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.j* , BY . , n 







Entered, according to the Ad of Congress, in the year 1833, 

in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States in and 
for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. 















MM. de Beaumont and de Toqueville had the kindness to 
send me, a few months ago, their work on the Penitentiary Sys- 
tem in the United States, before it had issued from the press in 
Paris, requesting me, at the same time, to translate it, if possible, 
for the American public. My time was, at that period, and is 
still so much occupied by previous engagements, that I doubted 
at first whether I should be able to comply with the wishes of 
my friends, though my personal regard for them would not have 
allowed me to hesitate for a moment. The great importance of 
the subject, however, soon induced me to undertake the task, 
trusting that the public would excuse, in a work of this kind, 
the value of which essentially depends upon statements of facts, 
and upon statistical numbers, a want of that accuracy and preci- 
sion of language, without which, in the ordinary course, no work 
ought to appear before its reader. The authors themselves seem 
to have considered the facts and observations which they had to 
communicate, of an importance greatly superior to the manner 
of conveying them to the public ; but may I not hope for the 
reader's indulgence for yet another reason ? A man may adopt a 
foreign country as his own, and be devoted to its institutions 
with his whole soul, because they are what he always wished 
and strove for ; he may physically and morally acclimatize him- 
self, yet his language will prove the most difficult in accommo- 
dating itself to the change. In my case I feel it sensibly : The 
heart is much more willing than the tongue. If the reader, how- 
ever, will excuse some peculiarities, and a want of ease and 
pliability of style, my translation will be found, I hope, at least 
clear and intelligible ; I know it to be faithful. A few of the 
statements of the authors I have thought to be erroneous, and I 
have not omitted to add in a note what I hold to be correct. In 
most cases, however, the reader will find that they investigated 
the subject, for the inquiry of which they were sent by their 
government to this country, with faithful zeal, intelligence, and 
that readiness to see and state the truth, which we do not find 

vi Preface and Introduction. 

too often in visiters of our country. It is always of great service 
to hear the observations upon one's own country, made by a fo- 
reigner who has a discerning eye and an honest heart. What in- 
telligent German has not read with profit some parts of Madame 
de Stael's work on his country ? Even if such observers are mis- 
taken, which they cannot possibly always avoid being, provided 
they are intelligent and sincere, their remarks will always be useful 
and welcome to those who truly love their country. -But sickened 
as the Americans naturally are by the smattering observations of 
hasty travellers, whose arrogance generally is in an inverse ratio 
to the length of time which they spent in this country, the chief 
interest of which consists in the beauty of its nature, and the 
character of its institutions, it will be a peculiar satisfaction to 
the reader to find in the following pages an important institution 
of his country once carefully inquired into. Institutions must be 
studied, their history as well as their operation cannot be under- 
stood by a superficial glance, and hence there is good reason why 
we find so little of them in the descriptions of a six weeks', 
three months', eight months' residence, or at most in that of a 
year and a half in the United States. In the work of which I 
offer a translation, the authors give the result of their minute 
inquiry into an institution, which, besides its importance to all 
mankind, has for Americans the additional interest of having 
originated with them, and been brought to a high degree of per- 
fection. Whether they praise or censure, is in itself of little in- 
terest, compared with the fact that they studied their subject 
earnestly, and state their result frankly. Truth appears to have 
been their sole object, and no pains were spared to arrive at this 
noble end, or to give an accurate statement of the various inves- 
tigations a care which shows itself even in the correct writing 
and printing of the many names of persons and places occurring 
in the work, which, though apparently an insignificant matter, 
will appear in a different light to all who are acquainted with 
the general and great neglect of the orthography of foreign names 
in French works. 

I have added numerous notes, sometimes when I differed in 
opinion with the authors, sometimes further to elucidate their 
statements, but they do not form a regular series of comments, 
partly because I had not sufficient leisure for this work, and partly 
because I should have been obliged to touch upon subjects which 
it was impossible for me to treat of with any satisfaction to my- 
self in a note, having made them for a long time already objects 
of study and inquiry, and being desirous to give the result in a 
more connected form, when I hope to treat of the constitutional 
progress of the European nations, and their descendants, in all 
its branches a task which I anciently desire to perform, but 
which requires means, not altogether under my own control. I 

Preface, and Introduction. Vli 

have also added eome documents to the Appendix, and in several 
cases I have brought down the statistical statements of the original 
to the present date, according to the latest reports. Notes and 
appendixes are not unfrequently treated with some neglect, and 
1 would therefore take the liberty of suggesting to the reader 
disposed to dismiss the work after a perusal of the first half of it, 
containing the general account by the authors, that if the two 
great divisions of this publication differ at all in the degree of 
their importance, the higher will probably be assigned to the latter 
half, in which the authors give a number of statistical and com- 
parative tables, and a variety of statements of peculiar interest ; 
but both parts, though different in form, are not only closely 
connected with each other, but one is the necessary complement 
to the other. 

An article on the Pennsylvania penitentiary system will be 
found at the end of the volume. It was originally written by the 
translator for the Encyclopaedia Americana, who appended it, 
with some additions, to this work, called upon to do so by some 
gentlemen, to whose knowledge in matters of prison discipline 
he owes great deference. The circumstance that the writer of the 
article speaks upon some subjects connected with solitary con- 
finement from personal experience,* so unusual with those who 
are called upon to discuss a subject of this nature publicly, had 
undoubtedly influenced their partial request. 

Prisons have been called hospitals for patients labouring under 
moral diseases, but until recently, they have been in all coun- 
tries where any existed, and unfortunately continue still to be in 
roost countries, of a kind that they ought to be compared rather 
to the plague-houses in the East, in which every person afflicted 
with that mortal disorder is sure to perish, and he who is sent 
there without yet being attacked, is sure to have it. The awful 
inscription which the mighty bard of Florence tells us he read 
over the gates of the infernal regions,t would have found a fit 
place over the entrance of these moral lazarettos, intended for 
punishment and for the prevention of crime, but in reality, ge- 
nerating it and effecting the total ruin and corruption of their 
unhappy inmates. In some countries no prisons have been 

* He was imprisoned in a period of political excitement. 

f Through me you pass into the city of wo : 
Through me you pass into eternal pain : 
Through me among the people lost for aye. 

All hope abandon ye who enter here. 

Dante, Inferno, Canto III., trans, by Carey. 

These lines, it ought to be observed, are by no means a fair specimen either 
of Mr. Carey's translation, or of the grand original, in which this inscription is 
majestic and awful. 

viii Preface and Introduction. 

erected as yet. Thus we learn from Mr. Burkhardt's report on 
houses of correction and punishment in Switzerland, Zurich, 
1827, that in the canton of Uri, no prison for punishment exists; 
and corporal punishment, the pillory, branding and placing the 
culprit in foreign military service, are used as substitutes. In Ap- 
pencell-Outer-Road, imprisonment is inflicted for lighter offences 

The progress of mankind from physical force to the substitu- 
tion of moral power in the art and science of government in ge- 
neral, is but very slow, but in none of its branches has this pro- 
gress, which alone affords the standard by which we can judge 
of the civil development of a society, been more retarded than 
in the organization and discipline of prisons, probably for the 
simple reason that those for whom the prisons are established, 
are at the mercy of society, and therefore no mutual effort at 
amelioration, or struggle of different parties, can take place. 
At length the beginning has been made, and it is a matter of 
pride to every American, that the new penitentiary system has 
been first established and successfully practised in his country. 
That community which first conceived the idea of abandon- 
ing the principle of mere physical force even in respect to pris- 
ons, and of treating their inmates as redeemable beings, who are 
subject to the same principles of action with the rest of mankind, 
though impelled by vitiated appetites and perverted desires; that 
community, which after a variety of unsuccessful trials, would 
nevertheless not give up the principle, but persevered in this 
novel experiment, until success has crowned its perseverance, 
must occupy an elevated place in the scale of political or social 
civilization. The American penitentiary system must be regard- 
ed as a new victory of mind over matter the great and constant 
task of man. Though of more vital interest to the whole civilized 
world, it exhibits the same progress of society, which is indi- 
cated by the abolition of the laths\ in the Prussian army, and 

See Mittermaier's Comment on the Compte gtntral de ['Administration de la 
Justice criminelle pendant I'annte 1827, Berlin, 1829, page 34. 

f When, in 1807, stripes were abolished in the Prussian army, it was believed 
necessary to substitute the laths (in German Latteri) for the punishment of run- 
ning the gauntlet. They consisted of triangular prismatic laths, nailed on the 
floor of a low and small prison, in such a way that one of the sharp edges of 
each lath was turned up, and that these edges formed, with other small pieces 
of wood corresponding in form on the surface, a number of small squares of 
sharp edges, on which the prisoner was obliged to lie or sit, no kind of furni- 
ture being allowed, nor was the prison high enough for the prisoner to stand in 
an erect position. It was so severe a punishment, that the prisoner could en- 
dure it but for a few hours at a time ; after a proportionate rest he was recon- 
ducted to this place of torment. The severest punishment of this kind lasted 
three days. It was inflicted for heavy offences, and in consequence of a sen- 
tence by a court-martial only. In 1832, the king issued an order declaring that 
the moral state of the army was of a kind no longer to require this hard discipli- 
nary measure. In the Austrian and Russian armies, and probably in some of the 

Preface and Introduction. i* 

of corporal punishment for most offences in the army of Great 
Britain. At least it is fervently hoped, that the house of lords 

Italian states, corporal punishment continues to be made use of in the old style 
but the period we hope is not distant, when even Austria will be obliged to fol- 
low the general progress of improvement. My expression that the American 
penitentiary system is a new victory of mind over matter, requires, perhaps, 
some explanation. I do not except the Auburn system, applied in so remarka- 
ble a way, in Sing-Sing, to nearly one thousand prisoners. The Auburn system, 
as is well known, is mainly founded on the principle of silence, which isolates 
the prisoner in a moral respect. This silence, however, it will be objected, is 
supported by the whip, which, it must be allowed, is not a very intellectual or 
moral means of discipline. But, without speaking of those penitentiaries on the 
Auburn plan, in which corporal punishment is resorted to but in cases of extre- 
mity or not at all, and considering for a moment the question whether the Au- 
burn principle can be applied consistently and effectually without the Whip, as 
decided in favour of the Sing-Sing discipline, I yet maintain that the principle 
on which this system is founded, partakes much more of a moral than physical 
character. The whip is the physical means to enforce the principle of silence, 
and, besides, it is not so much the actual pain inflicted upon the convict, which 
induces him to keep silence, as the knowledge of an inevitable and immediate 
punishment for any contravention of the rule ; it is the thorough conviction 
which the prisoner acquires of the necessity of complying with the order of the 
prison, which makes it possible that from thirty to thirty-five persons are actual- 
ly capable of superintending, of guiding, and watching nearly a thousand con- 
victs, and in a manner altogether unknown in any of the old prisons where gal- 
ley-slaves in dresses of two contrasting colours a repulsive uniform of fools and 
villains drag their heavy chains in yards, surrounded by high and thick walls 
and fortifications, and nevertheless, continual escapes tuke place, whilst they are 
a thing nearly unknown in Sing-Sing (two or three escapes only excepted, dur- 
ing the time of the cholera, which carried off a great number in that prison) 
though many convicts work in the open field. There are, at present, in actual 
service at a time, six guards near the prison, eight guards distributed in the 
quarries, and twenty keepers, who watch the prisoners, and superintend and 
direct at the same time their labour. Thirty-four individuals, therefore, keep irt 
order from eight hundred to a thousand convicts, and enforce the laws of silence! 
and constant labour. There were at one time, one thousand and eighteen pris- 
oners at Sing-Sing, and the above number of guards and keepers was found suf- 
ficient. The locality, I allow, favours somewhat the watching over their attempts 
to escape, yet the whole remains a surprising phenomenon which could not pos- 
sibly be produced except by the aid of moral power. If the whip is mentioned 
as a disciplinary measure, we must also mention labour as such, and if I mistake 
not it contributes much more to maintain order than the whip. That labour has 
a powerful disciplinary effect with criminals (it is the same with all men) the 
reader will find asserted by a high authority in the course of this book ; it has, 
as Mr. Dumont, the translator and editor of Jeremy Bentham's works, expresses 
it with a word derived from medicine, a sedative effect, it calms and assuages the 
mind of the irritated convict. To the authority, indicated above, I would add 
Mr. Vasselot's, who was for a long time director of a maison-centrale in France. 
He was twice in great danger of losing his life by the revolted convicts under 
his charge. They were idle ; all disturbances, plots, &c. ceased, as soon as they 
were employed. He adds, "In order to live in safety in the midst of many hun* 
dred prisoners, it is better to love than to fear them." It appeared to me, in vi- 
siting the American penitentiaries, that the salutary effect of labour, shows itself 
strongly also in the expression of the faces of the convicts. They do not only 
look healthy, but I could discover none of those features, expressive of brood, 
ing revenge or deep hatred subdued only for the moment by physical force in 
short, none of those criminal faces with which you always will meet in any of 
the old prisons, containing a large number of convicts. To repeat it then, si" 

x Preface, and Introduction. 

will not thwart the endeavours of the commons to remedy an 
evil, in respect of which the discipline of English troops has re- 

lence is the fundamental principle ; and this, as well as order in general, is main- 
tained on the one hand, hy continual employment ; on the other hand, by the 
convict's perfect conviction that he must comply with the rules of the esta- 
blishment ; he may infringe them, he may break the rules, but he must suffer 
the consequences, and sooner or later and generally it is soon he comes to 
the thorough conviction, that he must yield, that the order of the penitentary 
will be maintained, and that he is the only sufferer if he tries to contravene it. 
This conviction, however, is very different from a mere physical prevention of 
escape by walls, fosses, chains, bars between the feet, balls, clogs, iron horns, 
collars, manacles, bells fastened to the head, &c. But how are the convicts 
brought to this perfect conviction ? How is it that we see at Sing-Sing criminals 
who have been in Botany-Bay, have escaped from different prisons and never 
have been kept in obedience except by powerful physical means, patiently 
submit here to the established order (even in cases of the greatest excitement, 
such as at the time of the cholera) and obey so hard a law as that of constant 
silence must be to every human being ? If we answer : " all this is effected by 
the whip," the assertion is liable to serious misunderstanding. It is true that 
the whip is used ; it is true that the stripes inflicted with it smart acutely. Since 
this small instrument produces so great results, I was anxious to know its exact 
effect ; I devised a means to obtain this personal knowledge in a way which sa- 
tisfies me that I experienced the effects of this disciplinary instrument in as 
great a degree as the refractory convict does. I do not deny that the pain in- 
flicted by this whip, made much like the scourge used in former times for flagel- 
lations, is very acute, and without causing injury seems in a peculiar way pain- 
fully to affect the nerves, owing no doubt to its consisting of six thin cords; yet 
criminals have defied punishments much more severe than this, have often 
biaved cruel tortures, and, in my opinion, stripes alone as they are inflicted in 
Sing-Sing, would not be sufficient to produce such results, particularly if we 
consider that there is, comparatively speaking, seldom occasion to resort to 
them. The principle, however, upon which this punishment produces effects 
so great, is this, active in all men, that the present evil is always the greatest, 
which remains true, though extended and modified, if we say, " the nearer 
evil or pain is feared more than the distant, though greater." Ten smart stripes, 
certain to be inflicted the very next moment after an infringement of order, are 
feared more than a hundred stripes to be suffered after the lapse of a year ; the 
certain drawing of a locth is feared more for the moment, than even death, 
which every one considers distant. If, then, punishment is certain of falling 
immediately upon the offender, it has the greatest effect. This, and the other- 
wise humane treatment of the criminals which does not brutalize them as other 
prisons do, the calm deportment of the keepers, who probably find no inconsid- 
erable means of safety in resorting to corporal punishment only, if there is 
ground for it, are the causes of so unique a phenomenon as that exhibited at 
Sing-Sing. The criminals are prevented from plotting or from any combination 
of their strength or thoughts, otherwise than in the prescribed way, by silence 
imposed upon them, and by a strict compliance with the rules of the establish- 
ment; silence and order are maintained by labour and the thorough conviction of 
the unavoidable necessity of obedience ; conviction of necessary obedience is 
produced by the threat of corporal punishment; corporal punishment is rendered 
effectual by its certainty and instantaneousness. I admit, that so many criminals 
can be kept in perfect submission by so few officers and guards only in a coun- 
try in which the government is considered by the people as entirely their own, 
acting solely for their interest, and to which they therefore give all their moral 
support, as is the case with us. The same cannot take place in countries in 
which government and people form two different bodies. Yet the principles of 
silence, labour, and immediate punishment, will produce proportionately the 
same effect everywhere. The study of a diseased or disordered state of our 

Preface and Introduction. xi 

mained so long behind that of the land forces of the most civi- 
lized nations on the European continent. 

Though the penitentiaries are monuments of a charitable dis- 
position of the honest members of society toward their fallen 
and unfortunate brethren, and of a penetrating practical sense, 
we must not forget that little more than the mere beginning has 
as yet been accomplished, and it cannot be impressed too much 
upon the mind of the public how necessary is a reformation of 
all prisons, how impossible it is to think of a penitentiary sys- 
tem, without its principle being carried through in all branches. 
It is praiseworthy, indeed, that the state prisons have been 
changed into penitentiaries, and that houses of refuge for juve- 
nile offenders have been established ; but there remain yet, al- 
most every where in our country, all the other prisons to be re- 
fashioned in the same spirit. As long as this is not done, as long 
as there shall not exist houses of detention, in which persons ar- 
rested under the presumption of guilt, indicted individuals and 
witnesses, as urgent circumstances sometimes require their deten- 
tion, are separated from each other, as well as from prisoners 
who have been convicted and sentenced, our system will be like 
the calling for medical assistance after all the gradual stages of 
the disease have been neglected, when aid would have been easy 
and cheap, and the disorder shows itself with alarming violence, 
or has become a settled and incurable disease ; or like paying at- 
tention only to dykes and embankments when the flood rushes 

body, of the mind, or of political society, has led to the most important know- 
ledge respecting their healthy state, and the nature of their organization. We 
frequently see in such a state, one faculty, organ, power, &c., developed at the 
expense of the others, which causes the disease by disturbing the necessary 
equilibrium, but at the same time offers a peculiar opportunity for observation. 
The prison of Sing-Sing affords in a similar way a variety of most interesting ob- 
servations ; and among other things the all-important principle that crimes and 
offences are not checked by the severity of the law, but by the certainty and ra- 
pidity of punishment, is most strikingly exhibited. If it were possible to devise 
a system of administering justice which would infallibly punish immediately after 
the offence hud been committed, many hideous crimes might be prevented by 
the threat of very trifling punishments. This is impossible; the necessity of 
protecting innocence, though suspected, brings with it the possibility of impu- 
nity, on which the criminal calculates when he commits a premeditated crime, 
as every man grasps at the most favourable hope; but the problem remains to 
arrive at least as near perfection as possible; and if we consider it already a 
necessary evil that many criminals escape punishment, how much more afflict- 
ing an evil must the abuse of the pardoning power appear to us, which has 
been carried to a degree that the criminal is perfectly right in counting it 
among the chances (sometimes the probabilities) of impunity. But we shall 
speak more on this subject. For the rest, I huve on- various occasions stated, 
that I consider the Pennsylvania penitentiary system much more philosophical 
in its principle, more radical and thorough in its operation, more practical and 
easy in its application, more charitable in its whole spirit than the Auburn sys- 
tem, wherever the means can be obtained to erect the necessary buildings, which 
often will be difficult, and in such cases the Auburn system remains, so far, the 
next preferable. 

xii Preface and Introduction. 

in, after having looked with indolence upon the injury when it 
was time yet for efficient repair. He who neglects repeated colds, 
must not be surprised when consumption shows its first and fear- 
ful symptoms; he who does not diligently inspect his dykes, 
and quickly repair whatever injury he finds, must be prepared 
for disastrous inundations. But it is not only unwise that we 
have, in most cases, confined our attention to the state prisons ; 
it is contrary to justice and religion, the first, because we ex- 
pose those who have not yet been tried, and others who have 
been found guilty of slight offences only, to the poisonous infec- 
tion of aggravated and confirmed crime ; the latter, because we 
occupy ourselves with the convict, who suffers for grave crimes, 
whilst we neglect him whose first offences are perhaps but the 
fruits of bad seeds, which a vicious education laid deeply in his 
soul, or the effects of weakness, rashness, or oppressive want. 
Our vanity is flattered more by our exertions to redeem a hard- 
ened criminal, than by kindly preventing many from becoming 
such ; but a gardener who loves his garden, roots out the weeds 
as early as he can, and does not allow them to shoot up and 
scatter their destroying seeds before he concludes to rid his beds 
of them. If it is noble to reclaim fallen virtue, it is much better 
still to prevent the fall. 

So many gifted authors have spoken upon this important point, 
that I fear I should trespass on the reader's patience, were I to 
dwell any longer upon it ; I shall only point out one of them, 
who has exhibited the magnitude of its importance in his accus- 
tomed lucid manner Mr. Edward Livingston. His just and 
eloquent remarks on this subject, as well as on many others* 
connected with prison discipline, will be found in this work. 
The erection of the Blackwell's Island penitentiary, and the 
appointment of a committee by the legislature of Massachusetts, 
to inspect all prisons, and report on a general plan, which shall 
embrace the prison system of the whole state, show that this 
want of a general penitentiary system is felt in the community 
at large, and begins to have its practical effects.t But the neces- 
sity for reforming all prisons in a state according to the same 

They are chiefly taken from Mr. E. Livingston's letter to Mr. Roberts Vaux, 
Mid from his Introductory Report to the Code of Prison Discipline, &c. 

{ The House of Representatives of Massachusetts recently appointed Joseph 
Tuckerman and Louis Dwight, of Boston, and John W. Lincoln, of Worcester, 
commissioners to make personal inspection of all the jails and houses of correc- 
tion in the state, with a view to devise or obtain plans and descriptions of such 
houses, better calculated to subserve the important design of their institution ; 
to prepare a tabular form of annual returns ; to examine the several statutes for 
the regulation of the existing institutions, and report thereupon at the next ses- 
sion, with such suggestions of change or modification, as in their judgment may 
conduce to their improvement in security, economy, health, or moral benefit.-^ 
Papers of April, 1833, 

Preface and Introduction. xiii 

principle, is not any more urgent than that for the erection of 
houses of arrest or detention, as I have indicated above, destin- 
ed for the reception of detained but not yet imprisoned persons. 
Humanity, justice, even a spirit of decency require it.* 

There is one point, however, connected with this special topic, 
to which I should invite the reader's attention for a few moments 
longer the imprisonment of women. It is a branch of adminis- 
tration of penal justice, much and unfortunately neglected in our 

In all countries women commit less crimes than men, but in 
none is the disproportion of criminals of the two sexes so great 
as in ours. The authors of the present work have given some 
interesting comparative tables on this subject, and I have stated 
my views on some of the causes of this fact. Unhappily, the 
small number of crimes committed in our country by women, 
has caused a comparative neglect of female criminals. Public 
attention has hardly turned itself toward this subject, and yet 
none claims it in a higher degree. t 

The influence of women, as wives and mothers, upon their 
family, and also, if they stand single in society, upon those who 
are in some connexion with them, is, generally speaking, greater 
than that of men, as husbands, fathers, or single, upon the morals 
of those who surround or are connected with them. The influence 
of woman upon manners in society, is not greater than that which 
she may exercise on morals, and even upon crimes, in those 
classes whose wants expose them more to commit offences than 

* I render a much greater service to the reader if I recommend him to read what 
Mr. Livingston says on the necessity of these houses of detention, in the above 
quoted Introductory Report, Philadelphia, 1827, from page 31 to 38, should he 
be unacquainted with this work, than by stating my views, coinciding with 
those of the learned jurist, in my own words. 

| " The attention of the legislature has often been called to this subject, and 
the necessity of a separate prison for female convicts urged with great force. 
The inspectors of this prison repeat the recommendation to the legislature, to 
provide for this unfortunate and criminal class of the community, a different place 
of confinement ; a place which, by the discipline established, shall tend to re- 
form, and not, as in their present condition, lead to inevitable ruin. 

" No doubt is entertained, but the same discipline which now controls and sub- 
dues the male convict, may be made equally serviceable with the females. Under 
the charge of a judicious matron, we cannot believe but great moral reformation 
may be produced. This consideration alone calls with great force for a change 
in the mode of punishing female convicts. It is also worthy of consideration, to 
inquire whether the expense to the state would not be diminished by such 
change. The state now pays one hundred dollars a year for each female convict 
kept at Bellevue. They are not employed at any thing except cooking, washing, 
making and mending clothes for themselves, and this occupies but a small part 
of their time. The law is imperative as to the place where these convicts must 
be confined, and such sum must be paid as the corporation of New York choose 
to demand, whether that sum be a fair compensation, or beyond the value of the 
services rendered." Report of the Inspectors of the Mount-Pleasant (Sing-Sing) 
State Prison, January, 1833. 

xiv Preface and Introduction. 

others. A prudent and moral mother, may, in a great degree, 
counteract in her family the unhappy consequences of her hus- 
band's intemperate or dissolute life, much more than it is possi- 
ble for an honest and industrious husband to counteract the me- 
lancholy effects of the bad conduct of an immoral wife. The 
wife's sphere is supremely that of domestic life ; there is the 
circle of activity for which she is destined, and there, conse- 
quently, she has the greatest influence ; and the lower we de- 
scend in the scale of society, the greater the influence of woman 
in her family. If she is unprincipled, the whole house is lost, 
whilst, if she \valks on the path of virtue and religion, she is 
the safest support of a son, thrown upon the agitated sea of life, 
or of a husband, oppressed by misfortune or misery, and beset 
by a thousand temptations. That tender age, in which the very 
seeds of morality must be sown and fostered in the youthful 
soul, is much more dependant upon the mother's care, than upon 
that of the father in all working classes it is almost solely de- 
pendant upon the former. A woman given to intemperance, and, 
what is generally connected with it, to violence and immoral 
conduct in most other respects, is sure to bring up as many vaga- 
bonds and prostitutes as she has male and female children ; and I 
believe I am right in stating, that the injury done to society by 
a criminal woman, is in most cases much greater than that suf- 
fered from a male criminal. Around one female criminal flock a 
number of the other sex, and ask any police officer what incal- 
culable mischief is done by a single woman who harbours thieves 
and receives stolen goods, called in the slang of criminals a fence. 
I have taken pains to ascertain the history of a number of con- 
victs, and though my inquiry has been but limited, yet, as far as 
it goes, it shows me that there is, almost without an exception, 
some unprincipled or abandoned woman, who plays a prominent 
part in the life of every convict, be it a worthless mother, who 
poisons by her corrupt example the soul of her children, or a 
slothful and intemperate wife, who disgusts her husband with his 
home, a prostitute, whose wants must be satisfied by theft, or a 
receiver of plunder and spy of opportunities for robberies. It 
might be said, that man and woman being destined for each 
other's company, some woman will be found to play a prominent 
part in the life of every man, and nothing more natural, there- 
fore, than that we find the same to be the case with criminals. 
This is true, and would only corroborate what I say, that the in- 
fluence of woman is great ; but in addition, I maintain that I found 
that most criminals have been led on to crime, in a considerable 
degree, by the unhappy influence of some corrupted female. 

To all this must be added the fact, known to all criminalists, 
that a woman once renouncing honesty and virtue, passes over 
to the most hideous crimes which women commit, with greater 

Preface and Introduction. xv 

ease than a man proceeds from his first offence to the blackest 
crimes committed by his sex. There is a shorter distance between 
a theft committed by a woman and her readiness to commit mur- 
der by poison, or arson, from jealousy or hatred, than between 
forgery or theft committed by a man, and murder or piracy. A 
male criminal may be a thief for a long series of years, and yet 
as unwilling to steep his hands in the blood of a fellow man, as 
many honest men ; a person may commit depredation upon pub- 
lic property for his whole life, and yet shudder at the idea of 
highway robbery. With women this is not often the case. It 
seems, moreover, that the majority of those characters in the 
annals of crimes at which we shudder most, have been females. 
That crime, the most revolting to human nature poisoning, has 
found its blackest and foulest adepts among the women. I only 
need remind the reader of the society of female poisoners under 
the direction of Hieronyma Spara, of the Marchioness de Brin- 
villiers, and of the woman Gottfried,* who, in 1831, was exe- 
cuted in Bremen for having poisoned more than thirty persons, 
among whom were her parents, children, husbands, lovers, friends, 
and servants.! 

This rapid and precipitous moral fall of women, can be suffi- 
ciently accounted for. The two sexes have been destined by the 
Creator for different spheres of activity, and have received dif- 
ferent powers to fulfil their destiny. The woman destined for 
domestic life, and that sphere in which attachment and affection 
are the most active agents, has been endowed with more lively 
feeling and acuter sensibility : she feels ; man reasons. Her mo- 
rality has its roots more in her feelings than in her understanding 
or reasoning faculty, and if she has once lost that delicate bloom 
of moral bashfulness, if she has lost the acuteness of her moral 
feelings, if she has stepped further and committed an offence 
against the laws, the almost only ground on which her moral ac- 
tions depended is shaken ; if she once gives up the retired acti- 
vity of her domestic sphere, she is led into an element for which 
she is but rarely calculated. This seems to be also the reason 
why, with all nations and at all times, the loss of chastity has 
been considered with women so much more grave and danger- . 
OU3 an offence than with men. They felt that the former lose 
more of their moral nature by it than the latter. { 

* A shocking contrast between her name, which means Peace in God, and her 
deeds ! 

f See her Life described, (in German,) by her Difensor, (Legal Counsellor,) 
Bremen, 1832 ; and Beckmann's History of Inventions, &tc., translated from the 
German by Johnston, Vol. I., Division Secret Poison. 

% Delicacy is one of the most active principles in female life in respect to 
morals as well as manners, language, dress, taste, feelings, and thoughts. It is 
the same principle which causes women all over the globe to wear wider gar- 
ments (if their tribe or nation dress at all) than men, induces the men to court 


xvi Preface and Introduction. 

It is otherwise with man. The Creator destined him for an 
agitated life. He has to make his way, to break new paths , he 
must, as Schiller says, "win and dare," and has to decide be- 
tween opposed interests, and, not unfrequently, between con- 
flicting duties. He, therefore, has been endowed with feelings 
less acute and prompt, stronger reasoning powers, and calmer 
judgment. If he loses the delicacy of his feelings, great as the 
loss may be, his judgment will yet supplant it in a degree ; his 
moral guide does not yet, for this reason, entirely fail him. 
Hence it often happens that men, committing acts which are con- 
sidered by all others immoral, perhaps criminal, make them- 
selves what the French call des raisons, false excuses indeed, 
yet they prevent them not unfrequently from going further. The 
manifold scenes of life, politics, the varieties of business make him 
acquainted with many impure actions, with which a woman is not 
brought into contact; it accustoms his mind to see acts which do 
not agree with the strict laws of morality, and if he himself com- 
mits a similar one, he need not have sunk so deep as a woman if 
she commits the same, and he retains yet a considerable part of 
that power which always regulated his moral conduct. Besides, 
crimes which, according to the state of our civil society, may be 
easily committed by women, are mostly of a kind requiring great 

It appears, then, from the preceding observations, that a wo- 
man, when she commits a crime, acts more in contradiction to 
her whole moral organization, i. e. must be more depraved, 
must have sunk already deeper than a man. She abandons shame 
as much as a man, who commits the same ; but shame is of still 
greater moral importance to her than to him. 

I have thought I found in these arguments also, the reasons 
why, in all countries, girls, in houses of refuge for juvenile of- 
fenders, are so much more difficult to be reclaimed than boys; 
and that it is almost impossible to reclaim them, if they have been 
prostitutes, as the reader will find in a note added to the chap- 
ter on houses of refuge. 

We should be wrong in concluding from the small number of 
crimes committed by women, compared with those committed 
by men, that there is a greater moral capacity in women in ge- 
neral ; and thence again, that penitentiaries for females are com- 
paratively unimportant Women commit fewer crimes from 
three causes chiefly: 1. because they are, according to their des- 
tiny and the consequent place they occupy in civil society, less 

the women, and not the women the men, and which, in short, makes coarseness, 
want of taste, deficiency in neatness, boldness, &c. in women so shocking and 
disagreeable to every feeling person, and to repeat on account of which, an 
indelicate woman has deviated much more from the character, destined for her 
by the Creator, than a man who offends against delicacy. 

Preface and Introduction. xvii 

exposed to temptation or to inducement to crime ; their ambition 
is not so much excited, and they are naturally more satisfied 
with a dependant situation ;* 2. they have not the courage or 
strength necessary to commit a number of crimes which largely 
swell the lists of male convicts, such as burglary, robbery, and 
forcible murder ; 3. according to their position in society they 
cannot easily commit certain crimes, such as bigamy, forgery, 
false arrest, abuse of official power, revolt, &c. There are some 
crimes they cannot commit at all, such as rape; but there are 
on the other hand, crimes which men cannot commit, as abor- 
tion ; or to which they are not so easily induced, as infanticide. 
According to the Compte general de V Administration de la 
Justice criminelle (in France) for 1826 and 1827, we find that 
in 1826, 5712 men, and 1276 women were accused of crimes, / 

and 126,089 men, and 33,651 women of offences judged by 
" correctional tribunals." In 1S27, 5657 men, and 1272 women / 
were accused of crimes, and 133,936 men, and 37,210 women / 
of offences. Of these were accused in 1827 
For counterfeiting, no women at all. 
For killing, 11 women and 277 men. 

For murder, 32 " 236 " 

For maiming, 22 " 353 " 

For highway robbery, 10 " 183 " 

But this proportion, so favourable to the female sex, changes im- \ 
mediately in respect to parricide and poisoning. Of 23 parri- 
cides, 16 were men, and 7 women; 12 women, and 22 men 
were accused of poisoning; 25 women, and 61 men of arson. 
In 1826, 12 women, and 14 men had been accused of poisoning. 
So in 1826, there were 427 women, and 745 men accused of 
domestic theft (vol domestique), in 1827, 343 women, and 554 
men ; whilst for common theft, 2563 men, and 531 women were 

Are we then justifiable, after all these considerations, in not 
providing more effectually for the correction of female convicts? 
The only remaining question can be ; are separate penitentiaries 
for females required ? I believe they are, if the Pennsylvania peni- 
tentiary system is not adopted, and with that system a matron 
at least will be necessary for the special superintendence of the fe- 
male prisoners; she is quite indispensable if the Auburn system 
is applied to women as well as men ; she alone can enforce the 
order of this system, whilst it is nearly impossible for male keep- 
ers. The whole spirit of opposition in womankind is raised 
against him. Besides, the moral management of female convicts 
must differ from that of male criminals, and even their labour re- 

* There are some crimes to which their dependant situation induces them, 
sooner than men, but they are comparatively few in number. 

xviii Preface and Introduction. 

quires a total separation. Separate houses might be easily built, 
and proper committees appointed to superintend them. In 
Wethersfield and Auburn, women are subjected to the peniten- 
tiary system, which takes its name from the latter; matrons su- 
perintend them. If it should be found impossible to make the 
labour of female convicts as profitable as that of men, we must 
not allow ourselves to be retarded by a financial consideration in 
providing for them, since we have seen how important their pro- 
per treatment is. 

The penitentiary system has not escaped the common fate of 
all questions of vital interest to society ; many of its opponents 
as well as its advocates, have run into extremes; the former, 
judging by vague impressions derived from superficial know- 
ledge, both of the character of convicts and the penitentiary 
system, assert not unfrequently, with a kind of levity, that cri- 
minals ought to suffer severely for their crimes, and should not be 
treated with tenderness; the latter, carried away by a pious zeal, 
often believe that an individual who has from early childhood 
received bad impressions, imbibed vicious principles, and has al- 
lowed himself to be governed during his whole life by uncheck- 
ed desires and unbridled appetites, who has, in fact, contracted 
bad habits deeply rooted in his whole character, may be influ- 
enced by the same religious means which affect honest persons, 
and suddenly become a contrite sinner, and, soon after, change 
into a saint. 

It ought always to be borne in mind, that a convict is neither 
a brute nor a saint, and to treat him as either, is equally injuri- 
ous to himself and to society. 

Though opposition to the penitentiary system has greatly 
abated, and entirely ceased to take an active part in many states 
of our Union, there are, nevertheless, many individuals who be- 
lieve that too much pains are taken with convicts; and, as I have 
heard it myself not unfrequently expressed, say that "they ought 
to be punished." Were they to inquire but slightly into the mat- 
ter, they would soon find that as long as a convict remains un- 
changed in mind, a penitentiary with its constant labour and 
strict order, its silence, its solitude during night, or, if we speak 
of the Pennsylvania system, its uninterrupted solitude day and 
night, is a punishment to him whose element has been disorder 
and idleness, (as is the case with most criminals) a hundred 
times greater than a prison, the inmates of which, though loaded 
with chains and oppressed with filth, and unhealthy diet, yet can 
freely communicate with each other. It is a fact that criminals 
fear penitentiaries much more than prisons on the old plan ; yet 
they know that they live, physically, much better in the former, 
and are aware of the torturing misery of the latter. But what 
they are afraid of is, the order, obedience, and silence imposed 

Preface and Introduction. xix 

upon them ; they shun, consciously, or instinctively, that moral 
character which pervades the whole system, so odious to crimi- 
nal people ; they shun, by a vague presentiment, perhaps, the 
being corrected and reformed in spite of themselves, and the 
contemplation of their unhappy life, spent and lost in evil deeds. 
It is this, the same instinct which causes so often the wicked to 
fear moral society, the same feeling which makes a criminal so 
afraid of his own lucid intervals, and leads him on to new per- 
verted activity, to quiet, for the moment, his unhappy soul. 

Were those opponents but to inquire into prisons, the statis- 
tics of crimes, and the history of criminals, they soon would 
find that charity, our own interest, and justice, equally require 
their most active support of the penitentiary system charity 
requires it, because, though crime necessarily must be punished, 
yet the history of by far the greatest majority of criminals, 
shows the afflicting fact, that they were led to crime by the bad 
example of their parents, loose education, hard masters, or a 
gradual progress in vice, for which society often offers but too 
many temptations. Ask those conversant with the lives of cri- 
minals, how many of them are led to the prison by the lottery 
alone ! Interest requires it, because the old prisons were an 
enormous burthen to society, whilst the penitentiaries cost lit- 
tle, and often yield a revenue. Even Sing-Sing, which had to 
contend with many unusual and great difficulties, will, as I have 
been assured from the best authority, defray all its expenses dur- 
ing the next year. Justice requires it, because society has a 
right to punish, but not to brutalize, to deprive of liberty, but 
not to expose to filth and corruption ; and if it is obstinately in- 
sisted upon that government, as such, has no obligation to cor- 
rect the morals of convicts, it is, at all events, its sacred duty 
not to lead them to certain ruin, and society takes upon itself an 
awful responsibility, by exposing a criminal to such moral con- 
tagion, that, according to the necessary course of things, he can- 
not escape its effects. Besides, is it not the interest of society 
to try all means at its disposal to reclaim a criminal ? 

However, we are happy to say, that, in this country, there 
are few, if any, who pretend that the question of morality should 
not enter at all into the discussion of this topic. 

Those, on the other hand, who try to attract great attention 
to a few cases, in which, according to their opinion, criminals 
have become most pious men, ought to remember that there is 
no greater contradiction in itself, than noisy piety or showy de- 
votion, especially with a convict. If an individual, who has 
greatly sinned against divine and human laws, make a sincere 
effort to return to the path of virtue, what honest man would 
not rejoice at it with all his heart ? But direct not public atten- 
tion to such cases, because nothing but long experience can show 

xx Preface and Introduction, 

the truth or deception of the case ; and, if in truth a convict have 
morally recovered, he must sincerely wish to remain in quiet 
and unobserved communion with his Maker, and not to attract 
public attention now by his devotion, as formerly by his crime. 
If the success of the penitentiary system depended upon these 
few cases, it would be founded upon no firm ground ; they al- 
ways must remain but few in number; and have those few cases 
answered the pious expectation of those who directed public at- 
tention to them ? Many former convicts are now honestly gain- 
ing their livelihood, but among them are few of those who gave 
surprising signs of sudden conversion. If those convicts who 
suddenly became devout, were sincere at the time they showed 
those symptoms of piety, it must have been an excitement of 
feeling, which has subsided as soon as the exciting causes ceas- 
ed, and which is not sufficient to prevent a relapse into former 
vices, when former temptations re-appear. To correct a criminal 
radically, more is required than an excitement of feeling ; his 
habits must be broken: his mind must be trained. Society 
cannot be expected, and has not even the right to do any thing, 
except it is directly or indirectly for the general interest. Peni- 
tentiaries cannot be erected, in order to bring out of many 
thousand criminals, a few to a state of great and therefore un- 
common piety, but it is its interest to establish them, if ac- 
cording to the organization of the human soul, and the princi- 
ples of our actions, it can be fairly supposed that many of these 
convicts will contract better habits, more correct views of 
society, and of themselves, and come to a better knowledge 
of their obligations toward God, and society; and especially 
if experience shows the success of these praiseworthy endea- 
vours. All who are well acquainted with the penitentiary sys- 
tem, know that re-committals decrease, and, probably, would 
become rare, if released convicts could be prevented from re- 
turning to large cities. The re-committals of those convicts, 
who go into the country after the expiration of their imprison- 
ment, are comparatively lew.* In all countries, the popula- 
tion of large cities produces proportionally more crimes than 
the rest of the nation, and again the cities and towns more than 
the villages, &c. It is so in France, in all states of Germany, in 
England ; it is so with ourselves. There is in large cities a 
greater and more variegated activity, and, therefore, more op- 
portunity for crimes than elsewhere ; wants are greater, tempta- 
tions more frequent and powerful, inducements to pleasure and 
idleness more alluring and diversified ; life is more unobserved, 

I have it from the best authority, that, in Sing-Sing, the proportion of re- 
committed convicts, who had gone to live in the country, to those who had 
gone to the city of New York, is, in all probahility, not more than one to 

Preface and Introduction. xxi 

and as the concourse of people in general is greater, so also that 
of criminals, who soon meet with each other in corrupting com- 
pany, which, for a former convict, is peculiarly dangerous. In 
several countries, therefore, the government has thought it ne- 
cessary to prevent released convicts from going to the capital and 
its vicinity, for a series of years, after the expiration of their 
imprisonment. A French galley-slave, leaving the bagne, is not 
allowed to go to Paris. Our large cities are, if not equally dan- 
gerous to released convicts, sufficiently so to authorize us to 
adopt some similar measures, but none in so high a degree as 
New York, owing to its peculiar situation, and unequalled acti- 
vity, the many emigrants who resort to it, and several other 
reasons, unnecessary to be mentioned here, but which, if I re- 
member right, cause the greater number of convicts, released 
from Auburn or Sing-Sing, soon to be re-committed, if they go 
to the city of New York. The legislature of the state of New 
York, therefore, ought to consider the propriety of passing a 
law, which would make the prohibition of going to the city of 
New York, for a number of years, proportionate to the duration 
of imprisonment, after its expiration, inherent in each sentence. 
The justice of such a law cannot be doubted ; its expediency 
would be evident. If the penitentiary system is a truly salutary 
one, if it attempts the moral, or at least the civil restoration 
of an individual, nothing can be more natural than to prohi- 
bit a person, whom the law considers convalescent, to expose 
himself to an atmosphere dangerous to his feeble state. On gene- 
ral grounds, such a measure could not possibly be found unjust, 
provided the prohibition is included in the sentence ; and the 
objection that it would be assuming arbitrary power over citizens 
restored to all their rights, would be sufficiently refuted by the 
consideration, that, in case such measure should be adopted, the 
law would not consider the individual as yet entirely restored to 
all the rights of a citizen. Such a law would have no character- 
istic trait of a police measure ; the prohibition would be legally 
awarded as a sentence. There are, moreover, in several of our 
states, New York included, laws which disqualify a former con- 
vict for certain civil functions. It remains only to inquire whe- 
ther the advantage of a greater opportunity which a released 
convict finds in New York, for the practice of the trade which 
he has learned in Sing-Sing or Auburn, and consequently the 
greater chance of leading an honest life, does not overbalance 
the disadvantage of moral exposure. This question of mere ex- 
pediency can be decided only by the examination of facts. If 
most convicts, proceeding to New York after the expiration of 
their sentence, are re-committed, and most of those who go into 
the country do not return, or if a proportionately greater num- 
ber of the former are re-committed, it is of course expedient to 

Preface and Introduction. 

pass the law.* The inhabitants of New York could not, in such 
case, be considered as favoured at the expense of the other citi- 
zens, for two reasons ; 1. Even after such a law should be passed, 
they will remain nevertheless more exposed to the depredations 
of foreign criminals, and those brought up in our country, at- 
tracted as they all are by the largest city in the country, which 
everywhere operates as a kind of drain of bad subjects. The 
whole state of New York profits by the activity of the city of 
New York, but the people are not proportionately as exposed to 
criminals as the inhabitants of the city; 2. Most of the released 
convicts are supposed to lead an honest life if they go into the 
country, or the law would not be passed. 

It is with such a law, that, in my opinion, the penitentiary 
system would show itself to its greatest advantage, because it 
would rapidly decrease that criminal population which forms a 
kind of society for itself; and though it never can prevent crime, 
because desires, temptations, and opportunities, do not lie in its 
reach, it would lead back to honest life many individuals, by 
teaching them how to support themselves honestly, and by guard- 
ing them, during the time of imprisonment, against further cor- 
ruption, and thus prevent the propagation of crime by the re- 
leased convicts, who, it is well known, are the most dangerous and 
most numerous members of that criminal community, just alluded 
to. If the penitentiary system have once succeeded in breaking 
up or greatly diminishing this corrupted and rapidly corrupting 
community, for which the Pennsylvania system is so eminently 
qualified ; if it have once succeeded in reducing most crimes 
to individual acts, produced by degenerated appetites, or want of 
principles, indeed, but not by long confirmed corruption, which 
makes a profession of crime its greatest and surest victory 
will be gained. Most criminals then will enter the prison less 
hardened, they will be more susceptible to the influence of the 
penitentiary system, and, after the expiration of their imprison- 
ment, it will be easier for them to live honestly, because they 
have not become the initiated members of a corrupted society, 
which now entangles those who sincerely resolve to reform with 
a thousand difficulties. There are few men, indeed, who having 
been imprisoned for the first time, and suffered a severe but not 
brutalizing, infamous, or still more corrupting punishment, are 
not disposed to attempt a life more congenial to the laws of their 

In writing this, I am well aware of the fact that some master workmen in 
the city of New York have taken, from their own accord, convicts of Sing-Sing, 
whose term had expired, because they have great confidence in their new ha- 
bits, their industry and skill. The law therefore might provide for those cases, 
and allow a convict to return to New York, provided the agent is satisfied that 
the master who wishes to have him is a worthy person. I should think it how- 
ever preferable to exclude them from New York altogether. 

Preface and Introduction. xxiii 

country. They find out, if no better reason influences them, that 
an honest life is after all more comfortable than a dishonest one, 
and every person, after he has attained his thirtieth year, wishes 
more or less some kind of solid comfort. The roving disposi- 
tion loses much of its activity after this period, and it is well 
known that most crimes are committed between the ages of 
twenty and thirty. Let a former convict but acquire habits of 
honesty, and he will also gradually acquire honest views and 
feelings. Let him obey the just laws of our country, and he will 
soon love them. 

From the recommittals of convicts who go to live in the coun- 
try, and small towns, and not in the most populous cities, after 
the expiration of their punishment, it would, perhaps, be the 
fairest to judge of the efficacy of the penitentiary system, because 
it ought to be supported and assisted by all necessary laws which 
justice permits, and because in several countries, perhaps in most, 
in which the old prison system exists, such laws are actually ex- 
isting. We would then only make the comparison on even ground. 
But even if the criminals recommitted from the largest cities 
must be taken into account, it is by the recommittals, not by the 
sum total of criminals, that we must judge of the efficacy of a 
prison discipline. Yet not even by the recommittals alone can 
we be guided. 

The prevention of first crimes depends much more upon the 
certainty of punishment, and, therefore, upon the excellence of 
laws and the administration of justice, than upon the manner of 
punishment. As long as we see an overwhelming number of 
commitments and indictments compared to convictions, we may 
safely conclude either that the law is deficient, in allowing, by not 
being sufficiently accurate, too easily of accusation or acquittal, 
or in the prescribed procedure and form of trial. There are some 
exceptions to this rule, for instance, in our times, the numerous 
accusations in France for offences of the press against govern- 
ment, and the almost universal acquittals. 1 only speak of com- 
mon crimes, and a state of society not excited by some peculiar 
causes. The opposite, that few acquittals always indicate sound 
laws, and a wise administration of justice, is by no means equally 
true. The Turkish cadis acquit rarely ; and in many countries, 
(e. g. in most, I believe in all states of Germany,) exists the ab- 
solving ab instantia, which neither finds guilty nor acquits, but 
leaves the trial suspended a measure which is in most cases ex- 
tremely hard, and altogether repulsive to our ideas of justice. 
We find in the year 1826-7, that 3594 persons were tried in the 
kingdom of Bavaria, for crimes and offences ; of these, were 
Found guilty of crimes, - 644 

Do. do. offences, - 1141 

Absolved ab instantia for crimes, 396 

xxiv Preface and Introduction. 

Absolved ab instantia for offences, 609 
Absolved for crimes, 328 

Do. offences, - 453 

Declared innocent of crimes, - 7! 

Do. do. offences, 16! 

I hope that what the authors and myself have said on the in- 
sufficiency of judging of the efficacy of the penitentiary system 
by the increase or decrease of crimes in general, will contribute 
to dissipate so great and injurious an error. The number of 
crimes, or to speak more accurately, of trials and convictions, 
because they are the only known crimes, proves, without further 
consideration, actually nothing ; so much so, that in some cases 
the increase of trials and convictions may indicate the decrease 
of crimes. If the compte general of criminal justice in France, 
shows that in 1825 there were only thirty-three criminal trials 
for adultery, in 1827 only fifty-seven trials of this kind, are we 
to conclude that the thirty-one millions of people with whom so 
few trials for adultery occur, are uncommonly chaste, or that on 
the contrary, if domestic manners should improve with them, 
adultery would be more often punished? I believe the latter. 
There are several nations, for instance the Spanish and Portu- 
guese, with whom murder is very often but negligently prose- 
cuted, because the people do not feel the same indignation or 
horror at a murder committed under certain circumstances, which 
the crime produces with other nations. In Italy every one of 
the lower classes assists a criminal in escaping the arms of jus- 
tice; with us every citizen assists government as much as it 
is in his power, and a comparison between murders and other 
violent crimes tried in Italy, and those tried in this country, 
without making allowance for this difference, would lead to erro- 
neous results. 

A minute knowledge of all co-operating circumstances is no- 
where more indispensable, in order to arrive at just conclusions, 
than in the statistics of crimes. There are certain laws which 
experience teaches us, and if we disregard them we shall con- 
tinually be liable to draw false conclusions; for instance, that 
certain causes, as an unusually cold winter, famine, stagnation of 
business, and poverty, caused by war, &c., never fail to effect a 
rapid increase of crimes, whilst the ceasing of these causes by 
no means effects a proportionally rapid decrease of crime. These 
considerations respecting the increase or decrease of crime, are 
not only important in regard to prison discipline, but also as to 
the progress of morality, or the demoralization of mankind in 

Civilization certainly increases the number of trie'd crimes and 
offences, for two very simple reasons : 1. because it increases the 
opportunity of crime, since it increases the variety of pursuits 

Preface, and Introduction. 

and mutual relations between men ; every progress in industry 
offers naturally to the wicked a new opportunity for abusing this 
industry, or the new relations which it creates between men ; 
civilization, moreover, increases our wants and our ambition ; 2. 
because it increases at the same time the means and opportunities 
lor prosecutions of crime. It sounds paradoxical, when Pangloss, 
shipwrecked on the coast of Portugal, drew the inference from 
seeing men in chains that he was in a civilized country; yet he 
was right considering his time, and it may be safely said, that a 
community of any magnitude, within which no crime is com- 
mitted, cannot be far advanced in civilization. There is a latent 
criminality in such communities, which shows itself whenever 
opportunity offers. If the wants of men are reduced to the sim- 
plest food which the field offers, and to clothing which is pro- 
vided by their own flocks, they are easily satisfied, and hardly an 
opportunity exists for the numerous crimes arid offences commit- 
ted against property in a civilized and active society. There is 
or may be an absence of crime, but between this and positive 
morality there is yet a vast difference. Mankind are destined for 
civilization, and the great problem is to arrive through civilization 
at morality. I have spoken here of mankind only as it has shown 
itself so far. That same power which operated such great changes 
in the dispositions of men which has taught them that there is 
greater security in living close together, in towns and villages, 
than isolated in fastnesses, depending on mere physical security; 
that taught them that free labour is more productive than the 
labour of compelled serfs; that governments, supported by moral 
power, stand firmer than states founded on brutal strength ; that 
nations may serve their own interest much more efficiently by 
treating their neighbours liberally, than by injuring or paralyzing 
them ; that diplomatic frauds lead to no good in their mutual in- 
tercourse ; or which has already rendered the more brutal crimes 
rarer, that same power may also, at some future period, diminish 
the number of crimes in general. Mankind may not grow better, 
but a more correct knowledge of their true interest may become 
diffused among them, and may by degrees largely influence their 
general feeling, as in fact has been the case already in some other 
respects. Some more remarks on this subject may be found in a 
note of mine added to a passage of this work, in which the au- 
thors speak of the influence of knowledge on crimes. 

In respect to the moral state of a nation, I would not attach 
so much importance to the fact, that crimes against persons de- 
crease in proportion to crimes against property, with the progress 
of civilization, as of late several writers, and particularly Mr. 
Lucas, have been inclined to do. 

It is impossible for me to enter here into a discussion on 
the question, so often put, whether civilizatiqn renders nations 

\4, , 

xxri Preface and Introduction. 

more moral or not.* It would be necessary previously to agree 
upon the accurate meaning of a number of expressions, gene- 
rally as freely used as they are indistinctly applied ; my wish is 
merely to show here that this division of crimes alone, though 
very interesting and useful for various inquiries, does not au- 
thorize us as yet to draw any definite conclusion respecting the 
moral state of nations. First, the line dividing crimes against 
persons from those against property, is not so distinct as it may 
appear at first glance. False testimony, perjury, escape of pri- 
soners, are enumerated among the crimes against persons, but a 
witness who gives false testimony, actuated so to do by compas- 
sion for the prisoner, does not necessarily injure the rights of 
persons, though he acts contrary to his duty as a citizen. Even 
rebellion, ranked among crimes against persons, is not neces- 
sarily such, and at all events it indicates very often a less degree 
of demoralization than a number of crimes against property; on 
the other hand, a number of crimes against property partake 
much of the character of crimes against persons, for instance, 
arson from vengeance, or exchanging of infants. Secondly, I do 
not believe that this division separates at the same time the more 
heinous crimes from the less immoral ones. Society punishes, 
in general, crimes against persons with greater severity than 
those against property, because they are more dangerous to the 
general peace, and more injurious to the suffering party; but if 
we wish to judge of the degree of demoralization requisite for 
committing this species of crime, we ought not to forget that the 
greater part of crimes against persons are acts committed in 
rashness, whilst those committed against property are nearly all 
premeditated crimes, and often require a baseness not necessarily 
to be supposed in the authors of crimes against persons. It is 
this consideration which explains, why the laws of ancient Ger- 
manic tribes punished theft with death, whilst they required 
compositio (fine) only for killing and maiming. Whoever is 
acquainted with criminal justice, will remember numerous crimes 
which have been committed rashly, and necessarily punished by 
the law with a heavy penalty, but which nevertheless left no 
doubt but that their authors were morally better than numerous 
convicts, again and again recommitted for petty larceny. How 
often is the very principle of honour, or the feeling of being un- 
worthily treated, the cause of a passion which leads an individual 
to crime feelings which never disturb the baseness of others, 
who commit crimes against property. 

* After the work had gone to press, I became acquainted, through the re- 
views, with several passages of Mr. Guerry's Essai sur la Statisque Morale de la 
France, avec Carles,- I have not yet been able to procure the work itself. To 
judge from those passages, the author coincides with my views respecting the 
influence of civilization on crimes, as 1 have stated them in the notes. 

Preface and Introduction. xxvii 

Moreover, the moral state of a society cannot be judged merely 
by the number of committed crimes, cognizable by the law, per- 
haps not even chiefly. To do this, we must inquire into a num- 
ber of other subjects. Suppose we apply the rule by which Mr. 
Lucas judges, to the various classes of society. There was never, 
perhaps, a more demoralized class of men than the highest 
classes in France, under the regency of the Duke of Orleans, or 
Louis XV., or the court of Charles II.; yet, were we in posses- 
sion of statistical accounts of those times, we should in all pro- 
bability find that most crimes, of which the law takes cognizance, 
were committed amongst the lowest and middling classes, that, 
nevertheless, had not arrived at that state of demoralization in 
which their fellow-subjects of the highest nobility revelled. The 
comparison of the immorality of man to a state of disease, is 
applicable also to the point in question. The climate of some 
places renders the greater number of their inhabitants more or 
less sickly, though violent diseases affecting a great number at 
the, same time may be there rare, and other places may now and 
then suffer much from disorders of this kind, and yet be on the 
whole more generally healthy. 

I trust the reader does not misunderstand me ; I am far from 
intimating that those countries in which few crimes against pro- 
perty are committed, and many against persons, are probably 
more moral than those countries in which the contrary takes 
place. My previous remarks must show that I am no admirer 
of that state of ignorance which guards a whole nation against 
many crimes, only by leaving it without wants, but which nour- 
ishes revenge, and leaves passions unbridled. My object is to 
show, that so far, this division of crimes allows us only to con- 
clude, that civilization renders people calmer, i. e. more civilized. 

Among many other considerations, which ought to guide us, 
if we are desirous of drawing conclusions respecting the mora- 
lity of a people from the list of crimes, a division into preme- 
ditated and unpremeditated crimes, will be found necessary. 
Still more we ought to judge from the motives, to which the 
admirable and already often quoted Comptes generaux de V Ad- 
ministration de la Justice criminelle, annually published by 
the keeper of the seals of France, assign a separate table. And 
having mentioned these important and instructive documents, I 
cannot refrain from expressing my belief, that few more important 
services could be rendered to the well-being of our people, than 
the passing of laws which should enjoin the proper authorities, 
the clerks of the courts, and agents of the penitentiaries, in par- 
ticular, to keep accurate and complete statistical tables, accord- 
ing to prescribed forms, to be laid annually before the legisla- 
tures. We have an excellent model in the above comptes g&ni- 
raux, which already have led to several inquiries of vital i-n-te- 

xxviii Preface and Introduction. 

rest to the French nation ; and the influence of which, if conti- 
nued as we hope, must be incalculable. Statistical accounts, if 
judiciously used, are the very charts of legislators; legislation 
without them, is, in most cases, but a groping in the dark. They 
often dispel prejudices, though for centuries cherished, by irre- 
sistible facts, and again direct our attention to points, where we 
least expected the roots of a long known evil. At the same time, 
the trouble of collecting those at least of which I speak here in 
particular, is very little compared with the magnitude of their 
importance. The clerks of the courts, and the agents of the peni- 
tentiaries, have but faithfully to fill the blanks of prescribed sche- 
dules, from which a competent committee may make its annual 
reports. The politician, the moralist, the public economist, the 
criminalist, the divine, the promoter of prison discipline all 
who have the welfare of their nation at heart, are equally inte- 
rested in this measure. What important consequences would 
result from such accurate and extensive statistical accounts, if 
but Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Massa- 
chusetts, &c. would resolve to keep them, especially if they were 
so kept, that they should agree in their chief features, which, by 
an easy understanding, might be effected without any difficulty. 
I sincerely hope that the statistical part of this work will sup- 
port the expression of this wish. I am well aware that much has 
been done already by the annual reports of the agents of several 
penitentiaries ; but the statistical part of them may yet be much 

It is among other things important to know the sex, age, and 
education of the convict, whether the latter was bad, common, 
good, or polite, his trade, colour, the trade of his parents, whe- 
ther he lost them, and at what age, in what month the crime 
was committed, (whether it is a first, second, third, fy-c. crime,} 
from what motive, (fiom want, revenge, dissipation, &c.) whether 
the crime was premeditated or not, the causes of the convict's 
bad habits, (intemperance, lottery, women, gambling, &c. bad ex- 
ample of parents or masters ;) if the convict is a female, whether 
a prostitute, (which is generally the case,) if they are emigrants, 
how long in this country; whether married or not, whether he or 
she has children, how many, when and where convicted, nature 
of the crime, sentence, how long imprisoned before the trial ; 
how long after the crime was committed the trial took place, &c. ; 
general state of health ; what religion, or, at least, in which edu- 
cated ; whether the term expired, or was abbreviated by pardon 
or death, behaviour in prison, &c. It is farther of the greatest 
importance to know how many indictments, and for what of- 
fences, took place ; how many acquittals, and for what the in- 
dictment was; how many recommendations by the court, or 
tourt and jury to mercy; how many crimes were committed by 

Preface and Introduction. gF xxix 

a single individual or more; how many pleaded guilty; how 
many criminal cases were finished by the court during one term, 
&c. I believe that a single glance at the tables of which the 
French comptes-g6nraux consist, will satisfy every body of 
their great utility. That similar statistical accounts of civil cases 
would be of great importance to the legislator, I have no doubt; 
but it does not fall within the province of this work to treat of 

1 have now come to the last topic of my preface, with which 
I have, perhaps, detained the reader already too long the 
power of pardoning. So much has been written on this point, 
BO urgently has been the abolition of the abuse of pardon, asked 
for by writers full of eloquence and energy, that it might appear 
to many of my readers superfluous to touch again upon this sub- 
ject, especially in this place, since the work itself exposes the 
abuse in strong colours ; but the defect appears to me of such 
magnitude, and of so vital an interest to our society, that I may 
be allowed to add a few general observations. 

Two things seem very certain : 

1. That as long as the pardoning power shall be abused in the 
way that now but too frequently happens, the effect of peniten- 
tiaries, as well as of criminal justice, can be but limited. It is the 
certainty of the punishment, not its cruelty, which prevents 
crime. The criminal, yet at large, calculates on pardon as one 
of his chances of impunity, and the imprisoned convict, having 
a chance of being pardoned any day, is deprived of that calm re- 
signation, which the certainty of his punishment alone can pro- 
duce, and which must precede any salutary reflection on his past 
life, and earnest resolution to become a better member of society. 

2. That as long as one individual in a state is invested with 
the pardoning power, it will be often abused to the injury of 

It seems to me, that wherever the pardoning power is intrust- 
ed to a single person, this person does not withstand, in many 
cases, the vehement solicitations and personal prayers which 
have the opportunity of reaching him. But the difference is, that, 
in monarchies, few individuals of those personally interested in 
the fate of convicts, have an opportunity to accost the monarch, 
or, if so, to state their whole case ; whilst the governor of a re- 
publican state, as our commonwealths are, is, and by right ought 
to be, accessible to the people. He therefore will yield some- 
times to the urgent prayers of the distressed, or to the recom- 
mendations of people well disposed but weak, when, according 
to justice, he ought not to make use of that privilege which the 
constitutions of most of our states bestow upon the chief magis- 
trates. Yet does this comport with the spirit which pervades 
our whole political government? We boast, that the law is our 

xxx Preface and Introduction. 

only master, and here an individual defeats their effect at his 
pleasure. The constitution, indeed,, bestows this privilege upon 
him ; but can a constitution, which emanated from one moral 
person only, and is no compromise between conflicting parties, 
possibly contain any provision which intentionally defeats the 
operation of other provisions of the law? Can such a constitu- 
tion contain any other provision but. such as was at least susposed 
would give effect to the law, and promote the welfare of the peo- 
ple? Certainly not; and the only interpretation which can be 
given to the provision investing the governor with the privilege 
of pardoning, is, that he shall use it for the still more effective 
operation of the law. If a law, owing to the imperfection of 
human language, foresight, or any other deficiency, operates 
against its own spirit, its own intention, as cases of this kind 
will happen, a governor may conscientiously make use of his 
privilege. If the innocence of a convicted person is proved, or 
rendered highly probable, the laws of the land which establish- 
ed the trial, court, and the law by which sentence was passed, 
operated against their spirit, which is to protect innocence, and 
a governor ought to pardon. If a number of peculiar circum- 
stances, which the law, owing to its generality, without which it 
would not be a law, could not contemplate, contribute to excuse 
an individual who, nevertheless, according to its strict letter is 
guilty, the governor may, or ought to use his privilege. Such 
a peculiar case happened quite recently in one of the Atlantic 
states. But the case of a mother of many children, suffering great 
poverty, because the arm of stern justice took their protector 
away from them, to be punished in a prison : or a respectable 
family, known in the best society, distressed by the shame 
brought upon them by the crime of a worthless son, and a num- 
ber of other cases, hard and cruel as they are for the sufferers, 
do not entitle the individual in question to a pardon, because the 
legislators well knew, when they passed the law, that it would 
strike fathers of poor families, and sons of respected parents, as 
well as other individuals; and, if its free course is interrupted, 
the sway of the law has ceased. What would be thought of a 
society who erected, with great expense, dykes against the in- 
roads of the hostile element, but invested one individual with 
the peculiar privilege of boring holes in these dykes at his own 
pleasure, and allowing the flood to rush in and to destroy their 
property? It would be a strange privilege, and yet nothing mere 
than the privilege of pardoning, as it is now abused by some 
chief magistrates of our states. We. make laws with great ex- 
pense; we enforce them at great expense, by paying judges, ju- 
ries, witnesses, the police, &c. ; and by rewards for arresting cri- 
minals, and a single individual, after all, defeats their operation. 
Are those who thus return a convict upon society, before the 

Preface, and Introduction. xxxi 

expiration of the time of imprisonment which it has thought 
proper to fix for a given crime, prepared to be responsible for 
the new injuries inflicted upon society, by these imperfectly 
punished criminals, and, before all, for the injury done by them- 
selves, by thus rendering the operation of the law still more un- 
certain than it unfortunately always must be, according to the 
imperfection of human institutions? Yet, who will say, that, 
placed in the same situation, besieged by the same prayers, and 
importuned by the same recommendations, and endowed with the 
same power to grant the relief so pressingly asked for, they would 
never yield? Now and then, an individual may be placed at the 
head of our state governments, who, gifted with peculiar energy, 
may resist with the calm conviction of duty: but, according to the 
common character of man, this can be but rarely the case; and, 
as it is in general one, of the noblest tasks of man to make reason 
triumph over chance, it is peculiarly so in the province of law 
and justice. Besides, the pardoning power, where it is vested 
in a single individual, has come to us somewhat in a traditional 
form, and probably not been established by unbiassed reflection. 
In European monarchies, the pardoning privilege rose out of the 
power, not legally bestowed, but physically exercised, to interfere 
with justice; and, at the same time, from a vague feeling of the 
necessity that somewhere a power ought to exist, which might 
sometimes modify the literal application of the law, particularly 
when the latter is cruel. Having originated in times in which all 
the branches and operations of government were but illy defined, 
this power gradually rose into a distinct privilege, cherished by 
as many rulers, probably, for its great political importance, as for 
its merciful character, so grateful to a paternal monarch. It agreed 
well with the religious-political character, given to the exalted 
station of the crowned and anointed sovereign ; poetry compared 
it to divine mercy. The privilege existed when we separated 
from our mother country; it was necessary to invest somebody 
with it, or to abrogate it. It was, naturally enough, given to the 
chief magistrates. But it is time to inquire whether it agrees 
with our institutions, which are rendered as little as possible 
dependant upon the individuality of a single person. In monar- 
chies, one of the fundamental principles of which is to reconcile 
abstract law with the individuality of a single person, this inter- 
ference of an individual with the free and unchecked operation 
of the law, has nothing contrary to their characteristic spirit; 
with us, it is out of place. Let us then try to remedy the evil. 

It is evident, that the privilege of pardoning, or as it would 
be called with much more propriety, the responsibility, ought 
to be vested in a body of men, not in an individual. If you di- 
vide the responsibility for any act, it is much easier to bear it. 
Some of our states have conferred the power of pardoning on the 

xxxii Preface and Introduction. 

legislature. I think they ought not to be imitated. Legislatures 
are chosen for political purposes, are too much occupied with 
legislative business, and above all, are much too numerous to be 
able to investigate a petition for pardon with that patience, care, 
and nicety which a question, the very character of which is, to 
deviate from the law, necessarily requires. The most advisable, 
therefore, would seem to be, to establish a committee or cham- 
ber of pardon, consisting of seven or nine members, some of 
whom ought to be judges, perhaps under the presidency of the 
chief justice, which might convene twice a year to recommend 
for pardon those prisoners to the governor, who have been judg- 
ed by them to be fit subjects for it, after hearing a deliberate re- 
port on each case by one of their members ; because it would be 
improper to leave this important act dependent upon indefinite 
and vague feelings. But as it is injurious to leave in matters of 
law any thing indefinite which need not be so, and as it would 
operate injuriously upon the penitentiary system, to allow the 
hope of pardon to be any longer the cause of excitement to the 
prisoners, it would be proper perhaps to adopt a law similar to 
that of the republic of Geneva, where the penitentiary system 
has been introduced ; i. e. that every prisoner has a right to pe- 
tition the commission de recours a committee consisting of 
nine members for judging of the fitness for pardon after two- 
thirds of the imprisonment, for which he has been sentenced, 
have elapsed. Sentence for life is considered in this case equal 
to thirty years. The court and jury alone, who have felt them- 
selves bound by facts and law to award a certain judgment, but 
feel, nevertheless, that it is a case in which the law falls too 
hard upon the convict, should have the right to recommend a 
case to the consideration of the committee of pardon, previously 
to the lapse of two-thirds of the imprisonment, and the gover- 
nor, or any other authority, yet definitely invested with this 
privilege, might have the power to charge the committee to con- 
sider a case at any time, and to report thereon respecting the 
propriety of making use of the pardoning power. But in no 
case ought the governor or any other authority to have the right 
of pardoning without a previous investigation of the case by the 
committee of pardon. It may be objected that a rogue, in order 
to obtain pardon after the expiration of two-thirds of his term, 
to which a similar law would give him a kind of right, may be- 
have apparently well, without truly reforming; but let a man 
who has been sentenced for ten years, behave apparently well 
for six years and a half, and nine times out of ten it will have a 
salutary influence. Besides, is hypocrisy not much more excit- 
ed at present when pardon may be granted at any time? 

Mr. Dumont is so convinced of the necessity of eliminating 
uncertainty from all matters of law and punishment as much as 

Preface and Introduction. xxxiii 

possible, that he uses the following words in his report to the 
representative council of Geneva, January 5, 1825, in conse- 
quence of which the above-mentioned law of that republic was 
adopted : '' It may be laid down as an incontestable principle, 
that in matters of penal justice, I was going to say, in penal 
pharmacy, every thing which diminishes the certainty of punish- 
ment is an evil; every punishment which is not fixed, which 
floats between fear and hope, is a punishment badly contrived. 
The causes of uncertainty between the law and its operation, are 
already but too numerous ; if this is an inevitable evil, it ought 
to be reduced to its narrowest limits ; but what shall we think of 
a law, the object of which is to render the punishment uncer- 
tain ! and this is nevertheless the result of a tribunal of pardon, 
open to the petitions of the prisoner during the whole term of 
his imprisonment. We should know man very imperfectly were 
we not aware of the readiness with which he takes his wishes 
for hopes, and his hopes for probabilities. I agree, that a con- 
vict wishing for pardon, will take care not to create himself dif- 
ficulties by acts of insubordination or violence; I allow that he 
will pay attention to his words and behaviour : but it is a fact, 
that this idea, always present to his mind, causing a disturbed 
feeling of anxiety and expectation, will absorb and prevent him 
from being resigned to his situation, and following his labour 
with reflection and calmness. He feels like an indigent person, 
who having taken a lottery ticket, has his imagination absorbed 
by dreams of success, and fears of misfortune. It has been ob- 
served that prisoners, after having been unsuccessful in their pe- 
titions for pardon, became more calm and resigned to their situa- 
tion and duties as soon as their fate was fixed. I owe this inter- 
esting observation to our jailor. Thus far the double end of 
increasing the certainty of punishment and of making it more 
subservient to moral correction, this indefinite recourse to par- 
don ought to be abolished, and a fixed character be given to 

The committee of pardon of Geneva consists of nine mem- 
bers, most of whom are judges. 

Such, or a similar limitation of the pardoning power, would 
require in some states, the modification of certain laws, which 
seem to continue in their severity only, because it is understood 
that the governor shortens the imprisonment of all those, whose 
sentence (by the law) seems to be hard according to our pre- 
sent views. It is peculiar, but it is nevertheless true, that, com- 
paratively speaking, criminal law has been little attended to in 

* Page 26 of Dumont's Rapport sur h projet df loi pour le regime inUrieur des 
prisons, printed, together with his report relative to the establishment of a pe- 
nitentiary (delivered 1822) in Geneva, 1825. 


xxxiv Preface and Introduction. 

England, or in the United States, whilst in two countries, in 
which the citizen is by far less protected in his rights Germany 
and Italy criminal law has been made the subject of the deep- 
est study by many of their first jurists. Beccaria, Filangieri, 
Feuerbach, Mittermaier, may be mentioned out of a host. The 
reason may be, that in a free and well regulated country, the 
criminal trial forms but a very limited part of that whole sys- 
tem which guaranties to the citizen his rights and privileges, 
so that little interest is attached to it by the nation at large, 
whilst in absolute monarchies the penal trial is one of the very 
few cases in which the individual and the government meet as 
parlies, and, as it were, on even ground, (which at least is the 
case where the court does not accuse, inquire, try, defend, and 
sentence). It is the criminal trial in many countries, Ihe only 
case in which the citizen, or rather the subject, appears under 
the aegis of distinct and acknowledged rights and privileges, 
and it cannot surprise us therefore, if we find some authors treat- 
ing criminal law as if they were treating of constitutional law. 
However this may be, it is very desirable that criminal law 
should be made in our country a subject of more general and 
deeper study ; because this is the only preparation for such laws 
which finally will entirely accord with the penitentiary system. 
A chair for criminal law is indispensable, and let us never for- 
get that the Germans and Italians have attended most to crimi- 
nal law, the French and English least; to the literature of the 
former, particularly to the first, we must direct our attention. 

In France, pardon is reduced in some degree to certainty, by 
Article 463 of the Code Penal, according to which the judges 
have the right to award in certain cases, a punishment under the 
minimum of punishment mentioned by the code. In the year 
1827, use was made of this provision in 10,493 cases. But it 
must be remembered that this provision has reference to cor- 
rectional cases only, in which no jury exists. Of late a law was 
issued in France, according to which pardon was held out as a 
reward for good behaviour in prison ; at first it had an admira- 
ble effect, but soon it created the reverse, by disappointing some 
prisoners, exciting others, &c. 

The authors have only treated of our prisons and those of 
France. I intended at first, to extend my notes to the considera- 
tion of prisons in all other countries of the civilized world, as 
far as the materials in my possession would enable me, but I 
soon found, that this vast subject could not conveniently be treat- 
ed in the form of notes or an appendix. It would be an ample 
subject for a work of itself. 

Several times I have had occasion to refer, in the course of 
this work, to the Encyclopedia Americana. For the English 
readers of this work, I would remark, that the British Cyclo- 

Preface, and Introduction. xxxv 

paedia, now publishing in England, contains an almost literal re- 
print of all articles of general interest in the Americana, to 
judge from those numbers which have reached this country, 
though the British Cyclopaedia calls itself in the title page, only 
founded "on the celebrated German Conversation-Lexicon." 
As the Americana is also called "on the basis of the Conversa- 
tions-Lexicon," the English editor probably supposed the arti- 
cles were but translations of the German work. 

By some accident, the latest report on the Sing-Sing prison, 
sent to me, whilst the present work was in progress, miscarried. 
This alone is the reason why the reader will find in the statisti- 
cal accounts and tables, statements of the last report on the Au- 
burn prison, but not on that of Sing-Sing. When I received the 
report, the work had already gone to press.* 

* The translator received information from Paris on the day when this intro- 
duction went to press, that a second edition of the original was preparing. 

After the whole of the present work, the above preface not excepted, was in 
type, I received the Extracts from the Information obtained by his Majesty's Com- 
missioners, as to the Administration and Operation of the Poor Laws, publish- 
ed by Authority, London, 1833. It is a work of the highest interest, uncovering 
as it does, a dangerous evil, in the very vitals of the community, which never- 
theless grew out of laws, enacted with the best intentions; and, as the frailty of 
human nature establishes but too near a connexion between pauperism and 
crime, work-houses and prisons, the one being so often the cause of the other, 
I seize upon this opportunity to recommend its perusal to all interested in penal 
matters, and the administration of paupers. It is a work full of most instructive 

Manhattanville, City of New York) May> 1833. 



Penitentiary System in the United States, - 1 


On Penal Colonies, - 131 

Alphabetical Notes, 151 

On Agricultural Colonies, - 167. 

Public Instruction in the United States, -' ' 169 

Pauperism in America, - - 181 

Imprisonment for Debt, - 182 

Imprisonment of Witnesses, - 184 

Temperance Societies, - 186 

Inquiry concerning the Penitentiary near Philadel- 
phia, - 187 
Conversation with Mr. Elam Lynds, 199 
A Letter of Judge Wells of Wethersfield, 203 
(To which the translator has added the estimate for the new peni- 
tentiary in New Jersey, on the Pennsylvania plan.) 

Regulations of the Wethersfield Prison, 210 

Regulations of Mr. Wells for the House of Reforma- 
tion in Boston, - 216 
Letter of Mr. Barrett, - 223 
Conversation with the Superintendent of the Phila- 
delphia House of Refuge, - 230 
Some Statistical Notes on the States of New York, 
Maryland, and Pennsylvania, relative to the Peni- 
tentiary System, especially the sanatory state of 
the prisons, the right of pardon, the penal laws for 
slaves, the mortality of coloured people, fyc. 232 
Statistical and Comparative Observations on the 

States of New York, Massachusetts, fyc. 244 

Some Comparisons between France and America, - 266 
Finances, 275 

To which is added, the Article on the Pennsylvania 
Penitentiary System, as originally written for the 
Encyclopsedia Americana, by the translator, with 
some additions, - 287 


Page 40, line 6 from the foot of the page, insert : i. e. ethical, after the word 

Page 64, line 9, read QuMelel's instead of Quelesel's. 

Page 88, line 2 from the foot of the page, add generally after and. 

Page 187, line 16, read Quttelet instead of Oufttkt. 

Page 200, line 1 1 from the foot of the page, read ought not instead of ought ; 
and in the next following line, read the warden of a prison, instead of him. 


The authors have, on their return from America, deposited in 
the office of the Minister of Commerce and Public Works, six 
volumes in folio, containing the following documents : 

Vol. I. 

1. Report for the year 1820, on the Charlestown prison, near 

2. Report for the year 1821. 

3. " " 1822. 

4. " " 1823. 

5. " " 1824. 

6. " " 1825. 

7. " " 1826. 

8. " " 1827. 

9. " " 1828. 

10. Report of the inspectors of the new penitentiary for the 
year 1829. 

11. Report for 1830. 

12. Laws of the State of Massachusetts, respecting the peni- 
tentiary, and rules of the prison. 

13. Some statistical documents on the prison, and a manuscript 
of the superintendent, who gave it to us. 

14. Regulations of the old prison (1823). 


15. Report of the committee appointed to inspect the old 
Newgate Prison, for 1825. 

16. Report of the committee appointed to inspect the old 
Newgate Prison, for 1826. 

17. Report of the committee appointed to construct a new 
prison, for 1827. 

* We give this list, because it will be agreeable to those interested in the 
work, and in prisons in general, to know from what sources the authors derived 
their information, besides personal inspection. TRANS. 

xl Justificatory Documents. 

18. Report of the inspectors of the Wethersfield Prison for 1828. 

19. " " " " 1829. 

20. " " " " 1830. 

21. " " " " 1831. 

22. Law of Connecticut respecting the penitentiary system, 

23. Statistical table of crimes and offences, from 1790 to 1831. 

24. Letter to us by Mr. Barrett, chaplain of Wethersfield, on 
the penitentiary system, October 7th, 1831. 

25. Copy of a contract between the superintendent of Wethers- 
field and a contractor. 

26. Manuscript notice by Mr. Barrett, on the discipline of 
Wethersfield, October, 1831. 

Vol. II. 
New York. Ancient Newgate Prison. 

1. Original document by Mr. Flagg, secretary of state, to us, 
containing a report on Newgate, of December 31, 1817; another 
of December 31, 1818, and a third, of January 20, 1819. 

2. Report of the comptroller of the State of New York on 
Newgate, March 2, 1819. 

3. Report of the inspectors of Newgate, January 21, 1820. 

4. " " " of 1824 and 1827. 
" " " of 1823 and 1826. 

5. Statistical tables, showing the number and nature of crimes 
in the state of New York, copied by us from the registers of 

6. Statistical table, showing the number of prisoners pardon- 
ed, escaped, and of those who died ; also, the expenses of the 
old Newgate Prison from 1797 to 1819. 

Penitentiary of Sing-Sing. 

7. Report of the inspectors to the legislature for 1825. 

8. " " " of 1827 for 1826. 

9. " " " of 1828 for 1827. 

10. " " " of 1829 for 1828. 

11. " " 4< of .lan'y. 6, 1830. 

12. " " " of Jan'y. 5, 1831. 

13. " " " of Jan'y.12,1832. 

14. Report of Mr. Hopkins on Mr. Elam Lynds, March 19, 

15. Manuscript, memorandum on the discipline of Sing-Sing, 
given to us by Mr. Wiltse, superintendent of this prison. 

16. Plan of Sing-Sing, and memorandum of Mr. Cartwrighl, 
containing a plan and estimate of the expenses of this prison. 

Justificatory Documents. xli 

Penitentiary of*ftuburn. 

17. Manuscript report of the commissioners appointed to in- 
spect Auburn, March 16, 1818. 

18. Report of the inspectors of the Auburn Prison, of Febru- 
ary 1, 1819. 

19. Report of the inspectors of the Auburn Prison, for the 
year 1820. 

20. Report of the inspectors of the Auburn Prison, of January 
1, 1824, for 1823. 

21. Report of the inspectors of the Auburn Prison, of January 
26, 1825, for 1824. 

22. Report of the inspectors of the Auburn Prison, of Febru- 
ary 2, 1826, for 1825. 

23. Report of the inspectors of the Auburn Prison, of January 
8, 1827, for 1826. 

24. Report of the inspectors of the Auburn Prison, of January 
5, 1828, for 1827. 

25. Report of the inspectors of the Auburn Prison, of January 
1, 1S29, for 1828. 

Vol. III. 

Continuation ofJluburn. 

1. Report of the inspectors of the Auburn Prison, of January 
18, 1830, for 1829. 

2. Report of the inspectors of the Auburn Prison, of January 
24, 1831, for 1830. 

3. Report of the inspectors of the Auburn Prison, of January 
30, 1832, for 1831. 

4. On the construction and discipline of Auburn, by Gershom 
Powers, 1826. 

5. Report of Gershom Powers on Auburn Prison, 1828. 

6. Letter of Gershom Powers, in answer to Edward Living- 
ston, 1829. 

7. Report of Messrs. Hopkins and Tibbits on the Auburn 
Prison, January 13, 1827. 

8. Remarks of Gershom Powers on disciplinary punishments, 

9. Inquiry into the Auburn discipline, and on the system of 

10. Manuscript given to us by the clerk of Auburn, respecting 
the order and discipline of that prison. 

11. Conversation which we had with Mr. Smith, chaplain of 
the Auburn Prison. 


xlii Justificatory Documents. 

Vol. IV. 

Maryland. Old Prison, and New Penitentiary of Baltimore. 

1. Legislative documents respecting the Maryland Penitenti- 
ary, 1819. 

2. Regulations of the new penitentiary, December 22, 1S28. 

3. Report of the directors of the penitentiary, December 23, 

4. Report of the directors of the penitentiary, December 21, 

5. Report of the directors of the penitentiary, December 20, 

6. Observations of Mr. Niles on the penitentiary, December 
22, 1829. 

7. Letter of Mr. MacEvoy. on the same, December 4, 1831. 

8. Table of executions in Maryland, from 1786 to this day. 

Pennsylvania. Walnut Street and Pittsburg Prisons, and 
Penitentiary of Cherry Hill. 

9. Report to the legislature on the penitentiary system, Janu- 
ary 27, 1821. 

10. Notice of Roberts Vaux on the penitentiary system in 
Pennsylvania, 1826. 

11. Letter of Roberts Vaux to William Roscoe on the same 
subject, 1827. 

12. Letter of Edward Livingston to Roberts Vaux on the 
same subject. 

13. Observations on the same subject by Dr. Bache, 1829. 

14. Description of the new penitentiary, 1829. 

15. Constitution of the Prison Society of Philadelphia. 

16. First and second reports on the new penitentiary, 1831. 

17. Acts of the legislature, containing the new penal laws 
connected with the new penitentiary system. Regulations of the 

18. Letter of Dr. Bache on the new penitentiary system, con- 
tained in a number of the Journal of Law. 

19. Three numbers of Hazard's Register, containing statistical 
documents on the penitentiary system of Pennsylvania. 

20. Letter of Samuel Wood on the penitentiary system, 1831. 

21. Report of the commissioners appointed for the revision of 
the Penal Code of Pennsylvania, December 24, 1827. 

22. Of the penitentiary system in Pennsylvania, by Mease, 

Justificatory Documents. xliii 

Vol. V. 

General documents on the Penitentiary System, or indirectly 
connected with it. 

1. Six reports of the Boston Prison Discipline Society, from 
1826 to 1832. 

2. Report of Mr. Gray respecting the erection of workshops 
for delivered prisoners. 

3. Introductory Report to the Code of Prison Discipline, pre- 
pared for the state of Louisiana by Edward Livingston, 1827. 

4. On the abolition of capital punishment, by the same. 

5. Reflections on the Penitentiary System, by Mr. M. Carey, 
of Philadelphia, 1831. 

6. Essay on the Penal Code of Pennsylvania, by Tyson. 

7. Report of 1831 on the Temperance Society of New York. 

8. " " " " of Pennsylvania. 

