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OFFICERS AND PRISONERS.
Now, eight officers to a hundred is a much smaller average than prevails in Spike Island prison. In May, 1855, we had 125 officers, for 1238 prisoners, or something less than ten officers to 100 prisoners. In May, 1856, we had 119 officers for 1184 prisoners, which is also something under ten to 100. In 1860, we had 108 officers for 517 prisoners, which is more than twenty officers for each hundred men, or an officer to every fifth man.
If, therefore, by individualization being brought to bear upon the prisoner, he meant that the prisoner's mind is to be brought more into contact with that of the various officers, which affords them a better knowledge of each convict, and points to the best means of his improvement, then I hold that Spike Island prison affords a better opportunity of individualization than the intermediate prison of Fort Camden, with its small staff, ever did.
We hence conclude that if this was one of the meanings attached to this word, the end expected
DECREASE OF SUPERVISION.
could never have been realized, inasmuch as the machinery for accomplishing it was actually weakened, instead of being strengthened.
But by individualization, Sir Walter Crofton would also signify a leaving the individual prisoner more to himself, by loosening the reins of warder supervision; hence the decreasing of the staff of warders.
But what is the natural result of such a procedure? To bring the prisoners into closer contact and communication with each other.
To speak of leaving each man alone to act for himself, by placing him as one of a hundred, to board and sleep together in parties of fifty, is an absurdity. This, I should say, would be the means of destroying individualization, had it previously existed.
The superintendent of the intermediate prison of Lusk informed me that it was only when a man was alone that is, acting as an individual-that he feared for him; it was, therefore, his object to keep them all together, as a shepherd does a flock of sheep.
DEALING WITH SMALL NUMBERS.
Now may I ask, is this individualization, or the very opposite of individualization?
The Chairman of Directors speaks of dealing with men in smaller numbers, as if this were individualization.
Is 100 a small number? Is even 50 a small number? Do prisoners in the great working prison of Spike Island associate in as large numbers as this? Did smaller numbers associate together at meal-times, and sleep together in the iron huts of Camden, than in the wards of Spike Island?
I have no hesitation in saying that there is a greater development of the individual character among the boatmen of Spike Island, and the special class men in Irish and English working prisons, than among the intermediate prisoners at Lusk.
Where have we the principle and practice of individualization realized in all its integrity? At Mountjoy and Pentonville, the very antipodes of Lusk.
But the word individualization, as used by Sir
THE PROBATION OF CONVICTS.
Walter Crofton, has a third signification. It means the development and strengthening of the prisoner's character by temptation.
"In those establishments the number is restricted to 100 men, in order that individualization may be brought to bear on the inmates, who, in the different stages, are exposed to more or less temptation.
"This locality," say the Directors of Irish Prisons, writing of Camden Fort, in their Report for 1858,"although the best, which we can at present command, is not altogether suitable for the objects which we have in view, inasmuch as, being in a comparatively remote position, the convicts subjected to this probation are not thrown into the world as much as we would wish, and therefore not placed under circumstances which present sufficient trials."
Here, at last, we have a distinct idea of the
meaning of the word; but if I had not pulled up Sir Walter Crofton in the middle of a sentence, he would have run it into a second meaning. At Cam
THE DESIRED OPPORTUNITY.
den the prisoners were not sufficiently tempted. Sir Walter Crofton wished to throw them into the world, as a black woman throws her children into the water, where I understand they swim like young puppies.
The Chairman of Directors felt himself at Camden Fort somewhat in the position of the Irishman who could not manage to get up a fight, and whose men were "black and blue moulded for want of a bating," when the Government resolved to expedite the public works in that locality, by having a portion of the work done by contract, which required the presence of free labourers.
Here is the very thing Sir Walter Crofton was longing for, an opportunity of trying and testing his intermediates.
"He embraced it, of course," says the reader. I somewhere read of a captain who only wished "the French would come," he desired "no higher pleasure than to cross swords with them."
In the course of time he heard that the French