rose, for the purpose of presenting a petition to their Lordships; and though it was rather unusual to give notice of an intention to present a petition, yet considering the persons who claimed the attention of the House, and the very important subject of their petition, he had deemed it his duty to take the unusual course of giving notice of his intention to present it. He considered himself to be highly honoured by having been made the medium of presenting this important petition to the House. The petition 189 was signed by the Mayor of Liverpool, by Mr. Rushton, the officiating magistrate of Liverpool, and by nineteen other magistrates of that important borough; and he should best discharge his duty to those petitioners by bringing before their Lordships the substance of the petition, though not in terms, he was afraid, equally choice and distinct with those which were used in that very long, very able, and elaborate document. He had taken the pains to make himself acquainted with the subject-matter which he intended bringing under their Lordships' consideration by reading the different documents that had been published thereon, and which did not appear in the petition—he meant the reports of the prison inspectors in this country, the reports of the various persons connected with private associations of a philanthropic, benevolent, and useful nature, who had attended to the same very important subject of the execution of the criminal law in this country, as well as other documents which had been published in France, in Holland, and Germany, which showed the result of some most important experiments which had been tried in those countries for the reformation of offenders. From those different sources to which he had referred, and also from one which he should afterwards refer to generally, a very important work, the report upon the Criminal Law by his learned friend, Mr. Hill, the Recorder of Birmingham, whose experience in criminal judgments had been very extensive, and who had devoted his attention for years to this subject, presented to "The Society for the Amendment of the Law," and also from another report upon Criminal Law generally, which was to be found in the tenth number of The Law Review—he meant the report which had been drawn up by his learned friend, Mr. Pitt Taylor—he thought that he should be able to show their Lordships the necessity of a great change on the subject. He would not trouble their Lordships with reading to them extracts from the different sources of information of which he had availed himself; but he was about to embody the result of his inquiries, and give them the substance of the matter; and he was convinced that before he had proceeded far in his statement, their Lordships would admit that it was impossible to overrate the high importance of the subject to which this petition referred. The subject which he intended to bring under the consideration of their Lordships was neither more 190 nor less than the structure of the criminal law of this country; the administration of that criminal law in practice; the execution of that criminal law upon the unhappy persons who, first being the victims of their own crimes and misconduct, afterwards became the victims of the law itself, when they were punished to deter others from following their bad example. He did not mean to discuss the subject at length, or elaborately, or with any sort of intention of exhausting it; he was merely going to call their Lordships' attention to the heads of this question, which formed the subject-matter of the Liverpool petition. Those Liverpool magistrates spoke as practical men; they spoke as men who lived in a community of 300,000 persons who were their fellow-citizens; and over whom they were placed as magistrates appointed to keep the Queen's peace, and to administer the Queen's law; these magistrates were the persons who came before their Lordships as the fountain of law, as the administrators of that law in the last resort, as the highest tribunal in this country, to which tribunal they naturally and legitimately looked—to such tribunal did these inferior but most respectable and experienced magistrates resort to unbosom their thoughts, to prefer their complaints, to warn them as to what would be the consequences of any longer neglecting this great subject; and it was to such things he was about to call their Lordships' attention. Some of their Lordships might, peradventure, not feel inclined to credit their statements; but if the state of things of which they complained was allowed to continue any longer, the consequences could hardly be foreseen, or if foreseen could scarcely be prevented. The results of the experience of these Liverpool magistrates, then, were these—that in this population of 300,000 persons, there had been committed for trial during the last seven years, in round numbers, 51,000 persons, and that of those persons no less than one-tenth, or more than 5,500, were offenders under seventeen years of age; that of the whole number of offenders, no less than 10,000—who were for the most part juvenile offenders—had been committed, during six years, five times each upon an average; and from this it appeared that the immediate and inevitable result of having punished those offenders once, was that, upon the average, they had been four times afterwards guilty, and four times punished—so powerful, so effectual, so undeniably efficacious, had 191 been the punishments which the law had inflicted. These magistrates went further; they had made an investigation which he thought had been of incalculable value, and for which he hoped he might be permitted to tender their Lordships' thanks to those magistrates. They had examined fourteen cases, taken perfectly indiscriminately out of the 10,000 juvenile offenders to whom he had referred. He wished particularly to direct their