9. Medical Statistics of Philadelphia, by Emerson, 1831. 

10. Report on primary schools of Pennsylvania, 1831. 

11. Laws respecting schools in Pennsylvania. 

12. Three statistical tables on the sanatory state of Baltimore. 

13. Report on the school fund in Connecticut. 

14. Letter directed by Mr. Elam Lynds to ourselves, on the 
penitentiary system, October 10, 1831. 

15. Opinion of Mr. Elam Lynds on the penitentiary system. 
(Manuscript sent by him to ourselves, July 8, 1831.) 

16. Statistical table on the number of crimes in Ohio. 

17. Another table on the number of crimes since 1815. 

18. Letter of Mr. M'Lean, Judge of the Supreme Court of the 
United States, on the penitentiary system. 

19. Statistical table of convictions pronounced in the city of 
New York, by the Court of Oyer and Terminer, from 1785 to 

20. Statistical table of convictions pronounced by the Supreme 

21. Statistical table of convictions from 1800 to 1810, and 
from 1820 to 1830. 

22. General table of convictions pronounced in the state of 
New York during the year 1830, for crimes, offences, &c. (with 
the exception of judgments pronounced by police magistrates.) 

23. Manuscript of Judge Wells (at Wethersfield), containing 
his opinion on the penitentiary system, the plan of a prison for 
500 prisoners, and the estimate of expenses of their support. 

24. Copy of a letter addressed to Dr. Hosack of New York, 
by William Roscoe. 

Justificatory Documents. 

Vol. VI. 
House of Refuge. (New York.) 

1. Discourse on the opening of the House of Refuge of New 
York, 1826. 

2. Report of 1827 on the House of Refuge. 

3. " 1S2S " " " " 

4. " 1829 " " " 

5. " 1830 " " " 

6. " 1831 " " " 

7. tc 1832 " <e " 

8. Regulations of the House of Refuge of New York, and 
appeal to the inhabitants of New York, by the committee on 
prisons, in order to obtain their support. 

Philadelphia and Boston, fyc. 

9. Appeal of the directors of the House of Refuge of Philadel- 
phia, in order to obtain funds, 1826. 

10. Discourse pronounced by Mr. J. Sergeant, on the opening 
of the House of Refuge of Philadelphia. 

11. Another appeal of the directors of the House of Refuge to 
their fellow citizens, 1828. 

12. First report on the House of Refuge of Philadelphia, 1829. 

13. Second " " " " 1830. 

14. Third " " " " 1831. 

15. Regulations of the House of Reformation of Boston, 1830. 

16. Report of the committee for the establishment of a House 
of Refuge in Baltimore. 

17. Form of an indenture for individuals leaving the House of 
Refuge of Philadelphia. 

18. Inquiry into the House of Refuge of New York. 

19. Various documents, seven in number, on the House of 
Refuge of New York. 

The whole, composing one hundred and twenty-seven pieces, 
arranged in the way indicated above, in six volumes folio, have 
been deposited by the Minister of Commerce and Public Works, 
in the archives of his office. 

The muitre des requetes, secretary-general of the office of the 
Minister* of Commerce and Public Works, acknowledges to 
have received from Messrs, de Beaumont and de Toqueville the 
volumes above mentioned, which have been deposited in the 
archives of the "ministry," section of the library. 

The maitre des requetes, secretary-general, 

There is no word in English for the French minisfere, which is used in the 
original in this place, or for the German minister ium, because, in fact, the thing 
itself does not exist in England or the United States j it belongs essentially to 


SOCIETY, in our days, is in a state of disquiet, owing, in our 
opinion, to two causes:* 

The first is of an entirely moral character; there is in the 
minds of men an activity which knows not where to find an ob- 
ject; an energy deprived of its proper element; and which con- 
sumes society for want of other prey. 

The other is of an entirely material character; it is the un- 
happy condition of the working classes who are in want of 
labour and bread ; and whose corruption, beginning in misery, 
is completed in the prison. 

The first evil is owing to the progress of intellectual improve- 
ment; the second, to the misery of the poor. 

How is the first of these evils to be obviated ? Its remedy 

* We live, every one will admit, in an agitated period one of those epochs 
(in the opinion of the translator) which are characterized in history by the con- 
flict of new principles with old, and whose agitation can cease only when the 
former acquire a decided ascendency over the latter. We must he careful, how- 
ever, that the Present does not appear to us in those magnified dimensions, with 
which it never fails to impress itself on our minds, if we do not view the Past 
and the Present with conscientious impartiality, and examine both with unpre- 
judiced scrutiny in many cases the most difficult task of the historian. The 
present evil always appears the greatest; but if we allow ourselves to be thus 
biassed, we shall be liable to mistake the real aim after which we ought to strive, 
and the means by which we endeavour to arrive at it, and unconsciously will 
lend assistance to those who, more than any others, raise in our age the cry at 
our disturbed times the advocates of crumbling institutions. They ought to be 
aware, that few times were more peacefully disposed than that in which we live, 
and which they are so anxious to represent as deprived of all solid foundation. 
If we examine century by century, from the seventeenth up to the beginning of 
the common era, where and when do we find peace ? We meet every where 
with war, turmoil and party strife, contests often originating in frivolous cabinet 
intrigues, or kindled by religious fanaticism, or by interest and ambition biding 
themselves under the pretence of defending sacred rights, inherent in indi- 
viduals, for the purpose of obtaining sway over nations. The sober student of 
history must admit, that there never was a period possessing more powerful ele- 
ments of peace, than our own; since the interests which determine the condi- 
tion of society have become more and more expanded; are of a general and na- 
tional, not of a limited, individual, and therefore, arbitrary character. These 
observations are by no means directed against the writers of the present work, 
but merely intended as a general remark on what we conceive to be a miscon- 
ception very common in our time; and particularly against those who, taking for 
granted that the time we live in is more unsettled and disturbed, and that society 
is in a more feverish state than heretofore, are opposed to salutary and necessary 
reforms, extolling former limes as those of happy ease. TBANS. 

xlvi Preface. 

seems to depend more upon circumstances, than upon human 
provisions. As to the second, more than one effort has already 
been made to free mankind from it; but it is not yet known 
whether success is possible. 

Such is the insufficiency of human institutions, that we see 
melancholy effects resulting from establishments which in theory 
promise none but happy results. 

In England it has been believed that the springs of crime and 
misery may be dried up by giving work and money to the un- 
fortunate; but we see the number of paupers and criminals every 
day increasing in that country. 

There is not one philanthropic institution, the abuse of which 
does not border closely on its usefulness. 

Alms, however well distributed, tend to produce poverty: 
and assistance afforded to a forsaken child causes others to be 
abandoned. The more we contemplate the melancholy spec- 
tacle presented by public benevolence, struggling without suc- 
cess against human sufferings, the more we are obliged to ac- 
knowledge, that there exist evils, against which it is generous 
to strive, but of which our old societies seem incapable to rid 

Yet the wound exists, open to every eye. There are in 
France two millions of paupers, and forty thousand liberated 
convicts, who have gone forth from the bagnes or other pri- 

Alarmed by so formidable an evil, public opinion asks a re- 
medy from government, which does not cure it, perhaps, be- 
cause it considers it incurable. 

But notwithstanding it may be true that this vicious state of 
society cannot be cured altogether, it seems equally certain that 
there are circumstances which tend to aggravate it, and institu- 
tions whose influence renders it less fatal. 

Various voices are raised in our time to indicate to govern- 
ment the path which is best to be pursued. 

Some ask for the establishment of agricultural colonies in 
those parts of the French soil which have as yet been left un- 
cultivated, and where the labour of convicts and paupers might 
be made useful and productive. 

This system, which has met with great success in Belgium 
and Holland, is worthy of the particular attention of statesmen, t 

Others are particularly struck with the danger to which so- 
ciety is exposed from liberated convicts, whose corruption has 
been increased in prison. These believe that the evil would be 

* See Des Colonies Jigricoles, by Mr. Huerne de Pommeuse: statistical tables 
at the end of this volume. 

j- See the work cited in the preceding note, [and an article on Pauper Colo- 
nies in that on Colonies in the Encyclopaedia Americana. TBAHS.] 

Preface* xlvii 

remedied in a great degree, if the criminals were subjected dur- 
ing the time of their imprisonment to a penitentiary system, 
which, instead of further depraving them, made them better. 

Some writers (one of whom has just received a prize from the 
French academy) being persuaded that the moral reformation of 
the criminal is impossible, and that his restoration to society 
cannot take place without imminent danger, think that it would 
be better if all convicts were transported out of France.* 

In the midst of these clashing opinions, some of which how- 
ever are not irreconcilable, it appeared to us that it would be 
of use to introduce into this discussion some authentic docu- 
ments on one of the important points in dispute. 

Such has been the origin of the travels we have undertaken 
under the auspices of the French government. 

Having been commissioned to examine into the theory and 
practice of the penitentiary system in the United States, we 
have accomplished this task ; government has received our re- 
port;t and we now owe it to our country to give an account of 
our labours. 

If the results of our investigations shall be deemed valuable, 
it is chiefly owing to the generous hospitality with which we 
were received in the United States. Every where in that coun- 
try, establishments of all kinds were thrown open to us, and all 
necessary materials were furnished with a readiness which 
awakened in us the liveliest feeling of gratitude. 

The importance of our mission was understood in America, 
and the public functionaries of the highest order, as well as pri- 
vate gentlemen, vied with each other in facilitating its execu- 

We have had no means of manifesting our sense of so much 
kindness. But if this book should find its way to America, we 
are happy to think that the inhabitants of the United States will 
find here a feeble expression of our heartfelt gratitude. 

* M. Ernest de Blosseville, author of the Histoire des Colonies ptnales dans 
I'Australie, Paris, 1831. The system of transportation, to which public opinion 
in France seems pretty generally favourable, appears to us surrounded with dan- 
gers and difficulties. See the Appendix on Penal Colonies. 

f This report has been handed in to the Minister of Commerce and Public 
Works. Count d'Argout has received it with an interest which we ought to ac- 
knowledge with gratitude. 



Historical Outline of the Penitentiary System. 

Origin of the Penitentiary System in 1786. Influence of the Quakers. Wai- 
nut Street Prison in Philadelphia ; its faults and its advantages. The Duke 
of La Rochefoucault-Liancourt. Discipline of Walnut Street adopted by 
several states ; its evil effects. Origin of Auburn. Pittsburg. Cherry-Hill. 
Fatal experience of absolute solitary confinement : it is succeeded by the 
Auburn system, founded upon isolation and silence : success of this system in 
several states of the Union. Wethersfield : foundation of Sing-Sing by Mr. 
Elam Lynds. Institution of houses of refuge in the State of New York. 
Pennsylvania abandons the system of absolute solitude without labour : new 
discipline of imprisonment combined with new penal laws. States which 
have not yet made any reform in their prisons; in what this reform is incom- 
plete in those states in which it exists. Barbarity of some criminal laws in the 
United States. Recapitulation. 

THOUGH the penitentiary system in the United States is a new 
institution, its origin must be traced back to times already long 
gone by. The first idea of a reform in the American prisons, 
belongs to a religious sect in Pennsylvania. The Quakers, who 
abhor all shedding of blood, had always protested against the 
barbarous laws which the colonies inherited from their mother 
country. In 1786, their voice succeeded in finding due atten- 
tion, and from this period, punishment of death, mutilation and 
the whip were successively abolished in almost all cases by the 
Legislature of Pennsylvania.* A less cruel fate awaited the 
convicts from this period. The punishment of imprisonment 
was substituted for corporeal punishment, and the law autho- 
rized the courts to inflict solitary confinement in a cell during 
day and night, upon those guilty of capital crimes. It was then 
that the Walnut Street prison was established in Philadelphia. 
Here the convicts were classed according to the nature of their 

* At present, punishment of death is pronounced by the Code of Pennsyl- 
vania, for murder in the first degree only. [It may not be amiss to refer the reader 
to an article on the Revised Code of Pennsylvania, in No. XXV, of the American 
Quarterly Review ; which contains valuable information.] TBANS. 

2 Penitentiary System. 

crimes, and separate cells were constructed for those whom the 
courts of justice had sentenced to absolute isolation : these cells 
also served to curb the resistance of individuals, unwilling to 
submit to the discipline of the prison. The solitary prisoners 
did not work.* 

This innovation was good but incomplete. 

The impossibility of subjecting criminals to a useful classifica- 
tion, has since been acknowledged ; and solitary confinement 
without labour has been condemned by experience. It is never- 
theless just to say, that the trial of this theory has not been made 
long enough to be decisive. The authority given to the judges of 
Pennsylvania, by the law of April 5, 1790, and of March 22, 
to send criminals to the prison in Walnut Street, who formerly 
would have been sent to the different county jails, soon pro- 
duced in this prison such a crowd of convicts, that the difficulty 
of classification increased in the same degree as the cells became 

To say the truth there did not yet exist a penitentiary system 
in the United States. 

If it be asked why this name was given to the system of im- 
prisonment which had been established, we would answer, that 
then as well as now, the abolition of the punishment of death 
was confounded in America, with the penitentiary system. 
People said instead of killing the guilty, our laws put them 
in prison; hence we have a penitentiary system. 

The conclusion was not correct. It is very true that the 
punishment of death applied to the greater part of crimes, is irre- 
concilable with a system of imprisonment; but this punishment 
abolished, the penitentiary system does not yet necessarily exist; 
it is further necessary, that the criminal whose life has been 
spared, be placed in a prison, whose discipline renders him bet- 
ter. Because, if the system, instead of reforming, should only 
tend to corrupt him still more, this would not be any longer & pe- 
nitentiary system, but only a bad system of imprisonment. 

This mistake of the Americans has for a long time been shared 
in France. In 1794, the Duke de la Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, 
published an interesting notice on the prison of Philadelphia: 
he declared that this city had an excellent prison system, and all 
the world repeated it. J 

However, the Walnut Street prison could produce none of the 

* These cells were or are still thirty in number, in the Walnut Street prison. 

t See letter from Samuel Wood to Thomas Kittera, Philadelphia, 1831. -See 
Notices of the original and successive efforts to improve the Discipline of the 
Prison at Philadelphia, and to reform the Criminal Code of Pennsylvania, by 
Roberts Vaux. 

$ See Des Prisons de Philadelphia par un Europeen, (~La Rochefoucauld- 
Liancourt, ) I' an IV.,delu Republique. Paris. 

Penitentiary System. 3 

effects which are expected from this system. It had two prin- 
cipal faults: it corrupted by contamination those who worked 
together. It corrupted by indolence, the individuals who were 
plunged into solitude. 

The true merit of its founders was the abolition of the san- 
guinary laws of Pennsylvania, and by introducing a new system 
of imprisonment, the direction of public attention to this import- 
ant point. Unfortunately that which in this innovation deserved 
praise, was not immediately distinguished from that which was 

Solitude applied to the criminal, in order to conduct him to 
reformation by reflection, rests upon a philosophical and true 
conception. But the authors of this theory had not yet founded 
its application upon those means which alone could render it 
practical and salutary. Yet their mistake was not immediately 
perceived ; and the success of Walnut Street prison boasted of 
in the United States still more than in Europe, biassed public 
opinion in favour of its faults, as well as its advantages. 

The first state which showed itself zealous to imitate Penn- 
sylvania, was that of New York, which in 1797, adopted both 
new penal laws and a new prison system. 

Solitary confinement without labour, was admitted here as in 
Philadelphia ; but, as in Walnut Street, it was reserved for those 
who especially were sentenced to undergo it by the courts of 
justice, and for those who opposed the established order of the 
prison. Solitary confinement, therefore, was not the ordinary 
system of the establishment ; it awaited only those great crimi- 
nals who, before the reform of the penal laws, would have been 
condemned to death. Those who were guilty of less offences 
were put indiscriminately together in the prison. They, dif- 
ferent from the inmates of the solitary cells, had to work during 
the day ; and the only disciplinary punishment which their 
keeper had a right to inflict, in case of breach of the order of the 
prison, was solitary confinement, with bread and water. 

The Walnut Street prison was imitated by others.: Maryland, 
Massachusetts, Maine, New Jersey, Virginia, &c., adopted suc- 
cessively, the principle of solitary confinement, applied only 
to a certain class of criminals (a) in each of these states ; the re- 
form of criminal laws preceded that of the prisons. 

Nowhere was this system of imprisonment crowned with the 
hoped-for success. In general it was ruinous to the public trea- 
sury ; it never effected the reformation of the prisoners;* every 

* See the statistical tables at the end of the work, division on finances. 
See Report to the Legislature by the Comptroller of the State of New York, 
March 2, 1819. 

See Fifth Report of the Boston Prison Discipline Society, pages 412, 423 & 454. 
See also Report on the Prisons of Connecticut and Massachusetts. 

4 Penitentiary System. 

year the legislature of each state voted considerable funds to- 
wards the support of the penitentiaries, and the continued re- 
turn of the same individuals into the prisons, proved the ineffi- 
ciency of the system to which they were submitted.* 

Such results seem to prove the insufficiency of the whole sys- 
tem ; however, instead of accusing the theory itself, its execu- 
tion was attacked. It was believed that the whole evil resulted 
from the paucity of cells, and the crowding of the prisoners ; 
and that the system, such as it was established, would be fertile 
in happy results, if some new buildings were added to the pri- 
sons already existing. New expenses therefore, and new efforts 
were made. 

Such was the origin of the Auburn prison, [1815.] 

This prison, which has become so celebrated since, was at 
first founded upon a plan essentially erroneous ; it limited itself 
to some classifications, and each of these cells was destined to 
receive two convicts:! it was of all combinations the most un- 
fortunate ; it would have been better to throw together fifty cri- 
minals in the same room, than to separate them two by two. 
This inconvenience was soon felt, and in 1819 the Legislature 
of the State of New York, ordered the erection of a new build- 
ing at Auburn, (the northern wing) in order to increase the 
number of solitary cells. However, it must be observed, that 
no idea as yet existed of the system which has prevailed since. 
It was not intended to subject all the convicts to the system of 
cells ; but its application was only to be made to a greater num- 
ber. At the same time the same theories produced the same 
trials in Philadelphia, where the little success of the Walnut 
Street prison would have convinced the inhabitants of Pennsyl- 
vania of its inefficiency, if the latter, like the citizens of the 
State of New York, had not been led to seek in the faults of exe- 
cution, a motive for allowing the principle to be correct 

In 1817, the Legislature of Pennsylvania decreed the erection 
of the penitentiary at Pittsburg, for the western counties ; and 
in 1821, that of the penitentiary of Cherry-Hill, for the city of 
Philadelphia and the eastern counties, f 

* See our statistical observations on the various States of the Union, No. 17, 
Comparative Table of re-committals. 

" It is a melancholy truth, that the greater part of the convicts do not reform 
during their imprisonment, but on the contrary, harden still more in their wick- 
edness, and are, after they are delivered, more vicious and consummate crimi- 
nals, than they were before." RE-TRAWSLATIOX. 

(Report of January 20, 1819, to the Legislature of New York.) 
j- The Auburn Prison, i. e. the southern wing, built ui 1816, 1817, and 1818, 
contained sixty-one cells, and twenty-eight rooms, each of which afforded room 
for from eight to twelve convicts. 

* Cherry-Hill is the New Penitentiary of Philadelphia, put into operation in 

Penitentiary System. 5 

The principles to be followed in the construction of these two 
establishments were, however, not entirely the same as those on 
which the Walnut Street prison had been erected. In the latter, 
classification formed the predominant system, to which solitary 
confinement was but secondary. In the new prisons the classifi- 
cations were abandoned, and a solitary cell was to be prepared 
for each convict. The criminal was not to leave his cell day 
or night, and all labour was denied to him in his solitude. Thus 
absolute solitary confinement, which in Walnut Street was but 
accidental, was now to become the foundation of the system 
adopted for Pittsburg and Cherry-Hill. 

The experiment which was to be made, promised to be deci- 
sive : no expense was spared to contruct these new establish- 
ments worthy of their object, and the edifices which were ele- 
vated, resembled prisons less than palaces. 

In the meantime, before even the laws which ordered their 
erection, were executed, the Auburn prison had been tried in 
the State of New York. Lively debates ensued on this occa- 
sion, in the legislature ; and the public was impatient to know 
the result of the new trials, which had just been made. 

The northern wing having been nearly finished in 1821, eighty 
prisoners were placed there, and a separate cell was given to 
each. This trial, from which so happy a result had been anti- 
cipated, was fatal to the greater part of the convicts : in order 
to reform them, they had been submitted to complete isolation ; 
but this absolute solitude, if nothing interrupt it, is beyond the 
strength of man; it destroys the criminal without intermission 
and without pity ; it does not reform, it kills, (b] 

The unfortunates, on whom this experiment was made, fell into 
a state of depression, so manifest, that their keepers were struck 
with it; their lives seemed in danger, if they remained longer 
in this situation ; five of them, had already succumbed during a 
single year ;(c) their moral state was not less alarming; one of 
them had become insane; another, in a fit of despair, had em- 
braced the opportunity when the keeper brought him something, 
to precipitate himself from his cell, running the almost certain 
chance of a mortal fall. 

Upon similar effects the system was finally judged. The 
Governor of the State of New York pardoned twenty-six of 
those in solitary confinement; the others to whom this favour 
was not extended, were allowed to leave the cells during day, 
and to work in the common work-shops of the prison. From 
this period, (1823) the system of unmodified isolation ceased 
entirely to be practised at Auburn : proofs were soon afforded 
that this system, fatal to the health of the criminals, was like- 
wise inefficient in producing their reform. Of twenty-six con- 


Penitentiary System. 

nets, pardoned by the governor, fourteen returned a short time 
after into the prison, in consequence of new offences.* 

This experiment, so fatal to those who were selected to under- 
go it, was of a nature to endanger the success of the penitentiary 
system altogether. After the melancholy effects of isolation, it 
was to be feared that the whole principle would be rejected : it 
would have been a natural re-action. The Americans were wiser: 
the idea was not given up, that the solitude, which causes the 
criminal to reflect, exercises a beneficial influence; and the pro- 
blem was, to find the means by which the evil effect of total so- 
litude could be avoided without giving up its advantages. It 
was believed that this end could be attained, by leaving the con- 
victs in their cells during night, and by making them work dur- 
ing the day, in the common work-shops, obliging them at the 
same time to observe absolute silence. 

Messrs. Allen, Hopkins, and Tibbits, who, in 1824, were 
directed by the Legislature of New York to inspect the Auburn 
prison, found this new discipline established in that prison. They 
praised it much in their report, and the Legislature sanctioned 
this new system by its formal approbation. 

Here an obscurity exists which it has not been in our power 
to dissipate. We see the renowned Auburn system suddenly 
spring up, and proceed from the ingenious combination of two 
elements, which seem at first glance incompatible, isolation and 
re-union. But that which we do not clearly see, is the creator 
of this system, of which nevertheless some one must necessarily 
have formed the first idea. * * * 

Does the State of New York owe it to Governor Clinton, 
whose name in the United States is connected with so many 
useful and beneficial enterprises? 

Does the honour belong to Mr. Cray, one of the directors of 
Auburn, to whom Judge Powers, who himself was at the head 
of that establishment, seems to attribute the merit? 

Lastly, Mr. Elam Lynds, who has contributed so much to 
put the new system into practice, does the glory also of the in- 
vention belong to him ?t 

We shall not attempt to solve this question, interesting to 
the persons whom we have mentioned, and the country to which 
they belong, but of little importance to us. 

See Report by Gershom Powers, 1828, and the manuscript note by Elam 

f Public opinion in the United States attributes almost universally to Mr. 
Elam Lynds the creation of the system, finally adopted in the Auburn prison. 
This opinion is also that of Messrs. Hopkins and Tibbits, charged, in 1826, 
to inspect the Auburn prison ; see page 23 ; and of Mr. Livingston, see his 
Introductory Report to the Code of Prison Discipline, page 10, Philadelphia 
edition, 1827. We have found this opinion contested only in a letter addressed 
by Mr. Powers to Mr. Livingston in 1829. See this letter page 5, and sequel. 

Penitentiary System. 7 

In fine, does not experience teach us that there are innova- 
tions, the honour of which belongs to nobody in particular, be- 
cause they are the effects of simultaneous efforts, and of the 
progress of time? 

The establishment of Auburn has, since its commencement, 
obtained extraordinary success. It soon excited public atten- 
tion in the highest degree. A remarkable revolution took place 
at that time in the opinions of many ; the direction of a prison, 
formerly confided to obscure keepers, was now sought for by 
persons of high standing ; and Mr. Elam Lynds, formerly a Cap- 
tain in the army of the United States, and Judge Powers, a ma- 
gistrate of rare merit, were seen, with honour to themselves, 
filling the office of directors of Auburn. 

However, the adoption of the system of cells for all convicts 
in the state of New York, rendered the Auburn prison insuffi- 
cient, as it contained but five hundred and fifty cells after all the 
successive additions which it had received ;* the want of a new 
prison, therefore, was felt. It was then that the plan of Sing- 
Sing was resolved upon by the legislature (in 1825,) and the 
way in which it was executed, is of a kind that deserves to be 

Mr. Elam Lynds, who had made his trials at Auburn, of 
which he was the superintendent, left this establishment; took 
one hundred convicts, accustomed to obey, with him, led them 
to the place where the projected prison was to be erected ; and 
there, encamped on the bank of the Hudson, without a place 
to receive, and without walls to lock up his dangerous compa- 
nions; he sets them to work, making of every one a mason or a 
carpenter, and having no other means to keep them in obedience, 
than the firmness of his character and the energy of his will. 

During several years, the convicts, whose number was gradu- 
ally increased, were at work in building their own prison ; and 
at present the penitentiary of Sing-Sing contains one thousand 
cells, all of which have been built by their criminal inmates.t 
At the same time (in 1825,) an establishment of another nature 
was reared in the city of New York, but which occupies not a 
less important place among the improvements, the history of 
which we attempt to trace. We mean the house of refuge, found- 
ed for juvenile offenders. 

* In 1823, there were in Auburn but three hundred and eighty cells. On April 
12th, 1824, the Legislature ordered the construction of sixty-two more cells. 

f The manner in which Mr. Elam Lynds has built Sing-Sing, would undoubt- 
edly meet with little credit, were it not a recent fact, known by every one in the 
United States. In order to understand it, it is necessary to know all the resources 
which an energetic mind may find in the new discipline of American prisons. If 
the reader is desirous of forming an idea of the character of Mr. Elam Lynds, and 
of his opinion on the penitentiary system, he has only to read the Conversation 
which we had with him, and which we felt obliged to give at length. See No. 11. 

1 >. 

Penitentiary System. 

There exists no establishment, the usefulness of which, expe- 
rience has warranted in a higher degree. It is well known that 
most of those individuals on whom the criminal law inflicts pu- 
nishments, have been unfortunate before they became guilty. 
Misfortune is particularly dangerous for those whom it befalls in 
a tender age ; and it is very rare that an orphan without inheri- 
tance and without friends, or a child abandoned by its parents, 
avoids the snares laid for his inexperience, and does not pass 
within a short time from misery to crime. Affected by the fate 
of juvenile delinquents, several charitable individuals of the city 
of New York* conceived the plan of a house of refuge, destined 
to serve as an asylum, and to procure for them an education and 
the means of existence, which fortune had refused. Thirty thou- 
sand dollars were the produce of a first subscription ; thus by the 
sole power of a charitable association, an establishment eminent- 
ly useful, was founded, which, perhaps, is still more important 
than the penitentiaries, because the latter punish crime, whilst 
the house of refuge tends to prevent it. 

The experiment made at Auburn in the state of New York, 
(the fatal effects of isolation without labour,) did not prevent 
Pennsylvania from continuing the trial of solitary confinement ; 
and in the year 1827, the penitentiary of Pittsburg began to re- 
ceive prisoners. Each one was shut up, day and night, in a 
cell, in which no labour was allowed to him. This solitude, 
which in principle was to be absolute, was not such in fact. The 
construction of this penitentiary is so defective, that it is very 
easy to hear in one cell what is going on in another; so that each 
prisoner found in the communication with his neighbour a daily 
recreation, i. e. an opportunity of inevitable corruption ; and as 
these criminals did not work, we may say that their sole occupa- 
tion consisted in mutual corruption. This prison, therefore, was 
worse than even that of Walnut street ; because, owing to the 
communication with each other, the prisoners at Pittsburg were 
as little occupied with their reformation, as those at Walnut 
Street; and whilst the latter indemnified society in a degree by 
the produce of their labour, the others spent their whole time in 
idleness, injurious to themselves, and burthensome to the public 
treasury, (d) 

The bad success of this establishment proved nothing against 
the system which had called it into existence, because defects in 
the construction of the prison, rendered the execution of the sys- 

* I shall show, in a note further on, that houses of refuge were first esta- 
blished in Germany, at least in modern times. But the founders of the New 
York house of refuge, it is nevertheless true, were unacquainted with their exist- 
ence in Germany, and were led to this re-invention by the imperious wants of 
their own community. 

Penitentiary System. 9 

tern impossible : nevertheless, the advocates of the theories on 
which it was founded, began to grow cool. This impression be- 
came still more general in Pennsylvania, when the melancholy 
effects caused by solitude without labour in the Auburn prison, be- 
came known, as well as the happy success of the new discipline, 
founded on isolation by night, with common labour during the 

Warned by such striking results, Pennsylvania was fearful 
she had pursued a dangerous course ; she felt the necessity of 
submitting to a new investigation the question of solitary im- 
prisonment without labour, practised at Pittsburg, and intro- 
duced into the penitentiary of Cherry-Hill, the construction of 
which was already much advanced. 

The legislature of this state, therefore, appointed a committee 
in order to examine which was the better system of imprison- 
ment. Messrs. Charles Shaler, Edward King, and T. I. Whar- 
ton, commissioners charged with this mission, have exhibited, 
in a very remarkable report, the different systems then in prac- 
tice, (December 20, 1827,) and they conclude the discussion by 
recommending the new Auburn discipline, which they pronounce 
the best.t 

The authority of this inquiry had a powerful effect on public 
opinion ; it however met with powerful opposition : Roberts 
Vaux, in Pennsylvania, Edward Livingston, in Louisiana, con- 
tinued to support the system of complete solitude for criminals. 
The latter, whose writings are imbued with so elevated a philo- 
sophy, had prepared a criminal code, and a code of Prison Disci- 
pline for Louisiana, his native state. J His profound theories, little 
understood by those for whom they were destined, had more suc- 

* Not only in the Auburn prison, solitary confinement without labour, pro- 
duced fatal effects on the mind and body of the prisoners. The prisons of Ma- 
ryland, Maine, Virginia, and New Jersey, did not obtain happier results , in the 
latter prison, ten individuals are mentioned as having been killed by solitary 
confinement. See the Fifth Report of the Boston Prison Discipline Society, 
page 422. In Virginia, when the governor ceased to pardon convicts, it was 
never the case that any one of them survived an attack of disease. 

(See Report of the Commissioners for revising the Penal Code of Pennsyl- 
vania, page 30.) 

So far the authors. Without the least intention to advocate solitary confine- 
ment without labour, we cannot help expressing some surprise at these results, 
as it has been, from times immemorial, not uncommon on the continent of Eu- 
rope, to condemn certain prisoners, i. e. high offenders against the government, 
suspected of peculiar talent for intrigue, to perpetual solitary confinement: and 
of how many are we not told that lived for a long series of years in this wretched 
state ! THANS. 

f This report is one of the most important legislative documents in existence 
on the American prisons. It has been, in Europe, the subject of a special and 
thorough study of certain publicists. 

$ This is a great mistake, not only because Mr. Livingston is a native of the 
State of New York, where he received his education, formed his mind, and spent 
many years of his riper age, but also because Mr. Livingston's writings, and we 

10 Penitentiary System. 

cess in Pennsylvania, for which they had not been intended. In 
this superior work, Mr. Livingston admitted, for most cases, 
the principle of labour of the convicts: and, altogether, he 
showed himself less the advocate of the Pittsburg prison, than 
the adversary of the Auburn system ; he acknowledged the 
good discipline of the latter, but powerfully opposed himself to 
corporal punishment used to maintain it. Mr. Livingston, and 
those who supported the same doctrines, had to combat a pow- 
erful fact: this was the uncertainty of their theories, not yet 
tested, and the proven success of the system they attacked. 
Auburn went on prospering : every where its wonderful effects 
were praised, and they were found traced each year with great 
spirit, in a work justly celebrated in America, and which has 
essentially co-operated to bring public opinion in the United 
States, on the penitentiary system, to that point where it now 
is: we mean the annual publications of the Prison Discipline So- 
ciety at Boston. These annual reports the work of Mr. Louis 
Dwight, give a decided preference to the Auburn system, (e) 

All the states of the Union were attentive witnesses of the 
controversy respecting the two systems. 

In this fortunate country, which has neither troublesome 
neighbours, who disturb it from without, nor internal dissen- 
sions which distract it within, nothing more is necessary, in 
order to excite public attention i'n the highest degree, than an 
essay on some principle of social economy. As the existence of 
society is not put in jeopardy, the question is not how to live, 
but how to improve. 

Pennsylvania was, perhaps, more than any other state, inte- 
rested in the controversy : the rival of New York, it was natural 
she should show herself jealous to retain, in every respect, the 
rank to which her advanced civilization entitles her among the 
most enlightened states of the Union. 

She adopted a system which at once agreed with the austerity 
of her manners, and her philanthropical sensibility; she reject- 
ed solitude without labour, the fatal effects of which experience 
had proved every where, and she retained the absolute separa- 
tion of the prisoners a severe punishment, which, in order to 
be inflicted, needs not the support of corporal chastisement 

The penitentiary of Cherry-Hill, founded on these principles, 
is therefore a combination of Pittsburg and Auburn. Isolation 
during night and day, has been retained from the Pittsburg sys- 
tem : and, into the solitary cell, the labour of Auburn has been 
introduced, (f) 

This revolution in the prison discipline of Pennsylvania, was 

may say bis whole philosophy of law are of a decided Anglo-American character, 
though his residence in Louisiana must have aided his penetrating mind in taking 
a still more extensive view of the subjects of his inquiry. THAWS. 

Penitentiary System. 11 

immediately followed by a general reform of her criminal laws. 
All punishments were made milder; the severity of solitary im- 
prisonment permitted an abridgment of its duration ; capital 
punishment was abolished in all cases, except that of premedi- 
tated murder, (g) 

Whilst the states of New York and Pennsylvania made im- 
portant reforms in their laws, and each adopted a different sys- 
tem of imprisonment, the other states of the Union did not re- 
main inactive, in presence of the grand spectacle before them. 

Since the year 1825, the plan of a new prison on the Auburn 
model, has been adopted by the legislature of Connecticut ; and 
the penitentiary at Wethersfield has succeeded the old prison of 

In spite of the weight which Pennsylvania threw into the 
balance, in favour of absolute solitude with labour, the Auburn 
system, i. e. common labour during the day, with isolation dur- 
ing night, continued to obtain a preference ; Massachusetts, Ma- 
ryland, Tennessee, Kentucky, Maine, and Vermont, have gra- 
dually adopted the Auburn plan, and have taken the Auburn 
prison as a model for those which they have caused to be erect- 
ed.* (A) 

Several states have not stopped here, but have also founded 
houses of refuge for juvenile offenders, as an addition, in some 
measure, to the penitentiary system, in imitation of New York. 
These latter establishments have been founded in Boston in 1826, 
and in Philadelphia in 1828. There is every indication that 
Baltimore also, will soon have its house of refuge. 

It is easy to foresee, that the impulse of reform given by New 
York and Pennsylvania, will not remain confined to the states 
mentioned above. 

From the happy rivalship which exists among all the states 
of the Union, each state follows the reforms which have been 
effected by the others, and shows itself impatient to imitate them. 

It would be wrong to judge all the United States by the pic- 
ture which we have presented of the improvements adopted by 
some of them. 

Accustomed as we are to see our central government attract 
every thing, and propel in the various provinces all the parts of 
the administration in a uniform direction, we sometimes suppose 
that the same is the case in other countries; and comparing the 
centralization of government at Washington with that at Paris, 
the different states of the Union to our departments, we are 
tempted to believe that innovations made in one state, take, of 

* Since Messrs. Beaumont and Toqueville visited our country, the legislature 
of New Jersey has made provisions for the erection of a state-prison on the 
Pennsylvania principle, which the reader is requested to bear in mind, in perus- 
ing several subsequent passages of this work. TBANS. 

12 Penitentiary System. 

necessity, place in the others.* There is, however, nothing like 
it in the United States. t 

These states, united by a federal tie into one family, are in re- 
spect to every thing which concerns their common interests, 
subjected to one single authority. J But besides these general 
interests, they preserve their entire individual independence, 
and each of them is sovereign master to rule itself according to 
its own pleasure. We have spojten of nine states which have 
adopted a new system of prisons ; there are fifteen more which 
have made as yet no change. 

In these latter, the ancient system prevails in its whole force ; 
the crowding of prisoners, confusion of crimes, ages, and some- 
times sexes, mixture of indicted and convicted prisoners, of cri- 
minals and debtors, guilty persons and witnesses ;|| considerable 
mortality ; frequent escapes ; absence of all discipline ; no silence 
which leads the criminals to reflection ; no labour which accus- 
toms them to an honest mode of subsistence; insalubrity of the 
place which destroys health ; ignism of the conversations which 
corrupt; idleness that depraves; the assemblage, in one word, 
of all vices and all immoralities such is the picture offered by 
the prisons which have not yet entered into the way of reform, (z) 

By the side of one state, the penitentiaries of which might 
serve as a model, we find another, whose jails present the ex- 

Mr. Charles Lucas, who has published a much esteemed work on the peni- 
tentiary system, has fallen into the mistake here mentioned. 

" Two systems," he says, " present themselves, one belonging exclusively to 
the old world, the other to the new. The former is the system of transportation 
pursued by Great Britain and Russia ; the second is the penitentiary system es- 
tablished in all thf states of the Union." 

*** T | ie penitentiary system," he says, in another passage, 
"which Caleb Lownes created in 1791 in Pennsylvania, whence it extended al- 
most simultaneously in all ihtjstaies of the Union." * * * * 

See Du systeme pdnal ei du systeme rpressif en gtn&ralpar M. Charles Lucas. 
Introduction, pages 58, 59, and 60. 

j- The political system of the United States is so entirely unique in history, that 
we do not remember ever having met with a correct, or even a fair view of it in 
works whose authors have not had their knowledge from personal observation, 
for few of those who visit this country, penetrate the whole machinery, with its 
manifold limitations and connexions of a variety of powers, which though in some 
cases impeding a rapid progress toward a desired end, constitute the very 
safeguard and protection of most improvements in our country. Our penitentiary 
system never would have risen and been carried through in a large country with 
a concentrated government. If the United States excite so great an interest in 
Europe, as to judge from the periodical press of that part of the world, we should 
believe, it is surprising that we meet constantly with such gross ignorance re- 
specting American institutions even in a nation speaking the same language with 
us. But lately South Carolina was called a province in one of the most respect- 
able English papers. TBANS. 

t That of Congress. 

In Ohio, New Hampshire, and some other states, there is, indeed, a system 
of imprisonment ; but it is a bad system, and no PENITENTIARY SYSTEM. 

I Provision has lately been made for the erection of a prison on the Auburn 
plan at Concord, New Hampshire. TRANS. 

Penitentiary System. 13 

ample of every thing which ought to be avoided. Thus the 
State of New York is without contradiction one of the most 
advanced in the path of reform, while New Jersey, which is 
separated from it but by a river, has retained all the vices of the 
ancient system.* 

Ohio, which possesses a penal code remarkable for the mild- 
ness and humanity of its provisions, has barbarous prisons. We 
have deeply sighed when at Cincinnati, visiting the prison; we 
found half of the imprisoned charged with irons, and the rest 
plunged into an infected dungeon; and are unable to describe 
the painful impression which we experienced, when, examining 
the prison of New Orleans, we found men together with hogs, 
in the midst of all odours and nuisances.! In locking up the 
criminals, nobody thinks of rendering them better, but only of 
taming their malice ; they are put in chains like ferocious beasts ; 
and instead of being corrected, they are rendered brutal. J ^. 

If it is true that the penitentiary system is entirely unknown 
in that part which we mentioned, it is equally true that this sys- 
tem is incomplete in those states even where it is in vigour. 
Thus at New York, at Philadelphia, and Boston, there are new 
prisons for convicts, whose punishment exceeds one or two years 7 
imprisonment ; but establishments of a similar nature do not exist 
to receive individuals who are sentenced for a shorter time, 
or who are indicted only. || In respect to the latter, nothing has 
been changed ; disorder, confusion, mixture of different ages and 

Since the above was written, a society has been formed in that state, which 
proves that it will not remain without efficient improvements in its prisons, and 
what is more important, the legislature provided in 1833 for the erection of a 
state-prison on the Pennsylvania principle, THAWS. 

f The place for convicted criminals in New Orleans cannot be called a prison : 
it is a horrid sink, in which they are thronged together, and which is fit only 
for those dirty animals found here together with the prisoners : it must be ob- 
served that those who are detained here are not slaves : it is the prison for persons 
free in the ordinary course of life. It seems, however, that the necessity of a reform 
in the prisons is felt in Louisiana; the governor of that state said to us, that he 
would not cease to ask the legislature for funds for this object. It seems equally 
certain that the system of imprisonment in Ohio is about to be entirely changed. 

$ In general the Southern states are in respect to prisons as well as to all other 
things, far behind those of the North. In some of them, the reform of prison dis- 
cipline is by no means asked for by public opinion ; quite recently the peniten- 
tiary system has been abolished in Georgia, after having been established a year 

As soon as the law of March 30, 1831, shall be executed in Pennsylvania, 
this state will have the most complete system of imprisonment which ever ex- 
isted in the United States. This law orders the erection of a prison on the plan 
of solitary confinement, destined for indicted persons, debtors, witnesses, and 
prisoners, convicted for a short term of imprisonment. See Acts of the general 
assembly, relating to the eastern penitentiary and to the new prisons of the city . 
and county of Philadelphia, page 21. 

|| The prison of Blackwell's Island near New York, recently erected, is the only 
one which lias been built for prisoners convicted of small offences. 


14 Penitentiary System. 

moral characters, all vices of the old system still exist for them : 
we have seen in the house of arrest in New York (Bridewell) 
more than fifty indicted persons in one room.* These arrested 
persons are precisely those for whom well regulated prisons 
ought to have been built. It is easy in fact to conceive, that he 
who has not yet been pronounced guilty, and he who has com- 
mitted but a crime or misdemeanor comparatively slight, ought 
to be surrounded by much greater protection than such as are 
more advanced in crime, and whose guilt has been acknow- 

Arrested persons are sometimes innocent and always supposed 
to be so. How is it that we should 'suffer them to find in the pri- 
son a corruption which they did not bring with them ? 

If they are guilty, why place them first in a house of arrest, 
fitted to corrupt them still more, except to reform them afterwards 
in a penitentiary, to which they will be sent after their con- 
viction? (j) 

There is evidently a deficiency in a prison system which offers 
anomalies of this kind. 

These shocking contradictions proceed chiefly from the want 
of unison in the various parts of government in the United 

The larger prisons (state-prisons) corresponding to our mai- 
sons centrales, belong to the state, which directs them ; after 
these follow the county jails, directed by the county ; and at 
last the prisons of the city, superintended by the city itself. 

The various branches of government in the United States 
being almost as independent of each other, as the states them- 
selves, it results that they hardly ever act uniformly and simulta- 
neously. Whilst one makes a useful reform in the circle of its 
powers, the other remains inactive, and attached to ancient 

We shall see below, how this independence of the individual 
parts, which is injurious to the uniform action of all their powers, 
has nevertheless a beneficial influence, by giving to each a more 
prompt and energetic progress in the direction which it follows 
freely and uncompelled.t 

* In this prison, intended only for indicted persons, no regard is paid to the dif- 
ferent crimes with which they stand charged; to the youth of the one or the old 
corruption of the other. None of these individuals has a bed, a chair, nor even 
a board, to lie upon. They have no yard to catch the fresh air. A short distance 
from it is a prison in perfect order, in which convicted criminals are detained. 
The best and the most vicious prisons are found in the United States. So far the 
authors. They ought to have said : " the best and some of the most vicious pri- 
sons are found in the United States ;" because the worst American prisons are 
not worse, we are sorry to say, than many in several countries of the European 
continent. What descriptions might be given ! TRANS. 

f As the authors refer the reader to a subsequent passage in this work, the 
Translator also will refer for his remarks to a note to the same passage. 

Penitentiary System. 15 

We shall say nothing more of the defective parts in the prison 
system in the United States: if at some future period France 
shall imitate the penitentiaries of America, the most important 
thing for her will be to know those which may serve as models. 
The new establishments then, will form the only object of our 
further inquiry. 

We have seen, in the preceding remarks, that few states have 
as yet changed entirely their system of imprisonment ; the num- 
ber of those which have modified their penal laws is still less. 
Several among them yet possess part of the barbarous laws which 
they have received from England.* 

We shall not speak of the Southern states, where slavery still 
exists ; in every place where one half of the community is cruelly 
oppressed by the other, we must expect to find in the law of the 
oppressor, a weapon always ready to strike nature which revolts 
or humanity that complains. Punishment of death and stripes 
these form the whole penal code for the slaves.! J But if 
we throw a glance at those states even which have abolished 
slavery, and which are most advanced in civilization, we shall 
see this civilization uniting itself, in some, with penal laws full 
of mildness, and in others, with all the rigour of a code of 

That England has many barbarous laws, and that some of them have es- 
caped the many modifications and changes, to which the British laws have been 
subjected in the various states of the Union, is not denied. But in speaking of 
barbarity in this respect, we ought never to omit to consider two things the 
laws and the administration of justice. Thus the French code is in general 
milder than the English, though much severer than the Prussian; but now it is 
very different, if we consider the whole machinery of the administration of 
French justice, civil and criminal, so thoroughly and soundly exhibited in Mr. 
Von Feuerbach's work, on the Administration of Justice in France, Giessen, 
1825 a work of uncommon merit. Certainly, it is but simple truth if we call 
the administration of justice in France, barbarous in many instances. Where arTT 
so many people convicted, who at a subsequent period, are proved to be inno- 
cent ? Where does the heavy weight or cunning skill of prosecution oppress an 
indicted person so much, and in a way so opposed to true justice, as in France ? 
Where is the oppression by lawyers greater than by the French avoues. TIIANS. 

f There are no prisons to shut up slaves: imprisonment would cost too much! 
Death, the whips, exile, cost nothing ! Moreover, in order to exile slaves, they 
are sold, which yields profit. See Statistical Notes on the State of Maryland. 

$ On this unfortunate subject, the reader is referred to Mr. Stroud's Sketch of 
the Laws relating to Slavery, &c. Philadelphia, 1827, a work which corroborates 
the above statement. Two circumstances probably have contributed more than 
others, to render the laws for slaves in the Southern states of the Union so se- 
vere, and in many cases much severer than corresponding laws with other nations: 
1. The circumstance that those states are republics without standing armies, and 
in general without the power of a concentrated government, so that the severity 
of laws must supply the strength of government so as to meet the danger with 
which slave population always is pregnant. 2. The circumstance that in the 
Southern states the owners of the slaves are the law-makers and government 
themselves, whilst in monarchies government stands more between the two par- 
ties, and the slave has, in it, in many cases, a powerful protector. TH.VJ.S. 

16 Penitentiary System. 

Let us but compare the laws of Pennsylvania with those of 
New England, which is, perhaps, the most enlightened part of 
the American Union. In Massachusetts, there are ten different 
crimes punished by death among others, rape and burglary.* 
Maine, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, count the same number 
of capital crimes. t Among these laws, some contain the most 
degrading punishments, such as the pillory; others revolting 
cruelties, as branding and mutilation.J There are also some 
which order fines equal to confiscations^ Whilst we find these 
remains of barbarism in some states, with an old population, 
there are others, which, risen since yesterday, have banished 
from their laws all cruel punishments not called for by the inte- 
rest of society. Thus, Ohio, which certainly is not as enlight- 
ened as New England, has a penal code much more humane than 
those of Massachusetts or Connecticut. 

Close by a state where the reform of the penal laws seems to 
have arrived at its summit, we find another, the criminal laws of 
which are stamped with all the brutalities of the ancient system. 
It is thus that the States of Delaware and New Jersey, so far 
behind in the path of improvement, border on Pennsylvania, 
which, in this respect, marches at the head of all others. || 

* We comprise in this number, the crimes against the Federal government, 
that of treason against the Union, piracy, and robbing the mail. 

f The laws of the latter state also pronounce imprisonment for life in seven 
different cases. 

$ A law of Connecticut orders a mother's hiding the death of her infant, to 
be punished with public exhibition of the mother with a cord round her neck. 

A law of Massachusetts punishes fornication with a fine, and adds that if the 
Convicted individual shall not pay the fine within twenty-four hours after con- 
fiction, ten stripes with the whip, shall be inflicted upon him. Blasphemy, 
according to the laws of the same state, is punished with pillory and stripes. For- 
gery in Rhode Island is punished with the pillory. During this exhibition, a 
piece of each ear of the convict is to be cut off, and he is to be branded with a 
C. (counterfeiting.) After all this, be undergoes an imprisonment not exceed- 
ing six years. So far the authors. That such laws have fallen into disuse we 
need not mention. THAHS. 

For instance, a law of the State of Delaware orders for a single crime the 
fine of 10,000 dollars. 

| The laws of Delaware pronounce death against six different crimes, (capi- 
tal crimes against the United States not included.) They punish forgery thus : 
the convict is sentenced to a fine, the pillory, and three months solitary confine- 
ment ; at the expiration of this punishment he wears on his back, for not less 
than two, and not more than five years, the letter F (forgery) in scarlet colour, 
on his dress; this letter must be six inches long, and two inches wide. 

Poisoning is thus punished: 

The convict may be sentenced to a fine of 10,000 dollars, one hour's exhibi- 
tion at the pillory, and to be publicly whipped ; he must receive sixty stripes, 
well laid on ;" he then goes for four years into prison, after which, he is sold 
as a slave, for a time not exceeding fourteen years. 

Another heavy punishment pronounced for an offence comparatively slight is, 
twenty-one stripes for a pretended sorcerer or magician. In New Jersey, every 
person re-convicted for murder, rape, arson, theft, forgery, and sodomy, la 
punished with death. * * * 

Penitentiary System. 17 

We should forget the object of our report were we to dwell 
any longer on this point. We were obliged to present a sketch 
of the penal legislation of the United States, because it exercises 
a necessary influence on the question before us. 

In fact it is easy to conceive to what point the punishments 
which degrade the guilty, are incompatible with a penitentiary 
system, the object of which is to reform them. How can we 
hope to awaken the moral sense of an individual who carries on 
his body the indelible sign of infamy, when the mutilation of 
his limbs reminds others incessantly of his crime, or the sign 
imprinted on his forehead, perpetuates its memory ?* 

Must we not ardently wish, that the last traces of such bar- 
barism should disappear from all the United States, and par- 
ticularly from those which have adopted the penitentiary system, 
with which they are irreconcilable, and whose existence renders 
them still more shocking?! 

Besides, let us not blame these people for advancing slowly 
on the path of innovation. Ought not similar changes to be 
the work of time, and of public opinion? There are in the 
United States a certain number of philosophical minds, who, full 
of theories and systems, are impatient to put them into practice; 
and if they had the power themselves to make the law of the 
land, they would efface with one dash, all the old customs, and 
supplant them by the creations of their genius, and the decrees 
of their wisdom. Whether right or wrong the people do not move 
so quick. They consent to changes, but they wish to see them 
progressive and partial, (k] This prudent and reserved reform, 
effected by a whole nation, all of whose customs are practical, is, 
perhaps, more beneficial than the precipitated trials which would 
result, had the enthusiasm of ardent minds and enticing theories 
free play.{ 

* The brand is placed in the United States, generally on the forehead. * * 
In the month of June, 1829, prisoners, who had been re-committed, were yet 
marked on the arm, when their imprisonment expired ; the words " Massachu- 
setts State Prison," were tattooed on the arm. June 12, 1829, this custom was 

f We do not deny to society the right to punish with death. We believe even 
that this punishment is, in certain cases, indispensable to the support of social 
order. But we believe that as soon as the law punishes with death without ab- 
solute necessity, it becomes useless cruelty, and an obstacle to the penitentiary 
system, the object of which is, to reform those whose life society spares. 

$ Among 1 the philosophers of the United States, who call for the abolition of 
capital punishment, Mr. Edward Livingston must be distinguished. He does 
not dispute the right of society to takeaway the life of certain of its members; 
be only maintains that this fearful punishment, which, without remedy, may strike 
an innocent person, does in general not produce the expected effect, and that it 
can be efficiently supplanted by punishments less rigorous, which produce less 
violent, but more durable impressions. Put upon this ground, the question is 
not solved, but brought to its true point. See remarks on the expediency of 
abolishing the punishment of death. By Edward Livingston : Philadelphia, 



18 Penitentiary System. 

Whatever may be the difficulties yet to be overcome, we do 
not hesitate to declare that the cause of reform and of progress 
in the United States, seem to us certain and safe. 

Slavery, the shame of a free nation, is expelled every day 
from some districts over which it held its sway ; and those per- 
sons themselves who possess most slaves, are convinced that 
slavery will not last much longer. 

Everyday punishments which wound humanity, become sup- 
planted by milder ones ; and in the most civilized states of the 
north, where these punishments continue in the written laws, 
their application has become so rare that they are to be con- 
sidered as fallen into disuse. 

The impulse of improvement is given. Those states which 
have as yet done nothing, are conscious of their deficiency; they 
envy those which have preceded them in this career, and are 
impatient to imitate them.* 

Finally, it is a fact worth remarking, that the modification 
of the penal laws and that of prison discipline, are two reforms 
intimately associated with each other, and never separated in the. 
United States. 

Our special task is not to enlarge on the first; the second alone 
shall fix our attention. 

The various states in which we have found a penitentiary 
system, pursue all the same end : the amelioration of the prison 
discipline. But they employ different means to arrive at their 
object. These different means have formed the subject of our 

Since the authors visited our country, New Jersey has made provisions for 
a State prison, on the Pennsylvania principle, and New Hampshire for another 
at Concord, on the Auburn principle. TJIANS. 

Penitentiary System. 19 


Discussion. Object of the Penitentiary System. First section : what are 
the fundamental principles of this system ? Two distinct systems ; Auburn 
and Philadelphia. Examination of the two systems. In what they agree : in 
what they differ. 

THE penitentiary system in the proper acceptation of the 
word, relates only to individuals condemned and subjected to 
the punishment of imprisonment for the expiation of their crime. 

In a less confined sense, it may be extended to all arrested 
persons, whether their arrest precedes or follows the judgment: 
that is to say, whether these persons are arrested as suspected 
or indicted for a crime, eras condemned for having committed it; 
in this wider acceptation, the penitentiary system comprehends 
prisons of all kinds, state and other prisons, houses of arrest and 
refuge, &c., &c. 

In this latter sense we shall use it 

We have already said that in the United States those prisons 
which correspond to our houses of arrest, (maisons d'arret) that 
is to say, those which are destined for persons provisionally ar- 
rested, and for individuals sentenced to a short imprisonment, have 
undergone no reform as yet. Consequently, we shall not speak 
of them. We should be able to present in this respect but a 
theory ; and it is practical observations with which we have, 
above all, to occupy ourselves. 

We shall therefore, immediately direct our attention to the 
penitentiaries, properly so called, which contain in the United 
States, those convicts, who, according to our laws, would be 
sent to the "central houses of correction," of "detention," 
and to the " bagnes." 

The punishment of imprisonment in the different states in 
which it is pronounced, is not varied as by our laws. With us 
a distinction is made between simple imprisonment, " reclu- 
sion," detention, and hard labour; each of these punishments 
has certain traits which are peculiar to it; imprisonment in the 
United States has a uniform character ; it differs only in its du- 

It is divided into two principal classes: 1. Imprisonment from 
one month to one or two years, applied to breaches of the laws 
of the police, and to lighter offences (dclits}; 2. Imprison- 

20 Penitentiary System. 

ment from two years to twenty or for life, which serves to pu- 
nish crimes of a graver character. It is for the convicts suffering 
the second class of punishment, that in the United States a peni- 
tentiary system exists:* 

1. In what consists this system, and what are its fundamen- 
tal principles? 

2. How is it put into practice? 

3. By what disciplinary means is it maintained? 

4. What results have been obtained in respect to reformation 
of the prisoners? 

5. What have been its effects in a financial respect ? 

6. What information can we obtain from this system for the 
amelioration of our prisoners? 

These are the principal questions respecting which we shall 
give a summary of our observations and inquiries. 

Having accomplished this task, we shall conclude our report 
by an examination of the houses of refuge for juvenile offenders: 
these establishments are rather schools than prisons, but they 
form, nevertheless, an essential part of the penitentiary system, 
since the regulations to which these young prisoners are sub- 
jected, have for their object, to punish those who have been 
declared guilty, and aim at the reformation of all. 


In what consists the Penitentiary System, and what are its 
fundamental principles ? 

WE find in the United States two distinctly separate systems: 
the system of Auburn and that of Philadelphia. 

Sing-Sing, in the State of New York ; Wethersfield, in Con- 
necticut; Boston, in Massachusetts; Baltimore, in Maryland; 
have followed the model of Auburn, t 

On the other side, Pennsylvania stands quite alone. 

The two systems opposed to each other on important points, 
have, however, a common basis, without which no penitentiary 
system is possible; this basis is the isolation of the prisoners. (/) 

We shall treat of the penitentiary system in the United States exclusively, 
because it formed the sole object of our inquiry. The reader who wishes for 
documents and statements respecting European prisons, is referred to the re- 
markable works of Messrs. Julius, Lagarmitte, and Mittermaier. So far the au- 
thors. We have often had occasion to mention Dr. Julius' Lectures on Prisons, 
and his periodical on Knowledge of Prisons, a work of great merit. The reader 
is referred for further information to the article, Statistics of Crime, in the Ency- 
clopaedia Americana. TRASS. 

f Kentucky, Tennessee, Maine, Vermont, have also adopted this system, but 
so recently, that they cannot yet afford useful information. 

Penitentiary System. 21 

Whoever has studied the interior of prisons and the moral 
state of their inmates, has become convinced that communica- 
tion between these persons renders their moral reformation im- 
possible, and becomes even for them the inevitable cause of an 
alarming corruption. This observation, justified by the expe- 
rience of every day, has become in the United States an almost 
popular truth ; and the publicists who disagree most respecting 
the way of putting the penitentiary system into practice, fully 
agree upon this point, that no salutary system can possibly exist 
without the separation of the criminals.* 

For a long time it was believed that, in order to remedy the 
evil caused by the intercourse of prisoners with each other, it 
would be sufficient to establish in the prison, a certain number 
of classifications. But after having tried this plan, its insuf- 
ficiency has been acknowledged. There are similar punishments 
and crimes called by the same name, but there are no two beings 
equal in regard to their morals ; and every time that convicts are 
put together, there exists necessarily a fatal influence of some 
upon others, because, in the association of the wicked, it is not 
the less guilty who act upon the more criminal, but the more 
depraved who influence those who are less so.t 

See the Report of the Commissioners to revise the Pennsylvania Code, 
1828, page 16, and particularly page 22. See letter of Roberts Vaux to Mr. Ros- 
coe, 1827, page 9. See the report of the Committee of the Penitentiary at Balti- 
more, to Governor Kent, December 23, 1828. See Introductory Report to the 
Code of Prison Discipline, by Edward Livingston, page 31 5 and the letter of 
the same to Roberts Vaux, 1828. See Report of John Spencer to the Legisla- 
ture of New York. 

Solitary confinement in the United States met with many opponents. Among 
its most distinguished adversaries were William Roscoe of Liverpool and General 
Lafayette : the former gave up his opinion as soon as he knew that labour was 
admitted into the solitary cells in Philadelphia. (See his letter to Dr. Hosack of 
New York, dated July 13, 1830, shortly before his death.) As to General La- 
fayette, he has always been strongly opposed to the punishment of solitude. 
*' This punishment," he says, " does not reform the guilty. I have passed seve- 
ral years in solitude in Olmutz, where I was detained for having made a revolu- 
tion; and in my prison I dreamed but of new revolutions." 

General Lafayette has perhaps, also modified his opinion, after having learned 
that the solitary confinement as first established in Pennsylvania, has undergone 
important changes. 

The new revolutions of which General Lafayette dreamed, prove nothing, 
because a person, imprisoned for political offences, does not merely consider his 
offence no crime, but generally a praiseworthy action. It is very different 
with theft, assault, burglary crimes and offences which present themselves as 
such to the weakest intellect. TRANS. 

\ This is consistent with the common law, that, when a number of individuals 
having received a common impulse, are applying their activity toward a common 
aim, he who distinguishes himself most in this direction, exercises the greatest 
influence the most learned among scholars, the most daring among soldiers, 
the most resigned among martyrs, the most virtuous among the virtuous, the 
most inspired among artists, the most wicked among criminals. Each propels 
his society further and quicker on its chosen path. TRANS. 

22 Penitentiary System. 

We must therefore, impossible as it is to classify prisoners, 
come to a separation of all. (ra) 

This separation, which prevents the wicked from injuring 
others, is also favourable to himself. 

Thrown into solitude he reflects. Placed alone, in view of 
his crime, he learns to hate it; and if his soul be not yet surfeit- 
ed with crime, and thus have lost all taste for any thing better, 
it is in solitude, where remorse will come to assail him. 

Solitude is a severe punishment, but such a punishment is 
merited by the guilty. Mr. Livingston justly remarks, that a 
prison, destined to punish, would soon cease to be a fearful 
object, if the convicts in it could entertain at their pleasure 
those social relations in which they delighted, before their entry 
into the prison.* 

Yet, whatever may be the crime of the guilty prisoner, no 
one has the right to take life from him, if society decree merely 
to deprive him of his liberty. Such, however, would be the 
result of absolute solitude, if no alleviation of its rigours were 

This is the reason why labour is introduced into the prison. 
Far from being an aggravation of the punishment, it is a real 
benefit to the prisoner. 

But even if the criminal did not find in it a relief from his 
sufferings, it nevertheless would be necessary to force him to it. 
It is idleness which has led him to crime j with employment he 
will learn how to live honestly. 

Labour of the criminals is necessary still under another point 
of view: their detention, expensive for society if they remain 
idle, becomes less burthensome if they labour. 

The prisons of Auburn, Sing-Sing, Wethersfield, Boston, and 
Philadelphia, rest then upon these two united principles, solitude 
and labour. These principles, in order to be salutary, ought not 
to be separated : the one is inefficient without the other.J 

In the ancient prison of Auburn, isolation without labour has 
been tried, and those prisoners who have not become insane or 
did not die of despair, have returned to society only to commit 
new crimes. 

In Baltimore, the system of labour without isolation is trying 
at this moment, and seems not to promise happy results. 

* See his Introductory Report to the Code of Prison Discipline. 

f We have stated our opinion upon this point already, in a previous note. 
THAN s. 

$ They are these two principles upon which Mr. Livingston founds his Prison 
Discipline. And upon this point as well as several others to be touched upon 
in the sequel of this work, I must recommend the perusal of Mr. Livingston's 
Introductory Report, to those readers, who have deprived themselves as yet of 
the great satisfaction of becoming acquainted with a valuable work. TBASS. 

Penitentiary System. 23 

Though admitting one-half of the principle of solitude, the 
other half is rejected ; the penitentiary of this city contains a 
number of cells equal to that of the prisoners who are locked 
up at night; but during day, they are permitted to communi- 
cate freely with each other. Certainly separation during night 
is the most important; but it is not sufficient. The intercourse 
of criminals is necessarily of a corrupting nature ; and this inter- 
course must be prevented if we wish to protect the prisoners 
from mutual contagion, (ri) 

Thoroughly convinced of these truths, the founders of the new 
penitentiary at Philadelphia, thought it necessary that each pri- 
soner should be secluded in a separate cell during day as well as 

They have thought that absolute separation of the criminals 
can alone protect them from mutual pollution, and they have 
adopted the principle of separation in all its rigour. According 
to this system, the convict, once thrown into his cell, remains 
there without interruption, until the expiration of his punish- 
ment : he is separated from the whole world ; and the peni- 
tentiaries, full of malefactors like himself, but every one of them 
entirely isolated, do not present to him even a society in the 
prison ; if it is true that in establishments of this nature, all evil 
originates from the intercourse of the prisoners among them- 
selves, we are obliged to acknowledge that nowhere is this vice 
avoided with greater safety than at Philadelphia, where the pri- 
soners find themselves utterly unable to communicate with each 
other ; and it is incontestable that this perfect isolation secures 
the prisoner from all fatal contamination.* 

As solitude is in no other prison more complete than in Phi- 
ladelphia, nowhere, also, is the necessity of labour more urgent. 
At the same time, it would be inaccurate to say, that in the Phi- 
ladelphia penitentiary labour is imposed ; we may say with more 
justice that the favour of labour is granted. When we visited 
this penitentiary, we successively conversed with all its in- 
mates, (o) There was not a single one among them who did 
not speak of labour with a kind of gratitude, and who did not 
express the idea that without the relief of constant occupation, 
life would be insufferable.! 

What would become, during the long hours of solitude, with- 
out this relief, of the prisoner, given up to himself, a prey to the 
remorses of his soul and the terrors of his imagination ? Labour 
gives to the solitary cell an interest; it fatigues the body and re- 
lieves the soul. l< 

* See our Inquiry into the Philadelphia penitentiary, Appendix No. 10. 
f All said to us that Sunday, the day of rest, was to them much longer than 
the whole week together. 

24 Penitentiary System. 

It is highly remarkable, that these men, the greater part of 
whom have been led to crime by indolence and idleness, should 
be constrained by the torments of solitude, to find in labour their 
only comfort: by detesting idleness, they accustom themselves 
to hate the primary cause of their misfortune; and labour, by 
comforting them, makes them love the only means, which when 
again free, will enable them to gain honestly their livelihood. 

The founders of the Auburn prison acknowledged also the ne- 
cessity of separating the prisoners, to prevent all intercourse 
among themselves, and to subject them to the obligation of la- 
bour ; but they follow a different course in order to arrive at the 
same end. 

In this prison, as well as in those founded upon the same 
model, the prisoners are locked up in their solitary cells at 
night only. During day they work together in common work- 
shops, and as they are subjected to the law of rigorous silence, 
though united, they are yet in fact isolated. Labour in common 
and in silence forms then the characteristic trait which distin- 
guishes the Auburn system from that of Philadelphia. 

Owing to the silence to which the prisoners are condemned, 
this union of the prisoners, it is asserted, offers no inconve- 
nience, and presents many advantages. 

They are united, but no moral connexion exists among them. 
They see without knowing each other. They are in society 
without any intercourse ; there exists among them neither aver- 
sion nor sympathy. The criminal, who contemplates a project 
of escape, or an attempt against the life of his keepers, does not 
know in which of his companions he may expect to find assist- 
ance. Their union is strictly material, or, to speak more ex- 
actly, their bodies are together, but their souls are separated ; 
and it is not the solitude of the body which is important, but that 
of the mind. At Pittsburg, the prisoners, though separated, 
are not alone, since there exist moral communications among 
them. At Auburn, they are really isolated, though no wall 
separates them.* 

Their union in the work-shops has, therefore, nothing dan- 
gerous: it has, on the contrary, it is said, an advantage peculiar 
to it, that of accustoming the prisoners to obedience. 

What is the principal object of punishment in relation to him 
who suffers it? It is to give him the habits of society, and first 
to teach him to obey. The Auburn prison has, on this point, 
its advocates say, a manifest advantage over that of Philadelphia. 

Perpetual seclusion in a cell, is an irresistible fact which curbs 

* Our opinion respecting this isolation and some other points connected with 
the Auburn prison is given in the article on the Pennsylvania penitentiary sys- 
tem, appended to thia work. TBASS. 

Penitentiary System. 25 

the prisoner without a struggle, and thus deprives altogether his 
submission of a moral character ; locked up in this narrow space, 
he has not, properly speaking, to observe a discipline ; if he 
works, it is in order to escape the weariness which overwhelms 
him : in short, he obeys much less the established discipline than 
the physical impossibility of acting otherwise. 

At Auburn, on the contrary, labour instead of being a com- 
fort to the prisoners, is, in their eyes, a painful task, which they 
would be glad to get rid of. In observing silence, they are in- 
cessantly tempted to violate its law. They have some merit in 
obeying, because their obedience is no actual necessity. It is 
thus that the Auburn discipline gives to the prisoners the habits 
of society which they do not obtain in the prisons of Philadel- 
phia.* (p] 4 

We see that silence is the principal basis of the Auburn sys- 
tem ; it is this silence which establishes that moral separation 
between all prisoners, that deprives them of all dangerous com- 
munications, and only leaves to them those social relations which 
are inoffensive. 

But here we meet with another grave objection against this 
system ; the advocates of the Philadelphia system say, that to 
pretend to reduce a great number of collected malefactors to ab- 
solute silence, is a real chimera; and that this impossibility 
ruins from its basis, the system of which silence is the only 

We believe that this reproach is much exaggerated. Certainly 
we cannot admit the existence of a discipline carried to such a 
degree of perfection, that it guaranties rigorous observation of 
silence among a great number of assembled individuals, whom 
their interest and their passions excite to communicate with 
each other. We may say, however, that if in the prisons of 
Auburn, Sing-Sing, Boston, and Wethersfield, silence is not al- 
ways strictly observed, the cases of infraction are so rare that 
they are of little danger. Admitted as we have been into the 
interior of these various establishments, and going there at every 
hour of the day, without being accompanied by any body, visit- 
ing by turns the cells, the work-shops, the chapel and the yards, 
we have never been able to surprise a prisoner uttering a single 

* Our opinion is directly the reverse. The prisoner in Philadelphia is calmed, 
the prisoner in Auburn irritated. TRANS. 

f See Letter of E. Livingston to Roberts Vaux, 1828, pp. 7 and 8. There 
are undoubtedly, some instances which prove the infraction of silence in some 
cases ; this is so true that in each of the prisons, with the inquiry of which we 
are occupied, some convicts have been punished for it, and a certain number of 
infractions remains always undiscovered. But the question is not whether 
there are some cases of contravention ; the point to be examined is, whether 
these infractions of silence are of a nature to destroy the order of the establish* 
ment, and to prevent the reformation of the prisoners. 

26 Penitentiary System. 

word, and yet we have sometimes spent whole weeks in observ- 
ing the same prison. 

In Auburn, the building facilitates in a peculiar way the dis- 
covery of all contraventions of discipline. Each work-shop 
where the prisoners work, is surrounded by a gallery, from 
which they may be observed, though the observer remains un- 
seen. We have often espied from this gallery the conduct of 
the prisoners, whom we did not detect a single time in a breach 
of discipline. There is moreover a fact which proves better 
than any other, how strictly silence is observed in these esta- 
blishments; it is that which takes place at Sing-Sing.* The pri- 
soners are there occupied in breaking stones from the quarries, 
situated without the penitentiary ; so that nine hundred criminals, 
watched by thirty keepers, work free in the midst of an open 
field, without a chain fettering their feet or hands. It is evident 
that the life of the keepers would be at the mercy of the pri- 
soners, if material force were sufficient for the latter ; but they 
want moral force. And why are these nine hundred collected 
malefactors less strong than the thirty individuals who command 
them? Because the keepers communicate freely with each other, 
act in concert, and have all the power of association ; whilst the 
convicts separated from each other, by silence, have, in spite of 
their numerical force, all the weakness of isolation. Suppose 
for an instant, that the prisoners obtain the least facility of com- 
munication; the order is immediately the reverse; the union of 
their intellects effected by the spoken word, has taught them the 
secret of their strength ; and the first infraction of the law of 
silence, destroys the whole discipline.! The admirable order 
which prevails at Sing-Sing, and which silence alone is capable 
of maintaining, proves then that silence there is preserved. (q~) 

We have thus shown the general principle upon which the 
systems of Auburn and of Philadelphia rest : how are these prin- 

Respecting the safety in keeping the prisoners on the Auburn plan, see our 
last note added to No. XIII of No. 17, Statistical Notes; and respecting the en- 
forcement of silence, see our note appended to the article Pennsylvania Peniten- 
tiary System at the end of the volume. TIIANS. 

f The question, so often made, why does history exhibit so many instances of 
whole nations allowing themselves to be tyrannized over by a few, to whom they 
sacrifice their dearest interests, and whom they serve with daily suffering, cannot 
be answered in a clearer way, than by the above statement because the rulers 
have the "power of association," and the oppressed are "isolated." Sepa- 
rate the interest of the officers of your government from that of the people, es- 
tablish easy and rapid communications between the former, and destroy as much 
as possible free intercourse among the latter, deprive them of all opportunities 
of association, and you may rule with an iron sceptre as long as you can maintain 
this order of things. If this remark is irrelevant, I nevertheless trust to be 
excused for having directed the reader's attention to this point, as nothing is 
more frequent than to see nations, bearing silently their yoke, accused of beinj* 
unworthy of a better fate, and to find this very silence exhibited as a proof of 
content with their present lot. TRANS. 

Penitentiary System. 27 

ciples put into action? How and by whom are the penitentiary 
establishments administered? What is the order of the interior, 
and what is the regulation of each day ? This shall form the sub- 
ject of the following section. 


Administration. Superintendents. Clerk. Inspectors. By whom appointed. 
Their privileges. Their salary. Importance of their choice. Influence of 
public opinion. Regulation of every day. Rising; going to sleep; labour; 
meals. Nourishment. No tippling-houses. No reward for good conduct. 
No unproductive labour. Difficulty of labour in the solitary cells of Phila- 
delphia. Contract : in what it differs from the system established in France. 
Absence of all individual earning, except at Baltimore. 

THE administration of the prison is intrusted every where to 
a superintendent,* whose authority is more or less extensive. 
He employs a clerk, charged with the financial business of the 

Superior to the superintendent, are three inspectors, charged 
with the general direction and moral surveillance of the prison,! 
and under him is a number more or less considerable of inferior 

At Auburn, Sing-Sing, Philadelphia, and Wethersfield, the 
superintendent is appointed by the inspectors; in Boston, the 
governor appoints him ; in Connecticut, the inspectors are chosen 
by the legislature ; in Massachusetts, by the governor, and in 
Pennsylvania, by the supreme court. Every where the power 
which appoints the superintendent^ has the right to discharge 
him at pleasure. 

The reader sees that the election of those persons who direct 
the penitentiary establishments, belongs to important authorities. 

The nomination of the jailors belongs, in the prisons of Sing- 
Sing, Wethersfield, Boston, and Philadelphia, to the superinten- 
dent himself; at Auburn they are chosen by the inspectors. The 

* He is indifferently called warder, keeper, agent or superintendent. 

f It is generally thought that it is advantageous that the inspectors should not 
change too often, and that they should not be all renewed at the same time. 
(See Report of December 20, 1830, on the penitentiary of Maryland.) In Bos- 
ton, they are appointed for four years. (See the law of March 11, 1828.) In 
Philadelphia, the inspectors of the penitentiary are exempt from the militia ser- 
vice, from being jurymen, overseers of the poor, &c. (See Regulations of the 
prison.) Until the year 1820, there were five inspectors of the Auburn prison : 
this number was found to be too large, and it was reduced from that time to 
three. (See Report of 1820, by Mr. Spencer.) 

28 Penitentiary System. 

superintendents of all the prisons, with the single exception of 
that of Philadelphia, are bound to give sufficient security for 
their good behaviour.* At Philadelphia and at Wethersfield, the 
office of inspector is without any compensation, and in the other 
prisons it is very trifling. The sum which they receive in Mas- 
sachusetts is hardly equal to the expense incurred by visiting 
the prison.! They are always chosen from among the inhabi 
tants of the place.J Persons distinguished by their standing in 
society, are desirous of filling this place ; it is thus that we see in 
Philadelphia, among the inspectors of the penitentiary, Mr. 
Richards, mayor of the city, and in Boston, Mr. Grey, senator 
of Massachusetts. 

Though the inspectors are not the immediate agents of the 
administration, they nevertheless direct it. They make the re- 
gulations, which the superintendent is charged to execute, and 
they constantly watch over this execution ; they have even the 
power to modify them at their pleasure, according to the exi- 
gency of circumstances. In no case do they take part in the acts 
of the actual administration of the prison ; the superintendent 
alone directs it ; because he alone is answerable for it. They 
have every where the same legal authority ; yet they do not ex- 
ercise it in the same way, in all the prisons of which we treat 
Thus at Sing-Sing, the superintendence of the inspectors ap- 
peared to us superficial, whilst at Auburn and at Wethersfield 
they took a much more active part in the affairs of the prison. 

On the whole we may say, that the privileges of the inspectors 
are much more extended in law than in reality ; whilst the su- 
perintendent, whose written authority is not very great, is yet 
the soul of the administration. 

The most important place then in the prison, is without a 
doubt, that of the superintendent. Generally it is intrusted in 
the penitentiaries of the United States, to honourable men, en- 
titled by their talent to functions of this nature. It is thus that 
the Auburn prison has had for directors men like Mr. Elam 
Lynds, a former captain of the army; and Mr. Gershom Powers, 
a Judge of the State of New York. At Wethersfield, Mr. Pills- 
bury; at Sing-Sing, Mr. Robert Wiltze; at Boston, Mr. Austin, 
a captain in the navy, are all men distinguished by their know- 
ledge and their capacity. To great probity and a deep sense of 
their duty they add much experience, and that perfect know- 

At Auburn, the security is 25,000 dollars. See Report of 1832. The same 
at Sing-Sing. 

\ Each inspector receives 100 dollars. In Baltimore, the committee of super- 
intendence receive annually, 1,144 dollars. See Report of 1830. 

t The report of the inspectors of Wethersfield states, that little reliance can 
be placed on any system of regulations, if there is not a committee who assures 
itself of the execution of the rules by frequent personal inspection. 

Penitentiary System. 29 

ledge of men so necessary in their position. Among the super- 
intendents of the American penitentiaries, we have especially to 
mention Mr. Samuel Wood, director of the new Philadelphia 
prison a man of superior mind, who, influenced hy religious 
sentiments, has abandoned his former career, in order to devote 
himself entirely to the success of an establishment so useful to 
his community. 

The inferior agents, the under-wardens, are not so distin- 
guished either for their standing in society or for talent. They 
are, however, in general, intelligent and honest men. Charged 
with superintending the labour in the work-shops, they have al- 
most always a special and technical knowledge of the mechanical 
arts with which the prisoners occupy themselves, (r) 

The salary of the various officers, without being exorbitant, is 
nevertheless sufficient to furnish an honourable support to the 
superintendents, and to the others, all the necessaries of life.* 

Besides, we must not judge of the merit of the prison offi- 
cers by the amount of their salary. In Virginia, the superin- 
tendent of the Richmond prison receives annually 2000 dollars. 
Yet he is the director of one of the bad prisons in the United 
States; whilst the superintendent of Wethersfield, which is one 
of the good prisons, if it is not the best, receives but 1200 dol- 
lars.t We may make the same observation by comparing the good 
prisons among each other; thus in Connecticut, the whole sum 
paid for the various salaries of the officers at Wethersfield, does 
not amount to more than 3713 dollars 33 cents for one hundred 
and seventy-four prisoners ; whilst in that of Boston, the corres- 
ponding expenditure for two hundred and seventy-six prisoners, 
amounts to 13,171 dollars 55 cents; so that at Boston, where 
the number of the prisoners is not double those at Wethersfield, 
the expenses of the officers amount to three times and a half 
more than in the latter prison. 

In investigating the organization of the new establishments, 
we have been struck with the importance which is attached to 
the choice of the individuals who direct them. As soon as the 
penitentiary system was adopted in the United States, the per- 
sonnel changed its nature. For jailor of A prison, vulgar peo- 
ple only could be found ; the most distinguished persons oflfer- 

Though the salaries of the officers of American prisons are pretty high, they 
are much less than they at first appear. The various arts and occupations in that 
country are so profitable, that every individual endowed with some capacity, finds 
easily a more profitable career, than that offered by the administration of prisons. 
And men like Mr. Samuel Wood would not be found at the head of American 
penitentiaries, were they not influenced by a nobler sentiment than that of pecu- 
niary interest. 

f See Report on the prison of Connecticut, of 1830, p. 11. 

i See Statistical Tables, financial division, salary of the officers 5 No. 19. 

30 Penitentiary System. 

ed themselves to administer a penitentiary where a moral direc- 
tion exists. 

We have seen how the superintendents, however elevated their 
character and position may be, are subject to the control of a su- 
perior authority the inspectors of the penitentiary. But above 
both, there is an authority stronger than all others, not written in. 
the laws, but all-powerful in a free country; that of public opi- 
nion. The improvements in these matters having excited gene- 
ral attention, public opinion directed itself entirely toward this 
point, and it exercises without obstruction its vast influence. 

There are countries in which public establishments are con- 
sidered by the government as its own personal affair, so that it 
admits persons to them only according to its pleasure, just as 
a proprietor refuses at his pleasure admission into his house ; 
they are a sort of administrative sanctuaries, into which no pro- 
fane person can penetrate. These establishments, on the con- 
trary, in the United States, are considered as belonging to all. 
The prisons are open to every one who chooses to inspect them, 
and every visiter may inform himself of the order which regu- 
lates the interior. There is no exception to this liberty but in 
the penitentiary at Philadelphia. Yet, if one wish, he may see 
the buildings and the interior of the establishment. It is only not 
permitted to see the prisoners, because the visits of the public 
would be in direct contradiction to the principle of absolute soli- 
tude, which forms the foundation of the system.* 

Instead of avoiding the inspection of the public, the superin- 
tendents and inspectors of the prisons ask for the examination 
and attention of all.t Each year the inspectors give an account, 
either to the legislature or to the governor, of the financial situa- 
tion of the prison, as well as of its moral state ; they indicate 
existing abuses and improvements to be made. Their reports, 
printed by order of the legislatures, are immediately handed over 
to publicity and controversy ; the papers, the number of which 
in that country is immense, republish them faithfully. Thus 
there is not a citizen of the United States who does not know 

* Admission to this penitentiary is readily granted if inquiry and not curiosity 
be the motive for desiring it, as the instance of our author shows. TRANS. 

f " It is very desirable that citizens of the state, and especially gentlemen ho- 
noured with the power of making and administering the laws, should frequently 
visit this prison." (See Report of Mr. Niles, 1829.) 

The modern penitentiaries attract many curious persons. According to the 
law, the superintendent would have the right to refuse admission ; but he never 
makes use of this right ; and all desirous to visit the prison are allowed to enter 
on the payment of 25 cents. These visits thus become a source of revenue, 
and the administrator of the prison, keeps account of it. During the year 1830, 
the Auburn penitentiary received in this way 1,524 dollars 87 cents. (See Re- 
vised Statutes of the State of New York, sec. 64, art. 2, chap. 3, tit. 2, fourth 
division, Vol. II.) 

Penitentiary System. 31 

how the prisons of his country are governed, and who is not 
able to contribute to their improvement, either by his opinion or 
by his fortune. The general interest being thus excited, in each 
town, particular societies form themselves for the progress of 
prison discipline: all public establishments are carefully examin- 
ed ; all abuses are discovered and pointed out. If it is necessary 
to construct new prisons, individuals add their contributions to 
the funds furnished by the state, to meet the expenses. This 
general attention, a source of perpetual vigilance, produces with 
the officers of the prisons, an extraordinary zeal and extreme 
circumspection, which they would not be possessed of, were they 
placed in the shade. This surveillance of public opinion which 
constrains them in some respects, produces also its compensation, 
because it is this public opinion which elevates their functions, 
and makes them honourable, low and obscure as they formerly 

We have seen the elements of which the prison is composed. 
Let us now examine how its organization operates. When the 
convict arrives in the prison, a physician verifies the state of his 
heallh. He is washed ; his hair is cut, and a new dress, accord- 
ing to the uniform of the prison is given to him. In Philadel- 
phia, he is conducted to his solitary cell, which he never leaves; 
there he works, eats, and rests; and the construction of this cell 
is so complete, that there is no necessity whatever to leave it.* 

At Auburn, at Wethersfield, and in the other prisons of the 
same nature, the prisoner is first plunged into the same solitude, 
but it is only for a few days, after which he leaves it, in order 
to occupy himself in the work-shops.t With day-break, a bell 
gives the sign of rising; the jailors open the doors. The pri- 
soners range themselves in a line, under the command of their 
respective jailors, and go first into the yard, where they wash 
their hands and faces, and from thence into the work-shops, 
where they go directly to work. Their labour is not interrupted 
until the hour of taking food. There is not a single instant given 
to recreation. J 

At Auburn, when the hours of breakfast or of dinner have 
arrived, labour is suspended, and all the convicts meet in the 
large refectory. At Sing-Sing, and in all other penitentiaries, 
they retire into their cells, and take their meals separately. 

* Each cell is ventilated by a proper contrivance, and contains a fosse d'ai- 
sance, which by its construction is perfectly odourless. It is necessary to have 
seen these cells of the Philadelphia prison, and to have passed whole days in it, 
in order to form an exact idea of their cleanliness and the purity of the air which 
one breathes there. 

f The cells at Auburn are much smaller than those at Philadelphia ; they are 
seven feet long and three and a half wide. A ventilator keeps the air pure. 

$ For much stronger reasons, every game at hazard is prohibited: the regula- 
tions are uniform on this point and faithfully executed. 

32 Penitentiary System. 

This latter regulation appeared to us preferable to that at Au- 
burn. It is not without inconvenience and even danger, that so 
large a number of criminals can be collected in the same room ; 
their union renders the discipline much more difficult. 

In the evening, at the setting of the sun, labour ceases, and the 
convicts leave the work-shops to retire into their cells. Upon ris- 
ing, going to sleep, eating, leaving the cells and going back to 
them, every thing passes in the most profound silence, and nothing 
is heard in the whole prison but the steps of those who march, or 
sounds proceeding from the work-shops. But when the day is 
finished, and the prisoners have retired to their cells, the silence 
within these vast walls, which contain so many prisoners, is 
that of death. We have often trod during night those monoto- 
nous and dumb galleries, where a lamp is always burning: we 
felt as if we traversed catacombs; there were a thousand living 
beings, and yet it was a desert solitude. 

The order of one day is that of the whole year. Thus one 
hour of the convict follows with overwhelming uniformity the 
other, from the moment of his entry into the prison to the ex- 
piration of his punishment. Labour fills the whole day. The 
whole night is given to rest. As the labour is hard, long hours 
of rest are necessary ; it is not denied to the prisoner between 
the moment of going to rest and that of rising. And before his 
sleep as after it, he has time to think of his solitude, his crime 
and his misery. 

All penitentiaries it is true have not the same regulations; but 
all the convicts of a prison are treated in the same way. There 
is even more equality in the prison than in society.* 

All have the same dress, and eat the same bread. All work ; 
there exists in this respect, no other distinction than that which 
results from a greater natural skill for one art than for another. 
On no condition is labour to be interrupted. The inconvenience 
of giving a task, after which the prisoner is at liberty to do no- 
thing, has been acknowledged. It is essential for the convict as 
for the order of the prison, that he should labour without fnter- 
ruption ; for him, because idleness is fatal to him ; for the prison, 
because according to the observation of Judge Powers, fifty in- 
dividuals who work, are more easily watched than ten convicts 
doing nothing.! 

