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6.--5 Geo. II, c. 30. Bankrupts not surrendering, &c. - dim. 7.
Concealing or embezzling. 8.- Geo. II, c. 37." Cutting down the bank of any Riveri 9.-8 Geo. II, c. 20. Destroying any Fence, Lock, Sluice, &cco 10.-26 Geo. II, c. 23. Making a False Entry in a Marriage Register, &c. five felonies.
"1131 11.-27 Geo. II, c. 15. Sending threatening Letters.' 'ls
F 12.-27 Geo. II, c. 19. Destroying Bank, &c. Bedford Level. . 13.-3 Geo. III, c. 16. Personating Out Pensioners of Greenwich Hospital.
ajil cuid oi-131''Tik 14.-22 Geo. III, č. 40. Maliciously cutting Serges. 15,--24 Geo. III, c. 47. Harbouring Offenders against that
(Revenue) Act, when returned from Transportation. It does not seem necessary to make any observations in this place on the punishments of Transportation and Imprisonment, which Your Committee have proposed to substitute for that of Death in the second of the two classes above-mentioned. In their present imperfect state they are sufficient for suchi offences; and in the more improved condition in which the Committee toist that all the Prisons of the Kingdom will soon be placed, Imprisonment may be hoped to be of such a nature as 'to answer every purpose of terror and reformation.
1 uitvoerende solo III.
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Molinill the i3viba In the more disputable questions, which relate to offences of more frequent occurrence and more extensive mischief, Your Committee will limit their present practical conclusions to those cases, to which the evidence before them mosť distinctly refers.d They cannot entertain any doubt that the general principles which have been so strikingly verified and corroborated in some particular cases by that evidence, apply with equal force to many others, relating to which they have not had sufficient time to collect the testimony of witnesses. That some offences which the law treats at Atson, and more which it punishes as Burglary, are not properly classed with these crimes, and ought 'not to be punished with death, would probably be rendered apparent by a legislative consolidation of the laws in being respecting Arson and Burglary. The same result, though in a less degree, might be expected from a similar operation in other important heads of Criminal Law. !
On the three capital felonies of, Privately stualing in a shop to the amount of five shillings,-of, Privately stealing in a dwelling house to the amount of forty shillings,—and of, Privately stealing from vessels in â navigable river to the amount of forty shillingsthe House of Commons have pronounced their opinion, by passing
Bills for reducing the punishment to Transportation or Imprisonment.
In proposing to revive those Bills, Your Committee feel a singular satisfaction that they are enabled to present to the House so considerable a body of direct Evidence in support of opinions, which had hitherto chiefly rested on general reasoning, and were often alleged by their opponents to be contradicted by experience. Numerous and respectable witnesses have borne testimony, for them. -selves and for the classes whom they represent, that a great reluctance prevails to prosecute, to give evidence, and to convict, in the cases of the three last mentioned offences; and that this reluctance has had the effect of producing impunity to such a degree, that it may be considered as among the temptations to the commişsion of crimes. Your Committee beg leave to direct the attention of the
House to the evidence of Sir Archibald Macdonald, on this and tother parts of the general subject, in which that venerable person
, , hals stated the result of many years' experience in the administration bof Criminal Law. They forbore to desire the opinion of the pre1 Bent Judges out of consideration to the station and duties of these 3 respectable magistrates. It appeared unbecoming and inconvenient that those whose office it is to execute the Criminal Law should be called on to give an opinion whether it ought to be altered a the Judges could not with propriety censure what they might soon be obliged to enforce, they could scarcely be considered as at liberty to deliver an unbiassed opinion. Of the Judges who have retired from the bench, Sir William Grant and Sir Vicary Gibbs, found it inconvenient to attend when they were requested ; and the Com
mittee dispensed with their attendance, having reason to believe V
that both adhere to the opinions which they formerly maintained
in Parliament on opposite sides of this question. Lord Erskine > was absent from London when it was proposed to examine him ;
but the Committee are well assured that his opinions entirely .concur with their own. Sir James Mansfield, and Sir Allan
Chambrè, appear to have formed no opinion, and the Committee, 1, at their request, dispensed with their attendance.
