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found every shade of depravity; and it would have afforded me the highest satisfaction to be able, if I had possessed the means, to divide the convicts into two classes, and the others into three, consisting of old offenders, of first offenders, and of boys.
Among the women, all the ordinary feelings of the sex are outraged by their indiscriminate association. The shameless victims of lust and profligacy are placed in the same chamber with others, who, however they may have offended the law in particular points, still preserve their respect for decency and decorum. In immediate contact with such abandoned women, other young persons are compelled to pass their time between their commitment and the sessions, when, of course, it often happens, that the bill is not found against them by the grand jury, or they are acquitted by the petty jury! Separation in any degree would be useful; and I think it possible, at some expense, even in the present size of the building, to divide these females into their two distinct classes. But if the city of London should make the addition to the prison which I have previously suggested (by purchasing the building of the College of Physicians), all the degrees of separation may take place, which are necessary to the comfort and reform of these unhappy persons. > p. 93-96.
To relieve the crowded ftate of the prifon, and to remove fome of the female prifoners from this fchool of vice, the fheriffs concurred in recommending the cafes of fifty of them to the immediate compaffion of government. But as the courfe of proceeding which they propofed, was confidered both as unprecedented, and inconfiftent with the established administration of juftice, they afterwards limited their applications to ten or twelve cafes only; and the refult is acknowledged to have been fatisfactory. Sir Richard enters, however, into an idle and frivolous argument against the practice, uniformly adopted by government, of referring all petitions, in the firft inftance, to the judge who tried the respective parties. Convicted perfons,' he fays, who addrefs petitions to the Throne, and fend them, pro forma, to the Secretary of State's office, do not apply for law, but for mercy.' But, furely, it is of material importance to afcertain the grounds upon which the prifoner may be regarded as entitled to mercy; and, after the witneffes are difmiffed, no one but the judge can be fully in poffeffion of all the circumftances of the cafe. Sir Richard appears to have taken but a narrow view of the fubject. He does not perceive, that the administration of our criminal laws would foon be brought into difrepute, if the fentences of the judges were, without any reference to their reports, expofed to frequent reverfal.
Finding themfelves once engaged in correfpondence with the Secretary of State, the fheriffs appear to have enlarged their views; and, conceiving that the punithinent of tranfportation for feven
years operates, with refpect to female convicts, as a fentence of transportation for life, they address, in the fhape of a memorial, a remonftrance to Lord Hawkesbury on that fubject. Not content with fimply stating the grievance in queftion, they proceed, in the character of politicians, to argue the point with the Secretary of State. That this ftyle of reafoning was not altogether acceptable in the quarter to which it was addreffed, feems pretty evident from the manner in which it was noticed. No answer appears to have been returned, except a mere acknowledgement of its receipt. Nothing, indeed, can be more evident, than that the fheriffs of London had no right, in their official capacity, to apply to the Secretary of State for an alteration of the general law. With regard to the fubject of their application, though it be evidently impoffible to juftify or approve of the unlimited extenfion of a punishment, the legal duration of which is limited to a comparatively fhort period of time, yet, with regard to female convicts, the hardship is perhaps lefs feverely felt than is commonly imagined. The fituation of female convicts is fuch, that they fenfibly feel the dependence of their condition; and this very circumftance facilitates the formation of permanent connexions, which fupply them with very ftrong motives for continuing in the colony after the term of their refpective fentences has expired. Befides, as they hold there a higher place in the scale of character than they would be able to maintain, in the event of their returning to this country, their feelings fuggeft to them the convenience of remaining in a place where they are likely to be exposed to the leaft difrefpect. The great expenfe attending the transportation of convicts is certainly entitled to the economical confideration of government. It can fcarcely amount to 1201. per head, as ftated by our author; but the fum of 100l. per head, at which it has been eftimated by perfons well acquainted with the subject, including every contingent expenfe, together with the contract, muft occafion a very large expenditure, when it is confidered that about feven hundred perfons are annually tranfported to Botany Bay. Such a punishment may therefore be said to be felt by the nation, as well as by the individual who incurs this penalty for his tranfgreffions.
