Charge, Delivered by Matthew Davenport Hill, Recorder of Birmingham, to the Grand Jury of that Borough, on the Twentieth of October, 1853, at the Michaelmas Quarter Sessions of the Peace, Volume 1

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Longman, 1853 - Punishment - 21 pages
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Page 8 - I believe the notion that the prisons in Scotland have, to a great extent, lost their penal character to be quite unfounded. On the contrary, I am of opinion, notwithstanding all that has been done to improve the condition of the prisoners, that to the really criminal in habits the prisons were never so much dreaded as at this moment.
Page 20 - ... of alcoholic drinks, partly by the imposition of duties on the manufacture or importation of the article, and partly by the system of licenses, had diminished, or at all events kept in check, the consumption of intoxicating liquors. We need, Gentlemen, no statistics to prove to us that the state of the country in 1830 was much better in regard to temperance than it was a century before that period...
Page 10 - The physician of the Eastern Penitentiary of Pennsylvania, in his report for 1850, observed: "I have heard various estimates of the amount of intercourse afforded to our prisoners, but they were all very much exaggerated. My own observation and the opinion of our most intelligent officers satisfy me that the average daily conversation of each prisoner does not exceed, if indeed it equals, ten minutes.
Page 8 - I attribute the mistake to the superficial view likely to be taken by any one who walks through one of the present prisons in Scotland, and who does not take various matters into consideration which it is necessary to bear in mind. Such a visitor will see a number of people neatly dressed, clean, in small rooms certainly but sufficiently warm and tolerably well lighted, busily engaged at spinning, weaving, shoemaking, mat-making, knitting, sewing, picking old...
Page 8 - But let the visitor reflect that, first, as respects the honest workman, the prisoner has entirely lost his freedom, and ceased to be his own master ; that he is not only cut off from family and friends, but that, generally, he is deprived of companionship altogether ; that he must neither whistle, sing, nor shout ; that, day after day, and month after month, except at the intervals of exercise, he is confined within the four walls of his little cell, Sundays and holidays affording no relief, the...
Page 8 - ... cords, and various other kinds of work; and in his round he will probably meet the chaplain and teacher, employed in exhortation and instruction. ' If he waits till dinner-time, he will see the prisoners get a meal of plain but wholesome food ; and if he should possibly stay till bed-time, he may see them comfortably lodged for the night in their hammocks. And such a visitor may say to himself, on quitting the prison, ' Why, what is there penal in all this ? These people are probably better fed,...
Page 9 - Should he ask for a companion, he will at once be refused. Between times he may wish to comfort himself with a pipe, or at least with a pinch of snuff; but, no! the rules inexorably and most properly forbid all luxuries, especially such as foster habits of expense. At dinner, he may ask at least for a little beer ; but he is again refused, and he finds that, however much against his will, he has suddenly become a member of a total abstinence society. As for opportunities of gambling, lie has neither...
Page 30 - Those who have not yet subjected themselves to the grasp of the law, but who, by reason of the vice, neglect, or extreme poverty of their parents, are inadmissible to the existing school establishments, and consequently must grow up without any education ; almost inevitably forming part of the " perishing and dangerous classes," and ultimately becoming criminal.
Page 31 - Magistrates to enforce attendance at such Schools, on children of the second class, and to require payment to the supporters of the School for each child from the parish in which the child resides, with a power to the parish officer to obtain the outlay from the parent, except in cases of inability. " For the Penal Reformatory Schools, authority to Magistrates and Judges to commit juvenile offenders to such Schools instead of to prison, with power of detention to the Governor during the appointed...
Page 11 - ... prisoner must be more or less injuriously affected by it. If it were not possible to remedy this evil, how far it might be urged against the system I shall leave others to determine ; but, happily, there is no amount of intercourse necessary that cannot be afforded with the greatest ease. Heretofore, the individuals permitted to visit the prisoners for the purpose of moral instruction, &c., have been invariably confined to the more educated classes. I believe this to be an error. Among those...

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