Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

ART. JII.-JUVENILE DELINQUENTS AND THEIR

MANAGEMENT. 1. First Annual Report of the Directors of Convict Prisons in

Ireland. Presented to both Houses of Parliament by com

mand of Iler Majesty, Dublin, 1854. 2. Crime : its Amount, Causes and Remedies. By Frederick

Hill, Barrister-at-Law, late Inspector of Prisons. 1 Vol.,

London : John Murray, 1853. 3. Prïson Discipline, and the ailvantages of the separate

system of imprisonment, with a detailed accouut of the discipline now pursued in the new County Gaol at Reading. By the Rev. J. Field, M.A., Chaplain." 2 Vols., London:

Longman and Co., 1818. 4. Chapters on Prisons and Prisoners. By Joseph Kingsmill, M.A., Chaplain of Pentonville Prison. London, Third

. Edition, 1 Vol., London: Longman and Co., 1854. 8. Reformatory Schools. A Letter to C. B. Adderley, Esq.,

M.P. By the Rev. Sydney Turner, Resident Chaplain of the Philanthropic Farm School, Red Hill. London: Thos.

Hatchard, 1855. 6. Hints on the Discipline appropriate to Schools. By Arthur

Hill. London : Longinan and Co., 1855.

All admit the principle, that'" prevention is better than cure," but many lose sight of it in practice. Endeavouring only to reform criminals, is "working at the pump and leaving the leak open.”

Why not commence at the source and cut off the supply? This is the most simple and natural way to

prevent. The "cure" is necessary for those who have already Tallen. We shall see how far prevention and cure can go hand in hand.

Mr. Hill, with whom we fullyconcur, in his able work on Crime gives the following as the chief causes of crime :- Bad training and ignorance, drunkenness and other kinds of profligacy, poverty, habits of violating the laws engendered by the creation of artificial offences, other measures of legislation interfering unnecessarily in private actions or presenting examples of in

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

justice, temptations to crime, caused by the probability either of entire escape or of subjection to an insufficient purishment. Mr. Hill writes :

" The enumeration of the causes of crime suggests the remedies. These consist chiefly, in my opinion, of good education and the general spread of knowledge; the cultivation of habits of forethought, sobriety, and frugality, with the control of the passions; the promotion of habits of industry and self-reliance, and the adoption of all other practicable means for raising every class of society beyond the sphere of destitution, and into that of comfort and moderate wealth ; such a rernodelling of our laws as shall bring the statute. book as nearly as possible into coincidence with the eternal principles of justice, so that while it is a code of municipal law, it may also serve as a manual of morality ; and lastly, the adoption of such means for the apprehension, trial, and punishment of offenders as shall secure, as far as practicable, that every offence be followed by immediate detection and certain conviction, and that the criminat shall be placed in such a position as shall make him sincerely and deeply regret the wrong he has committed, and bring him to labour earnestly in the work of his refurination, and in obtaining the tneans for making restitution to the person whom he has injured."

Lieut. Col. Jebb, in his Report on the Discipline and Management of the Convict Prisons, and disposal of convicts 1851, gives the following as the main causes of crime :-Drunkenuess--the total inadequacy of accommodation to secure the most ordinary decencies of life in the houses of the lower classes--the demoralizing and vitiating effects of penny theatres

, balls, concerts, and low places of amusement-facilities for disposing of stolen goods--the want of any recognised means of education and industrial training for the lower classes.

We forbear quoting any more, but content ourselves with remarking, that in all the works before us, enumerating the chief causes of crime, all agree, that ignorance, drunkenness, and destitution, are the grand causes of crime in Ireland. Others there are, but they are partly consequences of these " Many more co-operating causes might be designated," writes Lieut.-Col. Jebb, “but the foregoing are each and all susceptible of abateinent. They only require to be grappled with in a vigorous manner, by the combined action of the legislative and local authority, and the effects of benevolence; and more good would soon be effected than any one, unacquainted with the magnitude of the evils, would deem to be possible.” If we set about the work earnestly, and with a conviction that we shall succeed, we must succeed. And what work, may we

[merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

ask, could be more becoming a christian nation and a christian people ? Our people are as intellectual, as enterprising, as charitable as any other people under heaven. Why then, it may be asked, have they not kept pace with the other nations of Europe in this respect ? Our answer is, the ques. tion has not been sufficiently brought under their notice.

The following very forcible reinarks on "prevention” and '* cure" are made by Mr. Thompson of Banchory House, near Aberdeen, in a most admirable little work, entitled “Social Evils, their Causes and their Cure."

“ It is not enough for society to reform criminals after they have led lives of crime for years ; it has another and a greater, and, happily, it is also an easier work to aecomplish, and that is, to prevent the growth of a population of juvenile offenders, ready and willing, year after year, to fill up the places of those who may have been reformed, on removed from the country.. The work is not to cleanse the polluted stream after it has long flowed on in sits pestilential course, but to purify the fouutain whence it draws its unfailing supply

In order to get a right viet both of our state as a nation, and of our duty in regard to our neglected juveniles, it is necessary to take a brief survey of the principal causes of crime amongst us, and likewise of the principal agencies at work to counteract them.. Until We know something of both the one and the other, and the various circumstances which foster the evil and repress the good, we are not prepared to form a just judgment of what we truly have to do ; we cannot appreciate either the nature or extent of our work.

