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our present improved system of Prison discipline, but rather to its nature or kind, and the manner of its infliction. He is furthermore satisfied, from long and careful observation, that, in a great majority of instances, whatever may be the length of the sentence to which the convict is subjected, where a hopeful reformation or change of character takes place, the work is accomplished within a comparatively short period of time after his commitment to the Prison. If the first two or three years pass away without any sensible and hopeful transformation of character, the anticipations for the future are always painful. It is true there are occasional exceptions, but they are comparatively few. By long confinement the mind becomes accustomed to its condition, and ordinarily becomes more and more insensible, and consequently less and less impressible, whatever means or motives may be applied to waken its sensibilities or move it to penitence.

“ It is true that the good of the convict is not the only thing which claims attention. The public good is, and must be, a paramount consideration. The authority of the laws must be sustained. The public welfare demands it. Still, as has been already remarked, it is believed that both these objects may be secured, and yet the terms of confinement, as they now exist in our statute books, in many instances, be greatly shortened,

* It needs only that a person have an intimate acquaintance with the operation of the system of confinement and discipline, as at present existing in this Prison, when compared with the same as they existed in former times, — with crowded night-rooms, with an intercourse between the convicts almost unrestrained by day and by night, and with the means of procuring all sorts of indulgences and practising all the arts of villany, — to be satisfied that the confinement of a single year, with its silence and solitude, and subjection to wholesome discipline, as they now exist, is productive to the prisoner of more real, and heartfelt, and salutary suffering, than he would experience in twice that length of time under the ancient system. Then, he could enjoy the society of his fellows; amusements of various kinds were at his command; and, by the various ways which ingenious villany can devise, he could contrive to stifle conscience, to banish reflection, and make the mind callous to all those sensibilities and recollections, which, in his present situation, throng upon him, and torture and harrow up his spirit.

" In connection with these remarks, the undersigned would suggest, whether the penalties of 20, 14, 10, 7, and 5 years, may not, wisely and safely, be changed to 10, 7, 5, 4, and 3 years, or to something not varying materially from that ratio, — leaving sentences for life, and those for confinement for 1 and 2 years, to stand as they now are. Such a step would, it is believed, very soon materially lessen the number of convicts in our Prison, and furthermore greatly reduce the multiplied applications now made to the executive department of the government for pardon and remission of sentences. In fact, very few, whatever may be their term of sentence, are retained in Prison beyond the period of 7 or 10 years. Would it not be better, then, to lessen by statute the term of confinement, than to burden the executive with the labor of exercising the pardoning power as frequently as it is now considered a duty to do it, in consequence of the severe operation of laws framed to meet a state of things very different from that which now exists, and which existing circumstances do not seem to call for ?

* These suggestions are made with diffidence; but, as the code of our criminal laws is, it is understood, now undergoing the process of correction and revision, it has been thought, yet perhaps presumptuously, that some remarks of this character might not be altogether inappropriate or useless.

“ Some objection may possibly exist in the minds of some to the foregoing suggestions, in regard to the propriety of reducing the terms of sentence, that such reduction would injuriously affect the pecuniary results of the institution. This might, perhaps, be the case, to some small extent; and, should it be so, who is prepared to maintain that the claims of humanity and justice, and public policy, are to be sacrificed to the accumulation of a few dollars and cents ? Fiat justitia, ruat cælum!' “ All which is respectfully submitted.


Chaplain of the Mass. State Prison. “ CHARLESTOWN, Dec. 15, 1841."


The chaplain of the Massachusetts State Prison, in his last report, pages 21 and 22, says,

" It will doubtless be gratifying to your Excellency and Honors to learn, that very many, who have been discharged from this institution in years past, are now sober, industrious, and respectable members of the community ; and some, in regular and good standing in our Christian churches; and it is thought that, of those who have been discharged the past year, a greater number than usual seemed honestly and resolutely determined, with the help of God, to live lives of sobriety, industry, and virtue. Some, it cannot be doubted, will return to their old habits and evil courses; yet, while this is to be deplored, gratitude should, notwithstanding, be cherished for the good which, by the divine blessing, the institution has been destined to accomplish.