Their food is wholesome, abundant, but coarse ;J it has to sup- 

* Is this intended as a gentle cut ? TRAITS. 
f See Report of Mr. G. Powers, 1828, p. 14. 

* See Revised Statutes of the State of New York, Vol. II. p. 707, 57. If 
the reader wishes to know in detail of what the food consists at Auburn, we 
refer him to Judge Powers' Report of 1828, page 43, and the manuscript note 
of the Clerk of Auburn. Respecting the food at Wethersfield, see report on 
this prison in 1828, page 19. For the food at Boston, see the law of March 11, 
1828. Respecting Baltimore, see Rules and Regulations page 6, 1829. 

Penitentiary System. 33 

port their strength, but ought not to afford them any of those 
gratifications of the appetite, which are agreeable merely. 

None can follow a diet different from that of the prison. Every 
kind of fermented liquor is prohibited; water alone is drunk 
here.* The convict who might be possessed of treasures, would 
nevertheless live like the poorest among them ; and we do not 
find in the American prisons, those eating houses which are 
found in ours, and in which the convict may buy every thing to 
gratify his appetite. The abuse of wine is there unknown, be- 
cause the use of it is interdicted.! 

This discipline is at the same time moral and just. The place 
which society has assigned for repentance, ought to present no 
scenes of pleasure and debauch. And it is iniquitous to allow the 
opulent criminal, whose very riches increase his criminality, to 
enjoy himself in his prison by the side of the poor wretch whose 
misery extenuates his fault.J 

Application to labour and good conduct in prison, do not pro- 
cure the prisoner any alleviation. Experience shows that the 
criminal who, whilst in society, has committed the most expert 
and audacious crimes, is often the least refractory in prison. He 
is more docile than the others, because he is more intelligent; 
and he knows how to submit to necessity when he finds himself 
without power to revolt. Generally he is more skilful and more 
active, particularly if an enjoyment, at no great distance, awaits 
him as the reward of his efforts; so that if we accord to the pri- 
soners privileges resulting from their conduct in the prison, we 
run the risk of alleviating the rigour of imprisonment to that 

See Report on the Wethersfield prison, 1828, page 19. 

f A picture of these as well as many other most revolting abuses in French 
prisons, is given in the Memoirs of Vidocq, who was himself a convict in the 
bagnes, and at a later period principal agent of the French police. A transla- 
tion of this work appeared in 1829, in London. Though these Memoirs contain 
in some parts fictitious representations of facts, yet the latter are mostly suffi- 
ciently warranted, and there can be no doubt but that the work is "true in 
itself," as the Germans appropriately term it. We seize upon this opportunity 
to recommend M. Vidocq's Memoirs to the perusal of every gentleman who 
takes a lively interest in the important subject of prison discipline, though the 
author may not always treat his subject in a manner which the reader less familiar- 
ized with these pests of society might desire. TRANS. 

+ We only indicate here the most important points of which the order, disci- 
pline, and government of the penitentiaries are composed. In order to know 
the details of the established rules in the new prisons, the division of the day, 
the nature of the labour, the duties of the officers and of the prisoners, the na- 
ture of the authorized punishments, the obligations imposed upon the contract- 
ors, &c., &c., we refer to the regulations of the Connecticut prison given in the 
Appendix as No. 13; also to the regulations drawn up by Mr. Austin, January 1, 
1831, for the Massachusetts prison; also the two reports of Mr. Powers on the 
Auburn prison in 1826 and 1828, and lastly to the regulations of the new peni- 
tentiary at Philadelphia. We have also consulted, on this point, the manuscript 
notes given to us by the clerk of the Auburn prison, and by the superintendent 
of Sing-Sing, (Mr. Wiltse). 

34 Penitentiary System. 

criminal who most deserves them, and of depriving of all favours 
those who merit them most. 

Perhaps it would be impossible, in the actual state of our pri- 
sons, to manage them without the assistance of rewards granted 
for the zeal, activity, and talent of the prisoners. But in Ame- 
rica, where prison discipline operates supported by the fear of 
chastisement, a moral influence can be dispensed with in respect 
to their management. 

The interest of the prisoner requires that he should never be 
idle; that of society demands that he should labour in the most 
useful way. In the new penitentiaries none of those machines 
are found, which, in England, the prisoners set in motion with- 
out intelligence, and which occupy them merely in a mechanical 

Labour is not only salutary because it is the opposite of idle- 
ness; but it is also contemplated that the convict, whilst he is 
at work, shall learn a business which may support him when he 
leaves the prison. 

The prisoners therefore, are taught useful trades only ; and 
among these, care is taken to choose such as are the most profit- 
able, and the produce of which finds the easiest sale, (s) 

The Philadelphia system has often been reproached with 
rendering labour by the prisoners impossible. It is certainly 
more economical and advantageous to make a certain number of 
workmen labour together in a common workshop, than to give 
each of them employment in a separate place. It is moreover 
true, that a great many arts cannot be pursued with advantage 
by a single workman in a narrow place; yet the penitentiary of 
Philadelphia shows that the various occupations which can be 
pursued by isolated men, are sufficiently numerous to occupy 
them usefully.* The same difficulty is not met with in those 
prisons in which the convicts work in company. At Auburn 
and at Baltimore, a very great variety of arts is pursued. These 
two prisons offer the sight of vast manufactories which combine 
all useful occupations. At Boston and Sing-Sing the occupation 
of the convicts has, so far, been more uniform. In these two 
prisons, the greater part of the criminals are employed in cutting 
stones. Wethersfield offers, on a small scale, the same spectacle 
as Auburn. 

In general, the labour of the prisoners is hired to a contractor, 
who gives a certain price for each day, and receives every thing 
manufactured by the convict. 

* The arts pursued in the Philadelphia penitentiary, are weaving, shoemaking, 
tailoring, joiner's work, &c. See the annual reports on that penitentiary. [Re- 
specting the productiveness of labour in solitary confinement, see our note add- 
ed to PENNSYLVANIA SYSTEM, paragraph 2 of Section ii. of No. 19, Finan- 
cial Division. THAKS. ] 

Penitentiary System. 35 

There is an essential difference between this system and that 
which is practised in our prisons. With us the same person con- 
tracts for the food, clothing, labour, and sanitary department of 
the convicts a system equally injurious to the convict and the 
discipline of the prison;* to the convict, because the contractor, 
who sees nothing but a money affair in such a bargain, specu- 
lates upon the victuals as he does on the labour; if he loses 
upon the clothing, he indemnifies himself upon the food ; and if 
the labour is less productive than he calculated upon, he tries to 
balance his loss by spending less for the support of the convicts, 
with which he is equally charged. This system is alike fatal to 
the good order of the prison. The contractor, regarding the con- 
vict as a labouring machine, thinks only how he can use him to 
the greatest advantage for himself; every thing appears allowa- 
ble, in order to excite the zeal of the prisoner; and he cares lit- 
tle if the expenses of the convict are made to the injury of good 
order. The extent of his privileges, moreover, gives him an im- 
portance in the prison, which he ought not to have ; it is there- 
fore advisable to separate him as much as possible from the pe- 
nitentiary, and to counteract his influence, if it cannot be neu- 
tralized entirely. (/) 

It appeared to us, that the evil which we have thus pointed out, 
has been generally avoided in the new penitentiaries in the Unit- 
ed States. In these establishments, neither the system of entire 
domestic management, nor that by contract, have been exclusive- 
ly adopted. 

The clothing and bedding of the convicts are generally fur- 
nished by the superintendent, who himself makes all the con- 
tracts relative to these subjects; he avoids many purchases, by 
causing the prisoners themselves to make the materials necessa- 
ry for their clothing. At Auburn, Sing-Sing, and Boston, the 
prisoners are fed by contract, but this contract is not allowed to 
be made for more than one year. At Wethersfield, the prison 
itself provides this article. The contractor who, at Auburn, is 
charged with the food of the prisoners, is not the same who 
makes them work. 

There exists also a different contractor for each branch of in- 
dustry ; the contracts thus being multiplied, the contractor can- 
not obtain in the prison more than a limited and passing influ- 
ence. At Wethersfield, the government of the prison not only 
nourishes and maintains the convicts without the assistance of 
contract, but it also realizes the value of the greater part of the 

* In the maison centrale de detention at Melun, a considerable library exists for 
the use of the convicts. It belongs to the contractor, who lets the books for a 
certain sum. The reader may judge from this fact, of the nature of the books. 

f See art. 4, of section i. of the regulations of the Connecticut prison, No. 13. 

36 Penitentiary System. 

In all these establishments, the contractor cannot, under any 
pretext, interfere with the internal discipline of the prison, nor 
influence in the least degree its regulations. He cannot hold any 
conversation with the prisoners, except in order to teach them 
that art, with which he is charged to instruct them ; and can 
only do this in the presence and with the consent of one of the 
jailors. * 

In spite of these precautions, the presence of the contractor or 
his agents in the prisons has been found to be not without its in- 
convenience. Formerly the Auburn prison managed itself all 
its affairs ;t and when the principle of contract was introduced, 
Mr. Elam Lynds, then its superintendent, did not allow the 
contractor to approach the convicts. The contractor engaged to 
give the stipulated price for the articles manufactured by the 
prisoners, and these articles were delivered to him, without his 
having directed their manufacture. Much was gained in point 
of discipline by this order of things; if it were advantageous to 
limit the intercourse between the contractor and the convicts, it 
was still better to prevent it entirely. However, such a system 
of administration was found both difficult and expensive. 

The contractors, being deprived of the right of inspecting the 
labour, imposed disadvantageous conditions upon the prison ; on 
the other hand, their exclusion from the workshops, made it 
requisite that the jailors should be capable of instructing the pri- 
soners in the respective arts; and such persons, possessing the 
necessary skill and technical knowledge, were not easily found. 
Finally, the sale of the articles was less easy and productive for 
the superintendent, than for the contractors, exclusively occu- 
pied with commercial operations. The result therefore, has been 
the adoption of a system of contract such as we have described ; 
this system, surrounded by the guaranties which accompany it, 
possesses advantages which seem much to outweigh its inconve- 
niences. However, Mr. Elam Lynds seems constantly to fear 
that the presence of the contractors in the prison, will lead sooner 
or later to the total ruin of the discipline. 

We shall soon see, when we have occasion to treat of the ex- 
penses and income, that the labour of the prisoners is in general 
very productive. Visiting these various establishments, we have 
been surprised by the order, and sometimes the talent, with which 
the convicts work ; and what makes their zeal quite surprising, 
is, that they work without any interest in its produce. In our 
prisons, as well as in those of the greater part of Europe, a part 
of the produce of their labour belongs to the prisoners. This por- 

See G. Powers' report, 1828, page 42. Resp. Boston, see regulations, Jan. 
1, 1831. 

t See Report of G. Powers, page 41, 1828. 

Penitentiary System. 37 

tion, called the pecule* is more or less in various countries; in 
the United States it does not exist. There the principle is adopt- 
ed, that the criminal owes all his labour to society, in order to 
indemnify it for the expenses of his detention. Thus, during the 
whole time of their punishment, the convicts work without re- 
ceiving the slightest remuneration ; and if they leave the prison, 
no account is given to them of what they have done. They 
merely receive a certain portion of money, in order to carry 
them to the place which they propose to make their new resi- 

This system appears to us excessively severe. We do not dis- 
pute the right of society to indemnify itself by the labour of the 
convict for the expenses he causes; it is an incontestable right; 
moreover we do not know in what degree a considerable pecule 
or earning is useful to the convict, who, when he leaves the pri- 
son, generally sees in the money earned by him, but a means to 
satisfy passions, the more excited as they have been the longer 
repressed. But where would be the inconvenience in giving a 
slight stimulus to the zeal of the convict, by a small reward to 
his activity? Why should we not give him in his solitude, 
and in the midst of his sufferings, an interest in a gain however 
small, yet to him of immense value ?$ Moreover, is it not necessa- 

* The ptcule is now always called in America, over-stint. TRAKS. 

f The law of the State of New York does not permit the superintendent to 
give more than three dollars to the convict at the time of his leaving the prison, 
but he must give him clothes, which must not cost more than ten dollars. See 
Hev. Stat. of N. Y., 4th divis. chap, iii., tit. 2., art. 2., 62. At Philadelphia the 
superintendent may give four dollars to the liberated criminal. See art. 8 of the 
regulations. See report of 1831. At Boston he is authorized to give five dollars 
and a " decent suit of clothes" worth about twenty dollars. The inspectors of 
the Massachusetts prison seem to regret that so much is given to the convicts 
whose terms have expired. See their report of 1830, page 4. Kesp. Wethers- 
field, see the report of 1828, on the Connecticut prison. 

I The first question is, does it interfere with the whole penitentiary system or 
not, that a convict should be allowed to have his pecule or over-stint ? It is the 
opinion of Judge Welles of Wethersfield, that a reasonable over-stint may be al- 
lowed with advantage. If it is considered injurious, no further question is ne- 
cessary, because the disposal of the labour of the convict is as lawful as that of 
his person. But, it might be said, the state may oblige the convict to produce 
what he costs and no more. This is unfounded, for two reasons. 1. The labour 
certainly must be at his disposal, at whose the whole person is. 2. If the matter 
is considered in a financial point of view, the convict owes to society a far great- 
er debt than that of his support. Does he not oblige society to establish courts 
for him, to pay juries, to have a police, and to incur numerous other expenses ? 
Has he refunded all the injury he has done ? The best application of a surplus 
arising from prison labour, would be, perhaps, to the support of schools, if ever 
it should amount to a considerable sum. As for the necessity of some pecuniary 
means for a liberated convict, in order to re-establish him in society, the great 
difficulty always remains, that those means which by some would be properly 
used, would with the unreformed but serve for the gratification of vicious habits, 
so long repressed, and become rather an inducement to plunge once more into 
crime, than the means of beginning an honest livelihood. Something effectual 
might perhaps be done by allowing the prisoners to save a pecule after they had 

38 Penitentiary System. 

ry that on the day when he re-enters society, he should have, 
not a considerable sum at his disposal, at least some means o 
support whilst he is in search of labour?* Why not adopt the 
system of the Baltimore prison, where, though the principle of 
the other American penitentiaries has been acknowledged, yet 
its rigour has been alleviated? In that prison every prisoner has 
his fixed task for the day : when that is finished, he does not 
cease to work, but he begins to work for himself; all that he does 
after his task, forms his pecule; and as he does not receive his 
earning before he leaves the prison, it is certain that it cannot 
become injurious to its discipline. There was a time when the 
prisoners at Baltimore could spend their earnings immediately 
for eatables. Their labour was then much more productive; but 
the inconvenience of such indulgence has been acknowledged to 
be destructive of good discipline; and at present their pbcule re- 
mains untouched until the moment of their leaving the prison.! 

Such is the order established in the American penitentiaries. 
We have said that this discipline is applied to all prisoners in 
the state prison ; however, the women have so far not yet been 
subjected to it, except in Connecticut. Generally they are found 
together in the American prisons as with us; and in that coun- 
try, as with us, they are exposed to all the vices growing out of 
contaminated intercourse. 

Some persons believe that it would be extremely difficult to 
apply to women a system, the basis of which is silence : yet the 

been for a certain time in prison and behaved well, which, however, should not 
be at their free disposal, when they leave the prison (and never at their disposal 
before,) but might be paid to them in small portions when it appeared that they 
wanted the money actually for good purposes. So it might also perhaps be pro- 
per to allow such prisoners as have families, to save something to be paid for the 
support of their wives ami children. This would be a moral stimulus. Here we 
must mention that the penitentiary system, to be perfect, requires in our opinion, 
societies who occupy themselves with devising means to aid delivered convicts 
to re-establish themselves in society, a matter which, according to the most na- 
tural course of things, is of such extreme difficulty for any convict, however firm 
his resolution may be to begin an honest life. We are truly happy therefore to 
find, that by the unwearied exertions of Mr. Louis Dwight, a farm is soon to be 
established in Massachusetts, where liberated convicts can find labour, and what 
is equally important, re-accustom themselves to society ; because if penitentiaries 
ought to be the moral hospitals of society, the patients should gradually be ac- 
customed to the free air, and to the temptations and clashing interests of society. 
"We hope to be able to give an accurate account of this novel and important in- 
stitution, at the end of this work. TRANS. 

* Generally speaking, the most dangerous moment for a delivered convict, is 
that when he leaves the prison. Not unfrequently they spend their whole^e'cu/le 
within the first twenty-four hours of their liberty. In Geneva, to redress this 
evil, the whole ptcule is not delivered to the convict when he leaves the jail. It 
is sent to him to the place of his new residence. The same is now done in France 
with the convicts who leave the bagnes and maisutts centrales. This is a wise mea- 
sure, which it is important to preserve. 

f See Report on the Penitentiary of Maryland of December 23, 1828, to Go- 
vernor Kent ; and the Report on the same of 1830. 

Penitentiary System. 39 

experiment made at Wethersfield, where the women are, like the 
rest of the prisoners, subject to isolation in cells during night, and 
absolute silence during day, proves that the difficulty is not in- 
surmountable.* Again, it is not. the difficulty of execution in 
this point which has prevented reform in the prisons of the 
United States. If, in the application of the new penitentiary 
system, the women have been omitted, this fact must be ascribed 
above all, to the small number of crimes committed by them in 
that country ; it is because they occupy little space in the prison, 
that they have been neglected. t It is the same with most evils 
of society, a remedy for which is ardently sought if they are im- 
portant; if they are not alarming they are overlooked. 

Disciplinary Means. 

The necessity of distinguishing the Philadelphia system from that of Auburn. 
The first much easier to be put in practice, and to be maintained. That 
of Auburn has for an auxiliary corporal punishment. Moderate discipline at 
Wethersfield. Discretionary power of the superintendents. Aversion to 
corporal punishments. What is their influence upon the state of health of 
the prisoners? 

LET us now examine by what disciplinary means the order 
of things which we have explained above, is established and 

How is silence so rigorously maintained among a number of 
assembled criminals ? How are they made to work without any 
interest of their own ? 

Here also we have to distinguish between the Auburn and 
Philadelphia systems. 

In Philadelphia, the discipline is as simple as the system it- 
self. The only critical moment is that when the prisoner enters 
the prison. The solitary cell of the criminal is for some days 
full of terrible phantoms. Agitated and tormented by a thousand 
fears, he accuses society of injustice and cruelty, and in such a 
disposition of mind, it sometimes will happen that he disregards 

The difficulty is doubled 5 

1. It is generally thought that women submit much more reluctantly to abso- 
lute silence, than the men. 

2. A coercive method, used with men, is wanting in regard to women. The 
laws of the United States, which authorize corporal punishment in respect to 
male prisoners, prohibit the same from being applied to women. 

f See Statistical Observations, No. 17, 4. Proportion of crimes committed 
by women to those committed by men. So far the authors. The reason of this 
great difference is known to every body who is acquainted with the different 
stations women occupy in the United States from that in most countries of Eu- 
rope. TBAHS. 

40 Penitentiary System. 

the orders, and repels the consolations offered to him. The only 
chastisement which the regulations of the prison permits, is im- 
prisonment in a dark cell with reduction of food. It is rare that 
more than two days of such discipline are required, to curb the 
most refractory prisoner. When the convict has overcome the 
first impressions of solitude; when he has triumphed over the 
terrors which almost surrendered him to insanity or despair ;* 
when, in his solitary cell, in the midst of the pains of a stinging 
conscience, and the agitations of his soul, he has fallen into a 
dejection of mind, and has sought in labour a relief from his 
griefs ; from that moment he is tamed, and for ever submissive 
to the rules of the prison. What breach of order is it possible 
to commit in solitude? The entire discipline consists in the iso- 
lation of the prisoners, and the impossibility of their violating 
the established rule. In the other prisons, disciplinary punish- 
ments are inflicted on the prisoners who break the law of silence, 
or refuse to work. But silence is easy for him who is alone ; and 
labour is not refused by those whose only consolation it forms.t 
We have pointed out the inconvenience of absolute solitude, the 
deficiency of which is, that it deprives the prisoner's submission 
of its moral character ;f but we must at the same time acknow- 
ledge its advantages in respect to discipline ; and the facility of 
ruling an establishment of this nature, without the application of 
severe and repeated punishment, is certainly a very great advan- 
tage. There are some persons who consider the order established 
at Philadelphia complicated, organized with difficulty, and main- 
tained with trouble. They are, in our opinion, greatly mistaken. 
The Philadelphia system is expensive, but not difficult to be es- 
tablished ; and once established, it maintains itself. It is this 
very system, the discipline of which offers the least embarrass- 
ment ; each cell is a prison in itself, and the convicts who are 

* Though a guilty conscience never stings with keener pain, or smites the 
soul with greater grief than when we are alone and " only in presence of our 
crime," and though the Philadelphia system is founded on this very truth, yet 
we believe that the greater part of the cases the authors have depicted here in 
too lively colours. THANS. 

| The convict would be willing enough to work as much as is necessary in 
order to dcsennuyer himself, and to exercise his body, and to remain idle when 
he felt himself fatigued. But this is not allowed, and justly so ; he must always 
work or not at all. If he refuses to work in a line he has begun, he is placed in 
a dark cell. He has therefore the choice between constant leisure in darkness, 
or uninterrupted labour in his cell. His choice Ts never long in suspense, and he 
always prefers labour. See Reports on the Philadelphia prison in 1831. 

1 1 confess freely that 1 was unable to understand the authors here, or in other 
passages on the same point. To attribute a moral character to a submission which 
is produced only by the threat of instant corporal punishment in the moment of 
infraction, seems to me a solecism. The prisoner's moral exertion certainly is not 
more proved by submitting to silence because he would be severely punished 
were he to break it, than by the material impossibility of breaking it ; and whillt 
the former means irritate, the latter lead to contemplation. TBAICS. 

Penitentiary System. 41 

detained there cannot render themselves guilty of offences which 
can only be possibly committed in company with others. There 
is no punishment, because there is no infraction. 

The discipline at Auburn, Sing-Sing, Boston, Wethersfield, 
and Baltimore, could not have the same character of simplicity : 
these various establishments themselves, follow, in this respect, 
different courses. 

At Sing-Sing, the only punishment for those who infringe 
the established order, is that of the whip. The application of this 
disciplinary means is there very frequent; and the least fault is 
punished with its application. For various reasons this punish- 
ment is preferred to all others. It effects the immediate submis- 
sion of the delinquent; his labour is not interrupted a single in- 
stant; the chastisement is painful, but not injurious to health; 
finally, it is believed that no other punishment would produce 
the same effects.* The same principle is admitted at Auburn, but 
in its application is extremely rare. The penitentiaries of Boston 
and Baltimore, a little more severe than that at Auburn, are 
nevertheless much less so than Sing-Sing: Wethersfield differs 
from all others by its extreme mildness, (v) 

In this latter prison stripes are not altogether objected to ; but 
their application is as much as possible avoided : Mr. Pillsbury, 
superintendent of the establishment, has assured us, that for 
three years he has but one single time been obliged to inflict 
stripes. It is a severity to which recourse is had only if it is well 
ascertained that every other and milder way has been tried with- 
out effect: before resorting to stripes, absolute solitude day and 
night without labour is tried : if we believe the officers of the 
prison, nothing is rarer than to see a prisoner resist this first 
trial ; he has been scarcely subjected to the rigour of absolute 
isolation, than he solicits the favour of again taking his place 
in the common workshop, and submits willingly to all that dis- 
cipline requires. However, if he is not curbed at the first mo- 
ment, greater severity is added to his solitude, such as entire 
privation of light, and diminution of food; sometimes also his 
bed is taken from him, &c., &c., &c. If the prisoner still obsti- 
nately resists, then, and then only, the whip is used, as the still 
more effective means of submission. The directors of this esta- 
blishment seem to have a decided aversion to corporal chastise- 
ment; yet they would regret it much if they were not invested 

* No register is kept of disciplinary punishments. We have been told that 
about five or six whippings (among one thousand prisoners,) take place every 
day at Sing-Sing. At Auburn, though very frequent in the beginning, they are 
now very rare. One of the officers of this prison said to us: I remember having 
seen, at the beginning, nineteen prisoners whipped in less than an hour. Since 
the discipline was well established, I once had no occasion to resort to the whip 
a single time for four months and a half. (See our inquiry in MS. into the Au- 
burn discipline. ) 


42 Penitentiary System. 

with the right to inflict it. They reject the application of cruel 
pain ; but they find a powerful means of acting upon the crimi- 
nals, in their authority to order it 

The tempered discipline of Wethersfield seems to suffice for 
the success of the establishment. Yet in the other prisons it is 
thought that the management of the whole would be impossible 
without the assistance of the whip. This is the opinion of all 
practical men whom we have seen in the United States, particu- 
larly of Mr. Elam Lynds, whom we have mentioned above.* 
The legislatures of New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and 
Maryland, have had the same conviction, since they have formally 
authorized the infliction of corporal punishment. These chastise- 
ments have also received the sanction of judicial authority; and 
the country, through the organ of her jury, has given several 
verdicts in favour of jailors who acknowledged having beaten 
the prisoners, (x) 

We have noticed the remarkable differences which exist in the 
disciplinary order of the various establishments ; all, however, 
admit the principle of corporal punishment; and it is just to say, 
that there exist in the particular situation of each of the prisons, 
certain circumstances, which tend to*explain the mildness or 
severity of its discipline. 

If we remember the nature of the labours executed at Sing- 
Sing, and the order established in that prison, we easily under- 
stand the insurmountable obstacles with which disciplinary order 
would meet in this prison, were it not supported by the most 
energetic measures of repression. Auburn does not require so 
much severity, because the same dangers do not threaten the 
order of the establishment. Wethersfield is, in this respect, in a 
still more favourable position ; it contains less than two hundred 
criminals, whilst Auburn has six hundred and fifty, and Sing- 
Sing more than nine hundred. It is evident, that the number, 
more or less considerable, of criminals, and the nature of the 
labour, render the penitentiary more or less easy of government 

Now, could these various penitentiaries dispense with corporal 
chastisement? This is a question which we dare not solve. We 
are merely able to say, that, deprived of this assistance, prison 
discipline would meet with difficulties very difficult to be over- 
come. Its embarrassments would be so much the greater, as 
it is founded on an unique basis, that of absolute silence ; and 
should it ever be deprived of this foundation, the whole fabric 
must inevitably crumble to pieces ; now, how is it possible to 
maintain absolute silence among criminals, if they are not con- 
tinually overawed by the fear of a prompt and rigorous chastise- 
ment? In the American prisons, this discipline, founded upon 

See our conversation with Mr. Elam Lynds, at the end of the volume. 

Penitentiary System. 43 

stripes, is so much more powerful, as it is practised more arbi- 
trarily.* At Sing-Sing, and at Auburn, there are no written re- 
gulations : the superintendents of these prisons, have only, in 
their government, to conform themselves to the verbal prescrip- 
tions which they receive from the inspectors, and to a few prin- 
ciples expressed in the law ; these principles are : solitary im- 
prisonment of the convicts during night, and labour in silence 
during day. For the rest, they enjoy, as to all acts of execution, 
a discretionary power. (y] At Sing-Sing, the superintendent has 
even the right to delegate this discretionary power to all his in- 
ferior agents; and in fact he has transmitted his power to thirty 
jailors, who are invested like himself with the power of chastis- 
ing the convicts. At Auburn, the superintendent alone has the 
power to punish ; yet the same authority belongs to the inferior 
keepers, in all cases of urgent and absolute necessity. The same 
is the case in Boston. In Wethersfield, the regulations of the 
prison are in writing ;t the subaltern officers can in no case ex- 
ercise the right of punishing, with which the superintendent 
alone is invested, and which he uses with so much moderation. 
Important debates have taken place in the state of New York, 
on the question whether the presence of an inspector ought to 
be required when inflicting stripes upon a prisoner : according to 
the letter of the law, this guaranty was indispensable; but the 
obligation of the inspectors to be present at such punishments, 
was so frequently inconvenient, and caused them such painful 
feelings, that they asked immediately to be absolved from this 
duty; and at present the right of the officers to inflict stripes 
without these official witnesses is acknowledged. J The inspectors 
have nevertheless a great influence on the application of disci- 
plinary chastisement. Sing-Sing is the only prison where their 
superintendence has appeared to us superficial upon this point. 
The administration of this vast penitentiary is so difficult, that 

* We will mention here a remarkable fact, which proves the efficiency of this 
discipline. On the 23d of October a fire broke out in the Auburn prison ; it con- 
sumed a part of the buildings belonging to the prison. As it became dangerous 
even to the lives of the prisoners, the latter were let out of their cells ; but the 
order was not disturbed for a moment ; all assisted zealously to extinguish the 
fire, and not one of them attempted to profit by this circumstance to escape. 
(See Report of 1829 of the Inspectors of Auburn.) 

f In Boston the regulations are likewise in writing, and the duties of the offi- 
cers are traced in it. However, these provisions are directory only: the superin- 
tendent and the sub-director are invested not the less with a discretionary power. 
Regulations of the New Prison, page 100. So far the authors. This is one of 
the many instances which show that an officer of a government entirely depen- 
dent upon public opinion, may often be clothed with much more power than 
a similar officer in a more arbitrary government, for the very reason that he re- 
mains always under the inspection and influence of the public. TRAKS. 

i See Report of the Inspectors of Auburn, January 26, 1825. 

44 Penitentiary System. 

there seems to be no disposition to dispute the least part of the 
absolute power of the keepers. 

We shall not investigate here whether society has the right to 
punish, with corporal chastisement, the convict who refuses to 
submit to the obligation of labour, or to the other exigencies of 
penitentiary discipline. 

Such theoretical questions are rarely discussed, to the interest 
of truth and human society. 

We believe that society has the right to do every thing neces- 
sary for its conservation, and for the order established within it ; 
and we understand perfectly well, that an assemblage of crimi- 
nals, all of whom have infringed the laws of the land, and all 
of whose inclinations are corrupted, and appetites vicious, can- 
not be governed in prison according to the same principles, and 
with the same means, as free persons, whose desires are correct, 
and whose actions are conformable to the laws. We also conceive 
perfectly well, that a convict who will not labour, ought to be 
constrained to do so, and that severity ought to be used in order 
to reduce him to silence, who will not observe it ; the right of 
society seems to us, on this point, beyond all doubt, if it cannot 
arrive at the same end by milder means; but in our opinion that 
is not the question. 

To what point are corporal chastisements reconcilable with the 
object of the penitentiary system itself, which is the reformation 
of the guilty ? If this pain be ignominious, does it not go directly 
against the end which we propose to obtain, viz. to awaken the 
morality of an individual, fallen in his own opinion? 

This question seems to us to be the only one to be examined ; 
but we do not believe that it ought to be solved in an arbitrary 
manner. It would seem that much depends upon the light in 
which public opinion, and that of the prisoners, consider bodily 

The discretionary power, by virtue of which, the lowest keeper 
at Auburn, and even the turnkeys at Sing-Sing, lash the prisoners, 
is little contested in the United States. 

" The right of the keepers over the persons of the prisoners, 
it is said, is that of a father over his children, of the teacher over 
his pupils, of the master over his apprentice, and of a sea-captain 
over his crew."* 

The punishment of stripes is in use in the American navy, 
with no idea of infamy attached to it. In the beginning, the 
whip was not admitted as a disciplinary means in the peniten- 
tiary system. When it was introduced as an auxiliary to the 
regulations, some voices were raised against it ; but this opposi- 

* Report of Mr. G. Powers, page 11, 1827. 

Penitentiary System. 45 

tion was much more a dispute of philosophy than one of repug- 
nance to national customs.* 

Pennsylvania is, perhaps, the only state in the Union which 
continues to protest against corporal punishment, and which 
excluded it from the regulations of her prisons. The quakers 
cease not to protest against the inhumanity of this punishment, 
and their philanthropic protestations are joined by the eloquent 
voice of Edward Livingston, who also rejects this means of dis- 
cipline from his code. It is chiefly on account of corporal punish- 
ment, made use of at Auburn, that he declares himself the 
adversary of the system which is in practice in that prison. t 

But their words find few corresponding voices in most parts 
of the Union, and, at present, all new penitentiaries, that of 
Philadelphia only excepted, make use of the whip; the laws of 
the country authorize the discipline which they have adopted, 
and these laws have the sanction of public opinion. 

There is certainly much exaggeration in the reproaches made 
against the Auburn discipline. First, stripes are not so frequent 
as is believed ; necessary, as they are, to establish silence in a 
newiy founded prison, they are seldom made use of in order to 
maintain this regulation if once established. 

Now, is the whole system of these prisons, as is asserted, in- 
jurious to health, and are the rigours of solitude and the cruel- 
ties of the discipline, fatal to the life of the imprisoned ? We are 
able to furnish positive documents upon this point. 

All prisoners, whom we have seen in the penitentiaries of the 

* We believe that the authors speak here in terms much too general. If no 
idea of peculiar infamy is attached to stripes inflicted upon a prisoner, they are 
at all events much against the feeling of a great part of the community, who 
especially object to the arbitrary power of the officers to inflict them. It is with 
them a matter of humanity, not of philosophy. TRANS. 

f Mr. Livingston says, in his letter to Mr. Roberts Vaux, 1828, page 11, that 
the question is whether the whip is the most efficient means to instil religious and 
moral sentiments, the love of labour and knowledge into the soul of the convict; 
and whether a man would relish labour better for being constrained by stripes, 
or the fear of them, to do every day his task. Mr. Gershom Powers, director of 
the Auburn prison, the discipline of which Mr. Livingston thus attacked, answer- 
ed : "It is understood that (at Philadelphia) stripes are not to be tolerated under 
any circumstances, and that diet is to be the principal, if not only means of en- 
forcing discipline ; or in other words, the convicts are, from motives of humanity, 
to be starved into submission." See his Report of 1828, page 97. [Every candid 
reader will see how far the spirit of controversy misled the deceased and highly 
meritorious author of the above report. There is, besides, in most cases, a very 
great difference in punishments which consist of privations, and those which are 
composed of actual inflictions. The latter irritate our feelings much more, and 
lead to hatred and vengeance, whilst the former curb with more calmness. Skil- 
ful tyrants never forget this rule, founded upon general principles of the human 
mind. THANS.] 

Mr. Elam Lynds, with whom we have had numerous conversations on this 
point, has often told us, that when the prisoners at Auburn were in constant so- 
litary confinement, a great number of them passed more than half of their time 
in the hospital. 

46 Penitentiary System. 

United States, had the appearance of strength and health ; and if 
we compare the number of those who die there with the morta- 
lity in the old prisons, we shall see that the new penitentiaries, 
in spite of their severe regulations and barbarous discipline, are 
much more favourable to the life of the imprisoned. Mr. Edward 
Livingston wishes to see solitary confinement during night and 
day, without labour, and reduction of food substituted for the 
whip, as a disciplinary measure ; it does not seem that at Wethers- 
field this punishment, which as we have seen, is preferred to 
stripes, has produced bad effects. However, ten individuals are 
mentioned as having died in consequence of this kind of punish- 
ment in the prison of Lamberton in New Jersey, whilst there is 
no case yet on record of a prisoner having become the victim of 
corporal whipping.* 

In the old Walnut street prison, there was formerly, during 
each year, one death out of sixteen prisoners, and in that of New 
York (Newgate,) one out of nineteen. In both these prisons, 
the criminals were neither in solitary confinement, nor obliged 
to be wholly silent, nor subjected to corporal punishment.! 

In the new penitentiaries, founded upon the principles of si- 
lence and isolation supported by the discipline of stripes, death 
takes place in an infinitely smaller proportion. 

At Sing-Sing, one prisoner died out of thirty-seven ; at Weth- 
ersfield one of forty-four ; at Baltimore one of forty-nine ; at Au- 
burn one of fifty-six ; and at Boston one of fifty-eight. 

Still more: if we compare the mortality of the prisoners to 
that of persons enjoying liberty and society, we shall yet arrive 
at a result favourable to the penitentiaries. There dies, in'fact, 
in Pennsylvania, every year, one out of thirty-nine persons, and 
in Maryland one out of forty-seven. Again, in the old prisons 
where free communication existed, and where the discipline was 
mild, one half more died than in society generally; and in the 
new penitentiaries, subject to the austere system of isolation, si- 
lence, and stripes, deaths are less numerous J 

These cyphers are better answers than all possible arguments, 
to the objections which have been raised. 

We have said nothing on the sanitary state of the new Phila- 

* See Fifth Report of Prison Disc. Society at Boston, page 92. 

f See Statistical Observations, No. 17. At Auburn the prisoners are treated 
much more severely : in Philadelphia they are much more unhappy. In Auburn, 
where they are whipped, they die less frequently than in Philadelphia, where, 
for humanity's sake, they are put in a solitary and sombre cell. The superinten- 
dent of Walnut street prison, where the disciplinary punishments are mild, told 
us, that he had incessantly to punish the prisoners for infractions of discipline. 
So that the disciplinary punishments at Walnut street, milder than those at Au- 
burn, are also more often repeated and more fatal to the lives of the prisoners, 
than the severe chastisements used in this latter prison. 

* See Statistical Tables of the States of New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, 
Maryland, and Massachusetts, at the end of the Vol., No. 17. 

Penitentiary System. 47 

delphia prison, which has been in existence for too short a time 
to judge fully of its effects. We have every reason to believe 
that the system of perpetual and absolute seclusion, established 
there in full vigour, will prove less favourable to the health of 
the prisoners than the Auburn system. Yet the physician of 
that establishment believes himself able already to declare that 
the mortality will be less there than in the ancient prison of Wal- 
nut street.* 

To sum up the whole on this point, it must be acknowleged that 
the penitentiary system in America is severe. Whilst society 
in the United States gives the example of the most extended li- 
berty, the prisons of the same country offer the spectacle of the 
most complete despotism. t The citizens subject to the law are 
protected by it; they only cease to be free when they become 

* See Report on the Philadelphia Penitentiary 1831, and Observations of Mr. 
Bache, physician to the prison. So far the authors. We would refer also to the 
inquiry made into the Philadelphia Penitentiary by the authors, and given by 
the authors in the appendix to the work ; also to Mr. Wood's last statement on 
the prison, and our own article on the Pennsylvania Penitentiary System at the 
end of the vol. TRANS. 

) I have preferred translating 1 literally, even passages which on account of 
their lively expression, so natural to the nation to which our authors belong, ap- 
pear very different in English, to which the reader is accustomed to give its full 
and positive meaning; and think it would be unnecessary to dwell upon the im- 
propriety of calling a system despotic, which mainly grew out of the feeling of hu- 
manity, and continues to be kept up by it a system which, at the most, can ap- 
pear despotic only at the first glance, but which is truly merciful if compared to 
the former systems of prisons or, to speak more correctly, total want of any 
system. TBAHS. 

48 Penitentiary System. 



Illusions of some philanthropists respecting the penitentiary system. In what 
consist its real advantages. Prisoners cannot corrupt each other. Means em- 
ployed to effect their moral reform. Primary and religious instruction. Ad- 
vantages and disadvantages of the Philadelphia system on this point. The 
Auburn system, less philosophical, depends more for its success upon indivi- 
duals charged with its execution. Influence of religious persons on reforma- 
tions. Their reformation, is it obtained ? Distinction between radical and ex- 
ternal reformation. 


THERE are in America as well as in Europe, estimable men 
whose minds feed upon philosophical reveries, and whose ex- 
treme sensibility feels the want of some illusion. These men, 
for whom philanthropy has become a matter of necessity, find 
in the penitentiary system a nourishment for this generous pas- 
sion. Starting from abstractions which deviate more or less from 
reality, they consider man, however far advanced in crime, as 
still susceptible of being brought back to virtue. They think that 
the most infamous being may yet recover the sentiment of honour ; 
and pursuing consistently this opinion, they hope for an epoch 
when all criminals may be radically reformed, the prisons be en- 
tirely empty, and justice find no crimes to punish, (z) 

Others, perhaps without so profound a conviction, pursue 
nevertheless the same course; they occupy themselves continu- 
ally with prisons ; it is the subject to which all the labours of their 
life bear reference. Philanthropy has become for them a kind of 
profession ; and they have caught the monomanie of the peni- 
tentiary system, which to them seems the remedy for all the 
evils of society. 

We believe that both overrate the good to be expected from 
this institution, of which the real benefit can be acknowledged 
without attributing to it imaginary effects. 

There is, first, an incontestable advantage inherent in a peni- 
tentiary system of which isolation forms the principal basis. It 
is that the criminals do not become worse in the prison than they 

Penitentiary System. 49 

were when they entered it. On this point this system differs 
essentially from that pursued in our prisons, which not only 
render the prisoner no better, but corrupt him still more. With 
us all great crimes have been planned in some measure in a pri- 
son, and been deliberated upon in the midst of assembled male- 
factors. Such is the fatal influence of the wicked upon each other, 
that one finished rogue in a prison suffices as a model for all who 
see and hear him, to fashion their vices and immorality upon 
his. (aa) 

Nothing, certainly, is more fatal to society than this course of 
mutual evil instruction in prisons ; and it is well ascertained that 
we owe to this dangerous contagion a peculiar population of male- 
factors, which every day becomes more numerous and more 
alarming. It is an evil which the penitentiary system of the 
United States cures completely.* 

It is evident that all moral contagion among the imprisoned is 
impossible, particularly in Philadelphia, where thick walls sepa- 
rate the prisoners day and night. This first result is important, 
and we must take good care not to underrate its importance. The 
theories on the reform of the prisoners are vague and uncertain.! 
It is not yet known to what degree the wicked may be regene- 
rated, and by what means this regeneration may be obtained: but 
if the efficiency of the prison in correcting the prisoners is yet 
doubtful, its power of depraving them still more is known, be- 
cause experience proves it. The new penitentiaries, in which this 
contagious influence is avoided, have therefore gained a signal 
advantage ; and as long as that prison has not yet been found 
whose discipline is completely regenerating in its effects, perhaps 
we may be permitted to say that the best prison is that which 
does not corrupt. 

It is nevertheless clear, that this result, however weighty, does 
not satisfy the authors of the system ; and it is natural that hav- 
ing preserved the prisoner from the corruption with which he 
was threatened, they aspire at reforming him. Let us see by 
what means they endeavour to arrive at this end. We shall then 
also examine the success of their efforts. 

Moral and religious instruction forms, in this respect, the 
whole basis of the system. In all penitentiary systems, those 
who have not learned to read are instructed in it. These schools 

* Respecting the frightful contamination in prisons of the old kind, and the 
deplorable effects of the false shame of appearing less familiar with crime and 
immorality than others, we again refer the reader to Vidocq's Memoirs, cited 

4. <c * j} ut f rom a closer and more intimate view of the subject, I have 
rather abandoned a hope I once entertained, of the general reformation of offend- 
ers through the penitentiary system. I now think that its chief good is in the 
prevention of crime by the confinement of criminals." (Mr. Niles, former com- 
missioner of the Penitentiary of Maryland, December 22, 1829.) 

50 Penitentiary System. 

are voluntary. Though no convict is obliged to join them, they 
consider it as a favour to be admitted : and if it is impossible to 
receive all who offer themselves, those among the prisoners are 
selected who are most in need of the benefit of instruction.* The 
free choice left to the prisoners to join or not the school, makes 
those who enter it thus voluntarily, much more zealous and do- 
cile. This school is kept every Sunday. It precedes the morn- 
ing service. The minister who administers this service, accom- 
panies it almost always with a sermon, in which he abstains from 
every dogmatical discussion, and treats only of religious morals ; 
so that the instruction of the minister is as fit for the Catholic as 
for the Protestant, for the Unitarian as for the Presbyterian. The 
meals of the prisoners are always preceded by a prayer, offered 
up by the chaplain of the establishment; each of them has a Bi- 
ble, given by the state, in his cell, in which he may read the 
whole time that he is not engaged in labour. 

This order exists in all the penitentiaries ; but we should be 
much deceived were we to believe that uniformity exists on 
this point in these various prisons. Some attach to religious in- 
struction much more importance than others. Some neglect the 
moral reformation of the prisoners, whilst others make it a par- 
ticular object. At Sing-Sing, for instance, where the nature of 
things requires so severe a discipline, the directors of the esta- 
blishment seemed to have in view the support of external order 
only, and the passive obedience of the convicts. The assistance 
of moral influence is disregarded ; primary and religious instruc- 
tion, it is true, is somewhat attended to ; but it is manifest that it 
is considered but a secondary object. In the prisons of Auburn, 
Wethersfield, Philadelphia, and Boston, the reformation of the 
criminals occupies a much more prominent place. 

In Philadelphia, the moral situation in which the convicts are 
placed, is eminently calculated to facilitate their regeneration. 
We have more than once remarked the serious turn which the 
ideas of the prisoner in this penitentiary take. We have seen 
convicts there, whose levity had led them to crime, and whose 
mind had, in that solitude, contracted habits of meditation and 
of reasoning altogether extraordinary. The system of this prison 
appeared to us especially powerful over individuals endowed 
with some elevation of mind, and who had enjoyed a polite edu- 
cation. Intellectual men are naturally those who are the least 
able to endure a separation from all society. 

We can however assert, that this absolute solitude produces 
the liveliest impression on all prisoners. Generally, their hearts 
are found ready to open themselves, and the facility of being 

In Boston all are admitted who present themselves. (Report of Mr. Grav, 
pages 10 and 11.) 

Penitentiary System. 51 

moved renders them also fitter for reformation. They are par- 
ticularly accessible to religious sentiments, and the remembrance 
of their family has an uncommon power over their minds. One 
who enjoys the intercourse of society, is perhaps incapable of 
feeling the whole value of a religious idea thrown into the lone- 
some cell of a convict. 

Nothing distracts, in Philadelphia, the mind of the convicts 
from their meditations ; and as they are always isolated, the pre- 
sence of a person who comes to converse with them is the greatest 
benefit, and one which they appreciate in its whole extent. When 
we visited this penitentiary, one of the prisoners said to us: "it 
is with joy that I perceive the figure of the keepers, who visit 
my cell. This summer a cricket came into my yard ; it looked 
like a companion. When a butterfly or any other animal hap- 
pens to enter my cell, I never do it any harm."* If the soul is 
thus disposed, it is easy to conceive what value the prisoners 
must attach to moral communications, and how great must be 
the influence of wise advice and pious exhortations on their 

The superintendent visits each of them at least once a day. 
The inspectors visit them at least twice a week, and a chaplain 
has the special charge of their moral reformation. Before and 
after these visits, they are not entirely alone. The books which 
are at their disposal, are in some measure companions who never 
leave them. The Bible, and sometimes tracts containing edify- 
ing anecdotes, form their library. If they do not work, they 
read, and several of them seem to find in it a great consolation. 
There were some, who only knew the letters of the alphabet, 
and have in prison learned, by themselves, to read. Others less 
ingenious or persevering, have succeeded in it only with the as- 
sistance of the superintendent or the inspectors. t 

These are the means employed in Philadelphia to enlighten 
and reform the convicts. 

Can there be a combination more powerful for reformation 
than that of a prison which hands over the prisoner to all the 
trials of solitude, leads him through reflection to remorse, 
through religion to hope; makes him industrious by the burden 
of idleness, and which, whilst it inflicts the torment of solitude, 
makes him find a charm in the converse of pious men, whom 
otherwise he would have seen with indifference, and heard with- 
out pleasure ? 

* See Inquiry into the penitentiary at Philadelphia, No. 10. 

( There is no school regularly kept in the Philadelphia prison ; but as soon 
as the inspectors or superintendent discover good dispositions in a prisoner, or, 
by whatever motive, feel interested in his favour, they bestow more care upon 
him than on others, and begin by imparting 1 the first elements of instruction. One 
of the inspectors of the penitentiary, Mr. Bradford, spends much time in this 
good work. 

58 Penitentiary System. 

The impression made by such a system on the criminal, cer- 
tainly is deep ; experience alone can show whether the impres- 
sion is durable. 

We have said that his entry into the penitentiary is a critical 
moment; that of his departure from it is still more so. He sud- 
denly passes from absolute solitude to the ordinary state of so- 
ciety ; is it not to be feared that he will greedily search for those 
social enjoyments of which he has been deprived so completely? 
He was dead to the world, and after a loss of several years he 
re-appears in society, to which, it is true, he brings good reso- 
lutions, but perhaps also burning passions, the more impetuous, 
from their being the longer repressed. 

This is, perhaps, on the score of reformation, the chief incon- 
venience of absolute isolation.* This system possesses, how- 
ever, an advantage, which ought" not to be passed over in si- 
lence ; it is, that the prisoners subject to this discipline, do not 
know each other.t This fact avoids serious inconveniences, and 
leads to happy consequences. There exists always, a tie more or 
less strong between criminals, who have formed their acquaint- 
ance in a common prison ; and if they meet again after having 
gone through their imprisonment, they stand in a reciprocal de- 
pendance. Known, mutually, the one is almost forced to assist 
the other, if the latter will again commit an offence ; it would 
be necessary to have become virtuous in a very elevated de- 
gree, in order not to become again criminal. This rock, gene- 
rally so fatal to delivered convicts, i, indeed, in part avoided in 
the Auburn system, where the prisoners, seeing without know- 
ing each other, contract no intimate connexion. Yet we are still 
much more certain of avoiding this danger in the Philadelphia 
prison, where the convicts never behold each other's faces. 

He who at the expiration of his punishment leaves this prison 

We cannot see that absolute solitude offers in this respect, any difficulty 
which the Auburn system does not offer in the same degree. On the contrary, 
we believe that the convict, leaving the solitary cell of the Philadelphia prison, 
will, generally, be much more strengthened by continued and almost uninter- 
rupted reflection against new temptations than a person who has undergone his 
imprisonment in a penitentiary on the Auburn system. That objection, which 
is justly made against educating young persons in convents, who, unaccustomed 
to the world, but too often strive to regain the time which in point of the enjoy- 
ment of pleasures seems lost to them, and thus become the prey of worldly ha- 
bits, cannot be made against the Pennsylvania penitentiary system, because it is 
a very different thing to enter life totally inexperienced and to re-enter it from 
a penitentiary. There is one passion, the indulgence in which we can easily 
conceive, may be very common with those, who leave even the Philadelphia 
penitentiary, because it is that deepest planted in the human frame, and more 
difficult to be bridled an indulgence which may, by a necessary association 
with immoral persons, become the recommencement of a criminal path ; but, 
certainly, this is a difficulty to be encountered also by the Auburn system and 
fey every possible prison system. TRANS. 

| See Second Report on the penitentiary of Philadelphia, 1831, 

Penitentiary System. 53 

in order to re-enter society, cannot find in his former fellow-pri- 
soners, whom he does not know, any assistance in doing evil ; and 
if he is willing to pursue an honest course, he meets nobody to 
prevent him from doing so. If he wish to commit new offences, 
he stands alone; and, as to this point, he is still as isolated in the 
world as he was in the prison ; if, on the contrary, he is desir- 
ous of commencing a new life, he possesses full liberty to do so. 

This system of reform is undoubtedly a conception which be- 
longs to the highest philosophy; in general it is simple and easy 
to be put in practice; yet it presents in its execution, a difficul- 
ty sufficiently serious. The first rule of the system being, that 
the prisoners shall be entirely prevented from holding intercourse 
with, or even seeing each other, it results that no religious in- 
struction or school can take place in common, so that the teacher 
or chaplain can instruct or exhort but one person at a time. This 
occasions an immense loss of time.* If the prisoners could be 
united to participate in the benefit of the same lesson, it would 
be much easier to diffuse moral and religious instruction ; but the 
principles of the system are opposed to itt 

In the prisons of Auburn, Wethersfield, Sing-Sing, and Bos- 
ton, the system of reformation does not rest upon so philosophi- 
cal a theory as at Philadelphia.^ In the latter prison, the system 
seems to operate by itself, by the sole force of its principles. At 
Auburn, on the contrary, and in the prisons of the same nature, 
its efficiency depends much more upon the persons charged with 
its execution ; we see, therefore, assistance borrowed from ex- 
ternal means, which are not so much employed in the other 

The Auburn plan, which permits the prisoners to assemble 

All the prisoners of one wing of the penitentiary partake, in Philadelphia, 
of the same sermon : but as the penitentiary will have seven distinct parts, seven 
consecutive religious instructions would be requisite to be given by the same 
minister, or else seven ministers be occupied with the same subject at once. 

\ As in all similar matters, the only question is, which offers the greater ad- 
vantages or is the less objectionable ; the advocates of the Pennsylvania system 
do not think it a great loss to the prisoners that they cannot participate in a form 
of service similar to that of free persons, because they believe this disadvantage, 
if it be one, vastly compensated by the powerful reflection to which solitude ne- 
cessarily leads. Besides it must be remembered that it is a mistake which leads 
to serious disadvantages, if we reason from the feelings, dispositions, and wants 
of free persons to those of convicts. It is a mistake but too often fallen into, 
and yet there is all the difference which exists between a healthy person and a 
reduced patient. TBANS. 

$ The adversaries of Auburn say, that the system of reformation has met there 
with so little success, that it has been entirely abandoned. It must be admitted 
that the efforts to regenerate the criminals are not always crowned with success; 
but it would not be exact to say that reformation is given up at Auburn ; we can 
attest, on the contrary, that the gentlemen who direct the establishment, pursue 
this end with ardour. We refer the reader to what G. Powers says on this point 
to E. Livingston, (Letter of G. Powers to Edward Livingston, 1829.) 

54 Penitentiary System. 

during the day, seems, indeed, less calculated than that of Phi- 
ladelphia to produce reflection and repentance ; but it is more fa- 
vourable to the instruction of the prisoners; in all prisons sub- 
ject to the same discipline, the instructor and the chaplain can 
address all the prisoners at once. At Auburn there is a chaplain 
(Mr. Smith) exclusively for the establishment. The same is the 
case in Wethersfield, where Mr. Barrett, a presbyterian minister, 
devotes himself entirely to the penitentiary*. After the school, 
and the service of Sunday, the prisoners return to their solitary 
cells, where the chaplain visits them; he visits them in a simi- 
lar way on the other days of the week ;t and strives to touch 
their hearts by enlightening their conscience; the prisoners feel 
pleasure when they see him enter their cell. He is the only 
friend who is left to them ; they confide in him all their senti- 
ments; if they have any complaint against the officers of the 
prison, or if they have a favour to sue for, it is he who is in- 
trusted with their wishes. By showing the interest which he 
takes in them, he gains more and more their confidence. He 
soon becomes initiated into all the secrets of their previous life, 
and, knowing the moral state of all, he endeavours to apply to 
each the proper remedy for his evil. For the rest, the minister 
interferes in no respect with the discipline of the prison. If the 
convicts are in their workshops, he never draws their attention 
from their work; and if a complaint is made to him, he does 
not act, but merely solicits in favour of the unfortunate whose 
interpreter he is. It would be difficult, indeed, to describe the 
zeal which animates Messrs. Barrett and Smith in the exercise 
of their pious functions; yet they sometimes, perhaps, deceive 
themselves respecting the results of their efforts, though they 
are at all events sure to earn the veneration of all who know 

They are admirably seconded in their charitable office by se- 
veral individuals not belonging to the establishment. The Sun- 
day school is almost entirely managed by citizens residing near 
the prison. These, guided by a sentiment of humanity with 
which a profound feeling of religious duty mixes itself, pass on 
every Sunday two or three hours in the prison, where they act 
as primary instructers. They however do not only instruct the 
prisoners in reading, but explain to them also, the most import- 
ant passages of the gospel. At Auburn, this gratuitous and re- 
ligious office is performed by the members of the presbyterian 
seminary. School is also held at Sing-Sing, Baltimore, and Bos- 

Mr. Barrett receives a salary of 200 dollars. 

j- In the evening when they have returned to their cells, after the day's work 
is over. 

Penitentiary System. 55 

ton.* In the last named city, we have seen men of the highest 
distinction taking upon themselves this obscure office ; they 
made several criminals, standing around them, repeat their les- 
son ; sometimes they would intersperse their remarks and coun- 
cils in so affecting a way, that the convicts shed tears of emo- 
tion. Certainly, if the reformation of a criminal be possible, it 
must be obtainable by such means and such persons.t 

Now, to what point is this reformation actually effected by 
the different systems which we have examined? 

Before we answer this question, it will be necessary to settle 
the meaning attached to the word reformation. 

Do we mean by this expression the radical change of a wicked 
person into an honest man a change which produces virtues in 
the place of vices? 

A similar regeneration, if it ever take place, must be very 
rare. What would it be in fact? To give back its primitive pu- 
rity to a soul which crime has polluted. But here the difficulty 
is immense. It would have been much easier for the guilty indi- 
vidual to remain honest, than it is to rise again after his fall. It 
is In vain that society pardons him; his conscience does not. 
Whatever may be his efforts, he never will regain that delicacy 
of honour, which alone supports a spotless life. Even when he 
resolves to live honestly, he cannot forget that he has been a 
criminal ; and this remembrance, which deprives him of self-es- 
teem, deprives also his virtue of its reward and its guaranty. J 

See Report of Mr. Niles, December 22, 1829. We must say, that at Sing-Sing 
the school, though held with care, appeared to us to be restrained to too small a 
number. The number of convicts admitted to the Sunday school varies from 60 
to 80, a small proportion to 1000 convicts. (See Report of 1832 on Sing-Sing.) 
The direction of this establishment, seems to be too little of a mental character; 
a circumstance caused undoubtedly by the fact that the superintendent and his 
inferior officers are solely occupied with maintaining the external order, which 
is constantly in danger. We were witnesses of a fact which proves how great 
the efiect of the school at Sing-Sing might be, if more attention were paid to it. 
A poor negro, who had learned to read in prison, recited by heart to us, two 
pages of the Bible, which he had studied during the leisure hours in the week, 
and committed not the least mistake in the recitation. 

f " Sabbath after Sabbath, without any considerable variation from cold, rain, 
or heat, twenty-five, thirty, and forty gentlemen, and this alternately, so as to 
make the whole number probably not less than five hundred, are found regular- 
ly at their posts at half past ten o'clock, on Sabbath morning, in the state prison 
Sabbath school, (in Charlestown, near Boston)." See Seventeenth Report of 
the Boston Prison Discip. Soc. page 12. In New Jersey a prison instruction So- 
ciety has been formed, and has published its First Annual Report, in January 
1833. The second article of the constitution of this society shows its object. 

ART. 2. The chief object of this society shall be, to extend to the convicts in 
the prisons of this state, the benefits of the Sabbath school system of instruction, 
and also to furnish them with preaching. TRANS. 

$ There are many criminals, indeed, who themselves must see as well as others, 
that a concurrence of fatal circumstances led them to crime, which, after they 
have really reformed, will remain a cause of self-reproach, but we do not believe 
need always deprive them of self-esteem. But as a virtuous life depends in all 

56 Penitentiary System. 

Yet if we consider all the means employed in the prisons of 
the United States, in order to obtain this complete regeneration 
of the wicked, it is difficult to believe that it should not be some- 
times the reward of so many efforts. It may be the work of pious 
men who devote their time, their cares, and their whole life to 
this important object. If society be incapable of calming the 
conscience, religion has the power. If society pardon, it restores 
liberty to the prisoner's person this is all. When God pardons, 
he pardons the soul. With this moral pardon, the criminal re- 
gains his self-esteem, without which honesty is impossible. This 
is a result which society never can attain, because human insti- 
tutions, however powerful over the actions and the will of men, 
have none over their consciences. 

We have seen some persons in the United States, who have a 
strong belief in this reformation from the means used to effect it. 
Mr. Smith said to us at Auburn, that out of the six hundred and 
fifty prisoners in that prison, already fifty, at least, were radical- 
ly reformed, and that he considered them good Christians. Mr. 
Barrett, at Wethersfield, thought that of the hundred and eighty 
prisoners in that penitentiary, already fifteen or twenty were in 
a state of complete regeneration.* 

It would be useless to investigate here, whether Messrs. Smith 
and Barrett deceived themselves in their estimate ; it seems to 
us that we can admit with them the existence of radical refor- 
mation. But, we must be allowed to believe that the cases are 
still rarer than they themselves believe. This is at least the 
opinion of almost all enlightened men with whom we have come 
into contact in the United States. Mr. Elam Lynds, who has 
great experience in prison matters, goes much further, and con- 
siders the thorough reformation of a criminal a chimera, t Per- 
haps he runs into the other extreme, and so discouraging an opi- 
nion as his, ought to be founded on incontrovertible truth, in 
order to be adopted. There exists no human means of proving 
this complete reformation ; how can we prove with ciphers the 
purity of the soul, the delicacy of sentiments, the innocency of 
intentions? Society, without power to effect this radical regene- 
ration, is no more capable of proving it if it exist. In the one 
and the other case, it is an affair of the interior forum; in the 
first case God alone can act ; in the second, God alone can judge. 
However, he who on earth is the minister of God, has sometimes 
the privilege of reading the consciences of others ; and it is thus 

daily and common occurrences much more upon moral delicacy, (which is but 
the result of moral education or long custom) than upon reflection renewed 
every moment, it is perfectly true that it is a difficult task indeed, for a convict 
to rise again to virtue, particularly if his education has been abandoned. TRANS. 

See Letter of Mr. Barrett, No. 14. 

\ See Conversation with Mr. Elam Lynds, No. 11. 

Penitentiary System. 57 

that the two ministers whom we have mentioned, affect to know 
the moral state of the prisoners, and what goes on in the depth 
of their souls. Undoubtedly they are more favourably placed 
than any body else, to gain the confidence of these unhappy be- 
ings, and we are persuaded that they often receive disinterested 
avowals, and the expressions of sincere repentance. But how 
much risk do they run of being deceived by hypocritical protes- 
tations ! The convict, whatever may be his crime, always looks 
for pardon. His hope exists, particularly in the prisons of the 
United States, where, during a long time, the custom of par- 
doning has been much abused.* The criminal, therefore, has an 
interest in showing to the chaplain, with whom alone he has mo- 
ral communications, profound repentance for his crime, and a 
lively desire to return to virtue. If these sentiments are not sin- 
cere, he nevertheless will profess them. On the other hand, the 
man who sacrifices his whole existence to the pursuit of an hon- 
ourable end, is himself under the influence of an ardent desire 
which must sometimes lead to errors. As he desires with ar- 
dour the reformation of the criminals, he easily gives credence 
to it. Shall we find fault with his credulity ? No, because suc- 
cess, in which he is confident, encourages him to renewed ef- 
forts ; illusions of this nature only become fatal, if on the belief 
of similar regenerations pardons should be multiplied; as this 
would encourage hypocrisy, and we should soon see the prison- 
ers reform themselves by calculation.! We must say, that in ge- 
neral, this danger seems to be felt very much ; and that pardons 
become rarer and rarer; if the wish of public opinion should be 
completely satisfied, the governors would make use of their pri- 
vilege of pardon only in favour of convicts whose guilt has be- 
come doubtful, in consequence of circumstances having appear- 
ed after their judgment. However, we must also add, that the 
inconvenience of too great a number of pardons is not yet en- 
tirely avoided; at Auburn, one-third of the whole number of 
pardons is granted on the presumption of reformation. J 

* See Statistical Notes, No. 16. We shall there explain the various causes 
which have produced so great an abuse of the privilege of pardoning in the 
United States. 

\ Mr. Smith himself said to us, that he was very cautious as to external signs 
of repentance in the convicts; he added, that in his eyes the best proof of the 
sincerity of a convict was his not desiring to leave the prison. 

$ We have reason to believe that the present governor of the State of New 
York, follows those rules in making use of his pardoning power, which alone 
are conducive to the benefit both of society and the convicts, and we are glad 
that he will leave a sound precedent. The general rule ought always to be ; 
make your laws as mild as you possibly can, and let them strike, if made, with 
their whole severity ; or, in other words, " use mercy in making laws, but none 
in applying them." This is indeed the only merciful course, and nothing can 
be more cruel to the convicts themselves, than to be lax in punishing crime. 
We always ought to consider criminals as redeemable beings, having, in spite of 

58 Penitentiary System. 

To resume, we would say positively, if the penitentiary sys- 
tem cannot propose to itself an end other than the radical refor- 
mation of which we have just spoken, the legislature perhaps 
should abandon this system ; not because the aim is not an ad- 
mirable one, but because it is too rarely obtained. The moral 
reformation of an individual, which is an important affair for a 
religious man, is little for a politician ; or to express it better, an 
institution is only political if it be founded on the interest of the 
mass; it loses its character if it only profit a small number. 

But if it be true that the radical reformation of a depraved 
person is only an accidental instead of being a natural conse- 
quence of the penitentiary system, it is nevertheless true that 
there is another kind of reformation, less thorough than the 
former, but yet useful for society, and which the system we 
treat of seems to produce in a natural way. 

We have no doubt, but that the habits of order to which the 
prisoner is subjected for several years, influence very considera- 
bly his moral conduct after his return to society. 

The necessity of labour which overcomes his disposition to 
idleness; the obligation of silence which makes him reflect; the 
isolation which places him alone in presence of his crime and 
his suffering; the religious instruction which enlightens and 
comforts him ; the obedience of every moment to inflexible 
rules; the regularity of a uniform life; in a word, all the cir- 
cumstances belonging to this severe system, are calculated to 
produce a deep impression upon his mind. 

Perhaps, leaving the prison he is not an honest man; but he 
has contracted honest habits. He was an idler; now he knows 
how to work. His ignorance prevented him from pursuing a 
useful occupation ; now he knows how to read and to write ; and 
the trade which he has learnt in the prison, furnishes him the 
means of existence which formerly he had not. Without loving 
virtue, he may detest the crime of which he has suffered the 
cruel consequences ; and if he is not more virtuous he has be- 
come at least more judicious; his morality is not honour, but 
interest. His religious faith is perhaps neither lively nor deep; 
but even supposing that religion has not touched his heart, his 
mind has contracted habits of order, and he possesses rules for 
his conduct in life ; without having a powerful religious convic- 
tion, he has acquired a taste for moral principles which religion 
affords ; finally, if he has not become in truth better, he is at 

all their vices, much in common with ourselves ; but they never are redeemed 
by laxity ; on the contrary, they are hardened by it. Few, very fe\v cases in- 
deed, ought to be excepted, viz. those in which neither jury nor judge coulJ 
help condemning according to the positive law, but in which, nevertheless, a 
number of circumstances render the law for this individual instance unjust; case* 
which no human wisdom can entirely prevent. TRAHS. 

Penitentiary System. 59 

least more obedient to the laws, and that is all which society has 
the right to demand. 

If we consider the reformation of convicts under this point of 
view, it seems to us to be obtained, in many cases, through the 
system which we are considering ; and those Americans who 
have the least confidence in the radical regeneration of criminals, 
believe, nevertheless, in the existence of a reformation reduced 
to these more simple terms. 

We must remark here, that the zeal of religious instructers, 
which is often insufficient to effect a radical reform, has yet a 
great influence on that of the second grade, which we have just 
described. It is because their aim is great, that they pursue it 
with ardour, and the nobleness of their undertaking elevates at 
once their office, and the functions of those who, in concert with 
them, work for the reformation of the criminals; it gives alto- 
gether to the penitentiary establishment a greater interest, and 
a much higher morality. Thus, though the preacher does not 
often arrive at his proposed end, it is yet important that he 
should pursue it without interruption ; and, perhaps, that point 
which we have indicated, is obtained only because the aim is 
taken much higher. 

The advantages of the penitentiary system of the United 
States may then be classed in the following manner. 

First, Impossibility of the mutual corruption of the prisoners. 

Secondly, Great probability of their contracting habits of 
obedience and industry, which render them useful citizens. 

Thirdly, Possibility of a radical reformation. 

Though each of the establishments which we have examined 
aims at these three results, there are nevertheless, in this respect, 
some shades of difference, which distinguish the Auburn system 
from that of Philadelphia. 

Philadelphia has, as we have already observed, the advantage 
over Auburn in respect to the first point. Indeed, the prisoners, 
separated by thick walls, can communicate with each other still 
less than those who are separated by silence only. The Auburn 
discipline guaranties the certainty that silence shall not be violat- 
ed, but it is a mere moral certainty, subject to contradiction ; 
whilst at Philadelphia, communications among the convicts is 
physically impossible. 

The Philadelphia system being also that which produces the 
deepest impressions on the soul of the convict, must effect more 
reformation than that of Auburn. The latter, however, is per- 
haps more conformable to the habits of men in society, and on 
this account effects a greater number of reformations, which 
might be called "legal," inasmuch as they produce the external 
fulfilment of social obligations. 

60 Penitentiary System. 

If it be so, the Philadelphia system produces more honest 
men, and that of New York more obedient citizens.* 


The efficiency of the system proved by ciphers. Does the number of crimes 
in the United States increase ? .Influence of coloured people and foreigners. 
What is the effect of knowledge in this respect ? Necessary distinction be- 
tween the number of crimes and that of convictions. The penitentiary sys- 
tem is mostly foreign to the increase of crime. Its influence limited to pri- 
soners is tested by recommittals : it can only be appreciated after several 
years. Comparison between the ancient prisons and the new penitentiaries. 
Impossibility of comparing the number of crimes and of recommittals in the 
United States and in France. Different elements of the two societies : dif- 
ference of the penal laws, and of the powers of the judicial police, in the two 
countries. America can be compared only with herself. 

AFTER having shown the consequences of the penitentiary 
system, such as we understand them, shall we find in ciphers 
the proof of those facts, which we believe we can attribute to it? 

It is customary, in order to know what influence the peniten- 
tiary system has upon society, to meet the question thus : 

Has the number of crimes augmented or diminished since the 
penitentiary system has been established ? (bb] 

The solution of all questions of this kind in the United States, 
is extremely difficult, because it requires statistical documents, 
which it is almost impossible to procure. There is neither in the 
Union nor in the different states, any central authority which 
possesses them. With difficulty the statistics of a town or coun- 
ty can be obtained ; but never those of a whole state. t 

Pennsylvania is the only state in which we have been able to 
learn the total number of crimes. During the year 1830, there 
were two thousand and eighty-four individuals condemned in 
this state to imprisonment; which, if compared to a population 
of 1,347,672 inhabitants, givesone conviction for 653 inhabitants.^ 

* To judge from recommittals, we are authorized in saying, that as far as ex- 
perience goes, the Philadelphia system produces a greater effect on convicts, 
whether by reformation, or by the severity of solitude, which impresses the 
mind of the convict with a fear of suffering it a second time, or by a combination 
of both. TRANS. 

j- We have met, however, with extreme kindness, in the various authorities, 
and an extraordinary readiness to afford us all the information we wished for. 
Mr. Flagg, secretary of state at Albany, Mr. Hiker, recorder at New York, 
Messrs. M'llvaine and Roberts Vaux in Philadelphia, Mr. Gray in Boston, and all 
the inspectors of the new prisons, have furnished it, with a great mass of valuable 

Mr. Hiker has procured for us the general statement of crimes committed in 
the whole state of New York during the year 1830. This is a very interestinj 
document ; but we have returns for one year only. 

* See Statistical Notes, No. 16. 

Penitentiary System. 61 

In other states we have obtained very exact materials respect- 
ing the number of certain crimes, but never the totality of of- 
fences. Thus we know merely the number of burglaries com- 
mitted in the states of New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, 
and Maryland, which caused the criminals to be sent to the 
state prison.* 

If we take these special convictions for the basis of our obser- 
vations^ we shall see that in the states of New York, Massa- 
chusetts, and Maryland, the number of criminals, compared to 
the population, decreases ; that in the state of Connecticut it in- 
creases ; whilst it is stationary in Pennsylvania, t 

Shall we conclude from this statement that the prison of Con- 
necticut is very bad ; that those of New York, Massachusetts, 
and Maryland, are the only good penitentiaries ; and that those 
of Pennsylvania are better than the first, but worse than the 

This conclusion would be strange, because it is an incontesta- 
ble fact, that the penitentiary of Connecticut is better than the 
prisons of Maryland and Pennsylvania. J 

If we examine with attention the situation of these different 
states, and the political circumstances which surround them, we 
shall see that the number, more or less considerable, of crimes, 
and even their decrease or increase, may be owing to causes en- 
tirely foreign to the penitentiary system. 

First, a difference must be made between the number of crimes 
and their increase : in the state of New York there are more 
crimes committed than in Pennsylvania ; yet the number of 
crimes is stationary in the latter state, whilst it diminishes in the 
former. In Connecticut, where crimes increase, there are, in 
the whole, but half the crimes committed, in proportion, to those 
in all other states. 

We would add, that, in order to establish well founded points 
of comparison between the various states, it would be necessary 
to deduct from the population of each the foreigners, and to 
compare only the crimes committed by the settled population ; 
proceeding thus, it would be found that Maryland is that state 
the settled population of which commits most crimes. This fact 
is explained by a cause peculiar to the southern states the co- 
loured race. In general, it has been observed, that in those states 
in which there exists one negro to thirty whites, the prisons con- 
tain one negro to four white persons. || 

See Statistical and Comparative Observations, No. 17. 
f Ibid. 

I We speak here of the old prisons of Pennsylvania and Maryland. The new 
penitentiaries of these states are yet too recently established to occupy us here 
with their effects. 

See Statistical and Comparative Observations. No. 17. 

II Ibid. 

62 Penitentiary System. 

The states which have many negroes must therefore produce 
more crimes. This reason alone would be sufficient to explain 
the large number of crimes in Maryland : it is, however, not 
applicable to all the states of the south ; but only to those in 
which manumission is permitted : because we should deceive 
ourselves greatly were we to believe that the crimes of the ne- 
groes are avoided by giving them liberty ; experience proves, on 
the contrary, that in the south the number of criminals increases 
with that of manumitted persons; thus, for the very reason that 
slavery seems to draw nearer to its ruin, the number of freed 
persons will increase for a long time in the south, and with it 
the number of criminals, (cc) 

Whilst the southern part of the United States contains in its 
bosom this fertile cause of crimes, there are in the states of the 
North, on the other hand, such as New York and Massachusetts, 
several political causes which tend to diminish the number of 

The coloured population decreases here every day, compared 
to the white population which goes on continually increasing. 

Moreover, the foreigners who arrive every year from Europe 
without means of existence, in these states are a cause of crime 
which is continually becoming less. 

In the same measure as the population increases, the number 
of emigrants, though not decreasing in itself, becomes less in re- 
lation to the sum total of the inhabitants. 

The population doubles in thirty years ; whilst the number 
of emigrants remains about the same.* So that this cause of in- 
crease of crime in the North, though apparently stationary, loses 
every year its force in a statistical point of view ; the cipher 
which represents it remains always the same considered by itself ; 
but it becomes less compared with another cipher which daily 

Some Americans! believe also that knowledge and education, 
so much diffused in the states of the North, have a tendency to 
diminish the number of crimes. 

There are in the state of New York, with a population of two 
millions of inhabitants, five hundred and fifty thousand children 
instructed in the schools, and the state alone spends for this ob- 

* We believe that the number of emigrants has increased of late very much, 
but the argument of the authors remains nevertheless true in the whole. Popu- 
lation increases faster than the influx of emigrants. TRANS. 

j- Among others, Mr. Edward Livingston. See his writings, especially his 
letter to Roberts Vaux, 1828, pp. 14, 15. Judge Powers considers ignorance 
and intemperance as the two principal sources of crime. (See Gershom Powers' 
Report of 1828, page 50.) (So far the authors.) This " some Americans" is an 
unfortunate expression indeed, because it ought to have been " all Americans" 
with the exception of a few, of whom we, however, hardly know a single one. 
We shall say a few more words on this subject TBAHS. 

Penitentiary System. 63 

ject nearly six millions of francs every year.* It seems that an 
enlightened population, to whom no opportunity is wanting which 
agriculture, commerce, and manufactural industry can oifer, 
should commit less crimes than that which possesses these latter 
advantages without having the same intellectual means to. make 
use of them ; nevertheless, we do not believe that, to the diffu- 
sion of knowledge this decrease of crimes in the North is to be 
attributed, because in Connecticut, where knowledge is still 
more diffused than in the state of New York, crimes increase 
with extreme rapidity ; and if we cannot reproach knowledge 
with this prodigious increase, we are at least constrained to ac- 
knowledge that it has not the power of preventing it ;t for the 

* This expression is not quite accurate. Society, either through government 
or the various communities, pays not so much. According to the Annual Report 
of the Superintendent of Common Schools of the State of New York, January/, 
1833, the school funds paid to the trustees of the several school districts in April 
1832, amounted to $305,582 78 cents. Of this sum, $100,000 were paid from 
the state treasury, $ 188,384 53 cents were raised by a tax upon the property of 
the inhabitants of the several towns and cities in the state, and $ 17,198 25 cents 
derived from local funds possessed by some of the towns. The amount paid for 
teachers' wages in the several districts of the state, over and above the public 
money apportioned by the commissioners, is $358,320 17 cents. This sum, 
added to the public money, gives a total of $663,902 95 cents paid for teachers' 
salaries ; except about $ 60,000 in the City of New York, which is raised by a spe- 
cial tax, and applied to the erection of the school-houses. This whole sum then 
would make from three to four millions of francs. But to this is yet to be add- 
ed what is individually paid by the parents of children ; and the whole sum 
amounts to what the authors state. The reader, in order to have an accurate 
view and statement of the whole, is referred to the extracts we have given of 
the report above quoted, appended by us to the remarks of the authors given 
under the head Statistical Details respecting the New York School System in No. 

f Knowledge, even if not separated from religious instruction, creates a 
number of new wants, which, if they are not satisfied, impel to crime. It 
multiplies the social relations; it is the soul of commerce and industry; it thus 
creates a thousand opportunities for fraud and bad faith, which do not exist 
in the bosom of an ignorant and rude population. It tends, therefore, in its 
nature, rather to multiply than to diminish the number of crimes. This point 
seems, at present, pretty generally acknowledged : because in Europe it has 
been observed that crimes progress in most countries where knowledge is most 
diffused. As we are on the subject, we will give our opinion on the influence of 
knowledge. Its advantages seem to us infinitely superior to its disadvantages. It 
develops the mind and supports all branches of industry. It thus promotes the 
moral strength and the material well-being of nations. The passions which it 
excites, though fatal to society, if they are not satisfied, produce many advan- 
tages, if they obtain what they seek. Knowledge, indeed, disperses among men 
the seeds of corruption ; but it is knowledge also which makes people richer 
and stronger. Knowledge is, with a nation surrounded by enlightened neigh- 
bours, not only a benefit, but even a political necessity. See note on public in- 
struction in the United States, No. 5. So far the authors. [Whenever a subject 
begins to attract attention, and to be inquired into, it is a long time before people 
properly understand what others mean by certain expressions ; and before they 
know themselves the precise meaning of their own words. This is true in the 
whole intercourse of men, from a common conversation to national debates, 
religious controversies and scientific investigations ; and the present inquiry, 
whether diffusion of knowledge increases or decreases the number of crimes, 

64 Penitentiary System. 

rest, we do not pretend to explain these strange anomalies exhi- 
bited by states whose political institutions are almost the same, 
and in which, nevertheless, the proportion of crimes to the po- 
pulation is so different; these difficulties belong to that class 

by no means makes an exception to the remark. It has been often asserted, in 
modern times, that deficiency of knowledge is the chief cause of crime, and 
again, in quite recent times, in equally general terms, that neither poverty nor 
ignorance are its most active agents, to prove which, statistical tables have been 
produced. (See, for instance, A. Queteset's interesting Observations on the Dis- 
position to commit Crimes in the different Ages of Human Life, reprinted, among 
others, in the Courier dex Etals Unis, April 25th, 1832.) But has it been settled 
what is meant by knowledge, or by being enlightened? are people agreed upon 
what they mean by increase of crime, or upon the conclusions they draw from 
it ? Do they mean that the criminal disposition of society has increased ? Often, 
the increase of crime, as derived from official statements concerning it, which 
are our only guide, shows a higher state of civilization, which offers of itself 
more chances for crime ; for instance, house-breaking can only occur frequently 
where people in general feel secure ; in the middle ages, when every dwelling 
of a wealthy family was a castle, no house-breaking could be committed. (See 
e. g. Encyclop. Americana,, vol. iv., page 29, and seq.) Differences also arise 
from a more watchful police, or a more correct record of crimes, &c., &c. ; so 
that, in fact, it is useless to compare, in order to settle this great question, two 
nations, the one enlightened, the other less so or not at all ; because we must 
take all the attending circumstances into account. One means, of great assist- 
ance in settling this question, though we allow it is not the only means, is to 
inquire how many of all criminals in a nation have enjoyed the advantage of 
knowledge, and in what degree ? As to the word knowledge, and instruction, 
what is meant by it ? Shall it express merely that information which exercises 
and enriches the understanding alone, a meaning which in France it has re- 
ceived of late, and in her schools has been acted upon but too often? In this 
sense, knowledge is, in itself, in most cases, neither good nor bad ; arithmetic 
will assist a defaulter, as much as an industrious man who works for his family, 
as a knife may serve the murderer as well as him who cuts a piece of bread with 
it for a crippled beggar; just as the sun lends his light to crime as to virtue. Or 
have we to understand by knowledge, that light which is cast on the whole 
human soul ; which reaches the heart as well as the head ? We allow that some 
nations have, since the middle of the last century, pursued their merely physical 
well-being with short-sighted eagerness, have made, at times, productive indus- 
try almost the sole national object, and thus favoured a kind of egotism which 
leads to many crimes, if assisted by the skill (not the light) of knowledge. But 
the greatest mistake upon this point, one which is very common, and against 
which our authors have, in our opinion, not guarded themselves, is the confound- 
ing of knowledge with civilization in general, of which the former undoubtedly 
is a part, but a part only. What the authors have said at the beginning of this 
note, on knowledge, (instruction is their word,) ought to have been said in rela- 
tion to civilization. We cannot here enter into the inquiry, often made, does man 
become better and happier by civilization ? Whatever may be the answer, the 
only alternative is between ignorant innocence, (or rather absence of crime,) and 
civilization, with all its opportunities for crime, in the same way as man has the 
alternative of ignorance or science, with all the chances of error, misconception, 
and mistakes ; or of political stupor, or liberty, with all the chances of its abuse. 
The absence of crime is not what is unconditionally desirable. An American In- 
dian can commit but few crimes murder, treason, and perhaps some others. 
Private property exists not with him, therefore he cannot commit crimes against 
it. He may repudiate his wife, that is no crime ; he may steal from other tribes, 
that is no crime. But civilization, for which man is destined, and which is truly 
his " natural state," whether it make him happier or not, begins with private 
property ; as soon as this is established, a whole class of crimes the most nu- 

Penitentiary System. 65 

which never fails to lead to every kind of statistical labours.* 
But the considerations which we have just offered, serve at least 
to prove how many important causes, unconnected with the pe- 
nitentiary system, influence the increase or decrease of crime. 

Sometimes a crisis in the industry of a country, the disband- 
ing of an army, &c. , &c. , &c. , are sufficient to increase the num- 
ber of offences during a year. 

Thus in the year 1816, the number of criminals increased in 
an extraordinary degree in all American prisons. Had the peni- 
tentiary system any thing to do with it ? No, it was simply in 
consequence of the war between America and England ; peace 
having been concluded, a number of regiments were disbanded^ 
and the soldiers thus deprived for the moment of employment. 

There is another difficulty; even if we agree respecting the 
cause of crimes, we do not know exactly that of their increase. 

How shall the number of crimes be proved? By that of the 
convictions? Several causes, however, may produce more fre- 

merous with all civilized nations springs into existence. Civilization creates 
wants, as it is developed by them ; all trades, all national intercourse, are founded 
on wants ; the good strive to satisfy their desires by honest means, the bad by 
any means in their power. A shepherd, clothed in skin, and satisfied with his 
simple meal, has few wants, and few temptations. But the human mind was 
destined by its creator to expand, morally and intellectually; not for stagnation, 
but for life ; civilization is the true element of mankind, and civilization offers 
necessarily opportunities for crime. Without the art of writing, forgery could 
not exist ; without the art of writing, each tribe, each generation, would be 
isolated ; and morals would be but little developed. Look at history. But the 
question now arises, what is civilization without knowledge, as we find in each 
civilized nation a large portion influenced by it, and yet left in ignorance, or as 
we find ignorant nations bordering upon civilized ones, and partially influenced 
by the latter ? This is in our opinion the true point to which the question must 
be reduced ; and which not only answers the question, whether ignorance is a 
source of crime, but also whether noverty be such. Poverty without civilization 
is not any more a peculiar source of crime than ignorance ; because it feels no 
wants ; but poverty with civilization is an abounding source of crime. Whatever 
some writers of the European continent may maintain respecting the beneficial 
or injurious influence of the diffusion of knowledge, Americans and English, 
who know more of the practical art of government than any other nation, are 
agreed upon its necessity for the well being of society, and the prevention of 
crime among civilized nations, who, in order to avoid the dangers of imperfect 
knowledge, have but one resource, that of diffusing knowledge, intellectual, 
moral, and religious, as far and wide, and in as high a degree as possible. We 
are sorry not to be able to enter fully into this subject, but we have already ex- 
ceeded the limits of a note. Why crimes are committed in so disproportionate a 
number in New York and Connecticut, we cannot develop here, nor are we 
probably acquainted with all the reasons ; but there is little doubt that without 
schools many more crimes would be committed. See, for more remarks on this 
subject, the note which we have added to No. 17, parag. I, showing the convicts 
of Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New York, &c., classed according to the nature 
of their crimes. TKANS.] 

* In order to know all the advantages afforded by statistics and to the art of 
making use of them, it is necessary to read the excellent work which Mr. Guer- 
ry has just published under the title of Statistique Morale de la France. Paris, 


66 Penitentiary System. 

quent convictions, though the number of crimes be the same. 

This may happen, if the police pursue crimes with more acti- 
vity a circumstance which generally occurs, if public attention 
is more actively directed to the subject. In such case the num- 
ber of crimes is not increased, but more crimes are proved. The 
same is the case when courts of justice are more exact; which 
happens always when the penal law is mitigated. Then the num- 
ber of acquittals diminishes.* There are more convictions, though 
the number of crimes has not varied. The penitentiary system 
itself, which is intended to diminish the number of crimes, has 
for its first result, the increase of convictions. In the same 
degree as magistrates feel repugnant to condemn the guilty, 
since they know the corrupting influence of the prison which 
receives them ; in the same degree, they show themselves more 
ready to pronounce a condemnation as soon as they know that 
the prison, far from being a school of crime, is a place of repent- 
ance and reformation, (ee) 

However this may be, it is clear from the above, that the in- 
crease of crimes or their decrease, is produced sometimes by 
general causes, and sometimes by accidental ones, which have 
no direct connexion with the penitentiary system. 

