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vation, and fervent piety. After spending several years in pastoral labor, and that in a town adjoining Boston, I am compelled to say that these services demand all the talent required for an ordinary pastorate ; and that many a good man that might honorably fill the latter would find himself incompetent to the requisitions of the former.
“ Let men be engaged in these chaplaincies of practical wisdom, of ripened experience, of catholic dispositions and sentiments, wbo are animated by the love of God, and who will cheerfully devote their powers of body and mind to the work; and let their whole time be engaged and adequately remunerated, and, other things being equal, success will be realized beyond what has yet been known, and the problem, How shall we reform our convicts? will be wellnigh solved."
In the Ohio Penitentiary, it is a part of the chaplain's duty to look after the education of the convicts. In his last Report
he says :
“ There is also in this department the prison school, devoted to secular instruction in the various branches prescribed by law. The whole number attending the school during the year was seventy-seven. Average daily attendance, seventeen. Of these 51 were white, 26 were colored. Ages as follows: and under,
27 Over 20 years of age and under 30 years,
2 “Of this number, forty-two were without education when sent to the prison, nineteen could read a little, and sixteen could barely read and write. The advantages of the school cannot be overrated, and it is to be regretted that the incentives to overwork are such as to induce many to forego these advantages, that they may earn something for themselves and their families.
“ In the department of secular instruction the results have been highly gratifying. Of the seventy-seven who have attended the school during the year, all but five have acquired a knowledge of reading, and some already show a remarkable proficiency in the art of writing; while others discover a taste and talent for arithmetic, the study of which is 80 well calculated to beguile the solitary hours of prison life of their sad loneliness.”
Ohio Pen. Rep., 1865, p. 18. The statements here made may serve as a slight answer to those who doubt whether a school can be carried on in a prison.
In a few other State prisons the same attention is paid to secular instruction, but nowhere in this country are such brilliant results achieved as those which Mr. Organ can show in his * Dublin prisons.
The increasing necessity of this sort of instruction appears from the increasing number of prisoners who cannot read and write. This increase seems to be coincident, (though far less marked,) with the increase in army and navy convicts. In Massachusetts, in New Hampshire and Vermont, and probably in all New England, two thirds of the commitments within the last twelve months have been of men who served by land or sea during the late civil war. In the Philadelphia Penitentiary, the Inspectors say, —
“ The number of prisoners received during the year who have served in the army, has been largely in proportion to the whole number. Since January 1, 1866, this class of prisoners has largely increased.”
From the “ Journal of Prison Discipline,” we quote the following in regard to this prison :
"In our visits to the newly-admitted prisoners within the same period, we find ninety-eight, sixty-seven of whom are from the county jails. Of the whole number, fifty-nine have been in the army or navy. Of the last twenty-eight admissions, eight tenths are of that class on whose account our feelings have been deeply enlisted. They appear to be nearly all first convictions. In conversing with them, it is admitted that the moral hedge has been weakened by the army associations and practices; through the frailty of our common nature, and the want of moral courage, they have fallen. It is a painful reflection, that men who have perilled their lives for the stability of our government should be brought into this situation, some having long sentences.
“It is suggested whether something cannot be done to alleviate their condition. When we reflect that every State in the Union has contributed its quota to this class, and that they have returned there respectively to be disbanded, it is reasonable to suppose that all of the State prisons in the Union will make a similar exhibit to our own.” - Report of Committee on Discharged Prisoners, p. 250.
From the same Journal we quote the only description we have seen of a Southern Penitentiary since the war ended, that at Richmond, Virginia.
“The Penitentiary I found under the control of a military guard, who kindly received me. Two of the old officers remaining informed me of the manner in which it was conducted before the evacuation of Richmond. The prison was conducted on the silent system : working together in extensive factories in the daytime, and locked in separate cells at night, and on the Sabbath. They have no moral instruction, no library for the use of the prisoners, nor any care taken to classify them. The law required a full separation of the sexes, yet they communicated through the soil pipes. Average number, two hundred and fifty before the war, fifteen females.
There was an infirmary, which is now burned, with the keeper's apartments, and the general destruction of engines and manufacturing implements. The inmates were all liberated by their own act of violence, at the time of the evacuation of the city, since which the military guard have captured about seventy, with twenty other convicts, now numbering ninety, all thrown together, without work or discipline. The county jail was unoccupied.” — Report of Mr. Willetts to Gov. Peirpont, 1865, p. 171.
With a few more details of the condition of the American prisons, we may offer some general statements, and some suggestions for their improvement, recapitulating and adding to those already made.