Lordships' attention to this class of offenders, because what he was about to urge their Lordships was, to adopt the plan of reformatory discipline to which he had alluded the other night, when he took leave to address the House on the subject of education: he wished again to impress upon their Lordships the fact, that where criminals had attained a certain age, and had become habituated to crime and hardened to wickedness, reformatory discipline ceased to present such a prospect of effectual amendment. He, therefore, naturally looked to the younger classes of offenders, as the persons to whom this discipline could be applied with the greatest probability of success; and it was on that ground that he would beg their Lordships' attention to the experiments and statements of the magistrates in question. With regard to these 10,000 juvenile criminals, then, the Liverpool magistrates had adopted what appeared to him a very judicious plan—they did not select, but took at random from that number, fourteen boys, the circumstances of whose cases they minutely investigated. He had the result of that careful investigation in the petition before him, and he would give their Lordships one or two samples from it without going through the whole of it. In the first place, it appeared that each of the fourteen juvenile offenders had upon an average been apprehended fifteen times for crimes; that they had frequently been discharged without having been committed for trial; but that upon an average they had been committed for trial nine times, and generally as often convicted. He wished it to be clearly understood, that the number of 51,000 did not refer to persons or offences, but to actual convictions. Now, he would single out three instances from these fourteen to show the course of crime, the shape it took, and the consequences of committing a series of offences. The first case that he would take was that of a boy twelve years of age, who could neither read nor write; he was first committed in September, 1838, and last in January, 192 1842; he was apprehended altogether sixteen times—and all that happened in the course of three years and two months—he was altogether committed for trial, and took his trial, nine times, and his sentences were various terms of imprisonment in gaol; and the excellent effect of that prison discipline appeared to be, that, having been once committed and imprisoned, he had been convicted eight times more within less than three years and a half, and that while still under twelve years of age, he had received another sentence, which was that of transportation for ten years to a penal colony. The next case he should single out was that of a boy ten years of age, who had been apprehended fourteen times, tried and convicted eleven times, and suffered various periods of imprisonment for different offences, in order to prevent him from committing similar acts in future; the consequences of which attempts at prevention were, that he had been arrested ten times, convicted, and, after the last conviction, sentenced to seven years transportation. The last case to which he would call their attention was that of a boy nine years of age, who could neither read nor write, who in the course of two years was apprehended sixteen times for felonies of different kinds, and convicted four times; and that boy, who when first convicted was only seven years of age, was now convicted and sentenced to transportation for seven years. He (Lord Brougham) had long been engaged more or less in the study of the administration of the criminal law of this country; but he was bound now to open his ears to the voice of wisdom speaking to him—he was bound not to shut his eyes to such a fearful state of things, and to the utter, absolute, and as he should show them, necessary inefficacy of the present system of law to repress crimes, or to cure the offenders. Now, these magistrates called their Lordships' attention to the expenses of these attempts to repress crime in the borough of Liverpool. The petitioners stated that 889l. had been expended in dealing with the cases to which he had referred, or rather he meant the 120 prosecutions of those fourteen juvenile offenders; and they stated that no doubt any other prosecutor would have spent half as much more, for Liverpool happened to have availed itself, in common with many other large towns, of that admirable arrangement of entrusting all its criminal prosecutions to a public prosecutor. That practice had also been 193 adopted in Scotland, and a better plan had never been thought of. Ever since his attention had been turned to these matters, he had seen the necessity of such an officer; and when he was last in office, in 1834, he had almost succeeded in carrying a Bill to compel the appointment of a public prosecutor in all large towns. By means of having such an officer, the expense of prosecution was little more than half what it was under the old system. But even under the present improved system, the expense of prosecuting these fourteen juvenile offenders, whom they chose to call "incorrigible offenders," amounted to within a trifle of 900l. Now, said the magistrates (and he said with them, and for them, as well as for himself), after having the experience which he and they had had in Liverpool and elsewhere, was it not time to begin to reconsider the matter, and to ask themselves, "Have we not been all along pursuing a wrong path as to the punishment of offenders—have we not by our laws driven them to commit the crimes for which we punished them, with the view of preventing their recommission?" But, above all, when they took the young hoys of nine or ten or twelve years of age (for one unhappy boy who had been sentenced to seven years transportation was only nine years old, and only seven when he was first convicted), he would ask them whether they were