If we consider the object of the penitentiary system and its 
natural extent, we shall see that it cannot have that general in- 
fluence which is often attributed to it ; and that the question is 
not put as it ought to be, if we intend to judge of it by the ab- 
solute number of crimes ; a prison discipline, good or bad, can- 
not have any influence except on those who have been impris- 
oned. Prisons may be very good in a country where there are 
many crimes, and very bad in another in which few are com- 
mitted. Thus in Massachusetts, where there are less convicts, 
the prisons are bad, whilst they are good in the State of New 
York in which crimes are much more numerous.t A bad prison 
cannot corrupt those who have not been exposed to its influence, 
any more than a good penitentiary can correct those who have 
remained out of the reach of its beneficial discipline. 

The institutions, the habits, J and political circumstances 

* The reader remembers a very peculiar case of this kind of very recent date. 
The punishment for sheep stealing in England was, till the year 1832, death, and 
numberless acquittals took place, though the crime was proved. Since, however, 
the punishment has been changed into transportation for a long series of years, 
no acquittals of this kind have occurred ; so that actually, the milder law a 
much more severe in its operation. TRASS. 

j- We say that in Massachusetts, where there are less convictions, the prisons 
are bad : they were bad, and are not any longer so : we are obliged to speak of 
the past, because the question here is to appreciate their effects. 

$ Great efforts are made in the United States to correct a vice, which is very 
common intemperance. See Note on Temperance Societies, No. 9. 

Penitentiary System. 67 

these influence most the moral state of men in society ; prisons 
act but on the morality of prisoners.* 

The penitentiary system then has not that extended circle of 
action which sometimes is attributed to it. If we reduce it as 
we ought to do, to the inmates of the prison, its influence is suf- 
ficiently important not to attribute to it another that is foreign 
to it ; and, in fact, if this part of the social body on which the 
penitentiary system operates is but small, it is at all events the 
most diseased, and its disorder is both the most contagious and 
the most important to be remedied. 

Hence, if we wish to appreciate the merit of a prison and the 
system which has been put in practice, we ought to observe not 
the morality of society in general, but only of those individuals 
who, having been imprisoned in such establishments, have re- 
turned to society ; if they commit no new offence, we have a 
right to believe that the influence of the prison has been saluta- 
ry ; and if they relapse into new crimes, it is a proof that the 
prison has not made them better. 

Whilst it is true that a large or small number of recommittals 
alone can prove the deficiency or excellence of a prison, we must 
add, that it is impossible to obtain, on this point, a perfectly ex- 
act statement. 

On the one hand, it is difficult to obtain proof that liberated 
convicts have led an honest life ; on the other, we have not al- 
ways a knowledge of the new crimes which they commit. 

To these considerations, which appear to us necessary to re- 
duce the question to its true limits, we shall add another, which 
seems to us equally important ; that is, in order to appreciate 
the effects of the penitentiary system, we ought not to consider 
the epoch of its creation, but the period which follows it. This 
truth, which it seems idle to mention, has nevertheless been for- 
gotten by writers of great merit; we will quote an example. 

We have said already that in the year 1790, a new system of 
imprisonment was established in Philadelphia, and the Walnut 
street prison organized on a plan which we have pointed out as 
entirely deficient; yet by some accidental circumstance, or from 
some unknown reason, the number of crimes in Pennsylvania 
during the years 1790, 1791, 1792, and 1793, was considerably 
Jess than during the preceding years. Mr. Livingston and Mr. 
Roberts Vaux, in the United States; and in France, the Duke 
de Larochefoucauld-Liancourt and Mr. Charles Lucas, have 
drawn from this decrease of crimes, the proof of the efficiency 

Mr. Livingston has expressed this truth more than once, and with particu- 
lar energy in his letter to Roberts Vaux, pp. 14, 15, 1828. See the Note ff in 
the Appendix. 

68 Penitentiary System. 

of the system;* but their arguments seem to be founded on a 
fact erroneously appreciated. To ascribe this result to the new 
system, it would have been necessary to prove that the individu- 
als, once imprisoned in Walnut street, had not committed new 
crimes. This proof could not be made. In fact, the system com- 
mences in 1790; and already in the years 1791, 1792, and 1793, 
the effects are sought for, i. e. before most of the prisoners, on 
whom the new system could have any effect, were released, (gg) 

It is easy to conceive that the effect of the penitentiary sys- 
tem cannot be appreciated except after a certain series of years, 
and only after the convicts, whose terms have expired, have had 
time to commit new crimes, or to give assurance of an honest 

On this account we shall pass over the results obtained in the 
new penitentiaries of Philadelphia, Sing-Sing, Boston, and Bal- 
timore ; by giving up the arguments which we might draw from 
these different prisons, we shall very much narrow the circle of 
disagreement ; but we shall have at least the advantage of giving 
to our arguments none but solid foundations. 

Let us then compare the effects produced by the ancient pris- 
ons of the United States, with those resulting from the new sys- 
tem practised in the penitentiaries of Auburn and Wethersfield, 
the only ones which have been established for a time sufficient 
to draw just conclusions as to their influence. 

In the ancient prison of New York, (Newgate) recommittals 
took place (in proportion to the whole number of convictions) 
as one to nine ; in the prison of Maryland as one to seven ; in 
that of Walnut street as one to six ; in the ancient Connecticut 
prison as one to four ;J and in the Boston jail also, as one to six. 

The number of recommittals is considerably less in the new 

See Edward Livingston's Introductory Report to the Code of Prison Disci- 
pline, page 7. See also, Notices of the original and successive efforts to im- 
prove the discipline of the prison at Philadelphia, and to reform the criminal 
code of Pennsylvania, by Roberts Vaux, pp. 53, 54. See Du Systems Ptniten- 
tiaireen Europe et aux Etats-Unis. By Mr. Charles Lucas. 

( The authors seem to overlook one circumstance, i. e. that a system of im- 
prisonment may prevent crime, and therefore have also some effect upon others 
than actual prisoners. And we must mention here, what, though it may sound 
strange, seems to us nevertheless to be a fact, from various inquiries which we 
have made ; viz. that criminals are little daunted by the prospect of hardships 
or cruelties awaiting them in prison, provided they are sure of finding there 
their old associates 5 but they dread a penitentiary system, in the same degree, 
as it offers more or less opportunity for converse with their fellow convicts ; so 
that we hold ourselves convinced that criminals in the United States shun much 
more the Pennsylvania system, than the Auburn penitentiary, in spite of the 
whip of the latter. The reason is clear. We acknowledge that this dread may, 
with those who have never been imprisoned, cause as often the more cautious 
pursuit of crime, as a total abstinence from it. THANS. 

t See Statistical and Comparative Observations, No. 17. 

$ See Statistical Notes, No. 16, 

Penitentiary System. 69 

prisons at Auburn and Wethersfield. In the former, recommit- 
tals form the nineteenth part of the whole number ; and of one 
hundred individuals released from the latter, since its creation, 
five only have been recommitted for new offences ; which gives 
the proportion of one to twenty.* 

At Auburn not only those criminals are noted down who are 
recommitted, but an attempt has also been made to watch the 
conduct of delivered prisoners who have remained in society. 
Of one hundred and sixty individuals, in respect to whom it was 
possible to obtain information, one hundred and twelve have 
conducted themselves well ; the others have returned to bad or 
at least doubtful habits. (M) 

These ciphers, however conclusive they may appear, are the 
result of too short a period to justify an invincible proof of the 
efficiency of the system to be deduced from them ; but we must 
nevertheless acknowledge, that they are extremely favourable 
to the new penitentiaries, and the presumption in their favour, 
caused by this result, is so much the stronger as the effect obtain- 
ed perfectly accords with that promised by the theory ; it must 
be added, that in spite of the impossibility of drawing any con- 
clusive argument from the penitentiaries of Sing-Sing, Boston, 
and others of the same kind, on account of their having been so 
recently established, it cannot be doubted, that the success of 
Auburn and Wethersfield, renders that of establishments on the 
same model, extremely probable. 

In offering these statistical documents, we have not compared 
the number of crimes and recommittals in the United States and 
in France ; persuaded as we are, that the foundation for such a 
comparison would be imperfect. 

The modes of existence in the two countries do not resemble 
each other, and the elements composing them are essentially dif- 

A young society, exempt from political embarrassments, rich 
both by its soil and its industry, should be supposed to furnish 
less criminals than a country where the ground is disputed foot 
by foot, and where the crises produced by political divisions 
tend to increase the number of offences, because they increase 
misery by disturbing industry. 

Yet if the statistical documents which we possess of Pennsyl- 
vania, should be applied to the rest of the Union, there are in 
this country more crimes committed than in France, in propor- 
tion to the population.! Various causes of another nature explain 

* See Statistical and Comparative Observations, No. 17. 

f There are more crimes of a grave nature committed in France, but the 
whole number of crimes is less than in America. See Statistical and Compara- 
tive Observations, No. 17. 

70 Penitentiary System. 

this result: on the one hand, the coloured population, which 
forms the sixth part of the inhabitants of the United States, and 
which composes half of the inmates of the prisons ; and on the 
other hand, the foreigners pouring in every year from Europe, 
and who form the fifth and sometimes even the fourth part of 
the number of convicts. 

These two facts, explaining the great number of crimes in the 
United States, make it not a subject of comparison with the 
number of offences in a country where we are met with no 
similar facts. 

If we should deduct from the total number of crimes, those 
committed by negroes and foreigners, we should undoubtedly 
find that the white American population commits less crimes 
than ours ; but proceeding thus, we should fall into another 
error; in fact, to separate the negroes from the whole population 
of the United States, would be equal to deducting the poorer 
classes of the community with us ; that is to say, those who 
commit the crimes. One obstacle is here avoided only to meet 
with another; in this respect, the only certain, incontestable fact, 
which we have remarked in the United States, and which may 
offer an opportunity for comparison, is the peculiar and extraor- 
dinary morality of the women belonging to the white race. Out 
of one hundred prisoners in the United States, we find but four 
women ; whilst with us there are twenty in a hundred.* Now 
this morality of the female sex must influence the whole society; 
because it is upon them that the morality of a family chiefly de- 

At all events, as the elements of comparison are otherwise 
different, we can on the whole but hazard probabilities. 

Difficulties abound if we wish to make approximations of this 
kind between the two nations. The difference which exists be- 
tween the penal laws of the United States and ours, adds greatly 
to them. 

In the United States, things are punished as crimes which with 
us are beyond the reach of the laws ; and again, our code punishes 
offences which in the United States are not considered as such. 
Thus, many offences against religion and morals, such as blas- 
phemy, incest, fornication, drunkenness, &c., &c.,t are in the 
United States repressed by severe punishments ; with us they 
are unpunished. Again, our code punishes bankruptcy, against 
which the laws of the United States have no provisions. | 

How then can we compare the number of crimes committed 

* See, for some points of comparison between France and America, No. 18. 
f Sodomy, having intercourse with a girl under a certain age, pedrasty, &.c. 
t At least none against "careless bankruptcy." TRASS. 

Penitentiary System. 71 

in countries the legislation of which is so different? And yet, we 
must add, that this comparison, were it made exactly, would 
hardly afford conclusive results : thus, it may well be said, in 
general, that the number, more or less considerable, of convic- 
tions in a country, proves its corruption or its morality. Yet 
there exist exceptions to this rule, which throw a great uncer- 
tainty upon these calculations: thus, in one of the most religious 
and most moral states of the Union, (Connecticut,) there are 
more convictions for offences against morals than in any other 
state.* "To understand this result, it is necessary to remember 
that crimes of this nature are punished only where they are rare : 
in societies in which adultery is frequent, it is not punished. No 
bankrupts are found in the prisons of the United States ; shall 
we conclude from this that the crime of bankruptcy is never 
committed there? This would be a strange mistake, because in 
no country perhaps more bankruptcies take place than there : it 
is necessary, therefore, in order not to admire on this point the 
commercial morality of the United States, to know whether a 
matter is in question which the law regards as a crime. Again, 
if we know that there are in the United States ten criminals 
committed for forgery out of one hundred prisoners,! we are 
not authorized to take this as a proof of greater corruption in 
that country than in ours, in which those sentenced for forgery 
are but two out of the hundred.! In the United States the whole 
population is in some degree commercial, and in addition, there 
are three hundred and fifty banks, all emitting paper money ; 
the ingenuity of the forger therefore has in that country a much 
wider field, and much stronger temptation, which is not the case 
with us, where commerce is but the business of a single class, 
and where the number of banks is so small. 

There is again a difficulty in comparing the crimes committed 
in the two countries ; it is, that in those cases even, in which the 
legislation of both punishes the same act, it inflicts different pun- 
ishments; but as the comparison of crimes is made by that of 
the punishments, it follows that two analogous results, obtain- 
ed from different bases, are compared together ; which is a new 
source of mistake. 

If it is difficult to compare, for any useful purpose, the number 
and nature of crimes committed in the United States and in 
France, it is perhaps still more so to compare the number of re- 
committals, and to arrive by this comparison at a conclusive re- 
sult, in respect to the prisons of the two countries. 

See Statistical and Comparative Observations, No. 17. 

f Ibid. 

i See comparison between France and America, No. 18. 

72 Penitentiary System. 

In general, those recommittals only, which bring back the 
prisoner to the prison where he has been detained the first time, are 
calculated in the United States.* His return to the same prison, 
is in fact the only means of proving his relapse. In that country, 
where passports do not exist, nothing is easier than to change 
one's name ; if therefore a delivered convict commits a new crime 
under a fictitious name, he can very easily conceal his relapse, 
if he is not brought back to the prison where he underwent his 
first punishment. There are, besides, a thousand means of avoid- 
ing the chances of being recognised. Nothing is easier than to 
pass from one state to another, and it is the criminal's interest to 
do so, whether he intends to commit new crimes, or has resolved 
to lead an honest life. We find therefore among a hundred cri- 
minals convicted in one state, thirty, upon an average, who be- 
long to some neighbouring state.t This emigration is sufficient 
to make the proof of recommittals impossible. The tie between 
the various states being strictly political, there is no central pow- 
er to which the police officers might refer to obtain information 
respecting the previous life of an indicted person : so that the 
courts condemn, almost always, without knowing the true name 
of the criminal, and still less his previous life. It is clear, there- 
fore, that in such a state of things the number of known recom- 
mittals is never that of all the existing ones, (ii) The same is 
not the case with us. There are a thousand ways in France to 
prove the identity of the indicted and the convicted prisoner, by 
means of the mutual information which all the agents of the ju- 
dicial police keep up among themselves; the convictions pro- 
nounced by a cour royal in the south are known by a court in 
the north ; and the judiciary possesses on this point all the means 
of investigation which are wanting in the United States. If, there- 
fore, in France, no more recommittals should take place than in 
the United States, a greater number, nevertheless, would be pub- 
licly known ; and as the means of proving them in the two 
countries are so different, it would be useless to compare the 

All comparisons of this kind then, between America and Eu- 
rope, lead to no satisfactory result. America can be compared 
only with herself; yet this comparison is sufficient to shed abun- 
dant light upon the question we are considering ; and we acknow- 
ledged the superiority of the new penitentiary system over the 
old prisons, when we found that the number of recommittals in 
the ancient prisons, compared to all convictions, was in the pro- 

* "In using the termers/ conviction above, we mean as it respects this prison 
only 5 there are nearly twenty who have been in other prisons." (See Report 
on Auburn Prison, January 1, 1824, page 127.) 

f See Statistical and Comparative Observations, No. 17. 

Penitentiary System. 73 

portion of one to six, and in the new penitentiaries in the pro- 
portion of only one to twenty.* 

If we find in some parts of this work difficulties enumerated, which some 
readers as well as ourselves, consider as having been rated, perhaps, too great 
by our authors, we cannot pass over this passage without expressing our gratifi- 
cation at their minute statement of all the difficulties to be encountered in com- 
paring the two countries ; because though some details which they have ex- 
plained will be considered by a few as having been stated previously, yet so 
much abuse has been carried on of late with statistical statements, such rash and 
superficial conclusions have been drawn from numbers, apparently very conclu- 
sive, and such seeming accuracy has, in many cases, been stamped on most 
deceptive and untenable statements, that we feel rejoiced wherever we find 
an application of the true principles of reasoning to such statements. That this 
abuse has been so frequent is not surprising. The science of statistics is of recent 
date, and has been misunderstood by many, as consisting merely of the art of 
collecting certain tables. It will, after having passed through its trials, as all new 
sciences do, be brought to its true limits and proper sphere, and one part of it 
will be cultivated, which as yet is but very partially developed the art of rea- 
soning upon facts afforded by statistical statements. TRANS. 


74 Penitentiary System. 

Financial Department. 


Distinction between the Philadelphia and Auburn systems. The first requires a 
much more expensive construction. The latter very favourable to economy. 
Difficulties to be avoided. Plans. Estimate by Judge Welles. Is it advisa- 
ble to have prisons built by prisoners ? 

AT present, after having stated the principles and effects of the 
penitentiary system in the United States, with regard to the re- 
formation of the prisoners, it only remains to treat of its result 
in a financial view. 

The latter comprises the manner of constructing prisons, and 
the expenses of the support of the prisoners, compared to the 
produce of their labour. 

Construction of the Prisons. 

We must in this respect distinguish between the systems of 
Philadelphia and Auburn. 

The penitentiary of Philadelphia (Cherry Hill,) will, at the 
time of its completion, have cost 432,000 dollars; which makes 
the price of each cell 1624 dollars.* 

It is true that enormous unnecessary expenses have been in- 
curred in its construction. The greater part had no other object 
than the ornament of the edifice. Gigantic walls, gothic towers, 
a wide iron gate, give to this prison the appearance of a fortified 
castle of the middle ages, without affording any real advantage 
to the establishment.! 

* The outer wall of the Philadelphia prison alone cost 200,000 dollars ; yet it 
is of all prisons that which requires least a high enclosing wall, because each 
prisoner is isolated in his cell, which he never leaves. (See Report of the Bos- 
ton Pris. Discipline Soc., and Judge Powers', 1828, page 86.) 

\ In comparing the Philadelphia penitentiary to a castle of the middle ages, 
we but reproduce a comparison used by the Philadelphia Prison Society, which 
speaks with praise of this building in the following terms : " This penitentiary is 
the only edifice in this country, which is calculated to convey to our citizens the 
external appearance of those magnificent and picturesque castles of the middle 
ages, which contribute so eminently to embellish the scenery of Europe." (See 
Description of the Eastern Penitentiary.) 

Penitentiary System. 75 

Yet even if these unnecessary expenses had been wisely avoid- 
ed, there would yet remain a considerable amount inherent in 
the Philadelphia system, which it would have been impossible 
to avoid. The convict being condemned, according to this sys- 
tem, to constant confinement, his cell must necessarily be spa- 
cious and well ventilated, provided with all proper wants, and 
large enough to permit him to work without much constraint. 
It is besides necessary that a small yard should be joined to the 
cell, surrounded by walls, in which he may, each day, during 
the hours prescribed by the rules, breathe the fresh air. Now, 
whatever pains may be taken to construct this cell with its ap- 
pendage in the most economical manner, it must necessarily be 
much dearer than one that is narrower, without a particular yard, 
and destined only to receive the convict during night. 

The prisons, constructed on the Auburn plan, are infinitely 
cheaper. Yet there are very considerable differences in the re- 
spective costs of their construction. 

This disparity seems at first difficult to be accounted for ; but 
upon investigating the causes, we find, that the construction of 
new penitentiaries is either expensive or cheap, according to the 
means employed in erecting them. 

The penitentiary at Washington, for the District of Columbia, 
will have cost, when finished, 180,000 dollars. It contains only 
one hundred and sixty cells, each of which, therefore, will cost 
1125 dollars ; whilst the penitentiary at Wethersfield, established 
on the same plan, has cost, for two hundred and thirty-two pri- 
soners, 35,000 dollars : so that each cell costs but 150 dollars and 
86 cents.* 

As all public expenses are incurred with great economy in the 
small state of Connecticut, we might believe that the small ex- 
pense of the building of the prison is the effect of extraordinary 
efforts, of which a larger society, occupied with other interests, 
would not be capable. 

But the penitentiaries of Sing-Sing and Blackwell Island, 
(erected for the same price as that of Wethersfield) in the State 
of New York, the largest of all the members of the Union, prove 
that Connecticut has done nothing extraordinary; and the con- 
struction of the Baltimore penitentiary has caused no greater ex- 

The care which some states take to avoid in this matter every 
kind of useless ornament, whilst others do not pay the same at- 
tention to economy, produces this difference in the expense of 

The Washington penitentiary has been built on a sumptuous 
plan, more fit for a palace than a prison. 

* For the expenses incurred in the construction of other penitentiaries, sec 
Financial Division, No. 19. 

76 Penitentiary System. 

The greatest difficulty to be avoided in similar constructions, 
is the ambition of the architect, who will always strive to erect 
an edifice of great size, and will reluctantly submit to the adop- 
tion of a simple and strictly useful plan. Several states have 
triumphed over this difficulty, though at Philadelphia, Pittsburg, 
and Washington, it has not been avoided. 

Of all the establishments founded on the Auburn plan, the con- 
struction of the Washington penitentiary has been the most ex- 

The reason of this circumstance perhaps is to be found, in the 
nature of the authority itself, which directed this building to be 

Particular states of the Union adopt generally the simplest 
plans for their prisons : they superintend the execution, and aim 
at strict economy in the most minute details. On the contrary, 
the administration at Washington, more elevated in its views, 
admits more easily of great designs ; and as it is absorbed by a 
number of general interests, it is obliged to leave every thing 
which belongs to the execution of the plan, to agents whom it has 
neither the time nor the power to superintend.* 

All practical men in the Union, believe that the Auburn sys- 
tem satisfies all claims of economy as far as regards construction. 

In those prisons in which the whole discipline consists in the 
strength of the walls and the solidity of bolts, heavy walls and 
strong locks are requisite to master the prisoners. 

In the new penitentiaries, so much material strength is not ne- 
cessary, because it is not the point against which the prisoners 
direct their continual efforts. The moral superintendence forms 
the chief object with which they have continually to struggle. 
Isolated by the cell or by silence, they are moreover reduced to 
their individual strength ; to curb them, therefore, does not re- 
quire so much material force as if they were able to unite their 

The necessity of having a cell for each prisoner, multiplies in- 
deed the walls, and requires a greater extent of building. But 
this increase is compensated by a circumstance favourable to eco- 

As the prisoners have no communication whatever with each 
other, every classification becomes useless, and it is not any long- 
er necessary to have a separate division for young convicts, an- 
other for criminals more advanced in age, and another for re- 
committed convicts, &c. ; in short, the principles of the peniten- 
tiary system being directly opposed to every communication of 
the prisoners with each other, there is no yard for recreation re- 
quired in the modern penitentiaries. Much, therefore, is saved 

* Why not the power ? TRAITS. 

Penitentiary System. 77 

in building and enclosing walls, which exist, or at least ought to 
exist, in the system of our prisons. 

In short, it may be said, that the construction of a modern 
penitentiary may be effected at a cheap rate, if proper views of 
economy are adopted. 

Mr. Welles, one of the inspectors of the Wethersfield prison, 
whose correct views and experience we have always appreciated, 
has told us repeatedly, that in this affair every thing depended 
upon economy in the most minute details. He thinks that a 
penitentiary of five hundred cells might be constructed for about 
40,000 dollars; which would make eighty dollars for each cell.* 

It would be impossible to estimate exactly the cost of a prison 
in France, by that of one in the United States. 

However, we believe that this expense would be about the 
same in France as in America. Because if it is true that the raw 
materials are much dearer with us than in the United States, it 
is also incontestable, that wages for daily labour are much higher 
in America than in France.t 

We have seen that in the United States the prisoners are some- 
times employed to build the prisons. The penitentiaries of Sing- 
Sing, Blackwell Island, and Baltimore, have been thus erected: 
yet there are many persons in America, who believe that this is 
not the most economical way, and that it is more profitable to 
have them built by free labourers. This opinion seems at first 
glance to be opposed to the nature of things, particularly in a 
country where labour is so dear as in the United States. But 
it is answered, that for this very reason, viz. the high price of 
labour, manufactured articles are sold at a high price. Thus the 
labour of the prisoners applied to productive industry, yields 
more for the state than it has to spend for the work of free la- 

This question, therefore, must be decided according to place 
and circumstances. Its solution, says Judge Welles of Wethers- 
field, depends likewise upon the situation of the prisoners: it is 
better to leave those in their workshops whose labour is applied 
to branches which are very productive; but such as are not par- 
ticularly skilful may be used for the rougher kind of labour in 
the construction of a penitentiary. | 

In France, the construction of prisons by the prisoners, might 
be still more advantageous than in America, if we look at the 

See Letter of Judge Welles of Wethersfield (in the Appendix,) in which the 
estimate of a prison for five hundred prisoners is to be found. This estimate is 
probably incomplete ? because even the most experienced architects always omit 
some items. But even if his estimate were doubled, the construction of the pe- 
nitentiary would still be half as expensive only as our prisons. See No. 12. 

t See Note oo, end of the Vol. 

* Letter of Judge Welles, No. 12. 

78 Penitentiary System. 

question simply on account of its economy, and disregard the 
difficulties which, with us, the superintendence of prisoners oc- 
cupied in building their own prison, would present. 

The rate of manufactured articles does not present in France 
the same chances of profit as in the United States, and the pri- 
soners, therefore, may be employed in the construction of the 
prison, without risk of loss in the productiveness of their labour. 

We are sure that the walls to be erected would be profitable, 
since they have their destination fixed before being built: whilst 
nothing is more accidental and uncertain than the future profit 
yielded by the sale of merchandise. 

If we employ free workmen, we pay their wages without di- 
minution ; whilst prisoners, occupied with any branch of indus- 
try, work with all the chances of loss and depreciation, incident 
to manufactured articles. If, on the contrary, the prison is built 
by the prisoners themselves, the fruit of their labour is imme- 
diately collected ; this labour does not produce a gain, properly 
so called ; but it dispenses with an unavoidable charge. 

We are well aware that in America the case is not the same ; 
there, manufactures stand a favourable chance on account of the 
various fields opened to industry : the object there is to gain, 
whilst we only aim at avoiding losses. Finally, it is a great ad- 
vantage in France to be able to employ the prisoners in a labour 
useful, and sometimes necessary, without injuring by way of 
competition the manufactories of free labour.* 


Expensive support of the ancient prisons. The new penitentiaries yield a reve- 
nue to the state. Daily expense of the new prisons. Expense of food only. 
Cost of surveillance. Contract and regie. Combination of these two systems 
of administration. 

Annual Expense of the Prisons.^ 

THE new system in practice in the United States, promises 
also great advantages on the score of annual expense ; its effects 
have already, in this respect, surpassed the expectations of its 

As long as the ancient prison discipline was in practice, the 
support of the prisoners was in all the states a source of consider- 
able expense. We will cite but two instances : From the year 
1790 to 1826, the state of Connecticut has expended for its pri- 
son, (Newgate) 204,711 dollars (see Statistical Tables, Financial 

See Note s, at the end of the Vol. 

| See Statistics, Financial Division, Section II., No. 19, end of the Vol 

Penitentiary System. 79 

Division), and the state of New York has paid for the support 
of the ancient prison of Newgate, during twenty three years, 
(from the year 1797 to 1819,) 646,912 dollars. The new system 
was established in 1819 in the state of New York, and in 1827 
in Connecticut; in the former, the expenses immediately dimi- 
nished, in the latter they changed directly into an annual reve- 
nue. (See Statistical Tables, Financial Division, No. 19.) 

At Auburn, the income resulting from the labour of the pri- 
soners, has, during the last two years, exceeded the expenses of 
support; and the period is already foreseen, when, after the con- 
struction of Sing-Sing shall be finished, the labour of its prison- 
ers, applied solely to productive industry, will cover the expenses 
of the prison. 

From the first year of its institution, the new Connecticut 
prison (Wethersfield,) has produced 1,017 dollars 16 cents, ex- 
penses deducted ; every year the revenue has increased ; and the 
gain of the year 1831, was 7,824 dollars 2 cents. 

In short, the new penitentiary, which cost so much, produced 
during three years and a half, expenses of all kinds deducted, a 
net income of 17,139 dollars 53 cents. 

The Baltimore penitentiary has, during three years, beginning 
with the day of its institution, yielded to the state of Maryland 
44,344 dollars 45 cents, all expenses deducted. 

These results, assuredly, are not owing altogether to the peni- 
tentiary system : and that which proves it, is the circumstance, 
that the Baltimore prison was productive even previously to the 
introduction of the penitentiary system ; we allow even, that the 
best penitentiary is not that which yields the most; because the 
zeal and talent of the prisoners in the workshops, may be stimu- 
lated to the detriment of the discipline. Yet we are obliged to 
acknowledge, that this system, once established, is powerful in 
maintaining order and regularity in the prison ; it rests on an un- 
interrupted watchfulness. The labour of the prisoners, therefore, 
is with such a system more constant and more productive. 

At all events, after having seen the above statements, it would 
be unreasonable to reject the penitentiary system as expensive, 
since the discipline which has been established in the United 
States with so little expense, supports itself in some states, and 
has become in others a source of revenue, (jj) 

Every prisoner in the new penitentiaries costs, on an average, 
for his support, food, clothing, and surveillance, fifteen cents; 
in Wethersfield and Baltimore, the support of the prisoner is the 
cheapest ; at Auburn the dearest : the food costs in the various 
penitentiaries, on an average, five cents a day per head. At 
Wethersfield it costs but four cents, and at Sing-Sing, five cents. 
The expenses for clothing and bedding, amount in general to 
nothing, owing to the care which is taken to have them made 

80 Penitentiary System. 

in the prison by the prisoners themselves. The expenses of sur- 
veillance amount on an average to six cents a day per head. At 
Auburn they are the least, and at Sing-Sing the most. 

In all the new prisons, the expenses of surveillance are great- 
er than those incurred for food and clothing.* All economy on 
this point would be destructive to a system which rests entirely 
upon discipline, and consequently upon the good choice of offi- 

We sec that in all the new prisons, the sum total of the ex- 
pense, though varying in some points, is nevertheless always, 
nearly the same; and it is clear, that as long as the administra- 
tion of these establishments is directed by men of probity, and 
with similar economy, the expenses of each year will not vary 
much: there is a minimum below which it cannot fall, without 
becoming detrimental to the well being of the prisoners; and a 
maximum beyond which it ought not to rise, without extrava- 
gance in the administration, or misconduct on the part of the 

The same is not the case with a production which by nature 
is variable. We may certainly presume that the prison which 
produces most is that in which the prisoners work most. Yet 
the difficulty attending the sale of the articles, produced by their 
labour, often defeats this presumption. Even in the United 
States, where labour is so dear, the demand for articles undergoes 
numerous variations, which raise or lower their price, t 

In short, the financial administration of Auburn, Wethersfield, 
Sing-Sing, and Baltimore, has appeared to us to be directed with 
extreme skill ; and the discretionary power with which the su- 
perintendents are invested, is perhaps one of the principal causes 
of economy. They govern the prison, as it seems best to them, 
under the superintendence of the inspectors. They are responsi- 
ble, but they act freely. 

The administration of these prisons, which combines the sys- 
tem by contract with the rigie (management of sale, &c., by its 
own officers,) appears to us very conducive to economy. 

There are in our prisons many things for which a very high 
price is paid to the contractor, and which are obtained for very 
little expense in a prison which manages its own affairs. 

* The expenses of surveillance cost six centimes more than food, for each pri- 
soner a day. See Statistics, Financial part, Section II., No. 19. 

f These accidental causes explain why a day's labour in the prison yields on 
an average, in Baltimore, twenty-six cents, whilst at Auburn it produces but 
fourteen cents. See Report of December 21, 1829, on the Maryland State pri- 
son, pages 6 and 7, and the Financial Division, Section II., end of the Vol. The 
sale of manufactured articles also incurs sometimes difficulties in Connecticut. 
See Report of 1830, of the inspectors to the Legislature. With us a day's labour 
of 17,500 convicts, in the maisons centrales, produces but four cents, on an ave- 
rage, a day. 

Penitentiary System. 61 

At Auburn* (in 1830,) one hundred and sixty prisoners out 
of six hundred and twenty, are occupied in the service of the 
prison : they make every thing which serves for the clothing, 
linen, and shoes, and conduces to the neatness and order of the 
prison ; only four hundred and sixty-two work for the contractor. 

At Wethersfield, the number of prisoners who work for the 
contractor is proportionately still smaller. It is believed in Ame- 
rica that it is more profitable to employ a large number of con- 
tractors, because more favourable agreements can be made for 
each branch of industry. 

Particular care is taken never to make contracts for any great 
length of time: the contractors, therefore, cannot exact contracts 
disadvantageous to the prison, under the pretence of injurious 
contingencies to which the possible depreciation of the manufac- 
tured articles may expose them ; the duration of a contract often 
does not exceed a year ; it is sometimes of less duration for the 
labour, and generally of six months only for the food. 

The contractor pays for a day's labour of a prisoner, about half 
of what he would pay to a free workman, (kk] 

The constant renewal of the contracts makes it possible for 
the administration to seize upon all the chances of economy : it 
profits by the cheapness of provisions; and if the price of manu- 
factured articles is high, it obtains better conditions from the 
contractors to whom it hires the labour of the prisoners : it makes 
these calculations for each contract, and must on this account be 
acquainted with the rise and fall of the various branches of in- 
dustry ; one often prospers to the disadvantage of another ; and 
in such a case the prison will regain from one contractor the loss 
which it has suffered with another. 

It is evident that such an order of things requires in the su- 
perintendent a constant attention, an accurate knowledge of affairs, 
and a perfect probity, which procures him the confidence of the 
state, and of all those who have business with him. The super- 
intendent is not only the director of a prison, but he is also the 
agent who, attentive to the movements of commerce, must watch 
without interruption how he can apply the labour of the prison- 
ers in the most advantageous way, and find the most profitable 
sales for his products. This system, which unites the contract 
and the r&gie, necessarily produces a responsibility of a very 
complicated character; and on this account will not meet with 
the approbation of those who, in all matters of administration, 
wish to see but one individual; in the accounts but one column, 
and in this column but one number; this simplicity is not to be 
found in the American prisons. It requires in the superintend- 

* See Report on Auburn, 1831. 

83 Penitentiary System. 

ent constant activity, in the inspectors a minute surveillance, 
and in the comptrollers of the state a thorough examination. 

We may yet remark, that this variety of duties, this power of 
governing the prison, or of making contracts for its labour, this 
vast administration at once moral and physical, serve to explain 
also, why the office of superintendent is sought for by persons 
at once intelligent and respectable. 

Penitentiary System* 83 



Expehsiveness of our prisons : reason of this circumstance. They do not correct 
the prisoners, but they corrupt them ? cause of this corruption 5 intercourse of 
the prisoners among themselves. Bad use made of the prisoner's saving, (p/- 
cule~). The system of our prisons is fatal to the life of the convicts. 

DURING the years 1827, 1828, 1829, and 1830, government 
paid 3,300,000 francs every year for the support of 18,000 pri- 
soners in the maisons centrales (state prisons.) Thus the pri- 
sons, which, in the United States, yield an income, form with 
us a heavy charge upon the public treasury. This difference is 
owing to various causes. 

The discipline of our prisons is less severe, and the labour of 
the prisoners necessarily suffers from every relaxation of disci- 

The saving (p6cule) of the prisoners absorbs, with us, two-thirds 
of the produce of their labour, whilst in America it does not ex- 
ist at all. 

Finally, the manufactured articles are sold in France with 
much more difficulty, and with less profit, than in the United 

The object of punishment is to punish the guilty and to render 
them better ; but as it is at present, it punishes little, dnd instead 
of reforming, it corrupts still more. We would develop this 
melancholy truth, if we believed that there is a single individual 
who contests it. Of 16,000 prisoners, at present in the maisons 
centrales, there are 4,000 held upon recommittals.* And it is 
now acknowledged by government itself, that the number of re- 
committals goes on continually increasing.! The same Was for- 
merly the case in America; but since the new penitentiary sys- 
tem has been established, the number of recommittals diminishes. 

The corruption of our prisons is owing chiefly to two causes. 
The first and the most important, is the free communication of 

This number has been furnished to us in the office of the minister of public 
works, by the division, the chief officer of which is Mr. Labiche. AH the docu- 
ments which we possess relative to the prisons of France, are from the same 

t See Report of the keeper of the Seals on Criminal Justice, 1830, page 16* 

84 Penitentiary System. 

the prisoners both night and day. How can a moral reformation 
of the prisoners take place in the midst of this assemblage of all 
crimes and all vices? The convict who arrives at the prison 
half depraved, leaves it in a state of complete corruption, and we 
may well say that in the bosom of so much infamy, it would be 
impossible for him not to become wicked.* 

The second cause of the depravity of the prisoners is found in 
the bad use which they make of their saving. They spend that 
part of it which is allowed to them in the prison, in excess of 
food or other superfluities; and thus contract fatal habits. Every 
expense in the prison is destructive of order, and incompatible 
with the uniform discipline, without which there is no equality 
of punishments. The saving is of no real use whatever to the 
convict before he leaves the prison. And we must add, that, in 
the actual state of things, that part even of the saving which is 
given to the convict on his leaving the prison, is neither more 
useful than that which he has spent in the prison. Had he con- 
tracted, during his imprisonment, habits of order, and some prin- 
ciples of morality, the sum, sometimes very considerable, then 
placed at his disposal, might be employed in a judicious way, 
and for his future benefit. But, corrupted as he is by his im- 
prisonment itself, he hardly feels himself free, than he hastens 
to spend the fruit of his labour in debaucheries of all kinds; and 
continues this kind of life until the necessity of recurring to crime 
brings him back to the arm of justice, and thence to the prison. 

The prison, the system of which is corrupting, is at the same 
time fatal to the life of the prisoners. With us one prisoner dies 
out of fourteen in the maisons centralesA In the penitentiaries 
of America, there dies on an average one out of forty-nine. J 

In these prisons, in which death is so rare, the discipline is 
austere, the law of silence is imposed upon the prisoners : all are 
subject to a uniform discipline, and the produce of their labour 
is not lost either in debaucheries or superfluous expenses; the 
most rigorous punishment reaches, without pity, every one who 
breaks orders ; not one hour of rest is granted them during the 
day ; and the whole night they are in solitude. 

In our prisons, where death makes so many ravages, the pri- 
soners talk freely together ; nothing separates them during day 
or night ; no severe punishment is inflicted upon them. Every 
one may, by the earning of his labour, alleviate the severity of 

We refer the reader again for a picture of this almost inconceivable corrup- 
tion, and of the many other vices of the French prisons, as well as of the police 
system, to the Memoirs of Vidocq, which, we repeat, contain facts enough to 
make them a melancholy though interesting and important work for the student 
of human society. THAWS. 

f Documents furnished from the office of the minister. 

* See Statistical Tables, end of the Vol. 

Penitentiary System. 85 

his imprisonment; and finally, he can enjoy hours of recrea- 
tion. ****** 

This severe discipline of the American penitentiaries, this ab- 
solute silence imposed upon the prisoners, this perpetual isola- 
tion, and the inflexible uniformity of a system, which cannot be 
alleviated for one without injustice to others, do they not alto- 
gether constitute a rigour which is yet full of humanity?* 

The contagion of mutual communications, which in our prisons 
corrupts the inmates, is not more fatal to their souls than their 

We notice here the principal vices which have most attracted 
our attention in our central prisons. It is easy to see that we do 
not present them as a complete picture ; moreover, we add no- 
thing on the "houses of arrest" and "of justice," the other de- 
partmental prisons and the bagnes ; we only speak of the central 
prisons destined for great criminals, because they alone contain 
a population analogous to that within the penitentiaries of Ame- 

* We think that this acknowledgment of our authors themselves, fully justi- 
fies our remark in a previous note affixed to a passage in which the severity of 
the penitentiary system was called barbarous. TBANS. 

f The defect of our maisons centraks is not in their government, but in the 
principle of their organization. Perhaps it would be impossible to turn the ac- 
tual system to better account. We have seen of late a " central prison" (that of 
Melun,) where we admired the order of the labour and the " outward discipline." 
The direction of the " central prisons" is cohfided to the minister of the interior 
and to very capable persons. But whatever may be done, prisoners, who have 
free intercourse with each other, will not be made better, and their mutual cor- 
ruption will not be prevented. (So far the authors.) We must add here an im- 
portant fact, however offensive the subject may be to our feelings; and if we 
do not clothe this note in Latin, as we have done on a similar occasion in an- 
other work (Journal of my Residence in Greece,) it is because we believe this 
book ought to be read and fully understood by persons who are not conver- 
sant with Latin. All who have attended to the moral state of the prisons on 
the old plan, know in how frightful a degree two unnatural vices are prac- 
tised by both sexes. One of these vices is probably committed much less in 
English and American prisons (on the old plan,) than in the French, where not 
even the presence of other prisoners prevents it ; because the national feeling of 
the English and Americans is much more decided against this vice. But the 
other, which may be committed in solitude, was frequent also in American pri- 
sons, and had the most fatal consequences upon the health of the prisoners. We 
have not had an opportunity of making sufficient inquiries respecting the exist- 
ence of this vice in prisons on the Auburn plan, but to judge from the general 
state of health in these establishments, and the effects which reasonably may be 
supposed to result from their discipline in general, the constant, restless labour 
during day, with uniform and simple food, it cannot exist to any great degree. In" 
the Philadelphia penitentiary, we hold ourselves authorized to assert from spe- 
cial inquiry, that it does not exist, owing undoubtedly to the general calming 
tendency which uninterrupted solitude, simple food, and absence of all excite- 
ment must naturally have upon the inmates of a solitary cell. TUANS. 

86 Penitentiary System. 


Application of the penitentiary system to France. Examination of the objec- 
tions made to this system. Theoretically it seems preferable to all others. 
What obstacles it would have to overcome in order to become established 
among us. These difficulties are in the state of things, in the customs, and in 
the laws. In the state of things : the existence of prisons badly constructed, 
which it would be necessary to supplant by others. In the customs : repug- 
nance of public opinion to corporal punishment ; and difficulty of procuring for 
the system the assistance of religious influence. In the laws : punishments, 
inflicting infamy, variety of ways of detention and administrative centralization. 
Judication of a system of local administration.- The penitentiary system, 
even if established in France, would not produce all the effects which have 
resulted from it in the United States. Situation of delivered criminals. Sur- 
veillance of the high police. Agricultural Colonies. Even if the system should 
not be introduced entirely, some of its advantages may be borrowed. A mo- 
del Penitentiary. Recapitulation. 

WOULD it be possible to establish the American penitentiary 
system among us? 

It seems to us that this system, considered theoretically, (if we 
abstract the particular difficulties which its execution would meet 
with in France,) is both sound and practicable. 

Various objections are made against it, which we shall examine. 
Many persons see in the penitentiary system a philanthropic con- 
ception which has for its sole object the amelioration of the phy- 
sical situation of the prisoners ; and as they believe that the cri- 
minals are not too severely punished in their present prisons, 
they reject the system which would make them more comforta- 
ble. This opinion rests upon a fact: for a long time those who 
have raised their voices in France in favour of reforms in the 
prison discipline, have called public attention simply to clothing, 
food, and all those matters which contribute to make the convicts 
more easy.* So that in the eyes of a great number, the adoption 

* The prisons have for a long time deserved most of the reproaches made 
against their physical management : it was therefore not without reason that the 
abuses and vices, which infected them, were attacked ; consequently, we are far 
from blaming the efforts of those who have succeeded in correcting the evil ; ex- 
cept that, by the side of a wise and moderate philanthropy, there also exists a 
zeal which surpasses its end. There are in France prisons in which undoubtedly 
changes respecting their salubrity are desirable ; but in general it may be said 
that in our prisons the prisoners are as well fed and clothed as they need to be < 
every amelioration on this point would become an abuse in the other extreme, 
not less fatal than that which it was intended to remedy. The task of those who 
justly called for better clothes and better bread for the prisoners, seems at an 
end ; at present the work of those must commence, who believe that there i 
in the discipline of prisons a moral part, which ought not to be neglected. 

Penitentiary System. 87 

of a penitentiary system, which makes innovations necessary, 
tends only to the physical amelioration of the prison. 

Others engaged in a way entirely opposite, believe that the 
condition of the prisoners is so unfortunate that it would be wrong 
to aggravate it : and if they hear of a system which is founded on 
isolation and silence, they say that society has not a right to 
punish men with such severity. 

Finally, there is a third class of persons who, without express- 
ing themselves on the advantages or inconveniences of the peni- 
tentiary system, consider it as a eutopian scheme, destined only 
to enlarge the number of human errors. It must be acknow- 
ledged that the opinion of the latter has been in some cases sup- 
ported by the writings of the most distinguished publicists, whose 
mistakes in this matter have been received together with their 
soundest opinions. 

Thus, Bentham wishes in his panoptic prison the continual 
sound of music, in order to soften the passions of the prisoners. 
Mr. Livingston asks for the young prisoner, and for the convicts 
themselves, a system of instruction almost as complete as that 
established in any of the free academies ; and Mr. Charles Lucas 
indicates, as a mode of executing the punishment of imprison- 
ment, a penitentiary system which it would be difficult to recon- 
cile with the principles essential in criminal matters.* 

* See Du Systeme ptnal et rtpressif. Mr. Lucas finds the whole penal legis- 
lation in the penitentiary system. He says : " The only question is to reform 
the wicked : this reformation once effected, the criminal ought to re-enter socie- 
ty." There is some truth in this system ; but it is incomplete. The first object 
of punishment is not the reformation of the convict, but, on the contrary, to give 
a useful and moral example to society : this is obtained by inflicting upon the 
guilty a punishment commensurate to his crime. Every punishment which is not 
in proportion to the offence, offends public equity, and is immoral whether from 
too much severity or too much indulgence. 

But it is also important for society, that he, whom it punishes, in order to set 
an example, should correct, if possible, his morals in the prison. This is the se- 
cond object of punishment, less important than the first, because its consequences 
are less extensive. The system of Charles Lucas is defective, inasmuch as he 
considers the second point only, and neglects entirely the first. He invariably 
considers punishments as means of reformation, and not as means of example. It 
is for this reason that he wishes to see liberty restored to the criminal, as soon 
as there is a presumption of his regeneration. Seeing in imprisonment but a time 
of trial (noviciate,) in which the convict shows himself more or less quick in re- 
pentance and correction ; he makes the duration of his sentence depend upon 
the convict's behaviour in prison. However, the behaviour in prison proves ab- 
solutely nothing : on the contrary, we have seen that in many cases it is an indi- 
cation rather unfavourable. (See Chapter II., Section II., 7.) Besides, who 
can be the judge of the reformation of convicts ? We are able to judge of a fact; 
but who can descend into the conscience of the prisoner, to weigh there the 
sincerity of his repentance ? And further, where is the reparation due to socie- 
ty ? And where is the guaranty which society requires, that the criminal has 
become an honest man, and that this change is equivalent to an expiation of his 
offence ? (So far the authors). The length of this note shows that the authors 
must have had good reason for combating in detail a theory, which, if it actually 
is meant to be such as we have it represented here, would be instantly dismiss- 

88 Penitentiary System. 

Is it just to blame the severity or mildness of the penitentiary 
system ? Must we condemn this system on the exaggeration of 
writers who, preoccupied with philosophical doctrines, have not 
guarded themselves against the danger attending any theory if 
carried to its full consequences? 

The new system, on the contrary, seems to us to have been 
conceived for the very object of avoiding' those excesses with 
which it is reproached : freed from severities which are not ne- 
cessary for its success; unincumbered by indulgences which are 
asked for only by mistaken philanthropy. 

Finally, its execution presents itself with all the advantages 
of extreme practical simplicity. 

It is believed that two depraved individuals, kept in the same 
place, must corrupt each other; they are therefore separated. 
Their passions, or the bustle of the world, had deafened or mis- 
led them : they are isolated and thus brought to reflect. Their 
intercourse with the wicked had perverted them ; they are con- 
demned to silence : idleness had depraved them ; they are made 
to work. Misery had conducted them to crime; they are taught 
a useful art. They have violated the laws of their country, a 
punishment is inflicted upon them ; their life is protected, their 
body is safe and healthy : but nothing equals their moral sufler- 
ing. They are unhapp) 7 , they deserve to be so ; having become 
better, they will be happy in that society whose laws they will 
have been taught to respect. This is the whole system of Ame- 
rican penitentiaries. 

But, it is objected, that this system, tried in Europe, has not 
succeeded ; and to prove it, the instances of Geneva and Lausanne 
are mentioned, where penitentiary systems have been establish- 
ed at great expense, and without producing the results which 
were expected from it for the reformation of the convicts. 

cd by every practical man as a futile scheme produced both by an entire want 
of knowledge of prisons and criminals, and by a confused conception both of po- 
litical societies and others, as families, religious communities, &c. a confusion 
which has produced the most fatal consequences. The reader probably is aware 
of the fact, that a number of philosophers of late have denied the right, which 
has been claimed for society, of punishing in order to afford an example, and 
have pronounced the necessity of resting the right of punishment on other 
grounds. (See among other works, the article Criminal Law in the Encyclop. 
Americana.) This is not the place to give our view of the entire ground on 
which the whole philosophy of penal law appears to us to rest. But thus mucli 
we will say, that there is a public moral feeling as well as a public opinion, and 
the former cannot manifest itself, cannot stamp crime as such, cannot show that 
there is a moral difference between honest and wicked acts, except by punish- 
ments a reason which remains powerful even in those cases in which the pro- 
tection of society does not require any further punishment. And though the 
greatest punishment may be the grief which a virtuous person feels for past 
and now well understood offences, society has no means of punishing thus ; it 
cannot punish but by equal, and, in their origin, physical punishments as de- 
privation of liberty, &c. THAWS. 

Penitentiary System. 89 

We believe that the example of that which has been done in 
Switzerland ought in no respect to influence what France might 
do. In fact, the same mistake in respect to the construction of 
prisons, has been fallen into in Switzerland, which has not been 
always avoided in the United States, viz. the desire of elevating 
architectural monuments instead of simply constructing useful 
establishments : the-expense incurred for the Swiss penitentiaries, 
therefore, ought in no way to be taken as a basis for calculating 
the probable expenses of prisons of the same nature in France. 
On the other hand, if the system of these penitentiaries has not 
been efficient for the reformation of prisoners, we must not seek 
for the cause in the system of the United States: it is a mistake 
to believe that the discipline of the prisons in Geneva and Lau- 
sanne is the same with that of the American penitentiaries. The 
only point common to both is, that the prisoners pass the night 
in solitary ceils : but that which makes a difference of primary 
importance in the penitentiary systems of the two countries, is, 
that in the United States the discipline rests essentially on isola- 
tion and silence, whilst in Switzerland the prisoners have free 
intercourse with each other during the day. 

It cannot be denied that the liberty of communication granted 
to the prisoners, changes the very nature of the American sys- 
tem, or to speak more correctly, it produces a new system with- 
out any resemblance to the latter. 

As for us, as much as we believe that the system founded on 
isolation and silence, is favourable to the reformation of crimi- 
nals, we are equally inclined to believe that the reformation of 
convicts who communicate with each other is impossible. 

It seems to us, therefore, that, speaking in the abstract, the 
penitentiary system of the United States (the superiority of 
which over every other prison discipline appears incontestable,) 
presents itself to France with all the chances of success which a 
theory can offer, the first experiment of which has already suc- 
ceeded. In stating this opinion, we are not blind to the difficul- 
ties which this system would have to overcome in being esta- 
blished with us. 

These difficulties are in the nature of things; in our customs, 
and in our laws. 

The first of all is the existence of another order of things, 
founded upon a different basis, and upon principles diametrically 
opposed. The American system has for its foundation the sepa- 
ration of the prisoners, and for this reason we find in each peni- 
tentiary as many cells as convicts. In France, on the contrary, 
the system of cells established in a general way is unknown ; and 
in all our prisons, the greater part of the convicts are huddled 
together during night in common dormitories. This circumstance 


90 Penitentiary System. 

alone is sufficient to render, for the present, a system which 
rests entirely upon the isolation of the prisoners, impracticable 
with us. Should, therefore, this system be adopted, new prisons, 
constructed upon the model of the modern penitentiaries, must 
be raised ; but here a grave difficulty presents itself, resulting 
from the first expenses of their construction. 

We are far from believing that the expense of this would be 
as considerable as is generally presumed. Those who see in Paris 
a model prison, destined for four hundred prisoners, and costing 
4,000,000 of francs,* conclude with apparent reason, that it 
would require 320,000,000 of francs, to lodge, upon the same 
plan, 32,000 criminals; i. e. 10,000 francs for each. But we must 
remember, that this enormous expense has been occasioned by 
the deplorable extravagance with which the construction of that 
prison was attended. 

The elegance, the regularity of its proportions, and all the or- 
naments with which it is embellished, are of no use whatever 
for the discipline of the establishment: they exhausted the public 
treasure, and are of service to the achitect alone, who strove to 
erect a monument, to hand down his name to posterity. 

We must remark again that a distinction ought to be made be- 
tween the expenses of construction upon the Philadelphia and 
the Auburn system : we have acknowledged, that there are great 
advantages resulting from the plan of absolute confinement adopt- 
ed in Pennsylvania, and if the question were only on a theoreti- 
cal point, perhaps we should prefer it to the Auburn system ; but 
the expense of penitentiaries built upon the Philadelphia plan is 
so considerable, that it would seem to us imprudent to propose 
the adoption of this plan for our country. Too heavy a burthen 
would be thrown on society, for which the most happy results 
of the system could hardly offer an equivalent. Yet the Auburn 
system, whose merit in theory is not less incontestable, is, as we 
have shown above, much cheaper in its execution ; it is therefore 
this system which we should wish to see applied to our prisons, 
if the question were only to choose between the two. 
. But the Auburn system itself could not at once be established 
in France without great expense, which certainly would be in- 
comparably less than that incurred for the prison which we just 
mentioned ; we believe even that the construction, if judiciously 
directed, of a modern penitentiary, would in the whole cost no 
more here than in the United States, (mm) Yet, however great 
the economy might be, which would preside over such an under- 
taking, it is certain that more than 30,000,000 of francs would 
be necessary for the general establishment of this system : and it 

The Prison in the street de la Roquette near the cemetery Fere Lachaise. 

Penitentiary System. 91 

will easily be believed that France would not burthen her budget 
with a similar item in the midst of political circumstances, which 
require from her still more urgent sacrifices. 

Is it not also to be feared that the grave interests which absorb 
the treasures of France, are injurious in another way to the re- 
form of prisons? Do not political events preoccupy the minds of 
men to such an extent, that questions, even the most important, 
on internal reforms, excite public attention but feebly? Talent 
and capacity are directed towards one single object politics. 
Every other interest meets with indifference, and the result of 
this is, that the most talented men, distinguished writers, expe- 
rienced members of the administration in one word, all those 
who exercise influence on public opinion, spend their energy in 
discussions useful to the government, but not conducive to the 
welfare of society. Shall we not fear the consequence of this 
disposition in respect to the penitentiary system ? Will not this 
institution, which requires for its execution public attention and 
favour, be received with coolness? 

But even if the pecuniary and political objections, just indi- 
cated, did not exist, and nothing in the actual state of things 
were opposed to internal reforms, the introduction of the peni- 
tentiary system into France would nevertheless meet with grave 

The American discipline is, as we have seen, principally sup- 
ported by corporal punishment. But is it not to be feared that a 
system, of which these punishments are the most powerful aux- 
iliary, will be ill received by public opinion? If it is true, that 
with us an idea of infamy is attached to this punishment, how 
could it be inflicted on persons whose morals it is our intention 
to improve? This difficulty is a real one, and it appears still 
more serious, if we consider the nature of the discipline itself, 
which is to be maintained. Silence is the basis of the system : 
would this obligation of absolute silence, which has nothing in- 
compatible with American gravity, be so easily reconciled with 
the French character? If we believe Mr. Elam Lynds, the 
French are, of all nations, those who submit the easiest to all the 
exigencies of the penitentiary system : yet the question seems to 
us yet undecided, and we do not know to what point Mr. Elam 
Lynds has had an opportunity of judging of the docility of French 
convicts in general, by observations made in American prisons, 
where he has seen but a small number of French dispersed among 
a multitude of Americans.* 

As for ourselves, without pretending to solve this problem, 
we believe that the law of silence would be infinitely more pain- 

* See our Conversation with Mr. E. Lynds, end of the Vol. 

92 Penitentiary System. 

ful to Frenchmen than to Americans, whose character is taciturn 
and reflective ; and for this reason, it seems to us that it would 
be still more difficult with us than in America, to maintain the 
penitentiary discipline whose foundation is silence, without re- 
curring to corporal punishment. We are the more induced to 
believe so, as the discipline of American penitentiaries is favour- 
ed by another circumstance, on which we cannot calculate. There 
is a spirit of obedience to the law, so generally diffused in the 
United States, that we meet with this characteristic trait even 
in the prisons : without being obliged to indicate here the politi- 
cal reasons of this fact, we only state it as such : but this spirit 
of submission to the established order does not exist in the same 
degree with us.* On the contrary, there is in France, in the spirit 
of the mass, an unhappy tendency to violate the law : and this 
inclination to insubordination seems to us also to be of a nature 
to embarrass the regular operation of the discipline.! 

* In the same degree as there exists liberty in a nation, is obedience to the 
laws to be found. All over the continent of Europe the great mass of the people 
consider the law as something imposed and foreign to them, which must be 
obeyed because transgression is punished. The observing traveller, who goes 
from the continent to England, is struck with the moral power the word law has 
in that country, but much greater still in the United States ; and why ? Because 
it is made by the people themselves, and not supported by a threatening execu- 
tive. The most striking instances respecting what we have said, are not found 
in great political actions, but in the occurrences of daily life, and can be observed 
only on the spot. TBANS. 

\ With all deference to the opinion of the authors, whose knowledge of the 
French character must be infinitely greater than ours, we cannot help thinking 
that in this case they overrate the difficulty. As to silence, we acknowledge that 
there must be a great difference between Americans and Frenchmen. Go to a 
dinner in a French and an American public house, and you will see the truth of 
the remark. But in spite of their taciturn disposition, Americans feel the urgent 
necessity of communication as well as other mortals, and silence, if imposed, 
must be as hard to them as others. Besides, custom can do almost every thing; 
the greatest difference, we believe, between an American and a Frenchman, 
would show itself in this respect, in moments of excitement. In these, an Ame- 
rican certainly would master himself easier, but there is no excitement in the 
case ; and, we repeat it, as to ordinary silence, that the Frenchman would stand 
on a par with an American. And is it not a fact, which goes far to prove what 
we say, that the Irish, certainly not taciturn in their disposition, and at least as 
easily excitable as Frenchmen, form so great a part of the population of our pe- 
nitentiaries, and yet submit to the discipline ? If the law of silence is not more 
severe for a Frenchman than for an American, it is much more necessary for the 
former, inasmuch as roguery and crime, considered as a profession, is carried to 
a much greater degree of perfection in France than here. An American criminal 
is but a blunt beginner compared to a thorough rogue in France, whether we 
consider their adroitness, skill, boldness, or shrewdness in conception, or their 
settled views respecting moral principles. Crime is in France a much more per- 
fected profession, which, as such, is of course capable of greater or less develop- 
ment. The French criminal, therefore, requires stronger agents to affect him, 
nnd to make the penitentiary system become such for him ; and to abandon si- 
lence in his treatment would be still more fatal to him than to our convicts, could, 
indeed, any difference in the ruinous consequence of such a measure exist. Re- 
specting the whip we would say this much ; that if it is according to the authors 

Penitentiary System. 93 

The penitentiary system, to which it would be difficult to give, 
in France, the physical support of stripes, that would seem in 
this country more necessary than in others, would perhaps be 
deprived also of a moral auxiliary, which contributes in the Unit- 
ed States much to its success. 

In America, the progress of the reform of prisons has been of 
a character essentially religious. Men, prompted by religious 
feelings, have conceived and accomplished every thing which 
has been undertaken ; they were not left alone ; but their zeal 
gave the impulse to all, and thus excited in all minds the ardour 
which animated theirs. So also is religion to this day in all the 
new prisons, one of the fundamental elements of discipline and 
reformation: it is her influence alone which produces complete 
regeneration ; and even with regard to reformations less thorough, 
we have seen that it contributes much to obtain them. 

It is to be feared that in France the penitentiary system would 
not find this religious assistance. 

Would not the clergy receive with lukewarmness this new in- 
stitution, on which philanthropy seems to have seized? 

And on the other hand, if the French clergy should show 
themselves zealous for the moral reformation of the criminals, 
would public opinion be satisfied to see them charged with this 

With us there exist, in a great number of persons, prejudices 
against religion and her ministers, which are unknown in the 
United States, and our clergy in turn are subject to impressions 
unfelt by the religious sects of America. 

In France, where, during a long period, the altar has struggled **N 
in concert with the throne to defend royal power, the people are 
not yet accustomed to separate religion from authority, and the 
feelings directed against the latter usually extend to the former. J 

It thus happens, that in general public opinion shows itself ] 

themselves, not used very frequently in the penitentiaries of the United States, 
it would be used still less in France, because the Frenchman is more pliable ; and 
though he may not be as much disposed to obey the law for its own sake, as the 
American, he, on the other hand, has been long 1 accustomed to render obedience 
to power, which an American does not experience. We well know that corporal 
punishment has always been held in France in greater abhorrence than in other 
countries, their feeling of honour being more sensitive ; but should we fear to lose 
public favour by using it in cases of infraction of discipline ? How is it at present? 
The most merciless beating is now in use ; and who has seen a chain of galley 
slaves conducted to the bagnes and brutally beaten in the most arbitrary manner 
by their guards, that does not think the public would consider a penitentiary 
system, even with the whip, a change for the better ? and as to the degrading 
effect of stripes in the prisoner's own eyes, the stigma of his crime, which can 
never be entirely removed, must always be greater than the degradation caused 
by corporal punishment. We have given our opinion respecting stripes and their 
necessity in the Auburn system, in the article Pennsylvania Penitentiary System, 
at the end of the Vol. We speak now merely of the difference of their effects 
here and in France. TRANS. 

94 Penitentiary System. 

\little favourable towards any thing protected by religious zeal ; 
and the clergy, on their part, show little sympathy for any thing 
which presents itself under the auspices of public favour. 

In America, on the contrary, church and state have always 
been separated ; and political passions erect themselves against 
the government, and never against religion. For this reason, 
religion there always remains out of the struggle ; and there 
exists an absence of all hostility between the people and the 
ministers of every sect. 

We must add an observation on this point : it is, that in the 
United States, should the support of the clergy fail, the reform 
of prisons would not thereby be deprived of the assistance ren- 
dered by religion. 

In fact, society in the United States is itself eminently reli- 
gious a circumstance which has a great influence upon the di- 
rection of penitentiaries ; a multitude of charitable persons, who 
are not ministers by profession, sacrifice nevertheless a great 
part of their time to the moral reformation of criminals ; as their 
religious belief is deeply rooted in their customs, there is not 
one among all the officers of a prison who is destitute of religi- 
ous principles. For this reason, they never utter a word which 
is not in harmony with the sermons of the chaplain. The pri- 
soner in the United States, therefore, breathes in the penitentiary 
a religious atmosphere, and is more accessible to this influence, 
because his primary education has disposed him for it. 

Generally speaking, our convicts have not such favourable 
dispositions, and without the walls of the prison, religious ardour 
is met with in the ministers of religion only. 

If they are kept from the penitentiary, the influence of reli- 
gion will disappear : philanthropy alone would remain for the 
reformation of criminals. It cannot be denied that there are 
with us generous individuals, who, endowed with profound sensi- 
bility, are zealous to alleviate any misery, and to heal the wounds 
of humanity: so far, their attention, exclusively occupied with 
the physical situation of the prisoners, has neglected a much 
more precious interest, that of their moral reformation. It is 
clear, however, that called to this field, their charity would not 
be tardily dispensed, and their efforts would undoubtedly be 
crowned with some success. But these sincere philanthropists 
are rare ; in most cases philanthropy is with us but an affair of 
the imagination. The life of Howard is read, his philanthropic 
virtues are admired, and it is confessed that it is noble to love 
mankind as he did; but this passion, which originates in the 
head, never reaches the heart, and often evaporates in the pro- 
ductions of the pen. 

There are, then, in our customs and morals, and in the actual 
disposition of the people, moral difficulties, with which the 

Penitentiary System. 95 

penitentiary system would have to struggle, if ever it could be 
established such as it exists in the United States. These obsta- 
cles certainly would not always exist. A lasting public prejudice 
against religion and her ministers, is not the natural state of 
things ; and we do not know what point a society may reach, 
without the assistance of religious belief. But here we must not 
go beyond the actual state of things ; and among the difficulties 
actually existing, which would injure the penitentiary system in 
France, that which we have just pointed out would without con- 
tradiction be one of the gravest. 

Our legislation also presents difficulties. 

The first results from the very nature of some of our penal 

At the time when the brand was prescribed by our code, the 
penitentiary system could not have been established ; because it 
would have been contradictory to pursue the moral reformation 
of criminals who had been disgraced already with indelible in- 
famy. This punishment has disappeared from our laws, and its 
abolition, which reason and humanity imperiously claimed, is 
one impediment the less to the efficacy of a good prison disci- 
pline. But there are yet some provisions in our penal code, 
which are not less irreconcilable to a complete system of reform. 
We mean the infamy attached to most punishments, and their 
great diversity. 

There are in our laws eight punishments which are expressly 
called infamous ; without courting public exposure, which is 
considered only as accessory to certain punishments, and that 
of the ball, which only figures in the law as a mode of enforcing 
labour. (Articles 6, 7, 8, 15, and 22, of the penal code.) 

If you attach infamy to a perpetual punishment, we see little 
inconvenience in it, provided the principle of perpetuity is once 
admitted. But is it not an inconsistency, to declare by judgment 
a person infamous, who may at some future period reappear in 
society. To be logical, the law should also declare, that at the 
expiration of the punishment the prisoner should receive back 
his honour and his liberty. It does not so, because the infamy 
so easily imprinted on the forehead of the guilty, cannot be 
effaced with the same facility. However this may be, the per- 
petual dishonour attached to a temporary punishment, seems to 
us little compatible with the object of the penitentiary system, 
and we do not know how it would be possible to awaken senti- 
ments of honour and virtue in those whom the law itself has 
taken care to disgrace and to debase. In order to make, in this 
respect, our penal legislation agree with the essential principles 
of the penitentiary system, few changes would be required ; it 
would be sufficient, not to call any longer the punishments pro- 
nounced by the code infamous, and in all cases to spare the con- 

96 Penitentiary System. 

vict the transitory shame of the pillory, and the lasting humili- 
ation of hard labour in public. 

It would be necessary, lastly, to abolish, if not the diversity 
of punishments, at least the difference which exists in the man- 
ner of suffering them. 

The variety of punishments and of imprisonment, prescribed 
by each of them, have rendered necessary a great number of 
different prisons. As there are criminals of various degrees, and 
as they are thrown together in our prisons, it has been justly 
believed that it would be immoral to confound all, and to place 
under the same roof, in the same workshop, and in the same 
bed, the man who has been sentenced to twenty years of forced 
labour, and him who has to undergo but one year's imprison- 
ment. There is, therefore, a separate prison for the galley slaves, 
another for reclusionnaires, (simply) ; and if the law were 
strictly executed, there would be a third class of prisons, for 
persons sentenced for police offences to more than a year's im- 
prisonment, and a fourth class, for those whose confinement 
would be for less than a year. These classifications, the reason 
of which we understand, if in principle the assemblage of the 
prisoners is admitted, become evidently useless, if the system of 
separation during night and silence during day is introduced. 
This system once established, the least guilty of all the convicts 
may be placed by the side of the most consummate criminal, 
without fearing any contamination. 

It is even well to unite the criminals of various kinds in esta- 
blishments of the same nature ; all are subject to a uniform sys- 
tem ; punishment varies only in its duration. We thus lose the 
exceptionable system of the bagnes, and see the government of 
the French prisons freed from this strange anomaly, which places 
the third of all convicts under the direction of the minister of 
the marine. 

It would then be necessary, in order to put our legislation in 
harmony with the penitentiary system, to abolish those provi- 
sions in the penal code which prescribe distinct prisons, subject 
to a special system,* for each species of convicts. 

The second obstacle in our laws, is the too great extent to 
which the principle of centralization has been carried, forming 
the basis of our political society. 

* Though but one and the same system ought to be established for all con- 
victs, we can very well conceive that there might be differences in the disci- 
pline according to the weight of punishments, whether distinguished by their 
name or duration : thus prisoners for police offences might be allowed to save a 
ptcule, greater than that granted to convicts sentenced for grave crimes, &c., 
&c. If we ask for a uniform system, we only wish for the application of the fun- 
damental principles of the penitentiary system to all prisoners isolation during 
night and silence during day ; and we assert, that these two principles once ad- 
mitted, the variety of prisons becomes useless. 

Penitentiary System. 97 

There are, no doubt, general interests, for the conservation of 
which the central power ought to retain all its strength and unity 
of action. 

Every time that a question arises concerning the defence of the 
country, its dignity abroad, and its tranquillity within, govern- 
ment ought to give a uniform impulse to all parts of the social 
body; this is a right which could not be dispensed with, with- 
out compromising public safety and national independence. 

But however necessary this central direction respecting all 
subjects of general interest may be to the strength of a country 
like ours, it is as contrary, it seems to us, to the development 
of internal prosperity, if this same centralization is applied to 
objects of local interest* 

* We wish that all France should come to a thorough conviction of this all- 
important truth. The tendency of the French government has been, for many 
centuries, towards the centralization of all power, and the annihilation of the 
individual life of communities, if we may so express ourselves. At the era 
of the French revolution, liberty was proclaimed, but life could not so easily 
be restored to those primary bodies ; without which no liberty can be imagined ; 
nor was this important point sufficiently understood ; on the contrary, the ten- 
dency of centralization having operated for centuries, the revolution merely com- 
pleted it, inasmuch as it produced greater uniformity and equality; and we find 
it attaining its height in the imperial government. A French republic, indeed, 
had been decreed, but a republic never existed ; there was always a central power 
at Paris, under whatever name it went, which absorbed the political life of the 
whole country, concentrated all power, and ruled without a check ; because it is, 
in our opinion, of little use that those who rule are elected, or of little importance 
how they are elected, if they are checked merely by the letter of a written consti- 
tution, and not by the vigorous, healthy, free action of every part and limb of the 
great body politic. It is the free action of all the minor or greater circles, the vil- 
lages, towns, wards, cities, societies, companies, courts, &c. 8tc. &c. by which 
true liberty, which is more than a written decree, is nourished. This is the great 
secret why England remained free, whilst every nation on the continent of Eu- 
rope hurried to the whirlpool of centralization. Her parliament has been at 
times servile enough ; great speeches alone would not have saved her ; but her 
people retained that manly, independent political activity, that bracing consci- 
ousness of individual right, which we have signalized as the very nerve of living 
liberty. Were it but the constitution of the highest national authorities which 
constitutes liberty, many a country would be freer than Britain. Who will deny, 
that, in the abstract, the constitution of Brazil promises much more liberty than 
that of England ? But the life of the community is wanting. Liberty cannot 
be made, cannot be guarantied by a parchment, cannot be secured by an oath ; 
(look at the history of France for the last fifty years ;) liberty must be a na- 
tional life, a reality which extends its ramifications to every part of society; or it 
is but little more than an empty sound. We trust no reader will charge us with 
agreeing with those absolutists, who, using nearly the same arguments, conclude 
that every attempt to establish constitutions is a folly. All we mean to say is, 
that a nation's attention ought always to be directed chiefly to the point indi- 
cated by us} and often, we most willingly acknowledge, is the proclamation of 
a constitution the first step, which possibly can be taken toward liberty. Such 
was the case, in our opinion, with France France, whose governments, from 
Louis XIV., clown to the revolution, had instilled the poison of disorganization 
into every vein of society; but she forgot the true end; and unless she searches 
for the true foundation of liberty, there, where we conceive its sole firm basis to 


98 Penitentiary System. 

It has appeared to us, that the success of the new prisons in 
the United States, is principally owing to the system of local 
administration under the influence of which they have ori- 

In general, the first expenses of construction are made with 
economy ; because those who execute the plan, pay also the ex- 
penses. Little mismanagement is to be feared from the inferior 
agents, because those who make them work are near to them ; 
and even after the system which they have thus introduced is 
put into practice, they do not cease to watch its operation. They 
are occupied with it as with their own work, and one, in the 
success of which, their honour is interested. 

As soon as a state has founded a useful establishment, all 
others, animated by a happy spirit of emulation, show them- 
selves zealous to imitate it. 

Would our laws, and our customs, which leave every thing 
to the central power, offer to the penitentiary system the same 
facilities for its foundation and support among us? We do not 
believe it. 

If the question were, of enacting a law, this centralization 
would be far from throwing difficulties in the way ; in fact, it 
would be much easier for our government to obtain from the 
chambers, the adoption of the penitentiary system for all France, 
than it has been in America, for the governors of the various 

be, she may yet change her dynasties and her charters ; may alter the national 
council in Paris ; but she will not find what she is in search of; Paris will rule, 
but the people will not have a national liberty. Her task appears to us to be 
one of the most difficult recorded in history. She has to break up centraliza- 
tion, and to conduct through the country the irrigating streams of liberty, with- 
out which the most active and the boldest national councils are but vast rivers, 
whose immense volumes receive no produce from sectional branches. We were 
rejoiced, therefore, as our reader will be, to find in the above passage, and still 
more in others, how well our authors have understood what is truly needed. 

For the reasons given above, it is our opinion, harsh as it may sound, that as 
yet but two nations understand justly what liberty is the British and American. 
With them liberty is a reality ; something positive, that they can grasp which 
is developed in their history a blessing to the people ; a distinct system of po- 
litics ; a practical mode of government. It is exemplified in their charters and 
laws in their revolutions, and parties, and elections in their penitentiaries in 
war and in peace. It is not a mere floating gossamer or a brilliant phantom. 

It is a peculiar fact, that a restless disposition existed during the last centuiy 
in almost all the governments of the European continent, to concentrate the 
whole power, nay, the whole activity of a nation in one point ; a minister was 
appointed for every branch, even for public worship ("CM//US"); every com- 
munity was stripped of any trace of self-action bureaucracy extended over 
knowledge, commerce, industry, law, worship, roads, canals every thing. But 
so troublesome has this kind of ruling become, that governments themselves, 
even those the least disposed to yield in any way to the wish of national liberty, 
have made advances towards surrendering certain branches of administration to 
the various communities interested in them. TRASS. 

Penitentiary System. 99 

states, to get this same principle sanctioned by the various legis- 
latures, without whom it could not be acted upon. 

But after this principle has been adopted by law, it yet re- 
mains to be executed ; it is here, where with us the difficul- 
ties begin. 

It is to be feared that the building which the government 
would cause to be erected for this purpose, would not be on a 
very economical plan ; and that the expenses of construction, su- 
perintended by secondary agents, would much exceed the origi- 
nal estimates. If the first experiments prove too expensive, 
they will discourage public opinion, and the most zealous parti- 
sans of the penitentiary system. Supposing these first difficul- 
ties conquered, is not the indifference of the different communi- 
ties towards the success of an establishment which is not their 
own work, to be feared? and yet this system cannot prosper 
without the especial zeal of the officers of the prison. Finally, 
how could the central power, the action of which is uniform, 
give all those modifications to the penitentiary system, which are 
necessary on account of local customs and wants? 

It seems to us difficult to expect the penitentiary system to 
succeed in France, if its foundation and erection are to be the 
work of government, and if it should be thought sufficient to 
substitute for the central prisons (maisons centrales de deten- 
tion) others built merely on a better plan. 

Would not the chances of success be far greater, if the care of 
constructing, at their own expense, and of directing (according 
to certain general principles expressed in a law common to all) 
the prisons of all kinds, (those destined for great criminals not 
excepted) were conferred upon the departments themselves? 

The laws of 1791 laid down the principle, that the superin- 
tendence of the prisons belongs essentially to the municipal au- 
thority, and their direction to the administrative authority of 
the department.* These same laws prescribe, as to the admin- 
istration of the prisons, a great number of important innovations, 
and contain even the germ of the penitentiary system since 
adopted in the United States.t 

But the principles thus proclaimed, were but imperfectty exe- 
cuted : as soon as Bonaparte had been invested with consular 
dignity, he decreed the establishment of "central houses of de- 
tention," without taking the pains to cause the abolishment by 

See laws of July 22, September 29, and October 6, 1791. 

f Article 16 of the law of October 6, 1791, decrees : " Every person sentenced 
to confinement, shall be locked up alone in a place, into which daylight shines, 
without iron or fetters ; he shall not have any communication with other con- 
victs or with persons without, as long as his imprisonment lasts." This is exact- 
ly the theory of solitary confinement : it is the system of Cherry-Hill, (Philadel- 

100 Penitentiary System. 

the constitutional powers, of the laws contrary to this decree. 
This institution was destructive to all local direction and super- 
intendence. In fact, most of the central prisons now existing, are 
nothing but ancient convents dispersed through France, some 
near towns, others in the midst of fields. 

Bonaparte, however, declared in 1810, that each department 
should have, besides the "houses of justice and arrest," a prison 
destined to contain prisoners convicted for police offences. 

If, then, the system of one general prison for each depart- 
ment should be adopted, we would return to the principle of the 
laws of 1791 ; and we should extend to all criminals the local 
imprisonment, which Bonaparte himself intended to establish for 
those convicted of police offences. 

This extension would be without inconvenience in regard to 
prison discipline, since we always reason on the supposition of a 
change in the penitentiary system, founded on silence and isola- 
tion of the prisoners. 

Government depriving itself of the privilege of directing the 
central prisons, would abandon a prerogative which is but oner- 
ous to itself, without being beneficial to the departments. It 
would retain a right of impulse, control, and superintendence j 
but instead of acting itself, it would make others act. 

We here only throw out hints of a system, which, to be adopt- 
ed, ought to be matured ; we have the certainty of that which 
exists being bad ; but the remedy seems to us not so certain as 
the existence of the evil. 

Our prisons created and entirely governed by a central power, 
are expensive and inefficient for the reformation of the prisoners: 
we have seen in America, cheap prisons, in which all contami- 
nation is avoided, springing up in small states under the influ- 
ence of local authorities: it is under the impression of this con- 
trast that we write. 

We are well aware that the situation of the various American 
states and that of our departments, is not the same. Our depart- 
ments possess no political individuality ; their circumscription 
has been to this day of a purely administrative character. Accus- 
tomed to the yoke of centralization, they have no local life ; and 
we must agree, that it is not the duty of governing a prison which 
would give them the taste and habits of individual administration; 
but it is to be hoped that "political life" will enter more into 
the habits of the departments, and that the cares of government 
will have, more and more, a tendency to become local.* 

If our hopes in this respect should be realized, the system 
which we indicate would become practicable, and the peniten- 

* The original is : etqueks interSts d'administration tendront de plus en plot 
a se localiser, TRANS. 

Penitentiary System. 101 

tiary system in France would find itself surrounded by a great 
many favourable circumstances, which, in the United States, have 
effected its success. 

Each department having its central prison, would only con- 
tribute to the support of its own convicts ; whilst at present the 
rich and well populated department, whose inhabitants commit 
few crimes, pays more for the support of central prisons, than 
the poor department, whose population, less numerous, furnishes 
more criminals. 

If each department should construct its own prison, it would 
vote with less repugnance the funds which it would itself dis- 
pose of. The construction, which would be its own work, would, 
undoubtedly, be less elegant and less regular than if it had been 
directed by the central power, assisted by its architects. * * * "* 
But the beauty of the fabric adds little to the merit of the estab- 
lishment. The great advantage of a local construction would be 
to excite the lively interest of its founders. The French govern- 
ment, acknowledging how necessary local direction and superin- 
tendence are for the prosperity of the prisons, has tried at vari- 
ous times to interest the departments in the administration of 
their prisons;* but its attempts have always been without suc- 
cess. Whatever government may do, the various bodies will 
never take an interest in that which they have not made them- 

Would not this constant watchfulness, this continual and mute 
care, this constant solicitude and zeal, indispensably necessary to 
the success of a penitentiary prison, be extended to an establish- 
ment created by the department, the witness of its birth, its de- 
velopment, and its progress? 

Among the difficulties which would be opposed to the execu- 
tion of this system, there are some which are perhaps not so se- 
rious as some think, and which we believe it our duty to indicate. 
It is feared, with reason, that by increasing the number of cen- 
tral prisons, the expense of their construction would proportion- 
ally increase. In fact, eighty prisons destined to contain 32,000 
prisoners, would cost more than the erection of twenty prisons 
fitted to contain the same number of individuals. But if the ad- 
vantage of economy is inherent in vast constructions, on the 
other hand, that of a better discipline is inherent in establishments 
less considerable. 

It is certain that a prison, in order to be well governed, ought 
not to contain too great a number of criminals ; the personal 
safety of the officers and the order of the establishment are in 
continual danger in prisons, where two or three thousand male- 

See Circular of the Minister of the Interior, of March 22, 1816: Ordinance 
of April 9, 1819. 

102 Penitentiary System. 

factors are assembled: (as is the case in the bagnes.) It is the 
small number of the prisoners in Wethersfield which forms one 
of the greatest advantages of that penitentiary ; there the super- 
intendent and the chaplain are thoroughly acquainted with the 
moral state of each individual, and after having studied his evil, 
they endeavour to cure it. At Sing-Sing, where there are one 
thousand prisoners, a similar care is out of the question ; and it 
is not even attempted. Supposing that the 32,000 prisoners of 
France were distributed in eighty-six departmental prisons, 
there would be on an average 400 in each of them. There are 
some departments, indeed, whose large and corrupted population 
furnishes many criminals, whilst others, whose inhabitants are 
less numerous and more honest, send few criminals to the prisons ; 
but what would result from this fact? that those departments in 
which most crimes would be committed would be forced to build 
larger prisons, whilst the others would erect smaller penitentia- 
ries. Our departments would be in this respect precisely in the 
same position with the different states of the American Union. 

The state of New York, which contains 2,000.000 of inhabi- 
tants, has two central prisons ; of which one alone contains 1,OOO 
prisoners. Connecticut, with but 260,000 inhabitants, possesses a 
single prison containing but 200 criminals. Few departments 
would have a prison so numerously filled as that of Sing-Sing, 
the principal defect of which consists in the great number of its 
inmates ; and many departments, whose population is similar to 
that of Connecticut, would not have more criminals in their pri- 
sons than we find at Wethersfield ; and we have a right to believe 
that this limitation of number would be an advantage, since 
Wethersfield, the smallest penitentiary in America, is also the 
best. And would not the example of this penitentiary, which, 
though less extensive, cost less in its construction than all the 
others, prove that we are enabled to compensate, by a spirit of 
economy and by local superintendence, for the greater expense 
occasioned by the construction on a small scale? 

It is perceived with what reserve we have communicated these 
ideas. In order to proceed safely and steadily on a similar path, 
it would be necessary to possess information which we have not, 
and to be supported by documents which are not at our disposal. 

Deprived as we are of this guidance, we do not present a sys- 
tem ; we have only started a question, the solution of which is of 
vital interest to society, and to which we call the attention of all 
enlightened men. 

Supposing the penitentiary system established and prospering 
in France, we cannot perhaps expect from it all the happy effects 
which it has produced in the United States. 

Thus we doubt whether the labour of the prisoners would be 
as productive as it is in America, even allowing that the saving 

Penitentiary System. 103 

(pecule) of the convicts should be entirely suppressed. Indeed 
it is incontestable, that manufactured articles do not find with 
us the same market which is offered in the United States: and 
in order to estimate the revenue of a prison, it would be necessa- 
ry to take into account articles which would remain unsold. 

The penitentiary, which on this account would be less produc- 
tive with us, would for a similar reason also be less efficient in 
respect to the reformation of the convicts. In America, where 
wages are extremely high, the convicts easily find labour when 
they leave the prison ; and this circumstance favours their good 
conduct, when they have re-entered society :* in France, the 
situation of delivered convicts is infinitely less favourable : and 
even if they are resolved to lead an honest life, they are not un- 
frequently brought back to crime by a fatal necessity. In the 
United States, the delivered convict generally leaves the state 
where his conviction is known ; he changes his name and takes 
up his residence in another state, where he may begin a new 
life : with us, the convict, whose punishment has expired, meets 
everywhere with obstacles and embarrassments. The surveillance 
of the police, to which he is subject, obliges him to a fixed resi- 
dence, which he cannot change, without committing a new of- 
fence against the laws: he is condemned to live in the place 
where his first crime is officially known ; and every thing con- 
spires to deprive him of the means necessary to his existence. 
The defect of a similar state of things is felt by all the world: 
and we doubt whether it will be long continued. t 

The surveillance of the " high police," such as it is practised 
at present, is less useful to society than fatal to the delivered 
criminal. It would be of some advantage, if, by its influence, 
society, informed of the real situation of each released criminal, 
had some means of procuring labour for those who have none, 
and assistance for those who stand in need of it. Might not go- 

* " It must not be concealed, that one great reason why crimes are so unfre- 
quent is the full employment the whole country offers to those who are willing 
to labour, while at the same time, the ordinary rate of wages for a healthy man 
is sufficient to support him and a family. This is a point which you will not lose 
sight of in comparing the institutions of America with those of Europe." (Letter 
of the Attorney General of the state of Maryland, January 30, 1832.) 

f There is hardly a writer, who lias touched upon this subject, who does not 
complain in strong terms of the unfortunate effect, which the surveillance of the 
French police over delivered convicts causes, by almost depriving them of the 
possibility of living honestly. This surveillance, originally established for the 
benefit of society, has become one of its greatest evils for the reason stated. In- 
deed, if we consider the whole system of imprisonment in France, with its almost 
infallible evil of contamination, how it regularly leads from short imprisonments 
to longer ones, until it brings the criminal at last to the bagne ; it offers an in- 
stance of one of those unfortunate institutions, not a few in number, which, though 
intended for the benefit of society, have become its greatest evils. Prisons were 
invented to repress crime ; they teach it : surveillance was established to protect 
society 5 it drives the criminal like a wolf back to his old haunts. TBANS. 

