21 NOVEMBER 1840, Page 18


RESPONSIIIILI'VY. Pftrula est improbos eocreerep.ena, nisi psobos Okla s



SIR—That the views which in my previous letters I have endeavoured to enforce, of the necessity for abandoning, in moral disorders, all ideas of indict- ing punishment as such, (substituting the simple effort to care.) are correctly founded, 1 urn happy to be able to illustrate by the long and valuable experieNe of those who have, in the right spirit, partially made the experiment, and who have consequently met with the success which they deserved. At the Eastern State Penitentiery of Penissylv.,iiin, S., an institution which is under the superintendence of a gentlei..an remarkable for beneve• lence of feeling and acuteness of intellect, the of inflicting any avoidable pain upon a prisoner is never entertained. It arm.. organised by the of of those who avowed their belief "that religion and policy alike dictate the adoption or !limey, of kindness, and forbemunce in the infliction of reformatory punish- ment," and that " the indiction of pain, misery, and tenor on our offending bretliren, has not been intrusted to fallible mad erring morttds by that Being who has emphatically prohibited retaliation by the declaration 'Vengeance is

mine-1 will repay.' "

The fidlowing is a brief outline of their plan, extracted from the Reports of its promoter.. " The convict, on his entrance, after the customary examina- tion, is clothed, blindfolded, and conducted to Isis cell, where he will remain locked up ; and after a patient and careful inquiry into his history, and the delivery of an appropriate address to him on the consecpiences of his crime, and the design to he effected by his punishment, he is abandoned to that ice& tory anguish and ran ogre which his reflection in solitude must inevitably pro- duce. Every means which have been devised by philanthropy and experience for effecting reformation will be zealously applied. The labour iu which the. convict wiil be employed is considered as an alleviation, not an aggravation of his sentence. Labour prescribed as a punishment is tut error iii founded on an ignorance of the feelings, the desires, and antipathies, the habits and associations of mankind: the tedious bolus spent in solitude will be a iniiiishintlit sufficiently severe, without renderhig the infliction of herd labour lig this cause necessary. The want of oecupati.111 will produce a filing of tedium or irksomeness—the state of mind in which labour or employment will appear to the convict, perhaps line the first Cone ill his life, as a means of preventing uneasy feelings, of producing relief and pleasure ; and as the powerful influence or :,,,Ociation is acknowledged, this h-nelicial feeling will become bnbitncrI, and after the discharge of the convict from his durance, will be a most effectual safeguard from the temptations of idleness, leceadingly, persons duly qualified w ill he employed to teach the prisoner min.:ilk trades, and to instruct him in religion ;old in the elements a learning. The prohi- bition of all Inter„,.., with society is not, therelbre, to be canaille:11: the visit, of tie cannot injure, and must benefit, the mijoiity of the Ina; scoters, between whom alone all communication is to he rendered impossible. Anil again, " Iteli..tious and other instruction will be constantly and regularly administered ; the Visits of the virtuous and Iwo, voleot permitted and encou- raged tooter proper restrictions; untemitted solitude or separation from all soviety will not therefine he practised. titercouts.e w411 the enlightened and virtuous members of the community must hievitahly freipiemly console and benefit, and can never torture or injure the convict. Lle scpa• rated only from ern society, from the association with the deprived and hardened ; the progress of corruption will be arrested ; be eats ticitic r import nor receive from them contamination : if a germ of virtue or of shanle exist, it may he preserved and cultivated: his character will not be irreparably de- stroyed by exposure ; his resolutions of reformation blasted by an acipicontauce with his fellow convicts, at acquaintance which, when once formed, can never be dissolved."

These were the views under which the institution was organized by the Legislature; and although, from the circumstance that the true principles of criminal treatment arc here only partially adopted, (the institution requiring to be systematized as a moral hospital,) coupled with the absence of an efficient Rolice, I am prevented from fully entering into the sanguine views of its tounders, I can yet offer the best testimony of its success as compared with all previous plans. After an experience of four years, the Annual Report of the Warden contained the following passages. The punishment (discipline ?) inflicted, not merely on the body but on the mind of the prisoner, uniting severity and humanity,is one which the unhappy culprit feels with all its force; but there is nothing in its operation calculated to increase his evil passiuns or stimulate him to hatred or revenge. Those who have the care of him treating him with the kindness and compassion which are due to the unfortunate man, rather than the unnecessary and unfeeling harshness too frequently disulayed to the victims of folly, vice, and crime, he is soon made to'feel that the horrors of his cell* are the fruits of sin and transgression, and the only certain relief to be obtained is through the Redeemer. Having no one to prompt in wicked- ness, or shame him Mr his tears, he becomes humbled in spirit, and anxious for help in the way of truth; and I am pleased to be able to say that I believe there are some who rloice that they have been brought here. I can truly say, that the more I see ot the operation of our system, and the more thoroughly I become acquainted with the character of its inmates, the more important I

