§ MR. P. O'BRIEN (Monaghan, N.)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether an instrument of punishment, known as "hobbles," is still in use in English female prisons; and, if so, can he state what is the nature of the punishment; and, whether he can explain by whose authority, and under what circumstances, it can be applied to female prisoners?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE (Mr. MATTHEWS) (Birmingham, E.)
Ankle straps are not used as a punishment. They have been authorized by the Secretary of State to prevent violent women from injuring themselves or others (see H. O. letter No. 90,229, dated the 21st February, 1870, and H. O., No. 86,973, 7th of September, 1880). The term "hobbles" is unknown in the Prison Department. If the hon. Member is referring to ankle-straps, these were authorized some years ago by the Secretary of State to be used by medical authority only, not as a punishment, but as a measure of restraint to prevent violent women from injuring themselves.
§ THE LORD MAYOR OF DUBLIN (Mr. SEXTON) (Belfast, W.)
asked, whether, when the strait-jacket was 1581 put on the woman, her ankles were fastened to a block of wood, secured across the shoulders so that she could not move?
§ MR. MATTHEWS
The Question on the Paper has nothing to do with strait-waistcoats. I have no information as to their being generally used in English prisons.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
Is it not against the Constitution that cruel or unusual punishments should be inflicted?
§ MR. MATTHEWS
It is not a punishment at all. It is used under medical advice to prevent the woman injuring herself.