104 Penitentiary System. 

vernment find this means in the foundation of agricultural colo- 
nies, similar to those which at present are so flourishing in Bel- 
gium and Holland ?* If such colonies were established in France 
on the yet uncultivated districts of our soil, no idler could com- 
plain of not finding labour ; the beggars, vagrants, paupers, and 
all the delivered convicts, whose number, continually increasing, 
threatens incessantly the safety of individuals and even the tran- 
quillity of the state, would find a place in the colony, where they 
would contribute by their labour to increase the wealth of the 

Perhaps persons convicted for a short time, might also be sent 
there. There would be an incontestable advantage in introducing 
the greatest possible number of prisoners. One of the principal 
advantages of agricultural colonies, indeed, consists in not injur- 
ing the industry of citizens : they thus obviate one of the great- 
est dangers presented by the establishment of manufactories in 
prisons. t The system of agricultural colonies deserves, there- 
fore, a serious attention on the part of politicians; it seems that 
after having admitted its principle, it ought to be extended as 
much as possible; and that it would be easy to reconcile its ap- 
plication with the principles of the penitentiary system. Lastly, 
the establishment of agricultural colonies would have, among 
other advantages, that of deriving happy effects from that admi- 
nistrative superintendence, of which almost all the consequences 
are otherwise fatal ; and it would thus cause one of the difficul- 
ties, obstructing the introduction of the penitentiary system, to 
disappear. J 

We have pointed out the difficulties which the penitentiary 
system would meet with in France, and have not disguised their 
importance. We do not deny that we see very great obstacles 
to the introduction of this system, such as it is in the United 
States, and surrounded by all the circumstances which accompa- 
ny it in that country. We are, nevertheless, far from believing 
that nothing can be done towards the amelioration of our prisons. 

We never have entertained the idea that France could attempt 
a sudden and general revolution in its prison system ; to raze 
the old establishments, to erect new ones, and to sacrifice, for 
this single object, in one moment, enormous sums, which are 
urgently claimed by interests of another nature. But we can 
reasonably demand progressive reforms in the system of our 
prisons; and, if it is true, that it would be impossible to found 
in France a discipline supported by the assistance of the whip; 

See Note on Agricultural Colonies, No. 4. 

f See Alphabetical Note s. 

| We refer those readers, who are unacquainted with the history and charac- 
ter of these agricultural colonies, as our authors call them, to the article Pauper 
Colonies, following that of Colony in the Encyclopaedia Americana. TKANS. 

Penitentiary System. 105 

if it is true, that with us the assistance of local influence is want-> 
ing to the success of the establishment, and the support of reli- 
gion to the progress of moral reformation ; it is also certain, that, 
though not adopting the American prison discipline without mo- 
dification, we might borrow from it a number of its principles 
and its advantages. Thus every new prison which would be 
built according to the system of cells, would have an incontesta- 
ble superiority over the present prisons. The separation of the 
prisoners during night, would put a stop to the most dangerous 
communications, and destroy one of the most active agents of 
corruption. We cannot imagine what objection, possibly, coul 
be made against the system of cells, if, as we believe it to 
the case, the prisons built according to' this system, would n 
cost more than the others.* We have said that it seems to 
difficult to maintain absolute silence among the convicts without 
the assistance of corporal punishment. However, this is only an 
opinion, and the example of Wethersfield, where the prisoners 
have been governed without beating for several years, tends to 
prove that this severe means of discipline is not absolutely ne- 
cessary. It seems to us, that the chance of success would make 
the trial on the part of government well worth the attempt a 
trial which seems to us the more reasonable, as we would be 
sure at least of approaching our end, in case we should not suc- 
ceed entirely : thus even if public opinion should show itself de- 
cidedly hostile to corporal punishments, we would be obliged, 
in order to establish the law of silence, to resort to disciplinary 
chastisements of another nature, such as absolute solitude with- 
out labour, and a reduction of food ; there is good ground to be- 
lieve, that with the assistance of these latter punishments, less 
rigorous than the first, but nevertheless efficient, silence would 
be sufficiently maintained to avoid the evil of moral intercourse 
between the prisoners; the most important point would be, first 
to declare the principle of isolation and silence as a rule of dis- 
cipline of the new prisons; the application of the principle 
would meet, perhaps with us, with more obstacles, because it 
would not be aided by such energetic auxiliaries ; but we have 
no doubt, that regarding the great general end, much good would 
already thus be effected. Radical reformations, perhaps, would 
not be obtained by this imperfect system, but great corruptions 
would be prevented, and we would thus derive from the Ameri- 
can system, those advantages which are the most incontestable. 
We believe that government would do something useful in es- 
tablishing a model penitentiary, constructed upon the American 
plan, and governed as much as possible according to the disci- 
plinary rules which are in force in the penitentiaries of the 

* See Alphabetical note, mm. 

106 Penitentiary System. 

* United States. It would be necessary that this construction, 
planned according to all the simplicity of the models we have 
brought with us, should be executed without any architectural 
elegance. Care should be taken to place in the penitentiary 
new convicts only; because if the nucleus of an old prison should 
suddenly be introduced into the new penitentiary, it would be 
difficult to submit to the severities of the new discipline, indi- 
viduals accustomed to the indulgent system of our "central 

To recapitulate, we have signalized in the two first parts of 
this report, the advantages of the penitentiary system in the 

nited States. The inflexible severity of a uniform system, the 

uality of punishments, the religious instruction and the labour 

bstituted for the system of violence and idleness ; the liberty 
f communication supplanted by isolation or silence ; the refor- 
mation of the criminals instead of their corruption ; in the place 
of jailors, honourable men who direct the penitentiaries ; in the 
expenditure, economy, instead of disorder and bad management: 
these are the characteristics which we have acknowledged in the 
new American system. 

The necessity of a reform in the prison discipline in France 
is urgent, and acknowledged by every one : the number of re- 
committed criminals regularly increasing, is a fact which strikes 
every thinking mind. The delivered convicts, who are but cri- 
minals still more corrupted for their having been confined in the 
prison, become, wherever they show themselves, just objects of 
fear. Incapable, as society thus is, to correct the guilty, will it 
resort to transportation ? Let France look at England ; let her 
judge whether it would be wise to imitate her in this respect.* 

The defect is in our prisons, infected with a frightful corrup- 
tion ; but cannot this cancer, which every year increases, be 
healed? And do we not see prisons efficient for the reformation 
of the wicked, in a country whose prisons, but fifteen years ago, 
were worse than ours are now ? 

Let us not declare an evil incurable, which others have found 
means to eradicate ; let us not condemn the system of prisons ; 
let us labour to reform them. 

To arrive at this end, the united efforts of many are necessa- 
ry. And first, it is requisite that all writers, whose talent influ- 
ences public opinion, should strive to give it a new direction, 
and to succeed so far, that the moral part of the discipline should 
be no more neglected than the amelioration of the administra- 
tion of the physical part. It is necessary that the interests of 
reform should seize every mind, and become the conviction of 
all. A controversy even, would be desirable between the organs 

* See Appendix on Penal Colonies, No, ?. 

Penitentiary System. 

of public opinion, in order to find out which are the disciplinary 
punishments that might be admitted without wounding public 
feeling, and which are incompatible with our civilization and 
our customs. 

Lastly, it would be necessary that the government should put 
our legislation in harmony with the principles of the penitentia- 
ry system, and above all, that it invite the deliberation of the 
most enlightened men on these grave matters. 

The future success of the penitentiary system, depends much 
upon the first step we take. It is important, therefore, that all 
possible precaution be taken to secure success to the first esta* 
blishment which maybe erected in France. It is particularly ^ 
necessary for the success of this establishment, that public afrvk 
tention should be turned towards it, should receive it favourably, * 
and instead of throwing obstacles in its way, surround it with 
that moral assistance, without which no institution can prosper 
in a free country. 

108 Penitentiary System. 


On Houses of Refuge. 

Origin of Houses of Refuge in the United States. Their organization. Ele- 
ments composing them. The establishment has all the rights of a guardian 
over juvenile offenders. The house of refuge is a medium between a prison 
and a school. System of these establishments. Houses of refuge at New 
York, Philadelphia, and Boston. How the time of the children is divided 
between labour in the workshop, and the school. Contract. Disciplinary 
means. Remarkable theory of a discipline established in the house of refuge 
in Boston. Those of New York and Philadelphia less elevated, but prefera- 
ble. On what grounds liberty is restored to the children. Effects of houses 
of refuge in respect to reformation. 

GOVERNOR CLINTON, whose name is for ever celebrated in the 
state of New York, said : "The houses of refuge are the best 
penitentiary establishments which have been conceived of by 
the genius of man, and instituted by his benevolence." With an 
examination of them we will finish our work, as we announced 
in the beginning. 

The first house of refuge was established in the city of New 
York, in the year 1825 ;* Boston followed in 1826, and Phila- 

* The authors are mistaken on this point, if they mean by the above any thing 
more than that the first American house of refuge was established in New York. 
The first house of refuge, in modern times at least, (for we do not know whether 
a similar charitable establishment has not perhaps existed at some former period; 
as Sunday schools, likewise, are but reinvented in modern times ; though we 
confess that it seems improbable that houses of refuge have existed at any former 
period,) was established in Germany. Johannes Falk, a native of Dantzig, lost, 
in the year 1813, in Weimar, four promising and dearly beloved children, within 
a few days ; and the bereaved parent resolved to become the father of those un- 
fortunate children, who had been deprived of a sound education, and were in 
the path of crime and destruction. He founded the "Society of Friends in Need" 
for children of criminals, and criminal children, and adopted, as a fit symbol for 
his establishment, the representation of some children converting on the anvil 
their chains into useful tools.. It shows the spirit of his establishment. Count 
Adalbert von der Recke-Vollmarstein established, in 1819, his " Saving Institu- 
tion" at Overdyck, near Bocham, in order to " save" neglected and abandoned 
children. In 1822 he extended this establishment, and removed it to Duesselthal, 
near Duesseldorf, where the children learn farming, &c. in addition to the com- 

Penitentiary System. 109 

delphia in 1828 ; and there is good reason to believe that Balti- 

mon trades, taught also in our houses of refuge. Mr. Wadzeck founded a similar 
establishment in 1819, in Berlin, for " beggar-boys." Mr. Wadzeck died in 1823, 
but his establishment was extended, and the character somewhat changed, (a 
real house of refuge existing now besides). It consists, 1. of a school for 150 
poor boys ; 2. of another for 190 poor girls ; 3. an institution for the formation 
of good nurses, to take the charge of children ; 4. an institution for infants, re- 
maining there day and night, but not a foundling house ; 5. an institution for in- 
fants, brought there by poor parents in the morning, if they go to work, and 
taken home in the evening. The Institution No. 3, a most salutary one, is con- 
nected with Nos. 4 and 5. In 1820, an institution precisely like that of Mr. Falk 
in Weimar, was established in Erfurt, and in the same year another in Aschersle- 
ben. In 1824 a number of gentlemen in Berlin formed the " Society for the 
education of children morally neglected." By their efforts the house of refuge 
in that city has been founded. It is in all main points similar to ours, except that 
no power is granted to the directors to seize any vagrant child a power which, 
in a country where public opinion has so few chances of making itself heard, 
would be most dangerous. This house of refuge is under the superintendence of 
Mr. Kopf, whom it gives us the greatest pleasure to place by the side of such 
names as that of Mr. Wells in Boston, and Mr. Hart of New York. We know 
not that we could express our respect for the excellent qualities of either of 
them in a better way. The Prussian government had been alarmed by various 
reports respecting the increase of crimes committed by youths, and on November 
30th, 1825, government issued a decree, requiring every quarter a list of crimes 
committed by "young individuals" to be sent in ; and, October 2, 1826, a decree 
was issued respecting the "treatment and correction of neglected and demoral- 
ized children." To be brief, there exist at present several houses of refuge in 
the Prussian monarchy, viz. in Memel, Breslau, Dantzig, Berlin, &c., and there 
is the best reason to believe that they will rapidly increase in that kingdom, as 
well as in other parts of Germany, where the government of France, therefore, 
might obtain the best information, should they contemplate the establishment of 
houses of refuge. For more information, the reader is referred to Annals of the 
Prussian Popular School System, vol. 5, Division On Institutions for the Correc- 
tion and Treatment of Neglected Children. This volume was published in Ber- 
lin, 1826. Still, though houses of refuge were first established in Germany, they 
were conceived, planned, and executed in the United States, entirely indepen- 
dently of those in Germany. The "Society for the Prevention of Pauperism in 
the City of New York," were soon led, by their inquiries into the causes of pau- 
perism, to the melancholy consequences resulting from juvenile vagrancy, and 
the imprisonment of children with adults. As early as January 21st, 1821, we 
find "juvenile delinquency" pointed out as one of the subjects recommended 
to the careful consideration of the Society, and particular attention is directed 
to the misery resulting from juvenile offenders being imprisoned together with 
old convicts. In the "Report on the Penitentiary System in the United States, 
prepared under a Resolution of the Society for the Prevention of Pauperism in 
the City of New York," published in 1822, we find, on page 59, and seq. the idea 
of a house of refuge already entirely matured, both in respect to the main points 
of discipline, and ihe character of such an establishment a medium between a 
prison and an institution for education ; and in the Report of the same Society 
for 1823, the subject is still more urgently brought before the public. It is said, 
on page 18, that the committee cannot but indulge the belief, that the facts pre- 
viously stated will convince every citizen of New York "that it is highly expe- 
dient that A HOUSE OF REFUGE FOR JUVENILE DELINQUENTS, should, as soon as 
practicable, be established in the immediate vicinity of New York." On March 
29th, 1824, "an act to incorporate the Society for the Reformation of Juvenile 
Delinquents in the City of New York," was passed by the state legislature. 
Several other acts followed, for all of which, as for any more particular informa- 
tion respecting the house of refuge of New York, we refer the reader to Docu- 
ments relative to the House of Refuge in the City of New York, by N. C. Hart, 

110 Penitentiary System. 


more will soon have a similar one.* This offers an opportunity 
of judging of the power of association in the United States. 

Touched by the shocking fate of young delinquents, who were 
indiscriminately confounded in the prisons with inveterate cri- 
minals, some individuals of New York sought a remedy for the 
evil ; they united their efforts ; laboured, first to enlighten pub- 
lic opinion, and then, setting themselves the example of gene- 
rosity, soon found sufficient funds, by voluntary subscriptions, 
for the establishment of a house of refuge. 

The houses of refuge, thus called into existence by the com- 
bination of individual charity, are, as is seen in their origin, 
private institutions ; yet they have received the sanction of pub- 
lic authority. All the individuals whom they contain are legally 
in custody. But in approving of the houses of refuge, govern- 
ment does not interfere in their management and superintendence; 
of which it leaves all the care to the private individuals who 
founded them. 

Every year the state grants some pecuniary assistance to these 
establishments, and yet it never takes the least part in their ad- 

The supreme authority over the houses of refuge, resides in 
the entire body of the subscribers, who have contributed to their 
erection, or who continue their contributions for their support. 

The subscribers elect the directors (managers,) on whom they 
confer the power of ruling the establishment in the manner which 
they judge the most advantageous. These managers appoint the 
officers, and make all the necessary regulations for the adminis- 
tration of the house. Some of them compose a permanent acting 
committee, charged with superintending the execution of the se- 
veral resolutions : this composes the executive power of the insti- 
tution. The officers of the house of refuge are the immediate 
agents of the acting committee, to whom they submit all their 
acts. They give no accounts to government, which does not de- 
mand any. Among the officers, the choice of the superintendent 
requires the chief care of the directors, because he is the soul of 
the whole administration. 

Thus left to themselves, and subject to the control of public 

Superintendent, New York, 1832. The eighth annual report of this institution 
was published in 1833. The fact that two nations have come to the same conclu- 
sion in so important a matter, and have resorted to the same remedy for so great 
an evil, proves how urgent is the necessity of providing effectually for the rescue 
of abandoned children ; and at the same time it encourages us to hope much 
from the efficiency of this measure, since it must be founded on true principles. 

* A house of refuge has not yet, (up to the time we write, April, 1833,) been 
erected, owing partly to the failure of a certain revenue, destined for the erec- 
tion of the establishment by the legislature of Maryland ; but no reasonable doubt 
can be entertained that Baltimore will soon have its house of refuge, which, like 
every other large city, it needs so much. TBAS. 

Penitentiary System. Ill 

opinion alone, the houses of refuge prosper ; the efforts, through 
the assistance of which they maintain themselves, are the more 
powerful as they are spontaneous and free. The expenses which 
they cause are incurred without trouble or regret, because they 
are voluntary, and because the lowest subscriber has his share in 
the administration, and consequently, his interest in the success 
of the establishment. Though the expenses of construction and 
support are not paid by the state, they are not the less a charge 
upon society; but they weigh upon those who can best sustain 
them on account of their fortunes, and who find a moral indemni- 
ty in the sacrifice which they have had the merit of imposing 
upon themselves. 

The houses of refuge are composed of two distinct elements: 
there are received into them young people of both sexes under 
the age of twenty, condemned for crime ; and also those who are 
sent there by way of precaution, not having incurred any con- 
demnation or judgment. 

Nobody contests the necessity of houses of refuge for young 
convicts. In all ages and in all countries, the disadvantage has 
been acknowledged which results from placing in the same room, 
and submitting to the same discipline, the young delinquents and 
the guilty offenders whom age has hardened in crime : the prison- 
er, yet of tender age, has often committed but a slight offence: 
how can we justly make him the associate in prison of another, 
who is doomed to expiate heavy crimes? This defect is so se- 
rious, that magistrates hesitate to pursue young delinquents, and 
the jury to condemn them. But there another danger presents 
itself. Encouraged by impunity, they give themselves up to new 
disorders, which a punishment proportionate to their offence 
would perhaps have prevented them from committing. 

The house of refuge, the discipline of which is neither too se- 
vere for youth, nor too mild for the guilty, has therefore for its 
object both the withdrawal of the young delinquent from' a too 
rigorous punishment and from the dangers of impunity. 

The individuals, who are sent to the houses of refuge without 
having been convicted of some offence, are boys and girls who 
are in a position dangerous to society and to themselves: orphans, 
who have been led by misery to vagrancy; children, abandoned 
by their parents and who lead a disordered life ; all those, in one 
word, who, by their own fault or that of their parents, have fall- 
en into a state so bordering on crime, that they would become 
infallibly guilty were they to retain their liberty.* 

We found, when visiting 1 the house of refuge of New York, that more than 
half of the children, who had been received there up to that time, were in this 
establishment in consequence of some misfortune. Thus of 513 children, 155 
had lost their fathers, 40 their mothers, 67 were orphans, 51 had been pushed 
on to crime by the notorious misconduct or want of care of their parents : there 
were 47 whose mothers had married again. 

112 Penitentiary System. 

It has, therefore, been thought that the houses of refuge should 
contain at once juvenile criminals and those on the point of be- 
coming such; the latter are spared the disgrace of judgment, 
and all protected against the pollution of the prison. And that 
no disgrace should be attached to confinement in the house of 
refuge, a name has been given to this establishment, which re- 
minds us of misfortune only.* The house of refuge, though con- 
taining a certain number of convicted youths, is nevertheless no 
prison. He who is detained in it undergoes no punishment: and 
in general the decision by which the children are sent to the re- 
fuge, has neither the solemnity nor the forms of a judgment. 
And it is here that we will mention a fact which seems to us 
characteristic of this institution. The magistrates who send the 
children to the refuge, never determine what length of time the 
delinquent must remain there ; they merely send them to the 
house, which from that moment acquires all the rights of a guar- 
dian. This right of guardianship expires when the lad arrives at 
his twentieth year;t but even before he has attained this age, 
the managers of this establishment have the right to restore him 
to liberty if his interest require it. 

The house of refuge is a medium between a school and a pri- 
son ; the young delinquents are received much less for punish- 
ment than to receive that education which their parents or their 
ill fate refused them ; the magistrates, therefore, cannot fix the 
duration of their residence in the house of refuge, because they 
cannot foresee how much time will be necessary to correct the 
children, and to reform their vicious dispositions.:}: 

* In Boston the name of house of refuge is given to an asylum for females of 
bad reputation who have resolved to reform, and what is called house of refuge 
in New York, is called in Boston house of reformation. TRASS. 

( This is correct, speaking generally. We believe that the guardianship of 
the managers of the refuge usually terminates at the age of eighteen for females, 
and twenty-one for males. We may add here, that though the state exercises no 
direct management of these institutions, yet their charters of incorporation re- 
quire that their laws and regulations should not be inconsistent with the consti- 
tutions of the country. The judiciary have a complete supervision of their rules 
and conduct, inasmuch as by the medium of the writ of habeas corpus, the legali- 
ty of the commitment or detention of any child may be inquired into and tested 
by the courts. 

It may also be stated, that the solemnity of a judgment often occurs before 
sending a subject to the refuge, and, in some cases, is necessary. TRAITS. 

4 The various authorities which may send children to the house of refuge, are 

1. The courts of justice. 

2. Police officers. 

3. Commissioners or managers of the alms-house. 

The revised statutes of the state of New York, 17 of title 7 (chap. 1,) 4th 
part, declare : 

"Whenever any person, under the age of sixteen years, shall be convicted of 
any felony, the court, instead of sentencing such person to imprisonment in a 
state prison, may order that he be removed to and confined in the house of re- 
fuge, established by the society for the reformation of juvenile delinquents in the 
city of New York; unless notice shall have been received from such society, that 
there is not room in such house for the reception of further delinquents." 

Penitentiary System. 113 

The office of judging whether a child is fit to leave the refuge^ 
is left to the managers of the establishment, who see every day 
the children confided to their superintendence, judge of their 
progress, and designate those to whom liberty may be restored 
without danger : but then even when a child leaves the house of 
refuge in consequence of good conduct, he does not cease to be 
under the supervision of the managers during minority; and if 
he does not realize the hopes which had been entertained, the 
latter have the right to call him back to the house of refuge, and 
may employ the most rigorous means in order to effect it.* 

Some objections have been made in Pennsylvania against the? 
right granted to the houses of refuge to receive individuals who 
had neither committed a crime nor incurred a conviction.! Such 
a power, it was saH, is contrary to the Constitution of the United 
States: it was added, that the power of the managers to shorten 
or prolong, at their pleasure, the duration of detention, is arbi- 
trary, and cannot be tolerated in a free society. It would have 
been difficult to refute theoretically these objections; but the 
public saw that the houses of refuge alleviated the fate of juve- 
nile criminals, instead of aggravating it, and that the children 
brought into it without being convicted, were not the victims of 
persecution, but merely deprived of a fatal liberty. 

Nobody raises at present his voice against the houses of re- 
fuge. Yet we see with how much reserve the functions of those 
must be exercised, who have the power of sending children thi- 
ther ; if we consider that they have the right to withdraw a child 
from its parents in order to place it in the establishment, and 
that they must exercise this authority every time that the parents 
have to reproach themselves with the disorderly conduct of their 
child. The law has foreseen the possibility of abuse, and has en- 
deavoured to provide a remedy: the child has, according to the 
law, the right of protection by the ordinary judge against the 
decision of the functionary who sends it to the refuge. The pa- 
rents have the same right : and it is not unfrequently exercised. 

For the rest, it is not persecution or tyranny which are to be 
dreaded in these establishments. However necessary it may be 
that a house of refuge should not present the severity and the 
discipline of a prison, it would be equally dangerous if it had the 
too indulgent and too intellectual discipline of a school. But if 

* This can scarcely be the case, unless the child has been indentured by the 
managers. THAHS. 

j- This seems a mistake. Children cannot be sent there who have not commit- 
ted a crime : for poor children, who have none to take care of them, and become 
a charge on the public, and consequently vagrants, are considered, technically, 
criminal : vagrancy is a crime, though the result often of misfortune. The con- 
stitutional doubt was, as to the legality of confining children, merely charged 
with a crime, and not convicted of it. TRANS. 

114 Penitentiary System. 

these establishments in America should deviate from their true 
end, it would be less from inclining too much to severity than 
leaning improperly to mildness. 

The fundamental principles upon which the houses of refuge 
rest, are simple ; in New York and Philadelphia, the children 
are separated during night in solitary cells; during the day they 
may communicate with each other. * The separation during night 
seems to be indispensably necessary from a regard to good morals; 
it may be dispensed with during day ; absolute isolation would 
be intolerable to children, and silence could not be maintained 
among them without punishments, the violence of which alone 
must make us repugnant to them. There would be, besides, the 
greatest disadvantages in depriving them of social relations, with- 
out which their intellectual progress would be checked. 

In Boston they are separated neither night nor day. We have 
not remarked that in this house of refuge any disadvantage re- 
sults from their sleeping together ; but their danger is, in our 
opinion, not the less, and it is avoided in Boston only by a zeal 
and vigilance altogether extraordinary, which it would be a mis- 
take to expect, in general, even from persons the most devoted 
to their duties. 

The time of the children is divided between the instruction 
which they receive, and the various labours which they have to 
learn and to perform : they are taught that elementary knowledge 
which will be useful to them in the course of their lives, and a 
mechanical art, which, at some future period, may furnish them 
the means of subsistence. Their intellectual occupations give to 
the establishment the aspect of a primary school, and their manual 
labour in the workshop is the same with that in the prison. 
These two different traits are the characteristics of a house of 

Their patrons do not limit themselves to a development of the 
minds of the children, and the skill of their hands ; an effort is 
made above all to cultivate their hearts, and to inculcate the 
principles of religion and morals. Mr. Hart, superintendent of 
the house of refuge in New York, often told us, that he should 
consider any success attendant on his efforts altogether impossi- 
ble without the aid of religion. 

When a young delinquent arrives at the house of refuge, the 
superintendent acquaints him with the regulations of the esta- 
blishment, and gives him, for the guidance of his conduct, two 
rules, remarkable for their simplicity: 1. never lie; 2. do the 
best you can. The superintendent inscribes his name in the great 
register of conduct. This register is destined to contain all the 
information relative to the children. It states, as accurately as 

* Not, however, whilst they are engaged in labour, 

Penitentiary System. 115 

possible, their previous life, their conduct during their stay in 
the house, and after they have left the establishment. The child 
is then placed in the class proper for its age, and its known mo- 
rality.* Mr. Hart, of New York, defines the first class as that 
composed of the children who never swear, never lie, never 
make use of obscene or indecorous expressions, and who are 
equally zealous in the school and in the workshop. According 
to Mr. Wells, of Boston, this same class is composed of those 
who make positive, regular, and constant efforts towards being 

In Boston, the admission of a child into the house of refuge 
is accompanied by circumstances which have appeared to us 
worthy of being reported : the establishment forms a small so- 
ciety, upon the model of society at large. In order to be receiv- 
ed in it, it is not only necessary to know its laws, and to submit 
to them freely, but also to be received as a member of the society 
by all those who compose it already. The reception takes place 
after the individual in question has gone through the fixed period 
of trial, if the candidate is not rejected by a majority of the votes 
of the little members composing this interesting society. t 

In every house of refuge the inmates are divided into good 
and bad classes. Their conduct makes the children pass from one 
into the other. The good classes enjoy privileges which the bad 
ones are denied ; and the latter are subject to privations which 
the former have not to undergo.! 

Eight hours, at the least, are assigned every day to labour in 
the workshops, where the children are occupied with useful arts, 
such as shoe-making, joiner's work, cloth-making, carpenter's 
work, &c. Four hours daily are spent in the school. After 
rising, and before going to bed, prayers are offered. Three meals 
take half an hour each ; in short, there are about fifteen hours of 
the day occupied with study, labour, &c. , and nine hours with 
rest. Such is, with little difference, the order established in New 
York and Philadelphia. This order is the same every day, and 
only varies according to the change of the season", which has an 
influence upon the hour of rising and retiring. The house of re- 
fuge in Boston differs from the above mentioned ; the intellectual 
part of education occupies here a more prominent place. Only 
five hours and a half are daily occupied by labour in the work- 

* Mr. Hart puts a child, on his arrival at the refuge, always in a good moral 
class, or which is the same, gives him the badge of those who conduct themselves 
well, whatever may have been the child's previous conduct ; thus obliterating, 
as it were, his former misconduct, and giving him at once a chance to be and to 
be acknowledged a good child. THAWS. 

\ See Rules for the House of Reformation in Boston, in the Appendix. 

t See the various regulilions for the houses of refuge in Boston, New York, 
and Philadelphia. 

116 Penitentiary System. 

shops ; four hours are passed in the school, more than one hour 
is spent in religious instruction, and all the children have two 
hours and a quarter every day for recreation. These hours of 
recreation are not the least profitable ones to the children. Mr. 
Wells, the superintendent of the Boston house of refuge, takes 
part in their games, and whilst their bodies are developed by 
gymnastic exercises, their moral character forms itself under the 
influence of a superior man, who, we may say, becomes a child 
with them, and whose authority is never greater than at the 
moment when he does not make them feel it. 

The children learn in the school, reading, writing, and arith- 
metic ; they also receive some instruction in history and geogra- 
phy. The Lancasterian method of mutual instruction has been 
adopted in all of them. The children in general show great faci- 
lity in learning. It has been often remarked in America, that 
the houses of refuge are composed of a class of children more 
intelligent than others; the nature of these establishments itself 
explains this fact: in general, children abandoned by their fami- 
lies, or who have escaped from their homes, and for this reason 
have been early reduced to their own resources, and constrained 
to find within themselves the means of subsistence, are received 
here. It is therefore not surprising that they should make rapid 
progress in their learning. Most of them have, moreover, a 
restless, adventurous mind, anxious for knowledge. This dispo- 
sition, which first led them to ruin, becomes now, in the school, 
a powerful cause of success. No useful books which they desire 
for their information are withheld from them. In Philadelphia, 
there are in the library of the establishment more than fifteen 
hundred volumes, which are all for the use of the children. 

The hours of labour are fixed invariably for all, and none are 
absolved from them. Nevertheless, a task is given, after the per- 
formance of which, the young inmate of the house of refuge, 
who is more active than the others, may amuse himself. 

The superintendence of the children in the school and work- 
shops, does not cease in the hours of leisure. They play freely 
with each other ; but gambling of whatever kind is strictly pro- 

All things in their discipline are favourable to health. Every 
day they are obliged to wash their feet and hands. They are al- 
ways dressed cleanly; and their food, though coarse, is abund- 
ant and healthy. None are allowed to eat any thing but what is 
prescribed by the ordinary discipline; water is the only bever- 
age. There is no shop in which the children may obtain food 
Or drink, and great pains are taken that they do not procure it by 
communications with persons out of the establishment. 

Food, clothing, and bedding, are furnished by the adminis- 
tration. The labour of the children alone is let out by contract; 

Penitentiary System. 117 

and the restrictions which abound in the contract are such, that 
the contractor can have no kind of influence in the establish- 

In New York and Philadelphia, eight hours a day are given 
to the contractor ; in Boston, five hours and a half only. The 
contractor, or his agents, come into the establishment to teach 
the various arts. For the rest, they are not allowed lo have any 
conversation with the children, nor can they retain them a 
minute longer than the fixed time. It will be easily understood, 
that, with such conditions, it is not possible to stipulate advanta- 
geously in a pecuniary respect with the contractors: but the chil- 
dren are not made to work in order to yield profit ; the only 
object in view is to give them habits of industry, and to teach 
them a useful trade.* 

It is therefore not surprising that the support of the houses of 
refuge costs more than other penitentiary establishments. On 
the one hand, the young inmates are better fed and clothed than 
convicts, and a greater expense is incurred for their instruction; 
and, on the other, their labour does not yield as much as that of 
criminals who are sent for a long time into the prisons. So also, 
as we shall soon see, the young pupil of the house of refuge 
leaves the establishment as soon as he can be placed anywhere 
else with advantage. Liberty is restored to him when he knows 
a trade ; that is to say, at the moment when his labour would be- 
come productive to the establishment. 

The administration of the American houses of refuge is al- 
most entirely en rgie; that is, it manages its own supplies with- 
out contract ; it is justly believed that the system of contract, 
applied to all the branches of administration, would be irrecon- 
cilable with the moral management which the nature of the esta- 
blishment requires. 

Though, on the whole, the subsistence of the young prisoners 
is expensive, every thing seems to be calculated to avoid unne- 
cessary expense. The houses of refuge contain both boys and 
girls, who, though under the same roof, are perfectly separated 
from each other. But this circumstance permits some labour to 
be done by the girls, which, if it were performed by others, 

* The reader sees, that, in the United States, nothing similar exists to what 
is practised with us. In the Maison des Madelonettes, destined in Paris for young 
prisoners, discipline is entirely invaded by the contractor. He considers every 

dren does not concern him. Thus he only thinks how he can turn their labour 
to the greatest profit. As it requires time to learn a mechanical profession, he 
rarely takes the trouble to teach it to them ; he prefers occupying them with 
certain manual labours, which require neither skill nor experience, such as mak- 
ing pasteboard, agraferie, &c., &c. These labours, productive for him, are of no 
yse to the children, who know no mechanical art when they leave the house. 

118 Penitentiary System. 

would be a charge to the house. Thus they do the washing, mend 
the clothes, and make the greater part of their own dresses, and 
those worn by the boys ; they also do all business in the kitchen 
for the whole house;* thus they are employed in a way useful 
for themselves, and for the house, whilst it would be difficult to 
give them any other productive work. 

This order of things is established and maintained by disci- 
plinary means, which we ought to examine. Two principal 
means are employed : punishments and rewards; but we must 
make a distinction upon this point, between the houses of refuge 
of New York and Philadelphia, and that of Boston. 

In the two first establishments, the punishments inflicted for 
disobeying the discipline, are: 

1. Privation of recreation ; 

2. Solitary confinement in a cell; 

3. Reduction of food to bread and water; 

4. In important cases, corporal punishment that is to say, 
stripes, t 

In New York, the house is expressly authorized to apply 
stripes. In Philadelphia, the regulations do not permit them 
expressly, but merely do not prohibit them. The distribution 
of punishments belongs to the superintendent, who has a discre- 
tionary power in the establishment. 

Whilst the refractory children are subjected to these various 
punishments, according to the character of their offence, distinc- 
tions of honour are accorded to the children whose conduct is 
good. Besides the honour of belonging to the first class, those 
who distinguish themselves in this, wear badges of honour ; 
lastly, the superintendent designates among the best, a certain 
number of monitors, to whom he confides part of the surveil- 
lance with which he is charged himself: and this testimony of 
confidence is for those whom he has chosen a distinction to 
which they attach great value. 

In Boston, corporal chastisements are excluded from the house 
of refuge; the discipline of this establishment is entirely of a 
moral character, and rests on principles which belong to the 
highest philosophy. 

Every thing there tends to elevate the soul of the young pri- 
soners, and to render them jealous of their own esteem and that 
of their comrades : to arrive at this end, they are treated as if 
they were men and members of a free society. 

We treat of this theory with reference to discipline, because 

* This latter is at least not the case in the house of refuge of New York, where 
a few boys do the kitchen work, by a very judicious application of a steam en- 
gine. We do not know how it is in the others. TRANS. 

j- We ought to add here, that the whole discipline is kept up with great pa- 
ternal kindness. THAKS. 

Penitentiary System. 119 

it has appeared to us, that the high opinion instilled into the 
child, of his own morality and social condition, is not only fit to 
effect his reformation, but also, the best means to obtain from 
him entire submission. 

First, it is a principle well established in the house, that no- 
body can be punished for a fault, not provided for, either by the 
divine law, or those of the country or the establishment. Thus 
the first principle in criminal matters, is also established in the 
house of refuge. The regulations contain the following princi- 
ple: "As man is not capable of punishing disrespect or irreve- 
rence to God; therefore, if a boy be irregular in his behaviour 
at religious services, he shall not be allowed to attend them 
leaving the punishment with a higher power, and for a future 

In the house of refuge in Boston, the child, withdrawn from 
religious service, incurs, in the opinion of his comrades and of 
himself, the severest of all punishments. 

In another place it is expressed, that the children shall not be 
required to denounce the offences of their comrades;* and in the 
article which follows, it is added, that nobody should be punish- 
ed for a fault sincerely avowed. We know in France, public 
establishments, in which this denunciation is encouraged, and 
where it is practised by the better subjects of the house.t 

A book of conduct exists, likewise, in Boston, where every 
one has his account of good and bad marks ; but that which dis- 
tinguishes this register from those of other houses of refuge is, 
that in Boston, each child gives his own mark. Every evening 
the young inmates are successively asked ; every one is called 
upon to judge his own conduct during the day ; and it is upon 
his declaration that the mark, indicating his conduct, is inscribed. 
Experience has shown that the children always judge themselves 
more severely than they would have been judged by others ; 
and not unfrequently it is found necessary, to correct the seve- 
rity and even the injustice of their own sentence. 

If any difficulty arises in the classification of morality, or 
whenever an offence against the discipline has been committed, 
a judgment takes place. Twelve little jurymen, taken from 
among the children of the establishment, pronounce the con- 
demnation or the acquittal of the accused. 

Each time that it becomes necessary to elect among them an 
officer or monitor, the little community meets, proceeds to the 
election, and the candidate having most votes is proclaimed presi- 

* This excellent rule is as follows : " No boy shall be required to give informa- 
tion of the faults of another, nor shall he be allowed so to do, unless he be appa- 
rently conscientious in it." THAWS. 

t See in Vidocq, to what frightful consequences this evil practice leads. 

120 Penitentiary System. 

dent. Nothing is more grave than the manner in which these 
electors and jurymen of tender years discharge their functions. 
The reader will pardon us for having dwelt so long on this 
system ; and for having pointed out its minutest details. We 
need not say that we do not consider this an infant republic in 
good earnest. But we believed ourselves obliged to analyze a 
system so remarkable for its originality. There is, however, 
more depth in these political plays, which agree so well with 
the institutions of the country, than we would suppose at first 
glance. The impressions of childhood and the early use of liber- 
ty, contribute, perhaps, at a later period, to make the young de- 
linquents more obedient to the laws. And without considering 
this possible political result, it is certain, that such a system is 
powerful as a means of moral education. 

In fact, it is easy to conceive the elasticity of which the youth- 
ful mind is capable, when all the sentiments proper to elevate 
it above itself are called into action. 

The discipline is, however, fitted still more for those cases 
where the moral means which we have just indicated, prove in- 

Children, whose conduct is correct, enjoy great privileges. 
They alone participate in the elections, and are alone eligible; 
the vote of those who belong to the first class, counts for two 
a kind of double vote, of which the others cannot be jealous, 
because it depends upon themselves alone to obtain the same pri- 
vilege. With the good are deposited the most important keys of 
the house ; they go out freely, and have the right to leave their 
place, when the children are assembled, without needing a pecu- 
liar permission ; they are believed on their word, on all occa- 
sions; and their birth day is celebrated. All the good do not 
enjoy these privileges, but whoever belongs to a good class, has 
a right to some of these prerogatives. The punishments, to 
which the bad children are subject, are the following: 

Privation of the electoral right, and the right of being elect- 
ed ; they are not allowed to come into the room of the superin- 
dent, nor to speak to him without permission, nor are they 
allowed to converse with their comrades; lastly, if it should be 
required, a physical punishment is applied. Sometimes " brace- 
lets" are put on ; sometimes, the offender is blindfolded ; or he 
is shut up in a solitary cell. Such is the system of the house of 
refuge in Boston.* 

* See the rules for this house of reformation at the end of the volume. (So 
far the authors. ) The system of education and correction which Mr. Wells has 
established in the house of reformation in Boston, is one of those subjects which 
cannot but be misunderstood, if it be exhibited in a rapid sketch, because it is 
founded on so original a basis. Yet it has appeared to us to be planned with 
great wisdom, and to be executed with a profound knowledge of the human 

Penitentiary System. 121 

That of the establishments of New York and Philadelphia, 
though infinitely less remarkable, is perhaps better: not that the 
Boston house of refuge does not appear to be admirably conduct- 
ed, and superior to both the others; but its success seems to us 
less the effect of the system itself, than that of the distinguished 
man who puts it into practice. 

We have already said that the great defect of this house of 
refuge is, that the children sleep together :* the system, more- 
over, which is established there, rests upon an elevated theory, 
which could not be always perfectly understood; and its being 
put into practice would cause great difficulties, if the superin- 
tendent should not find immense resources in his own mind to 
triumph over them. 

In New York and Philadelphia, on the contrary, the theory 
is simple. The isolation during night, the classification during 
day, the labour, the instruction every thing, in such an order 
of things, is easily understood. It neither requires a profound 
genius to invent such a system, nor a continual effort to main- 
tain it. To sum up the whole, the Boston discipline belongs to 
a species of ideas much more elevated than that established in 
New York and Philadelphia; but it is difficult in practice. 

The system of these last establishments, founded upon a theory 
much more simple, has the merit of being within reach of all 
the world. It is possible to find superintendents who are fit 
for the Philadelphia system: but we cannot hope to meet often 
with such men as Mr. Wells. 

In spite of the well-marked difference between the two sys- 
tems, of which one can be practised only by superior men, whilst 
the other is on the level of ordinary minds, we must acknow- 
ledge that, both in the one and the other case, the success of the 
houses of refuge essentially depends upon the superintendent. 
It is he who puts the principles upon which the system acts into 
action ; and he must, in order to arrive at a happy result, unite 
in his person a great number of qualities, the union of which is 
as necessary as rare. 

If a model of a superintendent of a house of refuge were re- 
quired, a better one, perhaps, it would be impossible to find, 

soul. To convey however to the reader a correct idea of this peculiar institu- 
tion, a minute description, far exceeding that, for the length of which our authors 
even begged the reader's pardon, would be required. We can only say, that it 
appeared to us one of the most peculiar, most interesting, and most heart-cheer- 
ing subjects, which, in all our travels, has ever come to our knowledge, and 
which must be seen and personally inquired into, in order to be perfectly under- 
stood. We know of no instructer who has seen deeper into the human heart, 
and knows more thoroughly to what principles in the human soul he safely may 
apply, than Mr. Wells. TBAHS. 

* We believe that it is no defect, as a part of Mr. Wells's whole system. 


122 Penitentiary System. 

than that which is presented by Mr. Wells, and Mr. Hart. A 
constant zeal, an indefatigable vigilance, are their lesser qualities; 
to minds of great capacity, they join an equanimity of character, 
the firmness of which does not exclude mildness. They believe 
in the religious principles which they teach ; and have confi- 
dence in their own efforts. Endowed with deep sensibility, they 
obtain still more from the children, by touching their hearts, 
than by addressing their understandings. Finally, they consider 
each young delinquent as their child; it is not a profession which 
they perform : it is a duty they are happy to fulfil. 

We have seen how the youth enters the house of refuge, and 
what discipline he is subjected to. 

Let us at present examine by what means he may obtain the 
restoration of liberty, and let us follow him into the society 
which he re-enters. 

The principle above laid down, that the inmate of a house of 
refuge does not undergo a punishment, finds here, again, its ap- 
plication. As he has been sent to the house for his own interest 
only, he is allowed to leave it as soon as his interest requires it. 

Therefore, as soon as he has learnt a trade, if, during one or 
several years, he has acquired moral and industrious habits, he 
is believed to be capable of becoming a useful member of society. 
Yet absolute and complete liberty is not restored to him ; be- 
cause, what would become of him in the world, alone, without 
support, unknown by any body ? He would find himself pre- 
cisely in the same situation in which he was, before he entered 
the house. This great danger is avoided : the superintendent 
waits for a good opportunity to bind him out as apprentice with 
some mechanic, or to place him as a servant in some respectable 
family; he avoids sending him into a city, where he would re- 
lapse into his bad habits, and find again the companions of his 
disorderly life ; and every time an opportunity offers, employ- 
ment for him, with farmers, is preferred.* At the moment he 
leaves the establishment, a writing is given to him, which, in 
kind words, contains advice for his future conduct; the present 
of a Bible is added. 

In general, it has been found inconvenient to restore liberty to 
these juvenile offenders, before they have been in the house at 
least one year, in order to acquire habits of order. t 

Leaving the house of refuge, he does not cease to belong to 
the establishment, which, binding him out as an apprentice, re- 
serves all the rights of a guardian over him ; if he leave the 
master with whom he has been placed, he is, according to the 
law, brought back to the house of refuge, where he must again 

* Provided there is no special reason to let him enter another profession, e. g. 
his peculiar wish, &c TKANS. 

f If we remember right, one year is considered to be sufficient with most. 

Penitentiary System. 123 

remain until he has given a new proof that shows him worthy 
of liberty. In fine, he may be successively brought back to the 
establishment, and restored to liberty, as often as the managers 
think it necessary ; and their power, in this respect, does not 
cease, until the individual in question has arrived at the age of 
eighteen, if a female ; and of twenty, if a boy. 

During his apprenticeship, the child is the object of continued 
attention, by the house of refuge. The superintendent corres- 
ponds with him, and endeavours to keep him in the path of vir- 
tue by his advice ; and the youth writes on his part to the super- 
intendent, and more than once the latter has received letters 
from young delinquents, full of touching expressions of gra- 

Now, what results have been obtained? Is the system of these 
establishments conducive to reform ? and are we able to support 
the theory by statistical numbers? 

If we consider merely the system itself, it seems difficult not 
to allow its efficiency. If it be possible to obtain moral reforma- 
tion for any human being, it seems that we ought to expect it 
for these youths, whose misfortune was caused less by crime, 
than by inexperience, and in whom all the generous passions of 
youth may be excited. With a criminal, whose corruption is 
inveterate, and deeply rooted, the feeling of honesty is not 
awakened, because the sentiment is extinct; with a youth, this 
feeling exists, though it has not yet been called into action. It 
seems to us, therefore, that a system which corrects evil disposi- 
tions, and inculcates correct principles, which gives a protector 
and a profession to him who has none, habits of order and labour 
to the vagrant and beggar whom idleness had corrupted ; ele- 
mentary instruction and religious principles to the child whose 
education had been neglected ; it seems to us, we say, that a 
similar system must be fertile of beneficial effects. 

There are, however, cases in which it is almost impossible to 
obtain the reformation of juvenile offenders; thus experience 
has taught the superintendents, that the reformation of girls, who 
have contracted bad morals, is a chimera which it is useless to 
pursue. As to boys, the most difficult to be corrected are those 
who have contracted habits of theft and intemperance; their re- 
generation, however, is not so desperate a task as that of girls 
who have been seduced, or have become prostitutes.* 

It is also generally thought in the United States, that it is neces- 
sary to avoid receiving, in the house of refuge, boys above six- 

* The experience of Mr. Kopf, superintendent of the house of refuge in Ber- 
lin, has taught him the same ; and, if we recollect aright, he told us that he has 
found the correction of girls altogether more difficult than that of boys, though 
he is assisted in his laudable work by his excellent wife. The reason why it is so 
much more difficult to redeem a girl who has been a prostitute, than any other 
young delinquent, seema to us very easy to be explained, from the nature of 

124 Penitentiary System. 

teen, and girls over fourteen years ; after this age, their refor- 
mation is rarely obtained by the discipline of these establish- 
ments, which is less fit for them than the austere discipline of 
the prisons. 

In Philadelphia, it is believed, that more than half of the chil- 
dren who have left the refuge, have conducted themselves well.* 

Being desirous of ascertaining ourselves the effects produced 
by the house of refuge in New York, we made a complete 
analysis of the great register of conduct, and examining sepa- 
rately the page of each child, who had left the refuge, investi- 
gated what was its conduct since its return into society.t 

Of four hundred and twenty-seven male juvenile offenders, sent 
back into society, eighty-five have conducted themselves well, 
and the conduct of forty-one has been excellent. Of thirty-four, 
the information received is bad ; and, of twenty-four, very bad. 
Of thirty-seven among them, the information is doubtful ; of 
twenty-four, rather good t^dn otherwise; and of fourteen, rather 
bad than good. 

Of eighty-six girls who have returned into society from the 
house of refuge, thirty-seven have conducted themselves well, 
eleven in an excellent manner, twenty-two bad, and sixteen very 
bad. The information concerning ten is doubtful; three seem to 
have conducted themselves rather well, and three rather bad than 

Thus of five hundred and thirteen children who have returned 
from the house of refuge of New York into society, more than 
two hundred have been saved from infallible ruin, and have 
changed a life of disorder and crime for one of honesty and 

female character, according to which, chastity has acquired a greater moral im- 
portance for women than for men. Girls, destined much more for tranquil and 
passive virtues than men, act still more against their nature, and, therefore, sink 
deeper, by giving themselves up to vagrancy, and the crimes following from it, 
(for which they are sent to the house of refuge,) than boys, whom the Creator 
has destined to push, at some future period, their way in the agitated scenes of 
life ; and, in proportion as girls deviate from their moral nature, the difficulty in- 
creases of bringing them back 5 the more they degenerate, the more difficult it 
is to restore their moral health. TRANS. 

* See Conversation with the superintendent of the house of refuge in Phila- 
delphia. Appendix, No. 15. 

j- All materials which could be of any use to us in this inquiry, have been put 
at our disposal with the greatest kindness; and, as we found ourselves in posses- 
sion of original materials, we were enabled to form an exact opinion upon the 
conduct of all children after they had left the refuge. Our inquiry extended to 
all children admitted in the refuge, from the 1st of January, 1825, to the 1st of 
January, 1829. Since the latter year, many individuals have been admitted, and 
have left the house of refuge of New York : but the latter have been too short 
a time in society to afford an opportunity of judging of their thorough or apparent 
reformation; to be decisive, the proof must be of a longer continuance. (So far 
the authors.) We would refer the reader to the annual reports of the New York 
house of refuge, for some interesting letters of persons who have been in the 
refuge. Tiuws. 

Penitentiary System. 125 


Application of the system of houses of refuge to our "houses of correction." 
State of our penal legislation in relation to children under sixteen years, and 
detained for crimes and offences, or by way of precaution. They corrupt each 
other in the prisons. Modifications to be made in the penal legislation and in 
the discipline of the houses of correction. 

IF France should borrow from the American houses of refuge 
some principles on which these establishments are erected, she 
would remedy one of the chief vices of her prisons. 

According to our laws, the criminals, under the age of sixteen, 
are not to be confounded with convicts of maturer years ; and the 
law gives the name of house of correction to the place where 
they are detained. Yet, with very rare exceptions, the young 
delinquents and the old criminals are placed together in our pri- 
sons. Nay more: it is well known that the child not yet sixteen 
years old, who has been acquitted on account of want of judg- 
ment, is nevertheless, according to circumstances, rendered to 
its parents, or conducted into a house of correction, in order to 
be educated and detained (eleve et detenu) during such a num- 
ber of years as the judgment of the court shall determine, and 
which never exceeds the period of his arrival at his twentieth 

Thus, if a child, accused of a crime, is acquitted, the courts 
have the right to send it back to its parents, or into a " house of 
correction. " This alternative makes it easy to comprehend the 
intention of the law. The parents receive it, if they show a 
guaranty of morality, and the child is restored to them, that 
they may correct its evil dispositions and reform its bad habits. 
On the contrary, if the judges have good reason to believe, that 
the faults of the child are owing to the fatal example of its own 
family, they will take care not to restore the child to it, where 
it would only accomplish its corruption ; and they, therefore, 
send it into a house of correction, which will be less a prison 
than a school ; it will be educated and detained, says the law. 
Now, we ask, is the intention of the legislature fulfilled ? and 
do the young prisoners receive the education which it was the 
intention of the law to procure for the unfortunate child? 

It can be said that, in general, the prisons, in which with us 
the juvenile offenders are detained, are but schools of crime ; so 

126 Penitentiary System. 

that all the judges who know the corrupting discipline of these 
prisons, are averse to condemn an arrested youth, whatever may 
be the evidence of his offence ; they rather acquit him and restore 
him to liberty than contribute on their part further to corrupt 
him, by sending him into one of the prisons ; but this indulgence, 
the motive of which is so easily understood, is not the less fatal to 
the guilty, who find in this impunity an encouragement to crime. 

There is also a right sanctioned by our civil laws, and the 
operation of which is in some sort suspended by the defect of 
our prisons : we mean the power which belongs to the parents 
of causing those of their children, who are minors and whose 
conduct is reprehensible, to be detained in a prison. 

What parents would use their authority, if they knew into 
what a den of corruption their children would be thrown? 

There is then in this respect a void in the system of our pri- 
sons which it is important to fill. This would be obtained by 
establishing houses of refuge or correction founded upon the prin- 
ciples of those of which we have given a picture. 

It would certainly be difficult to adopt entirely the American 
system : thus, the power given in the United States to all offi- 
cers of the police to send children, whose conduct is suspicious, 
into the house of refuge, though no specific offence be imputed to 
them ; and the extraordinary right which they have even of tak- 
ing a child from his parents if they do not take sufficient care of 
its education, would not all this be contrary to our customs and 

But the discipline of the American houses of refuge would 
have great advantages in France if only applied to young con- 
victs, or to those who, without being declared guilty, are to be 
detained during a fixed time in consequence of a positive judg- 

If our houses of correction, the viciousness of which frightens 
the courts, should undergo a reform, the magistrates would send 

* In order to understand our authors, the reader must remember what an im- 
mense difference exists between a French police officer, the member of a pow- 
erful and independent body, extending with its million arms over the whole 
country, and an American police officer, a harmless and comparatively powerless 
single individual, under the constant surveillance of public opinion, which in a 
country where public life is so public, is a police unequalled in watchfulness by 
that of any body of paid officers. Every thing depends in such matters upon 
circumstances. An officer in the United States never ceases to be and loff.el as 
a citizen ; he is in this respect essentially different from a government officer on 
the continent of Europe. We may add further the remark we before made, ;is 
to the supervisory power of the judiciary and also, that in Pennsylvania, at 
least, (we are not so well informed in regard to the other states,) the power by 
no means exists to the extent stated by the authors. The authority to commit 
to the refuge is confined to courts, magistrates, and guardians of the poor, and 
is not granted to police officers and is limited too to the cases of crimes or of- 
fences committed by children. See what we have said on this point in a previ- 
ous note. TBAHS. 

Penitentiary System. 127 

there without repugnance a number of young delinquents, va- 
grants, beggars, &c. , who abound in all our cities, and whom an 
idle life leads infallibly to crime. This reform might be effected 
by building, in the houses of correction, solitary cells, which 
would prevent communication during night, and by the adoption 
of a system of instruction and labour, analogous to that which is 
practised in New York and Philadelphia. 

It would be necessary, however, to make an important change 
in our legislation, in order to insure success to the houses of cor- 
rection in France. 

The greater part of the happy results crowning the endeavours 
of the American houses of refuge, are principally owing to the 
discretionary power with which the managers of these establish- 
ments are invested, to retain or return to society according to 
their pleasure, the children of whom they have received the 
guardianship; they use this right for the interest of the young 
delinquent, for whom they endeavour to find an advantageous 
place, as an apprentice; and each time that a favourable opportu- 
nity offers itself, they can avail themselves of it, because they 
have unlimited authority over the children sent to the refuge. 

According to our laws, the director of a house of correction 
could do nothing like it; he would be obliged, in order to restore 
liberty to a young delinquent, to wait for the expiration of the 
period fixed by the judgment. What would be the consequence? 
that, on leaving the house of correction, the child would find 
itself as embarrassed respecting its fate as previously to its being 
sent to the refuge : it would be full of good resolutions and prin- 
ciples, but incapable of putting them into practice. 

It seems to us that a single modification of article sixty-sixth 
of the penal code, would greatly remedy this inconvenience. 

The young delinquents, under the age of sixteen years, are of 
two kinds : those who, having acted with discretion, are declared 
guilty and convicted, and those who, having acted without dis- 
cretion, have been acquitted but are detained for the sake of their 
education. Respecting the first, their fate is positively settled 
by the judgment and ought to be so; they have committed a 
crime, they must suffer the punishment. One is but a corollary 
to the other. This punishment and its duration can be pronounced 
only by the courts; if it is fixed, it must be suffered to its whole 
extent, according to the terms of the judgment: in this case, the 
special interest of the child is of little importance; it is not only 
for the purpose of correction, that it is imprisoned : it is particu- 
larly for the interest of society and the sake of example that the 
punishment is inflicted. 

But the child acquitted in consideration of its want of discre- 
tion, stands in a different position : it is detained in a house of 
correction, not in order to secure its person, but because it is 

128 Penitentiary System. 

thought that it will be in a better place than in its own family ; 
a good education is afforded, which it would not find elsewhere ; 
it is looked upon as unfortunate only, and society takes upon itself 
to give that which fortune has denied. It is not for public ven- 
geance, but for its personal interest, that it is placed in the house 
of correction : as it has committed no crime, no punishment is 
to be inflicted upon it. 

In respect to the young prisoners who are in this position, it 
seems to us that the duration of their stay in the house of cor- 
rection ought not to be fixed by the courts. We appreciate the 
position, that the judicial authority alone ought to retain the 
power of sending them there, according to the circumstances, 
of which it has the opportunity of judging; but why should they 
be burthened at the same time with determining the number of 
years during which the education of a child may be completed? 
As if it were possible to foresee, in each case, the time which 
may be requisite for the correction of the vices, and the reforma- 
tion of the evil inclinations of a child ! 

Would it not be more judicious to invest the inspectors and 
directors of the house with the guardianship over children whose 
education is confided to them, and with all the rights which ap- 
pertain to the guardianship? 

If it were so, the directors of the establishment would study 
the dispositions of the children placed under their authority ; 
they would be able to seize with much more advantage upon the 
favourable moment to restore them to liberty; the time during 
which a child would have to remain in the house of correction, 
would thus be determined in a much more judicious way. And 
if a good opportunity should offer itself for one among them to 
be indentured as an apprentice, or in any other way, the directors 
would make use of it. 

Even if all the advantages should not result from this change 
which it promises, something would already be gained, by effac- 
ing from our laws the provision in question. This provision is 
in fact the source of the worst abuses : it will surprise us little 
if we consider that the law confers a power upon the courts, 
without furnishing, at the same time, a rule for its exercise. 
Thus it empowers the court to send to the house of correction, 
for a certain number of years, (at its discretion,) children ac- 
quitted in consideration of want of judgment ; but upon what 
principle do they adjudge the number of years which the child 
has to stay in the house of correction ? The law is silent on this 
point : the courts themselves are ignorant respecting it If a 
court pronounce a punishment, it is measured by the offence ; 
but by what standard shall the stay in the house of refuge be 
measured by anticipation, if the education of a child is in ques- 

Penitentiary System. 129 

tion, whose intellectual state is unknown to the judges, and of 
whose future progress they can know nothing ? 

This impossibility of finding a basis for the sentence, produces 
a completely arbitrary execution of the law. The judges will 
condemn a child to be detained until his fifteenth or twentieth 
year, without having the least standard to go by : this badly de- 
fined authority causes often the most revolting decisions. 

A child of a less age than sixteen appears before a court. The 
first question is as to its capacity : if it is adjudged to have acted 
with discretion, it is sentenced to be detained in the house of 
correction; as this is a punishment pronounced by the court, it 
is proportionate to the offence, which appears not very grave, 
considering the youth of the convicted prisoner. It will, there- 
fore, receive a sentence of some months imprisonment only. 

Let us suppose another youth of the same age indicted ; his 
offence is light, and the court finds he has acted without sufficient 
discretion. This youth will be sent for several years to the house 
of correction, to be educated and detained indeed, but, in fact, 
to be locked up in the same prison with the first, with this dif- 
ference only, that he remains there a long time, whilst the for- 
mer, who has been declared guilty, passes but a short time in 
the same place. 

Thus it may be justly said, that for offenders under sixteen 
years, it is better to be found guilty than to be acquitted. Who- 
ever has any experience in the administration of criminal justice, 
will acknowledge the defect which we point out ; it is a defect 
not to be imputed to the magistrate, but belongs altogether to the 
law and its operation. This evil would be remedied in a great 
degree, in all cases in which children are detained without being 
convicted, if the courts would merely decree their detention in 
the house of correction, without fixing irrevocably the period of 
detention ; by the sentence, the directors of the house would be 
authorized to retain the child for a fixed period ; but it would 
be lawful for them to restore him to liberty before the expiration 
of the term, if circumstances permitted. They would not retain 
the child longer than the fixed period, but they would be at 
liberty to retain him for a shorter period. 

It seems, therefore, to us, that a great advantage would result 
from a change of the provision of the law in question. The 
houses of correction would then become, in the true meaning of 
the word, houses of refuge, and they would be able to exercise 
upon the mind of the young delinquent a salutary influence, 
which, in the actual state of our legislation, is unattainable. We 
only indicate here the principal changes which would be requi- 
site to arrive at this end : many questions connected with this 
subject, ought to be discussed and investigated, if a reform is 
to be produced fertile of happy results. Thus it would first be 

130 Penitentiary System. 

necessary to examine which would be the best means of interest- 
ing public opinion in the success of this reform ; to determine 
the elements which shall compose the houses of refuge ; to fix 
the principles of their organization, and to discuss the question, 
11 where and in what number ought they to be established?" &c. 
All these questions, and many others which we pass over in 
silence, must be submitted to the investigation of men enlight- 
ened and versed in the knowledge of our laws, our customs, and 
the actual state of our prisons. 

If this discipline should be introduced among us, pains ought 
to be taken to remove every thing which is of a nature to im- 
pede its success in this country. 

We have already spoken of the danger, which is the most dif- 
ficult to be avoided in this matter, viz., the difficulty of keeping 
a house of refuge in the proper medium between a school and a 
prison. In the United States, the houses of refuge approach, per- 
haps, too much to the former, and this defect may become fatal 
to them, when children, instigated by their parents themselves, 
may wish to find advantages denied them in their family. It 
ought, therefore, to be kept in mind, that these establishments, to 
fulfil their true object, must preserve, though differing from a 
prison, part of its severity, and that the comfort as well as the 
moral instruction which the children are sure to find in the house 
of refuge, ought not to be such as to make their fate enviable by 
children whose life is irreproachable. 

We may, on this occasion, remind our readers of a truth which 
cannot be neglected without danger, viz., that the abuse of phi- 
lanthropic institutions is as fatal to society as the evil itself 
which they are intended to cure. 




WE believe it necessary to make a few introductory observa- 
tions, before we treat of the question of penal colonies, because 
we have observed that in France, the general opinion is in favour 
of the system of transportation. Many have declared themselves 
in favour of this punishment, and writers of talent have extolled 
its effect. If public opinion should advance in this direction, and 
should induce government to follow it, France would find herself 
engaged in an enterprise, the expenses of which would be im- 
mense and the success very uncertain. 

Such, at least, is our conviction ; and fully persuaded of these 
dangers, we hope to be pardoned if we treat them somewhat in 

The system of transportation presents some advantages which 
we do not hesitate to acknowledge. 

Of all punishments, that of transportation is the only one 
which, without being cruel, frees society from the presence of 
the guilty. 

The imprisoned criminal may break his chains ; restored to 
liberty on the expiration of his sentence, he becomes an object 
of well founded fear to all who surround him ; the transported 
criminal re-appears but rarely in his native country ; with him, 
a fertile germ of disorder and new crimes is removed. 

This advantage is undoubtedly great; and it cannot but strike 
the thinking part of a nation, with whom the number of prison- 
ers is increasing, and in the midst of whom, already arises a 
whole people of malefactors. 

The system of exportation, therefore, rests upon a true idea, 
peculiarly fit by its simplicity to strike the mind of the mass, 
which has not the time to investigate the subject. We do not 
know what to do with the criminals at home ; we therefore trans- 
port them to another clime. 

132 Appendix. On Penal Colonies. 

Our subject is to show here, that this measure, apparently so 
simple, is surrounded in its execution by difficulties always very 
great, sometimes insurmountable; and that it does not effect even 
the chief object which those who adopt it have in view. 



THE first difficulties are met with in the legislation itself. 

To what criminals is transportation to be applied ? 

Shall it be only to those sentenced for life ? In that case, the 
utility of the measure is extremely limited. The convicts for 
life form always but a very small number ; they are already ren- 
dered harmless. 

As to them, the political question becomes one of philanthro- 
py, and nothing more. 

The criminals, whom society has really an object in exiling 
far from itself, are those convicted for a limited time; who, on 
the expiration of their sentence, recover their liberty. But to 
those, the system of deportation cannot be applied without re- 

Let us suppose that any individual, who has been transported, 
whatever may be the gravity of his crime, is prohibited from 
ever re-appearing in the mother country ; in this way, we would 
have obtained, undoubtedly, the principal object which the legis- 
lator proposes to himself; but the punishment of transportation, 
thus understood, would meet with numerous obstacles in its ap- 

Its greatest defect would exist in its being entirely dispropor- 
tionate to the nature of certain crimes; and that it would affect, 
in a similar way, individuals, the degree of whose guilt was es- 
sentially different. Assuredly the man doomed to perpetual im- 
prisonment, and he for whom the law decrees but five years' 
privation of liberty, cannot be placed on the same level. Both, 
however, would end their days at a distance from their family 
and country. For the one, transportation would be an allevia- 
tion of punishment; for the other a severe aggravation. And by 
this new penal graduation, the least guilty would be the most 
severely punished. 

After having kept the criminals in the place of transportation 
until the time of the expiration of their punishment, should they, 
on the contrary, be furnished with the means of returning to 

Appendix. On Penal Colonies. 133 

their country ? But then we would miss the most important ob- 
ject of penal colonies, which is, gradually to exhaust the source 
of crime in the mother country, by making its authors disap- 
pear. It certainly cannot be believed, that the delivered con- 
vict returns to his country an honest man, by the mere circum- 
stance of his having been to the antipodes, or of having made 
a voyage round the world. Colonies of criminals do not correct 
as penitentiaries do, by reforming the individual sent there. 
They change him by giving him other interests than that of 
crime ; by creating a prospect of futurity for him : he does not 
reform, if he retain the idea of returning. 

The English give to the delivered convict, the often illusory 
power of returning to his native soil; but they do not furnish 
him with the means of doing it. 

This system has other inconveniences ; first, it does not pre- 
vent a great number of criminals, the most adroit and dangerous 
of all, from reappearing in the society which has banished them;* 
and, moreover, it creates in the colony, a class of men, who, hav- 
ing had the intention during the whole time of their punishment 
of returning to Europe, have not reformed ; after the expiration 
of their sentence, these individuals are connected by no tie what- 
ever with their new country ; they ardently desire to return ; 
they have no certain plan for futurity ; and in consequence, no 
industry ; their presence threatens the peace of the colony a 
hundred times more than that of the prisoners themselves, in all 
whose passions they participate, without being restrained by the 
same ties.t 

The system of transportation, therefore, presents, as a theory 
of law, a problem of difficult solution. 

But its application presents still greater difficulties. 

* From the report of Mr. Bigge it is seen that each year a certain number of 
convicts arrive in New South Wales, who have been there previously. 

} See L' Histoire des colonies ptfnales, by Mr. Ernest de Blosseville. In all 
that we have to say on penal colonies, we shall often have occasion to refer to 
Mr. Blosseville's work. This work, whose author seems favourable to the sys- 
tem of transportation, abounds in interesting facts and curious researches. It 
forms the most complete statement in French literature, on the British settle- 
ments in Australia. 

134 Appendix. On Penal Colonies. 




Choice of a fit place for its foundation. Expenses of the first establishment. 
Difficulties and dangers which surround the infancy of the colony. Results 
obtained by the penal colony ; It does not produce economy ; It augments 
the number of criminals. Budget of the Australian colonies. Increase of 
crimes in England. Transportation considered as a means of colonization. 
It creates colonies hostile to the mother country. Colonies founded in this 
way always resent their origin. Example of Australia. 

IT is certainly not a trifling enterprise to establish a colony, 
even if it is intended to compose it of sound elements; and if 
the mother country has in its power all desirable means of exe- 

The history of the Europeans in the two Indies, shows but 
too well the magnitude of the difficulties and dangers which 
always surround the growth of similar settlements. 

All these difficulties present themselves likewise in the founda- 
tion of a penal colony ; and many others in addition, peculiar to 
this species of colonies. 

First, it is extremely difficult to find a convenient place for its 
foundation : the considerations which must direct such a choice 
are of a nature entirely peculiar : the country must be healthy ; 
and, in general, an uninhabited country is not so during the first 
twenty-five years of its clearing ; and if its climate differ essen- 
tially from that of Europe, the life of Europeans will always be 
in great danger. 

The desired country, therefore, should be situated precisely 
between certain degrees of latitude. 

We say that it is important that the soil of a colony should be 
healthy from the beginning ; this necessity is much greater for 
prisoners than for free colonists. 

The convict is already enervated by his vices. He has been 
subject, before his arrival at the place of his destination, to pri- 
vations and fatigue, which have almost always more or less affect- 
ed his health ; at the pljice of his exile he seldom has that energy, 
and that physical and intellectual activity, which, even in an 
unhealthy climate, ofte*n support the health of the free colonist, 
and permit him to brave with impunity surrounding dangers. 

Appendix. On Penal Colonies. 135 

There are many statesmen, and perhaps even some philan- 
thropists, who would not be disturbed in their opinion by this 
difficulty, and who would answer us, with perfect sincerity : 
what matters it, after all, that these guilty persons go to die at 
a distance ? Society, which rejects them, would not call for an 
account of their fate. This answer does not satisfy us. We are 
not systematically opposed to the punishment of death ; but we 
believe that it must be legally inflicted ; and we do not think 
that men's lives can be taken away in a circuitous or fraudulent 

It is certainly an advantage for an ordinary colony to be situ- 
ated near the mother country ; there is no explanation necessary 
to make this understood. 

The first requisite of a penal colony is to be separated from 
the mother country by an immense distance. It is necessary 
that the prisoner should feel himself thrown into another world ; 
obliged to create a new futurity for himself in the place which 
he inhabits, and that the hope of return should appear like a 
chimera; and how much will not this very chimera trouble the 
imagination of the exile? The transported criminal of Botany 
Bay, separated from England by the whole diameter of the globe, 
struggles yet to find a way to his country, through insurmounta- 
ble perils.* In vain does his new country offer him peace and 
comfort; he meditates only on returning, and plunging again 
into the miseries of the old world. In order to obtain a return 
to the shores of Europe, a great number submit to the hardest 
conditions ; several commit new crimes to procure thus the means 
of transport which they want. 

Penal colonies differ so essentially from ordinary colonies, 
that the natural fertility of the soil may become one of the great- 
est obstacles to their establishment. 

Transported convicts, it is easy to perceive, cannot be subject- 
ed to the same discipline as the inmates of our prisons. They 
cannot be locked up within four walls ; because then it would 
be better to have them retained in the mother country. It is 
thought sufficient to regulate their actions, but their liberty is 
not entirely revoked. 

If the soil, on which the penal establishment is founded, pre- 
sents natural resources to the isolated individual ; if it offers such 
means of existence as in general the soil of the tropics presents ; 
if the climate is constantly mild, wild fruits abundant, and hunt- 
ing easy, it will be readily imagined, -that a great number of cri- 

* During the first years of the colony, a pretty general belief existed among the 
colonists that New Holland was connected with the continent of Asia. Several 
convicts attempted to escape by reaching Asia ; most of them died in misery in 
the woods, or were obliged to retrace their steps. It was very difficult to con- 
vince these unfortunate persons of their mistake. 

136 Appendix. On Penal Colonies. 

minals will profit by the half liberty left to them, to fly into the 
desert, and will exchange with pleasure the tranquillity of slavery 
for the perils of a contested independence. They will form so 
many enemies to the growing colony ; and from the first day it 
would be necessary to have arms in hand in a desert country. 

If the continent, where the penal colony has been planted, 
were peopled by semi-civilized tribes, the danger would be still 

The European race has received from Providence, or has ac- 
quired by its own efforts, so incontestable a superiority over all 
the other races which compose the great human family, that the 
individual, placed with us, by his vices and his ignorance, on 
the lowest step of society, is yet the first among savages. 

The convicts will emigrate in numbers toward the aborigines; 
they will become their assistants against the whites, and, gene- 
rally, their chiefs. 

We do not reason here on a vague hypothesis: the danger 
which we signalize, has made itself already strongly felt in Van 
Diemen's land. From the first period of the establishment of the 
English, a great number of convicts have fled into the woods : 
there they have formed associations of stragglers; they have 
united with the savages, have married their daughters, and adopt- 
ed, partly, their customs. From this crossing of blood, a race 
of mestizos has sprung up, more barbarous than the Europeans, 
more civilized than the savages, whose hostility has, at all times, 
disturbed the colony and sometimes brought it to the brink of 

We have indicated the difficulties which present themselves, 
from the moment of a place being selected for the establishment 
of a penal colony. These difficulties are not, by their nature, 
insurmountable ; since, after all, the place which we describe, 
has been found by England. If they were the only difficulties, 
perhaps it would be wrong to lose time in describing them : but 
there are several others, which have an equal claim upon public 

Let us then suppose the place to be selected ; the country 
where the penal colony is to be founded, to be on the other side 
of the globe, uncultivated and desert. It would be necessary to 
carry every thing thither, and to provide for every thing. What 
immense expenses are requisite for an establishment of this na- 
ture ! No calculation can be based upon the zeal and industry 
of the colonists, in order to supply the want of useful things, the 
absence of which will always make itself felt, however great our 
exertions may be to the contrary. Here, the colonist takes so 
little interest in the undertaking, that he must be forced to sow 
the grain which is to feed him. He would almost resign him- 
self to a death of hunger, could he but disappoint the hopes of 

Appendix. On Penal Colonies. 137 

the society which punishes him. Great calamities must there- 
fore accompany the beginning of a similar colony. 

It is sufficient to read the history of the English settlements 
in Australia, to be convinced of the truth of this remark. Three 
times the young colony of Botany Bay was near being destroyed 
by hunger and disease; and it was only by giving limited rations 
to the inhabitants, as to a crew of a wrecked vessel, that it was 
possible to wait for support from home. 

Perhaps there was negligence and inactivity on the part of the 
British government : but can we expect to avoid all faults and 
mistakes in a similar undertaking? 

In the midst of a country, where every thing is yet to be 
created, where the free population is isolated, without support, 
surrounded by a crowd of malefactors, it is clear that it must be 
difficult to maintain order, and prevent revolts. This difficulty 
is particularly great in the first moment, when the criminals, as 
well as those who watch over them, are entirely occupied with 
the care of providing for their own necessities. The historians 
of Australia speak, in fact, of incessant plots, foiled only by the 
wisdom and firmness of the three first governors of the colony 
Philip, Hunter, and King. 

The character and the talents of these three men must be rated 
very high, in estimating the success of the colony; and, if the 
British government is accused of inability in the direction of 
the affairs of this colony, it must not be forgotten, that it ably 
fulfils at least the task, perhaps the most difficult and most im- 
portant of all, that of selecting competent agents. 

We have supposed the place of transportation to be found ; we 
will even admit the first difficulties conquered. The penal colony 
exists ; let us now examine its effects. 

The first question which presents itself here, is : 

Is it economical for the state to adopt the system of penal 

If we turn aside from facts, in order to consult theory alone, 
we must be permitted to doubt the affirmative of this ; because, 
admitting that the support of a penal colony costs the state less- 
than prisons, certain it is, that its foundation exacts much greater 
expenses ; and, if it is economical to feed, maintain, and watch 
the convict in the place of his exile, it is extremely expensive 
to transport him there.* Besides, all kinds of convicts cannot 
be sent to the colonies : the system of transportation, therefore, 
does not allow us to dispense with the erection of prisons. 

The writers, who, until the present time, have shown them- 

* During the years 1828 and 1829, each convict in Australia cost the govern- 
ment, for transportation alone, twenty-six pounds sterling. See Legislative Do- 
cuments sent by the British Parliament, vol. xxiii. page 25. 


Appendix. On Penal Colonies. 

selves the most favourable to the colonization of criminals, have 
not denied that the foundation of such an establishment would 
; be extremely onerous to the state. The reasons of this fact are 
easily conceived, and we may dispense with their exposition. 

It has not yet been possible to determine with exactness how 
much it has cost to establish the Australian colonies; we only 
know that, from the year 1786 to 1819, a space of thirty-two years, 
Great Britain has spent for her penal colony 5,301,623 pounds 
sterling. It is certain, however, that, at present, the expenses 
of support are much less than in the first years of the establish- 
ment; but do we know at what price this result has been ob- 

When the prisoners arrive in Australia,* the government 
chooses among them, not those who have committed most 
crimes, but those who have learned a mechanical art, or know 
some branch of industry useful in the colony. It subjects these 
to the public labour of the establishment. The criminals, thus 
reserved for the service of the state, form but the eighth part of 
all the convicts ;t and their number is continually decreasing, as 
the public wants themselves diminish. To these prisoners, a dis- 
cipline nearly the same as that in the English prisons is applied, 
and their support is a heavy charge upon the public treasure. 

The other criminals are distributed, soon after their debarka- 
tion in the colony, among the free farmers. These pay for their 
services at a fixed price, and besides, furnish them with the neces- 
saries of life. 

The criminal, therefore, prisoner though he be, becomes, 
transported to Australia, in fact, a servant at wages. This sys- 
tem seems, at the first glance, economical for the state ; we shall 
see its bad effects hereafter. 

Several calculations, of which we give the bases in a note,J 
induce us to believe, that, in 1829, (the last year of which we 
have returns,) the support of each of the fifteen thousand con- 
victs, who were then in Australia, has cost the state at least 
twelve pounds sterling. 

* Inquiries made by order of Parliament, in 1812 and 1819. These inqui- 
ries are among the documents sent by Parliament to our government. Vol. xc. 
and xci. 

Report made by Mr. Bigge, in 1822, in the same collection. 
Report of the committee charged with the examination of the budget of the 
colonies in 1830 ; same collection. 

f- In 1828, 1,918 convicts, of 15,668, were thus employed by government. 
Vol. xxiii. of the above-mentioned collection of Legislative Documents, sent 
by the British Parliament. 

*- $ See the note placed at the end of the alphabetical notes. 
/ Each prisoner in the hulks, (a kind of floating bagnes in several ports of 
I Great Britain,) costs annually but six pounds sterling, the price of his labour 
! being deducted. It must be said, however, that, on the other hand, the sup- 
port of each prisoner at Milbank, costs annually about thirty-five pounds. See 
Inquiry made by order of Parliament in 1832. 

Appendix. On Penal Colonies. 139 

If we add to this sum the annual interest of those sums which 
have been spent for the foundation of the colony, and take into 
account the progressive increase of the number of criminals who 
are transported to Australia, we shall be authorized to believe 
that the economy which it is reasonable to expect from the sys- 
tem of transportation, reduces itself to very little, if it exist at all. 

We willingly acknowledge, that the question of economy is 
but a secondary one. The principal point is, to know whether 
the system of transportation diminishes the number of criminals. 
If this were the case, we might imagine that a great nation would 
willingly impose on itself a sacrifice of money, if the result in- 
sured its peace and well-being. 

But the example of England tends to prove, that, if transport- 
ation causes great crimes to disappear, it greatly increases the 
number of ordinary offences ; and that thus the decrease of re- 
committals is more than outweighed by the increase of first 

The punishment of transportation intimidates nobody, and 
hardens many in the way of crime. 

In order to obviate the immense expenses which the surveil- 
lance of the prisoners in Australia causes, Great Britain, as we 
have seen, grants, in a degree, liberty to most of them, as soon 
as they have been landed at the penal colony. 

In order to create some prospect of futurity for them, and to 
fix them by moral and durable ties, the colony facilitates, in 
every possible way, the emigration of their family. 

After their punishment has expired, the colony gives them 
lands, so that idleness and vagrancy shall not lead them back to 

This combination of efforts produces sometimes the result, 
that individuals, rejected by the mother country, become useful 
and respected citizens in the colony; but more often we see that 
the man, whom the fear of punishment would have constrained 
to lead a regular life in England, breaks the laws, which he 
otherwise would have respected, because the punishment with 
which he is threatened, has in fact no fear for him, and often 
rather pleases, than affrights his imagination. 

A great number of convicts, says Mr. Bigge in his report to 
Lord Bathurst, are retained much more by the facility of sub- 
sistence in Australia, by the chances of gain, and the free man- 
ners common to the colony, than by the vigilance of the police. 
A singular punishment must that be which the convict fears to 
have withdrawn ! 

To say the truth, transportation is, for many Englishmen, 
nothing but an emigration to Australia, undertaken at the ex- 
pense of government. This consideration could not but excite 
the attention of a nation so justly renowned for its intelligence 

140 Appendix. On Penal Colonies. 

and skill in the art of ruling society. We find, therefore, as early 
as in the year 1819, in an official letter by Lord Bathurst, (Janu- 
ary 6th,) this expression: "the terror formerly inspired by 
transportation gradually diminishes, and the crimes increase in 
the same proportion.* ( They have increased beyond all calcu- 
lation. )t 

The number of persons sentenced to transportation, which in 
the year 1812 was 662, had gradually risen until 1819, when 
the letter of Lord Bathurst was written, to the number of 3130 ; 
during the years 1828 and 1829, it had risen to 45004 

* We have retranslated this passage from the French, as we had no access to 
this letter. THAWS. 

f Lord Bathurst's own words. TRANS. 

i (We have been obliged to retranslate the passages, in the following report, 
quoted from English reports. TRANS.) 

In 1832, the British Parliament appointed a " Select Committee to inquire into 
the best mode of giving efficacy to secondary punishments, and to report their 
observations to the House of Commons." The report was made, June 22d, 1832. 
From this valuable document we take the following extracts : we ought to men- 
tion, however, that the committee were not unanimous, and that the report only 
expresses the opinion of the majority. At least we have been so informed by a 
very distinguished member of parliament, who belonged to the committee. 

"After the evidence received by the committee, they believe that there exists 
frequently a belief among the people of the lowest class, that it is very desirable 
for them to be transported to Botany Bay; and that crimes have been committed 
with the sole view of effecting a transportation to Australia. It seems, therefore, 
necessary that a real punishment should be inflicted upon the convicts, either 
before they leave England, or immediately after they arrive in Australia, and 
before they are placed as servants with the farmers." p. 12. 

" The committee are of opinion, that the punishment of transportation to 
Australia, alone, is not sufficient to check crime ; and as no means has been in- 
dicated so far, to make the individuals once transported undergo that punish- 
ment which society calls for, without considerably increasing the charges upon 
the public treasury, it results that this punishment ought to be inflicted before 
their departure to New South Wales." p. 14. 

" The punishment of transportation, such as it is put in practice in England, 
appears to the committee an ineffectual punishment. But it may become useful 
in combination with other punishments." p. 16. 

" It appears from the declarations of witnesses, that the impression made 
upon the minds of the people by transportation, depends essentially upon the 
situation of the convicts. Working men have the greatest fear of being sent to 
the penal colony; whilst, for unmarried people, mechanics for instance, who are 
sure to earn very high wages in Australia, and, in general, for all those who feel 
the necessity of changing their situation, and have the vague desire of improving 
it, transportation has nothing formidable. All the reports which are sent from 
New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land, the committee are satisfied, are very 
favourable. They represent the situation of the convicts in Australia as very 
happy, and the chances of success before them as certain, if they conduct them- 
selves with prudence. It is natural, therefore, that transportation should be con- 
sidered by many rather as a benefit than a punishment." p. 17. 

" It is not surprising, that in a country with an abundant population, where a 
number of persons suffer great privations, and where, consequently, much in- 
ducement to crime exists, those whose education has been abandoned, and who 
are exposed to suffering, yield without trouble to the temptation of doing evil. 
They rely on the incertitude of legislation, and the probability of acquittals 
which it presents ; and if this chance fails, they know that the worst which can 

Appendix. On Penal Colonies. 141 

The partisans of the system of transportation cannot deny 
these facts : but they maintain, that this system has at least for 
its result the rapid foundation of a colony, which soon refunds, 
in riches and power, to the mother country, the expenses it has 

Considered in this light, transportation is not any longer a 
penal system, but a method of colonization. Under this point of 
view, it not only deserves the attention of the friends of man- 
kind, but also of politicians, and all those who exercise an in- 
fluence on the destinies of nations. 

As for ourselves, we do not hesitate to declare, that the system 
of transportation appears to us as unfit for the foundation of a 
colony, as for the suppression of crime in the mother country. 
It carries, undoubtedly, to the country which is to be colonized, 
a population which would perhaps not have gone thither of it- 
self; but the state gains little by gathering these premature fruits, 
and it would have been more desirable for it to have allowed 
things to take their natural course. 

And first, if the colony actually grow rapidly, it soon becomes 
difficult to maintain the penal establishment there at little ex- 
pense ; in the year 1819, the population of New South Wales 
amounted to about 29,000 inhabitants, and even then the sur- 
veillance became difficult; even then the idea was suggested to 
government, of erecting prisons for the detention of the convicts: 
thus we would have the European system, with its vices, trans- 
ported to a distance of 5000 leagues from Europe.* 

The more the colony increases in population, the less is it dis- 

happen is a change of their situation, which renders them scarcely worse than 
they were before." p. 20. 

" The rapid increase of the number of criminals in this country, (England and 
Wales,) has for some time created alarm, and baffled all the efforts of philan- 
thropists and politicians. In vain has it been tried to arrest this increase, either 
by amending our penal laws, or by establishing a more efficient police. All these 
means have not been sufficient to retard the progress of the evil, nor to diminish 
the frightful catalogue which the records of jurisprudence annually offer. With- 
out recurring to distant periods, it can be shown by documents furnished to the 
committee, that the number of individuals committed for trial, and acquitted or 
condemned, for crimes and offences, in England and Wales, regularly increases. 
Number of Persons Committed for Trial. 
From 1810 to 1817 - 56,308 
1817 to 1824 92,848 

1824 to 1831 - 121,518 
Number of Convicted Individuals. 
From 1810 to 1817 - 35,259 
1817 to 1824 - 62,412 
1824 to 1831 - 85,257 

* On the 27th of February, 1826, the governor of New South Wales caused 
a new prison, independently of that already then existing in Sidney, to be erect- 
ed. Several prisons had already been built, on various points of the territory of 
the colony, for the most untameable convicts. See the Documents printed by 
order of the House of Commons, and, among others, the Ordonance of Governor 
Darling, in 1826, and the " Regulations on Penal Settlements," printed in 1832. 

142 Jlppmdix. On Penal Colonies. 

posed to become the receptacle of the outcasts of the mother 
country. It will be remembered what indignation was excited 
in America, by the presence of criminals sent out from the mo- 
ther country. 

Even in Australia, with this young colony, composed, in a 
great degree, of malefactors, the same murmurs are already 
heard, and we believe that as soon as the colony has the power, 
it will refuse with energy the fatal presents of the mother 

Thus great Britain will lose the expenses caused by her penal 

The Australian colonies will strive to free themselves from the 
onerous obligations imposed by England so much the sooner, as 
there exists in the hearts of their inhabitants but little good feel- 
ing towards her. 

And this is one of the most fatal effects of the system of trans- 
portation applied to colonies. 

There is, in general, nothing more tender than the feeling 
which binds the colonist to the soil of his childhood. Recollec- 
tions, habits, interests, prejudices, every thing binds him still 
to his beloved home, in spite of the ocean which rolls between 
him and his country. Several nations of Europe have found 
and still find a great source of power and glory in these ties of 
a distant fraternity. But one year before the Revolution of Ame- 
rica, the colonists, whose forefathers had, a century and a half 
before, left the coasts of Great Britain, yet called England their 

But the name of the mother country brings back to the me- 
mory of transported convicts the recollection of misery, and 
sometimes of unmerited misery. It is there that he has been un- 
happy, prosecuted, guilty, dishonoured. 

