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The Evening Star THURSDAY, MAY 30, 1889., Issue 7920, 30 May 1889
The Evening Star THURSDAY, MAY 30, 1889.
Recently, Mr John Gale, late governor of the Pentridge An Expert on P enal establishment in VicCrimc. tona, visited this Colony en route for England to enjoy a well - earned rest, and, in accordance with a practice of American origin, which is rapidly becoming acclimatised in these colonies, he was interviewed at Christchurch by the übiquitous reporter. Mr Gale has had thirty - eight years’ experience in various official capacities in the prisons of that colony, and his opinions, therefore, on the matter of prison discipline must, perforce, be treated witli respect. His attention. was first drawn to the increase of juvenile crime, and he disposed of the question as to its cause with remarkable celerity by declaring that “ crime is hereditary.” This is a pleasant consideration for the parents of our young larrikins. But it is only true in part; for how often do we see the children of respectable citizens so misconducting themselves as to incur the lash of the law 1 However, that is Mr Gale’s reiterated opinion. “ I “ look upon crime as any other disease “that is inherited,” he said, and no doubt it frequently is so. But he touched another, and, if possible, a more pregnant source of evil when he said that “more parental control” was required. This is the sore point of colonial society. Parents do not properly control their children; in too many instances home discipline is an unknown quantity. They are sinfully neglectful of their responsibilities, and their children come to grief because of this. It is with reluctance that we have to admit the truth of his remark that “the larrikin element which is growing up in these colonies is the “worst feature we have in them.” And so ’t will continue until parents are painfully impressed with a sense of their duties by being made responsible for the sins of their children.
Confirmatory of the views expressed in our columns a few days since, Mr Gale, on being made acquainted with the system now in operation in New Zealand, whereby innocent and criminal children are herded together in our industrial schools, declared that he regarded such institutions as “schools for criminals.” “ You might as well sow thistles with “com as mix children in the manner “in which they are mixed in this “ Colony.” Here he is entirely right, The enforced contact of the two classes is necessarily and undoubtedly injurious to the morals and manners of thejinnocent inmates of these institutions ; and it is a duty incumbent pn our legislators to remedy the wrong that is being done under the existing system, Mr Gale is somewhat hazy about reformatories, so far as his observations apply to this Colony. He would send the children of criminal parents to “ a house of correction,” and ‘f place innocent children in reformatories," Innocent children do not stand in need of reformation. But these are terras adapted tp Victorian classification. Substitute industrial schools for “reformatories,” and reformatories for “ houses of correction,” and his meaning is apparent. It is only a difference of nomenclature. R»t then, again, it is confusing to find
him saying in the same breath: “A “ reformatory is a good name for those “ who believe in them, but I do not “ believe in them. I tell you emphati- “ cally that children who have passed “ through reformatories are the worst “ criminals that I ever had under my “ control.” Certainly, this is not true of our industrial schools. Some allowance must be made for the circumstance that Victoria is more or less infected with a criminal taint derived from the elder colonies of New South Wales and Tasmania. Mr Gale’s experience has been limited by these conditions. New Zealand, most fortunately, is free from such contamination ; and the nonexistence of an overcrowded capital has operated in the direction of circumscribing crime, which is always most rife in large cities. What the “ larrikin ” class are in Australia may be gathered from this distinct pronunciation The larrikins I con- “ sider to be a worse class than “ the old prisoners. They partake. “of the character of the country. “ They go together like native “ dogs. They are most cowardly in “their operations —in beating police- “ men and such-like deeds. If a “ policeman interferes with one of “ them the mob set upon the policeman “and ill-treat him.” Well, we can afford to be thankful that matters are not so bad as that in New Zealand. But do not let us plume ourselves on our present immunity from such a state of affairs. There are indications of our youths falling even to such depths as Mr Gale describes, and our object in calling attention to these things is to induce precautionary measures to be taken whilst the evil is yet in the bud, so as to prevent its blossoming. The evil is as yet only incipient, and may be averted if timely action is taken. In the interests of society it must be stamped out —now —whilst it is possible to do so. And in this connection there is much force in Mr Gale’s vigorous remark : “ I do think “ there should be a little more backbone in your public men. You “ know what a howl would be raised “ if fellows of the larrikin kind were “ punished as they deserve, and were “flogged.” Our Magistrates and Justices might take a hint from this, and not allow the milk of human kindness to overflow their sense of duty to the public. There is such a thing as tender mercies which are cruel.
The Evening Star THURSDAY, MAY 30, 1889., Issue 7920, 30 May 1889
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