But highly as the Committee esteem and respect the Judges, it >, is not from them that the most accurate and satisfactory evidence
of the effect of the Penal Law can reasonably be expected. They only see the exterior of criminal proceedings after they are brought into a court of justice. Of the cases which never appear there, and of the causes which prevent their appearance, they can know nothing. Of the motives which influence the testimony of witnesses, they can form but a hasty and inadequate estimate. Even in the grounds of Verdicts, they may often be deceived. From any opportunity of observing the influence of punishment upon
those Classes of men among whom malefactors are most commonly found, the Judges' are, by their stations and duties, placed at a great distance."
Your Committee havë sought for evidence on these subjects from those classes of men who are sufferers from Larcenies, who must be prosecutors where these Larcenies are brought to trial, who are the witnesses by whom such charges must be substantiated, and who are the Jurors, by whose verdicts only effect can be given to the laws. On this class of Persons, where the crimes are most frequent; and where long and extensive experience allows little! room for error, and none for misrepresentation, or in other words, on the Traders of the cities of London and Westminster, 5 Your Committee have principally relied for information. To the clerks at the offices of magistrates, and to the officers of criminal courts, who receive informations and prepare indictments, 'to' exub perienced magistrates themselves, and to the gaofers and others, who isiw the performance of their duties, 'have constant opportuna nities of observing the feelings of offenders, the Committee hável alsos directed their inquiries, their testimony has been perfectly uniformant 003!
List a rett old triar l' Mrs SHELTON, who has been near forty years Clerk of Arraignis at the Old Bailey, states, that Juries are anxious to reduce the value of property below its real amount, in those Larcenies where is the capital punishment depends on value's that they are desirous si of omitting those circumstances on which the capital punishment 1* depends in constructive burglaries; and that a reluctance to convict 10 is perceptible in forgery.
21st o 1 791110 SIR ARCHIBALD MACDONALD bears testimony to the reluctance f. of prosecutors; witnesses and juries, in forgeries, in shop-lifting, Ir. and offerees of a like nature. He believes that the chances of escape are greatly increased by the severity of the punishments.be “ Against treason, murder, arson, rape, and crimes against the 0* dwelling-house or person, and some others," he thinks " the punishment of Death should be directed.”
TI W. CARR, Esq. Solicitor of Excise, a very intelligent public * officer, gave an important testimony, directly applicable itideed 19 only to offences against the Revenue, but throwing great light on 3 the general tendency of severity in Penal Laws to defeat its own 115 purpose. From his extensive experience it appears, that severe 6% punishment has rendered the law on that'subject inefficacious." Prosecutious and convictions were easy when breaches of the law :2? were subject to moderate pecuniary penalties ; even a great pecuniary penalty has been found so favorable to impunity, that frau- gini dulestitraders prefer it to a moderate penalty. The act of counk. terfeitingo a stainp in certain cases, within the Laws of Excise, was,
before the year one thousand eight hundred and six, subject only to a penalty of five hundred pounds; but in that year it was made a transportable offence, of which the consequence was, that the convictions, which from one thousand seven hundred and ninetyfour, to one thousand eight hundred and six, had been nineteen outof twentyone prosecutions, were reduced in the succeeding years, from one thousand eight hundred and six, to one thousand eight hundred and eighteen, to three out of nine prosecutions. 1. 6,181, • MR. NEWMAN, Solicitor for the city of London, speaking from thirty years' experience, of the course of Criminal Prosecutions in that city, informed the Committee, that he had frequently observed a reluctance to prosecute and convict, in capital offences not directed against the lives, persons or dwellings of men.