" It is highly important, and it is hoped that the feeling will prevail more and more extensively in the community, that this unhappy class of men, when they shall be discharged from their confinement, and shall manifest a disposition to make amends for the past, – shall be seeking for employment, and manifest a desire to regain a reputable standing in society, - be taken by the hand, and, by all appropriate acts of kindness, be patronized and encouraged to persevere in the ways of well-doing. Let them not, by frowns and chilling repulses, be disheartened, and, from unkind treatment, be forced to draw the conclusion that they are doomed to be outcasts, and thus driven, in despair, back upon their former vicious and ruinous courses of life. There is a wonderful charm in Christian sympathy and kindness, to win back to virtue the wayward and the wandering. The Redeemer of the world came to seek and to save that which was lost; and while the self-righteous and the proud complained that he companied with publicans and sinners, he was never diverted for a moment from the accomplishment of the errand which brought him into the world. Only let his benevolent spirit be cherished, and his example followed, and many a parent and desolate wife shall be made to rejoice over prodigals who were once dead, but now are alive again were lost, but now are found. Repentance, when heartfelt and genuine, though it be found in those who may have been the vilest of the vile, should never be met but with kindness. A kind hand extended, a look of compassion, or a smile of approval and encouragement, will do more to allure to, and secure in, the path of virtue and peace, than all the frowns, and rebuffs, and reproachful epithets, with which some may be disposed to treat them. But, as in all other things, so in the treatment of those who are discharged from our Prisons, . wisdom is profitable to direct.' But it is better to err on the side of humanity and kindness, than in the other extreme.”

The agent of the Prison at Sing Sing, David L. Seymour, Esq., says, in his last report, pages 21 and 22,

“ Has the state done all its duty towards the unfortunate prisoners, when they are discharged, by giving them the bare pittance the statute allows — the average of three dollars to carry them back to the places of their conviction, and not to exceed ten dollars' worth of clothing ? Now, suppose they do go back to the places they were sent from; they have the mark of Cain upon them, and are hunted down or shunned as would be some ferocious beast, (with few exceptions, I am happy to say, friends have received them, as did the father his prodigal and erring son:) or suppose they remain in this neighborhood, to look for employment, as is often the case; they meet, at almost every inquiry, the cold and withering reply, Ah, ah! you have been in the State Prison:' or we will suppose they go far away, where they are not known, or attempt, with the pittance they have allowed them, to seek employment among strangers ; their little is soon gone, and they are forced to live on the cold charities of strangers. Their clothes become filthy and ragged; and who of us, I would ask, would take a person into our houses under such circumstances ? we might possibly give him something that was left from our table to eat, such as we are in the habit of throwing to our dogs, and bid him seek shelter some where else: or suppose they find some person in want of help, and who, for the sake of griping those in necessity, will hire them at less wages than others are getting; and even then a thorough catechizing is gone into, as to where they are from — for even these heartless men, that would grind the face of the poor, and get the labor of his fellow for nought, are very suspicious of the honesty of others, and would not employ them, if they knew they had ever been convicted of crime; here you see the great temp. tation for falsehood; the only alternative seems to be starvation or dishonest gain. The men who refuse to employ them may be as guilty in the eyes of the Judge of all the world; yet they have not laid themselves open to the laws of their country, and suffered the penalty of their violation, as have these degraded men.

“ I would ask, Cannot something be done to better their condition, and elevate their character, and fit them for respectable places in the society from which they have fallen, and, if possible, lead them to the sinner's Friend?

“ Allow me to suggest the propriety of employing a suitable man to take charge of and carry on the state farm, for and on account of the state; allow him to occupy the state house,' or other suitable buildings, and employ, at a fixed rate of wages, such discharged convicts as are disposed to work, and such as have no friends willing to receive them. Here they can learn the art of husbandry and gardening, and, in a well-regulated family, under religious and moral instruction, may establish a character that will recommend them to such as are in want of help, and save them from the contaminating influence of their vicious associates. I am aware that your board cannot authorize such a measure; but a recommendation from you, I am confident, would influence the legislature.”

The chaplain of the same Prison, the Rev. John Luckey, says, on the same subject, in his last report, pages 27 and


“ The suggestions contained in the agent's report, concerning the employment of discharged convicts on the state farm, &c., receive any hearty approbation.