What ties shall unite him to a country, where, in most cases, 
he has left nobody who cares for his fate? How should he 
wish to establish the intercourse of commerce and amity with 
the mother country? Of all places on the globe, that where he 
was born, appears to him the most odious. It is the only place 
where his history is known and his shame has been divulged. 

It cannot be doubted but that these hostile sentiments of the 
colonist perpetuate themselves with his race ; in the United States, 
the rival nation of England, the Irish can yet be recognised by 
the hatred which they vow against their ancient masters.t 

* England was called home, as we find the word often used to this day in Cal- 
cutta and other East India newspapers, &c. The original has it, "chez nous," 
which undoubtedly was meant for " home," the French being unable to render 
this sweet and powerful word in their language. TRANS. 

f All emigrated Irish would not be willing to subscribe to this passage. 

Appendix. On Penal Colonies. 143 

The system of transportation then is fatal to the mother coun- 
tries, inasmuch as it weakens the natural ties which should unite 
them with their colonies ; nay more, it prepares for these grow- 
ing states themselves, a futurity replete with turmoil and misery. 

The partisans of penal colonies have not omitted to cite the 
example of the Romans, who began with robbery and ended 
with the conquest of the world.* 

But these facts are of a distant era: there are others, more 
conclusive, which have passed almost under our eyes, and we 
cannot believe that we ought to recur to instances exhibited 
three thousand years ago, if the present speaks so loud. 

A handful of sectarians land, at the beginning of the seven- 
teenth century, on the coasts of North America ; and form there, 
almost in secret, a society on the basis of liberty and religion. 
This tribe of pious adventurers has become since a great people, 
and the nation which has grown from that nucleus, has remained 
the freest and the most religious in the world. t On an island 
dependent upon the same continent, a band of pirates, the scum 
of Europe, seek, almost at the same period, an asylum. These 
depraved, but intelligent men, established likewise a society, 
which soon abandoned the piratical habits of its founders. It be- 
came rich and enlightened, but remained the most corrupted on 
the face of the earth, and its vices prepared the bloody catastro- 
phe which has terminated its existence. 

But without the examples of New England and St. Domingo, 
it would be sufficient for us, in order to show still more striking- 
ly what we mean, to exhibit that which is passing in Australia 

Society:]: in Australia is divided into various classes, as sepa- 
rated from and hostile to each other as the different castes of the 
middle ages. The convict is exposed to the contempt of him 
whose time of punishment has expired ; the latter again is ex- 

* A comparison of no value, since Mr. Niebuhr has written his History of Rome. 
Nothing is, in our opinion, less useful, and in some cases more dangerous, than 
to refer in discussions of interests and measures, essentially modern, to the an- 
cients. How seldom do we know all the details of their situation, and if we do 
know them, how seldom are they applicable to our own ! Immense time and 
study, and much wit, have been wasted in forced comparisons with the an- 
cients; this, for some time at least, was natural, since the light of knowledge 
had been rekindled by the writings of the ancients ; and they became authori- 
ties for every thing. Pedantry, and, not unfrequently, sophistry, seized upon 
this abuse. It is but a few short months since we found the example of the Ro- 
mans adduced in an elaborate article in defence of slavery ! Whately, now arch- 
bishop of Dublin, has in his Introductory Lectures on Political Economy, an ex- 
cellent passage on the reference to the Bible, in scientific or political disquisi- 
tions. TRANS. 

f La plus libre et la plus croyanle is the original. TRANS. 

* Inquiry f the years 1812 and 1829. Report of Mr. Bigge. Report of the 
Committee on the budget in 1830. See Legislative documents sent by parlia- 
ment to our government. 

144 Appendix. On Penal Colonies. 

posed to the scoffs of his own children, who are born in freedom ; 
and all, to the haughtiness of the colonist whose origin is with- 
out stain. They are like four hostile nations, meeting on the 
same ground. 

We can imagine the feelings which animate these different 
members of the same nation, by the following passage of the re- 
port of Mr. Bigge.* As long as this feeling of jealousy and hos- 
tility exists, it would be wrong, he says, to introduce the trial by 
jury into the colony. In the actual state of things, a jury com- 
posed of former convicts will not fail to unite against an indict- 
ed person belonging to the class of free colonists; so jurymen, 
taken from among the free colonists, would always be inclined 
to prove the purity of their class, by finding guilty the former 
convict a second time indicted. 

In 1820, one-eighth of the children in Australia received some 
instruction. The governor of the colony, however, established 
public schools at his own expense : he knew, as Mr. Bigge says 
in his reports, that education alone could overcome the fatal in- 
fluence which the vices of the parents exercise. 

That which is essentially wanting in Australian society, is 
good morals. And how can it be otherwise? The force of ex- 
ample and the influence of public opinion are hardly able, in a 
society composed of pure elements, to restrain human passions; 
of 36,000 inhabitants, which Australia had in 1828, 23,000, or 
nearly two-thirds, belonged to the class of convicts. Australia, 
therefore, was in the rare situation where vice receives the 
support of the majority. The women had lost that shame and 
virtue, which characterize their sex in the mother country, 
and of the greater part of its free colonies; though government 
encouraged marriage with all possible means, often even at the 

(expense of discipline, bastards yet formed the fourth part of all 
the children. 

There is another cause (somewhat of a physical character) of 
bad morals in penal colonies, which not only prevents the intro- 
duction of good morals, but facilitates disorders and prostitution. 
r In all countries of the world, the women commit infinitely 
/ Jess crimes than men.t In France, the women form but the fifth 
/ part of the convicts; in America, the tenth. A colony, founded 
by means of transportation, will therefore necessarily present a 
V great disproportion in the number of the two sexes. In 182S, 
V^only 8,000 women existed in Australia with 36,000 inhabitants, 
or less than a fourth part of the whole population ; and it may 

* We retranslate this passage from the French. THAXS. 

f We refer the reader for interesting statements respecting this and other points 
connected with the statistics of crimes, to an article Crimes, Statistics of, in the 
Encyclopaedia Americana, and to Mr. Ouetelet's Observations, printed in the Cmtr- 
rier des Slots Unis of April 25, 1832. THAXS. 

Appendix. On Penal Colonies. 145 

easily be conceived, what experience besides proves, that it ia 
necessary for a nation, in order to preserve its morals pure, that 
both the sexes should be nearly the same in number. 

But not only are the infractions of the laws of morality fre- 
quent in Australia; but crimes against the positive laws of socie- 
ty are committed there more frequently than in any part of the 

The annual number of executions in Great Britain is about 
sixty, whilst in the Australian colonies, ruled by the same laws, 
peopled with the same stock, and with a population of but 40,000 
inhabitants, from fifteen to twenty executions, it is said, take 

Lastly, of all the British colonies, Australia is the only one 
which is deprived of that precious civil liberty which has been 
the glory of England, and the strength of her children in all 
parts of the world. How could the function of a juryman be 
trusted to an individual, who himself comes from the prisoner's 
box ? And can the direction of public affairs be left, without dan- 
ger, to a population tormented by its vices, and divided by deep- 
rooted animosities? 

It will be acknowledged, that transportation may contribute 
to people rapidly an uninhabited country ; it may form free co- 
lonists, but not strong and peaceful societies. The vices which 
we thus ship from Europe are not destroyed; they are but trans- 
planted to another soil, and England only frees herself of apart 
of her misery, to assign it to the children of Australia. 



Where can France hope to find a place fit for the foundation of a penal colony ? 
The national character '19 not favourable to undertakings beyond the seas. 
Facilities for Great Britain in the founding of Botany Bay, which would be 
wanting to France. Expenses which would be caused by a similar colony. 
Chances of a maritime war. 

WE have shown in the preceding chapter, the reasons why 
we believe that the system of transportation is neither useful as 
a repressive measure, nor as a method of colonization. The dif- 
ficulties which we have pointed out, seem to us to exist in all 
ages and with all nations ; but in certain periods and with cer- 
tain nations they become insurmountable. 

* This fact has been stated to us by a person who is worthy of credit, and 
who lived more than two years in New South Wales. 

146 Appendix. On Penal Colonies. 

First, where should France at present go in search of a spot 
to found her penal colony upon ? Let us begin to investigate 
whether that place exists ; this is certainly following the natural 
order of ideas ; and here we cannot abstain from making a re- 

If you speak with a partisan of the system of penal colonies, 
you will hear an enumeration of the advantages of transporta- 
tion ; an exposition of general, and not unfrequently ingenious 
remarks upon the advantages which France might derive from 
it ; and some details on the colonization of Australia. You will 
hear little of the means of execution ; and as to the selection of 
a French colony, the conversation will finish without a word on 
the point. If you touch upon it, the other will hasten to another 
subject; or perhaps will remark that the world is large, and 
that in some part of it, it must be possible to find the necessary 

As if the universe were yet divided by the imaginary line, 
formerly drawn by the popes, and beyond it unknown conti- 
nents extended, where imagination might wander at pleasure. 

Yet it is within this limited circle, that we should like to see 
the partisans of transportation ; it is on this question of mere 
fact, that we the most wish for light. 

As for ourselves, we confess without hesitation, that we can 
see nowhere the spot on which France could seize for the pur- 
pose in question. The world seems to us no longer vacant ; every 
spot is occupied. 

What we have said above, respecting the selection of a place 
proper for the foundation of a penal colony, must be kept in 
mind ; it is, we believe, incontestable. 

Let us then here propose the question in precise terms : in 
what part of the world is a similar place to be found? 

Fortune pointed out such a place to England fifty years ago. 
An immense continent, and consequently no fear of future ex- 
tension ; spacious ports, safe anchorages, fertile and uninhabited 
land, the climate of Europe every thing was found united 
there, and this privileged place, too, in the region of the anti- 

Why, it will be objected, shall we abandon to the English 
the free possession of a country ten times larger than England ? 
Cannot two nations make use of this immense territory? And 
would a population of fifty thousand English be at all incom- 
moded, if at a distance of nine hundred leagues from them, on 
the western side, a French colony were founded? Those who 
thus speak, are undoubtedly not aware that Great Britain, warn- 
ed by what has happened in America, of the danger resulting 
from having neighbours, has repeatedly declared, that she would 
not suffer any other power to found a colony in Australia. Cer- 

Appendix. On Penal Colonies. 147 

tainly we feel as much as any other person, the pride and inso- 
lence of this declaration ; but do the partisans of transportation 
want us to enter into a maritime war with Great Britain for the 
purpose of a penal colony ? 

An author who has written with talent on the penitentiary 
system, Mr. Charles Lucas, indicates, indeed, to the considera- 
tion of government, two small islands of the Antilles, and the 
colony of Cayenne, which might be used, he says, as places of 
detention for certain convicts. He would detain there, re-com- 
mitted murderers, and those who have been guilty of attempts 
against the liberty of the press and religion.* But transporta- 
tion, confined to these two species of criminals, is of no general 
use, and moreover, it is very doubtful, whether the places point- 
ed out would be well chosen. The author of whom we speak, 
who contests the right of society to punish even a parricide with 
death, certainly would be averse to leave the insalubrity of the 
climate, to do what, according to him, justice herself has no right 
to inflict. 

Nobody, so far, has, to our knowledge, seriously occupied 
himself with the resolution of the question which we have pro- 
pounded above. And yet, would it not be necessary to agree, 
first of all, upon this point? 

We must, however, hasten to say, that we do not believe it 
impossible to find a place fit for the foundation of a penal colo- 
ny, merely because our researches have been fruitless respecting 
the point. 

But suppose the place to be found ; there remain yet the dif- 
ficulties of execution : they have been great in England ; they 
appear insurmountable in France. 

The first of all, it must be acknowledged, is found in the cha- 
racter of our nation, which, so far, has shown itself little favour- 
able to undertakings beyond the seas. 

France has always been placed in the first rank of continental 
powers, by her geographical situation, as well as her extent and 
fertility. It is the land which forms the natural theatre of her 
power and glory ; maritime commerce is but secondary with 
her. The sea has never with us excited, and undoubtedly ne- 
ver will excite, those deep feelings of filial respect which trad- 

Such a law, certainly would prove only to what danger the liberty of the 
press and of conscience were still exposed. And if there were yet so small a 
majority of the French people, in favour of these liberties, a time might easily 
arrive, when these laws would be disregarded or overthrown, if, in fact, society 
ever could be induced to enforce them. Disproportionate punishments never 
prevent political offences ; they merely indicate the divided state of a nation. 
Teach the people to love the liberty of the press, and it will be founded on firm 
ground. The British have none by the law, and who will dare to deprive them 
of it ? And if the people do not love it, no threat, however severe, will protect it. 

148 Appendix. On Penal Colonies. 

ing nations entertain for it. Hence it has often been seen, that 
the most powerful genius at once failed, if the question were to 
combine and to direct naval expeditions. The people, on the 
other hand, have little belief in the success of distant undertak- 
ings. The money of individuals is reluctantly embarked in such 
schemes ; the persons who, with us, present themselves in rea- 
diness to found a colony, are generally those to whom the me- 
diocrity of their talents, the impaired state of their fortune, or 
the recollections of their previous life, deny the hope of future 
success at home. And yet, if any undertaking in the world de- 
pends upon the heads who direct it, it is, without contradiction, 
the foundation of a penal colony. 

When England, in the year 1785, conceived the project of 
transporting her convicts to New South Wales, she had nearly 
already acquired that immense commercial development, which 
we now observe in that country. Her preponderance on the 
sea was even then an acknowledged fact. 

She turned these two advantages to great account ; the extent 
of her commerce made it easy for her to find mariners for the 
voyage to Australia. The industry of private persons conjoined 
to assist the state; vessels of large tonnage* presented them- 
selves in numbers to transport the convicts at a cheap rate. Ow- 
ing to the great number of vessels, and the immense resources 
of the royal navy, the government was enabled to provide for 
all contingencies. 

Ever since that period, the power of Great Britain has con- 
tinued : the Island of St. Helena, the Cape of Good Hope, the 
Isle of France, have fallen into her hands, and offer to her ves- 
sels so many ports where they may safely stop under the pro- 
tection of the British flag. 

The rule of the waves is slowly acquired ; but it is less subject 
to the abrupt changes of fortune. Every thing indicates, that 
Great Britain will yet for a long time, remain in undisturbed 
enjoyment of these advantages, and that war even would throw 
no obstacle in her way. 

England was, therefore, of all nations in the world, the one 
which could found a penal colony with the least difficulty and 
the least expense. 

Nevertheless, the infancy of the colony of Botany Bay has 
been exposed to great dangers, and we have seen what immense 
sums England has spent in its foundation. 

These results explain themselves sufficiently easy. A nation, 
whatever its advantages may be, cannot at little expense found 
a penal colony at a distance of three or four thousand leagues 
from the centre of its power; and particularly, if every thing 

No vessels under 500 tons burden are employed. 

ftppendix. On Penal Colonies. 149 

must be carried there, and nothing can be expected from the ef- 
forts and industry of the colonists. 

In imitating our neighbours, we cannot hope for any of their 

The French navy cannot, without a considerable increase of 
the budget, send annually vessels to countries so distant; and the 
French commerce, on the other hand, offers few resources for 
expeditions of this kind. 

Once departed from our ports, it would be necessary for French 
vessels to sail over half the circumference of the globe without 
finding a single intermediate place where they could rely on ef- 
ficient assistance. 

These difficulties are expressed in a few words, but they are 
very great ; and the more we examine the subject, the more we 
are convinced of them. 

It could only be by means of great pecuniary sacrifices, that 
we ever could succeed in surmounting similar obstacles. 

We cannot believe that in the present state of our finances, it 
can be the intention to increase, on this account, the charges of 
the treasury. Even if the undertaking should meet with success, 
nay, if at some future period it should save its expenses, France 
does not seem to be in a state of ability to bear the first invest- 
ment. The result by no means seems to warrant such sacrifices. 
And are we sure of escaping for a long time, the fruits of so 
expensive an undertaking? 

Those who advocate penal colonies, avoid considering the 
chances to which a maritime war would necessarily expose the 
new colonies ; or if they touch upon the subject, it is only to 
reject the idea, that France could ever fear a conflict and not 
have the power of making, at any time, the justice of her rights 

We shall not follow this example : true national as well as in- 
dividual greatness has always appeared to us to consist in under- 
taking not any thing which is merely desirable, but every thing 
which can be effected. Wisdom as well as true courage consists 
in knowing ourselves and in judging of ourselves without weak- 
ness preserving always a just confidence in our own resources. 
The geographical situation, the colonial establishments, the 
maritime glory, and the commercial spirit of England, have given, 
her an incontestable preponderance on the seas. In the actual 
state of things, France may support against her a glorious strug- 
gle ; she may triumph in particular engagements she can even 
efficaciously defend possessions at no great distance from the 
centre of the kingdom ; but history teaches us, that her distant 
colonies almost always end by falling into the hands of her rival. 
England has fixed settlements and intermediate points on all 
coasts; France cannot find a single support for her fleets, except 

150 Appendix. On Penal Colonies. 

on her own territory, or in the Antilles. England can disperse 
her forces in all parts of the globe without rendering the chances 
of success unequal ; France cannot struggle except by collecting 
all her forces on the seas which surround her. 

After having made great efforts and sacrifices to found her 
colony, France would see herself exposed to the almost certain 
danger of having it torn from her. 

A similar colony would but little tempt the cupidity of Eng- 
land. Nothing authorizes us to believe it. She would always 
have an interest in destroying a French settlement of whatever 
character it might be. England, moreover, having made herself 
mistress of the penal colony, would certainly hasten to give it 
another destination, and endeavour to people it with other sub- 

But let us suppose, that the colony having had time to arrive 
at a considerable magnitude, England would not or could not 
capture it; she need not do that, in order to injure France; it 
would be sufficient for her to cut off the communication with the 
mother country. 

A colony, and particularly a penal colony, (at least, if it has 
not arrived at a very high degree of development) cannot endure 
without injury a perfect separation from the civilized world. 
Deprived of its intercourse with the mother country, we should 
soon see her decay. On the other hand, if France cannot any 
longer transport her convicts beyond the seas, what becomes of 
the result of transportation, so dearly bought? Her colony, in- 
stead of being useful to her, will cause her difficulties, and ex- 
penses which did not previously exist. What becomes of the 
convicts who had been destined for the penal colony? They 
must be kept at home ; no preparation made for their reception ; 
during every maritime war, therefore, it would be necessary to 
establish again provisional bagnes to contain the criminals. 

Such are, in the actual state of things, the almost certain re- 
sults of a war with Great Britain. Now, if we open the page of 
history, we shall see, that the peace at present existing between 
England and ourselves, is one of the longest that has occurred 
during the space of four hundred years. 


(a). IT* 1804 the erection of the first penitentiary in Baltimore was decreed ; 
and in 1809 a general reform of the criminal laws, in accordance with a new sys- 
tem of imprisonment, took place. See Act of Assembly. Baltimore, 1819, page 
24. The 28th Article of the Law decrees solitary confinement. Article 30 of 
the same Law prescribes labour, and Article 40 authorizes the use of the whip 
as a disciplinary means. The law of Maryland differs in this point from that of 
New York. 

The system of absolute isolation in certain cases, was not adopted in the 
Charlestown (Massachusetts) prison until June 21st, 1811. (See Rules and Re- 
gulations for the government of the Massachusetts State Prison. Boston, 1823.) 

In New Jersey it has been put into practice since 1797. 

See Fifth Report of the Boston Pris. Disc. Society, page 422. 

In 1820 a law was passed in New Jersey, which decreed solitary confinement, 
not exceeding a fourth part of the imprisonment, with labour, to which the con- 
vict would have been formerly sentenced, for arson, murder, rape, blasphemy, 
perjury, burglary, forgery, &c. (See Letter of Mr. Southard of New Jersey, of 
December 27th, 1831.) 

(6). On April 2d, 1821, the legislature of New York charged the director of 
Auburn to select a class of criminals, the most hardened, and to lock them up 
in solitary cells, night and day, without interruption and without labour. On De- 
cember 25th, 1821, a sufficient number of cells was completed, and eighty cri- 
minals were placed in them. (See Report of Gershom Powers, superintendent 
of Auburn in 1828, page 80, and MS. note of Elam Lynda, with which he fur- 
nished us.) 

Judge Spencer of Canandaigua, one of the most distinguished criminal lawyers 
of the state of New York, was a member of a committee, which reported on this 
decree of the legislature. In its report, it is recommended that the convicts ought 
to be classed according to their morality ; that the hardened villains should be 
subject to solitary and uninterrupted confinement ; and those who follow next in 
the scale of crime, should be, part of the time, subject to the same punishment, 
and during the rest of their imprisonment, should have permission to work 5 the 
less depraved would have the right to work the whole day. (See Report to the 
Legislature, for 1821.) 

(c). This was in the year 1822, which followed directly after experiments had 
been made respecting solitary confinement without labour. Judge Powers, 
" agent and keeper of the state prison at Auburn," relates what happened in 
the following terms : 

" During the year preceding January 1823, there was an average of about 
220 convicts in prison. From the physician's report of that year to the inspec- 
tors, it appears that the average number of sick in the hospital was between 
seven and eight. That there were ten deaths, seven by consumption, five of 
which were from among the solitary convicts. The physician speaks of convicts 
coming into the hospital from the cells, with difficulty of respiration, pain in the 

152 Appendix. Alphabetical Notes. 

breast, &c., and concludes his report as follows : ' It is a generally received and 
acknowledged opinion, that sedentary life, no matter in what form, disposes to 
debility, and consequently to local disease. It may be produced in the study or 
the prison ; in the nursery and the college; or in any other place where muscular 
exertion is restrained. If we review the mental causes of disease, we shall pro- 
bably find, that sedentary life in the prison, as it calls into aid the debilitating 
passions of melancholy, grief, &c., rapidly hastens the progress of pulmonary 
disease.' From the order and cleanliness of the prison, we have no reason to 
conclude that any atmospheric cause reigns within its walls, calculated to pro- 
duce serious disease ; but confinement operates upon the existing germ of dis- 
eases, and hastens the progress of all those that must have otherwise terminated 
in death." See Report of Judge Powers, of 1828, page 81. 

We shall see, further on, that labour, added to the system, changed entirely 
the conclusions of the physician. 

(<f). This prison is at present in a degree abandoned ; the cells destined for 
solitary confinement, are open to all convicts, who are at liberty to communicate 
with each other ; we found sixty-four in the prison ; the only thing which was 
defective in the system absence of labour has been retained. The convicts, 
with the exception of a very few, are entirely idle, because there is no workshop 
for united labour. In spite of the material defects of the establishment, something 
better might be done, in our opinion; but the directors of the prison are disgust- 
ed with the bad disposition of the place, and as for the system, it not having had 
the expected success, public attention is not any longer directed towards it. In 
a government where power is nowhere exerted, only those tilings are undertaken 
which interest public opinion, and which, consequently, give fame or profit to 
those who take part in them. The penitentiary of Philadelphia is conducted by 
individuals of great merit ; that of Pittsburg, already forgotten, finds agents of 
but ordinary capacity for its direction. 

(e). The Boston Prison Discipline Society was established in 1826. [Its first 
report bears date June 2d, 1826. TRASS.] From that time to the present, i. e. 
during six years, it has spent 17,498 dollars 19 cents, of which 15,681 dollars 
were given by charitable persons. [According to the last, the seventh report, 
bearing date May 24th, 1832, there were received during the last year 3035 dol- 
lars, of which 477 dollars 49 cents were the balance of the account of the pre- 
vious year. TRANS.] Mr. L. D wight is of the greatest importance to the society; 
for, with indefatigable zeal, he collects all possible documents for the purpose 
of enlightening public opinion; shunning no fatigue; visiting good and bad 
prisons ; pointing out the defects of the one, and the advantages of the other ; 
the ameliorations which have been effected or such as ought to be introduced. 
He labours without interruption for the reform of prisons. 

The reports published by this society are like an authentic book, in which all 
abuses and mistakes of the penitentiary system are registered, whilst at the same 
time all happy results are stated. 

This society, which is convinced that religious instruction is the basis of the 
whole system of reform of prisons, has supported, during six years, from its own 
funds, ministers in the prisons of Auburn, Sing-Sing, Wethersfield, Lamberton, 
(New Jersey,) and Charlestown. 

The sum spent already for this object is 4727 dollars 29 cents. See the six 

(/). The law which orders labour in the solitary cells, is of the date of April 
23d, 1829. See Section 3d of the Law entitled, An Act to reform the penal laws 
of this commonwealth. 

It happens by no means unfrequently in the United States, that the true charac- 
ter of the Philadelphia penitentiary is not understood. Some take it to be the 
same with the former Walnut street prison, so much extolled in spite of its de- 
fects, and praise or blame it accordingly ; others believe still that no labour is in- 
troduced, and attack it violently on that account. [To this remark of the authors, 

Appendix. Alphabetical Notes. 153 

the translator must add, that he actually found several intelligent individuals, who 
take a lively interest in the cause of penitentiaries, and an active part in their 
success, who nevertheless were utterly unacquainted with the true character of 
the Philadelphia penitentiary, though they live in a state not far from Pennsyl- 

(j?). It is truly remarkahle, that the penal law, and that which regulates the 
Tnode of its execution, i. e. the system of imprisonment, form but one whole. 
Tliis way of proceeding is logical and wise. In fact, the sanction of a punishment 
is in its execution. The judgment which condemns a convict is but a principle, 
an idea, if its execution does not make it something material. The law, there- 
fore, which regulates this execution, is as important as that which ordains the 
principle ; this is the reason why all laws decreeing imprisonment, ought to state 
carefully how this punishment is to be inflicted. This the legislature of Pennsyl- 
vania has done. 

(A). The penitentiary of Massachusetts was organized in 1829 : that of Ma- 
ryland in January, 1830 ; those of Tennessee and Kentucky were erected at the 
same period. The prison of Vermont has not yet been entirely completed : 
[this has been done since the authors were in this country. We copy the follow- 
ing from the Seventh Report of the Boston Prison Discipline Society, page 10: 
"The new prison at Windsor, containing one hundred and thirty-six solitary 
cells, on the general plan of those at Charlestown and Wethersfield, was finish- 
ed and occupied during the last year. The effect of this change is stated, in a 
letter dated October 14, to be quite satisfactory to all. 

" The legislature of Vermont, at the last session, provided by law an addi- 
tional compensation for a chaplain ; so that the state now pays three hundred 
dollars per annum for this service, and a chaplain has been appointed to dis- 
charge the duties of the office." TRANS.] As to Maine, we consider its prison 
as established on the Auburn system, though, in principle, it was intended for 
solitary confinement without labour. [We have already stated that a penitentiary 
on the Auburn plan at Concord, for New Hampshire, and another on the Penn- 
sylvania principle for New Jersey, have been provided for. TBAKS.] 

(i). The plan of a house of refuge has already been adopted, and a commit- 
tee is active in establishing it. [The legislature of Maryland, as we stated al- 
ready, have provided for it : but the source from which the funds were to be 
drawn, did not prove as fertile as had been supposed. The legislature is imme- 
diately to be applied to again. Mr. E. L- Finley, one of the most active citi- 
zens of Baltimore for the erection of a house of refuge, visited, with Mr. 
Small, an architect, in the summer of 1831, the houses of refuge in Philadel- 
phia, New York, and Boston, to investigate both their system and plan of build- 
ing; and a model has been formed, whose authors strive to combine all the ad 
vantages of the other establishments, and to obviate the admitted defects. 
They might also consult with advantage the reports on the various houses of re- 
fuge in Germany, contained in the Annals quoted in a note to the body of the 
work. TRANS.] 

We may quote, amongst the indifferent prisons, that of Lamberton. [Instead 
of translating further, we refer the reader to page 46 of the Seventh Report of 
the Boston Prison Discipline Society, where the substance is to be found of the 
report of a committee of the legislature, and of the warden of the prison, and 
a memorial of the inspectors of the prison to the legislature, which show this 
institution to be in a most melancholy condition. The result has been, as the 
reader has been informed, that provisions for a new penitentiary have been 

(j). Prisons were observed, which included persons convicted of the worst 

crimes ; and a remedy has been applied where the greatest evil appeared ; other 

prisons, where the same evil exists, but where it makes less fearful ravages, have 

been forgotten ; yet to neglect the less vicious, in order to labour only for the 


154 Appendix. Alphabetical Notes. 

reform of great and hardened criminals, is the same as if only the most infirm 
were attended to in a hospital ; and, in order to take care of patients, perhaps 
incurable, those who might be easily restored to health, were left without any 
attention. The defect, which we mention here, is felt in America by some of 
her most distinguished men. 

Mr. Edward Livingston attacks this defect with great force : 

"After condemnation, there can be no association but of the guilty with the 
guilty; but, in the preliminary imprisonment, guilt is associated with innocence." 

See his Introductory Report to the Code of Prison Discipline, page 31, for 
this and the following passages, which represent the truth in clear and powerful 

In order to show, still more clearly, the bad effects of so defective a system 
of imprisonment, for individuals indicted, Mr. Livingston presents a table of per- 
sons arrested, tried, acquitted, or convicted at New York, from 1822 to 1826, 
inclusive. It results from this table, that four-fifths of the persons arrested in New 
York, for supposed crimes or offences, and thrown, as such, into a prison, ex- 
pecting the session of the court, have been acknowledged as innocent, partly 
by the police magistrates, partly by the grand jury, or after trial. See this table 
at the end of this volume. We have met with none, in the United States, who 
were more afflicted by the bad state of the houses of arrest, than Mr. Hiker, 
recorder of the city of New York a magistrate of rare merit and great virtue, 
who connects with much knowledge, great experience in criminal affairs. 

(A:). In the United States, the " heads of society" are always far advanced 
on the path of reform : the rest of the social body, composing the mass of the 
population, follows generally the movement, though at a distance ; and, if it be 
intended to lead it too far, stops quite short. It is thus that the Quakers have 
not been able to procure the abolition of capital punishment in Pennsylvania; 
its abolition, in cases of wilful murder, being repugnant to the opinions of the 
mass : the same would take place in other states, the most enlightened in the 
Union, if the attempt should be made to abolish it in cases for which public opi- 
nion considered it necessary. The legislatures of the various states do nothing 
but what seems right to the majority; and if, in advance of public opinion, they 
should attempt innovations, the want of which was not yet felt, they not only 
would expose themselves to the loss of public favour, but also to seeing their 
work destroyed the next year by their successors. [It is one of the most inter- 
esting processes for the observation of a foreigner coming to this country, to see 
how public opinion is gradually enlightened upon certain subjects; and how the 
cause, on which it is to be enlightened, increases in power, until at last nothing 
can resist it. As to the operation of public opinion, if formed, the authors ought 
to have said, instead of " United States," "all countries where a free public opi- 
nion exists." Suppose a great innovation should be attempted in the manage- 
ment of music in Italy; there is, in many parts of Italy, a public opinion upon 
the subject of music ; and ail which is true of public opinion in England re- 
specting civil affairs, would be so respecting music in Italy. In France, a deci- 
sive public opinion exists on but few points ; on most others, but a Parisian opi- 
nion ; and, even then, it is generally a coterie opinion, (often powerful enough,) 
but very different from British or American public opinion that powerful ele- 
ment of all their civil relations. It was natural, therefore, that the operation of 
public opinion should strike French gentlemen, whilst an English observer would 
not have been surprised at it. TRASS.] 

(/). The substance of this note is, that some have reproached solitary confine- 
ment with injustice, because it affects an individual whose mind has been culti- 
vated, much more than him, who, without any education, has remained in a 
kind of brutal condition; but this inequality is the effect of every punishment. 
All infamous punishments are more cruel to one of higher social standing, than 
to him who has lived obscurely. One with a lively imagination suffers more than 
another of dull fancy. Indians cannot long endure privation of liberty ; would 

flppendix. Alphabetical Notes. 155 

this be any reason for abolishing imprisonment in a society where some Indians 
happened to reside ? 

(See Report of the Commissioners appointed to revise the Penal Code of Penn- 

[In fact, the very principle of justice, without which no justice is imaginable 
that of equality is already in itself a great source of injustice ; because abso- 
lute justice could only take place where a different punishment could be applied 
to each single case, considering the whole combination of causes, effects and cir- 
cumstances in an individual a justice which can be looked for with none but 
with Him whose omniscience penetrates all, and whose omnipotence can effect 
all. Such justice expected from man, would abolish all laws, which are general 
rules. It was therefore an unfounded reproach to solitary confinement. THANS.] 

(m). Without speaking of the monstrous intercourse of convicts during night, 
it suffices to say, that the conversation of criminals in a prison, is solely upon 
crimes they have committed or intend to commit, after the expiration of their 
punishment. In such conversations, each boasts of his misdeeds, and all dispute 
for the privilege of infamy. The less advanced in crime listens eagerly to the 
greater villains 5 and the blackest individual among them becomes a type of de- 
pravity for the others. 

All who have visited the prisons of France will acknowledge the truth of this 
picture. Mr. Louis Dwight gives a multitude of facts, in the Rep. of the Bost. 
Pris. Disc. Soc., which proves that we are yet below truth in this exposition. 

For the rest, the contagion of prisons and the uselessness of classifications, are 
two points well established in the United States. Mr. Livingston expresses him- 
self on this point in the following terms : "and it became evident that no reform 
could be expected, while it was suffered to exist. Classification had been tried 
in England, and partially here, but it was found to be an incomplete remedy 
that system could only be perfected by individual seclusion : because, even when 
the class was reduced to two, one of them would generally be found qualified to 
corrupt the other; and if the rare case should occur, of two persons who had ar- 
rived at the same precise point of depravity, and the rarer circumstance of the 
keeper's discernment being successfully employed in associating them, their ap- 
proximation would increase the common stock of guilt." Letter of Edward 
Livingston to Roberts Vaux, 1828, page 6. 

(n). The Baltimore system is that of Geneva. In the latter place, silence has 
been considered a too cruel pain, which man has not a right to impose upon his 
fellow creature (!) In order to be humane toward prisoners, they are allowed to 
corrupt each other. 

The right of society is contested : why ? Society has a right to fetter the arm 
which has committed murder, and should it not have a right to stifle the voice 
which makes itself heard merely in order to corrupt ? We also hear of the rights 
of men ! But is it time to speak of the rights of liberty after the individual has 
been thrown into prison ? 

[Objections of this kind can be raised by men only who have never studied pri- 
sons, or who wish to make a show of sensitiveness. Do we not amputate both 
arms, if it be necessary for the preservation of the rest of the body ; and should 
we not stop the mouth of a criminal ? TBANS.] 

(o). We have met with the greatest kindness in visiting this penitentiary. Mr. 
Samuel Wood, warden of the prison, and a gentleman of rare merit, had given 
orders that we should always be admitted, whether he were present or not. All 
the under-officers had been instructed to open any cell for us, and to allow us 
to have free intercourse with its inmate. Mr. Wood often said : " We have no 
other interest than that of truth. If there is any thing defective in our prison, 
it is important that we should know it." 

We have carefully noted down the conversations which we had with the pri- 
soners. They form, under the title "Inquiry into the Penitentiary of Philadel- 

156 Appendix. Alphabetical Notes. 

phia," an interesting document, which shows the successive impressions which 
the prisoners receive in their solitude. 
See No. 10. 

(p). Mr. Elam Lynds expresses himself, in a note which he has given us, thus, 
on this subject: 

' Obedience to the law of society is all that is asked from a pood citizen. It 
is this which the criminal ought to learn : and you teach him much better by prac- 
tice than by theory. If you lock up in a cell, a person convicted of a crime, you 
have no control over him : you act only upon his body. Instead of this, set him 
to work, and oblige him to do every thing he is ordered to do; you thus teach 
him to obey, and give him the habits of industry; now I ask, is there any thing 
more powerful than the force of habit ? If you have succeeded in giving to a per- 
son the habits of obedience and labour, there is little chance of his ever becom- 
ing a thief. 

Convicts in solitary cells, who ask. for labour, do not so because they love la- 
bour, but because isolation is so tedious to them." 

[We re-translated, of course, this note from the French. TRAITS.] 

(y). It is impossible to see the prison of Sing-Sing, and the system of working 
established there, without being struck with surprise and fear. Though the 
order is perfectly kept, it is apparent that it rests upon a fragile basis : it is ow- 
ing to a power always active, but which must be reproduced every day, if the 
whole discipline is not to be endangered. The safety of the keepers is inces- 
santly menaced. In presence of such dangers, avoided so skilfully, but with so 
much difficulty, it seems to us impossible not to apprehend some future catas- 
trophe. For the rest, the dangers, to which the officers of the prison are ex- 
posed, form, for the present, one of the surest guaranties of order ; eveiy one of 
them sees that the preservation of his life depends upon it. 

(r.) See Report of Judge Powers of 1828, page 25. 

This note, in the original, relates to the necessity of having good officers, and 
the mistaken economy of giving them small salaries. The authors refer to page 
25 of the Report of Judge Powers, of 1828, to Mr. Barrett's letter, given under 
No. 14, to the various reports of the Bost. Pris. Disc. Soc., to the Report to Go- 
vernor Martin of Maryland, of December 21, 1829; to the fact that the peniten- 
tiary of Maryland had been a burthen to the state until 1817, and that from that 
period it had become productive merely by having better officers, without chang- 
ing the system of imprisonment, for which see Mr. Niles's pamphlet of Decem- 
ber 22, 1828; and to the Report of the Inspectors of Auburn prison, of January 
28, 1826, page 3, in which an increase of salary is asked for. 

(s). The system of the American prisons, which is to make the labour of the 
prisoners as productive as possible, is perfectly correct in that country where 
the price of labour is so high. 

No fear is entertained, that the establishment of manufactories in the prisons 
will injure the free working classes. In truth it is generally the interest of a na- 
tion, that the mass of production should constantly increase, because prices fall 
in proportion as quantity increases ; and the consumer, paying less, grows rich 
by it. Nevertheless, in countries where the abundance of production has reduced 
the price of manufactured articles to its lowest term, production cannot be in- 
creased without exposing the working class to injury. It may be said that pro- 
duction has its lowest price, when the gain of the workman allows him to provide 
for the merest necessaries of life. If wages have sunk to this point, manufacto- 
ries in prisons are much more dangerous than the erection of manufactories in 
society. Indeed it is not a mere competition with which the establishments of 
free workmen have, in such case, to contend. The prison works, not in order to 
gain, but to diminish its expenses ; it lowers the prices at pleasure, without en- 
dangering its existence. If the price of articles depreciate, the contractor pays 
less for the labour of the prisoners, and the government must pay more for their 

Appendix. Alphabetical Notes. 157 

support. On the other hand, the ordinary workman can live only when he makes 
money ; and if the price of the article becomes so depreciated that it yields no 
profit, either for the workman or for the owner of the manufactory, the esta- 
blishment must cease. 

If, therefore, manufactories are established in prisons, a competition against 
the industry of free men takes place, which becomes fatal, if the latter are re- 
duced to the alternative of stopping their work or working at a loss. To resume, 
the work of free people must cease if it yield no profit ; while manufactories in 
prison, supported by government, stand against all chances, whether they yield 
much or little ; because their object is not to gain as much as possible, but to 
lose as little as possible ; the capital of a free manufactory is limited, and cannot 
Stand against all chances? the capital of a prison the public treasury is infinite. 

They were, undoubtedly, these considerations, which have repeatedly induced 
the British government to stop the labour of prisoners, and to invent " tread- 
mills" machines which work without producing. 

Looked upon merely as regards the interest of the prisoner, these machines 
fulfil but half the object for which the prisoner is made to work. They occupy 
ami preserve him, indeed, against the dangers of idleness ; but, if he leaves the 
prison, of what use is it to him to know the art of turning the tread-mill ? The 
tread-mill, therefore, is absolutely bad for the prisoner; but the interest of society 
is also to be taken into consideration. The difficulty for a government to decide 
on this point is very great. It is extremely arduous to determine the moment 
when manufactories, or any productive labour, may be established without detri- 
ment to free, industrious citizens ; as it is also a delicate question of equity to 
decide to what point the interest of the state, and the moral situation of the 
criminal, may be taken into consideration, without oppressing the honest and 
free member of society. Absolute theories on these questions are useless ; their 
solution depends entirely upon a perfect knowledge of the state of things in 
each separate country. In one case, however, the tread-mill appears to us abso- 
lutely bad ; that is, if it is used as a productive machine. It increases production, 
without teaching the convict any useful art. 

However this may be, the special question on the tread-mill is, that of labour 
in general, so grave for several countries of Europe, and presenting no difficulty 
to the United States ; in that country the tread-mill would be conducive to no- 
good whatever. 

On the contrary, as production is yet in the United States below the wants of 
consumption, it is the interest of society to increase production, and to teach 
the prisoners a useful art, by which they may support themselves at some future 

(<). It is probable, that if the prison of Sing-Sing is finished, a great variety 
of professions will be taught in it. The beautiful marble quarries on the spot, 
and in the neighbourhood of the Hudson, which offer so convenient an oppor- 
tunity of transportation, will furnish, for a long time to come, sufficient occupa- 
tion to the prisoners ; but will the danger of allowing a thousand criminals to 
work in the open field, never be cause of fear ? 

At Auburn and Baltimore, the work consists chiefly in weaving, shoemaking, 
joinery, cooperage, locksmith's work. (For details see the annual reports on 
these prisons.) 

(). See tahier of the charges for the general contract for the service of the 
maisons centrales tie detention. 

Besides the food, clothing, and bedding of the prisoners, the cleanliness and 
salubrity of the prison, washing, &c., 8cc., are included in the contract. The 
contractor has the convicts shaved, and their hair cut; he provides fuel and light 
for the prisoners and the keepers ; he furnishes the officers with paper, ink, &c., 
8cc. He supplies the necessary articles for divine service, provides for interment ; 
in short, life, religion, and death, are included in the contract. 

For fear that any thing is forgotten, it is said, at the end of the cahier, that the 
contractor shall provide every thing wanted, of whatever kind, specified or not. 

158 Appendix. Alphabetical Notes. 

The victual shop belongs to the contractor, who is interested in selling as 
much wine as possible ; and, consequently, that the discipline be as much as 
possible disturbed a provision so much the more dangerous, as the convict 
may spend half of his pecule or earning, which amounts to two.thirds of his 

The consequence of all this is, that the contractor is the most important per- 
son attached to the prison. The overseers of the work-shops, the conlre-mailres, 
cooks, bakers, victual sellers, laundresses, apothecaries, attendants of the sick, 
servants, hommes de peine, and all others, whose functions are subject to no sur- 
veillance whatever, are chosen by the contractor, who causes them merely to be 
approved of by the government of the prison. 

The result is, that the prison and its discipline are at the mercy of the con- 
tractor and his agents. For the rest, the business of the contractor is immense ; 
every thing depends upon him, the most important and the most trifling opera- 

There is undoubtedly a great simplicity in this system ; accounts are kept 
with only a single individual. But it is evident that the cupidity of this person 
is extremely excited ; he does every thing, and must gain by every thing. Add- 
ed to this, his position, so complicated, is in some respects very unfavourable ; 
in case of dispute, the question between him and the administration is adjudged 
by the " council of the prefecture,"* i. e. by the administration itself his ad- 
versary. It is clear that he does not accept the contract except with almost cer- 
tain chances of great profit. 

No essential change in the moral discipline could be effected in our prisons, 
without changing the functions of the contractor. At present he is in possession 
of the most important parts of the discipline. 

If we censure the inconvenience of the contract, we in no ways praise the 
discipline of the prisons where it does not exist. Thus we are far from advocat- 
ing the system of the Walnut Street prison, the administration of which is ma- 
naged by itself; we believe even that the principle of contract, prudently ap- 
plied, is on the whole more useful than fatal. 

(0). In 1828, a revolt broke out in Newgate, (New York,) and could be 
subdued only by firing upon the rebel-convicts ; but, after their reduction, a 
hundred of them refused to work ; they were put in solitary confinement with- 
out labour ; these means, however, remained without effect for seventy days ; 
thus two months' labour was lost. 

See Report of January 20, 1819. 

The superintendent of Newgate, (New York,) where solitary confinement 
with reduction of labour was the only disciplinary measure, said on this subject: 

"The actual way of punishing, whatever may be its duration, weakens the 
convict, without curbing him at all." [RE-TKANSLATED.] 

See Report of December 31, 1818. 

(#). The law of the state of New York, allowed formerly the keepers to lay 
on thirty-nine stripes, and no more. The Revised Statutes say, "The officers 
of the prison shall use all suitable means to defend themselves, to enforce the 
observance of discipline," &c. &.c. 

See Revised Statutes of New York, tit. 2, ch. 3, 4th part, art. 2, 59. 

The law of Connecticut allows stripes in positive terms : " Moderate whip- 
ping, not exceeding ten stripes for any one offence." See Law of May 31, 
1827, p'age 163, sec. 3. 

Twenty stripes might therefore be inflicted, for two offences, on the same 

The law of Maryland also permits stripes explicitly, the maximum of which 
must be not more than thirteen. 

See article 40 of the penal code of 1809. 

* This " council of the prefecture" does not only decide matters between officers, but also be- 
tween citizens and government, such as those relating to taxes, duties, &c., and is one of the 
greatest defects of the French administration of justice. Trans. 

Jlppendicc* Alphabetical Notes. 159 

In a trial of an assistant keeper at Auburn, accused of having whipped a con- 
vict, Judge Walworth said, in charging 1 the jury at Cayuga, at the Court of Oyer 
and Terminer, September, 1826 : 

" That confinement with labour merely, had no terrors for the guilty. That 
the labour which the human body was capable of performing 1 , without endanger- 
ing its health, was but little more than many of the virtuous labouring class of the 
community daily and voluntarily performed for the support and maintenance of 
their families. That to produce reformation in the guilty, or to restrain the 
vicious from the perpetration of crime by the terrors of punishment, it was ab- 
solutely necessary that the convict should feel his degraded situation, should feel 
that he was actually doing penance for his wilful violation of the laws of his 
country. That he must, in his own person, be made to feel the difference 
which should exist between the situation of the upright and honest freeman, 
who labours for his daily bread, and the vile and degraded convict, who, by 
fraud or robbery, has deprived that honest freeman, or his family, of the hard- 
earned rewards of his industry. That mistaken or misapplied sympathy for such 
offenders, was injustice to the virtuous part of the community. That the system 
of discipline adopted by the inspectors of the prison, under the sanction of the 
laws, was well calculated to have the desired effect of reforming the less vicious 
offenders, and of deterring others from the commission of crime, by the severity 
of punishment inflicted, and that, too, in the best possible way. A mode of 
punishment, where comparatively little bodily suffering is felt, and the greatest 
severity of the punishment is inflicted upon the culprit, through the medium of 
the mind. That it was, however, through terror of bodily suffering alone, that 
the proper effect upon the mind of the convict was produced ; and thence the 
necessity of a rigid enforcement of the prison discipline upon every convict, by 
the actual infliction of bodily suffering, if he would not otherwise submit to the 

See Report of Judge Powers, of 1828, page 121. 

(y). Messrs. Allen, Hopkins, and Tibbets, inspectors of the Auburn prison, 
express themselves, on the necessity of investing the superintendent with dis- 
cretionary powers, thus : 

" The men upon whom the responsibility of the safe keeping of the convicts 
rests, ought to possess the authority to punish them, if they neglect or refuse to 
obey the laws of the establishment. 

" For the proper exercise of this power, they are, and ought to be, amenable 
to the laws. But we understand it to be a principle of the common law of this 
state, as it certainly is of reason and common sense, that every keeper of a pri- 
son must have such power of personal correction. 

" The condition of a prisoner, is that of personal restraint. As the prisoners 
are always the most numerous, and have, therefore, the advantage of physical 
force, they must take the mastery whenever they think expedient, if there is no 
power of punishment ; or when that power is fettered or imperfect, their sub- 
mission will be proportionably incomplete. 

" Upon this method of governing, our opinions are entirely decided and una- 
nimous; and we hesitate not to state to the legislature our settled conviction, 
that the government of felons in a prison must be absolute, and the control over 
them must be perfect. The principal keeper must be a man of firmness, discre- 
tion, and vigilance; and he ought to be the responsible person in all matters 
relative to the conduct and safe keeping of the prisoners. Without this, there 
can be no discipline nor economy. Every consideration requires this ; the safety 
of the lives of the officers, and of the prisoners themselves, requires it. It is 
indispensable to economy, and to profitable labour ; and if there can be any hope 
of reformation, it must not be where the prisoner stands upon his rights, and 
exacts conditions ; but where he is brought to a sense of his degradation, and 
feels the sadness incident to dependence and servitude, and becomes willing to 
receive any indulgence as a boon, and instruction, advice, and admonition, as a 

" It is proper to remark, that we have been informed of complaints which had 

160 Appendix. Alphabetical Notes. 

been made against the officers of the Auburn prison, of too great severity of dis- 
cipline. Some of us took pains to investigate the grounds of those complaints^ 
and sought interviews with some respectable persons who had supported them, 
and with some members of a gram) jury of Cayuga county, before whom the 
subject had been brought. In one instance, a convict had c.dled out to the pri- 
soners in the mess-room to rise. He was instantly struck down by the keeper 
attending, and, we believe, struck after lie was down. In no case have the 
grand jury thought proper to interfere, though the subject has been more than 
once before them; and we believe that the corporal punishment now inflicted 
at the Auburn prison, is not more than is requisite to preserve proper obe- 

(Report of Stephen Allen, Samuel M. Hopkins, and George Tibbets, of 1825. 
The passage above quoted, may also be found on page 108, and seq. in G. 
Powers's Report of 1828 ) 

It has been often discussed in the United States, whether under-keepera 
ought to refer to the superintendent, before they inflict corporal punishment, or 
whether they shall have the power to punish "on the spot." The inspectors 
of the Auburn prison have discussed this question in one of their reports, and it 
is their opinion, that the inferior officers ought to be invested with the power in 
question. " The danger of abuse, is an evil much less than the relaxation of 
discipline produced by want of authority." This opinion has prevailed. 

See Report of ihe Committee, of which Judge Spencer was the organ : 1820. 

(z). Among the number of estimable philanthropists, who, in our opinion, 
somewhat deceive themselves on this point, we will mention Mr. Tukerman, of 
Boston, who hopes that a day will appear, when, all the wicked having been re- 
generated, prisons will be no longer wanted. It is certain, that, if there were 
many individuals as ardently devoted to the cause of humanity, his hope would 
be no chimera. The name of Mr. Tukerman cannot be pronounced without 
veneration ; he is the living personification of benevolence and virtue. A dis- 
cipie of Howard, he spends his life in doing good, and strives to alleviate all 
human miseries; though of a feeble body, pale and almost lifeless, yet, if a good 
act is to be done, he becomes animated, and full of energy. Mr. Tukerman, as 
we said, perhaps deceives himself on some questions ; yet he renders immense 
services to society. His charity towards the poor of Boston, has given him the 
authority of their guardian ; and, if his kindness for them is extreme, it must 
not be believed that his severity, whenever just or necessary, is less manifested : 
the poor love him, because he is their benefactor, and they respect and fear him, 
because they know the austerity of his virtue. They know that his- interest in 
them depends upon their good conduct. * * * Mr. Tukerman does more for 
the good order and police of Boston, than all the aldermen and justices of the 

[One of the chief endeavours of the Rev. Mr. Tukerman, is to procure an op- 
portunity of offering the gospel to the poor he visits them, he enters into all 
their wants, gives them advice in all matters, teaches them to lead a happier and 
more comfortable life with the means they possess, counsels them on the educa- 
tion of their children, and takes an active part in the amelioration of prisons. 
But he is known to every Bostonian ; and should we, therefore, give an exact 
account of this exemplary man to others we, in the same country, and person- 
ally acquainted with him would be in a very disadvantageous position, coui- 
pared with the French authors, who, at such a distance, are at liberty to express 
their full opinion, which, we frankly avow, we gave with some conciseness, for 
fear of displeasing the venerable subject of this note. It cheers and consoles 
the heart to meet with such a lowly charity in the convulsive agitations of so- 
ciety, with all its unfeeling and unmeaning formality, and selfish weakness. 

(oa). The inspectors of the Philadelphia prison, signalize in the following 
terms one of the advantages of solitary confinement : 

" Personal vanity, which so often leads a prisoner to value himself upon being 
regarded by his fellows as a " staunch man," there deserts him ; for there is no 

Appendix. Alphabetical Notes. 161 

one to applaud, admire, or see him." Second Report of the Inspectors of the 
Eastern Penitentiary, for the year 1831. 

(bb). It is an opinion pretty general in the United States, that the number of 
crimes increases more rapidly than the population, even in the states of the North. 
This is a mistake, which rests on a fact misunderstood the constantly increas- 
ing crowd of prisoners. It is true, that, on January 30th, 1832, there were 646 
convicts, i. e. ninety-six more than cells; and at Sing-Sing, at the same period, 
the cells, a thousand in number, were not sufficient ; in each of these prisons, 
it was necessary to double a certain number of cells : which is destructive to the 
whole penitentiary system ; however quickly new prisons are erected, the num- 
ber of convicts increases still faster. This increase of criminals is owing to 
three principal causes : 1. The population of the state of New York increases 
with unparalleled rapidity; 2. The Revised Statutes have increased the number 
of cases in which the prisoner is sent to the state-prison, (penitentiary.) And 
finally, infinitely less pardons are granted of late, than formerly. This last cause 
alone would be sufficient to explain the progressive accumulation of convicts in 
the prisons of Sing-Sing and Auburn. See Statistical Observations, No. 17. . 

(cc). The freed person commits more crimes than the slave, for a very sim- 
ple reason ; because, becoming emancipated, he has to provide for himself, 
which, during his bondage, he was not obliged to do. Brought up in ignorance 
and brutality, he has been accustomed to work like a machine, all the motions 
of which are caused by an external power. His mind has remained utterly unde- 
veloped. His life has been passive, thoughtless, and unthinking. In this state of 
moral annihilation, he commits few crimes : why should he steal, since he can- 
not be a proprietor ? The day when liberty is granted to him, he receives an 
instrument, which he does not know how to use, and with which he wounds, if 
not kills himself. His actions, involuntary when he was a slave, become now 
disorderly: judgment cannot guide him; for he has not exercised it: he is im- 
provident, because he never has learned to think of futurity. His passions, not 
progressively developed, assail him with violence. He is the prey of wants, 
which he does not know how to provide for ; and thus obliged to steal, or to 
die. Hence so many free negroes in the prisons, and hence their greater mor- 
tality than that of slaves. (See Statistical Note, No. 15.) Must we conclude 
that it is wrong to emancipate slaves ? Certainly not; as little as we must pre- 
serve an evil forever, because it exists. Only it seems to us necessary to acknow- 
ledge, that the transition from slavery to liberty, produces a state more fatal than 
favourable to the freed generation, and of which posterity alone can reap the 

(rfrf). With us, besides the number of convictions, the number of accusations 
and prosecutions, not followed by conviction, is ascertained ; also the proportion 
of crimes committed, to the convictions, is pretty nearly known. In the United 
States, it would be very difficult to obtain a document of this nature ; first, no 
officer is charged by government to draw it up ; and, secondly, it may be said, 
that, to a certain point, the basis itself of such a document, does not exist. 

Constituted as our judicial police is, it is customary to state the crime as soon 
as it is committed, and then to search for the author, who is condemned, though 
he may be absent. In the United States, another proceeding takes place; no- 
body is condemned, if not present at the trial ; and, as long as the criminal is 
not apprehended, little attention is paid to the crime ; with us, it would appear, 
that the crime is prosecuted ; in the United States, the criminal. This explains 
why we know better the number of crimes committed, independently of convic- 
tions pronounced upon their authors. 

[The conviction en defuut, or in contumaciam, so repulsive to English law in 
criminal matters, is legal in most, or all of the countries of the European conti- 
nent. If judgment is passed in a civil action against an absent person, it stands; 
but. in criminal matters, it is generally set aside, if the accused person appears, 
and submits to trial : though not always. They are frequent in political prose- 
cutions. THINS.] 


162 Appendix. Alphabetical Notes. 

(e). This is one of the causes, to which the extraordinary increase of crimes 
in Connecticut is attributed. It appears to us, indeed, incontestable, that the 
merited reputation of the excellent penitentiary of Wethersfield, must have con- 
tributed to increase the number of convictions. But, it is evident, that this 
cause is not the only one, since the increase in question is progressive, and an- 
terior by twenty years to the foundation of the penitentiary. 

(ff}. "I have now done, but it is 'very stuff of the conscience' with me, 
never to write or speak on this subject without saying, that, whatever partial 
good you may do by penitentiary punishments, nothing radically important can 
be effected, unless you ' begin (as the fairy tale has it) at the beginning.' 
Force education upon the people, instead of forcing them to labour as a punish- 
ment for crimes which the degradation of ignorance has induced them to com- 
mit ; teach religion and science, and a simple system of penal law, in your pri- 
mary schools ; adopt a system of penal procedure that shall be expeditious, gra- 
tuitous, easily understood, and that shall banish all hope of escape from the 
defects of form, as well as every vexation to the parties or the witnesses. Pro- 
vide subsistence for the poor who cannot labour, and employment for those who 
can. But, above all, do not force those whom you are obliged to imprison be. 
fore trial, be they innocent or guilty, into that contaminating society from which, 
after they are found to be guilty, you are so anxious to keep them. Remember, 
that in Philadelphia, as well as in New York, more than two thousand five hun- 
dred are annually committed ; of whom not one-fourth are found to be guilty ; 
and that thus you have introduced every year more than 1,800 persons, pre- 
sumed to be innocent, into a school where every vice and every crime is taught 
by the ablest masters ; and we shut our eyes to this enormous evil, and inconsist- 
ently go on preaching the necessity of seclusion and labour, and industry after 
conviction, as if penitentiaries were the only places in which the contamination 
of evil society were to be dreaded. Why will not Pennsylvania take the lead in 
perfecting the work she began; and, instead of patchwork legislation, that can 
never be effectual, establish a complete system, in which all the different, but 
mutually dependent subjects of education, pauperism, penal law, and prison dis- 
cipline should be embraced?" Edward Livingston's Letter to Roberts Vaux, 
1828, pages 13 and 14. 

(gg). Those who maintain that the Walnut street prison has really produced 
the effects generally ascribed to it, answer our objection thus : that the rigours 
of solitary confinement, and all that accompanies the system of isolation, has a 
salutary effect not only on the prisoners, but also on all those who fear being 
sent there. This influence may undoubtedly exist : but it is not the influence 
of a penitentiary system which reforms the guilty; it is the effect of a punish- 
ment, which acts by way of terror; in this point of view, the punishment of 
death would be the best punishment; now, in the opinion of the enthusiastic 
partisans of the penitentiary system, the merit of this system is not in its cruelty 
and terror. It is necessary, therefore, in order to judge of the penitentiary sys- 
tem, properly so called, to consider merely the effect it has directly on the refor- 
mation of the prisoners. It is remarkable that the system of Walnut street is at 
present acknowledged as defective, by those even who attribute to it so happy 
an efficacy. 

[We have spoken already once of the dread which solitary confinement in- 
spires ; it is essentially different from the terror excited by bodily suffering; the 
former is a moral dread, and the effects of solitary confinement may therefore 
be very active, without giving the least foundation to say, that the punishment of 
death would be, on this principle, the most efficacious. A virtuous man dreads 
the moral suffering of repentance, and sometimes this prevents him more power- 
fully from doing certain acts, than other considerations, [s, therefore, this moral 
dread equal to any fear inspired by physical suffering ? TKANS.] 

(AA). See Gershom Powers, page 64. 1828, and report of the inspectors of 
Auburn, of 1829. In 1826, it was for tie first time attempted to obtain, by 

ftppendix. Alphabetical Notes. 163 

means of circulars directed to post-masters, sheriffs, attorney generals, &c. in- 
formation respecting the morality and conduct of convicts, after the expiration 
of their imprisonment in Auburn. This correspondence lasted until 1829, when 
it was dropped : it was considered too expensive, and its results too uncertain. 

Postage in the United States is very dear, (i. e. for short distances. TRA>S.): 
and this expense became too onerous for the government of the prison. For 
the continuance of this correspondence, the federal government ought to have 
granted a franking privilege. It was Judge Powers who started the idea of col- 
lecting this information : the state government took no part in it : when he who 
had conceived the idea, abandoned it, it was dropped altogether. Besides, we 
do not know whether the statements thus received, deserve much confidence. 
The person consulted, is often influenced by other motives than the interests of 
truth ; sometimes he gives a good character from misconceived benevolence or 
charity; sometimes from fear. As he gives this information unofficially, he does 
not feel himself bound to give the strictest truth, particularly if he believes that 
there is danger to himself, if he gives a bad character. [It is only necessaiy to 
look at a thing which happens every day, to understand how far we can trust 
such unofficial information. How seldom is the written character, which, in 
many countries, masters are obliged to give to a servant who leaves them, strict- 
ly conformable to truth ? People think it cruel to give a doubtful character. It 
would be very different, if such information were obtained upon the oath of 
some officer, always, however, carefully avoiding the great evil of a surveillance, 
as it exists in France, and of which we have spoken in another note. TKANS.] 

(u). The superintendent of the prison at Columbus, (Ohio,) says in his report : 
" Of sixty-five convicts, who are in the penitentiary of Ohio, fifteen are recom- 
mitted convicts. I know that fifteen or twenty individuals, formerly imprisoned 
in this prison, are at this moment in the prisons of Kentucky, Virginia, or Penn- 
sylvania." RE-TRANSLATED. 

Thus more than half of the recommitted convicts have not come back to the 
same prison where they underwent their first imprisonment ; and yet recommit- 
tals cannot be proved generally in the United States, except by the convict's 
returning to the same prison. It must be, however, remarked, that the Colum- 
bus prison, here in question, is one of the worst in the United States. See Re- 
port of the Superintendent of the Prison of Columbus. Sixth Report of the 
Bost. Pris. Disc. Soc., page 508. [And respecting the last remark of the authors, 
we refer the reader to the Report of B. Leonard, Keeper of the Ohio State Pri- 
son, of December, 1831, and a passage of Governor M' Arthur's Message to the 
Legislature of Ohio, extracts of both of which are to be found in the seventh 
Report of the Bost. Pris. Disc. Soc., page 59 and seq. TBAHS.] 

(jj)- We shall show that the penitentiary system in question is less expensive 
than the old system of prisons. Yet even if the new system should be more ex- 
pensive for its establishment and support, it would be, perhaps, finally, less 
onerous to society, if it is true that it has the power of reforming the wicked. 
A prison system, however economical it may be in appearance, becomes very . 
expensive if it does not correct the majority of the prisoners. Because, as Mr. 
Livingston has well said : " Discharging an unreformed thief, is tantamount to 
authorizing 1 a tax of an unlimited amount to be raised on individuals." (Living- 
ston's Letter to Roberts Vaux, 1828, page 13.) 

(kk). The reasons of this difference are, 1. that the contractor is obliged, by 
his contract, to pay the ignorant and unskilful prisoner as well as him who works 
with skill and talent ; 2. the contractor is not sure that be can sell the article 
which he causes to be made, and yet he never can interrupt the labour ; 3. the 
day's labour in the prison is shorter than that of a free mechanic : the latter 
works in winter from six in the morning to eight in the evening, whilst the pri. 
soner works only from eight in the morning to four in the afternoon ; 4. it seems 
that, at this moment, the contractors, and particularly the one at Auburn, have 
obtained too favourable conditions. This is one of the reasons why Auburn yields 

164 Appendix. Alphabetical Notes. 

less than Wethersfield and Baltimore. With us, the contractor pays for the pri- 
soner who works for him, a little more than half the wages of a free workman. 
But this contractor has a general contract, and for a long term. 

(//). The pecule, or over-stint, is the part which is allowed to the prisoner, of 
the produce of his labour. It will be conceded, that it is for the interest of the 
prison government itself, to give proper wages to the prisoner, in order to stimu- 
late his zeal ; and if these wages were moderate, the state itself would gain by 
paying them. It is thus with the bagnes, where formerly the labour of the con- 
victs was without remuneration ; at present a slight pecule is allowed, which, by 
making the convicts more industrious, has also made their labour more produc- 
tive. The state gives to the convict only so much as is thought proper. Accord- 
ing to the law it owes him nothing. 

But in the maisons centrales de detention et de correction, two-thirds of the pro- 
duce of their labour belongs to the prisoners ; one-third is given to them in the 
prison, for the alleviation of their situation; the other third is reserved, and hand- 
ed over to them only when they leave the prison ; one-third is retained for the 
government. We may say, therefore, with reason, that the convicts work on 
their own account. It seems to us that it would be more just to establish the 
contrary principle, which is not contested in the United States, viz. that the 
prisoners work in the prison for the interest of society, to which they owe the 
indemnification of the expenses of their imprisonment. We have censured the 
severity of the American laws, which allow no pecule to the convict; that which 
is allowed in France seems to us too much, and we believe that it ought to be 
reduced. For the rest, we will not criticise here the existing laws ; because the 
order of things which we censure is not prescribed by law, and, in some respects, 
is contrary to its provisions. The penal code, agreeing in this respect with the 
previous laws, recognises no right in the convict to any pecule: yet the convicts, 
sentenced to hard labour, who are in the " houses of detention," have, like the 
others, the two-thirds of the produce of their labour. As to the reclusimnaires, 
Article 21 of the Penal Code says, that they shall be employed in labour, the 
profit of which shall be partly applied for their benefit, in such way as govern- 
ment may regulate ; but nowhere does the law impose upon government the 
obligation of giving them two-thirds of the produce. It leaves this point discre- 
tionary. Thus the administration of the prison does no illegal act by allowing 
so considerable a ptcule to the re"clusionnaires, but neither would it be illegal 
to act otherwise. 

The " correctional convicts" [prisoners confined for police offences. TRANS.] 
are the only ones in whom the law (Art. 41 Penal Code) acknowledges this 
right of a pecule of two-thirds, which government gives to all convicts indiscri- 
minately. But is not this privilege, explicitly conferred by the law upon prisoners 
whose position is more favourable than that of the convicts to hard labour, (for- 
gals,) sufficient to prove, that the legislature had not the intention, that those 
convicted of criminal offences should be treated alike with those sentenced for 
police offences ? We doubt very much, that the latter, sentenced for more than 
a year, deserve the favour which Article 41 of the Penal Code bestows upon 
them ; and if we insist upon this point, it is only in order to prove, that in 
granting this favour, the law necessarily refuses it to all those who are still less 
worthy of it. 

If the pecule of the prisoners had a tendency to improve them, we would be 
far from censuring it, however considerable it might be ; persuaded as we are, 
that the expenses by means of which the wicked are reformed, are investments, 
of which society reaps the fruits at a later period. But we see, on the contrary, 
that the pe'cule, which causes so much expense, is itself one of the most fertile 
sources of the corruption of prisons. [We only add here, for the better under- 
standing of the above, that " correctional punishments," or, as it must be trans- 
lated, " punishments of the police," are sometimes imprisonment for several 
years, as the " correctional police" takes cognizance of offences for which the 
code awards heavy penalties, such as stealing wood out of the royal forests, &c. 

Appendix. Alphabetical Notes. 165 

(mm). In France, the mean term of wages for a day's labour of all sorts of 
workmen, may be stated at two francs fifty centimes ; in the United States it is 
double. This price, which, in Paris, varies from three to four francs, is less by 
two-thirds in the other cities, except some of the largest, as Lyons, Marseilles, 

Labour is, therefore, infinitely lower in France than in America. The price 
of raw materials is, in fact, a little higher. 

In the United States, the cubic foot of hard stone costs twenty-five cents ; in 
France it costs from one franc fifty centimes to two francs, (in Paris it is double.) 

In America, a thousand feet of wood for building, cost from sixty to eighty 
francs, whilst at Paris they cost about two hundred francs (sawing, transport, 
excise, &c., included.) The cost is less in the departments. 

The pound of iron costs about the same in the United States as in France. It 
is from fourteen to seventeen centimes (cast iron) in France, and twenty-one 
centimes in the United States (four cents.) 

See for the prices in America the note of Mr. Cartwright, a distinguished en- 
gineer at Sing-Sing, and the estimate of Mr. Welles of Wethersfield, No. 12. 

We owe our information respecting prices, to the kindness of Mr. Gourlier, 
architect in Paris, who has furnished us with a number of useful statements. 

[A franc is equal to eighteen cents four mills. The franc has one hundred cent- 
imes. Respecting the wages for agricultural labour in the United States, we re- 
fer the reader to an interesting statement appended by Mr Holmes, senator of 
Maine, to the report of his speech delivered January 22, 1832, which may be 
found in the Washington papers of that period. TKANS.] 

(nn). The penal establishment of the British in Australia, is at the same time 
a colonial establishment, which has its own administration, magistrates, police, 
&c. [See the articles New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land, under Die- 
men's (Van) Land, in the Encyclopaedia Americana. THANS.] It is almost im- 
possible to estimate the expenses which have reference to the penal establish- 
ment only. 

Thus, for instance, the transportation of prisoners in Australia requires a corps 
of troops. But even if there were no criminals, Great Britain would nevertheless 
be obliged to keep a garrison there, though smaller than at present. These dif- 
ficulties present themselves at each step of inquiry into the budget of the Aus- 
tralian settlements. 

It is, therefore, impossible to establish, by dollars and cents, the expenditure 
caused by the penal establishment alone ; but it is clear that the English may, by 
way of comparison with the expenses of other colonies, arrive at an approximate 
result, and present a pretty accurate statement of the expenses of transportation 
and the establishment connected with it. 

In 1829, the expenditure of the penal establishment amounted to 401,283 
pounds sterling. 

The reporters on the budget, who give this statement to parliament, remark, 
that it has been impossible for them to find out with exactness, how much of 
this sum had reference to the penal establishment alone. But they add that 
"much the greater portion" is owing to the presence of convicts in Australia. 

Let us suppose that only half of this sum, or 200,641 pounds sterling, has been 
spent for the support and surveillance of the 15,688 convicts who were in that 
year in Australia, each convict then has cost about twelve pounds sterling.* 

It may be answered, undoubtedly, that part of the expenses has been refund- 
ed by the duties of the colony, which amounted for the same year to 226,191 
pounds sterling. But this revenue belongs to Great Britain, and if they were 
not destined for the support of the convicts in Australia, they would be added to 
the public treasure. Perhaps, it is true, they would be less, if transportation did 

* We find in the deposition of a witness, heard on March 18th, 1832, by the committee appoint- 
ed by the house of commons to inquire into the efficacy of punishments, the following statement: 

The expense occasioned by the transportation of a convict to New South Wales, is thirteen 
pounds sterling, without counting the expenses which transportation in Australia causes. See In- 
quiry of 1833. (Retranslated.) 

166 Appendix. Alphabetical Notes. 

not exist, because the colony would then be less populous. We have for this 
consideration taken but half of the whole sum of expenditure, though, in reality, 
probably more than two-thirds of the 400,000 pounds sterling have been applied 
for transport, support, and surveillance of the convicts. 

For the rest, it seems to be the opinion in England, that transportation to Aus- 
tralia does not cost more imprisonment in the metropolis. 

In fact, we find the following statement in a legislative document of 1816 : 

Estimate of what it would cost to keep, support, and employ the convicts in 
England during the year 1817, 75,000 pounds sterling. 

Estimate of the probable expense of honouring the bills drawn by the Gover- 
nor of New South Wales upon the public treasury, during the same year, 80,000 
pounds sterling. 

See Report of the Committee to examine the expenses of the colonies, No- 
vember 1, 1830. 

This report is among the legislative documents sent by the British parliament, 
volume entitled: Reports of Commissioners, 1830, 1831, page 69. 

For the above estimates, see the same collection, vol. 37, page 297. 

Appendix. Agricultural Colonies. 167 

No. 4. 

IN all countries of Europe, without exception of those where 
agriculture has been perfected to the highest degree, vast terri- 
tories are found, the arid and unpromising soil of which has not 
attracted the industry of man, and which remain the property 
of all, because no individual would take the trouble to cultivate 

By the side of these useless fields, a population of proletarii 
is often placed, who are in want of soil and of the means of ex- 
istence. In France, nearly 2, 000, 000 of poor are numbered, and 
the uncultivated lands form the seventh part of the area of the 

Experience, however, has shown, that the greatest part of the 
land, thus abandoned by man, may become productive, if suffi- 
cient capital and persevering efforts are applied for its cultiva- 

This suggested the idea of agricultural colonies : it was thought 
that it was possible to settle the poor on neglected fields by the 
assistance of the rich, and that the former might be caused even 
to fertilize the soil which was given to them by advancing the 
necessary capital, and by subjecting them to useful regulations. 

[General van den Bosch, while in the Island of Java, had 
learned from a mandarin, who had under him a colony of emi- 
grant Chinese, how to make use of land, which most farmers 
would despise, chiefly by the careful preparation of manure, the 
most remarkable feature in Chinese husbandry. When the Ge- 
neral returned to Europe, he laid before the King of the Nether- 
lands a plan of pauper colonies on uncultivated land. Thus the 
first agricultural colonies sprang into existence. We refer for 
the details of their origin and their organization to an article on 
Colonies, Pauper, in the Encyclopaedia Americana. TRANS.] 

If experience should answer expectation, a result would be ob- 
tained favourable to the poor, (who would exchange misery for 
the comfort of a farmer,) and to society, the resources of which 
would be increased without new sacrifices. 

It was in Holland where the first attempt was made to reduce 
these theories to practice ; and, so far it may be said, that the 
success has surpassed expectation. 

The society which made this noble trial, was formed in 1818, 
at the Hague, with the approbation, but not under the direction 

168 Appendix. Agricultural Colonies. 

of the government; its example was followed in 1822, in Belgi- 
um. [Pauper colonies have been formed since in other coun- 
tries. See the article *ftrmencolonieen in the new appendix to 
the German Conversations-Lexicon. TRANS.] 

According to the statistics of the society, every individual 
who pays three guilders, becomes a member; and as such has a 
part in the management of affairs. 

The society soon bought a vast extent of uncultivated land, 
which it divided into lots of seven acres each. [We refer again 
to the above quoted article of the Americana, which gives the 
details of expenses for a family, their outfit and whole establish- 
ment, with greater minuteness than the original of the present 

Those persons who pay 1,600 guilders to the society, acquire 
thereby a perpetual right to designate the poor family which is 
to have one of the lots. The same privilege is enjoyed by him 
who, for sixteen years, pays for each pauper placed by him in 
the colony, the sum of 23 guilders, which is the annual sum ne- 
cessary for the colonist during the first sixteen years, in order 
to render his land productive. 

Many communities, parishes, &c., soon bought perpetual pri- 
vileges to send paupers to the colonies; and the government 
itself conceived the idea of making an agreement with the go- 
vernment of the colony, in order to send there a number of va- 
grants and children, for whom the former had to provide. 

This agreement between the government and the colony gave 
rise to the " forced agricultural colonies." 

As it was thought that the labour of people sent there by law, 
and therefore forced to work, would be less productive than that 
of free labour, and particularly of children, it asked 45 guilders 
annually for each child, and 35 guilders for a pauper who had 
begged, or a vagrant 

The government of these latter colonists, was of course ar- 
ranged so as to suit the subjects for whom it was intended, and 
the consequence was that these "forced settlements" prospered 
not less than the others. In fact it was easier to oblige a prison- 
er to work, than to persuade a free person, accustomed to idle- 
ness, to become industrious. TRANS.] 

In 1829, the agricultural settlements of Holland and Belgium, 
contained already 9000 prisoners, foundlings, &c., and free colo- 

Within ten years, a vast territory had for the first time been 
cultivated. Society had found, in this revolution, new guaran- 
ties of tranquillity ; the public treasure, a new source of revenue, 
and a still greater of economy ; because, in fact, the child and 
the beggar cost less in the pauper colony than in the asylum ; 
and government acquired the right of getting rid for ever of the 

Appendix. On Public Instruction. 169 

trouble of paying for them, by furnishing for sixteen years, this 
sum, already less than that which it had paid formerly. 

Those who wish to find further information on this interest- 
ing subject, are referred to the work of Mr. Huerne de Pom- 
meuse just published : [and the account given by Mr. Jacob, 
the English reporter on the corn trade. TRANS.] 

No. 5. 

[INSTEAD of translating several of the general remarks of the 
authors on public instruction in the United States, we refer the 
reader to the Division Education, of the Article United States, 
in the Encyclopedia Americana. The reason why we have 
referred repeatedly to that work is, because we have given there 
the best information we were capable of affording on the subjects 
in question ; and as it is quite a recent publication, we can give, 
of course, no better information now, than that to be found in 
the Encyclopaedia, which, as we have reason to suppose, will be 
in the reach of every reader of the present work. As, however, 
no particular account is given in that article, of the peculiar sys- 
tem of education in the state of New York, we translate the fol- 
lowing from our authors, adding some remarks of the last Report 
on the Common Schools, to the Legislature of New York. 

Public authority, therefore, does not give up the power of 
directing public instruction, but it does not monopolize it. We 
will present a picture of the system of public instruction in the 
state of New York, whose extent, population, and riches, have 
placed her at the head of the Union. 

In the state of New York, the legislature has created two spe- 
cial funds, called the Literature Fund, and the Common School 
Fund ; the first is destined to support the higher studies, the 
second for elementary instruction. We shall see below of what 
sums these funds are composed. 

At the head of the direction of the higher studies, an adminis- 
trative board is placed, called the University of the State of 
New York. (Revised Statutes, vol. i. pages 456-466.) This body 
consists of twenty-one members, called regents. The governor 
and vice-governor of the state are members ex officio; the other 
nineteen members are chosen by the legislature. 

If a particular establishment wishes to obtain a charter, by 
virtue of which it may officially exist as such, it must address 
the regents of the university ; and the legislature acts in these 

170 Appendix. On Public Instruction. 

affairs only after having heard their opinion. As soon as an offi- 
cial existence has been acknowledged by a charter, numerous 
relations exist between the college and the state. Each year, the 
regents of the university distribute, to all colleges tbus recog- 
nised, the assistance furnished by the Literature Fund; on the 
other hand, they are subject to the inspection of the regents, 
who report annually to the legislature. The regents also have 
the right to give diplomas in matters of science and belles- 

The fund for primary instruction is infinitely larger than that 
destined for the higher studies ; and society takes also a more 
direct part in the government of these schools. 

At the head of the administration of primary instruction in 
the state of New York, is placed a functionary, called superin- 
tendent of schools. It is he who has to watch over the execution 
of laws respecting public instruction, and to distribute the annual 
support given by the state to the counties. 

Each township is obliged to keep a school, and to support it 
by a sum at least equal to that which the state gives. 

At the head of the schools of each township, stand the school 
commissioners, who distribute to each community of the town- 
ship, that portion of the sum furnished by the liberality of the 
state, to which it has a right. They examine the teachers, choose, 
inspect, and discharge them ; but from their decisions an appeal 
lies to the superintendent of schools. 

The latter receives every year a detailed account of the state 
of instruction in all the townships of the commonwealth, and 
lays the result of these reports before the legislature, accompa- 
nying it with his remarks. (Revised Statutes, vol. i. pages 466- 
488 ) 

Besides the colleges and academies above mentioned, and the 
primary schools, there exist in the state of New York a very 
large number of other establishments for public instruction, 
which receive no support from government, and are of course 
subject to no inspection ; the body politic does not recognise 
them any more than other private establishments or persons. 

Statistical Details respecting the New York School System. 

[The authors gave these details for the year 182 9. We have 
substituted for them those contained in the Annual Report of 
the Superintendent of Common Schools of the State of New 
York, made to the Legislature January 7th, 1833. TRANS.] 

There are two simple systems respecting public schools : either 
the government gives nothing, and leaves the whole to the vari- 
ous communities, or the state provides for the whole expense. 

Both these systems have their advocates in the United States. 

The system of the state of New York is of a mixed character: 

Appendix. On Public Instruction. 171 

the legislature gives annually a certain sum to each township, to 
assist in defraying the expenses of public instruction, and the 
township is obliged to furnish a sum at least equal. The results 
of this system are much praised. If the township had to defray 
the whole expense, perhaps it would not do it satisfactorily ; and 
if the public treasury paid the whole, the community would be 
less watchful over the application of the funds. 

There are certain states of the Union, e. g. Pennsylvania, in 
which the common schools, supported by the public money, are 
destined for the children of the poor only, who are instructed 
there gratuitously. 

In the state of New York, as well as in New England, but 
one kind of common school, assisted or supported by the public, 
exists. The children of the rich and of the indigent meet there, 
and contribute according to the means of their parents. The in- 
habitants of the state of New York say, that the poor seize with 
much more zeal on the means of instruction offered to them, 
which cost little, but which they nevertheless think they pay, 
than those which they receive as a charity ; they add, and justly 
so, that this mingling of children in the same schools is more in 
unison with the republican institutions of their country. 

The following is the way in which the necessary sum for the 
support of common schools, is obtained in each township. 

1. The commonwealth grants an annual supply. 

2. The township levies a sum at least equal. 

So far it is society, as such, which acts, pursuing a political 
end. The citizens, as a body, establish common schools, and 
contribute part of their expenses, though, of course, a number 
among them have no special or private interest in public in- 

3. But the money thus obtained is far from being sufficient ; it 
is but a premium of encouragement given by the townships to 
the various communities, and by the state to the various town- 
ships. Each pupil is yet obliged to pay a certain sum individu- 
ally, to defray the rest of the expenses. 

This will be understood better from the following : 

In 1829 the state gave to the different townships the sum of 
100,000 dollars, the produce of the Common School Fund, the 
capital of which then was 1,684,628 dollars. 

The townships, in the same year, paid, for the same purpose, 
124,556 dollars. 

In the same year, a fund especially applied to common schools, 
produced 14,095 dollars. [For this fund see further below. 

Thus society, in 1829, paid, for common schools in that state, 
238,651 dollars. This was paid by all, whether they had a special 
interest or not; those especially interested, i. e. those who sent 

172 Appendix. On Public Instruction. 

children to school, paid, besides, the sum of 821,986 dollars, as 
school money. 

The sum total, therefore, paid by the inhabitants of the state 
of New York, in the year 1829, for primary instruction, has 
been about 1,060,637 dollars; of which, it must be mentioned, 
the greatest portion has been furnished voluntarily. 

[The following are extracts of the report of A. C. Flagg, su- 
perintendent of common schools, to the legislature, as above 
mentioned. Want of space obliged us to leave out a number of 
interesting facts in that able paper, to which we must refer the 
reader also for valuable information respecting the school system 
of some other states. TRANS.] 

I. */ls to the Condition of the Common Schools. 

There are fifty-five organized counties, and eight hundred and 
eleven towns and wards in the state. 

There are 9,600 organized school districts in the state, of 
which 8,941 have made their annual reports. 

In the districts from which reports have been received, there 
were, on the last day of December, 1831, five hundred and 
eight thousand eight hundred and seventy-eight children over 
5 and under 16 years of age; and four hundred and ninety-four 
thousand nine hundred and fifty-nine scholars were taught in the 
same districts during the year; and eight thousand nine hundred 
and forty-one district schools have been kept open for the re- 
ception of pupils an average period of eight out of the twelve 

Two hundred and sixty-seven new districts have been formed 
during the year for which the reports are made ; and the num- 
ber of districts which have made reports to the commissioners, 
has increased one hundred and six during the same time. 

The average number of districts organized, including all the 
towns of the state, (773) is nearly 12^ for each town. The ave- 
rage number of scholars instructed in the districts from which 
returns have been received (8,941) is a fraction more than 55 
scholars for each school. All the estimates in this report relat- 
ing to the number of children taught, have reference to the 
whole number of scholars on the rolls of the district schools for 
the year; and it is not to be understood that each individual of 
the 494,959 scholars reported as having been taught, has had 8 
months of instruction during the year, but that this is the aggre- 
gate number of scholars on the rolls of the schools receiving 
more or less instruction, and that eight thousand nine hundred 
and forty-one schools have been kept open for the reception of 
pupils an average period of eight out of the twelve months. 

In 1816, the number of organized districts was 2,755, and the 
children returned as taught in the common schools, was 140,106. 

Appendix. On Public Instruction. 173 

The increase in 16 years, of the districts which have adopted 
the school system, has been 6,845, and the increase in the num- 
ber of children taught in the same time, 354,853. 

II. Estimates and Expenditures of the School Moneys. 

The reports from the commissioners of the several towns show 
that the school moneys received by them, and paid to the trus- 
tees of the several districts in April, 1832, on the district re- 
ports of the previous January, amount to $305,582 78 cents. 
Of this sum, 100,000 dollars were paid from the state treasury, 
$188,384 53 cents, were raised by a tax upon the property of 
the inhabitants of the several towns and cities in the state, and 
$17,198 25 cents, were derived from local funds possessed by 
some of the towns. 

The amount paid for teachers' wages in the several districts 
of the state, over and above the public money apportioned by 
the commissioners, is $358,320 17 cents. This sum, added to 
the public money, gives a total of $663,902 95 cents paid for 
teachers' wages; except about 60,000 in the city of New York, 
which is raised by a special tax, and applied to the erection of 

The productive capital of the school fund now amounts to 
$1,735,175 28 cents. The revenue actually received on account 
of this fund, for the year ending September 30, is $93,755 31 

The perpetuity of the school fund is guarantied, and its gra- 
dual increase provided for, in the following provision of the new 
Constitution, viz. "The proceeds of all lands belonging to this 
state, except such parts thereof as may be reserved or appro- 
priated to public use, or ceded to the United States, which shall 
hereafter be sold or disposed of, together with the fund denomi- 
nated the Common School Fund, shall be, and remain a perpe- 
tual fund ; the interest of which shall be inviolably appropriated, 
and applied to the support of common schools throughout this 

This provision of the Constitution in relation to the transfer of 
the state lands to the school fund, took effect on the 1st of Ja- 
nuary, 1823, at which time the capital of the Common School 
Fund amounted to $1,155,827 40 cents. It is now, in 1833, 

In addition to the state fund for the support of schools, many 
of the towns have a local fund from which their schools derive 
essential aid. In most cases, these local funds were created by 
reservations of lots of land for school purposes, in the original 
grants of the townships. These lots have subsequently been 
sold or rented, and the fund is managed by trustees chosen by 
the inhabitants of the towns, who are allowed to apply to the 

174 Appendix. On Public Instruction. 

support of the common schools, only the revenue of the fund, 
preserving the capital entire. Many of these school lots were 
very valuable, and some of the towns derive an annual revenue 
of more than five hundred dollars from the fund established by 
the sale of the school lands. In dividing any of the original 
townships, the school lot was also divided, which accounts for 
the small sums received by many of the towns, as at present 

In the original grants under the act of 1789, there was also a 
reservation of one lot for the support of the gospel in each town- 
ship. By an act passed in 1798, the freeholders and inhabitants 
of the town in which the reserved lots lie, were authorized, in 
legal town-meeting, to apply the avails of the gospel and school 
lots, either for schools or gospel, or both. The town-meetings, 
it is believed, generally voted to apply the avails of the " gos- 
pel and school lots" exclusively for the support of schools. 
And, in 1813, it was provided by statute "that all moneys now 
due, or hereafter to become due, and which shall come into the 
hands of the commissioners of public lots, and have not been 
applied and paid over to religious societies, shall be apportioned 
among the several school districts in the several towns in the 
aforementioned counties,* any thing in the acts heretofore passed 
to the contrary notwithstanding." The annual revenue arising 
from the avails of the gospel and school lots in the whole state, 
is $14,571 24 cents, and the aggregate capital of these local 
school funds may be estimated at nearly 250,000 dollars. 

