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THE PRISONS REPORT., Issue 7980, 8 August 1889
THE PRISONS REPORT.
[From Odr Parliamentary Reporter.! WELLINGTON, August 7. The ninth annual report of Inspector Hume upon the prisons of the colony was laid on the table of the House yesterday. The Inspector states that his official experience tends to confirm his opinion that our prison system is better and milder in many respects than prisoners deserve—better than that meted out to State offenders in many other countries ; and, if in need of change at. all, requiring to be made more, rather than less, severe. The system of inspection by visiting Justices, visitors, and inspectors, prevents the possi kility of harshness, injustice, partiality, or secret wrongs, while the system has undoubtedly proved both deterrent and reformatory. The cost of maintenance has been further decreased during the year, and suitable work for prisoners has been found at fortifications. Six prisoners escaped from custody (one was not recaptured), but in almost every instance carelessness on the part of the officials was the cause, and for this punishment was administered in each case. At the close of the year there were only 563 males and 78 females in the gaols, being a decrease of 119 males and 21 females as compared with the previous year, while in the total numbers passing through the gaols in the course of the year there was a falling off of 236 males and 7 females. The gross cost of maintenance per head was L 44 3s Id, as against L 49 4s 4d ; and the net cost (exclusive of work done at the fortifications) L 33 9s 4d. The income from prison labor was L 11,851, including L 4,809 for work done at the fortifications. There are 22 children under ten years in the gaols; 88 children being from ten to fifteen; and 241 between fifteen and twenty—a substantial reduction from 336 in 1888. _ The new prison buildings in course of erection at Auckland and Wellington have made fair progress during the year. treatment of “drunks.” The Inspector is of opinion that our socalled system of treatment of drunkards is a sham and delusion. It should be recognised that drunkenness is a disease requiring conscientious and judicious medical treatment, instead of a crime. To punish it with fine and imprisonment is an expensive and useless cruelty.
JUVENILE CRIME is attributed by the Inspector of Prisons mainly to bad home training or the entire absence of home influence or training, due to almost parental neglect. Colonel Hume proceeds to say: A neglected child, if not sent to an industrial school quicklydevelops into a criminal child, and on attaining the age of fifteen or thereabouts is a thorough adept in crime. In any of our larger towns may be seen nightly groups of these hobbledehoys congregated at the street corners insulting passers by and polluting the air with foul and obscene language. A careful study of the former history of these hoodlums shows that they commence at about six or seven years of age by playing truant, and it seems to be a matter of perfect indifference to parents whether their children reach school or not. The next step is that they are found robbing cemeteries, gardens, or orchards; then they become street arabs; and, to follow them on after serving short sentences of imprisonment, they become racecourse “spielers,” “confidence men, or cracksmen; and, finally developing into burglars, horse stealers, or forgers, are sentenced to penal servitude, and have to be kept by the colony for the remainder of their lives.' The remedy appears to be that neglected children, when young, should be sent to industrial schools at the expense of their parents, and so given a chance of becoming useful instead of dangerous members of society. And if the parents are without money to pay for their children they should bo compelled to earn it by the sweat of their brow. On the other hand, criminal children should be sent to reformatories proper, by which arrangement there could be no possibility of contamination.
ISOLATING PRISONERS. It is now universally admitted by all competent authorities (says the Inspector of Prisons in his report) that to make prisoners deterrent and reformatory the inmates must be entirely separated from one another when they are at labor, and located in separate cells, instead of in association. This, it is to be regretted, cannot at present be carried out at Aucklana, Wellington, and Dunedin; and, as it is of the utmost importance that the prisons now building at Auckland and Mount Cook should be pushed on to a state of completion with all possible speed aud a new prison built at Dunedin at once, it has been more than once said that the Mount Cook establishment is not required; but, if anyone has misgivings on the subj set, he is invited to visit the Terrace Prison and oscertain for himself whether such buildings and appliances as exist there are fitted to hold the class and number of prisoners for whom accommodation has to be found.
THE PRISONS REPORT., Issue 7980, 8 August 1889
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