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bining at the same time considerable facilities for the inspection of the classes, with a convenient and ready access into the several departments of the prisoners. The prison is to contain about 150 cells, and twenty distinct classes: the governor's house is to be situated in the centre, which will be surrounded by the several radiating buildings and airing-yards.
The numbers committed to the county gaol in the last three years are as follows: In 1820.... Total 71,.. of whom 5 are recommittals, 1821. 78,
4. .. do.
The borough gaol consists of the gaoler's house, which fronts a street, into which all the windows look : behind the house are two small yards; the first about 30 feet by 18 feet, the second about 18 feet 15 feet. As there are no windows looking into either of the yards from the gaoler's house, the prisoners are never seen except when the gaoler goes into the yards.
The first yard is intended for male prisoners of all descriptions. Connected by one door with this yard, are, one cell calculated to hold about three prisoners, and up stairs three small rooms for debtors; another door opens into a day-room with a large cell, which might hold six or eight prisoners. There is a pump in this yard.
The second yard is behind the first, and therefore considerably removed from the gaoler's house. It was separated from the first yard about six years ago by a partition wall, previous to which time the male and female prisoners were together. Connected with this yard, is one cell not fit to hold more than three or four persons, and is intended for vagrants; and a small room above it, for women. When the vagrants are locked up in their cell, the women can talk to them through the door: when taken out they are conducted into the first yard. There is no water in this second yard, so that in all probability there is more communication between the two classes than there ought to be. The prison is extremely insecure, but irons are not commonly used. There is no chaplain, nor any divine service performed in the prison.
A few books are allowed, but no other means of religious instruction are provided. There is no employment of any kind. The allowance of food is 1} lb. of bread per day. There are no rules whatever for the government of the prison.
The prisoners committed are chiefly for debt, petty thefts, assaults, disturbances, bastardy, and for being disorderly during apprenticeships; the first being the largest, and the last the smallest number. The debtors are chiefly court of requests' debtors. There is no matron. The numbers committed In the year ending Michaelmas 1821...
59 In this wretched prison thirty persons have been confined at one time, twelve being considered about the average number!
Common Gaol and Bridewell.
May 1823. No alteration is reported to have been made in this prison since its erection in 1811. It contains five day-rooms and only two court-yards, one of which is also used by female prisoners: vagrants and others committed for want of sureties, are not kept distinct from the others prisoners. No employment is provided; the prisoners are however allowed to work at their own trades, when they can be carried on in the prison, provided they bring their own tools and materials. The allowance of food is only three quarters of a pound of bread per day! Irons are seldom used. A chaplain attends the prison, and prayers, with a sermon, are by the rules directed to be read every Sunday, and prayers also on Tuesdays.
County Prisons, near EXETER. These prisons, which from the increased population, and other causes, have of late years afforded very inadequate accommodation, are about to undergo extensive alterations; by which the means of classification will be considerably extended, and the number of night-cells increased. The debtors are confined in a separate prison.
City Gaol and Bridewell.
May 1823. This Prison is built on the radiating plan; the governor's apartments, the chapel, and the infirmary, occupy the central building; from which, three wings extend at right angles with each other. The airing yards, which are small, are nearly all open to view from the windows of the governor's rooms; and the radiating wings being immediately connected with the centre building, the access into the prisoners' day-rooms, and night-cell galleries is remarkably ready and convenient.* The prison is calculated to contain about fifty prisoners; there are twenty single night-cells, besides good airy apartments for debiors. There are eight distinct classes, viz. two for debtors, (master and common) two for female prisoners, and four for the tried and untried male prisoners: each class has a separate day-room and airing yard. The day rooms were in a good state, well lighted, ventilated, dry and clean: the night-cells are furnished with iron bedsteads, the windows are glazed; in the winter three blankets and a rug are allowed, in the summer two blankets. The chapel on the second story of the centre building is well contrived; the classes are seated in separate compartments; behind these, are two rooms, intended for sick wards, but seldom required: patients, when in these rooms, are within hearing of the minister during the service.t
A chaplain is appointed, and attends every Sunday: some ladies evince great interest in visiting the females, and in attending to their instruction and regular employment; the daughter of the governor also assists in the care of the women.
