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ducted on the best modes. The buildings for it are
All that science could suggest, or money procure, towards rendering it perfect, has been done. The social system, on the other hand, is administered under
very unfavourable circumstances. The buildings are old and bad. The inspection is imperfect; old traditions linger about the place; old modes of management still exist; and other things are not equal. It must be remembered, too, that important “modifications,” tending to mitigate the worst evils of separation, have been introduced into the new prison. All these important points borne in mind, a sort of judgment may be formed on their comparative merits.
Entering at a small gate, we find ourselves in the old stone building described by Howard. It richly deserved, and still deserves, condemnation. It has a thoroughly penal aspect. The low, dark, ironbound cells are terrible. We know nothing like them, except the condemned dungeons in Newgate. Since the erection of the new prison, these cells have not often been used. The change from them to the light, spacious, well-warmed, well-aired, well-furnished “ model” cell is so vast that there must be something in the effect of complete isolation awful indeed when criminals are found who voluntarily choose this old prison in preference to the new
Leaving this building—the oldest part of the gaol -we come into the principal part of what is generally known as the old prison. It is in general plan something like Horsemonger-lane and the New Bailey ; in fact, like nearly all the prisons built sixty or seventy years ago. In this newer portion, all the faults of construction common to that period obtain. The cells are badly lighted; they are not furnished with glass windows; no proper provision is made for their ventilation. The work-rooms are ill-situated, and so placed as to render due inspection difficult. There is, of course, a tread-wheel ; but we are happy to say, it is seldom used, and when it is used, the power is turned to account. The yards and passages are here abominably dirty; though in the cells and corridors the cleanliness is all that could be desired. The complaint made by Howard more than seventy years ago as to the state of the drainage may be repeated now, with equal justice. All the officers complain of it. The surgeon considers it the only cause of sickness in the prison.
We have just referred to the faulty construction of the work-rooms. Our objection, however, goes no further than the construction, With their general appearance we were greatly pleased. In the foundry, the carpenter's-shop, the weaving-shed, and indeed in every other work-room, we noticed an order, attention, and industry, which would have done no discredit to the best disciplined manufactory in the county. All the prisoners worked on without conversation, as men intensely occupied always do. There seemed nothing, therefore, unnatural, or even unsocial, about them or their position. And as the monotony was broken by the noise of the hammer,
the shuttle, and the lathe, the effect on the mind of the spectator was in nowise painful or depressing. On the contrary, all this activity, industry, and application, looked like a healthy preparation for a new course of life—a guarantee for the future good conduct of the labourers so employed. Here we have prisoners—not dawdling about in their snug cells, with their coats on their backs and their hands in their pockets-but with their shirt-sleeves rolled up, their brawny arms grimed with work, and their physique heavily taxed. This, unless we are profoundly misled by experience, is the best sort of discipline for prisoners, as well as the least expensive for the country to bear.
But would it be possible to introduce industrial occupations into prisons? We think so, universally: a little organization would be alone required in order to render it easy enough. The difficulties are these :--and they are grave enough to merit serious attention. In the first place, the men who compose prison staffs rarely know anything of industrial occupation – while to appoint independent tradeinstructors is very costly. It has long been the custom in England to select prison-officers from the army ;- men whose only qualification for these situations has been a presumed capacity for “keeping those under them in order.” In the governorship of a large gaol, it is well perhaps to go to the retired list for candidates; but in all inferior situations the civilian class will furnish generally men much better adapted for the purpose. A knowledge of some
trade or handicraft capable of being carried on in the prison should be considered as indispensable to certain of the lower ranks of officers. Mr. Hill strongly insists on this point. In such a manner, this first difficulty might be overcome without adding to the expense of management. In the second place, there is a difficulty in disposing fairly of the articles manufactured in prison ; a difficulty of two kinds. In some cases combinations of workmen prevent articles from being made out of their locality, and an outcry is raised against prison labour being brought into competition in the general market with non-prison labour.
In Wakefield gaol there are always a number of men—about fifty on the average -makers of hardware. Now, it is very important that a man should continue to work at his own trade in prison ; partly because his work is then more valuable than it would otherwise be, and partly that he may not lose his skill for want of practice. At Sheffield, however, there is a combination of workmen to prevent any master having work done out of the town ; and this combination is sufficiently powerful to enforce its dicta as the law. Hence, no Sheffield—that is, hardware—work can be got for the prisoners in Wakefield gaol. These fifty men have consequently to be employed in unskilled labour or in work which they can only perform imperfectly. The other point is still more important. Practically, a great deal of suffering is sometimes caused among artizans by prison authorities going into the market with a large stock of prison-made articles, especially in times of great depression, and underselling the regular manufacturer. Cases often come into the police-courts in consequence. We know the facts
A prison like Pentonville or Coldbath-fields accumulates a large stock of mats, rugs, pots, kettles, &c. &c., and as its administrators know nothing of business, and only generally the value of the articles, they sell them off at any price they can get ; or they enter into contracts somewhat under the market terms, and so mischievously operate to depress wages. That this competition is keenly felt and resented by the work-people admits of no doubt. It leads many to deprecate the employment of prisoners at all in productive labour : and in France such labours were for a time entirely discontinued after the revolution in February. The Chamber has subsequently had to deal with this intricate question : and the plan which it has adopted meets both aspects of the difficulty of which we are speaking. It is this : The prisoners are to be employed in productive labour, but the produce is not to be sent into the general market to compete with honest labour : it is to be taken by the State for its own uses. The State has a thousand means of disposing of such articles in its public establishments, without interfering, in the present irregular, arbitrary, and ignorant way, with the general course of trade. The workman's objection does not lie against prison-labour in itself; he knows he has no right to condemn another, whether bond or free, to idleness. But he has a very good claim to demand that no advantage shall taken of the