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pose of prisons and treatment of criminals for crime. There is an almost universal demand for retaliation, or at best a retributing of evil for evil. What the public sense for the time approves is named justice, but that is often a misnomer : for, under the name of justice, injustice is inflicted upon criminals, and through improper release of confirmed criminals, before or after conviction, society is unjustly dealt with. This popular demand, as expressed in our criminal laws and their administration, is the bane of good government, either encourages the criminal or consigns him to degradation, and tends to confirm rather than cure the criminal traits of character. Could this current sentiment be replaced with the passionless demand that every criminal when once fairly convicted shall be reasonably cured of his criminality as the only condition of freedom again, the primary requisite for reformed prison management would be reached. Neither punishment for the sake of it, nor pardon for the pleasure of it, but punishment and pardon, either or both, when promotive of reformation, that is the only real security society can have from known criminals. Suitable laws and systems of prison management based on such a sentiment will supply the second needed reform, namely: A motive operating powerfully upon criminals to cause them to relinquish their practices and return to regular industry with right use of citizenship.
An analysis of human motives brings us always to avoidance of pain or pursuit of pleasure as the active principle in conduct; but since one man's pain is another's pleasure, and by the marvelous instinctive adjustment to environment the pain of to-day sometimes becomes the pleasure of tomorrow, it is simply im. possible by any schedule of predetermined penalties to supply for the mass of criminals an adequate deterrent or reformative motive. The history of crimes and punishments throughout the civilized world sustains the statement of Beccaria, that the public mind becomes habituated to penalties, so that in the space of a hundred years the gibbet terrifies no more than fines or imprisonment. No doubt the innate love of liberty and natural repugnance to the privations of imprisonment are facts with all men, and warrant the general application of imprisonment for crime. It is not possible, however, and therefore not properly the province of legislation, to precisely prescribe either the pains or duration of imprisonment. These, within due bounds, should
THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW.
be left to the prison governors, to be determined and varied from time to time for reformation, according to the idiosyncrasy and ever-changing subjective state of the criminal in confinement. Prison governors thus charged with the protection of society from fresh crimes by criminals, through their cure or continued restraint, are clothed with great powers, and should be held to strict accountability. They must not be trammeled by the meddlesome interference of partisanship, whether political or religious. Due protection from criminals, involving as it does their reformation or detention in custody, naturally necessitates a systematic if not positively a scientific treatment, which is only practicable when the prisons are on a plane above, beyond, and outside of partisanship or prejudice. Therefore, the third needed reform is here stated to be the removal of prison management entirely out of the sphere of partisan politics and denominationalism.
Coming now to the more practical reforms, which may be wrought at will when the three above-named general conditions exist, the first to be named is a classification of criminals immured. There has sprung up a kind of natural separation of different classes of criminals, but it is imperfect and ineffective. The sexes in prison are uniformly separated; unless there is an exceptional and exceptionable county-jail where the sexes are allowed to mingle, the principle of sex separation in prison is usually accepted. In some of the States where the color line remains, the separation of whites and blacks is necessary or politic; in European or northern prisons it is unnecessary. The separation of youthful from mature criminals is conceded to be serviceable. The very plausible idea that prisoners should be classified “according to the character and circumstances of the crime” is fallacious, if the object is to protect the novice from the contamination of experienced criminals; for it is a common fact that first offenders are guilty of high crimes and habitual criminals commit venial offenses. The technical title of the crime is not a sure index of the offender's character. There are, of course, professional criminals addicted to particular crimes that call for and develop distinctive traits, but comparatively few criminals are “professionals,” and even these turn aside sometimes to crimes of another grade; while all grades of crime attract and engage the youthful and inexperienced. The distinctions of the criminal statutes are based mainly on the amount of damage done, which NEEDED REFORMS IN PRISON MANAGEMENT, 43
is often determined by accident. The same hand and intent may govern the harmless thrust and drive home the deadly stiletto; larceny is of one degree or another according to the opportunity to steal; the burglar breaks and enters usually without thought or knowledge of the statutory definitions determining the grade of his crime. For purposes of classification, conduct in prison, as conduct is generally rated by prison officials, is not a satisfactory criterion, but it is possible to make it so. Under a prison system that gives play to the natural impulses of the prisoner when in contact with conditions somewhat analogous to free society, the fitness for free life may be very accurately ascertained. The experienced prison manager must remember surprises when his good man in prison has gone “to the dogs" on his release, while the troublesome customer has turned out well. All these facts of sex, color, age, crime, and conduct may have an influence in classifying criminals; but none of them, separately considered, constitutes the true basis. It is the real diversity of character among them, to be discerned after the wisest scrutiny and fullest opportunity to apply tests from time to time. The scrutiny must include somewhat of the ancestral history, much of the early environment, and a careful personal examination of the criminal himself as to his physical quality and condition, his mental capacity and culture or unculture, and also his moral susceptibility and his sensitiveness or apathy in view of his crime and its consequences.
