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bring forward arguments. We shall make no assertion the truth of which is not admitted and notorious; we shall deduce no conclusion that is not obvious and irresistible—that does not, as the French say, sauter aux yeux.
And, first, we have to remark, that it is out of these youthful and often infantine delinquents that the adult criminal population is created. They are its source and feeders. Grown men commit occasional crimes, especially crimes of violence, under the influence of actual temptation, or in transient moments of passion; but few, very few comparatively, become criminals in mature life. The vast majority have begun early, gone on regularly, pursued their education steadily in and out of gaol, and formally graduated in crime. Amateurs are considered interlopers, and are generally clumsy; they are therefore soon cut short, and relegated either to prison or to destitution to complete their training. We have already seen that twelve per cent. of the criminal population, as nearly as can be ascertained, are under sixteen
and we now know that there are yearly committed to prison 7000 under seventeen, of whom 4000 are under fourteen, and 1200 under twelve. We see here an ample supply of recruits for the prisons and the bulks; and we need look no further for the source whence the regiments of crime, whose strength and numbers so appal us, are fed.
The second certainty we have to state is this. Whatever may be our feeling as to the question whether the adult criminals, whose case we considered in our former paper, were fitter objects for reformation or for vengeance – whether they ought to be dealt with in a spirit of compassion or in a spirit of retribution—no such question can arise here. Of those who thus in their infancy become amenable to the laws of their country, it is notorious that nine out of every ten have had no chance of any better lot; no other career has been open to them; into this they have been actually forced; for this they have been specially and studiously trained. They had no innate virtue to keep them from thieving; they have never been in an atmosphere which could have fostered their moral sense, or even given it a possibility of germinating; they have never seen any example which would lead them to good; the daily examples before their eyes could only lead them into evil; they have never been taught that theft was wrong; they have ever been sedulously and severely taught that it was normal and necessary. Hundreds of them are illegitimate; and we all know the vice from which illegitimacy generally springs, and the neglect in which it almost always issues. Thousands of them are orphans, or victims of step fathers or step-mothers - often a condition worse than orphanage. Thousands more, seeing nothing but brutality and drunkenness, experiencing nothing but harshness and destitution, at home, are driven forth into the streets, fall among companions further advanced in the ways of guilt than themselves, and urged by want and stimulated by encouragement and emulation, take the first easy and prolific step in crime, and become the Ishmaelites of our cities. Finally, thousands are regularly brought up to depredation as others are brought up to shoemaking or spinning; go to school to a pickpocket as we went to school to a writing master; are applauded and recompensed if they are diligent and apt — if they learn quickly and practise handily; are abused and punished if they are scrupulous or clumsy; find that the approbation of their parents, the estimation of their fellows, the good things of life, the hearty supper, the welcome dram, — in a word, their position in the world — their world - the only world they know or can care for, — depends upon their proficiency in what we call crime, but what they regard in no other light than as a profession. No one can pretend to feel that children of whom these are the antecedents -- antecedents which, it has been proved, can be predicated of nine-tenths of juvenile delinquents — are fit objects for retributive punishment, or can in truth, in justice, or in mercy, be regarded in any other light than as victims to be rescued and as patients to be cured. The first object may be to protect society against them; the second object undoubtedly is to protect them against their antecedents and surroundings — to redeem them from the clinging mire, the mighty influence, the terrible misfortune, of their past : and the practical process by which both objects are to be attained is the same.
The next thing that is certain is, that if these children are imprisoned they are ruined- if they are sent to gaol they are sent to the devil, at once and irretrievably. In the great majority of prisons there is no adequate provision for separate confinement. The untried herd with the convicted; the young with the old ; the hardened with the comparatively innocent. The convicted child finds himself in another and a more advanced and efficient school of crime: his education proceeds ; he goes in a raw apprentice; he comes out passé maître. It is never otherwise; it could not possibly be otherwise. But there is more than this. The child who is sent to gaol for a week or month for stealing perhaps a loaf, a few apples, or a sixpence, has the brand upon him for his life; not only is his character utterly contaminated, but his reputation is irretrievably damaged; the hope of honest employment is at an end; he has stepped over the threshold of a new world; between him and his former career (if an innocent one) there is a great gulf fixed; when he comes out of prison he finds one section of the community waiting to welcome him, and the rest of the community resolute to spurn him; henceforth one door is closed to him, the other stands invitingly and irresistibly open. What can he do? But this branch of the subject is too old and too notorious to dwell on.