dealing rightly with them under the present system? Were they taking the human being according to his knowledge, his vicious nature, his capacities, his failings, his judgment, his reason, as well as his passions? Were they dealing soundly, and judiciously, and usefully, and profitably with him in persisting to appeal only to his fears; and never—never once looking to his wishes or to his hopes? But he was only at present addressing their Lordships on the generalities of the question; and he would come at once to the details and remedies set forth in the petition of the Liverpool magistrates, because it was useless to complain of a system unless they were prepared to substitute a remedy for the evil. He did not intend to take their Lordships unawares on this question; he wished them to inquire and to excite their attention to these matters, for it was their highest duty to do so—it was one which they ought no longer to neglect, for if they did defer executing that duty properly and at once, they could not do so with impunity. Their Lordships, then, should see that it was their interest 194 to inquire into this matter, and see whether a remedy could not be found. The experiment had been tried, and after a word as to the ground on which it proceeded, he would state to their Lordships the nature of the shape which it had taken in its operation and result. When they took a supposed criminal and cast him into prison, and tried, convicted, and sentenced him, they punished him either by one or two years imprisonment or by transportation, capital punishment being now almost universally abolished—he had had much experience with respect to capital punishment, and he knew that he differed with the petitioners and many others upon that subject—however, capital punishment had been altered, except as regarded one or two peculiar acts, to transportation or imprisonment. He was no friend to transportation; he saw many objections to it; it was anything rather than an economical or justifiable proceeding—it caused a very large amount of evil, and very serious mischief in cases where convicts were sent to a strictly penal colony. His principal objection against it was that it did not terrify; it did not appal; it did not appear to the eyes of a person who was about to commit an offence against the law half as terrible as if he knew that his sentence would he imprisonment even for a few weeks in this country. That was proved by the reports which he had lying before him from those magistrates of Liverpool and other magistrates, the reports of gaolers, and particularly the report of a most able person, the governor of the excellent prison at Glasgow, which he had read with the greatest interest. All these joined with one voice in stating it to be their decided opinion, after great practical experience, that imprisonment had far more terrors than transportation. Mr. Miller said that he had found that criminals would far rather be sent abroad to a penal settlement for ten years, than imprisoned for ten weeks in their own country. Then, what was the expense of transportation? Not less than half a million sterling. What would be the cost of keeping those same persons in confinement in this country for two years?—300,000l. If the punishment of transportation did not deter men more, but less, than imprisonment—if it were the more expensive of the two, then it was wrong in every point of view—in its greater cost, in its effects upon the penal settlement, and in not deterring from the commission 195 of crime—and it was less advisable as a punishment than imprisonment. But he now came to what was a most important portion of the magistrates' petition. It appeared that the united results of themselves, the various authorities abroad, in Germany, France, &c., to which he had before referred, and here also, of our country, in Warwickshire, of judges, of magistrates, in speculative writers, of Secretaries of State who had presided over the police of this country, all unanimously declared that punishment had no effect in deterring any but a very small portion of mankind from committing offences against the law. The fact was, that when men were about to commit a crime, they were not in that calm, reflecting, estimating frame of mind which such an argument would suppose; but they were inflamed by passion, and that passion closed their eyes to the danger and the risk they were about to run—they were sanguine as to the vast (as it would appear to them) chances of escape, and therefore it was that little or no effect was produced by the apprehension of punishment, which was administered for the purpose of deterring. What then remained? If they did punish men, they should at all events take care that those whom they did punish were not made worse by that punishment, than when they found them. That was the bounden duty of the Government towards those subjects who committed crime; because to say that a man forfeited his claims to the attention of a Government because he had been a criminal, was monstrous. And yet they did in effect say so. To say nothing of the number whom they transported, there were 96,000 whom they annually imprisoned, and after their sentences had expired they turned them out upon the world. But had imprisonment made them better? Had imprisonment kept them from being any worse than they were before? Had not imprisonment necessarily, in ninety-nine cases out of every hundred, loosened them in point of morals? If he wanted to prove that they had, he should refer them to those fourteen juvenile offenders taken at random out of 51,000 criminals by the magistrates at Liverpool, every one of whom had committed repeated offences; and youths of nine, ten, eleven, and twelve, the magistrates showed, had been arrested, some of them twenty-two, and convicted nineteen times. The great design of imprisonment should be not only to deter as to the future, but to produce, if at all possible, some moral effects. 