« AnteriorContinuar »
ANNUAL REPORT of the Inspectors of the Stato
Prison at Jackson for the year ending October 31, 1845:
To the Secretary of State of the State of Michigan:
The undersigned respectfully submit the following annual report of the condition and transactions of the State Prison, for the year ending as aforesaid.
The general health of the inmates of this institution, for the past year, has been unusually good, which fact furnishes another evidence; if any were wanting, that moderate exercise, regular habits, and a sufficient quantity of coarse, though wholesome food, tend to promote bodily vigor, and to counteract the influence of disease.
But few severe cases of sickness among the convicts have come under our observation, although as is usually expected in this climate during the summer and autumn, many cases of slight indisposition, and temporary derangement of the system have occurred, the most of which, however, have required but a short and mild medical treatment, with a few days suspension from ordinary daily labor. Every requisite attention to the wants and necessities of the siek, has been bestowed by the prison physician, and by those under whose care the invalids are placed, in accordance with the prison regulations. The existing State Prison laws do not make it the duty of the physi. cian to submit an annnal report of that branch of the prison service, but in compliance with our request, he has furnished us with a docu, ment of that character which is herewith subjoined.
All due regard to cleanliness and regularity in the management of the internal affairs of the prison, is strictly observed and enforced, and instances of insubordination among the convicts, during the past year, have rarely occurred.
In all cases when it has been deserved, punishment in the usual mamer has been administered, but in no instance has personal chas. tisement been inflicted, until other and milder means were found unvailing to reclaim and bring under subjection the disobedient conviet.
The usual religious exercises and means of moral culture, authorized by law, continue to be impartially extended to the convicts. Every Sabbath afternoon the Chaplain attends divine service within the walls of the prison, at which all the convicts are required to be present, together with a sufficient number of the keepers and guards to preserve order and regularity, and the balance of the Sabbath is devoted to the reading of the Bible, a copy of which is given to each convict on his entering the prison. In addition to which, when the convicts request it, suitable and appropriate books are occasionally distributed among them from the prison library, consisting of a selection of religious, moral and historical writings, biographical sketches, tracts and pamphlets.
The priviledge of writing to their relations, or on business, if thought necessary, once in every three months or thereabouts, is granted to the convicts, the letters in all cases being placed in the hands of the Agent or deputy keeper for perusal, before they are permitted to leave the prison-also, under similar restrictions, and through the same medium, the convicts are allowed to receive letters from their friends. The intercourse kept up in this way, is productive of much real benefit to the convicts, and recders them more submissive to the wholesome restraints to which they are subjected, by the discipline of the prison. The consciousness that they are remembered by their friends, though cut off from their society, and that those friends still feel an interest in their welfare and moral reformation, lighten the burden of their imprisonment, and keeps alive those peculiar attributes of the mind, which are only brought into action by the social relations of life.
It is not uncommon to witness a good degree of interest on the part of the convicts in improving their moral and mental condition, and with many, a sense of gratitude seems to be manifested for the privio leges before enumerated, the effects of which are more or less
apparent in their daily conduct, and by a more strict attention to ther duty.
The building of the state prison at this place, was commenced in the summer of 1838, from which time to the 31st October, 1845, there have been 327 commitments, of which 15 were the second, and one the third. Of the foregoing commitments, 135 have been discharged by expiration of sentence, 26 have escaped, 5 have died, 1 committed
suicide, 1 killed in an attempt to recapture him, and 40 have been pardoned. Other facts in relation to this subject are embraced in the report of the Agent, hereto attached. During the past year, four convicts have made their escape
from Prison, and are still at large. Two of said convicts escaped while engaged with others in completing the yard wall in the early part of the season ; the third while employed on the outside of the yard, and the fourth from the stone quarry, which is situated some distance from the prison enclosure. The country contiguous to the prison yard, affords many facilities, during the summer season, for the concealment of prisoners after they have succeeded in reaching the woods and underbrush, and in some instances, a search for them is entirely fruitless. As long as the Prison is in progress of building, it will be necessary to employ more or less of the convicts without the enclosure, though, the practice has usually been, to permit none to be so employed, except those committed on short sentences, or whose terms of imprisonment had nearly expired. In all instances of the escape of convicts, the utmost exertions have been used by the prison officer, for their apprehension and return to prison.
The contracts for the employment of convicts at the mechanical trades, remain the same as to number and description, as at the date. of our last annual report, there having been since that time, no occa. sion to open new proposals for the prosecution of additional branches. A statement of the existing contracts will be found hereto annexed, containing all the essential particulars in relation to the same. If thought to be advantageous to the finances of the prison, it is contemplated, during the ensuing winter, to let a number of convicts to be employed at the business of cabinet making, should sufficient inducements be offered for that purpose.
The convicts have been supplied with provisions during the past year, at the rate of 6 3-4 cents per daily ration for each convict, and a contract for the ensuing year has been let for that purpose, at the rate of 6 7-30 cents for the same quantity and quality of the various kinds of provisions.
On examining the Annual Report of the Agent, hereto annexed, it appears
there has been received from the treasury for the support of convicts, payment of guards, and for other purposes, on the con
vict account, the sum of $8,000, in addition to which, there has been paid out by the State Treasurer, on the warrants of the Auditor General, in payment of officers' salaries, the sum of $5,133 21 ; both of which amounts make the total sum of $13,133 21. The total earn. nings of all ofthe convicts during the year past, according to said report, amount to $11,348 07, which, if deducted from the latter sum, will show that the amount drawn from the treasury, as before stated, exceeds the earnings by the sum of $1,785 14. The report before mentioned also contains a statement of the purposes for which the above sum of $5,133 21, has been expended, and embraces the vari. ous particulars in relation to the salaries of officers, which by law are paid in that manner, and are not included in the disbursements at the prison. The expenses of conveying convicis to prison from the several counties in which they are convicted and sentenced, are all audited and paid in the same manner, and do not appear in the prison accounts.
The condition of the prison is such that it has been absolutely ne. cessary to appropriate the entire proceeds of the labor of the convicts for the continuation of the buildings, yard wall, work-shops, and for the purchase of and fitting up machinery, in order that the con
be kept with a greater degree of safety, and be more profi. tably and advantageously employed.
The statement of monthly reports, and the Annual Report of the Agent, both of which are hereto, annexed, are respectfully referred to for a more particular detail of the several branches of finan. cial and statistical information.
As the present Agent, J. H. Titus, Esq., has signified his intention of leaving the charge of this institution, the management of which, as its principal officer, having been under his direction for nearly four years past, we consider it an obligation resting upon us, which we discharge with cheerfulness, to bear our testimony to the ability and efficiency displayed in the administration of the police and discipline of the prison, and the prudence and economy which have characterized ils pecuniary transactions. All which is respectfully submitted by
Your obedient servants,
IRA C. BACKUS,
} Jackson Dec. 1, 1845.