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with the following table of sentences passed, in 1853 and 1854, on young criminals whose ages did not exceed 16 years, we are enabled to comprehend the folly, and unwise economy which incite justices, or judges, to inflict short sentences of imprisonment on offenders of this class, and
What could the vast majority of these children, committed for a month or fourteen days do, but return to their haunts of vice when released from the gaol, to be again brought before the magistrate and again committed to the gaoler's custody. The Poor Law Union Officers are not bound, as they should be, to exercise a surveillance over these little outcasts: parents they have none, or worse than none, and thus from year to year they grow in sin, till vice swells into crime, and after repeated committals and prosecutions, for which the country pays, they are finally quartered upon the nation, as Convicts at Penal Labor.
We do not exaggerate in thus declaring against short imprisonments; we can expect no reformation under them; and their necessary consequence, when passed in a common gaol, is recommittal. It cannot be otherwise, whilst the young offender is looked upon but as a strayed animal, and whilst the prison is considered but as a pound in which he is locked for safe-keeping. That recommittals should result from such a system as this none can feel surprized who consider the import of the following table of the condition, as to parentage, of juveniles not over sixteen years of age committed during the years 1853 and 1854 :
Referring to this table, and to that already given showing the number of recommittals, the results, the Inspectors-General add most truly, "would indeed furnish grounds for grave anxiety, if we did not see in them irrefragable arguments for the intervention of the State, which, we trust, will not long be withheld, in behalf of those who are thus bereft of natural protection, or have become from other causes destitute of necessary care and supervision."
Truly may the officers of government write thus; strongly are they bound to do so when they find, and reported so long ago as 1850,-in the "Richmond Female Penitentiary, at Grangegorman, that the almost incredible total of 2,178 committals was represented by only 26 individuals, one having been imprisoned no less than 121 times."
Referring to these facts and figures, the Inspectors-General add :
"In our Report for 1852, while analyzing the returns of juvenile offenders, we pointed out the striking fact, that on a comparison of the second class of ages, namely, from sixteen to twenty-one years, with the first, which embraces those at and under sixteen years, the former exceeds the latter by nearly three times the amount; so certain is the progress of corruption, and so rapid the expansion of the springs of crime into a wider and stronger stream of depravity. According, however, to the laws now in operation, this total, consisting as it does of a multiplication of the same figures, is as costly as if it were composed of units, each standing for a separate delinqnent, there being obviously no difference either in the expenditure or the requirements of a gaol, whether one of its cells be occupied by ten individuals, consecutively, or by one recommitted ten times, provided that the sum of such several and respective imprisonments embraces the same period of time."
We conceive it then to be a matter of fair and sound calculation, that if in the noviciate effective means were taken to repress the guilty tendencies, the second category alluded to before, which in itself, it must be further remembered, contains the germ of more numerous delinquencies, and of far deeper wickedness, would be diminished, if not totally effaced. Such means would be afforded by reformatory institutions, brought to bear upon those who have already entered the primary category; but assuredly, public duty and interest demand that they should not be suffered to enter it at all, and that they should be arrested at the first step in the downward path of destruction. To this great social object ragged schools, preventive establishments, and refuges are directed; but, although the opinion is largely entertained among those who have exhibited a praiseworthy zeal, and who have taken a prominent position in the reformatory movement that private beneficence should be left almost entirely free in its action, a certain amount of control and guidance appears to be called for, in order to produce an uniform and simultaneous co-operation towards the common end; and we trust, therefore, that the assistance of the state may be accorded forthwith in support of the efforts to be made on the part of local bodies or combinations of individuals. If, then, these views be correct, and these results may be justly anticipated, we are entitled, setting aside for the moment all higher considerations, to assert that on the ground of economy alone, a great and lasting benefit would accrue from the adoption of such an alteration; because, against the original outlay must be set off not only the sum which would be required, as stated above, for enlarging our gaols, in accordance with the present measure of sentences, but the ultimate saving to be effected in preserving the incalculable amount of property annually destroyed or rendered valueless by the criminal classes, and in reducing the immense machinery of police, judical process, and punishment both at home and abroad, which is now necessarily maintained."
