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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, consiste ing 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 state of the prison, and to remove some of the female prisoners from this school of vice, the sheriffs concurred in recommending the cases of fifty of them to the immediate compassion of government. But as the course of proceeding which they proposed, was considered both as unprecedented, and inconsistent with the establifhed adminiftration of justice, they afterwards limited their applications to ten or twelve cases only; and the result 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 firit instance, to the judge who tried the respective parties. Convicted persons,' he says, ' who address petitions to the Throne, and send them, pro forma, to the Secretary of State's oilice, do not apply for law, but for mercy.' But, surely, it is of material importance to ascertain the grounds upon which the prisoner may be regarded as entitled to mercy; and, after the witnefles are dismissed, no one but the judge can be fully in poffeffion of all the circumstances of the case. Sir Richard appears to have taken but a narrow view of the subject. He does not perceive, that the administration of our criminal laws would foon be brought into disrepute, if the sentences of the judges were, without any reference to their reports, exposed to frequent reverfal.
Finding themselves once engaged in correspondence with the Secretary of State, the sheriffs appear to have enlarged their views; and, conceiving that the punithinent of transportation for seven years operates, with respect to female convicts, as a sentence of transportation for life, they address, in the shape of a memorial, a remonstrance to Lord Hawkesbury on that subject. Not content with simply stating the grievance in question, they proceed, in the character of politicians, to argue the point with the Secretary of State. That this style of reasoning was not altogether acceptable in the quarter to which it was addressed, seems 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 sheriffs of London had no right, in their oflicial capacity, to apply to the Secretary of State for an alteration of the general law. With regard to the subject of their application, though it be evidently impossible to justify or approve of the unlimited extension of a punishment, the legal duration of which is limited to a comparatively short period of time, yet, with regard to female convicts, the hardship is perhaps less severely felt than is commonly imagined. The lituation of female convicts is such, that they sensibly
feel the dependence of their condition ; and this very circumstance facilitates the formation of permanent connexions, which supply them with very strong motives for continuing in the colony after the term of their refpe&tive sentences has expired. Besides, 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 suggest to them the convenience of remaining in a place where they are likely to be exposed to the least disrespect. The great expenie attending the transportation of convicts is certainly entitled to the economical confideration of government. It can scarcely amount to 1201. per head, as stated by our author; but the sum of 100l. per head, at which it has been estimated by persons well acquainted with the subject, including every contingent expense, together with the contract, must occafion a very large expenditure, when it is confidered that about seven hundred perfons are annually transported to `Botany Bay. Such a punishment may therefore be laid to be felt by the nation, as well as by the individual who incurs this penalty for his transgressions.
We heartily join with Sir Richard in reprobation of the long established, but most objectionable practice, of compelling prifoners to pay the salaries of the gaoiers in the shape of fees. They fall with peculiar hardthip on the poorer class of individuals from whom they are demanded; and, in the case of the unfortunate debtor, they bear almost a character of extortion. Where the gaol fees are not fixed, frequent impositions appear in ritabie. Where the laws impose only personal restraint, ery operate pe fines. But their effect, as far as relates to infolvent debtors, iecmis
to be in decided opposition to the spirit of the law; for the very remedy for debt provided by the law, tends to increase the embarrafsments of the debtor, and, consequently, 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 cases, is the same. A certain process of law is requisite to be observed, before any person can be confined for debt; but, when circumstances enable him to discharge the debt, the gaoler, before setting him at liberty, demands the payment of certain fees; and, if they are not paid, he still detains him in prison. Is he authorised by law to exercise, at his own discretion, this power of detention? This point should be determined. If the gaoler has a legal claim to certain fees, the law will enable him, by the usual process 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 these distressing difficulties, is to give the officers connected with gaols and prifons fixed falaries, and to recognize no other demands on persons confined in them, than those which they ought in reason to pay for articles of extra-accommodation. So long, however, as the practice of demanding fees is persisted in, the plan proposed in the letter to the Livery, of affixing a table of them in the prison, ought to be adopted, to prevent prisoners from being exposed to impositions.
The scenes of misery and want which the duties of their office frequently compelled them to witness, induced the sheriffs 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 discharged 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 sool. were collected, and relief was extended to many diftreiled individuals and their families. Want of room prevented the third object of the fund from being carried into effect. The disbursements to March 1808, amounted to nearly 300l. We cannot help noticing one of the items in the statement, in order that the generous may see what extensive 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, 231. 10s.