We heartily join with Sir Richard in reprobation of the long eftablifhed, but most objectionable practice, of compelling prifoners to pay the falaries of the gaolers in the fhape of fees. They fall with peculiar hardship on the poorer clafs of individuals from whom they are demanded; and, in the cafe of the unfortunate debtor, they bear almoft a character of extortion. Where the gaol fees are not fixed, frequent impofitions appear inevitable. Where the laws impofe only perfonal restraint, they operate as fines. But their effect, as far as relates to infolvent debtors, feems
to be in decided oppofition to the fpirit of the law; for the very remedy for debt provided by the law, tends to increase the embarraffments of the debtor, and, confequently, to aggravate the evil that requires this remedy. Detention for the payment of fees is, in the instances specified in the 14. Geo. III. c. 20., declared to be illegal; and we have little doubt that it in most, or in all cafes, is the fame. A certain process of law is requifite to be obferved, before any perfon can be confined for debt; but, when circumstances enable him to discharge the debt, the gaoler, before fetting him at liberty, demands the payment of certain fees; and, if they are not paid, he ftill detains him in prifon. Is he autho rifed by law to exercife, at his own difcretion, this power of detention? This point fhould be determined. If the gaoler has a legal claim to certain fees, the law will enable him, by the ufual procefs for debt, to enforce the payment of them; but it does not appear that he retains, in his own hands, the power of enforcing the payment of his fees, previous to the liberation of his prisoner. The only effectual mode of obviating thefe diftreffing difficulties, is to give the officers connected with gaols and prisons fixed falaries, and to recognize no other demands on perfons confined in them, than those which they ought in reafon to pay for articles of extra-accommodation. So long, however, as the practice of demanding fees is perfifted in, the plan proposed in the letter to the Livery, of affixing a table of them in the prifon, ought to be adopted, to prevent prifoners from being expofed to impofitions.
The fcenes of mifery and want which the duties of their office frequently compelled them to witnefs, induced the fheriffs to make an appeal to the benevolent part of the public, in order that a fund might be raised, to be called the Sheriff's Fund, and to be appropriated to the following purposes.
1. The temporary relief of the distressed families and dependants of persons in confinement.
2. A temporary provision for persons, who, on being discharg ed from confinement, have no means of present subsistence.
3. The purchase of such tools, implements and materials, as may be conducive to habits of industry in debtors and criminals.
4. The pecuniary aid of other objects of distress, who come under the official cognizance of the sheriffs of London and Middlesex. *
In the course of the year, about 500l. were collected, and relief was extended to many diftreffed individuals and their families. Want of room prevented the third object of the fund from being carried into effect. The difbursements to March 1808, amounted to nearly 300l. We cannot help noticing one of the items in the statement, in order that the generous may fee what extenfive relief may be derived from even a small charitable contribution, when judiciously applied.
For legal assistance, by means of which twenty-nine poor debtors have been liberated from Newgate, after long imprisonments, (the number of whose wives and children exceeded one hundred and twenty souls), and many of them were sailors arrested by crimps on sham actions, or persons imprisoned on false pretence, 23. 10s.
The expenfes of advertifing and printing, we are forry to perceive, amount to a very large fum; but this may perhaps neceffarily attend the first establishment of fuch a fund, and may, in future, if its existence fhould become permanent, be confiderably diminished. The application of the fund, as ftated in the Appendix, feems, for the most part, to have been judicious. From one item it appears, that porter was allowed to feveral prisoners threatened with low fevers for want of adequate fuftenance. The general allowance to the prifoners in Newgate is hardly fufficient for their fupport, Whenever they are expofed to fevers from want of nourishment, this allowance ought furely to be immediately augmented. The fevere difcipline of the army inflicts, in ordinary cases, only that degree of chaftifement which the foldier is able to bear; and the difcipline of the gaol ought to be equally careful of the lives of those who are fuffering the penalty of imprifonment. As the duties of the fheriff's demand a frequent infpection of the gaols and prifons within their jurisdiction, they muft neceffarily be enabled to judge in what inftances relief may be granted with propriety and effect; and we earnestly hope, that those who are now in office will ftrenuously exert themselves in fupport of a fund, which may fo eafily be rendered a fource of fuch extenfive and invaluable relief.
