Page images

remedy the existing evils, and that, in general, the facts of experience were in favour of the separate system.

These two publications must be considered together. Although Sig. Morelli may be reproached on the one hand with exaggeration, and on the other with passing over in silence what has been done by the Government, yet his publication is important for showing, as it does, how little success can be reckoned upon in adopting the separate system in old prisons, patched up to serve for the purpose, and in which the necessary precautions cannot be taken to prevent injury to the health of the convicts.*

II. With regard to what has been effected legislatively in the domain of prison legislation, we would particularise the following :

1. The Bavarian Law of November 10th, 1861, On the Punishment of Criminals by Solitary Confinement. In Bavaria the opinion has been more and more gaining ground, that the associated system of imprisonment can hardly fail to act more or less injuriously on the convict, and can only to a certain point be reformatory. Even in the prison at Munich, in which Herr Obermaier laboured so zealously, the increasing number of murders perpetrated among the convicts, especially of those suspected of being informers or traitors, showed that he himself was under illusion as to the success of his system.

In Parliament the old system was constantly attacked, and the introduction of the separate system demanded. In revising the penal code the Government could not remain indifferent to the increasing preference given to the separate system, but it was thought desirable, before deciding definitely for the future, to obtain some experience in their own country

* A work by Advocate Costi of Athens should not be passed over in silence, in which he communicates to his countrymen the results of the investigations and efforts in prison reformation published in England and Germany, earnestly pointing out the need of reformation, and the advantages of the intermediate system and the probationary ticket of leave. Observations on Prison Discipline." Athens, 1862.


on the results of isolation, and thus the said law of November 10th, 1861, was passed by way of transitional experiment. It decreed:

A. That buildings should be erected on the cellular system for men only. For women, isolation was not deemed applicable. It was to be tried upon convicts whose sentences varied from two months to five years, but not beyond. Caution was to be observed in not adopting it for convicts who appeared either physically or morally incapable of bearing it.

B. The sentence of solitary confinement was not to be executed with the extreme rigidity practised at Bruchsal or Moabit. True, (Art. 3,) each convict was to be kept to his separate cell, excepting for the time requisite for exercise in the open

air, public worship and education. These exceptions rendered the isolation less absolute than at Bruchsal.

C. By way of encouragement in the reformation of convicts, it was proposed (Art. 8) that those who had shown symptoms of amendment after a year's solitary confinement should, the better to ensure the durability of their reformation, be admitted to work with others.

D. Since it must be confessed that isolation is an intensely severe penalty, Art. 12 suggests, as a possible alleviation, that in sentences to solitary confinement the term might be reckoned in the proportion of two days of isolation as equivalent to three of associated imprisonment. This, however, not for the first six months.

E. By way of experiment in further carrying out the separate system, it is added, (Art. 12,) that in the old prisons there should be a certain number of cells prepared, in which convicts, without distinction of sex, shall be kept separate for six months from the time of their entrance, or for longer, with the consent of the convict.

2. In the Kingdom of Hanover (1st February, 1862,) a bill was brought into Parliament for the introduction of the separate system. This can only be considered as a partial measure, it not being possible for some time to introduce it generally.

A. The bill proposes that isolation should be enforced in all penal sentences; for, once its efficiency admitted, there is no reason why it should not be the general rule.

B. Convicts showing less moral depravity should, by preference, be isolated.

C. On the term of isolation they were not prepared to decide, but the general opinion was that it should not exceed

three years.

D. In consideration of isolation being so hard to bear, the law admits of a reduction of the term proportioned to the criminality of the convict, so that in a sentence of three months' imprisonment, one day of isolation shall reckon as two days of the common prison. In the house of correction, for a sentence of one year, three days' solitary confinement shall be equivalent to four under the old system.