view its establishment, and the greater its humanity appears. It is a mistake to suppose that the inmates of prisons are a set of outlaws and tiger-like beings, lost to all good in this world and without hope of an hereafter. Too many (indeed most of them) on first conviction arc either neglected youths thrown into the world without education and without friends, (often the victims of hard masters,) or ignorant men, the dupes of artful knaves who know how to elude detection. -.Neglect of early education, the use of ardent spirits, gambling, and dealing in lottery-tickets are the most prominent causes of felony. "The deficiency in common school learning is greater than is generally sup- posed : of the 142 prisoners who have been received here from the commence- ment, only four have been well-educated, and oils about six more who could read and write tolerably ; and we rarely meet with a prisoner sell° has had attention paid to moral and religions instruction." Every person convicted of a felonious offence within the city and county of Philadelphia whose term of servitude is for two .years and upwards, is senteneed to this Penitentiary ; ns also all prisoners convicted of felony in the count ies lying East of the Mountaies, whose term of imprisonment exceeds one year. This district includes the largest portion of the State of Pennsylvania, with a population of more than a million. In 1638, after it had been established nine years, the Report testifies—" The experience of another year enables us to state that no instance of insanity has occurred in this institution, which has been produced by solitary or sepa- rate confinement operating injuriously on the mind. Cases of dementia, the effects of vicious conduet, occur crow year ; but they usually yield to medical remedies. The fears which some enfet:tained as to the influence of long con- finement in injuring the health of the body as ivell as the mind of the prisoner, have proved groundless. One who had been in confinement for seven years was recently discharged good health, reformed in temper and couduct, and is now doing well. 'When he was convicted, he declared that he preliwisd death to confinement for seven years. When discharged, he expressed grateful feelings for the kindness manifested to him; declaring that he had received benefits which could never be forgotten, nod which be hoped never to lose.

" There are some prisoners now in the institution who have two in con- finement for eight years, some six, and some five, and ail of them in good health. Among the healthiest prisoners are those who !lye been the longest time in prison.

" Many of our discharged prisoners are doing velh, and some exhibit satisfac- tory evidence of a reformation of heart and Ilk. In our walk throtudt the city, we frequently meet them; and they always greet its with thanklitIncss, uniformly declaring that it was good for them to have been in the cells of the Eastern Penitentiary.

" We cannot close this Report without our acknowledgment to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe for his goodness in crowning our efforts with so much success. We fret persuaded that the Legislature will continue to this enter- prise of benevolence if s thstering care and protection ; and that the time is not far distant when In' the influence of moral and religious instruction about to be diffused by the aid of colon I011 schools throughout the State, such a health• ful state of morals will ensue, that intemperance, poverty, and crime, shall al- most cease to have a name in our beloved State."

And in IS :19, alter the CY perience of ten years, during which time 1,036 pri- soners had been received, the Reports continued to present the same fits...1r- able character. The tellawing striking paragraph will illustrate the net, t a large portion of the infritlgonent iudivhittals of social duties, arises from the previous non-fultilment of the duties which society °wadi to them. Speak- ing of the prisoners Yea ived during the past year, it saes-- More than one- third of them could neither read nor write : 2S had heen apprenticed and served until twenty-one years of age, 34 had been at trades and left their masters, end In; 11;:d never been placed out at swig' regular business—a sad prcof or the neglect of duty in parents and guardian," It is well known that in England a similar togleet of duty prevails to a great extent. In the returns pre,:tutrd to Loth Houses of Parliament. dated 11 th June 18-10, entitled " Criminal Tables liar Eii:dstid and Wales, for 1539," it is stated that the tsileidations which have fur several years been nettle as to the ages and degrees of instruction of criminals exhibit a very gnat unithrmity of result. During the. last four years, nearly 41 per cent. of die criminals do nut exceed wenty-one years of age; and in the next disision of the tables, those not exceeding thirty ;ears are indite's:1h 71 per cent. This wool,' sive crimi- nals a shot t caner, and niny in a great measure be attritinted to the humbers anhtnilly rem.% 01 be transportation. Degr,•rui lost 1s37. ]' t.

Untsble to read and write 31.41)

Able to read Rod write imperfectly ... 53,1S ... 0.7z ... Able to read :mil write well 10117 ... 9.77 ... 9.46 ... /use/ow/ion superior to l'eddilly Mid

reel .32 ... .43 ...