Even if prisons were all regulated as they ought to be, and as we trust they soon will be, still a prison would not be the place for him. Separate confinement is not fit for, or endurable by, the very young. It is not needed, and it would be intolerably cruel.* They are not ripe for reflection, and it is not reflection that we need to force upon them. They have not so much to be weaned from evil, as to be taught good. They have to be opened to new, more natural, more healthy, more kindly, influences. They have to be awakened to a sense of wrong, by the arousing and cultivating the perceptions of the right. They want softening and training, not crushing or terrifying. Nor, by the utmost converging amount and weight of testimony, have the penal inflictions of a prison the slightest effect in deterring young delinquents from a repetition of their offences. On this head the evidence before us is overwhelming and unanimous. Punishment seems to be less dreaded and less efficient in the case of children than in the case of adults. Sometimes they do not care for it; sometimes they defy it; in nearly all cases they are utterly unaffected by it. They seem literally • incorrigible.' The only thing that produces any effect upon them is kindness: of this the instances are numerous and touching. But the clearest proof of the inutility and inapplicability of punishment in prison (whether by whipping or simple confinement) is to be found in the frequency, or rather the constancy, of juvenile re-commitments. The chaplain of the Leeds Gaol gave in evidence, that of 115 boys under seventeen years of age, 14 had been committed twice, 18 thrice, 19 four times, 8 five times, and 21 six times and upwards. The
Law Review' informs us that the number of Juvenile • Offenders committed in 1849 was 12,955; that of these 4,314 were re-committals; and 761 had been committed four times and upwards.' Mr. Osborn, chaplain of the Bath Gaol, found that 55 children, committed for the first time in 1844, had in six years passed through gaol 216 times—an average of 4 times each. Mr. Rushton, stipendiary magistrate at Liverpool, found
* See Blue Book for 1852. Questions 1293. 1633.
that of 14 juvenile criminals whose career he was able to investigate, none had been committed less than eight times, and one as many as 23 times ! * Finally, the chaplain of Parkhurst informs us that 160 boys sent to that jail had previously among them been in prison 573 times, or nearly four times each. We might multiply similar returns ad nauseam.
The fourth certainty that requires to be fixed in our minds is this:- that though prisons will not amend criminal children, there are other influences that will. The reformability of these young offenders is one of the most established and indisputable facts we have to deal with. And when we consider their antecedents we at once perceive that this is as probable à priori as it is certain. We have no reason to suppose it would be otherwise. They were led or betrayed into bad courses by no special proclivity to evil, but by circumstances under which average natures were sure to fail, and under which even dispositions of unusual aptitude for good might, and most probably would, have gone astray. Which of us could say of ourselves or of our own children, that, similarly placed, we or they should not have similarly sinned? Should we have judged them harshly, or punished them severely, if they had done so ? Those who have watched the countenances, and studied the manners of these children out of gaol, especially in ragged or reformatory schools, cannot fail to be astonished at the degree of promise which they present. They are generally more clever than the average of their age; they have keener intellects; they present you with more material to work upon, — more points d'appui to lay hold of. Above all, there is one mode of treatment which is all-powerful upon them, because it is wholly new to them. Hardened against punishment, they are as soft as wax to words of kindness and to acts of trust. They have never met with
The following example is a good illustration of our position :
Edward Joghill, aged ten years' (says Serjeant Adams) has not yet been tried by a jury, but within the last two years he has been summarily convicted, viz.
27. Rogue and vagabond - 2 calendar months.
- 1 month and whipped. 1848, May 23. - Simple larceny
- 1 1849, April 25. Simple larceny
3 months and whipped.' (Report of Conference, p. 28.)
such before; they are wholly unable to resist such now. If you whip them, chain them, starve them, they resent it and rebel *; if you confine them they escape, or try to do so. If you treat them tenderly—if you speak to them gently, — they melt and weep. We refer to a pathetic history in a note: it is a type, not an exception, — as all conversant with prisons are aware.f We do not mean to say that the reform of the young sinners is easy, or that they amend their lives as soon as their hearts are touched. On the contrary, their progress is often slow, and taxes dreadfully the patience of their teachers; their backslidings and outbreaks are frequent, and draw largely on the faith of those who undertake them; the will is often languid and vacillating, and the flesh, as with all of us, is very weak. But that, under judicious management and fitting circumstances, they can be reformed, and are reformed in most encouraging numbers, and so effectually reformed as to become not only harmless but useful members of the community whose curse, perplexity, and dread they were-is a matter that admits of no doubt whatever, and which the records of Mettray, Hamburg, Stretton, Aberdeen, Red Hill
, Philadelphia, New York, and many other places, where the experiment has been tried for years, amply prove.$ Wherever in such reformatories there has been a failure, more or less complete, it may always be traceable to errors now recognised and abandoned. That 75 per cent. of our youthful criminals may be rescued, if we will, from their evil courses, and prevented from ever passing into the ranks of established and adult offenders, is a conclusion long since placed beyond dispute.
Finally, nothing is more certain than that the cost of reforming juvenile offenders bears no appreciable proportion to that incurred by the community, by permitting them, as heretofore, to run their regular course of depredation, till it ultimately lands them in the gallows or the hulks. We can tell pretty accurately how much a child will cost in a reformatory, and how long, on the average, it is needful to keep him there; what is the outlay necessary to transforın him from a criminal preying upon the wealth of the community, into an honest labourer adding to that wealth. We can calculate approximatively the
* Juvenile Delinquents,' p. 197.: a simple and most instructive history.
† Ibid. p. 203. A sad and most touching instance by the chaplain of the Manchester Gaol.
† At Mettray (in 1848), out of 156 who had passed through that institution, and are still alive, 128 are reformed, or 82 per cent. ; at the Rauhe Haus, near Hamburgh, still more. VOL. CI. NO. CCVI.