The expenses of advertising and printing, we are sorry to perceive, amount to a very large sum; but this may perhaps neceffarily attend the first establishment of such a sund, and may, in future, if its existence should become permanent, be considerably diminished. The application of the fund, as stated in the Appendix, seems, for the most part, to have been judicious. From one item it appears, that porter was allowed to several prisoners threatened with low fevers for want of adequate sustenance. The general allowance to the prisoners in Newgate is hardly sufficient for their support. Whenever they are exposed to fevers from want of nourishment, this allowance ought surely to be immediately augmented. The severe discipline of the army inflicts, in ordinary cases, only that degree of chastisement which the soldier is able to bear; and the discipline of the gaol ought to be equally careful of the lives of those who are suffering the penalty of imprisonment. As the duties of the sheriffs demand a frequent inspection of the gaols and prisons within their jurisdiction, they muft necessarily be enabled to judge in what instances relief may be granted with propriety and effect; and we earnestly hope, that those who are now in oilice will strenuously exert themselves in support of a fund, which may so easily be rendered a source of such extensive and invaluable relief.
It is unnecessary to conduct our readers through the other prifons. They exhibit nearly the same scenes as those we have just quitted. They are generally crowded to excess; and the inconveniences arising from this circumstance, and from the indiscri- . minate mixture of the prisoners, are such as have been already described. In general, however, their condition is not so comfortless as in Newgate ; and, in some of them, the prisoners have the benefit of more air and exercise, and some few advar point of accommodation.
The last point which our limits permit us to notice, relates to the sheriffs" officers and the lock-up houses. The writs annually addressed to the sheriffs of Middlesex, our author computes at no less than twenty-four thousand. The duty of executing and returning them is for the most part confided to certain persons, who act as deputies to the under-sheriffs. In the city of London, this duty is executed by the secondaries, who are permanent undersheriffs, and who obtain their appointments from the corporation by purchase. Thirty-nine sheriffs' officers, or bailiffs, each having two or three assistants, are employed by the office of the
sheriff of Middlesex. To prevent them from practising extortion or cruelty in the discharge of their duty, Sir Richard Phillips exerted himself to enforce the provisions of an act passed in the 32d of Geo. II., for regulating the process of arrests. He furnished the officers with extracts from this and other acts relating to lis subject, and affixed them in places likely to be seen by persons under arreft. A clause of the 32. Geo. II. c. 28. (the act, we suppose, to which he alludes), directs, that no charges shall be made in lock-up houses, except such as are rated, from time to time, by the justices of the peace in general or quarter-sessions. Sir Richard proceeded, accordingly, to make out a table of rates, which he submitted to the quarter-sessions for Middlesex. They were immediately confirmed, with slight variations, and officially communicated by the clerk of the peace. He was less successful in the city of London, where the lock-up houses remain without any regulation to this effect. It is true, that in London there are only two houses of this description, while, in the county of Middlesex there are not less than thirteen; but it is nevertheless desirable that this necessary regulation should be quite universal. It is mo:strous that any facilities should be left to the practice of extortion from persons already so unfortunate.
Sir Richard Phillips appears to have succeeded, to the utmost extent of his wishes, in the accomplishment of another point, of fome importance to the personal liberty of the subject. If a perfon in confinement should obtain the means of discharging his debt, he is nevertheless obliged to submit to a further detention, until certain registers are examined, for the purpose of ascertaining whether or not any other writs have been iffued against him. These registers, however, were not accessible after certain hours, nor on Sundays and holidays. They are now, through the excrtions of Sir Richard, acceslible at all times, and the debtor, who has procured the means of liberation, may obtain his free. dom with the least poflible delay. It is to be regretted that this arrangement has not yet been adopted by the secondaries in the city of London.
He also succeeded in effecting a reduction of the bail-bond fee, which is usually taken at the office of the sheriff of Middlesex. This fre he found sufficiently reasonable in the secondaries office. Towards the conclusion of the Letter, he recommends fome useful alterations in the mode of taking bail in Middlesex, which appears to admit of an exceptionable discretion in the oilicer to whom it is offered; and he reasonably suggests the propriety of funilating the practice in Middlesex to the systematic course adopted in the office of the fecondaries. After a recapitulation of the various points on wirich he has insisted, he concludes with an