After an analysis of the acts relating to the punishment of Juveniles, particularly of the English Youthful Offenders' Act, and referring to that statute, the Report is continued thus, and we beg the earnest attention of the reader to the important and wise suggestions contained in the passage which we
"The principles laid down in the latter statute would appear to be in harmony with the views which have been gathering strength for some years throughout the United Kingdom and in many countries on the Continent where this vital question has attracted public attention; and we should therefore earnestly desire to see them practically applied to institutions of a similar character in this country, without binding ourselves to an entire concurrence in some of the collateral conditions-such, for instance, as the proviso that no youthful offender shall come within the scope of the Act who shall not have undergone a sentence of imprisonment for at least fourteen days, although it is unaccompanied by any requirement that such
imprisonment should be carried out in strict separation, an omission which, we submit, involves the danger of exposure to contamination, few of our gaols being furnished with sufficient accommodation and appliances for maintaining in its integrity this indispensable system of treatment in such circumstances; for we hold that mere confinement in a prison, in which the opportunities of intercourse and communication are strictly guarded against, would not affix the stigma of debasement and corruption, which, in the public mind are inseparable from the common association of offenders of different ages and grades of criminality. On the other hand, we would further remark that, although the clauses fastening responsibility upon the parents and step-parents of youthful delinquents, and chargeability for their maintenance would be found in this country to be almost a dead letter, in consequence of the wide-spread poverty prevailing among the classes from which our gaols derive their inmates, it seems highly desirable to retain them for application to to the few cases in which they would be available.
This doctrine, however, of vicarious amenability, which has been recognised in our constitution since the reign of Alfred, might as was suggested by several of the witnesses examined before the Select Committee referred to in a former page, be rendered practically comprehensive by fixing the pecuniary liability upon the localities, whether parishes, poor law unions, baronies, or other territorial denominations; for, although it would be more desirable that the latter should be of such a limited extent as to enable those subject to the mulct to see and to feel that their exertions individually and collectively could be brought to bear with effect upon the moral condition of the occupants of the taxable area, yet it would be of great importance. both in point of economy and of facility in working, if the existing local divisions and machinery already in action could be adopted.
We have felt it our duty to offer these observations upon the presumption that at no distant period, legislation of a similar tendency upon this most important element of social amelioration, will be extended to this kingdom, inasmuch, as during the last session of Parliament, a sum of no less than £10,000 towards the establishment of a Juvenile Reformatory in Ireland, was voted in the Annual Estimates, which, unless it be determined to limit its advantages exclusively to those under sentence of transportation and penal servitude, would be nugatory if statutable powers were not obtained for consigning offerders of tender age to such institutions, and for regulating the terms of their admission, detention and discharge."
With these evidences before us, with the acknowledgements of the necessity for the establishment of Reformatories, made by the Officers of Government, recorded in the very Reports printed by authority of the State, it becomes a fair and open question-What species of Reformatory Schools are most adapted to Ireland; how can they be established so as to secure public confidence, and their ultimate success?
These are grave queries, comprising most momentous social problems; and problems too which can only be resolved after earnest discussion by men whose duties or whose professions make them fully acquainted with the whole bearings of this important question. We have, however, been favored with a copy of a draft bill, for the establishment of Reformatories in Ireland, which appears to us eminently calculated to meet the difficulties of the subject, and we presume it is drawn up by persons who are acquainted with the difficulties of the question, as all the details seem well considered, and carefully embodied. We shall here insert the provisions of this Bill, premising that, in form, it is but a record of the principles which should be adopted in framing any Reformatory Bill intended to be useful in its results, and satisfactory in its working, in Ireland. The sections are as follows:
"A BILL FOR THE BETTER CARE AND REFORMATION OF YOUTHFUL MALE OFFENDERS IN IRELAND.
Whereas, Juvenile Crime prevailing to a considerable extent in Ireland, and frequent re-committals occuring, owing to the inapplicability of the ordinary discipline of Gaols to reform Young Offenders, it is deemed expedient that Reformatory Institutions be established in Ireland: Be it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the Authority of the same, as follows:
1. That it shall and may be lawful for the Lord Lieutenant, or other Chief Governor or Governors of Ireland, to erect buildings, or to purchase buildings already erected, suitable for the purposes of Reformatories (said buildings to be situated in such localities as may seem most suitable and necessary) with such portions of land attached to each as may be deemed requisite: and it shall and may be lawful for the Lord Lieutenant, or other Chief Governor or Governors of Ireland, to order and direct the entire cost of erecting or purchasing said buildings, and of purchasing said land, to be advanced out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, to such person or persons as shall be nominated and appointed to receive same by the Lord Lieutenant, or other Chief Governor or Governors of Ireland: and one half the amount so advanced from the Consolidated Fund shall be repaid, within a period of not less than thirty years from the time when the Reformatory Institution for which the said sums shall have been advanced, shall be completed and reported ready for occupation by the Inspector, to be nominated and appointed for that purpose by the Lord Lieutenant, or other Chief Governor or Governors of Ireland. And the said sums so advanced shall be divided into twenty-eight equal parts, which shall be repaid in twenty-eight equal annual payments, the first annual payment to be made after the completion of the twenty