196 The greatest evil, however, which the poor convict had to contend with was, that after the termination of his sentence, when the term of his confinement expired, he did not know, when again thrown on the world, where to bestow himself. He went forth with his character marred—he went forth to encounter the indifference of his family connexions—he went out disgraced and degraded in his own eyes, and probably that was the very worst feature in his whole case, as it might prevent any exertion to restore himself to that self-respect which he once possessed, and perhaps well maintained; for when a man did possess self-respect in his own eyes it was calculated to infuse that energy which would ultimately put an end to the self-debasement and degradation which his crimes had thrown over and around him. The poor criminal went out debased in his own eyes, disgraced in the eyes of the community, and deserted by friends and relations, who looked upon his conduct as having inflicted on them a stain and a disgrace. As to the means of future subsistence, see how the criminal was placed. What master would employ him? Who would take him into his family? The stigma rested upon him, and there he stood an outcast from man. Look at the gaols, as well as at the convicts—and would it not be a wonder and astonishment if they ever produced a small quantity of good on the mind or on the habits of the criminal? and if the discipline did produce any good on its inmates, they were but too likely to relapse when permitted again to go forth to the world. Such was, in his opinion, the consequence of short imprisonment. Mr. Hill had given it as the result of his observation and experience, in his admirable report to the Law Amendment Society; and Mr. Pitt Taylor fully agreed with him in his report to the same society, that short periods of imprisonment were both futile and impolitic; and for this reason, which was as obvious a one as could be suggested, that such persons were sure to relapse again into their bad habits, from the impression that by their conduct they were cut off, if not for ever, yet for a long time, from their former friends and connexions. But if means had been adopted to improve the criminal—to improve his morals and character—to teach him to subdue his bad passions—to bring down his guilty feelings—to make him a conscientious, reasonable, and well-thinking person—and, above all things, to impress 197 on him that he was for a long time to be cut off from his former associates—such a proceeding could not be without a beneficial effect. But if the criminal knew that after the expiration of six weeks, or of two or three months, that he was to be confined only for sixty or ninety days, when he should go forth to exercise his liberty of action—when he looked on confinement as being for a short period—he never would think of his own reformation. He was too apt to say, "It's only for a short time; every day diminishes the number; they will soon pass away, and then all will be well again." Short periods of confinement made the criminal harder instead of better—that was the opinion of Mr. Hill. The question, then, was, how could they make imprisonment reformatory, instead of being, as it was at present, injurious to the character of the inmates? Next, what means should be adopted to prevent the criminal, at the end of his sentence, from falling into his former evil courses? Fortunately, they were not without experience on these points. It was most honourable to the character of the Germans, that they had had, for the last ten or twelve years, an admirable institution, near Hamburgh, for the reformation of criminals; and, what was most honourable to Frenchmen, who were not influenced by that false or misplaced pride which would prevent them from following a foreign example, they had established a similar institution in Mettray, the results of which experiment were as satisfactory as could be expected. Having, however, very great national pride as an Englishman, he (Lord Brougham) believed that neither of those institutions were the first of their kind, as an excellent establishment of a similar character had existed at Dunsmore, in Warwickshire for more than twenty-eight years. Warwickshire had the distinguished honour of setting the example of acting on a sound and humane principle, the reformation of poor criminals. To show the effects of those experiments, he would take the French institution, as affording more details. The one at Mettray was first established in 1839, and since that period 521 boys had been admitted. The mode of proceeding was, they must be all male convicts, under sixteen years of age: they were not kept in actual confinement; for the fear of imprisonment was always held over their heads, as, if they behaved ill, they were again sent back to prison. The whole were distributed into families, each consisting 198 of a master, two assistants, and forty convicts; the master was one of the officers of the establishment; the two assistants, who were called brethren, were convicts themselves, and were chosen by the rest, and no instance had ever been known in which an unworthy choice had been made. They were all taught some useful branch of industry; the majority of them were instructed in agriculture and gardening; their recreation consisted of military exercise and gymnastics; and they were periodically addressed on the subjects of practical religion and morality; they all regularly attended public worship; their food and clothing were of a plain description; they slept in dormitories, and were under the constant superintendence of the master and the two assistants. What was the result of all this? 521 male convicts had been received into that institution since its establishment in 1839; of those seventeen