborate—the whole population being divided into sixteen military companies, with the object of inculcating manliness of bearing and movement and feeling, incident to good military training. Mr. Ruggles-Brise says that "a battalion of the Guards might envy the precision of the manual drill."
What Mr. Ruggles-Brise calls the “vagaries” of the American system are, it must be admitted, very startling to our English notions. For instance, when Mr. Cook a year or two ago visited “Sing-Sing," the State prison of New York, and made a tour of the building with the chaplain, although it was eleven o'clock in the morning, he beheld one of the convicts lying in bed, smoking his pipe and reading the morning papers! In another State prison—that of Minnesota—they make a special celebration of “Liberty Day" (4th of July), and here is a copy of the bill of fare on a recent occasionRoast veal.
Coffee and cigars. Of the State Prison of Philadelphia an eminent authority remarks, with a curious kind of pride : "Prisoners get the best food the country produces, and it is served with such cleanliness and attention as would cause any hotel to be crowded.” Breakfast consists, I understand, of grilled pork and beans, preserves, hot cakes, and coffee ; and the rest of the tariff is equally inviting. Lady visitors bring the prisoners presents—cigars being generally preferred—and every weekly newspaper published in the United States is
taken at the prison in order that the convicts may not be behind the times. Yet even this prison has its drawbacks and curious contrasts, for it is guarded at night by twentythree enormous Siberian bloodhounds.
But to whatever lengths of extravagance the reformatory system may be carried in particular cases, there is certainly " method in the madness" of its principal exponents. The notion that they are merely weak sentimentalists is out of the question. As Mr. Ruggles-Brise says, they are “the most thoughtful and intellectual men in the community," and I may add that they are the strongest men in the community in every sense which strength implies. It would be impossible to imagine any one less influenced by sentimentalism than Mr. Brockway, the far-famed Warden of Elmira. In his very last report he himself says, “ Sentimentalism in a reformatory is what dry rot is to the beams of a building." Methods which in England would be regarded as undue pampering of prisoners are used by Mr. Brockway, rightly or wrongly, with a definite object in view. As he himself wrote some time ago in vindication of his plan, “Socalled indulgences are freely used for their value as promoting reformation, and I hold that in a reformatory any really reformative agency may properly be introduced.”
It must be borne in mind that in the best of these American institutions discipline during the hours of labour is, as Mr. Ruggles-Brise admits, well maintained, and it is only after the day's work is over, during the period intervening between 4.30, when the men are taken to their cells, and bedtime, about 8.30, that the relaxations of discipline, of which so much is heard in England, take place. Mr. RugglesBrise tells us that he visited one large prison late in the evening, and nothing could exceed the quiet and orderliness of the place. At this prison it appears that “a safety-valve is found for the emotional energies of prisoners by permission being given between six and seven to any convict to