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limits of their commissions, at their general or quarter sessions, or the grcater part of them, then and there assembled shall have full power and authority from time to time to make one general rate or assessment for such sum or sums of money as they in their discretion shall think sufficient to answer all and every the ends and purposes of the before-cited Acts, instead and in lieu of the several separate and distinct rates divided thereby to be made, levied, and collected, which rate shall be assessed upon every town, parish, or place within the respective limits of their commissions, in such proportions as any of the rates heretofore made in pursuance of the said several Acts have been usually assessed; and the several and respective sums so assessed upon each and every town, parish, or place within the respective limits of their commission, shall be collected by the high constables of the respective hundreds and divisions, in which any town, parish, or place doth lie, in such manner, and at such times, as is hereinafter directed.
31st George III. c. 46. s. 12.
And whereas by an Act of the nineteenth year of the reign of King Charles the Second, intituled, “An Act for relief of poor prisoners, and setting themi on work;" after reciting that there was not any sufficient provision made for the relief and setting on work of poor and needy persons committed to the common gaol for felony and other misdemeanors, who many times perish before their trial, and the poor there living idly and unemployed, become debauched, and come forth instructed in the practice of thievery and lewdness, it is enacted, that the justices of the peace in their respective counties, at any of their general sessions, if they shall find it needful so to do, may provide a stock of such materials as they find convenient for setting poor prisoners on work, in such manner, and by such ways, as other county charges may be levied and raised, and to pay and provide fit persons to oversee and set such persons on work, and make such orders for accounts of and concerning the premises, as shall by them be thought needful; and for punishment of neglects and other abuses, and for bestowing the profits arising from the labour of the prisoners set on work for their relief, which shall be duly observed, and may alter, revoke, or amend such their orders from time to time, provided that no parish be rated above sixpence by the week towards the premises, having respect to the respective values of the several parishes. And whereas the provision of the said recited statute is very fit to be executed with respect to such prisoners therein described, as shall be confined in the gaols, with an extension thereof to all other prisoners inclined to take the benefit thereof; and also an increase of the sum limited by the said Act for defraying the expense of executing the same: be it therefore enacted, that the justices of the peace shall have
authority to execute the said recited provision in the said last-mentioned Act for setting poor persons on work, as well in regard to such persons as are therein described, as in favour of all other prisoners within the said gaols, who may at any time be inclined and willing to work; and for that purpose are hereby authorized, at a general or quarter sessions of the peace for the said county, or at any adjournment thereof, to direct the payment of such sums of money out of the county rate for the said county, as they shall from time to time think fit to be expended in execnting the provision of the said lastmentioned Act, according to the extension thereof hereby made.
31 George III. C. 46, s. 13.
And whereas by an Act of the fourteenth year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, intituled, an Act how vagabonds shall be punished, and the poor relieved, as also by the above-mentioned Act of the thirty-second year of the reign of George II. some provision is made for the relief of prisoners, but notwithstanding the humane purposes thereby intended, the health of prisoners is frequently so affected by want of necessary food as to render them incapable of labour when released, and therefore it may be expedient to have a more extensive provision in favour of such poor prisoners, as shall be confined in the said gaols and other places of confinement, and have not any means of acquiring necessary sustenance; be it therefore enaeted, that from and after the passing of this Act, it shall be lawful for the justices of the peace at their general or quarter sessions, or any adjournment thereof, from time to time to order such sum or sums of money to be paid out of the county rate towards assisting such prisoners of every description, as being confined within the said gaols, or other places of confinement, are not able to work, or being able cannot procure employment sufficient to sustain themselves by their industry, or who may not be otherwise provided for by virtue of any law or statute, or of any custom or order, such food and raiment as the said justices shall from time to time think necessary for the support of health, and such money shall accordingly be applied in conforming to directions to be given by the said justices.
EXTRACTS FROM THE CORRESPONDENCE OF
Sept. 1823. The satisfactory result of the trial made of a tread-mill in the Penitentiary, or new House of Correction, has been such as to have induced the magistrates, after mature deliberation, to erect a similar tread-mill in the old House of Correction, within the walls of the County Gaol. We have also in both prisons, not only tread-mills for the general employment of prisoners, but also small mills worked by crank machinery, for those who are unfit to be sent to the tread-wheels, on account of lameness, ulcerated legs, &c.
