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PRISON REFORM

BIG CHANGES SEEN "AUSTRALIA COPIED N.Z." New h vJ e i f °„ Und that the prisons in ZIZ fu ai l d are in all wa y s on a level with those of Australia and, in many respects, are of a higher order," said Lieutenant-Colonel James Bray a retired officer of the Salvation Army, who is visiting the Dominion years an T Tha h b oSenc,e0 Senc , e °* nearl y twenty y fi I. . Tne colonel, who recentlv on le t b h r t te rnv iS 82nd tCTmSfatP S ment Board of Inde " LSL^ ntences in Victoria, and reform an authorit y on prison i< s D nv a il ing^ci l anges in Prison life, v! a £ n?Tr d ? y him d " rin S sixt y in A, L dl r Kt contact with prisons Oolnnii B alla a -", d New Zealand, DriS ?n ay . % ld that in 1888 the SHStJ? both countries featured anrimK • measure s- Punishment saVv t S T K ns 2S- wer S thou ght necesE:wJl andling all criminals and with ™T . gl ° omv and m-ventilated, edS a tin&i X ? fe ??- r librar ies and no pSS facilities. In some penal establishments hardened criminals S t0 ™ rk wearing hobble chains, ™iu n n ers we , re confined to their ?n»■ ofii day oakum or making straw envelopes for bottles. tnn?\ seriou 3 s offences the cat-o-nine-K o a f ° rdered b y the judges and nn-Lv administe^; ed bv the prison authorities. Youthful offenders undergoing periods of "model" treatment wore moleskin masks, about lo inches long, with slits for eyes. Ihe general result was men with scowling features, vindicitive in ?£i rit and hating the majority of wiL°? cials - Riots and assaults were frequent and had to be put down with stern measures. It is very different picture today, said the colonel. Marvellous

changes have taken place. Through the years there were a few noble spirits crying out for reform and these steadily increased until the cry became a strongly-voiced public opinion. Tribute to New Zealand Minister "I unhesitatingly place Sir John Findlay, Minister of Justice and At-torney-General of New Zealand in 1909, as the greatest man in prison reform in Australasia. In that year he propounded an elaborate and extensive reform system which was acclaimed by the public, and unanimously agreed to by all political parties and swiftly put into operation. It provided for an extensive classification of criminals, with special opportunities for youthful offenders. Ment went out to Borstal institutions, dairy farms and forestry camps. "Under this new system, New Zealand, in 12 years, increased the percentage of prisoners working in .the open air from 20 to 77. The men raised great dairy herds, planted millions of pinus insignus and Australian gum trees, cleared land for farms, and made hundreds of miles of roads. Facilities for education were also provided."

Australian authorities, he said, had been quick to see the marked benefit of the New Zealand prison reforms and wonderful changes had been made during the last 25 years. In these reforms no single individual had been more conspicuous than Mr. J. Akeroyd, Inspector-General of Victorian Prisons. Youths Who Made GoM When Colonel Bray took up police court work in Melbourne, he was entrusted with the inauguration of a scheme which was aimed at stemming the stream of youths between 17 and 20 finding their way to prison. There existed a First Offenders Act in Victoria, but it was rarely used. Colonel Brav concentrated on this side of Court work and in the first year he had two youths on probation under his supervision. In the second year there were 12 and in the tenth year he had over 100 entrusted to him Each term of probation averaged about two and a half years. So successful was the scheme that 88 per cent of the youths carried out their bonds and were not called upon to undergo prison terms.

"Once," said the colonel, "' appealed for a second chance for a vouth who had broken his bond. The old judge looked at me sternly and said 'Do you really ask me to give him another chance, considering the leniency I showed him 18 months ago'' I replied, 'Yes, your Hdnpr, I venture to say that in spite of his breaking of his bond, he is stiL too good a character to be ruined for iver with a long term in prison. He is very kind to his mother, and that Is not sob stuff, sir. I don't think he has ever brought a blush of shame to his sister's cheek by any immoral act or word; unfortunately he has a flair for speedy motor cars. I think he has had a smart pull up and I believe I can pull him through.

"The old judge invited me to see him in chambers and adjourned the case until next day. In chambers, his Honor asked me to state one reason, and one only, why I thought he should be given a second chance. T earnestly, but humourously said, 'Mav it please your Honor, Don Bradman recently was out for a duck in the first innings, but got nearly ?00 in the second.' Next morning, the youth was given another chance, and this time he made good. During the past ten years concluded the colonel, there had been ever widening thought as to the best means of dealing with youthful Snais, and deeper .inquiry into thP background of their lives. He SSbSST that the Government shfuld establish a clinic, to be staffed hv psychologists and psychiatrists, and to be open to members of organisations working in the interests of delinquents and "problem cases.

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Permanent link to this item

http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AS19450814.2.12

Bibliographic details

PRISON REFORM, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 191, 14 August 1945

Word Count
952

PRISON REFORM Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 191, 14 August 1945

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