Classification may be effected by a general separation of prisoners into two divisions immediately on conviction, either by the sentence of the court or the central governing authority of the prisons themselves, the susceptible to one division, the apparently incorrigible to another, subject to transfer afterward by the prison governors from one division to the other to perfect this general classification. The prisoners of a State may thus be separated in different prison establishments or in a single prison. In the division of susceptibles, the ruling aim in administration would naturally be reformation and early restoration to liberty; and for the other, the incorrigibles, a more rigorous régime would be provided, and probably a longer period of detention would be required. The further classification within the two general divisions and in each separate establishment thereof should be into three grades without separation; that is to say, with limited and supervised association, and then progress toward liberation to be so conditioned that it shall involve of necessity on the part of the prisoner an actual progress of reformation.
Another much-needed practical reform is the compulsory education of prisoners. It is high time the farce were ended of placing criminals in durance, to be worked simply for the profits of their labor, preached to and soon released, unchanged, upon the community. There is no protection without reformation, and there is no reformation without education. The criminal must outgrow his criminality, and the growth can be, and therefore should be, forced if necessary. Education, using the term in its broad and comprehensive sense, is at once the means, and the process, and no other word so well expresses the product we call reformation. It involves training to proper self-regulation and to efficient industrial application, and at least an increase of mental and moral illumination. The present practice of releasing criminals without improved impulses, unfitted for and without access to decent associations, without visible means of support, whether of money, occupation or capacity; but, on the other hand, as is too often the case, with an added impulse and power for evil, is both absurd and dangerous. Said a convict: “We reached New York at evening with what remained of the five dollars given at the door of the prison when released that day. I had a merry night of it, and was immediately on the road again.”
Mr. George W. Cable estimates at a quarter of a million the ex-convicts abroad in the United States, of which there must be in New York full twenty thousand. The Secretary of State reports, for 1881, the names of eleven hundred and twenty-nine convicts dismissed during that year from the three long-term prisons alone, while of felons and misdemeanants both it is safe to say that there are ten thousand of them annually emptied from the prisons into society in the same State. The country is overrun with released criminals, carrying to the youth of the classes they mingle with the contamination of their own criminal character. Let the prisons, be renovated. Put away retribution, restrain sentimentalism ; sentence criminals to be restrained or reformed as they may elect or be able; then wield this mighty motive, their love of liberty, for their education until they properly discern between right and wrong as principles of action, until the better impulses instinctively preponderate, and sufficient strength of mind and will is developed to consummate the good choice when tempted to evil. And, for those that will not or, unfortunately, cannot receive such culture, let them remain restrained to such extent and in such manner as best protects society from their further crimes.
The prisoner put through this training should, on his return to society, have a fair chance to build himself up, and it is the duty as well as the wise policy of the State, through proper officers, to see that he has it. It will be a most salutary reform when the prisoner, previous to his final release from legal restraint, is completely rehabilitated. He must be actually introduced into suitable permanent employment, surrounded with reasonably good influences, and should be officially supervised until the habit is formed of saving from his earnings, serving faithfully, and properly behaving himself in ordinary society. Passing, while in confinement, through a graduated course of training, so conditioned that actual progress of improvement must be made, he is, on reaching a point of probable safe release, at once restored to the rights, the privileges, and the obligations, too, of good citizenship, to be under observation until established in well-doing and re-adjusted to current affairs. He is thus protected from the temptations of idleness, friendlessness, and unrestrained liberty; at the same time, through the fact of his legal liabilities persisting for a time, his new found purposes and powers are stimulated, and society retains some guarantee against further criminal conduct. This is not the English ticket-of-leave system, though somewhat similar. There is an important difference, for the English system involves police supervision, keeping the prisoner within the category of suspects and in contact with the governmental machinery for the detection and conviction of criminals ; while this is parole under State guardianship, and he is responsible to officers who seek his security in a right use of liberty, instead of detectives, district attorneys, and the directors of penitentiaries who seek his conviction and confinement.
In the disciplinary government of prisoners, for individual treatment the en masse plan needs to be substituted. Officers must be better informed of the differentia of criminals as a class and from each other. The Spanish writer, Señor Arenal, says:
fleave system: the English sy category of suspetec
“In the prisoner who steals, two things are observable,-the thief and the man. The thief constitutes the diseased part, the man the sound part. No two are alike; so that two men breaking the law under the same external circumstances may enter upon imprisonment with impressions totally dif