died; and twelve only were sent back to prison. What a fearful contrast did that present with the case of juvenile offenders in Liverpool — twelve only were sent back to prison, 144 were placed out in various situations, and the remainder were still in the establishment. He would call forth the 144 to elicit some facts. Of the 144, seven relapsed, nine were of doubtful character, but the remaining 128—a large proportion of the 144—conducted themselves to the full satisfaction of their employers and of the managers of the institution. What said the magistrates of Liverpool? Of the fourteen cases he had referred to, there was not one who had not committed seven different offences since his first committal. The French Government had liberally, even munificently, supported the Mettray institution by grants of money; it was also aided by private benevolence; it had also, to a certain degree, support from the work and labour of the convicts themselves—a rule which never should be lost sight of. Besides the one at Mettray, there had been twelve others of a similar character established in France, which were founded in consequence of the great success that attended the original institution. He owned, that, if he were animated with feelings of rivalry towards France—if he were animated by those national feelings of rivalry which pervaded the bosoms of Englishmen—those national feelings would lead him more to envy the French people for the erection and usefulness of such institutions, than from any glory they might have derived from their 199 Algerian colonies, from their Spanish marriages, or even for all that redounded to the glory of Napoleon. He envied them for what they had, and which this country wanted — those noble and useful institutions. He hoped and prayed that ere long there would be an end to those trifling and personal differences which had their origin in mere trumpery objects, and that they might give themselves up to the promotion of objects of greater interest and importance. He did not care who was in the right, whether M. Guizot or his noble Friend. He wished they were both in the right, or, if possible, that they were both in the wrong; he cared not which, but he wished to see an end to those differences. He was heartily sick of them; and his hope was that the peace of this country, and of Europe, and of the world, would not be allowed to hang in suspense on any such trumpery matters. Let us rather rival their noble and generous nature by imitating them in the erection of twelve establishments similar to Mettray, and thus taking the first step towards the amendment of our criminal law, which would be the first real attempt that had ever been made since we had a criminal law. He would not then enter largely on those matters, except by referring to one or two facts as additional evidence of the necessity of some amelioration of the system pursued in this country. A most excellent clergyman, the Rev. John Clay, the chaplain of the Preston prison, examined the cases of 1,050 prisoners. Just observe the state in which all of them were—562 of the number were utterly unable to write, 226 were unable to read; so that 788 of the 1,050 were in a state of utter ignorance. Only see the effect of this ignorance; 514, nearly the one half, did not know the names of the months—527 did not know the Queen's name—although now nearly ten years the reigning Monarch of the Empire—290 were utterly incapable to understand the words "virtue," "vice," "guilt," "sin," yet they knew what was the import of the words "thieving," "picking pockets;" but when the clergyman spoke to them of "virtue" and "vice," he spoke in an unknown tongue—62 of them could not count 100; 242 could read and write a little; of the whole 1,050 only 20, or two per cent, could be said to have had any education. While he was, as was well known, the warm friend of education, there was no inconsistency in his saying, that unless education 200 had a moral and religious direction, it was with him a matter of doubt whether to be able merely to read was not productive of more harm than good. It gave but the power to read those detestable and demoralising productions which teemed from the press to promote the detestable, the sordid objects of writers and publishers. Those who had the mere power to read, perused only the narratives of banditti, of swindlers, of thieves; they filled their minds with that species of information which only polluted, and which proceeded from the polluted press of this country—and not only from the press of this country, but also from the press of Paris. It was to him a matter of astonishment and disgust that that enlightened capital should issue publications which, while in many instances they were of an order suited to the superior forms of life, yet had within them poison, secretly and ingeniously elaborated. But to return. It appeared that the proportion of persons who were convicted in North Lancashire, which was an agricultural district, was as 1 to 1,100, and the proportion in South Lancashire as 1 to 500; and that was a necessary consequence between those who lived in agricultural districts and those who lived in manufacturing districts, between living in the country and living in towns. When they considered the immense extent of the manufacturing districts at present, they could not now go on with the same system of legislation they did formerly; they could not proceed in the same course of punishment, with a view to reform offenders, that was pursued in former times. Since the days of the inventions of Arkwright, the importation of cotton had increased from 5,000,000 lbs. to 333,000,000 lbs.; the cotton factories also professed having increased eighty-two fold. Instead, therefore, of having only a few thousand operatives employed, there were now 800,000; some said 1,500,000. There were at present 