In several of the towns, there is a local school fund derived 
from a different source. Before the establishment of the pre- 
sent poor-house system, many of the towns had a fund for the 
support of the poor. In those counties in which all the poor 
are declared to be a county charge, the town fund is no longer 
needed for its original object; and an act passed April 27, 1S29, 
authorizes the inhabitants of any town thus situated, to appro- 
priate the poor fund to any other purpose; and, if for common 
schools, the money thus applied is to be placed in charge of the 
school commissioners, as a permanent school fund for the town, 
and the annual interest to be apportioned to the common schools ; 
unless the inhabitants at an annual town meeting make a differ- 
ent application of the capital. The revenue received from local 
funds, other than those derived from gospel and school lands, is 
2,627 dollars ; which is the interest at six per cent, of a capital 
of nearly 44,000 dollars. 

It is evident from the data thus furnished, that the aggregate 
capital of the various town school funds, amounts to 294,000 
dollars. Add this to the capital of the state school fund, and it 

* Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca, were named in the act. 

Appendix. On Public Instruction. 175 

makes a productive capital of two millions and twenty-eight 
thousand dollars, set apart for the support of common schools. 

III. The Management of the Common School Fund. 

The Common School Fund is included in the general system 
for managing the finances of the state; and the Commissioners 
of the Land Office have the management and sale of the school 
fund lands, as well as of the lands belonging to the other funds 
of the state. 

IV. The Organization of the Common Schools. 

The organization of the common schools, so far as relates to 
the distribution and application of the money, and a formal com- 
pliance with the requirements of the statute, is highly satisfac- 
tory, and the superintendent is not aware of any defects in the 
organization of the system, which, in his judgment, could be 
reached by legislative enactments. The school money is appor- 
tioned by the superintendent to 780 cities and towns this mo- 
ney is paid to the treasurers of 55 counties, and by these officers 
to the commissioners of 780 towns and cities, and by these com- 
missioners to the trustees of 8,941 districts. The trustees apply 
the money, and account for its application annually to the school 
commissioners; and the commissioners make an annual report 
through the county clerk's office to the superintendent, which 
contains an abstract of the trustees' reports, as well as an ac- 
count of the moneys received and apportioned to the districts, 
by the commissioners themselves. The returns received in Oc- 
tober and November last, from the clerks of the several coun- 
ties, contained copies of the commissioners' reports from every 
town and city in the state. When it is considered that the dis- 
trict and town officers who have an agency in making these re- 
turns, form a body of thirty-eight thousand persons, it must be 
conceded that such results could only be produced by the most 
perfect organization, and an attention to their duties on the part 
of the officers of common schools, which is highly creditable to 
their zeal and intelligence. In 1822, twenty-seven towns made 
no returns; in 1823, twenty-one towns; in 1824, twenty-nine 
towns; in 1825, seventeen towns; in 1827, two towns; since 
which time, returns have been obtained from all the towns. 

Those who founded the common school system of this state, 
never contemplated that the public fund would at any time yield 
a revenue adequate to the support of such an extensive establish- 
ment. The first condition on which the public money was offer- 
ed to the towns, was, that the inhabitants of each town should, 
by a vote at their town-meeting, authorize a tax to be raised equal 
at least in amount to the sum apportioned to their town from the 

176 Appendix. On Public Instruction. 

state treasury; which sum was to be added to the apportionment 
from the school fund, and the amount thus made up, be applied 
to the payment of teachers' wages. Another requirement of the 
system is, that before the inhabitants of a neighbourhood can 
participate in the public fund, they must organize a district, erect 
a school-house, furnish it with fuel, and necessary appendages, 
and have a school taught therein at least three months by a 
legally qualified teacher; and, it is on a report of all these facts 
by the trustees, that the commissioners are authorized to appor- 
tion the school money to a district. 

The voluntary contributions of the inhabitants of the school 
districts, form so important a portion of the means which are 
necessary to give effect to the school system, that, when new 
forms were furnished with the Revised Statutes, a column was 
added, requiring the trustees in each district to report the sums 
paid for teachers' wages, by the patrons of the district school, 
over and above the sums received from the state treasury, the 
town tax, and the local school fund. 

Seven hundred and sixty-one towns, (omitting all the wards,) 
have made returns the past year, exhibiting a total amount paid 
by individuals in the several school districts, for school bills, be- 
sides the public money apportioned to the districts, of $358,320 
17 cents; which, added to the public money, ($305,582 78,) 
makes the aggregate amount of $663,902 95 cents paid for 
teachers' wages alone, in the common schools of the state.* 

These returns show, that where the state, or the school fund, 
pays one dollar for teachers' wages, the inhabitant of the town, 
by a tax upon his property, pays $1 28 cents, ($60,000 deduct- 
ed for New York,) and by voluntary contribution in the school 
district where he resides, $3 58 cents for the same object; and 
the proportion of 17 cents is derived from the local school fund. 

The amount paid for teachers' wages, is only about one-half 
of the expense annually incurred for the support of the common 
schools, as the following estimates will show. Taking the ave- 
rage between the whole number of districts organized, (9,600,) 
and the number from which reports have been received the last 
year, (8,941,) and it will give 9,270 as the probable number of 
schools in operation. Deducting 30 for the city of New York, 
and there will remain 9,240 school-houses, which, at an average 
price of 200 dollars each, would make a capital of 1,840,000 
dollars; add to this the cost of the school-houses in the city of 
New York, (say 200,000 dollars,) and it exhibits a capital of 

* A part of the money received by the commissioners in the city of New York, 
is applied to the erection of school-houses, the purchase of fuel, books, &c. and 
that amount, perhaps 60,000 dollars, should be deducted from the sum applied 
for teachers' wages. 

Appendix. On Public Instruction. 177 

2,040,000 dollars vested in school-houses, which, at an interest 
of 6 per cent, per annum, is - - $122,400 00 

Annual expense of books for 494,959 scholars, 

at 50 cents each, - - 247,479 50 

Fuel for 9,270 school-houses, at $10 each, - 92,700 00 

462,579 50 
Add public money appearing from the returns, 

and before referred to, - 305,582 78 

Add also the amount paid in the districts besides 

public money, - - 358,320 17 

$1,126,482 45 

And it makes a grand total of one million one hundred and 
twenty-six thousand four hundred and eighty-two dollars and 
forty-five cents, expended annually for the support of the com- 
mon schools of the state. 

The preceding estimates show that the revenue of the school 
fund, (that is, the $100,000 paid from the state treasury,) pays 
a fraction less than one-eleventh of the annual expenditures upon 
common schools; two-elevenths are raised by a tax upon the 
several towns and cities, and the three-elevenths thus made up, 
(being the item of $305,582 in the foregoing estimate,) consti- 
tutes what is called the " school money," and is the sum re- 
ceived by the commissioners of the cities and towns, and paid 
to the trustees of the several public schools. A fraction more 
than two-elevenths, (being $215,110 for school-houses and fuel,) 
is raised by a tax upon the property of the several districts, in 
pursuance of a vote of the inhabitants thereof; and the residue, 
nearly six-elevenths, (being $605,799,) is paid voluntarily by 
the parents and guardians of the scholars for the balance of their 
school bills, (after applying the public money,) and for school 

There is some difference of opinion among the friends of uni- 
versal instruction, as to the mode of providing funds for main- 
taining the schools, which is best adapted to the accomplishment 
of the object. Of the three modes of providing for popular in- 
struction that in which the scholars pay every thing, and the 
public nothing that in which the public pays every thing, and 
the scholars nothing and that in which the burden is shared by 
both Dr. Chalmers, in his "Considerations on the parochial 
schools of Scotland," gives a decided preference to the latter 
mode, which is the system adopted by the state of New York. 

This system offers to each neighbourhood a small sum yearly, 
as an inducement to the inhabitants to tax themselves, and to 
establish and maintain a school. The sum distributed is not so 

178 Appendix. On Public Instruction. 

large as to induce a belief that the inhabitants have no exertions' 
to make themselves ; on the contrary, it is coupled with such 
terms as to require a school-house to be erected, and a consider- 
able sum to be expended, before the district can participate in 
the public fund: And this fund, as the returns show, pays so 
small a share, (only one-eleventh of the school expenditures,) 
that there is a continued necessity for individuals to tax them- 
selves, in order to keep up the school. That feature in our sys- 
tem which authorizes district taxation, and which requires indi- 
viduals to pay beyond the amount received from the public, has 
a beneficial influence upon the school, and all the district opera- 
tions. The power given districts to levy taxes upon all the pro- 
perty of the inhabitants for school-houses, repairs, appendages, 
and fuel, induces a punctual attendance of all the taxable inhabit- 
ants at the school meetings ; those citizens who have most at 
stake in the district are induced to act as trustees, in order to 
secure themselves against improvident taxation, and all the ills 
of a careless administration of the district affairs : And even the 
persons who patronize the school, are induced by the assessment 
to send their children with more punctuality, in order to get an 
equivalent for their money ; when if the whole sum was paid by 
the state, these same persons might neglect the school as a matter 
with which they had very little concern. 

The amount distributed from the school fund of this state, has 
been eminently serviceable in arousing the public attention, and 
in affording an inducement for the establishment of schools, 
where otherwise they might have been neglected. This is all 
that can beneficially be done by a public fund: if twenty-five 
dollars induces the inhabitants of a neighbourhood to establish a 
school, it answers all the useful purposes of one hundred dollars 
applied for the same object; and it is quite probable, that a dis- 
trict receiving twenty-five dollars annually, will support as good 
a school, and be as prosperous, as if the entire expenses of the 
school were paid by a public fund. The distribution of one hun- 
dred thousand dollars from the state treasury, under our system, 
ensures the application of more than a million annually to the 
purposes of common schools ; and in a way, too, which does as 
much, if not more substantial good, than if the whole sum was 
disbursed from the state treasury. What more, then, can be de- 
sired or expected from the mere appropriation of money to that 
object by the state? It is admitted that the standard of education 
in the schools is below what it ought to be ; but would this be 
changed by paying a million of dollars annually from the state 
treasury, instead of raising it in the towns and districts ? Would 
the source from which the money came have any influence in 
elevating the character of the teachers? And from what source 
is the capital to be derived, which is to produce annually a re- 

Appendix. On Public Instruction. 179 

venue of a million of dollars ? If by a resort to taxation, it can 
in no way be done so economically as by the people themselves, 
in the present mode. With this view of the subject, instead of 
repining because the revenue of the school fund apportions only 
the small sum of twenty cents annually to each child between 
five and sixteen years of age, we should rather rejoice that such 
great results have been accomplished with such comparatively 
trifling means. 

The incorporated academies may be relied upon as seminaries 
for the education of teachers. There are now fifty-five academies 
in the state; in the erection and endowment of which about 
four hundred thousand dollars have been expended by the state 
and by individuals ; and to these academies a revenue of ten 
thousand dollars is distributed annually by the state. In 1827, 
one hundred and fifty thousand dollars were transferred from the 
general funds of the state to the Literature Fund, for the avowed 
object of promoting the education of teachers of common schools, 
by increasing the apportionment to the academies. And it is be- 
lieved that if the school districts would hold out as strong in- 
ducements as are presented by the other pursuits of life to young 
men of talents, that there would be no want of a sufficient num- 
ber of well qualified instructers; and that the academies would 
in fact become seminaries for preparing teachers for the common 

The subject of primary education in the city of New York, is' 
of vast importance to the well being of the city. Impressed with 
a belief that the arrangements for public instruction were alto- 
gether too limited for the wants of that great and growing city, 
the superintendent has on several occasions called the attention 
of the legislature to this subject; and in November, 1831, ad- 
dressed a letter to the Commissioners of Common Schools for 
the City of New York, asking their advice in relation to the 
best mode of extending the means of instruction. The sum 
apportioned to the public schools in New York, during the 
past year, was $90,748 86, being nearly twenty dollars to each 
scholar instructed in the schools which are allowed by the cor- 
poration to share in the fund. The culpable indifference of pa- 
rents in availing themselves of the benefits of the public schools, 
is still felt as a serious evil in the city of New York. The Public 
School Society has endeavoured to counteract this deplorable 
apathy, by employing a person at a salary of eight hundred dol- 
lars a year, to visit parents in all sections of the city, and to in- 
vite and persuade them to send their children to school : and it 
appears by the report of the commissioners, that the corporation 
of New York have passed an ordinance, " excluding from 'the 
participation of public charity, when it may be required, all out 
door poor, whether emigrants or not, who, having children be- 

180 ^. A Appendix. On Public Instruction. 

tween the age of five and twelve, neglect or refuse to send them 
to some one of the public schools." 

Arrangements are making by the trustees of the Public School 
Society, to establish ten additional schools for small scholars, in 
different parts of the city. The public schools in New York are 
of an excellent character, and the efforts which are making to 
increase their number and extend their usefulness, it is hoped, 
will secure the co-operation of all the friends of popular educa- 

A strong conviction that something ought to be done to pro- 
vide the means of instruction for the inmates of the manufactur- 
ing establishments, which are building up in various sections of 
the state, induces the superintendent again to call the attention 
of the legislature to this subject. In many of these establishments 
children are employed at a very early age ; and there is great rea- 
son to apprehend, that the necessities or the cupidity of parents 
and guardians, will, in too many cases, overcome their obligations 
to their children and to society, and induce them entirely to ne- 
glect their education, in order to secure the comparatively mise- 
rable stipend which they can earn in these manufactories. Our 
laws now require the children in the poor-houses to be instruct- 
ed ; and if they are bound out, the law requires a condition in 
each indenture, that the master will cause such child to be in- 
structed to read and write, and if a male, will cause him to be 
instructed in the general rules of arithmetic. The returns from 
the superintendent of the poor, for the year ending December 
1, 1832, include more than one thousand scholars instructed in 
the poor-houses. The policy of all our laws is to secure a good 
common school education to every child in the state ; and the 
condition of the children who are employed in the manufacto- 
ries, as to their means of instruction, ought to be carefully in- 
quired into and provided for. The diffusion of education among 
all classes of our population, is deemed of such vital importance 
to the preservation of our free institutions, that if the obligations 
which rest upon every good citizen in this particular, are disre- 
garded, the persons having the custody of such children, ought 
to be visited with such disabilities, as will induce them, from 
interest, if not from principle, to cause the children to be instruct- 
ed, at least in reading, writing, and arithmetic. 

Those who have considered the numerous difficulties which 
present themselves at every point, in carrying into effect a sys- 
tem of universal instruction ; and who have witnessed the indif- 
ference of parents in sending their children to schools which 
have been brought almost to their doors, cannot but regard the 
Sunday schools as an important auxiliary to the cause of general 
education. Thousands are induced to attend these schools, and 
are taught to read, who, but for the benevolent exertions of the 

Appendix. On Public Instruction. 181 

Sunday school teachers, would be entirely neglected, and left a 
prey to ignorance and vice. 

The efforts made by the friends of the Sunday schools, in visit- 
ing parents and seeking out children who need instruction, in 
providing clothing for such as are destitute, and in removing all 
impediments to their attendance, give this system of instruction 
peculiar claims to the favour and good wishes of the friends of 
popular education. To ensure a good common school education 
to the entire mass of our population, is a work of such magnitude 
in itself, and of such vast importance to the well being and per- 
manency of our republican institutions, that the friendly co-ope- 
ration of all denominations of persons is desirable, if not indis- 
pensable, in carrying into effect the great purposes which the 
common school system of this state was designed to accomplish. 

It is not only in our days, that society, in America, has taken 
so much interest in diffusing knowledge among its members. 
[Here the authors quote the law of New Haven plantation of 
1660, which directs parents and masters of apprentices to take 
care of the instruction of the children or young persons under 
their protection. The historian dwells with satisfaction on the 
facts, that ten years after the settlement of Massachusetts' Bay, 
Harvard College was founded ; and, in 1647, the legislature of 
that province passed a law, requiring every town, with fifty 
families, to provide a school. TRANS.] 

No. 6. 

The authors give tinder this head a hasty sketch of the En- 
glish and American views respecting paupers, according to 
which, charity has become, in a degree, a political institution, 
and close the article by giving some statistics of pauperism in 
the state of New York. The English and our own laws, and 
statistics respecting pauperism, are better known to our readers, 
than they could become by this sketch, intended for the French 
public ; we therefore pass it over, and shall substitute extracts 
taken from the Report of the Secretary of State, giving an Ab- 
stract of the Returns of the Superintendents of the Poor in the 
several Counties, made January 17, 1832: 

"It will be seen, that 15,564 paupers have been relieved in 
54 counties, during the past year. Of this number, 13,573 were 
county paupers, and 1,990 town paupers. The aggregate ex- 

182 Appendix. Pauperism in America. 

pense for the relief and support of the 15,564 paupers, has been 
$245,433 21 cents. 

"It is shown that there has been paid for the transportation 
of paupers, $4,042 13 cents; to superintendents, $7,573 80 
cents: to overseers, $5,396 65 cents ; justices, $1,694 78 cents; 
to keepers and officers, $17,734 50 cents; that the value of the 
labour of the paupers was $12,663 26 cents; the amount saved 
in consequence of labour of paupers, $17,546 74 cents; and 
that the average expense of supporting a pauper at a poor-house, 
is $33 28 cents per year, or 64 T 8 ^ cents per week. 

"There are 5,221 acres of land attached to the poor-houses, 
and the total value of all the poor-house establishments in the 
state is $830,350 46 cents; 10,896 paupers have been received 
into the poor-houses during the year; there were born in the 
poor-houses, in the same time, 170; died during the year, 1,147; 
bound out, 318; discharged, 5,962; absconded, 545; total fe- 
males in poor-houses, December 1, 1831, 2,532 males, 2,862 
total of both sexes, 5,554; of those relieved during the year, 
there were 2,795 foreigners, 410 lunatics, 224 idiots, and 31 

" It is stated in some of the reports, that the poor-house sys- 
tem will save more than half the amount expended under the 
old mode of supporting the poor; and the superintendents of 
Dutchess, where the poor-house has been erected in the course 
of the last year, estimate that the saving of expense to the coun- 
ty, by the change in the mode of supporting the poor, will be 
nearly one-half. 

" From the data already furnished, it is confidently believed 
that the poor-house system, when carried into full effect, will 
produce a saving in the expenditures for the support of the poor 
in the whole state, of at least two hundred and fifty thousand 
dollars, which is nearly equal to all the ordinary expenses of 
the state government." 

No. 7. 


[The article on this subject, which, for about ten years, has so 
deservedly attracted public attention in a high degree in the 
United States, is treated in a very short article in the original. 
The reader who wishes satisfactory and detailed information on 
this important and melancholy subject, is referred to the Reports 

Appendix. Imprisonment for Debt. 183 

of the Boston Prison Discipline Society, especially to those of 
the years 1830, 1831, and 1832, in which Mr. L. Dvvight has 
collected a great many materials, (statements of facts and opi- 
nions of distinguished persons or bodies and laws) relating to 
it. The authors say, that it is thought that, in Pennsylvania, 
seven thousand individuals are annually arrested for deht. If we 
add this number to that of the convicts, which we have esti- 
mated for 1830, at 2,074, we shall find, that about one out of 
forty-four inhabitants, goes annually into the prison. 

We have received the Report on the Debtors' Apartment of 
the Arch Street Prison, in Philadelphia, by Mr. Gibbon, Chair- 
man, read to the house of representatives, March 15, 1833, 
which represents a state truly appalling ; and, it seems inconceiv- 
able, that a society, which has, in making laws, but to follow its 
own dictates and interest, and especially one, which has distin- 
guished itself, in other respects, for its humanity, from the time 
of its foundation, should allow such a state of things to continue 
any longer. It is certainly an unhappy anomaly. Mr. Gibbon's 
report begins thus : 

" From an abstract of cases of imprisonment on execution for 
debts under one dollar, taken from the prison records of the 
debtors' apartment, in the city and county of Philadelphia, be- 
tween the 1st of May, and the 24th of September, 1830, it ap- 
pears that the total amount of debts, in forty such cases, was 
$23 405, upon which the costs were $70 20 making a total of 
debts and costs, $93 60 5 . Among them were debts of 2, 19, 
25, and 37 cents ! Such persons are generally brought to prison 
in a state of great destitution and misery in rags and wretch- 
edness upon what are styled ' spite actions.' 

"The colonial law, (which has continued obligatory since our 
revolution,) allows magistrates cognizance, without appeal, of 
sums below 40 shillings, or $5 33$. From the 1st of Decem- 
ber, 1829, until the 1st of December, 1830, the imprisonments 
for debts, under $5 33^, in the jail of the city and county of 
Philadelphia, being without stay of execution, were as follows: 
Number of cases, 432; total number of days in confinement, 
3,322; total amount of debts, $1,488 13; costs imposed on the 
above cases, $834 52. Of these, 364 cases were discharged by 
various processes, without satisfying the creditors ! It appears) 
then, that the payment of the sums due, is defeated by the ri- 
gorous enforcement of the ultimate process for recovery. Of the 
432 cases, but 68 ever paid the creditors a cent, and the total 1 
amount altogether paid, was the small sum of $160 68 after 
the prisoners who paid had suffered 214 days confinement in 

" It is calculated that the labour lost during the imprisonment 
of these individuals, would have settled the whole amount of 

184 Appendix. Imprisonment of Witnesses. 

the debts which were paid, and that there is an absolute loss to 
the community, even when the money is eventually produced. 
Thirteen of the cases paid, appear to have been for militia 
fines, the whole amount for which was $26, enforced by the 
power delegated to the collectors." 

In several late numbers of a German law periodical, called 
"Archives of Civil Law," Professor Mittermaier, one of the 
most distinguished lawyers of Germany, proves that personal 
arrest for simple debt cannot be justified on any principles of 
law. TRANS.] 

No. 8. 

IN the United States, if a witness cannot give bail or guaran- 
tee for his appearance, he is imprisoned, and remains in com- 
pany with convicts and persons charged with crime, until the 
sitting of the court. 

We have been told in Philadelphia, that two young Irishmen, 
who had been for too short a time in the country to find people 
who would answer for their appearance, and were too poor to 
give bail, had thus been imprisoned for a whole year, waiting for 
the time when they might give their testimony. 

A foreign merchant was robbed in a public house in Balti- 
more; he informed the authorities of it, but as the thief had not 
left him enough to give bail, he was detained in prison. Thus, 
in order to discover who had robbed him of a part of his pro- 
perty, he was obliged to await justice in prison, and to abandon 
business which urgently called him to the west. 

We mention these instances out of thousands. 

In Europe, people often complain of the burthensome obliga- 
tions which the laws sometimes impose upon the indigent, and 
of the difficulties which surround them if they seek justice. 

In America, the situation of the poor is harder still: if one is 
by chance witness of a crime, he must take care not to be seen ; 
and if he is himself the subject, he has only to fly for fear jus- 
tice will protect him. 

However monstrous to us such a law may appear, habit has 
familiarized Americans to it in such a degree that our remarks 
on the subject made an impression but upon a few. The mass of 
lawyers see in this nothing contrary to their ideas of justice and 
injustice, nor even to their democratic constitution. 

The Americans, descendants of the English, have provided 
in every respect for the rich, and hardly at all for the poor. In 

Appendix. Imprisonment of Witnesses. 185 

the same country where the complainant is put in prison, the 
thief remains at liberty if he can find bail. Murder is the only 
crime whose authors are not protected. 

[He whom the authors call a thief, and who may remain at 
liberty, is not a thief in the eye of society, until he has been 
found so upon trial. Imprisonment of witnesses, however shock- 
ing at first to every person brought up in a country where no- 
thing of this kind exists, is intimately connected with the whole 
English System of administration of justice, which admits, in 
but a limited degree, written evidence in criminal trials. Where 
this is permitted, or where, as in Germany, the Whole process 
is carried on in writing, and where in fact nothing is permitted as 
evidence but what is taken down in writing and properly attest- 
ed, no imprisonment of witnesses is necessary. Yet even there, 
persons are prevented from leaving the state, or any certairt 
place, if their testimony is believed to be important ; and if it 
is impossible at the moment to put all the necessary questions to 
them. If then, according to the English administration of jus- 
tice, the personal appearance of witnesses i$ necessary in most 
cases in criminal trials, the state must have some security, of 
whatever kind this may be, for their appearance at the time of 
trial. Where would be the justice, if this security did not exist? 
A persecuted man could not be sure of the means of defending 
himself; hatred might unjustly accuse a person of a crime, and 
expose him to all possible inconveniences previously to the trial, 
&c. But, though the appearance of witnesses is necessary, the 
state is satisfied in taking any sufficient guarantee, the least trou- 
blesome possible ; and it is only he who cannot avail himself of 
this offer, who must give the guarantee in his own person. The 
law is not cruel or inconsistent. In a rude State of things, all 
witnesses would be imprisoned ; but the law wishes to be as mild 
as safety permits ; hence it allows bail for their appearance. If 
the poor can find a wealthy friend, or several friends, who will 
give bail for him, he may do so. The law is not against the poor; 
the state must have the certainty of the witnesses' appearance ; 
that is all. That there is in this case a difference between the 
rich and the poor, is but a repetition of what we find throughout 
life. Mr. Edward Livingston expresses himself on this subject 
thus : "the temporary privation of their (witnesses') liberty is 
a necessary sacrifice for the safety of society ; it is taken on the 
same principle that justifies the appropriation of private property 
for public purposes, and it carries with it the same right of in- 
demnity." (Introductory Report to the Code of Prison Disci- 
pline, Philadelphia, 1827, page 35.) The same remarks apply to 
the imprisonment of accused persons, who may go at large if 
they find a guarantee, considered by the state equally safe, but 
more convenient to them. The cases put by the authors are 

186 Appendix. Imprisonment of Witnesses. 

either very exaggerated, or very unfrequent. And their senti- 
ments throughout, on this point, evince an ignorance of the prin- 
ciples of our institutions. As to the general remark, that the 
law in America protects the rich but not the poor, we can only 
say, that we have heard a thousand times the contrary, but never 
this remark made. Have they not seen, when visiting us, the 
hogs belonging to the poor, in the streets of New York and Phi- 
ladelphia, contrary to constant complaint, and even positive re- 
gulation ? TRANS.] 

No. 9. 

[THE authors give, under this head, a short exposition of these' 
interesting and novel societies. As the Article Temperance So* 
defies in the Encyclopaedia Americana was but recently writ- 
ten, by one of the most competent persons in the United States, 
we refer the reader to it. We would mention, besides, an Article 
entitled " Jl Succinct History of the Origin, Principles, Ob- 
jects, and Progress of Temperance Societies in the United 
States of Jlmerica," in the first number of The American 
Quarterly Temperance Magazine, Albany, February, 1833. This 
article was drawn up by the corresponding secretary of the New 
York State Temperance Society, in compliance with a request 
of the Prussian Consul in New York, who had been directed by 
the Prussian government to collect all important information 
on Temperance Societies. We trust that the Prussian govern- 
ment has not the idea of taking any direct part in the establish- 
ment of these societies in that kingdom, as nothing could possi- 
bly be more fatal to these very societies, or, in fact, more directly 
against every true idea of public right, than a similar interference 
on the part of government in so private an affair as- that of regu- 
lating one's beverage. But we fear that government, there, though 
accustomed for a long series of years to manage every thing, and 
to exercise the right of interference with the most private affairs 
of its subjects, will meet with no better success though tempe- 
rance societies are, in the north of Germany, urgently called for 
than the Saxon government has in the same cause, as we learn 
from a letter quoted in the same number of the Temperance 
Quarterly. May the slightest attempt never be made with us, to 
change the character of temperance societies, as they now exist ; 
vmd to impart to them in any, the slightest degree, an official 
vvharacler. The unetoasion success of American temperance so- 

Appendix. Temperance Societies. 187 

eieties, must be chiefly attributed to the absence even of the 
appearance of an imposed obligation in the pledges given by 
their members. Strong opposition, and ruinous hypocrisy, would 
be the immediate and necessary consequence of such a state of 
things. If temperance societies were to be established in Prussia, 
not directly by government, but even by its influence merely, 
what would follow? Part of the people would take no interest 
in them ; part would oppose them, (which would be the case the 
sooner in a country where the lower classes look upon govern- 
ment always as something opposed to them) ; and the immense 
number of officers would contain among themselves many who 
would strictly observe the appearance, but the appearance only, 
of members of the Temperance Society. 

We seize upon this opportunity, of mentioning a fact of 
melancholy interest, which is probably known to but few in the 
United States. Mr. Ouetelet, in his interesting statistical inqui- 
ries, which were reprinted in the Courrier des Etats Unis, of 
April 25, 1832, says: "It is remarkable, that, of 1,129 mur- 
ders committed in France, during the space of four years, 446 
were the consequences of quarrels in tippling shops ; which suf- 
ficiently shows the fatal influence of the use of spirits."] 

No. 10. 


(October, 1831.) 

No. 28. This prisoner knows how to read and write; has 
been convicted of murder; says his health, without being bad, 
is not so good as when he was free ; denies strongly having com- 
mitted the crime, for which he was convicted ; confesses to have 
been a drunkard, turbulent, and irreligious. But now, he adds, 
his mind is changed: he finds a kind of pleasure in solitude, and 
is only tormented by the desire of seeing once more his family, 

* Nobody is allowed to see the convicts, except the inspectors, the wardens, 
and the chaplain. [There are some few others, who are official visitors. 
TRANS.] The Philadelphia magistrates were kind enough to make an exception 
of the rule in favour of us. We were introduced into all the cells, and left alone 
with the prisoners. It is the result of a fortnight's observation, which we offer 
above to the reader. The number at the head of each article, indicates the 
place which the prisoner holds in the list, as to the time of his imprisonment in 
the penitentiary. We have often omitted to note it down, as the reader will 

188 Appendix. Penitentiary of Philadelphia. 

and of giving a moral and Christian education to his children 
a thing which he never had thought of, when free. 

Ques. Do you believe you could live here without labour? 

Jlns. Labour seems to me absolutely necessary for existence; 
I believe I should die without it. 

Ques. Do you often see the wardens? 

t^ns. About six times a day. 

Ques- Is it a consolation to see them? 

fins. Yes, sir; it is with joy I see their figures. This summer, 
a cricket entered my yard; it looked to me like a companion. 
If a butterfly, or any other animal enters my cell, I never do it 
any harm. 

No. 36. The prisoner had suffered previously a punishment 
in the Walnut street prison ; says he prefers imprisonment in 
the penitentiary, to the old prison. His health is excellent, and 
solitude does not seem to him insupportable. Asked whether he 
is obliged to work ; he says, no ; but adds, labour must be re- 
garded as a great benefit. Sunday seems interminably long, be- 
cause, then, he is not allowed to work. 

Ques. What is, in your opinion, the principal advantage of 
the new system, to which you are subject? 

Jins. Here, the prisoner does not know any of his compa- 
nions, and is not known by them. It was a prison acquaintance, 
who, after I had left Walnut street, again involved me in a theft. 

Ques. Have you sufficient to eat? 

Jins. Yes, sir. 

Ques. Do you believe the yard belonging to your cell, is 
necessary for it? 

Jins. I am convinced, it would be impossible to do with- 
out it. 

No. 41. A young man ; confesses to being a criminal; sheds 
tears during our whole conversation, particularly when he is re- 
minded of his family. "Happily," says he, "nobody can see 
me here ;" he hopes then to return into society, without being 
stamped with shame, and not to be rejected by it. 

Ques. Do you find it difficult to endure solitude? 

Jins. Ah ! sir, it is the most horrid punishment that can be 
imagined ! 

Ques. Does your health suffer by it? 

Jins. No : it is very good ; but my soul is very sick. 

Ques. Of what do you think most? 

Jins. Of religion ; religious ideas are my greatest consolation. 

Ques. Do you see now and then a minister? 

Jins. Yes, every Sunday. 

Ques. Do you like to converse with him? 

Jins. It is a great happiness to be allowed to talk to him. 
Last Sunday, lie was a whole hour with me ; he promised to 

Appendix. Penitentiary of Philadelphia. 1S9 

bring me to-morrow, news from my father and mother. I hope 
they are alwe ; for a whole year, 1 have not heard of them. 
Ques. Do you think labour an alleviation of your situation? 
jlns. It would be impossible to live here without labour. 
Sunday is a very long day, I assure you. 

Ques. Do you believe your little yard might be dispensed 
with, without injury to your health? 

*flns. Yes, by establishing in a cell a continued current of 

Ques. What idea have you formed of the utility of the sys- 
tem to which you are subject? 

fins. If there is any system which can make men reflect and 
reform, it is this. 

No. 56. Has been convicted three times; has a feeble con- 
stitution ; has not been well during the first months of his stay 
in the penitentiary, which he attributes to want of exercise, and 
sufficient current of air. He has been brought to the peniten- 
tiary at his own request; he loves, he says, solitude; he wishes 
to lose sight of his former companions, and form no new ones: 
shows his Bible, and assures us that he draws his greatest con- 
solations from this book. 

Ques. You work here without reluctance: you have said to 
me that this was not the case in the other prisons, in which you 
have been imprisoned ; what is the cause of this difference? 

Jlns. Labour is here a pleasure ; it would be a great aggrava- 
tion of our evils, should we ever be deprived of it. I believe, 
however, that, forced to do it, I might dispense with it. 

No. 46. Is fifty-two years old ; was sentenced for burglary; 
enjoys good health ; solitude seems to him a punishment ex- 
tremely hard ; the presence of the keepers even, is a great satis- 
faction for him, and he would consider it a happy event, if a 
minister would sometimes visit him ; considers labour his great- 
est consolation. He denies having committed the crime which 
caused his conviction. 

No. 61. Was convicted for horse-stealing; says he is inno- 
cent. Nobody, he says, can imagine the horrid punishment of 
continued solitude. Asked how he passes his time ; he says there 
are but two means labour, and the Bible. The Bible is his great- 
est consolation. He seems to be strongly actuated by religious 
ideas; his conversation is animated; he cannot speak long with- 
out being agitated, and shedding tears. (We have made the 
same remark of all, whom we have seen so far.) He is a Ger- 
man by birth ; lost his father early, and has been badly educated. 
Has been above a year in the prison. Health good. According 
to him, the adjacent yard is absolutely necessary for the health 
of the prisoner. 

No. 65. Is thirty years old; without family ; convicted of 

IDO Appendix. Penitentiary of Philadelphia. 

forgery; seven months in prison; health very good. He is lit- 
tle communicative; complains of solitude, which becomes tole- 
rable by labour only. Religious ideas seem to occupy him but 

No. 32. A negro of twenty years of age; has received no 
education, and has no family; was sentenced for burglary; has 
been fourteen months in the penitentiary; health excellent; la- 
bour, and visits of the chaplain, are his only pleasures. This 
young man, who seems to have a heavy mind, hardly knew the 
letters of the alphabet, previously to his entering the peniten- 
tiary; he has, however, by his own exertions, attained to read- 
ing fluently his Bible. 

No. 20. Has been convicted of the murder of his wife; has 
been eighteen months in the penitentiary; health excellent; has 
a very intelligent look ; at first, he says, solitude was insuffer- 
able, but custom overcomes gradually the horror ; labour becomes 
entertaining, and the Bible a pleasure; isolation is tempered by 
the daily visits of the wardens. He has learned in prison the 
art of weaving. The turn of ideas of this prisoner, is peculiarly 
grave and religious; it is a remark which we have had occasion 
to make upon almost all whom we have visited. 

No. 72. A negro of twenty-four years, convicted of theft 
a second time ; he seems full of intelligence. 

Ques. You have been a prisoner of Walnut street. What dif- 
ference is there between that prison, and this penitentiary ? 

tftns. The prisoners were a great deal less unhappy in Wal- 
nut street than here, because there they could freely communi- 
cate, with each other. 

Ques. You seem to work with pleasure : was it the same 
with you in Walnut street? 

/Ins. No; there labour was a burden, which we tried to 
escape in all possible ways ; here it is a great consolation. 

Ques. Do you read the Bible sometimes? 

Jlns. Yes, very often. 

Ques. Did you do the same in Walnut street? 

fins. No ; I never found pleasure in reading the Bible, or 
hearing religious discourses, but here. 

This prisoner has been here since six months; health ex- 

No. 83. Thirty years of age; is in a state of relapse. In 
Baltimore, where he was detained, the discipline was very hard, 
and the daily task of labour very considerable. 

Ques. Do you prefer being imprisoned here? 

fins. No ; I should prefer to return to Baltimore, because 
there is no solitude there. 

He has been but two months here ; has had the fever ; but his 
health is entirely restored. 

Appendix. Penitentiary of Philadelphia. 191 

No. 64. A negro of twenty-six years; convicted of bur- 
glary; his intelligence seems to be but little; has learned to- 
weave, in prison. 

No. 00. Convicted of an attempt to commit murder; fifty- 
two years of age ; has seven children ; has received a good edu- 
cation ; was a prisoner in Walnut street; makes a frightful pic- 
ture of the vices in that prison ; but believes most of the convicts 
would prefer to return to Walnut street, than to enter the peni- 
tentiary; they shun solitude so much. 

Asked his opinion respecting the system of imprisonment; 
he says that it cannot fail to make a deep impression on the souls 
of the prisoners. 

No. 15. Twenty-eight years old ; convicted of manslaughter ; 
has been above two years in the penitentiary; his health excel- 
lent; has learned to weave, in his cell. Solitude appeared, at 
lirst, insufferable; but one accustoms himself to it. 

No. 54. Thirty-five years old ; convicted of the murder of his 
wife; has been a year in the penitentiary; health excellent. 

The remarks which this person makes on the sufferings caused 
by solitude, prove how much he has undergone; but he begins 
to accustom himself to this kind of life, and does not find it any 
longer as hard. 

No. 22. A negro of thirty-four years ; has been convicted for 
theft once before ; eighteen months here \ health pretty good. 

Ques. Do you find the discipline to which you are subject, as- 
severe as it is represented ? 

Jlns. No; but that depends upon the disposition of the pri- 
soner. If he takes solitary confinement bad, he falls into irrita- 
tion and despair; if, on the contrary, he immediately sees the 
advantages which he can derive from it, it does not appear in- 

Ques. You have been imprisoned already in Walnut street? 

Jtns. Yes, sir; and I cannot imagine a greater den of vice 
and crime. It requires but a few days, for a person not very 
guilty, to become a consummate criminal. 

Ques. Do you think that the penitentiary is superior to the 
old prison? 

flns. That is, as if you were to as]: me, whether the sun was 
finer than the moon ?* 

No. 68. Age twenty-three; convicted of theft; has been- 
here six months; health excellent; he is cold, and little commu- 
nicative; he only becomes animated by speaking of the suffer- 
ings of solitude ; he works with ardour ; the presence of a visitor 
never interrupts his labour. 

No. 85. Has been here two months; convicted of thefU 

* We believed it necessary to give literally the answers of the prisoners.- 

192 Appendix. Penitentiary of Philadelphia. 

Health good, but his mind seems to be very agitated. If you 
speak of his wife and child, he weeps bitterly. In short, the 
impression produced by the prison, seems very deep. 

No. 67. Age thirty-eight; convicted of theft; has been here 
eight months. Health good. Became a shoemaker in the prison, 
and makes six pairs of shoes a week. 

This individual seems to have naturally a grave and medita- 
tive mind. Solitude in prison, has singularly increased this dis- 
position. His reflections are the results of a very elevated order 
of ideas. He seems to be occupied only with philosophical and 
Christian thoughts. 

No. 52. Age thirty-nine; is in a state of relapse; has been 
formerly in Walnut street; says that that prison is a shocking 
place ; one cannot leave it honest. If I had been, he says, at 
first in this penitentiary, I should not have committed a second 

Ques. Have you accustomed yourself easily to solitude? 

Jlns. At first, solitude seemed to me horrid : gradually I ac- 
customed myself to it; but I do not believe that I could live 
here without labour. Without labour, there is no sleep. 

This person has been nearly a year in this prison ; enjoys 
good health. 

No. 1. This prisoner, the first who was sent to the peniten- 
tiary, is a negro. Has been here more than two years. His 
health is excellent. 

This man works with ardour; he makes ten pair of shoes a 
week. His mind seems very tranquil ; his disposition excellent. 
He considers his being brought to Ihe penitentiary, as a signal 
benefit of Providence. His thoughts are in general religious. 
He read to us in the gospel the parable of the good shepherd, 
the meaning of which touched him deeply one who was born 
of a degraded and depressed race, and had never experienced 
any thing but indifference and harshness. 

No. 17. Is a mulatto, convicted of theft; confined twenty 
months; was never ill. Charitable persons have taught him to 
read ; he learned here shoemaking. The necessity of labour was 
so great, that at the end of the first week, he was able to make 
coarse shoes. 

No. 50. Thirty-seven years old; in relapse; paints energeti- 
cally the vices which prevail in Walnut street, where he has 
been imprisoned. 

If they had put rne here for my first crime, he said, I never 
should have committed a second ; but one always leaves Walnut 
street worse than he enters it. Nowhere but here, is it possible 
to reflect. 

Ques. But the discipline of this penitentiary is very severe? 

<flns. Yes, Sir; particularly in the beginning. During the 

Appendix. Penitentiary of Philadelphia. 193 

two first months, I was near falling into despair. But reading and 
labour have gradually comforted me. 

This prisoner has been twenty months here. Health excellent. 

No. 62. A well educated man, thirty-two years old. He was 
a physician. 

Solitary confinement seems to have made a profound impres- 
sion upon this young man. He speaks of the first time of his im- 
prisonment with horror ; the remembrance makes him weep. 
During two months, he says, he was in despair; but time has al- 
leviated his situation. At present, he is resigned to his fate, 
however austere it may be. He was allowed to do nothing ; but 
idleness is so horrid, that he nevertheless always works. As he 
knew no mechanic art, he occupies himself with cutting leather 
for the shoemakers in the prison. His greatest grief is not to 
be allowed to communicate with his family. He ended the con- 
versation by saying : Solitary confinement is very painful, but 
I nevertheless consider it as an institution eminently useful for 

Health good. He does not complain of the physical part of 
the discipline to which he is subject. 

No. 4. Age twenty years ; has been imprisoned already once 
in Walnut street. He ascribes his relapse to the pernicious in- 
fluence of that prison. "We are here much happier," he says; 
" not that the discipline of the penitentiary is mild ; far from it ; 
the first days, particularly, are horrid ; I believed despair would 
kill me. Yet I have never been ill, though I have been here 
now for two years." 

No. 35. This prisoner is above eighty. When we entered 
he was reading his Bible. 

No. 73. A negro woman, twenty years of age, in relapse. 
She says the penitentiary is very superior to Walnut street pri- 

Ques. Why so? 

Jlns. Because it makes one think. She has been seven months 
here ; health very good. 

No. 63. Twenty-three years old; sentenced to thirteen 
months imprisonment for fornication.* Has been here nine 
months ; health excellent. His dispositions seem good. He con- 
gratulates himself on having been imprisoned in this penitentiary. 

No. 6. Has been two years in this prison ; arrived here un- 
well ; and his health has been re-established in the cell. 

No. 69. Thirty years old; convicted of theft; has been five 
months in prison ; health apparently very good, but his mind 
dejected. " I do not believe," he says, " that I ever shall leave 

* So in the original. This must be a mistake. Qu.? adultery ? TJIANS. 

194 Appendix. Penitentiary of Philadelphia. 

this cell alive; solitude is fatal to the human constitution; it will 
kill me." 

Ques. What are your consolations? 

Jlns. I have but two : labour, and the perusal of my Bible. 

No. 51. Forty-four years old; in relapse. He regrets bit- 
terly having the first time been imprisoned in Walnut street. 
" Nowhere but here," says he, "can one reflect." 

He has been here ten months ; his health was never better. 

No. 47. Has been a year in the penitentiary ; health appa- 
rently excellent. 

His dispositions appear good ; but it is difficult to attach much 
importance to his words, as he expects soon to be pardoned. 

No. 66. Twenty-one years. Contrary to the ordinary course, 
he refused at first to work, and it required a long diet to subdue 
him. At present he is perfectly subdued, he has felt the neces- 
sity of labour in solitude, and works with ardour. He has learnt 
in a short time shoemaking, and makes now from eight to nine 
pair of shoes a week. 

Has been here eight months ; health excellent. 

No. 00. Aged forty. Imprisoned for robbery on the high- 
way with arms in his hand : seems very intelligent; told us his 
story in the following terms: 

"I was fourteen or fifteen years old when I arrived in Phila- 
delphia. I am the son of a poor farmer in the west, and I came 
in search of employment. I had no acquaintance, and found no 
work; and the first night I was obliged to lie down on the deck 
of a vessel, having no other place of rest. Here I was discovered 
the next morning ; the constable arrested me, and the mayor 
sentenced me to one month's imprisonment as a vagrant. Con- 
founded during my short imprisonment with a number of male- 
factors of all ages, I lost the honest principles which my father 
had given me ; and on leaving the prison, one of my first acts 
was to join several young delinquents of my own age, and to 
assist them in various thefts. I was arrested, tried, and acquitted. 
Now I thought myself safe from justice, and, confident in my 
skill, I committed other offences, which brought me again before 
the court. I was sentenced to an imprisonment of nine years 
in Walnut street prison." 

Ques. Did not this punishment produce in you a feeling of 
the necessity of correcting yourself. 

*flns. Yes Sir ; yet the Walnut street prison has never pro- 
duced in me any regret at my criminal actions. I confess that I 
never could repent them there, or that I ever had the idea of 
doing it during my stay in that place. But I soon remarked that 
the same persons reappeared there, and that, however great the 
finesse, or strength of courage of the thieves was, they always 
ended by being taken ; this made me think seriously of my life, 

Appendix. Penitentiary of Philadelphia. 195 

and I firmly resolved to quit for ever so dangerous a way of liv- 
ing, as soon as I should leave the prison. This resolution taken, 
I conducted myself better, and after seven years' imprisonment, 
I was pardoned. I had learnt tayloring in prison, and I soon 
found a favourable employment. I married, and began to gain 
easily my sustenance ; but Philadelphia was full of people who 
had known me in prison ; I always feared being betrayed by 
them. One day, indeed, two of my former fellow prisoners came 
into my master's shop and asked to speak to me ; I at first feigned 
not to know them, but they soon obliged me to confess who I 
was. They then asked me to lend them a considerable sum ; and 
on my refusal, they threatened to discover the history of my life 
to my employer. I now promised to satisfy them, and told them 
to return the next day. As soon as they had gone, I left the shop 
also, and embarked immediately with my wife for Baltimore. 
In this city, I found easy employment, and lived for a long 
time comfortably enough ; when one day my master received a 
letter from one of the constables in Philadelphia, which informed 
him that one of his journeymen was a former prisoner of Walnut 
street. I do not know what could have induced this man to such 
a step. I owe to him my being now here. As soon as my em- 
ployer had read the letter, he sent me indignantly away. I went 
to all the other taylors in Baltimore, but they were informed of 
what had happened, and refused me. Misery obliged me to seek 
labour on the rail road, then making between Baltimore and Ohio. 
Grief and fatigue threw me after some time into a violent fever. 
My sickness lasted a long time, and my money was at an end. 
Hardly recovered, I went to Philadelphia, where the fever again 
attacked me. When I was convalescent, and found myself with- 
out resources, without bread for my family ; when I thought of 
all the obstacles which I found in my attempts to gain honestly 
my livelihood, and of all the unjust persecutions which I suffer- 
ed, I fell into a state of inexpressible exasperation. I said to 
myself: Well then ! since I am forced to do it, I will become 
a thief again ; and if there is a single dollar left in the United 
States, and if it were in the pocket of the president, I will have 
it. I called my wife, ordered her to sell all the clothes which 
were not indispensably necessary, and to buy with the money 
a pistol. Provided with this, and when I was yet too feeble to 
walk without crutches, I went to the environs of the city ; I 
stopped the first passenger, and forced him to give me his pock- 
et-book. But I was arrested the same evening. I had been fol- 
lowed by the person whom I had robbed, and, my feebleness 
having obliged me to stop in the neighbourhood, there were no 
great pains necessary to seize me. I confessed my crime without 
difficulty, and I was sent here. 

Ques. What are your present resolutions for the future? 

196 tflppendix. Penitentiary of Philadelphia. 

Jlns. I do not feel disposed, I tell you freely, to reproach my- 
self with what I have done, nor to become what is called a good 
Christian ; but I am determined never to steal again, and I see 
the possibility of succeeding. If I leave in nine years this 
prison, no one will know me again in this world ; no one will 
have known me in the prison ; I shall have made no dangerous 
acquaintance. I shall be then at liberty to gain my livelihood 
in peace. This is the great advantage which I find in this peni- 
tentiary, and the reason why I prefer a hundred times being here 
to being sent again to the Walnut street prison, in spite of the 
severity of the discipline which is kept up in this penitentiary. 

Has been in prison a year ; health very good. 

No. 00. Age forty years ; has been in the penitentiary but 
eight days. We found him reading the Bible. He seemed calm 
and almost contented. He said, that during the first days, soli- 
tude seemed insufferable to him. He was neither allowed to read 
nor to work. 

But the day before we saw him, books had been given to him ; 
and since then, he found his condition entirely changed. He 
showed us that he had read already almost the whole volume 
which contains the four Gospels. This perusal furnished him 
with several moral and religious reflections. He could not con- 
ceive that he had not made them sooner. 

No. 00. Has been two years in the penitentiary. His punish- 
ment was to expire within a few days. Health excellent. Hope 
and joy gave an expression to his face which it was a pleasure 
to contemplate. He assured us of his having firmly resolved to 
commit no new faults. Every thing indicates that the intentions 
of this young man are good, and that he will act up to them. 
He has been convicted for an act of violence. His conduct in 
prison has always been exemplary. 

Nos. 00 and 00. These two individuals are insane. The war- 
den of the prison has assured us that they arrived in this state at 
the prison. Their insanity is very tranquil. Nothing appears in 
their incoherent speeches which would justify a suspicion that 
their unhappy disorder is attributable to the penitentiary. 

No. 00. Age sixty-two ; has arrived at the last stage of a 
pulmonary phthisis. He is occupied with ideas of a future life 

No. 00. Was a physician ; has the charge of the pharmacy 
of the penitentiary. He converses intelligently, and speaks of 
the various systems of imprisonment, with a freedom of thought 
which his situation makes very extraordinary. The discipline of 
this penitentiary appeared to him, taken in its entire operation, 
mild, and calculated to produce reformation. " For a well edu- 
cated man," he says, "it is better to live in absolute solitude 

Appendix. Penitentiary of Philadelphia. 197 

than to be thrown together with wretches of all kinds. For all, 
isolation favours reflection, and is conducive to reformation." 

Ques. But have you not observed that solitary confinement is 
injurious to health? In your quality of prisoner and physician, 
you are more able to answer this question than any body else. 

fins. I have not observed, that, on the whole, there are here 
more diseases than in society. I do not believe that people here 
feel worse as to health. 

No. 00. Age fifty-five ; enjoyed a comfortable fortune pre- 
viously to his imprisonment ; was a justice of the peace in his 
county. He was confined for having killed his wife's lover. 

This prisoner, who speaks French, seems to be occupied but 
by one idea that of obtaining his pardon. We never could 
make him speak of any thing but of his trial, and the causes 
which produced it. He is drawing up a memorial to the gover- 
nor ; we were obliged to hear a part of it, and to examine with 
him his papers. * He is sentenced to a long confinement ; he feels 
himself old, and only lives upon the hope of soon being deliver- 
ed. This man seemed to us to believe in the efficiency of the 
kind of imprisonment which he suffers. He finds it peculiarly 
fit to correct the guilty, with whom, however, he takes good care 
not to number himself. 

Health very good. 

No. 00. Age twenty years ; is an Englishman by birth, and 
arrived in America but a short time ago ; has been sentenced for 
forgery. He seems intelligent, mild, and resigned. Health ex- 
cellent. His dispositions for the future seem good. 

No. 00. Age twenty years; Englishman by birth. He seems 
to be irritated, and not subdued by the punishment. It seems he 
dislikes visits ; he does not interrupt his work when he speaks 
to you, and hardly answers the questions you put to him. He 
shows no repentance, and is not the least given to religious con- 

Health good. 

No. 00. Age thirty-eight years ; has been but three weeks 
in the penitentiary, and seems to be plunged in despair. "Soli- 
tude will kill me," he says ; " I never shall be able to endure my 
sentence until its expiration. I shall be dead before that time 

Ques. Do you not find some consolation in your labour? 

Jins. Yes, Sir ; solitude without labour is still a thousand 

* Every reader of these lines, who is acquainted with the individual here men- 
tioned, his crime and trial, will allow that he has good reason to make them the 
constant theme of his conversations. He excited the interest of all who knew 
him : the governor has, perhaps, already made an exception in his favour, in 
the general and just rule adopted since the foundation of the eastern peniten- 
tiary, not to grant a pardon easily. THAWS. 

198 Appendix. Penitentiary of Philadelphia. 

times more horrible ; but labour does not prevent me from think- 
ing, and being very unhappy. Here, I assure you, my soul is 

This unfortunate man sobbed when speaking of his wife and 
children, whom he never hoped to see again. When we entered 
his cell, we found him weeping and labouring at the same time. 

No. 00. Age twenty-five ; he belongs to the most comfort- 
ably situated classes of society. He expresses himself with 
warmth and facility. He has been convicted of fraudulent bank- 

This young man shows a great pleasure in seeing us. It is 
easily seen that solitude is for him a terrible torment. The ne- 
cessity of intellectual intercourse with others seems to torment 
him much more than those of his fellow prisoners who have 
received a less careful education. He hastens to give us his his- 
tory ; he speaks of his crime, of his standing in society, of his 
friends, and particularly of his parents ; his feelings towards his 
family were extraordinarily developed. He cannot think of his 
relations without melting into tears ; he takes from under his 
bed some letters which his family has succeeded in sending to 
him. These letters are almost in pieces, in consequence of being 
read so often ; he reads them still, comments upon them, and is 
touched by the least expression of interest which they contain. 

Ques. I see that the punishment inflicted upon you seems ex- 
tremely hard. Do you believe it conducive to reformation ? 

ftns. Yes, Sir ; I believe that this whole system of imprison- 
ment is better than any other. It would be more painful to me 
to be confounded with wretches of all kinds, than to live alone 
here. Moreover, it is impossible that such a punishment should 
not make the convict reflect deeply. 

Ques. But do you not believe that its influence may injure the 
reason ? 

/Ins. I believe that the danger of which you speak must exist 
sometimes. I remember, for my part, that during the first months 
of my solitude, I was often visited by strange visions. During 
several nights in succession, I saw, among other things, an eagle 
perching at the foot of my bed. But at present I work, and am 
accustomed to this kind of life ; I am not any longer troubled 
with ideas of this kind. 

One year in prison. Health good. 

Appendix. Conversation with Mr. E. Lynds. 199 

No. 11. 

* * * * I HAVE passed ten years of my life in the admi- 
nistration of prisons, he said to us ; I have been for a long time 
a witness of the abuses which predominated in the old system ; 
they were very great. Prisons then caused great expenses, and 
the prisoners lost all the morality which they yet had left. I 
believe that this system would have led us back to the barbarous 
laws of the ancient codes. The majority at least began to be 
disgusted with all philanthropic ideas, the impracticability of 
which seemed to be proved by experience. It was under these 
circumstances that I undertook the reform of Auburn. At first 
I met with great difficulties with the legislature, and even with 
public opinion : much noise was made about tyranny ; nothing 
short of success was requisite for my justification. 

Ques. Do you believe that the discipline established by you 
might succeed in any other country than in the United States ? 

Jlns. I am convinced that it would succeed wherever the me- 
thod is adopted which I have followed. As far as I can judge, 
I even believe that in France there would be more chances of 
success than with us. I understand the prisons in France stand 
under the immediate direction of government, which is able to 
lend a solid and durable support to its agents : here we are the 
slaves of a public opinion which constantly changes. But, ac- 
cording to my experience, it is necessary that the director of a 
prison, particularly if he establish a new discipline, should be 
invested with an absolute and certain power ; it is impossible to 
calculate on this in a democratic republic like ours. With us, he 
is obliged to labour at once to captivate public opinion, and to 
carry through his undertaking two things which are often 
irreconcilable. My principle has always been, that in order to 
reform a prison, it is well to concentrate within the same indi- 
vidual, all power and all responsibility. When the inspectors 
wished to oblige me to act according to their views, I told them: 
you are at liberty to send me away ; I am dependent upon you ; 
but as long as you retain me, I shall follow my plan j it is for 
you to choose.t 

If the following- lines should be read by the gentleman whose words they 
pretend to give, the translator trusts that he will take them for nothing more than 
a faithful re-translation from the French. The facts only in this work seemed to 
be of importance. THAWS. 

| Mr. Lynds, we have not the slightest doubt, is, in the main, perfectly right; 
but, unacquainted as he probably is, with the operation of concentrated and 
powerful governments, he mistakes, in our opinion, the facility with which an 

200 Appendix. -^Conversation with Mr. E. Lynds. 

Ques. We have heard it said to Americans, and we are in- 
clined to believe it, that the success of the penitentiary system 
must be partly attributed to the habit, so general in this coun- 
try, of obeying scrupulously the laws. 

Jlns. I do not believe it. In Sing-Sing, the fourth part of 
the prisoners is composed of foreigners by birth. I have sub- 
dued them all, as well as the Americans. Those whom it was 
most difficult to curb, were the Spaniards of South America a 
race which has more of the ferocious animal, and of the savage, 
than of the civilized man. The most easy to be governed were 
Frenchmen; they submitted the most readily, and with the best 
grace to their fate, as soon as they considered it inevitable. If I 
had the choice, I should prefer superintending a prison in France, 
to directing one in the United States.* 

agent of such a government can cany on his plans. First, as to the general suc- 
cess of the penitentiary system, with absolute or even merely concentrated go- 
vernments, we refer the reader to the just remarks of the authors on page 97, 
and seq., and to our note to that passage. There is an essential and total differ- 
ence between an officer who feels himself the servant of a government, and him 
who feels himself the servant of the public. Wherever you require unremitted 
energy in a cause, which, by its character, does not stimulate ambition, or the 
love of gain, you need the public eye, public approbation, and a servant of the 
people. The servant of the government, who feels himself to be such for life, 
may do his prescribed duty; but there are many affairs in which this is of very lit- 
tle avail, and such is the direction or reform of a prison. But there is a second 
consideration equally powerful. If the officer of a popular government is de- 
pendent upon the tide of public opinion, the servant of a concentrated govern- 
ment is dependent upon a minister, or his secretary upon a hundred persons, 
who may take it into their heads to propose something new, to direct him to do 
this, to omit that, and all this from the bureau in a distant place, and unacquaint- 
ed with the matter in question. How many thousand wise plans have been 
crippled, or blasted, by this bureaucratic intermeddling. A minister often, nay 
generally, believes he can and must do every thing ; his secretary has the same 
opinion ; and so on. If public opinion changes quickly, that of an individual 
changes a hundred times quicker ; and, if he has the power of executing his 
opinion, what restrains him ? Hence we see, in some absolute governments, in- 
terminable changes; and, on the other hand, we will find everywhere in his- 
tory, that the freest nations, or bodies politic, retain more of their historical ele- 
ments, if we may so call them, than absolute governments actually stagnant 
governments only excepted. It is a very great mistake to consider popular go- 
vernments only as fickle. But to return to our subject. Mr. Lynds would find 
it difficult to get himself invested with such a power as he justly claims for the 
reformer of a prison, under a concentrated government. No head of a depart- 
ment would part with the right of constant interference, and, in most cases, 
ought to part with it, because, if the watchful control of public opinion does 
not exist, who shall watch over him ? This is the reason why we can delegate 
powers in many cases, which it would be of the greatest danger to delegate in 
an absolute government. Suppose a person in Russia had the power to take 
children from their parents, and to put them into a house of correction, as the 
managers of the New York house of refuge actually have. And yet, who feels 
unsafe on that account in New York ? THAWS. 

* Which assertion would somewhat militate with the opinion of the authors, 
that it would be probably necessary to modify the prison discipline of the United 
States, if it should be applied to the French prisons, on account of its austerity. 

Appendix. Conversation with Mr. E. Lynds. 201 

Ques. What is then the secret of this discipline so powerful, 
which you have established in Sing-Sing, and of which we have 
admired the effects? 

Jlns. It would be pretty difficult to explain it entirely; it is 
the result of a series of efforts and daily cares, of which it would 
be necessary to be an eye-witness. General rules cannot be in- 
dicated. The point is, to maintain uninterrupted silence and 
uninterrupted labour; to obtain this, it is equally necessary to 
watch incessantly the keepers, as well as the prisoners; to be at 
once inflexible and just. 

Ques. Do you believe that bodily chastisement might be dis- 
pensed with ? 

fins. I am convinced of the contrary. I consider the chas- 
tisement by the whip, the most efficient, and, at the same time, 
the most humane which exists; it never injures health, and 
obliges the prisoners to lead a life essentially healthy. Solitary 
confinement, on the contrary, is often insufficient, and always 
dangerous. I have seen many prisoners in my life, whom it was 
impossible to subdue in this manner, and who only left the soli- 
tary cell to go to the hospital. I consider it impossible to govern 
a large prison without a whip. Those who know human nature 
from books only, may say the contrary. 

Ques. Don't you believe it imprudent at Sing-Sing, for the 
prisoners to work in an open field? 

*fl.ns. For my part, I should always prefer to direct a prison 
in which such a state of things existed, than the contrary. It is 
impossible to obtain the same vigilance, and continual care from 
the guardians, in a prison surrounded by walls. Moreover, if 
you have once completely curbed the prisoner under the yoke 
of discipline, you may, without danger, employ him in the 
labour which you think best. It is in this manner, that the state 
may make use of the criminals in a thousand ways, if it has 
once improved the discipline of its prisons. 

Ques. Do you believe it absolutely impossible to establish 
sound discipline in a prison, in which the system of cells does 
not exist? 

Jlns. I believe that it would be possible to maintain consi- 
derable order in such a prison, and to make labour productive : 
but it would be quite impossible to prevent a number of abuses, 
the consequences of which would be very serious. 

Ques. Do you believe that it would be possible to establish 
cells in an old prison? 

Ans. This depends entirely upon the state of those prisons. 

I have no doubt, that, in many old prisons, the system of cells 

might be introduced without great difficulties. It is always easy, 

and not expensive, to erect wooden cells ; but they have the in- 


202 Appendix. Conversation with Mr. E. Lynds. 

convenience of retaining a bad smell, and consequently of be- 
coming sometimes unhealthy. 

Ques. Do you really believe in the reform of a great number 
of prisoners ? 

*dns. We must understand each other ; I do not believe in a 
complete reform, except with young delinquents. Nothing, in 
my opinion, is rarer than to see a convict of mature age become 
a religious and virtuous man. I do not put great faith in the 
sanctity of those who leave the prison ; I do not believe that 
the counsels of the chaplain, or the meditations of the prisoner, 
make a good Christian of him. But my opinion is, that a great 
number of old convicts do not commit new crimes, and that 
they even become useful citizens, having learned in prison a 
useful art, and contracted habits of constant labour. This is 
the only reform which I ever have expected to produce, and I 
believe it is the only one which society has a right to expect. 

Ques. What do you believe proves the conduct of the pri- 
soner in the prison, as to his future reformation? 

fins. Nothing. If it were necessary to mention a prognos- 
tic, I would even say that the prisoner who conducts himself 
well, will probably return to his former habits, when set free. 
I have always observed, that the worst subjects made excellent 
prisoners. They have generally more skill and intelligence than 
the others; they perceive much more quickly, and much more 
thoroughly, that the only way to render their situation less op- 
pressive, is to avoid painful and repeated punishments, which 
would be the infallible consequence of insubordination ; they 
therefore behave well, without being the better for it. The re- 
sult of this observation is, that a pardon never ought to be grant- 
ed, merely on account of the good conduct of a prisoner. In 
that way, hypocrites only are made. 

Ques. The system, however, which you attack, is that of all 
theorists ? 

dns. In this, as in many other points, they deceive them- 
selves, because they have little knowledge of those of whom 
they speak. If Mr. Livingston, for instance, should be ordered 
to apply his theories of penitentiaries to people born like him- 
self, in a class of society in which much intelligence and moral 
sensibility existed, I believe that he would arrive at excellent 
results ; but prisons, on the contrary, are filled with coarse be- 
ings, who have had no education, and who perceive with diffi- 
culty ideas, and often even sensations. It is this point which he 
always forgets. 

Ques. What is your opinion of the system of contract ? 

fins. I believe it is very useful to let the labour of prisoners 
by contract, provided that the chief officer of the prison remains 
perfect master of their persons and time. When I was at the 

Appendix. Conversation with Mr. E. Lynds. 203 

head of the Auburn prison, I had made, with different contract- 
ors, contracts which even prohibited them from entering the 
penitentiary. Their presence in the workshop cannot be but 
very injurious to discipline. 

Ques. Wages for the labour of a prisoner, are very low in 

tflns. It would rise in the same degree as discipline would 
improve. Experience has taught us this. Formerly, the prisons 
were a heavy charge to the state of New York ; now they are 
a source of revenue. The well-disciplined prisoner works more; 
he works better, and never spoils the materials, as it sometimes 
happened in the ancient prisons. 

Ques. Which is, in your opinion, the quality most desirable 
in a person destined to be a director of prisons? 

fins. The practical art of conducting men. Above all, he 
must be thoroughly convinced, as I have always been, that a 
dishonest man is ever a coward. This conviction, which the 
prisoners will soon perceive, gives him an irresistible ascend- 
ency, and will make a number of things very easy, which, at 
first glance, may appear hazardous.* 

During all this conversation, which lasted several hours, Mr. 
Elam Lynds constantly returned to this point that it was neces- 
sary to begin with curbing the spirit of the prisoner, and con- 
vincing him of his weakness. This point attained, every thing 
becomes easy, whatever may be the construction of the prison, 
or the place of labour. 

No. 12. 

Of a Letter addressed to us by Judge Wells of PFethersfield, 
former Commissioner and Director of the State Prison of 
Connecticut, October, 1831. t 

"SINCE building the prison at Wethersfield, I have been of 
the opinion, that had we to build it a second time, we should be 

* In saying this, Mr. Lynds probably alluded to a fact, of which we had been 
informed a few days before at Sing-Sing. 

An individual, imprisoned in that penitentiary, had said that he would kill Mr. 
Lynds, the superintendent of Sing-Sing, upon the first opportunity. The lat- 
ter, informed of the prisoner's resolution, sends for him, makes him come into 
his bed-room, and, without appearing to perceive his agitation, makes him shave 
him. He then dismisses him with these words: I knew you intended to kill 
me ; but I despise you too much to believe that you would ever be bold enough 
to execute your design. Single and unarmed, I am always stronger than you are. 

f We have reason to believe these extracts to be correct. We know that the 
original, given by Judge Wells to the authors, was, though but hastily drawn 
up, much more complete ; and, besides, had been written with constant refer- 
ence to conversations which had passed between those three gentlemen. TRANS. 

204 Appendix. Extracts, fyc. 

able to do it at much less expense. In the present structure many 
useless expenses were incurred ; for example, we have a roof 
covered with slate, gutters of copper, and cornices. In a climate 
like ours, it is better that the eaves should drop directly upon 
the ground, otherwise the water is liable to freeze in the gutters. 

"It appears to me, that in constructing a prison, two great 
errors may easily be committed. 

"The first consists in the want of a proper proportion of 
strength in the different parts of the building. Thus it happens, 
that we often see walls of five or six feet in thickness, composed 
of enormous blocks of stone, bound together by cramp-irons ; 
to these are joined doors and windows which in strength are not 
equal to a wall of one foot in thickness ; and a massive and ex- 
pensive door is sometimes mounted upon hinges, and secured by 
fastenings, proper only for much lighter ones. 

"The second error arises from the idea that the edifice must 
be so constructed as to endure through all coming ages. Public 
spirited and benevolent individuals are devoting much of their 
time and talents to devising improvements in the construction 
of prisons. One improvement suggests another, and it is not in 
the power of any man to foresee the result of these different 
efforts. By them public opinion is changed ; and society at length 
looks with an unfavourable eye, upon an establishment which is 
not capable of admitting all the improvements suggested by ex- 
perience. Within twenty years, an entire revolution of opinion 
often takes place ; the old prisons do not any longer meet the 
wants of the community, and they are abandoned. Such is the 
history of the greater part of the prisons of the United States. 
It is, therefore, very important that these establishments should 
be built upon the least expensive plan, since otherwise they be- 
come obstacles to improvement ; obstacles, the more difficult to 
be overcome, the greater the expense bestowed upon their con- 

"The distinguishing feature in the modern system, consists 
in the substitution of vigilance in the place of strength of mate- 
rial. In the modern prisons, the eye and ear of the watchman 
are incessantly on the alert, and should never be withdrawn. 
Absolute silence should be maintained by day and by night. 

"This constant vigilance contributes to render the construc- 
tion of our penitentiaries less expensive. Experience has shown 
that no greater strength of walls is necessary in a prison, than 
that requisite to withstand the elements, to secure stability to 
the structure, and to resist the sudden attempts of the prisoners 
to escape. It is unnecessary to give to them greater strength than 
to ordinary public buildings, 

" The prison at Wethersfield is built of sandstone in irregular 
blocks. The walls are three feet in thickness at the base, and 

Appendix. Extracts, 8fC. 205 

two at the top. Two and a half at the base, and one and a half 
at the top, is sufficient, with external buttresses to strengthen 
the walls. 

" The top of the walls should be on a level with the ceiling of 
the upper tier of cells. 

" The walls cost 10 cents per cubic foot; say 4 for the stone, 
4 for the work, 1 for the mortar, and 1 for scaffolding and other 
incidental expenses. 

" The cells are of brick, and cost 20 cents per cubic foot. Many 
of them are floored with a single stone. Each of these stones cost 
us four dollars. The floor of the others consists of plank 3 inches 
in thickness, covered with a layer of brick. The whole is cover- 
ed with cement, and cost $2 for each cell. The doors of the 
cells are composed of oak plank, 3 inches thick, strengthened by 
four bolts, running through them transversely. Each door, de- 
ducting the iron work, cost $2 50. I have estimated the cost of 
each cell at $28, comprising the mason-work, hinges, locks, and 

" I have subjoined the plan of a prison having five hundred 
cells. (Vide subjoined plan.) 

"It may be a question, whether, in building a prison, it is 
more advantageous to employ convicts or free labourers. I should 
say, that this would depend upon the manner in which they are 
already employed. If they are engaged in profitable labour in 
their workshops, it is better to leave them there. If, on the con- 
trary, they are not so engaged, they may be put to a business which 
requires no great degree of intelligence, or with which they are 
already acquainted. They may do the iron work, prepare and 
carry the materials, make the mortar, &c. But the expense for 
additional guard, which is necessary if the convicts are thus 
employed, will be so great as nearly to counterbalance any ad- 

"It has been asked, whether the avails of the labour of the 
convicts will probably be sufficient to cover the annual expenses 
of maintaining the prison? Upon this point I will make but a 
single remark, in addition to what I have already stated to you 
in conversation. If in France it has been thought questionable, 
whether the labour of the convicts would be sufficient for their 
support, I can say, that previously to the establishment of the 
new prison, we had in Connecticut as strong reasons for suppos- 
ing that the labour of the convicts would be inadequate to this 
object, as the French themselves. Our former prison was a con- 
tinual source of expense. During the last ten years of its exist- 
ence, it received from the public treasury, over and above all 
that was earned, $8,400 per annum. Few individuals dared to 
hope that the new prison would support itself; and nothing but 
the highest evidence would have led us to believe, that adding 

206 Appendix. Extracts, fyc. 

the former annual loss to the present annual gain, the difference 
to the state treasury would be more than $16,000 per annum 
but such is the fact. 

"It is said, that free labourers in France do not find employ- 
ment as readily as in America ; and, as a consequence, it is more 
difficult to render profitable the labour of convicts. But if the 
free labourer is able to support himself and family, although with 
great effort, the convict ought to do equally well, since his main- 
tenance costs less ; and if the edifices are favourable to inspection, 
they may be superintended by a small number of individuals, 
and consequently at small expense. 

" If the price of labour be less, then the expenses of support 
will also be less ; these two things are correlative, and between 
them, there exists of necessity an exact proportion. 

"I remain, therefore, strong in the belief, that in a prison 
advantageously constructed, the labour of the convicts, if well 
directed, ought completely to indemnify the state. 

Estimate of the expense necessary to build a prison capable 
of containing five hundred convicts. 

Length of the building, - - - - 250 feet. 

Breadth of the building, - 50 " 

Thickness of wall at the base, - 2$ " 

Thickness of wall at top, - - - li " 

Average thickness of the whole height, - 2 " 

Breadth of wall at foundation, - - - 3 " 

Depth of foundation, - 3 " 

The whole makes 49,800 cubic feet of stone laid in mortar, 
at 10 cents per foot. 

The entire expense of which will be 4,980 

Shingle roof,* - 1,250 
Five hundred cells, arranged in 5 stories, at $28 each, 14,000 

Plastering, 600 

Floor of bricks, 4| bricks to the foot, - 200 


Two ranges of buildings one upon each side of the yard, at 
15 feet from the external wall, to contain the shops, store-rooms, 
kitchens, and schools, &c. 

Length, - - 270 feet, t 

Breadth, 30 " 

The French had here ardoise, but the authors were mistaken. It is precisely 
the slate which Judge Wells considers unnecessary at the beginning of these 
extracts. The original, from which the authors translated, had shingle. TRAKS. 

| The floor of each story in these buildings, has 8,100 superficial feet: which 
gives in all, 32,400 feet; this is more than 40 feet shop room per man. A 

Appendix. Extracts, fyc. 207 

Two stories high, covered with shingle roof, 

at $3,000 each, $6,000 

External walls of the yard, in height, - 18 feet. 

Below the surface of the ground, 3 " 

Thickness at base, 2 " 

' " top, - 14 " 

Containing of cubic feet of stone, 31,500, laid 

in mortar, at 10 cents per foot. 

Whole expense of this wall, - $3,150 

Buttresses to support the walls on the outside, 200 

A walk upon the top of the yard wall, 200 

Bars for the windows, 500 

House of the warden, attached to the prison, 2,500 

Incidental expenses, 6,420 

Total, .... $40,000 

Expense for each prisoner, 

" This estimate is made according to the actual cost of the raw 
material ; which is as follows, viz. 

Stone, (sand or free-stone,) per foot, - 4 cents. 

Timber, (1 inch in thickness,) per 1,000 feet, $10 00 
Day's work for ordinary labourers, - - 1 00 

Iron, per pound, 4 " 

"In building the prison, it is not necessary that hewn stone 
should be used, except for the caps and sills of the windows and 

" It should be observed, that nothing has been said in the above 
plan respecting windows and doors. In making the estimate for 
the walls, I have left out of account the apertures, and have con- 
sidered the wall as forming a solid mass. The walls would 
therefore cost less than I have stated, and the excess would cover 
the expense of the doors and windows, together with a part of 
the grating. 

" At Wethersfield, the locks were made by the convicts, and 
cost about $2 25 each. 

Estimate of the Expense of guarding and supporting five 
hundred prisoners, in a prison similar to that of which the 
above is a plan and estimate. 

Food, clothing, and bedding of each prisoner per annum, $22. 

shoemaker requires but 20 feet ; 500 men would therefore occupy 20,000 feet, 
leaving 12,400 feet for store-rooms, offices, &c. This would abundantly answer 
every purpose. 

208 Appendix. Extracts, tyc. 

Total expense of prisoners per annum, 

r, "1 1 warden, - 

Expense . , , 

f * 1 deputy warden, - 

r< j r" 8 overseers of shops. 
iruara. ... , 

J 8 guards, - 

Medicine and hospital expenses, - 

Chaplain, - 

Lights, fuel, and other incidental expenses, 


" From the 500 prisoners, I have deducted fifty for those who 
are aged, sick, and engaged in unproductive labour. The re- 
maining 450, ought to earn, one day with another, 25 cents each. 

In computing the year at 300 days, the total gain should amount 

to 450 men, at 25 cents each, - $33,750 

Deducting the amount of expenses, viz. - 19,100 

There remains a net gain of - $14,650 

" This result will not appear exaggerated, if it is recollected, 
that, during the last year, the one hundred and sixty men con- 
fined in the prison at Wethersfield, earned for the state more 
than half the above named sum, ($14,650,) viz. $7,824. 

"I have no doubt, that, at Wethersfield, the entire annual ex- 
pense of a prison containing five hundred convicts, would be 
covered by $19,100. 

" And I am of opinion, that I have estimated the income to be 
derived from such a prison, sufficiently low. 

" In estimating the expense, I have taken as a basis, the actual 
cost of supporting and guarding the prisoners at Wethersfield ; 
and, when I have spoken of the profits, I have taken care, on 
the other hand, to estimate the labour of the convicts at less 
than its actual value, in the same prison. 

" The value of a day's work, on an average, in the above cal- 
culation, is put at 25 cents per man, although, at Wethersfield, 
no convict is now hired at less than 30 cents per day, and some 
of them have produced to the state $1." 

[To this estimate of a penitentiary on the Auburn plan, we 
will add the estimate of a penitentiary on the Pennsylvania plan, 
with 300 cells. It is taken from the report on the penitentiary, 
to be erected in New Jersey, to the legislature of that state, and 
has been drawn up by John Haviland, of Philadelphia, after 
whose design, and under whose direction, the Eastern peniten- 
tiary has been constructed. He has, of course, great experience 
in this kind of construction, and has made the plan and estimate 
according to the latest improvement, and on the most economi- 
cal scale. The report above mentioned, says : 

flppendix. Extracts, ' Sec. 209 

" The plan submitted is substantially upon the principle (with 
several improvements) of the Eastern penitentiary, varying, 
however, in its application, correspondent with a scale of reduc- 
tion. It is plain, simple, and economical; and susceptible of ex- 
tension, according to the increasing demands of the state, and 
this too, not only without marring its original design, but by 
carrying the same into complete effect." 

The architect, in his estimate, says: "I have made the ac- 
companying drawing, model, and estimate, for your contemplat- 
ed new state penitentiary, designed for ' solitary confinement 
with labour.' Since the commencement of our Eastern state 
penitentiary, much valuable experience has been obtained, and 
considerable improvements made in the desired properties of 
security, ventilation, light, warming, and supervision of the 
cells, and location of the operative offices of the institution. 

"In the estimate, I have calculated every feature of the de- 
sign, to be executed in the most substantial and approved man- 
ner, and of the best materials of their several kinds, avoiding 
useless ornament, and employing members best calculated to 
perfect the desired properties of the institution. The value of 
labour and materials taken from the best information and ex- 

" The whole plan will accommodate three hundred prisoners, 
and admit the erection of any one of the radiating blocks, as 
circumstances may require, from time to time, without interfer- 
ing with each other." 

External wall, $14,000 

Front building containing the culinary, laundry, 
and bathing offices, store-rooms, keeper's cham- 
bers, observatory, reservoir, belfrey, and other 
fire-proof rooms, expressed in the plan, 15,000 

Culvert, sinks, cast-iron pipes, covered ways, appa- 
ratus for cooking, warming, and raising water 
into reservoirs, 13,000 

Five radiating blocks of cells. 

Block A, containing 50 cells, -, 18,000 

" B, " 75 " 27,000 

" C, " 50 " 18,000 

" D, " 75 " 27,000 

" E, " 50 " - 18,000 

300 cells. $150,000 

Philadelphia, January, 1833. 


210 Appendix. Connecticut State Prison. 

No. 13. 



Duties of the Warden. 

1. HE shall reside at the prison, and shall visit every cell and 
apartment, and see every prisoner under his care, at least once 
every day. 

2. He shall not absent himself from the prison for more than 
a night, without giving notice to one or more of the directors. 

3. It shall be his duty to cause the books and accounts to be 
so kept as clearly to exhibit the state of the convicts, the number 
employed in each branch of business, and their earnings, the 
number in the hospital, the expenses of the prison, and all re- 
ceipts and payments, purchases and sales ; and to exhibit the 
same to the directors at their quarterly meetings, or at any time 
when required. The quarterly accounts of the warden shall be 
sworn to by him, and shall specify minutely the persons from 
whom or to whom moneys are received or paid, and for what 

4. It shall be the duty of the warden to make all contracts, 
purchases, and sales, for and on account of the prison to over- 
see and command all the inferior officers in all their various 
duties, and see that they conform to the law, and the rules and 
regulations prescribed by the directors. He shall see that the 
prisoners are treated with kindness and humanity, and that no 
unnecessary severity is practised by the inferior officers but if 
the security of the prison shall be in danger, or personal violence 
should be offered to him or any of the officers or guards, then 
he or they shall use all lawful means to defend themselves, and 
secure the authors of such outrage. In executing the duties of 
his office, the warden should never lose sight of the reformation 
of the prisoners, and should carefully guard himself against per- 
sonal and passionate resentment. All orders should be given 
with mildness and dignity, and enforced with promptitude and 

5. It shall be his duty to treat persons visiting the prison with 
uniform civility and politeness, and to see that they are so treated 
by the inferior officers. 

6. As it is by law the duty of the directors to see personally 

Appendix. Connecticut State Prison. 211 

to the condition and treatment of the prisoners, no regulation or 
order shall be made to prevent prisoners having ready access to 
the director who shall be present, nor shall any punishment be 
inflicted upon them for speaking to a director. In discharging 
this part of their duty, the directors will deem it proper not to 
suffer a convict to hold any conversation with them in the hearing 
or presence of other prisoners. 

7. The warden may, with the advice and consent of the direc- 
tors in writing, appoint one person to be a deputy warden, and 
may, with such consent and advice in writing, remove him. 

Of the Deputy Warden. 

1. He shall be present at the opening and closing of the prison, 
during the performance of religious services, and also at all other 
prison hours. 

2. He shall daily visit the hospital, cookery, cells, and see that 
every part of the institution is clean and in order. 

3. It shall be his duty to exercise, under the direction of the 
warden, a general inspection and superintendence over the whole 
establishment, and all its concerns, to see that every subordinate 
officer strictly performs his appropriate duties, to visit frequently 
the places of labour and yards without notice, and see that the 
convicts are diligent and industrious, and generally to see that 
the rules and regulations of the institution are enforced, and that 
every precaution is taken for the security of the prison, and the 
prisoners therein confined. 

4. He shall attend to the clothing of the convicts, and see that 
it is whole, properly changed, and in order. 

Of the Overseers. 

1. There shall be an overseer of each shop, to be appointed by 
the warden. 

2. Each overseer shall, on entering upon his duties, take an 
accurate account of the various implements and tools belonging 
to his department, with the value of the same in money, and 
shall lodge a copy of such account under his hand with the war- 
den, and such account shall be corrected quarterly, by adding 
such new implements as may have been purchased, or such as 
may have been broken, damaged, or lost. He shall keep an ac- 
count of the stock furnished his department, and of the articles 
manufactured there and taken therefrom, and also of the daily 

212 Appendix. Connecticut State Prison. 

and weekly earnings of each convict. He shall see that all the 
property belonging to his department shall be carefully preserv- 
ed, and that the work is well and faithfully done, and shall con- 
sult and promote the interest of the state, or the contractor who 
may employ the convicts. It is especially enjoined upon each 
overseer, to preserve in his department the most entire order. 

No conversation between prisoners shall be allowed. Nor 
shall any overseer converse with a prisoner, except to direct 
him in his labour. If any prisoner is idle, careless, or refractory, 
he shall be forthwith reported to the warden or deputy warden 
for punishment. Each overseer shall enter upon his book the 
name of each sick or complaining prisoner, and shall, before 9 
o'clock A. M., deliver to the warden or deputy a list of such 
names, with the date, which list shall be placed in the hospital. 

3. Each overseer shall perform his regular tour of night duty, 
as he may be directed by the warden. 


Of the Watchmen. 

1. It shall be the duty of the several watchmen to perform all 
such various duties and services, for the safety and security of 
the prison, as may be directed by the warden, both by day, and 
during the night; to be vigilant and active while on post, and 
to maintain, while off from duty, and in the guard room, both 
towards each other and all other persons, a gentlemanly deport- 
ment ; to refrain from all those acts which are inconsistent with 
the strictest decorum treating with an uniform politeness and 
civility, all persons who shall visit the prison ; recollecting that 
the reputation, as well as the safety of the institution, depend 
essentially upon them, individually as well as collectively. They 
are to be cautious they are neat and cleanly in their own per- 
sons, and that the guard room shall at all times exhibit a speci- 
men of neatness and order ; and that their arms are always in 
repair, and ready for service. No watchman shall be allowed to 
hold any conversation with a prisoner, except to direct him in 
his labour. Nor shall he receive from, or deliver to a prisoner, 
any article or thing, without the knowledge of the warden or his 

2. It shall be the duty of the warden to designate some person 
who shall be employed at the prison, to see, personally, that the 
various rations ordered by these rules are weighed or measured 
for the day, according to the number of prisoners, and delivered 
to the head cook ; and he shall keep an exact account of all such 
rations, so by him delivered, and shall, under oath, render the 

Appendix. Connecticut State Prison. 213 

same quarterly to the warden, under his hand, to be laid before 
the directors. 

3. Each and every person who shall by the warden be appoint- 
ed to any office in or about said prison, shall be held as engaged 
to, and attached to the institution ; and if in office at the time a 
vacancy shall happen in the office of warden, as bound to con- 
tinue his services at the prison, for at least one month after the 
death, removal, or resignation of the warden, unless sooner dis- 
charged by his successor ; and in case any such officer shall re- 
fuse or neglect to perform his duty, he shall forfeit three months* 
wages, to be recovered by any succeeding warden, and this by- 
law shall be considered as one of the terms on which each officer 
shall contract, and as assented to by him. 


Of Cleanliness. 

1. The hall and cells shall be swept daily, and the sweepings 
carried outside of the wall. The floor of the hall shall be washed 
once a fortnight through the year. The cells shall also be fre- 
quently washed and whitewashed. 

2. The beds and bedding shall be taken out of the prison and 
aired in the yard, once a week in the warm season, and once a 
fortnight during the rest of the year, when the weather will 
allow; and each prisoner is to take the utmost care that his cell 
be kept neat, and that his furniture be not injured : and in default 
of observing this rule, his bed, bedding, and bedstead, to be taken 
from him until he will conform. 

