Only a Pauper.
A Christchurch Bench of Magistrates distinguished themselves on Wednesday by the philanthropic way in which they dealt with the case of F. W. Oldman, charged with vagrancy, or, in other words, with having no lawful visible means of support. The poor creature, who was described by PoliceSergeant Mason as imbecile, presented a truly wretched appearance. He was homeless and friendless, and the authorities evidently did not know what to do with him. Efforts had been made to get him into the Lunatic Asylum, but the doctors had refused to certify to his lunacy, and so he could not be got rid of that way. An enquiry from the Bench elicited the information that the unfortunate man, since his discharge from gaol, where he had been undergoing six months’ incarceration for vagrancy, had been living anyhow, and sleeping in all sorts of holes and corners—anyw'here probably, we presume, where he would be unlikely to encounter the dread policeman and be told to “ move on.” And so the worthy Magistrates—we believe that is the correct phrase—expressed their sympathy with the “prisoner,” and ijust by way of showing that they felt what they said, sent him to gaol for another six months. In the name of justice, we protest against this decision of their Worships. Why should this man, whose only crimes were his poverty and his wretchedness, be confined within the same walls and subjected to the same treatment as the wife-beater and the pickpocket? What has F. W. Oldman done that he should be treated with this indignity? The police had nothing to allege against him but his destitution. No doubt it was well that he should be sent somewhere where he could be looked after, housed, and fed, and cared for; for physically and mentally he was incapable of looking after himself. But why send him to herd with gaol-birds when we have.such an institution as the Old Men’s Home ? In any case the burthen of supporting this and similar unfortunates must fall«upon the State, and the State ought, infcom-
raon justice, make other provision for them than the gaol-cell.
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Only a Pauper., Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 533, 13 January 1882
Only a Pauper. Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 533, 13 January 1882
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