In THE REVEREND, MR. COTTON, Ordinary of Newgate, has described in strong terms, the repugnance of the Public to capital execution in offences unattended with violence, and the acquiescence even of the most depraved classes in their infliction in atrat cious crimes,
Ho tro stilegat disad to sit • MR, COLQUHOUN, for twenty-seven years a police magistrate in this Capital, and well known by his publications on these subjectsdeclares his firm conviction that capital punishment in the minor offences operate powerfully in preventing convictions; and that there is a great reluctance to prosecute in forgery, shop-lifting) larceny in the dwelling-house, burglary without actual entry, horse stealing, sheep (stealing, cattle stealing, frame-breaking, housebreaking in the day time, robbery without acts of violence, and other minor offences, now subject to the punishment of death; According to the testimony of this intelligent observer, the public mind repolts at eapital punishment in cases not atrocious!0.00
MR. NEWMAN, late keeper of Newgate, and connected with the administration of justice in London for forty years, gave testimony to the same effect.
MR. BASIL MONTAGUE stated a fact of a most striking nature, immediately applicable only to one offence, but showing those dispositions in the minds of the public which must produce similar effects wherever the general feeling is at variance with the provisions of criminal law. From the year one thousand seven hundred and thirty-two, when embezzlement of property by a bankrupt was, made a capital offence, there have been probably forty thousand bankruptcies; in that period there have not been more than ten prosecutions, and three executions for the capital offence, and yet fraudulent bankruptcies have become so common as almost to be supposed to have lost the nature of crime.""
MR. HOBLER, clerk to the Lord: Mayor and to the sitting magistrates in London for thirty years, stated the anxiety of prosecus
tors to lower the value of goods 'stolen; and has observed many cases of forgery, in which, after the clearest evidence before the magistrate, the Grand Jury has thrown out the Bill for some rea, son or other, where the magistrate had no doubt. The same soli, citude to reduce the value of articles privately stolen in shops and dwelling-houses, has been remarked by MR. PAYNE, clerk to the sitting magistrate 'at Guildhall; by MR. YARDLEY, clerk at the office in Worship-street, who has observed a disinclination to prosecute in all capital cases, except murder ; and who says, that in larcenies he has often heard prosecutors, ecpecially females, say, “I hope it is not a hanging matter ;” and by MR. THOMPSON, clerk at the office in Whitechapel, who represents it as commpp for prosecutors in larcenies to ask, “ cannot this be put under forty shillings?”
, MR. ALDERMAN WOOD, a Member of the House, an acting magistrate, and two successive years Lord Mayor of London, has strongly stated the unwillingness of shopkeepers and others to prosecute, the number of offenders who, during his mayoralty owed their escape to this cause; and his decided conviction, that if the capital punishment was taken away, the reluctance to prosecute would be greatly abated. 2 MR. WILKINSON, a merchant in London, stated a case of property, to the value of one thousand pounds stolen from him, where he was deterred from prosecution by the capital punishment; and expressed his belief that a similar disposition prevailed among persons of the like condition and occupation with himself. Buod
MR. JOSIAH CONDER, bookseller, MR. JOSEPH CURTIS, curier, MR. WENDOVER Fry, type-founder, and MR. JOHN Gaun, a merchant and shoe manufacturer, stated instances in which they were prevented by the capital punishment from prosecuting offenders, whom they would have brought to justice if the punishment had in their opinion been more proportioned to the crime. They also declared, that there is a general disinclination to prosecute among the traders of the city of London, or to convict in thefts without violence, and in forgeries. ".." ISIR RICHARD Philips, a bookseller in London, and once sheviff, as well as often a juror, has in these seyeral capacities observed the same facts. MR. RICHARD TAYLOR, a common-council man, prosecuted some men for breaking into his printing office and stealing some property out of it, for which they were transported, but whom he would not have prosecuted if he had not previously ascertained that the connection of the printing office with the dwelling-house was not such as to make the act a capital offence.
MR. RICHARD MARTIN, a member of the House, informed the Committee, that the punishment of death prevented prosecutions in Ireland for horse, cattle, and sheep stealing, for privately stealing