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meet the approval of the State in determining this very important question.
It has become apparent that the capacity of the Penitentiary is insufficient and that the State must either enlarge it or build a new prison. There are several very strong reasons why we should establish a new prison instead of enlarging the old one.
1st. We have already more men in the Penitentiary than can be cared for to the best interests of the men or employed, to the best advantage to the State. The Board are warranted in this statement by the unanimous testimony of nearly every noted prison official in the land. In our own State, Mr. James Dean, the Deputy Warden of the Penitentiary-a man of keen perception and sound judgment in the management of criminals of nearly twenty years' experience is of the opinion that the number of men in one prison should not exceed five or six hundred. In New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts we have the testimony of every experienced official to the same effect, some placing the number as low as four hundred and none at over six hundred. These opinions are predicated largely upon the conviction that every criminal, to be managed for the best, must be carefully studied as to character, temperament, disposition, antecedents, &c., each one requiring treatment peculiar to himself and different from his fellows.
This process must require time, patience, sagacity, and above all heart on the part of a Warden. We say Warden for no other man can sustain the same relation to the prisoner that the Warden does. He is the wellknown head, and as there can be but one head he has influence for good or evil that cannot be wielded by any other. He can do for the prisoner what no other man can. It is indispensable that he know personally every man under his charge. Experience has proved that no man can faithfully discharge these obligations to more than four or six hundred prisoners.
2d. The question of having 1200 or more men in one prison or two, has a financial aspect which ought not to be lost sight of. Since the large increase of men in the Penitentiary, the State has suffered much from its inability to let the labor of all the men at prices deemed remunerative. Taking it for granted that another prison would be located at some distance from the present one, there would not be this excess of labor above the demand. We think the principle a sound one, that the labor of six or seven hundred men could be let to better advantage here than twice that number, and what was true here would prove true elsewhere.
Startling and humiliating as the fact may be we must accept it, that crime is on the increase among us. Does it not follow, that our present prison system is lacking in the great essential principle of deterring men from crime by its terrors, or shielding them from it by its moral influence? We must then either admit that it is impossible to hinder the increase of
crime, or that we are not treating crime in the best way practicable, and that our method should be changed. Let us not blindly accept the one truth, that "Offenses must needs come," and forget the other: "Woe to that man by whom the offense cometh."
The cardinal principles in the treatment of crime with us are essentially but two: We aim to protect society, and to punish the offender. This is well as far as it goes. Society must be protected; crime should be punished. But this is not enough; self-interest would prompt us to restore the guilty one to society in the best moral condition possible. The criminal, too, has a claim of this at our hands. He may have forfeited every other right, but this one he has not forfeited. For our own sakes, then, for the criminal's sake, ought we not to consider the question of his reform?
In reaching the best method of treating criminals for reform, the first step in advance of our present system must be Classification, made indispensably necessary from this fact, that among all criminals the inevitable tendency is for the worse man to drag the better down to his level, instead of the worse rising to the plain of the better. Taking the men now in our Penitentiary, we could safely range them under one or the other of these two classes, viz: Those who have a desire to be better men, and who would be under favorable circumstances; and men who have no such desire, but are incorrigibly, willfully bad. But as it is not for man to look into the heart of man, probably the best basis of classification as a beginning would be age, antecedents, kind and degree of crime, and number of convictions-scrupulously keeping young men, and those susceptible of good influence, from those more hardened in crime.
In this respect ought we not, at least, to be as careful of the moral health of those whom we have assumed the care of as we are of our flocks and herds, when we separate our well stock from those that are diseased, or when we endeavor to keep contagion from our common hospitals? As a rule, men first arrested for crime would not be diagnosed in Ethics as incurable, under proper treatment; and this indispensable condition, that their disease be not further aggravated by contamination with the hardened and hopeless.
In the treatment of the one class, the State cannot do too much. Every good influence, consistent with her other interests, should be thrown around them. All such influences upon the other class are as "pearls before swine;" hence we say, classification is indispensable to reform. Every principle of justice and humanity; yea, even the narrow one of self-interest, demand the separation of the young offender from the hardened villain, and all due influences lent him to lead him back to honest ways.
The Board are deeply impressed with the conviction that, with the existing necessity for increased prison capacity, the State should, at this
period of its progress, inaugurate a Prison System that shall not only guarantee the safety of society, in the safe keeping of the criminal and punishing him for his crime, but also surround him with such influences as shall largely increase the probabilities of restoring him to society, worthy of a place in it.
Such a system would require the establishment of one new Prison exclusively for young men, or older ones not yet hardened in crime. This would give us the foundation of a grand system of Graded Prisons; with the Reform Farm on one side of the new Prison, for juvenile offenders, and the Penitentiary on the other, for all the more hardened and incorrigible class. The discipline of each to be so adjusted as to best secure the results aimed at in each, and so connected and related that transfers could be made from one to the other, upon certain conditions, based upon the criminal's general character and conduct, to be determined by a careful system of marks, to be more fully treated of hereafter. The whole case to be laid before a properly constituted Board, whose action should be subject to approval of the Governor.
