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DISPOSAL OF OUR CONVICTS.
pickpockets? is the great question. These sharp blades are not to be polished up for the market, like the razors that were made to sell, and not to shave; but one would think so from the anxiety displayed by Sir Walter Crofton to show them off at his exhibition, at Lusk.
Wild elephants—as we learn from Sir James Emerson Tennent—are caught by bringing tame ones into the field; but this looks like catching tame elephants by bringing wild ones into the
Query, were any of this kind caught during the meetings of the Social Congress in Dublin ?
We prefer dealing more openly and candidly with the public, by informing them at once that no grave offenders, no remarkably clever or well-educated or badly conducted prisoners are sent to intermediate prisons, although they enter the labour market, and occasionally get out on ticket-ofleave.
We should tell the public, that they cannot always judge of the grain at the bottom of the sack,
by what appears at the top, in the market of Lusk, —that they must take their chance.
To bring the well-trained men forward, in order to induce the public to assist in the absorption of the whole, is not dealing fairly with the public, nay, more, it is morally wrong.
In a word, therefore, we do not like this exhibition or shop-window practice.
Sir Walter Crofton says—“The inmates of these establishments are not merely lapsed offenders, but are men who have followed crime as a calling from childhood. At the visit of the Social Science Association, in August last, out of 118 in the intermediate establishments, there were 94 habitual criminals."
This is all correct; but it is not the whole
These habítual criminals had passed nine or ten months at Mountjoy, and four or five years at Spike, where they had been proved men of good prison character.
It is the hest-conducted convicts that are chosen
for Lusk. To use Sir Walter Crofton's expression, they had passed through the filterer*—not of Lusk, but of Spike Island, where they left a residuum.
There is a most stringent rule, that no re-convicted intermediate shall go to Lusk a second time. They will have nothing to do, at Lusk, with a fellow who has really proved himself incorrigible. It is only souls who show some capability of rising to heaven that are admitted to this “Purgatory of Prisoners."
Another feature of intermediate prisons, on which Sir Walter Crofton lays great stress, is Individualization.
We are sometimes greatly influenced by mysterious words and names. This is one of that potent family of sounds. We have often tried to discover the definite meaning of this word. As it is a new word, we concluded that it had a distinct
* This is one of the new “intermediate” terms. It is most improperly applied to Lusk Prison, which is no filterer, and scarcely ever leaves a residuum.
A WORD WITH THREE MEANINGS.
and definite meaning, a genus, and an essential difference, as logicians would say—but we have lately-after a great deal of pains in reading over all that Sir Walter Crofton has written on the subject-discovered that the word individualization has three distinct meanings; that there is fish, flesh, and fowl in it; and the word is long enough to be cut into three parts.
“In these establishments," writes Sir Walter Crofton, “the number is restricted to one hundred men, in order that individualization may be brought to bear on the inmates, who, in different stages, are exposed to more or less temptation, and in order that voluntary action, as far as is consistent with the due maintenance of discipline and order, may be permitted to all.”
In this sentence we have the three meanings confusedly mixed up together.
The number in an intermediate prison is restricted to a hundred, in order that individualization may be brought to bear upon them.
Does this mean that the various officers
governor, warders, and chaplains—may become better acquainted with each prisoner?
This certainly is one kind of individualization ; but this kind of individualization can only be accomplished by having a larger proportion of officers to the number of prisoners than in an ordinary prison.
Was this the case in the intermediate prison of Camden ?
In Sir Walter Crofton's Memoranda on Intermediate Prisons (see Report for 1857, page 35), we read—“The supervision necessary for two huts containing one hundred able-bodied convicts, will be as follows:- A chief warder, a warder to act as registrar and schoolmaster, and six other warders, who should be skilled and useful to superintend any works that may be required."
In page 27 of the same Report he speaks of buildings calculated to hold fifty men, inclusive of accommodation for four officers, which is considered a proper complement for that number of prisoners.”