3. In the new penal code for Bremen the separate system is decreed, and every effort is made to render it efficient as a means of reformatory progress—adopting it likewise for the whole of the sentence. The project is to have only one prison, in two divisions—the one to be the house of correction, and the other for the prison. During public worship the convicts are to be kept separate. A fixed term of isolation, as in Baden, for six years, is not decreed. By a resolution of the committee of inspection, isolation may be suspended for the convenience of associated labour for convicts, under a sentence of six months or less, having already had a month's imprisonment, at their own express request, and when there is no ground for fearing a bad influence; likewise, by way of trial, for correctioners who have been in confinement eighteen months, if they show signs of amendment.

4. Three of the Swiss cantons-Aargau, Neufchatel, and Basle—have recently declared for the separate system. The principal prison is to be in Aaran. Chief Justice Welli has the merit of convincing his countrymen of the advantages of the separate system and of procuring the erection of a new prison. A high premium was offered for the best plan, and the building is progressing rapidly. It is planned so as to meet all requirements, both for associated and solitary imprisonment; certain of the cells being only for sleeping, as during the night all are to be kept separate; other cells of larger dimensions serving for day and night. In Neufchatel and Basle prizes were likewise awarded for the best models.

5. The city of Frankfort has likewise offered a similar premium for a plan according to regulations drawn out by the experienced Herr Varrentrapp, in which the separate system is to be more thoroughly carried out than in Switzerland.

6. In Italy, two states only can be named as having seriously entered upon a system of prison reformation, viz., Tuscany and Piedmont.

As already mentioned, the separate system was adopted throughout Tuscany in the year 1849, and the GovernorGeneral, Sig. Peri, laboured most successfully in its establishment. We have, however, already shown likewise that it called forth much opposition, especially through the writings of Sig. Morelli. In 1859, Tuscany was united to Piedmont, and in September of the same year the Provisional Government appointed a commission of inquiry with regard to prisoni discipline. Their report was to the effect, that it were a crime to think of returning to the old system, but that, at the same time, absolute uninterrupted isolation, especially for the southern teinperament, was not desirable; that the sentence should be divided into three periods. 1st. Complete isolation for a fixed term. 2nd. Associated, but solitary for the night. 3rd. Agricultural labour in appropriated localities. On the 10th January, 1860, the Government decreed the cessation of capital punishment, also that convicts sentenced to imprisonment should pass the whole term in solitary confinement; those sentenced to hard labour to be isolated the first half of their term; those sentenced to the house of correction for the rest of their lives, to be isolated for the first ten years, and then admitted to work with others, constant silence being enforced.

It is to be mentioned that, from May, 1858, an attempt has been made in Tuscany for the establishment of a penal colony on the island of Pranosa, that convicts from the different prisons, who may be found worthy of it, should be rewarded by being removed there to work in the open air, thus instituting an intermediate prison, as in Ireland. According to communications received by the author of the present report from Sig. Peri, the organization is very good. There are 130 convicts on the island, and hitherto there has been no disturb


In Piedmont, in 1847, the separate system was adopted in the principal prisons, for the night, while during the labours of the day silence was enforced. In 1857 interesting discussions took place in Parliament on the separate system, and many were in favour of it, but it was adopted only for criminals under examination and convicts sentenced for six months. Further application of the separate system is still opposed in Piedmont. In 1861, a new prison was built at Cagliari, and the necessity of reforming the prison discipline throughout the country was brought before the Government, and the result was, that on the 16th February, 1862, a commission of nine members was appointed by the King for inquiring into the subject, two of the members being Sig. Peri and Sig. Vegezzi Ruscalla, who had both laboured so zealously for many years to obtain the most suitable methods for carrying out the separate system. One of the duties devolving on the commission was that of proving whether the penalty of hard labour on board the hulks or galleys is, or is not, consistent with the present state of civilization, and the progress made in penal modification, especially as compared with the sentences grounded on the penitentiary system—in case of their showing being negative, what penalty should be substituted. Further, whether it were not desirable to concentrate all the prisons, including the hulks, under one administration. The researches of the commission were also to be directed to the different penitentiary systems, and to decide which was the best

« PreviousContinue »