A commodious day-room has been added to the mill, in which the working-prisoners protect themselves from a current of air, and from rain or sun, when they descend from the wheels, and while they are waiting for their turn to mount again. The classification has been rendered as conformable to the provisions of the new Prison Act, as the size and construction of the prison will admit. A copy of the new Prison Regulation Act has also been given to the keepers of the prisons, who have been ordered to conform thereto.
Assiduous attention is paid to daily worship and religious instruction by the chaplain, which are so administered as not to interfere with the regular working-hours.
Many of the prisoners (without any deduction from the number of hours during which hard labour is enforced) make great progress in learning to read, and they repeat publicly, once every week, the Lord's prayer, the ten Commandments, and the Creed, with large portions of Scripture Catechisms.
The tread-mill grinds corn for the use of the prisons, and the Lunatic Asylum. As none but convicted prisoners are now employed at this milļ, the profit of their work is carried to the credit of the county, with the exception of the charge of the soup given out six times a week. A small allowance per mile is made to prisoners on their discharge, to enable them to travel home.
The number of commitments to the County Gaol and old House of Correction for the last two years and three quarters, is as follows, (to which are added the numbers of recommitments, which are surprisingly heavy:)
Commitinents. Recommitments. 1821. To the County Gaol .... 115, of whom 14
To the old House of Correction 17 do... 3 do. 1822. To the County Gaol
138 do... 27 do. To the old House of Correction 45 do, 10 do. 1823. To the County Gaol ..
89 do. 27 do. toOct.2.To the old House of Correctioa 12 do. 4 do.
The commitments to the new House of Correction have been as under:
First Commitments. Commitments. Second. Third. Total. 1821...
225 1822.. 258. 234.
1. 1823, to Oct. 2.. 149,. : 127. 17. 5.
The second and third commitments are generally for offences against the game laws, refusals to obey orders of filiation, 'misbehaviour of paupers in workhouses, and in husbandry service, for being idle and
disorderly, and for other minor offences under the new Vagrant Act. Only two prisoners for felony have returned, since January 1821 to October 1823.
May 1823. The only alteration which appears to have taken place in this prison, since the visit reported in 1820,* is the introduction of a tread-mill for the employment of about sixty prisoners.
The prison is very awkwardly built, particularly the gaol side, the buildings of which are crowded together, the passages narrow, and the walls in many parts green with damp: there is no inspection, and the classification is exceedingly deficient for a county gaol, consisting of two classes for males for trial at the assizes and at sessions; one for fines and juvenile prisoners; and one only for females. It was stated in the Society's Report for 1820, that all prisoners committed for trial at the assizes under charges of felony, were ironed at this prison : the practice still continues:t on their airst reception they are double ironed ; on being locked up in their cells at night, they are chained in bed, the chain being fixed to the floor of the cell, and fastened to the leg fetters of the prisoners. In this way they are locked up at seven o'clock in the evening, or at sun-set; their dress is also taken away, as an additional precaution against escape : they remain in this state until six o'clock the next morning; and as there are but two gaol deliveries in the year, this treatment of the untried prisoners may unhappily continue for nearly six months together. The double irons in use are various, some weighing ten pounds, others even fourteen pounds, others are short-linked, which are used on the turbulent; fetters of
* See Appendix to Third Report, 1821, p. 4. + It affords the Committee very great pleasure to find, from information which they have received, while the above account was in the press, that the use of the irons and fetters at this county gaol has been discontinued, agreeably to the direction of the new Act of Parliament, 4 Geo. 4, c. 64.
About twelve years ago a most desperate gang of offenders from the neighbourhood of Newbury, who were committed to this prison, (having cut off their irons), nearly succeeded in overpowering the keeper and his officers. This alarming circumstances led to the adoption of the precautions above described, which, from the insecure state and awkward construction of the prison, have been continued until lately.