* Four of the day-rooms which adjoin the centre building might be rendered capable of inspection, by means of small apertures, or loop-holes, as described in the account of Cold Bath-fields prison, in the Appendix of the Fourth Report, page 44. By this means the governor would be able to place some of the classes of his prisoners under a more strict degree of inspection than others. In most other respects, the general plan of this prison is much to be admired and recommended for small prisons. The ground upon which it stands is unfortunately much inclined, being on the side of a hill.
+ This situation for the infirmary of a prison cannot be recommended, for obvious reasons.
Bibles, prayer-books, and religious tracts, are amply provided. The allowance of food is a pound and half of good white bread per day, and ten pounds of potatoes per week.
A small tread-mill has been recently introduced: the power is applied to beating hemp. Most of the wood-work of the treadwheels was made by one of the felons, under the direction of the governor. "If any complaint is made of inability to work at the mill, the surgeon is immediately sent for, and his orders, as upon all cases of sickness, are, by the regulations of the magistrates, required to be strictly attended to. The females have been fully occupied in washing, mending clothes, &c.; also knitting stockings for the charity school in the city.
The prison is surrounded by a detached boundary wall, about twenty or twenty-five feet distant froin the prison buildings; the intervening ground is cultivated as a garden. There is a good lodge, with reception cells: here the prisoner, on his entrance, is examined; if not clean, he is bathed, and his hair is cut; and if necessary, he is furnished with clothing. The general appearance of this gaol (on an unexpected visit) indicated great propriety of management; and reflects distinguished credit upon the city of Exeter.
ilay 1823. Tuis small and most incommodious prison consists of a lofty quadrangular stone building or tower, erected in a central and confined part of the town. One spiral staircase leads to five tiers or stories. On entering from the street the visitor descends many steps to the basement or lowest story, containing three or four very gloomy cells, which are most offensively close, dirty, and damp; these cells are entered from a narrow, dark passage, at the end of which is the privy. The air of these loathsome cells and the passage is disgustingly offensive. Two of these cells are occupied by male prisoners, who here spend their day, and sleep at night upon straw only.
The cells in the next floor and in the succeeding stories were less offensive; and in proportion to the ascent the air of the prison improved in quality. The highest, or fifth story, is occupied by the female prisoners, who have one airy room: there
were about five or six women in it at this time: there is no matron. A few benevolent ladies, however, visit the females from time to time; and have provided a supply of work, and extended to them religious instruction.
The rooms in the next floor to the females are occupied by debtors.
There is but one yard for the use of all these prisoners, to which they have access only at the will of the officers. This yard did not appear secure; instead of being used as an airing ground for the prisoners, it is converted into a kind of poultry yard, and a receptacle for rubbish and filth. One of the debtors stated, that, in consequence of the unfit state of this yard, he had not used it more than twice, during his confinement of eight months in this offensive prison.
The allowance of food is, a two-penny loaf of bread only per day! Fuel is granted, at the discretion of the mayor for the time being; it has (probably in consequence of the allowance not being an established one) sometimes been withheld during the severity of winter. The visitor adds, that during the present mayoralty coals were invariably furnished to the prisoners, during the last inclement season.
There is neither a surgeon nor an infirmary.
The prison is kept by three serjeants at mace, officers of the corporation, who, having various other duties, undertake the office of keeper to this prison, weekly, in rotation: in the same way there are two or three town constables, who act as turnkeys alternately: for these officers there is no room in the prison. Although one of the serjeants lives in a house adjoining the prison, it is difficult to discover by what means, in case of alarr amongst the prisoners, any of the officers could so readily (as was stated to be the case) overhear and attend to them, except from the front parlour of a public house, immediately opposite the prison, in a narrow street; from whence, after considerable delay, the turnkey was summoned to bring his keys, in order to attend the visitor into the interior.