The work we have to accomplish may, in general terpis, be defined as the solution of the problem, How are we effectually and permapently to diminish for the future the numbers of our juvenile criminal population ?' and it will be found to be twofold—some things to be undone, and others to be done.

What we have to undo is whatever has a tendency to create or encourage offences ; and unbap pily not a few of our social

arrangements and habits are of such a character that they may be fairly and justly described as inost efficacious means of producing and fostering dangerous elasses in the community. While such laws or habits are maintained and cherished we must expect to reap' more or less of their natural fruit, whatever counteracting agencies may be kept in operation ; and the work can never, while they exist, be satisfactorily accomplished, because, just as the curative or preventive measures take effect on the one hand, so will the producing causes go on to supply a fresh population of juvenile offenders on the other.

What'we have to do is to devise and carry out such measures as ishall take possession of all juveniles who may be placed in such cir. cumstances as to be evidently preparing for a life of crime, or who may already have entered upon it, and keep hold of them until they have been trained up in the knowledge of the right way, and fairly 'started in a course of well doing.

That this is practicable, not even very difficult, is the great object of these pages to demonstrate, and the proof will not proceed upon the mere assertion of abstract principles, but upon practical experience, acquired first in dne town, and gradually confirmed in others, and so 'simple as to be applicable to every place where neglected juveniles exist."

In order to prevent crime we must remore the causes. If we remove only some of the causes, or partially remove them, in the same proportion, evidently crime will be prevented. And should we find on trial, which appears to us a little improbable, that the total removal of all the causes of crime is impossible, we must not be discouraged because we cannot do all that we would wish, bearing in mind the good old saying, “ half a loaf is better than no bread."

With regard to drunkenness, it is not hard to say whether it be the effect or cause of ignorance; it is not, however, of much consequence when there is an imperative demand for the removal of both. We are inclined to take the same view as the Rev. Mr. Clay does of the connexion of these vices. Mr. Clay writes :

“ There is another cause of crime on which, as I have adverted to it annually for twenty-two years, I must not now be silent, lest it should be imagined, that it is less active than formerly, as the origin of an incomputable amount of misery. No one requires to be told that drunkenness is THE VICE of the uneducated labourer, but many have to learn that it is his vice because he is uneducated. I have framed a table, which shews that of all the offenders committed to this prison during the last year for offences attributable to acts of drunkenness, 187 were unable to read, 161 were unable to name the months, and 116 were unable to repeat a prayer. Can we wonder, then, that our hospitals, workhouses, and prisons are filled with the disease, the porerty and the crime fostered by drink! The Divine Law gives the intelligible and emphatic warning that the drunkard “shall not inherit the kingdom of God ;' but human law deals gently with his sin, and with all the encouragements to it.-beer-houses, ale-houses, gin-palaces, concert rooms—and only begins to look sternly on the wretch when he turns to begging, poaching, or pilfering--I speak not of graver crimes. My journal is filled with tales of wickedness and misery told by drunkards. Some of these I give in the Appendix, as examples from the different classes of criminals disgraced or ruined by intoxication."

It is scarcely conceivable the numberless evils which follow in the train of that monstrous vice, drunkenness. It lowers & man to the level of the brute creation, by depriving him of sense and reason ; it madly inflames his passions, while it er. tinguishes every spark of virtue. In this state of wild in

toxication the man is nothing less than demon, capable of perpetrating any crime, and were it not for the temporary physical weakness entailed by drunkenness, we should shudder at even the idea of a drunken man. What an example to a wife, is a man in such a state, and particularly to a young family, who learn less from precept than example! Rev. Mr. Joseph, enumerating the chief causes of crime, in his Memoirs of Convicted Prisoners, writes :

“ The next, and one of the greatest causes of crime, which I shall notice, is drunkenness. This is a monstrous cause, this is the besetting sin of our labouring population. It has brought thousands to infamy and shame. Were it not for the gin shop and public house thousands of our fellow creatures might be saved from prison anii transportation. Strange, indeed, that man, the highest and noblest of beings, should so forget himself as to sink to a level with the vilest.

There is a Rabbinical tradition, that when Noah planted the vine, Satan attended and sacrificed a sheep, a lion, an ape, and a sow. These animals were to symbolize the gradations of ebriety. When a man begins to drink intoxicating liquors he is meek and ignorant as the lamb, then becomes bold like the lion ; his courage is soon transformed into the foolishness of the ape, and at last wallows in the mire like a sow.' Surely there is some truth in these symbols ; as to the tradition we make no observation. When men are determined to have these intoxicating drinks, eren at the sacrifice of all principles and at the expense of imprisonment and transportation, it is high time that something should be done by the legislature, some law en. acted to put a stop to this besetting evil."

The sight of a drunken man is doubtless disgusting, but when a woman is in a state of intoxication, the spectacle is hideous and revolting in the extreine. What an example for our virtuous mothers, wives, and daughters! How many prostitutes, who walk our streets after night-fall, have been brought to misery and shame by men, worse than demons, whose efforts to seduce them would have been fruitless had the unfortunate females not previously tasted the worse than poisoned cup. In a state of intoxication, woman becomes an easy prey to her wily seducer. The Editor of The Refuge Magazine writes_“ Disciples of the Redeemer ! friends of your species ! do all you can to banish from your country that most powerful instrument of evil, ardent spirits. Let the rising generation be taught to shun it, and associate with it the miseries it entails and the panys it inflicts. Reflect that but for these liquid fires, nine out of ten perhaps of the cases of seduction could not be effected.”

« PreviousContinue »