It is unneceffary to conduct our readers through the other prifons. They exhibit nearly the fame scenes as those we have juft quitted. They are generally crowded to excefs; and the inconveniences arifing from this circumftance, and from the indifcri- . minate mixture of the prifoners, are fuch as have been already defcribed. In general, however, their condition is not fo comfortless as in Newgate; and, in fome of them, the prifoners have the benefit of more air and exercife, and fome few advantages in point of accommodation.
The last point which our limits permit us to notice, relates to the fheriffs' officers and the lock-up houfes. The writs annually addreffed to the fheriffs of Middlefex, our author computes at no lefs than twenty-four thoufand. The duty of executing and returning them is for the moft part confided to certain perfons, who act as deputies to the under-sheriffs. In the city of London, this duty is executed by the fecondaries, who are permanent underfheriffs, and who obtain their appointments from the corporation by purchase. Thirty-nine fheriffs' officers, or bailiffs, each having two or three affiftants, are employed by the office of the M 4
fheriff of Middlefex. To prevent them from practising extortion or cruelty in the discharge of their duty, Sir Richard Phillips exerted himself to enforce the provifions of an act paffed in the 32d of Geo. II., for regulating the procefs of arrefts. He furnished the officers with extracts from this and other acts relating to this fubject, and affixed them in places likely to be feen by perfons under arreft. A claufe of the 32. Geo. II. c. 28. (the act, we fuppofe, to which he alludes), directs, that no charges fhall be made in lock-up houfes, except fuch as are rated, from time to time, by the juftices of the peace in general or quarter-feffions. Sir Richard proceeded, accordingly, to make out a table of rates, which he fubmitted to the quarter-feffions for Middlefex. They were immediately confirmed, with flight variations, and officially communicated by the clerk of the peace. He was lefs fuccessful in the city of London, where the lock-up houfes remain without any regulation to this effect. It is true, that in London there are only two houfes of this description, while, in the county of Middlefex there are not lefs than thirteen; but it is nevertheless defirable that this neceffary regulation fhould be quite univerfal. It is monstrous that any facilities fhould be left to the practice of extortion from perfons already fo unfortunate.
Sir Richard Phillips appears to have fucceeded, to the utmost extent of his wifhes, in the accomplishment of another point, of fome importance to the perfonal liberty of the fubject. If a perfon in confinement fhould obtain the means of discharging his debt, he is nevertheless obliged to fubmit to a further detention, until certain regifters are examined, for the purpofe of afcertaining whether or not any other writs have been iffued against him. Thefe regifters, however, were not acceffible after certain hours, nor on Sundays and holidays. They are now, through the excrtions of Sir Richard, acceffible at all times; and the debtor, who has procured the means of liberation, may obtain his freedom with the leaft poffible delay. It is to be regretted that this arrangement has not yet been adopted by the fecondaries in the city of London.
He alfo fucceeded in effecting a reduction of the bail-bond fee, which is usually taken at the office of the fheriff of Middlesex. This fee he found fufficiently reasonable in the fecondaries' office. Towards the conclufion of the Letter, he recommends. fome useful alterations in the mode of taking bail in Middlefex, which appears to admit of an exceptionable difcretion in the offcer to whom it is offered; and he reafonably fuggefts the propriety of affimilating the practice in Middlefex to the fyftematic courfe adopted in the office of the fecondaries. After a recapitulation of the various points on which he has infifted, he concludes with an