300,000 hand-loom weavers. Why did he recite those facts? For this reason, that machinery was constantly invading manual power; there was a perpetual struggle going on between both. God forbid that he should object to machinery, because the more machinery carried the day, the more men would get employment, and that in the end would be an advantage to the factories and to the workmen. Ay, but not immediately; there would be an interval. When the power-looms threw 100,000 hand-loom weavers out of work, 201 and when a single boy or girl could do four times as much as the strongest man by the power-loom, there was of necessity an interval, until the effects were allowed time to subside, and there was now going on the same struggle between those two powers, the power of machinery and that of manual power. What was the consequence of that struggle before? Those who were thrown out of employment were prone to get into bad practices, for it was a grievous consideration that those who were employed in factories, at the rate of 25s. or 30s. a week, made no provision for the "bad day;" and the consequence was, when thrown out of employment, they fell into bad habits. But such conduct on their parts, so far from being an apology for their Lordships to dispense with their duty, was a reason why it should be sedulously and diligently performed; and therefore he asked that the criminal law should be so modified as to make it subservient to the reformation of criminals. That object would be best accomplished by deterring from guilt; but where guilt was found, they ought not only to reform the offender, but to make such provision that the criminal who sinned once should have afforded to him some means of avoiding its repetition. It was with that view he brought that most important subject before their Lordships. If, therefore, their Lordships agreed with him—if they agreed in the sentiments put forth by the petitioners—if they thought the time was come when they ought to apply themselves to the amendment of the administration of the criminal law, and particularly that law as it regarded prison discipline and the reformation of prisoners—particularly as to the mode that should be adopted in dealing with offenders—then their Lordships would be prepared for the proposition he was about to submit, which was, that they would comply with the prayer of those excellent and worthy petitioners, the wealthy and enlightened magistrates of Liverpool, by the appointment of a Committee to take into consideration that most important subject the amendment of the criminal law.
§ The DUKE of RICHMOND
was most anxious to express his concurrence in what had fallen from his noble and learned Friend—that the thanks of that House and of the country were due to those magistrates who had brought under their consideration the information which was embodied in their petition. And he also felt it his duty to thank his noble and learned Friend for his able and perspicuous statement. 202 There was nothing which so much demanded the serious consideration of that House as the continual increase of juvenile crimes. While strict prison discipline was necessary, and while it might have done good, yet some effectual measures were required to check this alarming increase of crime. A child of the age of nine years, who had no education, was sent out by its unnatural parent to commit offences. The child was taken in the fact, it was sent into prison—there it was allowed to remain for three or six weeks, or perhaps for two months, before it was brought to trial, subjected to all the influence of evil example; then the form of impannelling a jury was gone through; twelve men were appointed to investigate the case of a child—who was charged with a petty theft, perhaps not amounting in value to one penny. Thus was stamped on the brow of that infant the word "felon," and from that moment he only progressed in infamy. The matter demanded inquiry. They were told that the experiment at Mettray, in which there were located 500 persons, had succeeded; but they had no information whether those criminals were received as they came to the institution, or whether a selection for admission had been made from among the offenders. But whatever was the course that might have been taken, the results as stated by his noble and learned Friend, were gratifying. He was most anxious for inquiry; but there was another thing which it was necessary to do. You must try and convince the people of this country that it was possible for prisoners to be thoroughly reformed: unfortunately, the general feeling of this country was, that when a man was once convicted he could not get employment. He knew a remarkable instance of this. A man had committed some offence, for which he was sentenced to be transported, but he was committed to Pentonville prison; he there showed symptoms of reformation, and his conduct was so good that the Secretary of State was induced to grant him a pardon. Some one afterwards recommended him to a railway company—he would not name the company—from whom he obtained an appointment as porter. His conduct was so good, that at the end of six months he was promoted, and had his wages increased. A month after, an ill-natured busybody told the directors of the company that this man had been convicted of felony; the consequence was he was dismissed. It was, therefore, necessary, not only to reform 203 form criminals, but to show the public that they could be reformed, and that they were reformed; that they might have the opportunity to earn for themselves an honest livelihood. It would not do, however, to take a boy of, say twelve years of age, suppose from the Parkhurst prison, to the institution you might establish, and when reformed to put him in a better position than the boy who had never offended. By such a proceeding they might only get themselves into a