Instruction could nut be ascertained 2160 ... 2.0S And yet, in the flee of this non-fultilment on 010 rat Or society Or 0111'1W!" obhlgtilt ms, advoe:11.'s cant 1)e round for the infliction o. re% engefol punishment., upon those who :err the hapless suffurers from its meleet : provement which it has wrought upon his nature, and terror at the remem- brance of the prolonged and bitter struggle by which that, improvement was attended. The difference between the system which I advocate and that which is at present in force, (if the vague and contradictory treatment of offenders, which is now practised, can be called a system,) is simply this, that I • advocate a discipline which should benevolently produce great pain at first, with the view of preventing much greater pain, which must otherwise inevi- tably be endured for the future; while at present we revengefully inflict pain in ft lesser degree, which is productive of little future benefit to the sufferer— leaving, indeed, his disorder generally unmitigated, and oftentimes increased. If, then, in moral complaints, the true system is that in which the cure of the offender is the sole thing to be considered, (for by the means taken to effect that object we insure the other object of criminal jurisprudence, viz. inspiring a wholesome dread in the minds of others, as there can be no more powerful check upon the tendency to abuse an overruling faculty than the dread of its

i being forcibly subjected to entire restraint,) it will be impossible to justify in any way the infliction of capital punishment, by which the grand object which I have named—the reform of the criminal—is rendered altogether impossible. At the present day, the infliction of capital punishment is mainly confined. to the crime of murder ; and it is on that account that the chief difficulty is pre- sented against its abolition. It will not, however, take many words to show that if capital punishments are unsuitable as a remedy thr other descriptions of crime, it is, above all, the must unfit to be applied as a corrective in the case of homicide.

The infliction of death puts the sufferer out of the reach of improvement : it is therefore, as far as lie is concerned, unmitigated punishment. It has been my object to show that the mere infliction of punishment, as such, upon any Itutnan being, is an act of inherent and barbarous injustice. If I am correct in this position, it becomes my task to prove, that it is at the same time not only ineffectual in producing the result at which it aims, but that it actually aggravates the evil which it professes to cure. This must be the natural result

of any unjust proceeding, since the real good of society was never yet promoted by the infliction of injustice upon any individual. The you which is done to the whole, produces in its ultimate effects good to every part. The punishment of man consists in the infliction upon him of a treatment which is in opposition to his desires. Pleasure arises from the gratification of his desires ; pain is the result when they arc offended. It' a mats desires above all things to gratify the tendency to destroy, which results from the activity of rt faculty common to his race, it being at the time in a state of excitement

so oreat as tel overmaster the dictates of his other and higher powers and to act'indepentlently of them, the idea that in gratifying it he incurs the risk of sell. destruction, is that which of all others would be least distasteful to him. That under such circumstances he might even contemplate it with pleasure, is shown by the large proportion of cases of murder which. are terminated by the suicide of the criminal. The tendency to destroy is one of the blind pro- pensities of man's nature, absolutely necessary to adapt Mtn to his relation to the external world ; and when acting harmoniously with the intsilect and moral sentiments it produces ooly the most beneficial results ; but when roused to unbalanced action, it exhibits itself in maniacal fury, and, overpowering the reason and the feelings, (which it must do before its possessor can commit murder,) derives oftentimes as much pleasure from the destruction of its pos- sessor as front the destruction of any other individual. it gives in its morbid state an inordinate tendency to violent action—a wild desire to overpower restraint of every kind: and to break down and destroy all that cones within its reach. To one, therefore, who is labouring, under this feeling, the present sanguinary. law acts rather as a stimulant. The only thing that would nt all operate with preventive curve upon a mind in this state, would be the impres- sion, that if the organ shoold be gratified up to the point of homicide, it would subject its possessor to a life it perpetual nEsamaisyr. From the consideration of these views, it would. hardly be too much to assert that the present sestet's of punishment for the crime of murder has actually bean the cobs,: of a large proportion of those murders which have been committed ; and that outrages of this nature would become extremely rare, if the stinadus which this punishment ulTords I., the suicidal tendency (which as I ant prepared to show is always an accompaniment of homicidal mania) were altoget her mugged.

Ona tatons of judging of the efficacy of any given punishment in deterring es:s ; :Tying the dess s of anciety which is manifested by the so its inilie.E....-1.ortiestlarly as to the degree of caution eii..11y to the committal of thedleecl. In all colitis's exhibited. Burglaries are seldont

• -:. sstl the mot contriValleC5 arc - are accomplished and secreted by Else yen the common ;del:pocket acquires by the artfulness with which he

,•isde Lt. et ion. The 1,:. .1.1iOn to this rule is to be found in I •Ids. The punisioneie. crime is death ; and it therefore

c...,: s .ry in support of my I ';ion to examise into the degree

of V.1:11:11 is Illalli1eSted r; of this class for the preservation or their own lives its connexion wit,::..,' C..:1111.1Sti011 Of the offence.

I am. :•■:e. M. B. S. Park. 1401 Yoremkr 1510. -------