“ That this should be done, or that a society should be formed, consisting of benevolent individuals, living in different parts of the state, who should, in an unostentatious manner, take the supervision of the morals and employment of such of these men as can be recommended, when discharged, appears to me to be very important. Several individuals have lately acted in this capacity with great success. It is well known that a majority of our convicts, having been convicted in the city of New York and its vicinity, must, according to the present statute, 'made and provided' on this subject, (I refer to that section of the law which directs that the convict, when discharged, shall receive money enough merely to defray his expenses. back to the place of his conviction,') return to seek employment in that city, where reside their former companions in vice and crime; and this, those of them who have formed resolutions of reform, dread almost as much as they dread perdition itself.

" I know, gentlemen, that I speak in strong language, but no stronger, I think, than the case warrants. I not unfrequently accompany those of this class to the city, for the express purpose of defending them from the attacks of their former associates, as also to assist them in procuring employment, and a proper boarding-house.

“On these occasions, we have sometimes found these “stool pigeons' of darkness on the boat which conveyed us to the city ; sometimes on the wharf, at the city; and sometimes on the corners of the streets, in the city; waiting for their prey, and always ready to bribe to crime, when their object was most in need of ihe bribe. How few have the moral courage to withstand such temptations, and especially when their very souls within them are withering under the sad tokens of a misguided public proscription! It is not, therefore, surprising to me that there should, under the present economy, be so many here for the second and even third time."

It will be seen by those who have carefully read the reports of the Prison Discipline Society, in former years, how well the opinions here expressed by the chaplain of the Prison at Charlestown, and the agent and chaplain of the Prison at Sing Sing, correspond with the opinions of Dr. Tuckerman, late of Boston, and the keeper of the new County Prison in Hartford, Conn., in regard to the solemn and imperious duty of Christians, and all good citizens, to befriend discharged convicts. The teachers of the female Sabbath school in the House of Correction at South Boston, and Mrs. Beard, the matron of the female Prison at Sing Sing, with her associates, have had much encouragement in their efforts to provide homes for the discharged who have been under their care.

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New Hampshire,
Rhode Island,..
Auburn, N. Y.
Sing Sing, N. Y...
Peniten. at Philadelphia,
Frankfort, Ken.....
Columbus, Ohio,.

68 42 26
78 84 6 13 7 기

460 62 322 331 0 131 26

1,015 92 14 21 7 3

6,458 86 695 70712 168 35

17,076 76 827 811 16 216 19 2 18

9,640 10 376 335 41 134 15 17 27 329 284 45 84 25 16. 6,493 13 162 162 51 16 5

11,718 53 483 480 3 62 46 413

21,897 32) 3354 3257 34 131 862 188 11 83 27 13,967 91 60,793 33 205 211 6

38 3

8,065 29

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Diminution of prisoners in ten Penitentiaries, 97. There is an increase of 34 in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and at Auburn, N. Y.; and a diminution of 131 in Maine, New York, (at Sing Sing,) Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Ohio. But, since the returns were made, there is a diminution in Massachusetts, equal to the whole increase of the previous year. Discharged by expiration of sentence from ten Penitentiaries,

862 Discharged by pardon from the same,

188 Total number discharged last year,

1040 How important that the Penitentiaries should be reformatory !

Escaped from ten Penitentiaries, 11. These were all in Kentucky and Ohio, except 2 from Sing Sing. From seven Penitentiaries there was no escape. The American Penitentiary system is very secure.

Number of deaths in ten Penitentiaries, out of an average of 3305 prisoners, 83, or less than 1 in 39. Deaths in the new Penitentiary in Philadelphia, out of an average of 360 prisoners, 17, or 1 in 21. Deaths in all the Penitentiaries, except the new Penitentiary in Philadelphia, out of an average of 2945 prisoners, 66, or 1 in 44.

Deaths in the new Penitentiary in Philadelphia, 1 in 21. Expenses above earnings, in three Penitentiaries, $13,967,91. Earnings above expenses, in five Penitentiaries, $60,793,33.


A letter from Bissett Hawkins, M. D., one of the inspectors of Prisons for the Southern and Western District of Great Britain, dated London, March 12, 1842, says, –

“I am no friend to confining prisoners to labor in the cell. In the year 1841, we have had several cases of insanity in the Penitentiary at Millbank, where prisoners are confined to labor in their cells, but have daily exercise in their yards in company. This separate system, as it has been denominated, has made but little progress here as yet.”

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