The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 1889. THE PBOBATION ACT.
One of the most successful and benefi cent measures ever placed upon the statute-book ot this or any country is the First Offenders Probation Actforwh'.ch New Zealaud is indebted to Mr J. A. Tole and which will remain a monument to his memory long after ho shall have passed away — an event let us hope yet far distant, Iv the Annual Eeport of the Prisons Department laid on the tablelast Bession Captain Hume says of it " The Act is working more satisfactorily than ite most ardent supporters could possibly have anticipated," and further on to writes : " It is exceedingly gratifying he be able to report that this Act continues to work smoothly and well, and generally carries out the intentions and purport of its introduction." He then goes on to give the following interesting information : — " Since the Act came into force, on the Ist October, 1886, 203 persons have been placed on probation. L'f these, 143 have been discharged on satisfactorily completing the conditions of their licenses, 49 are still on probation, 10 have been re arrested and brought to justice, and one only has managed, by eluding the vigilance, of the Probation Officers and police, to escape so far unpunished, but there are good reasons for supposing that he has not left the colony, and will probably be re arrested. It will be recollected that m last yoar's report one probationer was shown as absconded ; . but he was ultimately found, and carried out satisfactorily the conditions of his license During the year
ended 31st December last, out of a total of 82 offenders treated under the Act 40 satisfactorily carried out the conditions of their licenses and were duly discharged, one was re-arrested and imprisoned, one absconded, and 40 remain still working out the conditions of their obligations successfully. The amount of costs, etc, ordered to be paid by the various Courts before which the 82 offenders were brought during the past year amounted to £315 2s Id, of which sum £208 17s Id has been already actually paid into the Probation Officers' hands, and those from whom sums are still due continue, as a rule, to carry out the conditions of their licenses as far as their means will permit. The system of leaving it to the discretion of Probation Officers to occasionally give additional time for these payments m cases of persons with families, or when sickness, etc., interferes with their chances of earning a living, or for other sufficient reasons, has been continued, has proved 'efficacious and worked well The approximate cost of keeping these offenders m prison had not the Probation Act been brought into force would have been about £2,600. Thus an actual saving for the year of £2,808 17s Id has been effected ; and when it is taken into account that the administration of the Act is carried out absolutely free of all cost to the Government, it must be admitted that the result has also proved financially Buccesbful." When to all this is added the consideration that the Probation Act has during the past year (1888) been " the means of preventing no less than 11 young persons between ten and fifteen years of age becoming inmates of our prisons, and hindering no loss than 42 persons under the age of twenty years being stamped as gaolbirds for the rest of their natural live?," our readers will agree with Captain Hume that " this must be looked upon as more than satisfactory," and m his prediction that "the longer this Act continues m force the more popular and useful m rescuing many from a career of crime it oiust become/