The most marked circumstance in the prison annals of America for the past ten years has been the diminution of punished crime since the war began in 1861, and its rapid increase since April, 1865. This might have been anticipated, but perhaps not to the extent which was actually noticed. In the State prison of Massachusetts, at Charlestown, the average number of convicts in 1861 was 520; in 1865 it was cnly 359. The highest number in 1861 had been 554; the lowest number in 1865, 342. In 1858, the county prisons of Massachusetts reported an average of 1,957 prisoners; in 1865, but 1,050; while the number at the lowest point was but 950.* In the Ohio Penitentiary, in November, 1860, there were 932 convicts; in November, 1865, exclusive of military prisoners, there were but 567. In 1861, the average number in the New York State prisons was 2,762 ; in 1865, it was but 1,826, of whom a part were military prisoners. This decrease extended to Canada, and would have been much greater there, if it had not been checked by the increase of deserters, Copperheads,
* This excludes the Boston House of Industry.
and Rebels in some parts of the Province. In 1863 the number committed to the Provincial Penitentiary at Kingston was 295; in 1864 it was only 166.
In most places, this decrease was only of male criminals, and was generally accompanied with a large increase of crime among females. Thus, at Sing Sing, the average number of female convicts in 1857 was but 84, while in 1865 it was 169, or more than double. In 1860 the female commitments to the Massachusetts county prisons were about 2,000; in 1864 they were at least 3,500, while in 1865 they fell again to 2,700, and will this year be still less. In some States, however, and in Canada, there was a decrease in female crime, even during the war.
How rapidly commitments have risen in number since April, 1865, will be seen by the following figures. For the six months ending with that date, there were 40 commitments to the Charlestown prison; in the next six months there were 80, and in the six months ending April 1, 1866, there were 179 commitments; being an increase in these three periods at a geometrical ratio of more than two. At the Auburn prison, the number committed in the six months ending April 1, 1865, was 91; in the next six months it was 114, and in the next ten months 440. Here the rate of increase is still greater, being nearly six to one, instead of four and a half to one; and it is the more extraordinary, because the proportion of returned soldiers committed is estimated only at two fifths, instead of two thirds, as at Charlestown. In the Eastern Penitentiary of Pennsylvania, the number committed in the six months ending April 1, 1865, was 56; in the next six months, 134; and in the six months ending April 1, 1866, not less than 200. In the Western Penitentiary, the commitments in the first period were 49; in the second, 52; and in the ten months following, 217, of whom about three fifths were returned soldiers.
The startling number of soldiers and sailors in our prisons has been made a new occasion for denouncing the war and those who have carried it on. We must be a little careful how we accept this conclusion. It should be remembered that our prisons are not yet so full, by some thousands, as they were VOL. CIII. — NO. 213.
before the war, although our population has largely increased, and certain causes of crime not growing out of a state of war have been operating powerfully; that the alarming increase in commitments which manifested itself within the first year after the fall of Richmond is already checked; and that there had been a steady growth of crime for the five years preceding the
Nor will it escape notice that, in many places, there has been a rapid acceleration of commitments other than those of persons who took a direct part in the war. Even in the Massachusetts prison, where, probably, the statistics are most accurate on this head, these commitments rose from 28 in the first period of six months, to 36 in the second, and about 60 in the third period, between October 1, 1864, and April 1, 1866. In the Auburn prison, the number of civilian commitments has not simply doubled, but quadrupled, and similar facts are observed elsewhere.
But we cannot look with unconcern upon the thousands of veterans now lying in our prisons, though their crimes may have been heinous and their punishment deserved. A man who has lost one arm in defence of the nation, working with the other at the convict's bench, is not an agreeable spectacle ; nor do we smile to see “les habits bleus par la victoire usès ” exchanged for the prison-jacket. What stirs within us at such sights as these may well lead us to consider how our prisons can be improved. If they truly were what the theory of our law contemplates, - moral hospitals for the reformation of the culprit, as well as workshops and dungeons, - we should still shrink at the thought of pensioning in them the comrades of Grant and Sherman, of Foote and Farragut and Winslow. But as we know them to be, the good ones almost ineffective for good, the indifferent tending towards evil, and the bad fearfully developing and gendering crime, how can we rest under the thought that they are exercising their most hurtful influences upon thousands of these brave men ? And this mode of argument, far more forcible than logical, will, we believe, produce in the minds of many a new interest in Prison Discipline.
The first step towards improving our prisons is to provide a uniform and impartial inspection. This step has already been