The discipline in the Penitentiary, under this system, should embrace as much of sternness, not to say severity, as would be consistent with a highly civilized and Christian State like Ohio. We could hardly suggest a change from its present most efficient management under Gen. Walcutt. If any were desirable, it would be to abridge rather than enlarge privileges. For example, it might be for the best to take away tobacco and coffee, to make the separation from the outside world more complete.
The justice and necessity of such a course will be apparent, if we keep in mind that its inmates, under the proposed system, are to be only men who have proved themselves wilfully bad men, and with whom privileges are only abused and efforts at reformation vain.
The intermediate or new Prison should be upon entirely another system, having for its inmates only those who are supposed to be susceptible to reformatory influences-embracing only young men, and those not yet hardened in crime. They should be surrounded with every good influence possible.
In it we should give large opportunity for education to the ignorant. Ignorance has been well called the mother of vice. The most comprehensive definition of crime is that of the Poet who wrote
"Crime is ignorance in action."
We need no further proof of this than the statistics of our own Penal Institutions.
Were the State to expend a limited amount in supplying adequate teachers in such a prison, would it not be as economical as to turn the criminal out no better or even worse than when it took him, ready again to prey upon the moral well being and material wealth of society?
Is it not time to make an experiment in expending a small sum in curing crime instead of a much larger one in taking care of criminals ?
The chaplain of an English prison, after showing the cost of 98 young criminals to have been $30,015, thirty thousand and fifteen dollars for six years, says: "That sum of money would have kept them all at boarding school for the whole time." And the money thus being lost in what a different position are they at the expiration of the six years. How much better, economically, to say nothing of the moral view, is the former than the latter case.
The discipline of this Intermediate Prison, in brief, should first accomplish the safe keeping of the criminal, with so much of hardship and privation that he shall fully realize that "the way of the transgressor is hard;" then throw around him as much as possible the power of moral and religious influences. Whatever of privilege as an incentive to reformation can be used, with good results, should be extended to him.
Anything, either of privilege or restraint, that shall most tend to help the fallen man up, should be brought into requisition.
One of the most distinguished and successful Wardens in our country, Mr. Gideon Haynes, of the Mass. State Prison, said to us recently—“I base my administration entirely on this principle: Seeking first of all the prisoner's reformation, I make everything bear to that end. If I could the more certainly improve the moral condition and hasten the reformation of the convict by tying him up and whipping him every day I should do it."
The subject of punishment is a most difficult problem in connection with prison discipline. All experienced officials agree that none has yet been introduced that seems to answer the desired end. The least objectionable yet tried, is undoubtedly that in use in our Penitentiary— the dark cell. But that is objectionable
1st. Because it fails to answer the purpose in many cases. Men will go into the dark cell over and over again. So decided has been the experience of some of the Wardens we visited in the Eastern States, that they still adhere to that relic of barbarism, the lash, as the more efficacious.
2d. It inevitably tends to impair the health of the convict, from the necessary exclusion of the air with the light. In some instances men have become so reduced and prostrated that they have had to be taken out of the cell and carried to the hospital. The Warden of the Penitentiary on Blackwell's Island told us, on our recent visit, that it had proved so dangerous in his prison that he did not sleep well at night if there were men in the dark cell who had been in for long periods. In one case a prisoner died from the bad effects.
3d. The time of the prisoner, during punishment, is lost to the State. This may seem a small matter; but in our Penitentiary the aggregate
time passed in the dark cell during the last year amounts to nearly 3,500 days.
On this subject the Board are much indebted to Mr. Haynes, of the Massachusetts Prison, who very kindly allowed us to copy the following from the report he will present to the Legislature of that State at their next session :
"To find a substitute for the dark cell, that would prove effective and free from its objectionable features, is certainly very desirable. I have given much thought and attention to the subject, and have come to the conclusion that a system of marks can be introduced which will in a great measure supercede all other punishments.
Starting with the idea that reformation is the great object in view, and that kindness and rewards must be used as agencies, I would recommend for good conduct and industry that the convict should be entitled to one good mark a month, for which should be deducted one day for every year of his sentence, not to exceed ten a month; for every bad mark, the same number of days to be added to his sentence, instead of the time now passed in the dark cell. For every month when neither good nor bad marks were received, nothing should be gained or lost. The Warden to have authority to bestow additional good marks at Christmas, and other occasions, for general good conduct."
The part of Mr. Haynes' plan, that the convict may shorten his sentence by good behavior, is not new with us. This principle has been in use here for some time, and has been proved to be highly efficacious in the discipline of the Penitentiary. But the idea that the convict may not only forfeit his gained time, but even add to his original sentence by his own conduct, is new, and we think worthy of trial. We are of the opinion that it can be so used as to materially supercede all other punishment.
The worst class of men are really not affected by the so-called commutation system, of gaining time by good conduct. They will very likely begin their prison life with the determination to gain all the time the law will allow any man; but ere long the preponderance of evil gets sway, and with the consciousness of the gained time lost, comes the sullen desperation and the secret resolution to brave it out for the full term, nerving himself with the thought that beyond the one, two or three years, there is no power to hold him. But apply this principle, and after a day of his fancied bravery he goes to his cell at night, there to awaken to the consciousness that he has himself added another link to his own chain, and that the days count more than when he last counted. Such a night in his own cell would be more terrible than two in the dark cell, spent mairly, perhaps, in counting the days that will set him free, in spite of the laws he so defiantly tramples upon.