worse scrape. The noble and learned Lord stated that the idea of transportation had not any great effect on the minds of criminals. He was not the advocate of transportation; but from what came to his own knowledge, offenders had a great dislike to leave the country: they dreaded transportation more than any other punishment. Offenders when sentenced to transportation often fell into fits, from which they did not recover until the next morning; they did not like to be sent out of the land of their birth; the reciprocal affection of the father and the condemned son, and of the wife and the condemned husband, was as strong in those criminals as it was in those who never offended against any law. He had seen many offenders sentenced to transportation bitterly weep on the mention of the names of their wives and children, at the idea of perpetual separation. The effect produced was great indeed. He should be glad if his noble and learned Friend carried out this inquiry—it was of enormous importance that existing evils should be remedied. He had so strong a feeling on the subject, that he presented many petitions in the course of the last year, praying that some means might be devised to promote the reformation of criminals after they were discharged from prison. He hoped his noble and learned Friend would not confine the inquiry to one subject, but that he would embrace all that was necessary to secure all the important objects contemplated. He did not like that part of the plan of the Mettray establishment which allowed 400 or 500 individuals to sleep in dormitories. He would prefer separate rooms, as it was of importance to make those arrangements which would prevent prisoners from getting worse. He would apologize for trespassing; but he could not allow the opportunity to pass without pressing the subject on their Lordships' attention.
§ EARL GREY
said, the subject was one of the very deepest interest, and he had the satisfaction of stating, that a few days 204 ago he had presented papers which he trusted would be delivered to-morrow or next day, and which would show that it was one that had not escaped the most anxious consideration of Her Majesty's Government. It would be found that many of the views which had been stated by his noble and learned Friend, were the same as those on which the Government proposed to act. The necessity of a reform of the existing system with respect to the class of offenders referred to, was so clear, that he apprehended there could not be a difference of opinion on that point; and he was enabled to state that a Bill would almost immediately be brought in in the other House giving the necessary legislative power for the reforms wanted.
§ EARL GREY
said, there was no reason, except that the subject came within the department of his right hon. Friend in the other House, and that, therefore, it was more likely to be introduced there. With regard to the system for the reformation of juvenile offenders in practice abroad, and which his noble Friend had so eulogized, he would observe that the state of the law was such as to impede its adoption here. Here, a boy's being withdrawn from prison to be put into one of those reformatory institutions, implied his being pardoned; and, as if he were discharged for ill conduct, he could not be sent back to prison, a premium on misconduct was offered him. The reverse was the case in France; and one of the provisions of the Bill to which he had referred, would be to alter the law in this respect. By the late Minute of the Privy Council on Education, also, it was proposed to establish what would be called "penal schools" in London, to which not merely children guilty of offences would be sent, but also the children of vagrants. In the papers which he had laid on the Table, they would also find that a great alteration was proposed in the system of transportation. The whole views of the Government on these subjects, had been detailed in a letter written by his right hon. Friend at the head of the Home Department and himself, which would also be found in these papers; and in them would also be found an account of the results of the system of transportation, especially to Norfolk Island, which he feared would make their Lordships shudder.
rose again to supply an omission. He had omitted to state that Captain Maconochie was of opinion that the imprisonment of juvenile offenders ought to be regulated, not by time, but by their own conduct. He would have a system of marks, and by the acquisition of good marks a convict might be enabled to work out his own release. No doubt offenders must be condemned for a certain time; but they might be permitted to reduce that time by evidences of reformation. He agreed with Mr. Hill in thinking that they ought not to be sentenced to too short a period of imprisonment, in order to leave a useful power in the hands of those who had the care of them. The plan was ingenious, and he thought that no small advantage might be derived from it. At all events, every one must acknowledge that Mr. Hill's plan was a step in the right direction. One of the magistrates of Birmingham, who had paid much attention to this subject, was in the habit of sending for the guardians, or those who had the care of the young offenders whom it happened to be his duty to sentence; and when he found them to be persons of any respectability, he exacted from them a promise, which they usually fulfilled, that they would watch over the conduct of the child who had been been betrayed into the commission of a guilty act. He then imposed a nominal fine, and dismissed the convict with an admonition. This system had for some years been in operation; and the result of inquiries upon the subject had shown that greater improvement was effected by it than by imposing long terms of imprisonment.
§ Petition to lie on the Table.
§ House adjourned.