3. The utmost care is to be taken that the persons of the pri- 
soners are kept clean. For this purpose they shall have suitable 
accommodations for washing. 

4. The night pails shall be kept carefully clean, and their con- 
tents carried without the walls, and covered in the manner now 

5. No filth, nuisance, or offensive matter, shall be suffered to 
remain in or about the prison, shops, or yard ; but the whole es- 
tablishment must be made to exhibit throughout, a specimen of 
neatness, good order, and cleanliness. 


Of the Hospital and Physician. 

1. The warden, with the approbation of the directors, shall 
appoint some proper person to be the physician, who shall re- 

214 Appendix. Connecticut State Prison. 

ceive such compensation as shall be fixed and agreed upon by 
the directors. 

2. The hospital shall be furnished with the necessary beds, 
bedding, bedsteads, tables, and all other necessary utensils, for 
the comfort and accommodation of the sick, and shall at all times 
be kept in a state of readiness to receive such patients as are or- 
dered there by the physician. 

3. The physician shall direct such supplies, stores, and furni- 
ture, as may be necessary in his department; and his order in 
writing shall authorize the warden to procure the same. He shall 
record in a book all the orders so given, designating the articles 
and the time when given. He shall also keep an account of the 
various articles belonging to his department He shall also re- 
cord in said book, his visits, the names of the patients reported 
as sick or complaining, the names of such as are ordered to the 
hospital, or as are ordered to their cells on sick diet, or are or- 
dered to their shops. He shall visit the institution every other 
day through the year, and oftener if it shall be necessary, or if 
sent for, and shall personally see every patient or prisoner, who 
may, by the respective overseers, be reported as sick or com- 
plaining. He shall also enter the names of such as shall be dis- 
charged from the hospital, or shall die, the nature of the com- 
plaint and the prescription, and shall subjoin such other remarks 
as he may deem expedient, respecting the nature of each case, 
and the treatment thereof, or in relation to the general health, 
diet, or employment of the prisoners, or cleanliness of the prison, 
which book shall remain at the prison, and shall be always open 
to the inspection of the warden and directors. 

He may apply to the warden for the assistance of such con- 
victs as may be necessary to nurse and attend upon the sick, and 
he, as well as the warden, shall endeavour to render the condi- 
tion of the sick prisoner, in all respects, as comfortable as his 
situation will admit. Whenever any prisoner shall not be suffi- 
ciently ill, as to make it necessary that he be ordered to* the hos- 
pital, the physician may direct such diet to be prepared for him, 
from the hospital or prison stores, as he may deem necessary. 

4. If it shall so happen that the directions or prescriptions of 
the physician shall not be complied with, or duly observed, it 
shall be his duty to enter such failure or omission in his book, 
with the reason thereof, if he shall be acquainted with the same, 
to the end that proper measures may be taken to prevent future 

General Regulations. 
1. No officer or person connected with the institution, shall 

Appendix. Connecticut State Prison. 215 

be permitted to buy from, or sell to any convict any article or 
thing whatever, or make with him any contract or engagement 
whatsoever, or cause or allow any convict to work for him or 
his benefit, or grant any favour or indulgence to a convict, except 
such as the laws allow. Nor shall he receive from any convict, 
or from any one in behalf of such convict, any emoluments, pre- 
sents, or reward whatever, or the promise of any for services or 
supplies, or as a gratuity. Nor shall he take or receive to his own 
use and benefit or that of his family, any fee, gratuity, or emo- 
lument, from any person committed to his custody, nor, from 
any of their friends or acquaintances, or from any person whom- 
soever, and every officer offending herein, shall be forthwith 

2. The compensation to each and every officer, shall be fixed 
and settled by the directors before he enters upon the duties of 
his office, and no officer shall be allowed or permitted to take or 
receive any other or greater compensation than the sum so fixed ; 
nor shall he take or receive either from the public property or 
in the labour or services of the convicts, any perquisite whatever, 
without the consent of the directors in writing. 

3. Spirituous liquors shall in no case be furnished to the con- 
victs, except on the prescription of the physician. And each and 
every officer is hereby required wholly to abstain from their use, 
during the period of his employment at this institution, on pe- 
nalty of being dismissed. 

4. No officer except the warden, shall strike, beat, or punish 
corporeally any prisoner, except in self-defence. 

5. In case any officer shall be absent from the prison, except 
upon the public business of the same, the rateable compensation 
of such officer shall be stopped during the time of such absence. 

6. Each cell shall be furnished with a Bible, and the convicts 
may have such other religious books and attendance, as the war- 
den, with the assent of the directors, may think suited to im- 
prove their morals and conduct. 

7. All sums which shall be received from persons visiting the 
prison, shall be accounted for to the state, and deemed a part of 
the income of the prison, and such sums shall be included in the 
quarterly accounts of the warden. 

Duties of the Convicts. 

1. Every convict shall be industrious, submissive, and obe- 
dient, and shall labour diligently and in silence. 

2. No convict shall secrete, hide, or carry about his person, 
any instrument or thing with intent to make his escape. 

216 Appendix. Connecticut State Prison. 

3. No convict shall write or receive a letter to or from any 
person whatsoever, nor have intercourse with persons without 
the prison, except by leave of the warden. 

4. No convict shall burn, waste, injure, or destroy any raw 
materials or article of public property, nor deface or injure the 
prison building. 

5. Convicts shall always conduct themselves toward the offi- 
cers with deference and respect ; and cleanliness in their persons, 
dress, and bedding, is required. When they go to their meals 
or labour, they shall proceed in regular order and in silence, 
marching in the lock step. 

6. No convict shall converse with another prisoner, or leave 
his work without permission of an officer. He shall not speak 
to, or look at visitors, nor leave the hospital when ordered there, 
nor shall he make any unnecessary noise in his labour, or do any 
thing either in the shops or cells, which is subversive of the good 
order of the institution. 

Of the Rations, Bedding, &fc\ 

1. The rations for each convict per day, shall be one pound 
of beef, one pound of bread, to be made of rye flour and corn 
meal unbolted. Five bushels of potatoes to each hundred rations, 
and a porridge for supper, to be made of twenty pounds of corn 
meal, and six quarts of peas, to each hundred rations. Each con- 
vict to be furnished with pepper and salt. 

2. Each convict shall have a straw mattress, three blankets 
in winter, and two in summer, and two coarse cotton sheets of 
sufficient size the whole to be kept carefully clean. They shall 
not be permitted to sleep in their clothes, nor to lie down or rise 
until notice shall be given by the bell. Their meals shall be 
taken in their cells. 

No. 13. bis. 


For the House of Reformation, South Boston. Reported by 
the Chaplain, E. M. P. Wells, to the Board of Directors, 
and by them approved. 

Of Initiation. 

1. WHEN a boy is received into the institution, his person 
shall be examined and washed, and new dressed, if there be oc- 

Appendix. Boston House of Reformation. 217 

casion therefore ; and if medical or surgical aid be required, it 
shall be administered as soon as may be. 

2. The chaplain shall also examine him, as to his habits of 
life, principles, and passions state to him the cause of his com- 
ing, the object of his remaining, and the improvement and time 
necessary for his leaving. 

3. He shall then be introduced by name to the boys, while 
assembled, and receiving a copy of these laws (if he can read,) 
he shall be placed in the second or third mal grades, as his case 
may require ; in both or the former of which, he shall remain 
one week on probation. If, during this probation, he has behaved 
well, he shall be so reported to the boys, and their vote taken 
whether he shall be received into their community. If there be 
one of the first bon grade j two of the first two ; four of the first 
three, or five in all, who vote against him, he shall not be ad- 
mitted till another trial. 

4. If a boy of peculiar circumstances, extra age, or committed 
by the Municipal Court, be received, he shall remain in a soli- 
tair one or more weeks before being introduced to the boys. 

Division and Occupation of Time. 

1. There shall be in each day three meals the time for eat- 
ing which shall not be less than one hour for the three : three 
seasons for play, three-quarters of an hour each : two seasons for 
school, and two for work except Sundays. 

2. The exact time of beginning and ending each division of 
time, as also the hour for rising from and going to bed, shall be 
definitely fixed and regularly marked by the ringing of the bell 
as often as necessary. This division of time may be varied ac- 
cording to the season of the year, by consent of the committee. 

3. On Sundays, the chaplain may regulate the exercises as he 
pleases, except that there shall be the two usual morning and 
evening services. There shall be prayers every morning and 

The Discipline 

Shall be chiefly moral, rather than physical. 

1. No member of the community (see Initiation, art. 3d) shall 
be punished by whipping, or the cells; but solitary rooms, vi- 
sors to obscure the sight, bracelets to restrain the hands, privation 
of conversation, of play, of work, of the regular food, or of one 
meal entirely, shall be substituted therefore. 

2. A boy shall not be punished for a fault not expressly pro- 
hibited, either by the laws of God, of the country, or of the in- 
stitution ; and not unless he knew it was so prohibited, as far as 
can be judged from circumstances. 

3. No boy shall be required to give information of the faults 


218 Appendix. Boston House of Reformation. 

of another, nor shall he be allowed so to do, unless he be appa- 
rently conscientious in it. 

4. No boy shall be punished for a fault, however great, which 
he frankly and honestly confesses, unless he is influenced by his 
being suspected, or partially known ; nor shall any boy be pun- 
ished for faults which come out in the confession of another, 
except by consent of the one confessing. 

A Dr. and Cr. account shall be kept with each boy; Dr. 
marks shall be given for small faults, and at the close of each day 
the names shall be called over, and every boy shall pass judg- 
ment on his own conduct, and answer to his name, good, bad, 
or indifferent. No opinion shall be given to a boy by which to 
regulate his answer ; but if his answer be given better or worse 
than it should be, it shall be corrected by the instructors, or mo- 
nitors. And if it be and ought to be good, he shall receive a Cr. 

. 6. There shall be a court held in each day, before morning or 
evening prayers, for the examination and settlement of cases of 
conduct. - 

7. As man is not capable of punishing disrespect or irreverence 
to God : therefore, if a boy be irregular in his behaviour at reli- 
gious services, he shall not be allowed to attend them leaving 
the punishment with a higher power and for a future day. 

8. The accounts shall be settled every Saturday night. If a 
boy have a balance of two bad marks, they may be carried to a 
new account ; but for a greater number of marks, he shall be de- 
graded one or more grades, according to the rules of those grades ; 
except in the first mal a boy may lose his supper on Sunday 
night for his bad morals, if they do not exceed four. 

If the balance of marks be Cr., they shall be passed to new 
account, for the purchase of passers to the city, books, paper, 
pencils, combs, handkerchiefs, and various other advantages. 

9. In cases of extraordinary bad conduct, whether from its 
nature or long continuance, a boy may be expelled from the com- 
munity ; after which he shall have no intercourse with the boys; 
and if circumstances should again favour a readmission to it, shall 
not be except by the regular course of probation. 

10. As the government of the institution is in part committed 
to monitors, the following regulations respecting them are 

The monitors to whom the government and business of the 
house are at all committed, shall be appointed at the beginning 
of each month: A head monitor who shall preside in the absence 
of the officers : Two keepers of the keys, who shall take charge 
of the keys, ring the bells, open and shut the doors, morning, 
night, and other set times, and tend the door bells : A sheriff 
and his two deputies, who shall take charge of the second and 

Appendix. Boston House of Reformation. 219 

third mal grade, one of them at all times, except sleeping hours, 
and the first mal grade during play hours : A steward, who shall 
have a boy with him, and shall attend to the marketing ; the boys' 
meals, and provisions : A monitor of police, who shall have two 
or three boys under him, who shall daily sweep clean and ar- 
range the boys' part of the house, except the chambers and 
dining-room : A monitor of the chambers, who shall attend to 
their daily and weekly clearing and arranging, who shall also 
keep order in the upper entry at night: A monitor of the ward- ' 
robe, who shall attend to the brushing, putting up, and giving out 
of the clothes : Three door-keepers, who shall attend to particular 
doors or gates, as may be required : other monitors may be oc- 
casionally appointed. The monitors of divisions and of the first 
grade, shall be elected monthly by the boys of such divisions 
and grades, and shall march them, and see that their heads are 
combed, and their faces and hands washed before breakfast. 

The principal enforcement of discipline shall be by promotion 
or degradation, according to the following system of grades of 
character with their privileges and privations. 

The members of the community shall be divided into the fol- 
lowing grades of character. 

Bon Grades First Grade. 

Those who make positive, REGULAR, and CONTINUED ef- 
fort to do right. 

Their faults can be those only of mistake, or very rarely those 
of carelessness. 


1. The same as the inferior grades, and also 

2. To walk without the stockade, without a monitor; to sail 
and swim without a monitor. 

3. To go to their rooms without permission, and into the din- 
ing room, when necessary. 

4. To leave their seats in the assembling room, without per- 

5. Other things being equal, this grade have a choice before 
all others. 

6. The use of the recreation room. 

7. To be intrusted, when necessary, with the most important 

8. To have their word taken on all common occasions. 

9. To have their birth-days celebrated. 

10. To wear the undress uniform. 

Second Grade. 
Those who make positive and REGULAR effort to do right. 

220 Appendix. Boston House of Reformation. 

Their faults are those only of carelessness ; faults not evil in 
themselves, or if so, not intentional ; or a balance of bad marks. 
Also faults which are simply legal. 


1. The same as all inferior grades. 

2. To go to the city for twenty-five good marks, without a 
monitor, if it is the third time. 

4. To be intrusted with keys of secondary importance. 

5. To be capable of holding the offices of appointment. 

6. To take books from the reading-room. 

7. To use the papers in the assembling room, without permis- 

9. Other things being equal, this grade have a choice before 
all inferior. 

Third Grade. 

Those who make positive effort to do right. 

Their faults are those only of carelessness or of momentary 
erring ; faults evil in themselves, perhaps, but immediately re- 
pented of, on reflection ; or a balance of three bad marks. 


1. The same as the inferior grades, and also 

2. To go to the city for twenty-five good marks under a mo- 

3. To walk about the grounds under a monitor. 

4. To go to the gymnasium and reading room. 

5. To use the books and papers in the assembling room by 

6. To hold offices by election. 

Mai Grades First Grade. 

Those who are positively inclined to do wrong. Their faults 
are only legal faults, (that is, things not wrong in themselves) or 
moral faults rarely committed, or a balance of five bad marks. 


1. To be deprived of play and of conversation except with 
those of this grade, or when necessary to those they are at work 

2. Not to go to the superintendent's rooms. 

3. Not to vote at elections. 

4. For faults committed while in the grade, marks or degra- 

Appendix. Boston House of Reformation. 221 

Second Grade. 

Those'who are positively and REGULARLY inclined to do wrong. 
Their faults are moral or legal ones often committed, or a bal- 
ance of ten bad marks. 


1. The same as the first grade. 

2. Not to converse with any boys, except when necessary 
about their work. 

3. Not to speak to the superintendent except when permitted. 

4. To be deprived of their regular seats, and kept distinct un- 
der a sheriff and never be dismissed, except when in their bed 

5. To be deprived of cake, or any other extra food. 

6. For faults committed while in this grade, to be degraded, 
unless for trifling ones, which may be settled by bad marks. 

Third Grade. 

Those who are positively, REGULARLY and CONTINUALLY 
inclined to do wrong. 

Their faults are moral faults often committed, or a single in- 
stance of doing wrong, without any other motive than the love 
of the wrong. 


1. The same as all others. 

2. To have their food bread and water, to wear bracelets or a 
visor, or to be put in a solitary room. The first of these, de- 
prives of the use of the hands ; the second, of the eyes ; and the 
third, of the usual liberty. 

3. For faults committed while in this grade, or if a boy be de- 
graded to this grade for any extra fault, such as lying, dishonesty, 
profane language, or such faults, he may be deprived as above. 

The time necessary to remain in the above grades before pro- 
motion is four weeks in the second Bon, two weeks in the third 
Bon, one week in the first mal, and in the second or third mal 
grade one day each, and the term for each must be correctly 
passed according to each grade. 

12. The following things not before mentioned are also for- 

1. To use profane, vulgar or angry language. 

2. To use tobacco. 

3. To pass through any door or gate or up and down stairs 
without permission. 

4. To cut, scratch, break, write upon or in any other way dis- 
figure the buildings, furniture or fences. 

222 Appendix. Boston House of Reformation. 

5. To engage in any game or play which is not specially al- 
lowed of. 

6. To fire stones about the house, or any thing in the house. 

7. To go out of the paths in the garden or pull up or eat any 
thing except by permission. 

8. To carry food from the dining room to throw it about or 
pass it to others. 

9. To bring any thing to the house without permission. 

10. To have any buttons belonging to the clothes. 

11. To converse with different grades except among the Bon 

12. To have any thing of the knife or cutting kind except re- 
gular pocket knives. 

13. To have yarn, thread, twine or balls except by permission. 

14. To run in any part of the house except the two arches. 

15. To climb any where except in the Gymnasium. 

Bed Rooms. 

Every boy shall have a bed to himself, and he shall not change 
his bed or sleep in the bed clothes of another or wear his clothes 
without permission. 

There shall be no playing, laughing, singing or other noises 
except that of conversation in a low voice, in the chambers. 

The boys shall make their beds and do the other chamber 
work immediately after the ringing of the first bell and the 
opening of the doors, between which there shall be one quarter 
of an hour. 

No boy shall keep any thing whatever in his room except 
books without permission. 

! No boy shall go into his own or any other boy's room (except 
he be of the first Bon Grade) without permission. 


The bed rooms, assembling room, reading room, and wardrobe, 
entries and stairs, shall be washed and scoured alternately once a 
week when in use. The winter bed clothing shall be washed in 
the spring before putting away. The sheets shall be changed at 
least once in two weeks The shirts shall be changed once a 
week at all seasons, and in the summer twice a week as circum- 
stances require. The summer jackets and trousers shall be changed 
every week, extraordinaries excepted. The chamber utensils shall 
be rinsed every day and washed every week. 

2. During the warm weather the boys shall bathe in salt water 
three times a week unless the weather prevent. 

3. Out of the bathing season the small boys shall be washed all 
over and the large boys the upper and lower part of their bodies 

Appendix. Boston House of Reformation. 223 

at least once a week, and their heads shall be combed twice a 
week specially. 

4. The hair shall be cut once a month. 


The breakfasts and suppers shall consist of one pint of tea or 
shells, and as much bread as each boy wishes, but he shall re- 
turn all that he does not want. 

2. The Dinners, as nearly as convenient, shall be as follows. 
Baked Beef with vegetables once per week. 

Boiled " " " " " " 

Stewed " or soup " " " " 
Fish or Beef minced " " " " 
Baked Beans " " " 

Puddings " " " 

3. On Christmas, Thanksgiving, 4th of July and Election day, 
the boys shall have extra food and recreation. 

4. A boy shall not be deprived of his food more than one meal 
for the same fault, nor in ordinary cases shall he be kept on bread 
and water for more than three or four days. 


1. On Sundays and on special occasions the boys shall be 
dressed in a uniform to consist of a blue cap and jacket single 
breasted and white trowsers in summer, and in winter some other 
light colour. 

2. The ordinary dress shall be of a plain and durable kind, 
except the first Bon Grade, who shall wear the first grade uniform. 

The foregoing rules apply to females as well as males, varying 
only as circumstances dictate. 

No. 14. 


Wethers field, October 1th, 1831. 
To Messrs, de Beaumont and de Toqueville : 


THE population of Connecticut amounts to about 280,000 souls. 
During thirty-six years, the old shafts near Timesbury, and 

* Re-translated. The Rev. Mr. Barrett is no longer the chaplain. His place 
is occupied by the Rev. Mr. Whittelsey. TRASS. 

224 Appendix. Letter of Mr. Barrett. 

called Newgate, served as a state prison. The new prison has 
been inhabited only for about four years. 

During the forty years preceding the month of July, 1831, 
the number of individuals sent to these two prisons amounted to 
976. Their crimes were of the following classes; 435 had com- 
mitted burglary; 139 horse stealing; 78 passing counterfeit 
money; 41 assault and battery; 47 attempt to commit rape \ 3 
attempt at poisoning; 1 murder (the punishment had been com- 
muted); 11 robbery on the highway; 1 robbing the mail; 1 bes- 
tiality; 60 forgery; 25 misdemeanors ; 15 had been committed 
for attempting to deliver prisoners ; 34 for arson ; 9 for man- 
slaughter ; 4 for rape (the punishment had been commuted) ; 2 
for cheating; 5 for bigamy; 23 for adultery; 16 for breaking 
fences ; 3 for attempts at escape ; 9 for theft, to the injury of 
the prison ; 4 for incest ; 3 for perjury ; and 5 for crimes not 

There are, in Connecticut, about 3 coloured people to 100 
white. In the prison, the proportion of the negroes is about 33 
to 100. 

Of 182 convicts whom I have examined, there were 76 who 
did not know how to write, and 30 who had not learned to read. 

Sixty had been deprived of their parents before their tenth 
year ; and 36 others had lost them before their fifteenth year. 

Of 182, 116 were natives of Connecticut. 

Ninety were from twenty to thirty years old, and 18 were 
sentenced for life. 

The prison contains at present 18 women. Some are employ- 
ed in the kitchen, and in washing for the prisoners ; others in 
sewing shoes. 

For a pair of shoes they receive 4 cents ; a woman can finish 
from 6 to 10 pair a day. During night they are in separate cells. 

Morning and evening, prayers are said in presence of the 
prisoners ; passages of the Bible are read and explained to them. 
The convicts show themselves attentive and collected on these 
occasions. Every one finds in his cell a Bible furnished by the 
state, and in which he may read when he likes. Generally, they 
are disposed to this kind of reading. The other day, passing by 
their cells, I observed 23 prisoners out of 25, who were seriously 
occupied in reading. 

On Sunday, a sermon is preached in their presence, which 
they never fail to hear with great attention. They often make, 
afterwards, curious questions respecting the meaning of what 
they have heard. 

When the principles of the Holy Scriptures are impressed on 
the heart of a convict, it certainly may be believed that his reform 
is complete : we have reason to believe that this result has been 
sometimes obtained. I should think that fifteen or twenty of 

Appendix. Letter of Mr. "Barrett. 225 

the actual number of prisoners are so affected in this case. It is, 
however, impossible, so far, to establish this point in a positive 
way. It is necessary to wait until the state of liberty, and re- 
sistance to temptations, finally prove their reformation. 

None of the convicts refuse at least religious instruction ; and 
I have not yet found a single one who has shown the least want 
of respect, when I have come to visit him in his cell. 

I have observed, that ignorance, neglect on the part of parents, 
and intemperance, formed, in general, the three great causes to 
which crime must be attributed. 

The majority of convicts show themselves anxious to be in- 
structed. There were some who arrived without knowing a let- 
ter, and learned to read within two months. Yet they could 
make use of the Bible only, and received no other lessons than 
those which could be given through the grates of their cell. 

The result to be expected from a prison depends much upon 
the character of the keepers. They ought to have moral habits, 
to speak little, and to be ready to see every thing. 

If the keepers are what they ought to be ; if the convicts, 
separated during night, labour during day in silence ; if continued 
surveillance is joined with frequent moral and religious instruc- 
tion, a prison may become a place of reformation for the convicts, 
and a source of revenue to the state. 
I am, respectfully, &c. 

G. BARRETT, Chaplain of the Prison. 

[To the above letter, we will add some extracts of the Report 
of the Chaplain of Auburn Prison, the Rev. Mr. B. C. Smith, 
contained in the Annual Report of the Inspectors of that prison 
to the Legislature, January 8th, 1833. TRANS.] 

The fact which, of all others, is the most striking to a person 
conversant with the religious history of convicts, is that of their 
great and general ignorance of the Bible and consequently, of 
the nature of the relations which they sustain to God and to 
their fellow men, and of the obligations which arise out of those 
relations. Without mentioning particular instances of this igno- 
rance, which would scarcely be credited, it is sufficient to re- 
mark, that many, upon being questioned, have betrayed their 
inability to name any one of the books or parts of which the 
Bible is composed ; and expressions of surprise at finding it to 
be such a book as it is, are so common as to be very remarkable. 

It is not, however, to be denied, that there are many, too 
many, among this guilty and degraded class of men, who have 
broken through all the restraints of a religious education, and 
urged their way to prison against all the powerful motives pre- 
sented to their minds in the Bible ; but they are so few, com- 
pared with those who have been brought up without instruction 

226 Appendix. Extracts, fyc. 

in the great doctrines and duties of religion, that the observer 
cannot fail to be struck with the disparity, or to see in it a direct 
and conclusive proof of the salutary influence of the Holy Scrip- 
tures, and of the importance of their universal diffusion and in- 

It is gratifying to be able to add, in corroboration of the same 
point, that, of more than two thousand convicts who have been 
sentenced to this prison, only two or three are known to have 
previously received instruction in Sabbath schools. 

Another fact, little less remarkable, respecting this class of 
men, is their general ignorance of letters. Since the establish- 
ment of our Prison Sabbath School, nearly seven years since, 
about five hundred and fifty convicts have been brought into it 
for instruction. Of these, a great majority could read only in 
the easiest reading lessons, by spelling many of the words ; and 
more than one hundred commenced with the alphabet. They 
were selected, it is true, (from the younger portion of the con- 
victs,) on account of their illiterateness ; but yet it is clear, from 
this statement, that the education of these men, as a class, is far 
inferior to that of our citizens generally. The pupils in our 
school are, almost exclusively, between the ages of eighteen and 
thirty; and the whole number, of all ages, from which they; 
have been selected, is not more than 1640 550 = 1090. The 
proportion of illiterate men above the age of thirty is at least 
equal few, if any of whom, it will be observed, have been 
brought into this account. For the honour of our country, it is 
to be hoped that no spot can be found exhibiting such a propor- 
tion of men so illiterate, between the ages of eighteen and thirty, 
compared with the whole population above the age of eighteen. 
Where is the community, whose every eleventh adult, even of 
the whole population, has yet to learn the letters of the alphabet? 

Another fact, which, though already notorious, is worthy of 
repetition here, is the remarkable prevalence of intemperance 
among this class of men. It will be seen in a striking light in 
the following statement. The number of convicts now in this 
prison is 683, of whom there had been, 

nrossly intemperate, - 230 
[oderately intemperate, (regular drinking, and occasional 

intoxication, or either,) - 278 

emperate drinkers, - - 156 

'otal abstinents, or nearly so, - 19 


The first two classes, making 508, or nearly three-fourths of 
the whole number, may with propriety be accounted intemperate. 

Appendix. Extracts, fyc. 

Of these, 385 were under the influence of ardent spirits at the 
time they committed their crimes ; and of the whole number, 
219 have acknowledged that either one or both of their parents, 
or their masters, were more or less intemperate. 

Multitudes of facts like these, most fully attest that intempe- 
rance is the great and overflowing source of crime in our land ; 
and, after what I have seen in this prison, I cannot doubt, that 
the decrease of criminal convictions will almost keep pace with 
the progress of temperance, nor that its universal reign would, 
in the end, well nigh depopulate our prisons. To what cause but 
the temperance reform is it to be ascribed, that the number of 
state prison convictions in this state, during the year 1832, is 
nearly a hundred less than that ot the preceding year ? 

Is not the proportion of unmarried convicts also worthy of 
remark? It would be an interesting subject of inquiry, and per- 
haps lead to some important conclusions, to ascertain and compare 
this proportion between married and unmarried adults in the 
community at large. I have not the means at hand of ascertain- 
ing the proportion of marriages among the latter, but give that 
of the former in this prison, to enable any one, who may be curi- 
ous enough, to prosecute the inquiry. 

Married convicts, - 364 

Unmarried convicts, - 319 


Instances of separation between husband and wife, by deser- 
tion, previous to conviction, 62 by death, 38. 

Is not this proportion of unmarried men in prison, much 
greater than that of the unmarried to the married among our 
adult male population in general ? And if so, what is the infer- 
ence respecting any doctrines tending to repudiate a certain 
"arbitrary custom" that prevails in society "under its present 
organization ?" 

The married convicts left, under age, 901 children : 
With a competence for their support, 2237 

Without property of any amount, - 678 3 
Among relatives who could assist them, 180 
Without property or assistance of friends, 498 
The resident chaplain's weekly routine of duties is too well 
known to need now to be particularly described. The most pro- 
minent are, the general superintendence of the Sabbath school, 
the public exercises of the chapel, and the private instructions 
at the cells, on the Sabbath, and the daily evening devotions in 
front of the cells, and the visiting of the hospital, during the 

Of the manner in which these and the various other duties 

228 Appendix. Extracts, 8?c. 

have been performed, it does not become me to speak. I trust, 
however, I shall be indulged in saying, that, in all my instruc- 
tions and admonitions to the convicts, I have dealt plainly with 
them. I have dwelt, emphatically, upon their depravity and 
guilt in trampling upon the laws of God and of their country ; 
endeavoured to awaken remorse in their consciences, to convince 
them of the justice of their punishment, to induce them to yield 
strict and humble obedience to all the regulations of the prison, 
to press home upon them the duty of immediate repentance and 
amendment, and to persuade them to take refuge in the mercy 
of Him who says, " Let the wicked forsake his way, and the 
unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, 
and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will 
abundantly pardon." 

Great pains have also been taken to dissuade them from the 
future use of ardent spirits, by portraying the ruinous effects of 
intemperance, as exhibited in their own wretched condition, 
and that of their distressed families and friends, and by giving 
them appropriate tracts, and frequently reading the best essays 
on the subject in the chapel. 

The Sabbath school still proves to be a very important and 
efficient auxiliary to the labours of the chaplain. During the past 
year it has consisted of about two hundred pupils, under the 
immediate instruction of thirty-five of the students of the theo- 
logical seminary, whose benevolent, discreet and zealous efforts 
for the benefit of these men, deserve the highest commendation. 
The primary object of the school is to instruct the illiterate to 
read ; but in doing this, the teachers avail themselves of the op- 
portunity of dropping useful incidental remarks, and of making 
such explanations and applications of the great truths of the Bi- 
ble, as are calculated to enlighten the understanding and affect 
the heart. The happy tendency of this system of instruction is 
clearly apparent, not only in the remarkable progress of most of 
the scholars in reading and religious knowledge, but also in their 
more ready and cheerful compliance with the rules of the prison, 
and, as we trust, in some instances of that moral transformation 
which is the surest pledge of a virtuous life here, and the only 
ground of hope for the future. 

And what has been said of the apparent influence of the Sab- 
bath school instruction, may, if I mistake not, be said also of 
the other modes of instruction. The convicts in general appear 
to be affected in view of divine truth. Their fixed attention, and 
often their deep solemnity, during the public exercises of the 
Sabbath, as well as the impressive stillness of the hour for even- 
ing devotions, is a subject of general remark. In private con- 
versation, after the first few interviews, they manifest, almost 
without exception, a kind, tender, subdued state of feeling, and 

Appendix. Extracts, fyc. 


not merely a willingness, bat more or less eagerness, to receive 
instruction. And it is so common to hear them, with bursting 
tears, utter expressions of gratitude that they were arrested in 
their infatuated career, and lodged in the state prison, that it has 
almost ceased to be remarkable. We do not dream, that the 
hopes which such appearances are calculated to awaken, will 
always or even generally be realized ; but that they have been, 
in many instances, we have the most satisfactory testimony. We 
have documents to show that a great number who were once 
convicts in this prison, are now useful and respectable citizens. 
It is known, also, that not a few of them, in various parts of the 
country, are consistent professors of religion, and that several 
are exemplary members of churches in our own village. 

Let me here disclaim any intention of arrogating to our sys- 
tem of moral and religious instruction, simply, and independent- 
ly, all or any of the merit of working such changes in the feel- 
ings and conduct of such men. Under a system of unrestrained 
association and intercourse among them, it would, I have no 
doubt, prove to be utterly inefficient. Its success depends upon 
the rigid enforcement of such a system of discipline as your 
Board have adopted in this institution. Confident as I am, that 
your system of physical coercion and discipline, merely, with- 
out its accompaniment of moral motives, would only make bad 
men worse, I am no less confident that without such a system of 
strict seclusion and non-intercourse, religious motives would 
have no power to make bad men better. Of this I have been 
more fully convinced than ever, since our number of convicts 
became so large as to make it necessary to confine several to- 
gether at night, in each of our large cells. The mischievous 
effects of this association, partial as it was, have been plainly 
perceptible, not only upon those convicts themselves, but upon 
others with whom they have laboured by day. But I rejoice to 
find that this evil is entirely remedied now, by the completion 
of the new and admirable block of cells in the south wing. 

It gives me the sincerest pleasure, too, that your Board will 
be able to represent to the legislature a great improvement in the 
condition of the female department. Since it has been under the 
superintendence of our pious and capable matron, by day, with 
the means of a partial separation, or rather classification, at 
night, the appearance and conduct of these females have cer- 
tainly been very strikingly improved. We are no longer dis- 
turbed by their boisterous mirth, their infuriate shrieks, their 
shocking oaths, or the sound of the missile brickbat. We hear 
no more the clank of their chains, nor see upon their faces the 
marks of savage combat. With only an occasional exception, 
all now is silence, order, neatness, and cheerful industry. It is 
truly surprising, that the presence of a matron, under all the dis- 

230 Appendix. Extracts, fyc. 

advantages which must be encountered in apartments so ill 
adapted to the purpose, should ever have wrought so great 
a change. * * 

But if all these inconveniences were obviated, there would 
still remain one, which, of itself, ought to be sufficient to de- 
cide the matter at once, and for which there, is no remedy, as 
stated in the last report of your Board, " without incurring an 
expense, in the re-organization of the male department, more 
than equal to that of erecting an entire new institution for fe- 
males." I allude to the fact of their being necessarily confined, 
day and night, perpetually, within walls which almost exclude 
the air and light of heaven. They never do, and never can, 
step out of their close apartments, for one moment, to breathe 
the fresh air, or enjoy the broad light of day. The consequence 
is, a great amount of disease, and a general lassitude and inert- 
ness almost as bad. A proportionate amount of sickness among 
the male convicts, would throng the hospital with from fifty to a 
hundred men constantly, instead of six or eight. In this situa- 
tion, many of the females have endured long sentences, and 
others remain who have spent more than half of their terms, of 
seven, ten, twelve, and fourteen years. Who can hesitate to 
pronounce it inhuman barbarous unworthy of the age? And 
why is the penalty of the law allowed to fall with more severity 
upon this class of convicts than upon the other? To be a male 
convict in this prison, would be quite tolerable; but to be & fe- 
male convict, for any protracted term, would be worse than 

No. 15. 


With the Superintendent of the House of Refuge in Phila- 
delphia, November, 1831. 

Ques. Of how old a child, do you believe, the reformation 
may be obtained ? 

J2ns. Experience has shown, that after fifteen or sixteen years, 
there is little hope of reformation. Almost all young persons, 
who had passed this age when they entered the refuge, have con- 
ducted themselves badly after leaving it. 

Ques. How many young persons have left the house of re- 
fuge since its foundation ? 

/ins. One hundred boys and twenty-five girls. 

Ques. Do you believe that a great number of these persons 
have been reformed ? 

Appendix. Conversation, fyc. 231 

Ans. About two-thirds of them have conducted themselves, 
so far, well ; at least, to judge by the reports of the people with 
whom they are as apprentices. 

Ques. What vices, do you believe, are the most difficult to 
be corrected ? 

J2ns. The habit of theft with boys ; immorality with the girls. 
A girl who has lived in prostitution must be considered nearly 

Ques. Do you find that the children make rapid progress ? 
fins. Yes : I believe that they learn with greater ease than 
honest children. 

Ques. Do not the regulations permit them to borrow books 
every week from the library? 
*fins. Yes. 

Ques. Do they like reading? 

<flns. Of one hundred and fifty-one young delinquents, eighty 
seem to like reading very much. 

Ques. What disciplinary punishments are in use with you? 
Jlns. The whip, solitary imprisonment, and reduction of food 
to water and bread. 

Ques. Do you believe that it is dangerous to allow the young 
subjects to have free communication with each other during the 
hours of recreation? 

Jlns. This indulgence may, undoubtedly, present some dan- 
gers, and absolute silence might here, as in the great peniten- 
tiaries, be established ; 'but I doubt that it would be wise to do 
so ; children need activity and gaiety for the development of their 
body and the formation of their character. 

Ques. What have been the first expenses of the house of re- 

Jlns. About 65,230 dollars. 
Ques. What are the annual expenses? 

fins. About 12,000 dollars, including every thing. The sa- 
laries of officers amount to 2,953 dollars. 

Ques. How much does the labour of the young persons an- 
nually yield? 

JIns. About 2,000 dollars, which leaves 10,000 dollars to be 
otherwise defrayed. 

Ques. How many books have you in the library of the house? 
t/?n*. 1,500 volumes. These books have been given by cha- 
ritable persons. The state has made no provision on the subject. 

232 Appendix. Statistical Notes. 

No. 16. 

No. I. Divers documents relative to the sanatory state of the penitentiaries at 
Auburn and Philadelphia. II. Documents relative to individuals who have 
been pardoned in Auburn and Sing-Sing, tVom 1822 to 1831. Also some ob- 
servations on the prerogative of pardon in the United States. III. Some penal 
laws of the State of Maryland relative to slaves. IV. Difference between the 
mortality of negroes anci of white persons; of manumitted persons and slaves. 
V. Sum total of persons sentenced to imprisonment in the State of Pennsyl- 
vania in 1830. VI. Number of executions in the State of Mainland from the 
year 1785 to 1832. VII. Table of individuals who, from 1821 to 1827, have 
been detained in the prisons of New York, tried, acquitted, and convicted. 
Vlll. Influence of the City of New York on the morality of the State. IX. Sum 
total of convictions pronounced in 1830 in the whole State of New York by 
the ordinary tribunals. 

No. I. Documents relative, to the sanatory state of the peni- 
tentiaries at Jluburn and Philadelphia. 

[The authors give, under this head, short extracts from the an- 
nual reports of the physician at Auburn, and from Dr. Bache's 
report for the years 182930-31, on the Pennsylvania peniten- 
tiary system and that of Walnut street, in respect to their influ- 
ence on the health of the prisoners. The subject is of the greatest 
importance, and we prefer, therefore, to refer the American 
reader to those reports themselves, or the extracts of them in the 
annual reports of the Bosk Pris. Disc. Society, where he will 
find them in a more convenient form than we should be able to 
give them in this place. The American reader has in this respect 
sources of information so near at hand, that he can dispense with 
statements calculated for a public at such a distance. The Asiatic 
cholera has afforded a peculiar test of the penitentiary system 
in respect to health. As far as we have been able to ascertain, 
the result is in an extraordinary degree in favour of the peniten- 
tiaries compared to prisons on the old plan ; nay, we might almost 
say, compared to society in general. We have no doubt that 
Mr. Dwight will pay particular attention to this important point 
in the eighth report of the Bost. Pris. Disc. Society. It is an 
opportunity, which, we pray God, may not be afforded a second 
time. Whilst the information which we have been able to gather 
so far, some of which is of an official character, (e. g. See the 
Ann. Rep. of the Insp. of the Auburn State Prison, January S, 
1833) is very satisfactory respecting penitentiaries, it is, to judge 
from statements in the papers of the day and from some official 
papers (e. g. Report of the Committee appointed to investigate 
the local causes of the cholera in the Arch street Prison in Phi- 

Appendix. Statistical Notes. 233 

ladelphia, Mr. Gibbon chairman, read to the House of Represen- 
tatives February 21, 1833) the contrary, as regards the prisons on 
the old plan ; and we have little doubt, but that it will be found 
the same all over the world, wherever cholera exists, It may 
be objected, that the cholera is of a peculiar character: that, 
whether it be contagious or epidemic, the separation of individuals 
necessarily must be advantageous, but that the favourable result 
in this special case, does not prove any thing in respect to the 
general state of health. But it will be allowed that if we con- 
sider, first, all the favourable reports of former years, which have 
we think established the fact, that the penitentiaries are highly 
conducive to health, whether compared to other prisons, or to 
the state of health of that class of persons in society to which 
the majority of convicts belong ; and secondly, that in most 
countries, those who were attacked by cholera did not previously 
enjoy sound health, so that victims would not have been wanting 
in the penitentiaries, had their inmates not been in general 
healthy we think it will be allowed, that the fact of the cholera 
having so much spared the penitentiaries, goes far to prove their 
general state of health. The report of Mr. Gibbon, above quoted, 
is a valuable paper in several other respects. TRANS.] 

No. II. Documents relative to individuals, who have been 
pardoned in Auburn and Sing-Sing ; also some observa- 
tions on the use of the prerogative of pardon in the United 

We have thought that some details respecting the manner in 
which the right of pardon is exercised in the United States, 
and especially in the state of New York, would be interesting to 
our readers. 

From 1822 to 1831, in Auburn as well as in Sing-Sing, 130 
individuals, sentenced to three years imprisonment, were par- 

Among these the one who remained longest in prison, had 
been confined two years.* 

The minimum of a prisoner's stay in prison before being par- 
doned has been 17 days. 

Eighty-six, or more than half, have been pardoned before 
half of their sentence had expired. 

In the same period, 49 individuals, sentenced to 5 years im- 
prisonment, had been pardoned. 

Maximum of the stay in prison before pardon : 4 years. 

Minimum : 3 months. 

Twenty-seven, or more than half, have been pardoned before 
the expiration of half of their punishment. 

* We omit the fractions of months and days- 

234 Appendix. Statistical Notes. 

Nine individuals, sentenced to six years imprisonment, were 

Maximum of the stay in prison : 5 years. 

Minimum : 1 year. 

Six prisoners were pardoned before half of their sentences 
had expired. 

Eighty-three individuals, sentenced to seven years imprison- 
ment, were pardoned. 

Maximum of time spent in prison : 6 years. 

Minimum : 4 months. 

Fifty-three, or nearly two-thirds, had not yet been there half 
the time allotted to them by the court. 

Thirty-eight individuals, sentenced to ten years imprisonment, 
were pardoned. 

Maximum of their imprisonment : 9 years. 

Minimum : 2 months. 

Twenty-eight, or nearly two-thirds, have been pardoned be- 
fore half of their sentence had expired. 

Thirty-six individuals, sentenced to fourteen years, were par- 

Maximum : 10 years. 

Minimum : 1 year. 

Twenty-two, or nearly two-thirds, were pardoned before half 
of their sentence had expired. 

At length, sixty individuals, sentenced for life, were pardoned. 

All obtained their pardon before having passed seven years in 
the prison. 

Several of them before having spent two years, and one after 
having passed eight months in the prison. 

It is thus seen, that all prisoners sentenced for life, who have 
obtained pardon in the course of these eight years, remained im- 
prisoned for a less time than the persons sentenced for fourteen 
years and even for ten years. 

It is easy also to prove, that the authority which pardons more 
frequently chooses these convicts than the others. 

Thus the prisoners convicted for life formed about the 
eighteenth part of all convicts sent annually to Auburn and 
Sing-Sing, from 1822 to 1S31; it is therefore to be believed, that 
they form equally about the eighteenth part of the prisoners. 

Now, of 477 pardoned convicts, 60 had been sentenced for 
life, or the seventh part of the pardoned. 

There is then one convict for life to eighteen prisoners, and 
one to seven pardoned.* 

Thus convicts for life find themselves doubly privileged, and 
it may be said without exaggeration, that, in the state of New 

From the following table, taken from the Annual Report of the Inspectors 
of the Auburn Prison, it will be seen, that, during the year ending December 

Appendix. Statistical Notes. 


York, it is the interest of the criminal, that the heaviest punish- 
ment his case permits be pronounced against him. 

It is easy to indicate why the privilege of pardon is so fre- 
quently made use of in the United States, and particularly in 
favour of prisoners sentenced for life. 

Without examining the question whether it is absolutely ne- 
cessary for society that some authority should have the right to 
suspend punishments, it may be said, that the less this authority 
is elevated above the rest of society, and the less independent it 
is, the greater will be the abuse of pardoning. 

In the United States, the governor of each state alone has, 
generally, the dangerous privilege of pardoning ; he may do even 
what no sovereign, the most absolute, of Europe, does ; he may 
dispense with the obligation of being judged. [See our remarks 

31, 1832, there were pardoned eight prisoners sentenced for life of twenty-seven 
pardoned prisoners, which would be nearly as one to three. But before we 
could give any remarks on this extraordinary proportion, it would be necessary 
to know the particulars of these cases. Thus, we believe, that the present 
governor, averse to pardoning in general, grants pardons to those prisoners who 
have been imprisoned for a time equal to that awarded by the new laws for the 
crime they committed. He, of course, has nothing to do with the pardons enu- 
merated below. TRANS. 




Term unexpired. 

Assisting felon to escape, 

5 years 

46 years 

3 years 5 months 


10 " 


5 " 3 


Passing counterfeit money, ... 



2 " 8 



15 " 


10 " 6 





Burglary, ...... 


Maliciously maiming, 


Petit larceny, second offence, 

7 years 


3 " 9 





Grand larceny and perjury, ... 

13 years 

32 ' 

6 " 9 


Burglary, ...... 



Assault and battery, to rape, ... 

5 years 


1 " 11 

Petit larceny, second offence, - 

4 " 


1 " 8 


Passing counterfeit money, and grand larceny, 

14 " 

2d con. 

9 " 1 



2 " 

51 years 


Petit larceny, second offence, - 

5 " 






Passing counterfeit money, ... 

10 years 


5 8 



5 " 


2 " 6 

I* 1 f\t*n> */ 

7 " 


3 " 7 

4 << 


3 " 1 

5 " 



1 " 11 







Assault and battery to kill, 

4 years 


3 " 3 


Grand larceny, 

5 " 


I " 10 


7 " 


3 " 10 

236 Appendix. Statistical Notes. 

below. TRANS.] In this respect the Americans rather follow 
the traditions of the ancient colonial constitutions, than a logical 
order of ideas. Now, in spite of the extent of these rights in 
special matters, the governor of a state occupies a social station, 
by no means elevated. Every one may approach him at any 
time; press upon him any where and at any moment. Thus 
given up, without an intermediate person, to urgent solicitations, 
can he always refuse? He feels himself the slave of the public 
caprice ; he depends upon the chances of an election, and he is 
obliged to treat his partisans with extreme care. Would he dis- 
satisfy his political friends by refusing a slight favour? More- 
over, being invested with little power, he loves to make as 
much use of it as possible. All these causes, added to the em- 
barrassment occasioned for a long time by want of room, explain 
why the right of pardoning has been made use of so often in the 
United States. The excess of the evil has attracted public atten- 
tion only a few years back. Pardons, which are yet granted in 
too large a number, are, nevertheless, much less frequent than 

The same reasons explain, partly, why those prisoners who 
are convicted for life are treated more favourably than others. 

In the first place, these have the greatest interest in obtaining 
a pardon, as they are the most punished. Moreover, a man sub- 
mits more easily to a punishment whose duration is fixed. His 
imagination and that of his friends is more easily calmed, because 
they see some fixed limits ; authority, too, on its side, refuses to 
shorten a punishment which has a certain termination. 

But he who is sentenced for life sees no end, no limits to his 
hopes or fears ; he and his friends use the most pressing means 
to obtain a pardon, which may be granted to-morrow, or may 
be delayed for years. 

The governor thus finds himself much more obstinately so- 
licited in favour of a convict for life than for any other; and he 
grants much sooner the request, because, not wishing to refuse 
always, he does not clearly see why he should not yield in one 
moment as well as in another. 

It thus happens that the most guilty are precisely those who 
have the greatest chance. 

To conclude, nothing exposes the abuse of pardoning and its 
extent in the United States, in a clearer light than the following 
passage of an American publication : 

" The New York committee ascertained that there are men 
who make a regular trade of procuring pardons for convicts, by 
which they support themselves. They exert themselves to ob- 
tain signatures to recommendations to the executive authority 
to extend pardxm to those by whom they are employed.- And inr 
this iniquitous traffic they are generally successful through the 

Appendix. Statistical Notes. 237 

facility with which respectable citizens lend their names, with- 
out any knowledge of the merits or demerits of the parties. Few 
men have the moral courage necessary to refuse their signatures, 
when applied to by persons apparently decent and respectable, 
and few governors have the fortitude to refuse. I have, how- 
ever, recently seen stated in the message of one of our state 
governors, I forget which, that he had pardoned only two or 
three convicts during his administration. 

" It is obvious that the grant of pardon does not depend on 
the degree of guilt, but on the pecuniary means of the convict 
to hire the members of this corps. A person convicted of mur- 
der in the second degree, attended with the most aggravating 
circumstances, who has powerful friends, or is plentifully sup- 
plied with money, has tenfold more chance of pardon, than a 
poor wretch found guilty of petty larceny." Mathew Carey's 
Thoughts on Penitentiaries and Prison Discipline. Page 59. 

[We would recommend the reader to read the whole division, 
headed " Power of Pardoning," of the above work, from page 
58 to 61. TRANS.] 

[It is this passage, we believe, which contains the greatest 
mistake in the whole book ; not that we are not strongly opposed 
to the abuse of the pardoning privilege. No citizen of the United 
States can dislike it more than ourselves, whether the matter is 
considered as a question of law and justice, or of charity and 
humanity. The power of pardon, given to protect in some in- 
dividual cases, when the law, by its inherent generality, strikes 
too hard, has been wielded like a poisoned sword against the 
society which conferred it. It has taken away much of the awe 
of crime. We know of no safer rule for a society, than this : 
make your laws merciful, and your prisons humane; but having 
done this, look neither to the right nor the left, but let the law 
strike, and the prison punish. Some very rare cases, indeed, 
ought alone to form exceptions. 

But what we cannot understand, is by what mistake the au- 
thors were led to the statement, that the governor of a state can 
dispense with the obligation of being judged. This assertion is 
erroneous in two respects. 1. All the monarchs of the European 
continent have this privilege ; they can stop a process whether 
the King of the French has this right to the whole extent which 
the other monarchs of the continent possess, we do not know. 
This prerogative of the monarch is by no means unfrequently 
made use of ; almost always if a high officer is accused of an act 
which was for the interest of government. When Dr. .Tahn was 
arrested, in 1819, the minister of the police published, in the 
daily papers, malicious insinuations and distorted statements 
against him, when his trial had not yet begun. Dr. Jahn imme- 
diately instituted a suit against him, and when the trial was going 

238 Appendix. Statistical Notes. 

on, the process was "stopped" by royal order; which meant 
that it was to be abandoned; the word "stopping" having been 
chosen as a technical term, merely to make the sound at least 
more agreeable to the idea of justice, as if the process were 
merely adjourned to be taken up at another time. 2. No gover- 
nor, and no person or body whatsoever in the United States, can 
dispense with the obligation of being tried. As we said, we can- 
not see the cause that led our authors to so gross a misconception. 
They cannot have meant, that government may, for certain con- 
siderations, not prosecute a crime. Government can do so, of 
course, everywhere. Thus a person having killed another in a 
duel, may perhaps not be prosecuted for it, if he return after 
some years of absence. But that has nothing to do with the 
governor. If nobody accuses, there can be no trial. If a grand 
jury find a true bill, no power on earth can stop the trial. Or do 
the authors allude to the power of the governor to grant pardons 
to state witnesses ? We shall not investigate here, whether this 
making of state's-evidence, so shocking to every one who comes 
from a country where it does not exist, (and certainly it is in 
the abstract extremely immoral, that the state, or society, should 
know of a crime without prosecuting it, nay, even negotiate with 
it,) is an evil essentially inherent in the "process of accusation," 
during which the prisoner himself appears entirely passive, and 
is never called upon to testify against himself a process which, 
in other respects, has many advantages or whether the "process 
of accusation" might exist without this offensive anomaly ; but it 
is certain that the King of England has the same power, and, in 
a degree, the French government also. So much are the authors 
mistaken in their position, that it may be said with truth, that the 
governors of the several states are even limited in their pardoning 
power, in cases where the heads of the European governments are 
not so ; e. g. they cannot generally affect the judgment consequent 
upon an impeachment. As to the causes detailed above, of the 
great abuse of pardoning, that of the facility of access to the go- 
vernor is undoubtedly the most correct ; in the same manner as so 
many pardons have been granted in Europe, where a friend of 
the prisoner succeeds in penetrating to the monarch. In this, as in 
other things, all depends upon public opinion. If public opinion 
support a governor in refusing pardons, we will not see so many. 
The next reports, we trust, will show that we are right. Respect- 
ing the other cause assigned for frequent pardons, we mean the 
political one, the authors have not lived long enough among us, 
to know that the people, being here the sovereign, naturally see 
many things in a very different light from that in which people 
view them who have no part in the government. In Italy, if a 
man commit murder, the first thing that happens is, that every 
person gives him all possible aid to ensure his escape from the arm 

Appendix. Statistical Notes. 239 

of the government. In the United States, where no hatred exists 
against the police, it is totally different. We do not believe that 
a governor ever has pardoned a criminal for the purpose of 
courting a political party ; nor has it ever been the case in those 
parts of our country where there exists a large population of 
foreigners or descendants of foreigners, in order to get their 
numerous votes. At all events we do not know of such a case ; 
it can be but very rare ; not more frequent than a pardon ob- 
tained through the mistress of a monarch, or a bribe given to a 
minister's secretary. It is a good sign, that the Quakers, the 
most zealous, and so successful in the cause of humanity, are, 
if we mistake not, the most strongly opposed to pardoning. 

Proportion of Convicts, who, after having been pardoned, 
are recommitted. 

Of six hundred and forty-one prisoners, who, from 1797 to 
1811, have been pardoned in Newgate (New York), fifty-four 
have committed new crimes, and have returned to the same 
prison. This makes about one out of twelve. (Extract from the 
old register of Newgate. ) 

No. III. Some Penal Laws of Maryland, referring to Slaves. 

In Maryland, as well as in most states of the South, different 
penal laws are applied to slaves and to free coloured people. 

The latter are subject to the same laws with the whites ; but 
the slaves are, in penal matters, as in every other respect, in a 
position peculiar to themselves. 

If a slave is found guilty of a misdemeanor, the whip is ad- 
ministered to him, and the master pays damages to the injured 
party, as in a case where domestic animals have done injury to 
others. Slaves who commit grave crimes are hung ; and those 
who commit crimes which are not punished with death, though 
they are considered heinous, are sold out of the state. 

This kind of legislation is economical ; it rests on simple ideas, 
the execution of which is easy and quick qualities peculiarly 
appreciated in democratic governments. It must be considered 
as one of the numerous anomalies presented by American so- 

If the sale of a slave is thus ordered by the tribunals, the 
convict is given to one of the slave dealers, whose business it is 
to carry slaves from the northern slave-holding states, where 
their number surpasses the demand, to the southern slave-hold- 
ing states, where they are more wanted. The criminal slave is 
confounded with the others ; care is taken that his character and 
former life be not known, because it would lessen his price. The 

240 Appendix, Statistical Notes. 

state which thus sells a slave, does nothing else than freeing itself 
of a germ of crime, in order to introduce it furtively among its 
neighbours. In one word, it is an act of brutal egotism, tolerated 
and sanctioned by a moral and enlightened society. 

No. IV. Difference, remarked in the United Slates, between 
the mortality of Negroes and Whites, Free Coloured people 
and Slaves. 

In examining the bills of mortality in America, a fact has 
surprised us, which shows how privileged the ruling race is, 
even in respect to longevity. 

In Philadelphia, there died, from 1820 to 1831, but one white 
out of forty-two individuals of the white race ; whilst one negro 
died out of twenty-one individuals of the coloured race. 

If we compare the mortality of the slaves with that of free 
people of colour, we arrive at a still more surprising fact: during 
the last three years, there died at Baltimore, one out of twenty- 
eight free negroes,* and one out of forty-five slaves. 

Thus the free coloured people die sooner than the slaves. 

This is easy of explanation : the slave has no agitation of 
mind, because he has no care for future plans ; he has not to 
struggle with misery; and his actions, deprived of the character 
of morality or immorality, as he is not a free agent, are at least 

The freed slave, without capital and industry, is exposed to 
every misery ; he does not know the art of conducting himself, 
he has not learned to use his reason, which nevertheless is to be 
substituted for the impulse, which he formerly received from 
his master. That happens to him on a small scale, which hap- 
pens to all nations of the world, whenever they suddenly shake 
off arbitrary power. Liberty is something great and noble, in- 
deed, but those who first acquire it rarely reap the fruits. 
Emerson's Medical Statistics, page 28 ; Reports of the Health 
Office of Baltimore. 

No. V. Sum total of persons sentenced to imprisonment in 
the State of Pennsylvania, in 1830. 

In order to discover, by approximation, the total number of 
persons sentenced to imprisonment during 1830 in Pennsylva- 
nia, we have proceeded in the following way : 

There are in that state 51 counties, each of which has a pri- 
son for convicts sentenced for a short imprisonment. Besides 

Strange! Free people of colour die in less numbers in Baltimore, where the 
government is hard and oppressive to them, than in Philadelphia, where they 
are the object of philanthropy and public attention. 

Appendix. Statistical Notes. 241 

these, there are two central prisons, to which the counties send 
all criminals sentenced to one year's imprisonment or upwards. 

We knew the exact number of individuals which the county 
of Philadelphia, the most populous of all, had sent in 1830 to 
the county jail. We knew also the number of criminals, who, 
in the same year, had been sent to the central prisons from all 
the counties. We had, therefore, yet to ascertain the number of 
convicts sent to the various county jails, in order to know how 
many criminals had been convicted in 1830. 

The following is the method which we adopted to ascertain 
this number. 

We thought that the number of individuals sent by the county 
of Philadelphia to the central prisons in 1830, which is 229, is 
to the number of convicts, sent in the same year, by the same 
county of Philadelphia, to the county jail, viz. 1431,* as the 
number of individuals sent by the other counties of Pennsyl- 
vania to the central prisons, which is 98, is to the number of 
prisoners sent in 1830 by the same counties to their special pri- 
sons the number in question ; in other words, we adopted the 
following proportion : 229 : 1431 = 98 : X which gives x = 
612. Six hundred and twelve individuals, then, were sent in 
1830 to the various county jails, exclusive of Philadelphia, pro- 
vided our calculation be strictly correct. 

But we believed we could not take the number 612 as the 
true one. There is, in fact, a number of petty offences which 
only occur in cities, and there is a number of others which are 
prosecuted only where justice is in full activity. Proportion- 
ally, therefore, a less number of small offences, and a greater 
number of more heinous crimes, are committed in the country 
than in cities. 

On the other hand, Pennsylvania has many boroughs, and 
even considerable towns, as Pittsburg, Harrisburg, and Lancas- 
ter, where the number of small offences must be greatt 

We believe therefore, that, in reducing the number 612 to one 
half, we must approach the truth. This gives 306 ; but six con- 
victs for each of the fifty counties. 

We are by this calculation rather below than above the truth. 
But, supposing it to be exactly true, it would result that in 
1830 there were 2064 individuals sentenced to imprisonment 

The population was in the same year 1,347,672; one convict 
out of 658 inhabitants. 

* This number seems undoubtedly very large : nevertheless, it is the mean num- 
ber of the four years preceding 1830. 

f The first and the last of these are cities. TBAHS. 

243 Appendix. Statistical Notes. 

No. VI. Number of executions in Maryland from 1785 to 


From 1785 to 1832 there have been executed 78 persons, 
which gives nearly two per year. 

There were nineteen in the twelve last years. 

During this same period, the mean population of Maryland 
has been 380,072 ; there was thus one execution to 219,600 in- 

(M.S. document furnished at Baltimore.) 

[We refer the reader to the Report of the Boston Prison Dis- 
cipline Society for similar statements relative to other states. 

No. VII. Table of individuals who, from 1821 /01827, have 
been imprisoned in the city of New York, tried, acquitted, 
and condemned. 

[The authors give here a translation of the important note to 
page 32 of Edward Livingston's Introductory Report to the Code 
of Prison Discipline, Philad., 1827, which proves conclusively 
the necessity of providing for a better system of imprisonment 
before trial. As Mr. Livingston mentions the still greater dis- 
proportion between commitments and convictions in Great Bri- 
tain, we would again refer the reader to Mr. Ouetelet's observa- 
tions published in the Coitrrier des Etats Unis, April 22, 1832, 
respecting trials and acquittals in France and Belgium, and also 
to the article Statistics of Crimes, under Crime, in the Encyclo- 
paedia Americana. TRANS.] 

No. VIII. Influence of the city of New York on the crimi- 
nality of the state. 

The city of New York, having, in 1S30, a population of 
207,021 inhabitants, furnished 400 convicts out of the 982 indi- 
viduals sentenced by the ordinary courts of the state. 

Thus, in 1830, the inhabitants of the city were to those of the 
state as 1 to 9.24. 

Whilst the convicts of the city to those of the state were as. 1 
to 2.45. 

No. IX. Total number of condemnations pronounced in 
1830 in the whole state of New York by the ordinary tri- 

The number of individuals who, during 1830, have been sen- 
tenced, either to death, imprisonment in the state or county jails, 
or to pay a fine, amounted to 982. 

Of these 982, there were 903 men and 79 women. 

Appendix. Statistical Notes. 243 

The convictions divide themselves thus : 

To death, - 
To the state prison, - 
To the house of refuge, 
To county jails, - 
To fine alone, 

Total, 982 

The statistical statement from which these details are taken, 
is an official document, which has been furnished to us by the 
authorities of New York at our request. 

It would be wrong, however, to believe, that the number 982 
exactly represents the total number of convicted individuals in 
the state of New York during the year 1830. 

The official statement of which we speak, contains only the 
number of individuals condemned by the ordinary tribunals, i. e. 
the Mayor's Court, Court of Oyer and Terminer, and Court of 
Quarter Sessions. Besides these tribunals, there is a semi-ad- 
ministrative and semi-judiciary authority, that of the police offi- 
cers. These functionaries have the right to imprison a great 
number of petty offenders, vagrants, disturbers of the peace, &c. 
who in France would be judged by the correctional tribunals, 
and who would figure in the statistical tables of criminal justice. 
The number of individuals, thus sent to prison, must be very 
great in the United States, if we judge by the authentic docu- 
ments which we have collected in Philadelphia. The prison of 
that city alone has received, on an average, from 1825 to 1831, 
not less than 1263 prisoners every year. The greater part 
among them were sent thither by the police magistrates. 

[See, among other documents, the above quoted Report on 
the Cholera in Arch Street Prison, 1833 ; and the Report of the 
Committee appointed to visit the Eastern (Philadelphia) Peni- 
tentiary, Mr. Ringland, Chairman, Harrisburg, 1833. TRANS.] 

244 Appendix. Statistical Notes. 

No. 17. 

No. I. Comparative table of individuals sent to the various Penitentiaries, classed 
by their offences. II. Mean number of deaths in the Penitentiaries. III. 
Comparative table of recommittals. TV. Comparative table of men and wo- 
men in the prisons of the United States. V. Proportion of coloured people in 
prisons and in society. VI. Proportion of Americans not belonging to the 
state where they committed their crime. VII. Proportion of foreigners among 
American prisoners. VIII. Proportion of Irish and English among the prison- 
ers. IX. Proportion of natives. X. Proportion of convicts who are natives 
of the state where they committed their crime, to the population of the same 
state. XI. Statement of pardons. XII. Age of convicts. XIII. Proportion of 
individuals sentenced to the state prison to the population of the various states. 

No. I. Table of individuals sent to the Penitentiaries of 
Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and Massachu- 
setts, classed by the nature of their offences. 

Connecticut, (1789-1830.) 

Convicted for crimes committed against 

property, 87.93 out of 100 crimes. 

Ditto ditto persons, 12.06 " 

Pennsylvania, (1789-1830.) 

Convicted for crimes against property, 90.03 out of 100 crimes. 
Ditto ditto persons, 9.97 " 

Massachusetts, (1820-1824-1830.)* 

Convicted for crimes against property, 93.64 out of 100 crimes. 
Ditto ditto persons, 6.36 " 

New York, (1800-1830.) 

Convicted for crimes against property, 93.56 out of 100 crimes. 
Ditto ditto persons, 6.26 " 

Convicted for crimes against morals. 

New York, (same period,) 2.78 out of 100 convicts. 

Massachusetts, (id.) 2.79 " 

Pennsylvania, (id.) 2.72 " 

Connecticut, (id.) 7.93 

We have not been able to obtain the table of convictions in the state of 
Massachusetts; but we have found in the prison, by the side of the names of the 
prisoners in 1820, 1824, and 1830, the crime mentioned for which they were im- 
prisoned, which is pretty much the same. 

Appendix. Statistical Notes. 245 

Convicted for forgery. 

Pennsylvania, (same period,) - 3.91 out of 100 convicts. 
Massachusetts, (id.) 9.60 " 

New York, (id.) - 13.28 " 

Connecticut, (id.) - 14.26 " 

If we take the mean of these four states, the inhabitants of 
which amounted in 1830 to the third of the population of the 
whole Union, (4,168,905,) we shall arrive at the following re- 

Convicted for crimes against property, 91.29 out of 100 crimes. 
Ditto ditto persons, 8.66 " 

Ditto ditto morals, 4.05 " 

Ditto for forgery,* 10.26 " 

Comparison between the different periods. 

In comparing the different periods which we have indicated 
above with each other, we arrive at the following : 

Connecticut, (1789-1800.) 

Convicted for crimes against property, 95.40 out of 100 crimes. 
Ditto ditto persons, 4.60 " 

Ditto ditto morals, 3.44 " 

Ditto for forgery, 10-34 " 


Convicted for crimes against property, 83.10 out of 100 crimes. 
Ditto ditto persons, 16.90 " 

Ditto ditto morals, 11.34 " 

Ditto for forgery, - 13.65 " 

Pennsylvania, (1789-1800.) 

Convicted for crimes against property, 94.35 out of 100 crimes. 

Ditto ditto persons, 5.65 " 

Ditto ditto morals, 2.74 < 

Ditto for forgery, - 4.97 " 


Convicted for crimes against property, 94.61 out of 100 crimes. 
Ditto ditto persons, 5.34 " 

Ditto ditto morals, 1.72 " 

Ditto for forgery, 4.84 " 

* We have used throughout this statement forgery for crime defaux. Whether 
the authors included in this term counterfeiters, we do not know; we believe, 
however, not. Yet forgers of bank notes are included. TRASS. 

246 Appendix. Statistical Notes. 

State of New York, (1800-1810.) 

Convicted for crimes against property, 96.45 out of 100 crimes. 
Ditto ditto persons, 3.54 " 

Ditto ditto morals, O.S7 " 

Ditto for forgery, 8.88 " 


Convicted for crimes against property, 90.12 out of 100 crimes. 

Ditto ditto persons, 9.37 " 

Ditto ditto morals, 5.06 " 

Ditto for forgery, 16.76 " 

We have not made the same calculation for Massachusetts, 
because that state furnishes us with but one period. 

It is pretty generally acknowledged in Europe, that the more 
society advances in civilization, the more the number of crimes 
against persons decreases. 

The number which we have just exhibited, proves, that in the 
United States at least, this is not the case. On the contrary, we 
see, that in the state of Pennsylvania the number of crimes 
against persons does not decrease with the advance of time; and 
that in Connecticut and New York, it seems even to increase 
with the increase of civilization. This increase takes place in a 
uniform and steady way : it is difficult to attribute it to chance. 
It can neither be said that it is owing to causes foreign to Ame- 
rica, such as emigration, the presence of Irish, 4*c. Never, as 
we shall soon see, have strangers been less numerous than at 
present in the prisons of the United States, speaking compara- 
tively to the whole population ; and the number of Irish has not 
varied in the last thirty years. 

Other observations give still more weight to this remark. 

Thus, not only two out of three states present a greater pro- 
portion of crimes against persons in 1830 than in 1790; but in 
1830, the state where we find most of this species of crimes, is 
the state of Connecticut, which, in respect to instruction and in- 
formation, occupies the first rank in the whole Union ; and the 
state, which shows least of this class of crimes, is Pennsylvania, 
where the population is, in comparison with that of Connecticut, 

[Referring the reader to our note on the relation of instruc- 
tion to the progress of crime in general, we will quote, in re- 
ference to this special case, a passage of the Report of the Direc- 
tors and Warden of the Connecticut State Prison, submitted to 
the legislature in May, 1830, which refers to the apparent in- 
crease of crime in Connecticut. Though the authors distinctly 
say, in another passage, that the reasons given to them on the 

Appendix. Statistical Notes. 247 

spot to explain this phenomenon have not appeared to them satis- 
factory, we must declare, that the citizens of Connecticut agree 
in the firm belief, that there are fewer crimes committed, and 
that less breaches of the peace take place now than formerly. 
Formerly, when every body was fully convinced, that being 
sent to the state prison was the total ruin of a person and an 
endless charge upon the stale, many offences were put up with 
and allowed to pass by unprosecuted. At present, the whole is 
changed. The state prison is considered by the public as an in- 
stitution which may redeem an individual who has entered on 
the path of crime, and at all events, does not corrupt him still 
more ; and the public, jury, and court are more willing to allow 
the law to take its free course. The consideration that the state 
expenditure is not increased by convictions, has also its share in 
the increased number of prosecutions. We would also refer the 
reader to Governor Tomlinson's message to the legislature, May 
7, 1829, partly reprinted on page 19 and sequel of the 4th Re- 
port of the Boston Prison Discipline Society. The passage 
above alluded to is the following: 

" The whole number of prisoners on the first day of April 
was 167, of whom 13 are females and 39 coloured persons. The 
number received during the last year is 72, of whom 49 are na- 
tives of Connecticut. At the date of this report, the whole num- 
ber is 171, of whom 14 are females. In our last report, we 
alluded to the causes which had, as we supposed, enlarged the 
number of prisoners, while there was no evidence of a corres- 
ponding increase of crimes. We still entertain the opinion 
which was then expressed, that this increase is to be attributed 
principally to a diminished reluctance to prosecute and convict 
offenders. That since the system of discipline had been changed, 
and the prison was a source of revenue to the state, there had 
been a more thorough execution of the criminal law ; and that 
many persons, who, under our former system would have es- 
caped with impunity, are now subjected to trial and imprison- 

" A great change is also apparent in the character or quality 
of the prisoners. Formerly, our prison was filled with men from 
other states, who had, as a matter of calculation, selected a cri- 
minal course, and were professionally rogues ingenious and 
shrewd men, who had been tenants of half the prisons in the 
country, and who designed to maintain themselves, not by 
honest labour, but by a course of violence and fraud, and who 
are properly styled ' State Prison characters.' ' 

The question, " Does diffusion of knowledge increase or di- 
minish crime, or has it no influence at all upon it," is of vital 
interest to society ; and thorough inquiries ought to be made 
upon all sides, searching unflinchingly for truth. It would be 

248 Appendix. Statistical Notes. 

well if those who purpose to investigate this important subject, 
would make a marked difference between mere knowledge and 
education. A certain kind of knowledge and the skill of a na- 
tion may greatly increase, and yet education stand very low; 
and thus, as we observed above, partial civilization may very 
much advance, and yet education be comparatively neglected ; 
which is, in our opinion, the worst of all conditions. We re- 
peat it once more, go to the prisons, and inquire into the his- 
tory of each convict, and then see, whether knowledge or its 
want is the chief cause of crime. We would suggest, that, in 
future reports of our state prisons, one or two divisions should 
be added, in which the education a convict has enjoyed should 
be indicated in a few words. We want facts to appear against 
statements founded on apparent facts. As to the special point 
in question, we are not prepared to explain why crimes against 
persons increase in Connecticut in comparison to the increase of 
crimes against property. We have little doubt, but that it is 
owing to some peculiar and special cause unconnected with the 
main question; but we call the attention of the friends of 
humanity to contribute as much as is in the power of each to 
elucidate this phenomenon. Besides; what is Connecticut? A 
few crimes, more or less, which may be owing to some very 
special reasons, have a great influence on the proportional state- 
ments of so small a community. If several nations of many 
millions have invariably proved a fact, certainly a comparatively 
small number of persons cannot at once evince the contrary. We, 
however, most earnestly invite the attention of those who are 
able to solve the question to this point. Let the truth prevail. 

It will be seen, that among the crimes against property, there 
is one which increases regularly and very quickly in proportion 
as civilization increases. We mean the crime of forgery. 

In the state of New York, a very enlightened state, and which 
stands at the head of the commercial activity of America, the 
forgers form already about the sixth part of all convicts. In Con- 
necticut, which has but little commerce, but where the whole 
population knows how to read and to write, forgers form about 
the seventh part of all criminals ; whilst in Pennsylvania, peo- 
pled in a great degree by a German population, with whom in- 
struction, and particularly the wish to become rich, is far from 
existing in an equal degree, not one forger is counted among 
twenty convicts. 

[Respecting the proportion of crimes against property and 
persons, we again refer to the often quoted article on Criminal 
Statistics in the Encyclopaedia Americana, and to Mr. Ouetelet's 
remarks. TRANS.] 

ftppendix. Statistical Notes. 249 

No. II. Sanatory State. 

The mortality in those prisons of which we have been able to 
collect documents, is in the following progression : 

At Walnut street, (Philadelphia,) 1 died of 16.66 prisoners. 

At Newgate, (New York,) 1 " 18.80 " 

At Sing-Sing, 1 " 36.58 " 

At Wethersfield, 1 " 44.40 " 

In the Penitentiary of Maryland, 1 " 48 57 " 

At Auburn, 1 " 55.96 " 

At Charlestown, (Massachusetts,) 1 " 58.40 " 

It must not be forgotten that for three of these prisons, Sing- 
Sing, Wethersfield, and the Penitentiary of Maryland, we have 
been able to obtain the mean term of three years only. 

In the city and suburbs of Philadelphia the annual mortality 
has been, from 1820 to 1831, as 1 out of 38.85 inhabitants. 

At Baltimore, in 1828, one individual died out of 47 in- 

Thus in two prisons, Newgate and Walnut street, mortality 
has been much greater than in the cities of Philadelphia and 
Baltimore. (These are old prisons.) In one (Sing-Sing) mor- 
tality has been nearly equal, and in four (the Wethersfield, Au- 
burn, Charlestown, and Maryland penitentiaries) the mortality 
has been less. 

Among those who people prisons, fewer elderly people are 
found than in society;* it ought therefore not to surprise us, at the 
first glance, that mortality is less in prisons than in society; the 
result which we have given will, however, appear not the less 
remarkable, if we consider the sedentary life of the convicts ; 
and if we reflect particularly, that all classes of society have 
furnished their part to the number of prisoners in the above 
mentioned prisons of Philadelphia and Baltimore, whilst the 
poorest, the most vicious, and the most disorderly classes alone 
have contributed to the others. 

Nature of the diseases which caused death. 

In the penitentiary of Wethersfield the predominating dis- 
eases have been those of the stomach and bowels. In 1819 they 
even assumed an epidemic character. Nine-tenths of the pri- 
soners were affected by it. The physician of the prison, in his 
annual report, cannot think that it was owing to diet, as the pri- 
soners are better fed than most farmers. 

* And no very young children, which is a most important item, whilst, on the 

other hand, the disordered state of most convicts before they enter the prison 

must be taken into account. 


250 Appendix. Statistical Notes. 

In the prisons of Auburn and Philadelphia, the predominating 
diseases have been those of the lungs. Of sixty-four persons who 
died from 1825 to 1832 at Auburn, thirty-nine were carried 
off by pulmonary disorders. Of sixty individuals who died in 
the prison of Walnut street in 1S29 and 1830, thirty-six died of 
the same cause. 

During these same years, but one death caused by diseases of 
the lungs, out of four and a half, took place in Philadelphia. 

*>-, Daily Number of the Sick. 

At Auburn, there was, from 1828 to 1832, every day one sick 
person out of one hundred and two. 

No. III. Comparative Table of Recommittals in the differ- 
ent prisons of America. 

It is very difficult to compare the results obtained in the vari- 
ous states of America, in respect to recommittals, with each 
other. In fact, the documents which have a reference to this 
subject of our inquiries, indicate three bases which differ one 
from the other. 

In certain prisons, the number of recommittals is ascertained 
by comparing the persons who re-enter the prison, with the 
totality of individuals who enter the same prison. 

In others, the recommitted convicts who are in the prison, 
are compared with the sum total of criminals who are in the 

In others still, the number of individuals who return to the 
prison is compared with the whole number of those who have 
returned to society. 

It would be of little use to compare the numbers, so differently 
obtained, with each other. 

We cannot, for instance, compare the proportion of recon- 
victed and convicted persons, with the proportion of recommitted 
and committed persons. It is the prisoners, indeed, entering the 
prison, who form the population of a prison ; but these prisoners 
do not remain there, all during the same time ; and if the recom- 
mitted prisoners leave it sooner than the others, fewer of them 
will be found in the prison at the end of a certain period, (con- 
sidering the proportion,) than there were among the convicts 
who successively have entered the prison. If, on the other hand, 
which happens every day, the recommitted convicts remain 
longer in the prison than the others, there will be found more 
(considering the proportion) at the end of a certain time, than 
there were among the convicts of each year. 

It is still more difficult to compare the results obtained by the 

Appendix. Statistical Notes. 251 

two operations indicated above, with the results obtained by 
comparison of recommitted convicts with the sum total of de- 
livered prisoners. 

In one case, you compare the recommitted individuals with 
the prisoners sentenced for the first time, and arriving in prison, 
or the prisoners of the same prison ; in the other case, you com- 
pare the same individuals with those who have been in the prison, 
but are no longer there. The terms of comparison are entirely 

As we were not able to reconcile these three bases, we have 
thought it best to compare those states only with each other 
where the same bases had been used. 

First method of comparison. 

During 10 years (from 1810 to 1819), there entered into the 
Walnut Street Prison, 1 recommitted criminal out of 5.98. 

In the Maryland Penitentiary, during 12 years (1820 to 1S32), 
1 recommitted criminal out of 6.96. 

In Newgate (New York), during 16 years (1803 to 1820), 1 
out of 9.45. 

At Auburn, during 6 years (from 1824 to 1831), 1 out of 19.10. 

Second method of comparison. 

At Walnut street, in 1830, there was 1 recommitted prisoner, 
of 2.57 prisoners. 

At Newgate, old prison of Connecticut, in 1825, 1 recommitted 
convict, of 4.50 prisoners. 

In Auburn (1824 to 1831), 1 out of 12. [We find, in the Re- 
port for 1832, that there were 50 recommitted, of 683 convicts.] 

Third method of comparison. 

Of 6.15 prisoners who left the Massachusetts prison during 
the last 25 years, 1 has returned as recommitted. 

Of 19.80 prisoners who have left the Wethersfield prison 
since its commencement (1826) until this time, 1 has returned as 

It will be seen, whatever method is adopted, that the new 
penitentiaries have a decided advantage over the old prisons. 

But there is one difficulty we compare a new prison with an 
old one. It is clear, that those who return to the former, are 
less in number than those who return to the latter. The first has 
returned but a small number of prisoners to society, whilst the 
other has sent back many. The criminals of the latter have had 
a much longer time, and, therefore, many more chances and 
temptations to relapse into crime. 

If we consider the history of the majority of recommittals, 

258 Appendix. Statistical Notes. 

and reflect on that which particularly happens in the United 
States, this observation is less striking than at first glance. It is 
certain, that, in general, recommittals take place soon after 
liberty is restored. If the delivered convict triumphs over the 
first temptations, and conquers his passions, so much the stronger 
for having been so long constrained, it may be believed that he 
will not so easily fall again. 

Let us add, that in proportion as we are distant from the 
period of the first crime, it becomes difficult to prove the recom- 
mittal. This difficulty is so much the greater, where men change 
their abodes incessantly, and where no records are kept. 

It must be, therefore, taken as a fact, that if a convict has 
escaped committing a new crime within tbe first four years after 
the expiration of his imprisonment, he has escaped altogether 
the danger of a second crime, or at least that of having his re- 
committal proved. 

Newgate proves what we say. Newgate was founded in 1797. 
Four years after, in 1802, the proportion of recommittals was 
already the same as ten years later. It was at least double that 
which existed at Auburn four years after the foundation of the 
penitentiary system. 

[We will add a passage of the last Message of the Governor 
of Pennsylvania to the Legislature of that state, December 6th, 
1832, which appears to us important. He says : "One fact in 
reference to this institution, (the Philadelphia Penitentiary,) 
bears strong testimony in favour of its discipline. It appears 
that not a single convict discharged from this prison has ever 
been returned to it ; which would seem to prove pretty clearly, 
either that a thorough reformation has been produced, or that a 
dread of a repetition of the unsocial manner of life which had 
proved so irksome before, had deterred from the commission of 
crimes within those limits of the state in which a conviction 
would ensure a sentence to the Eastern Penitentiary. TRANS.] 

No. IV. Comparative Table of Men and Women in the 
Prisons of the United States. 

We are not in possession of the number for the penitentiary 
of Charlestown (Massachusetts). The women in Massachusetts 
are not in the same prisons with the male prisoners, and we have 
not learned their number. 

Jit Sing- Sing, from 1828 to 1831. 

One woman of 19.24 prisoners of both sexes. 

One white woman of 33.73 white prisoners of both sexes. 

One negro woman of 9.87 coloured prisoners of both sexes. 

ftppendix. Statistical Notes. 253 

t#/ Auburn, from 1826 to 1831. 

One woman of 19 prisoners of both sexes. [We find in the 
Report for 1832, 25 women of 683 of both sexes, which would 
make 1 to 27. TRANS.] 

Connecticut, from 1827 to 1831. 

One woman of 14.60 prisoners of both sexes. 

One white woman of 16.14 white prisoners of both sexes. 

One coloured woman of 11 coloured prisoners of both sexes. 

Pennsylvania, in 1830. 

One woman of 7.30 prisoners of both sexes. 

One white woman of 15.64 white prisoners of both sexes. 

One negro woman of 3.40 coloured prisoners of both sexes. 

Maryland, in 1831. 

One woman of 6.27 prisoners of both sexes. 

One white woman of 86 white prisoners of both sexes. 

One coloured woman of 3.56 coloured prisoners of both sexes. 

The mean of these proportions shows, that in the four peni- 
tentiaries just mentioned, one woman is found in 11.85 prisoners 
of both sexes. 

One white woman in 37.88 white prisoners of both sexes. 
One coloured woman in 6.96 coloured prisoners of both sexes. 
[The following is taken from the Report on the Auburn Prison 
for 1832 : 

White males, 592 

White females, 10 

Black males, - 66 

Black females, 15 

Total, - 683 TRANS.] 

The proportion of women in the prisons of the Union, must 
become the more considerable the more you approach the south, 
where negroes are more numerous, because the coloured women 
commit more crimes than the white women. 

No. V. Proportion of Coloured People in Prisons and in 


In Massachusetts, there have been, from 1822 to 1831, annu- 
ally, 1 coloured prisoner out of 6.53. 

In Connecticut, from 1828 to 1832, 1 coloured prisoner in 4.42. 
In the state of New York, from 1825 to 1830, 1 coloured 

254 Appendix. Statistical Notes. 

prisoner in 4.67. [We find, in the Report of the Auburn Prison 
for 1S32, 81 blacks, of 683 prisoners of both colours. TRANS.] 
In Pennsylvania, in 1830,* 1 coloured prisoner, of 2.27. 
In Maryland, in 1831, It coloured prisoner out of 1.82. 
The number of coloured people in the prisons increases towards 
the south, the same as in society. 

In 1830, the coloured people in society were, in these same 
states, in the following proportion : 

In Massachusetts, 1 coloured person to 87 inhabitants. 
Connecticut, 1 ditto 37 do. 

New York, 1 ditto 42 do. 

Pennsylvania, 1 ditto 36 do. 

Maryland, 1J free ditto 6 do. 

Taking the mean term, we see that there is in prison, in the 
five states, 1 coloured person out of 4 prisoners. 

In 1830, there was (in the same states) 1 free coloured person 
out of 30 inhabitants. 

No. VI. Comparative table of prisoners, who, natives of the 
United Slates, are strangers in the states in which they 
committed their crimes. 

There has been found : 

In Maryland, from 1827 to 1831, one prisoner of this kind to 

In New York, from 1824 to 1832, 1 to 3.48. 

In Connecticut, 1827 to 1831, 1 to 2.86. 

In Massachusetts, from 1826 to 1831, 1 to 2.82. 

In Pennsylvania, from 1829 to 1830, 1 to 2.15. 

[The following is taken from the Report on Auburn prison 
for 1832 : 

New York, 100 

Massachusetts, 13 

Amount carried forward, 113 

* It is probable, that, in Pennsylvania, the proportion of coloured people in 
the prisons is a little less than it appears here. The above number is that of one 
year only, and chance may have contributed to form it. We believe this the 
more, as in taking the number of all convicts, white and coloured, sent to the 
penitentiary from 1817 to 1824, (which is 1510,) there is 1 coloured prisoner, of 
2.61 convicts. Now the number of coloured people must have a tendency to 
decrease rather than increase in the Pennsylvania prisons, as it constantly de- 
creases in society. 

\ We have seen before, (Statistical Notes, No. 3,) that when we speak of ne- 
groes in the prisons of Maryland, we refer to free negroes. 

$ As free coloured people only are sent to the prisons, we have also counted 
these only in society. Without this, the argument would have rested on a defec- 
tive basis. All the coloured people of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, 
and Pennsylvania, are free. 

Appendix. Statistical Notes. l tp , 255 

Amount brought forward, 113 

Vermont, - 11 

Connecticut, 10 

Pennsylvania, 8 

New Jersey, - 5 

Maine, - - 1 

Virginia, 2 

New Hampshire, - 3 

District of Columbia, - 2 

Delaware, - 1 

Ireland, - - - 13 

England, - 9 

Canada, - 7 

Scotland, ... 4 

Germany, - - 1 

Italy, - 1 

Corsica, 1 

Total, - 192 

These are the convicts received at Auburn during the year 
1832. TRANS.] 

Why is the proportion of Maryland so low? Because it does 
not yet attract much American industry. In Maryland the sta- 
tionary population commits annually more crimes than in other 
states;* if the total number of convicts is compared with the 
strangers, it is natural that the proportion should be small. 

Pennsylvania offers great opportunities to the industry of her 
neighbours, and her stationary population commits few crimes.t 

No. VII. Proportion of foreigners among prisoners in 
^American prisons. 

In proportion as our inquiry approaches to the present period, 
the number of foreigners in the prisons becomes less, as it de- 
creases, i. e. proportionally, in society. 

This result, so natural, shows itself by the following facts: 

From 1800 to 1805 there was in the state prison of New York, 
1 foreigner to 2.43 prisoners. 

From 1825 to 1830 there was but 1 to 4.77 prisoners. 

From 1786 to 1796 there was in Pennsylvania 1 foreigner to 
2.08 prisoners. 

From 1829 to 1830 there was but 1 to 5.79. 

The following shows the proportion of foreigners in the year 
1830 and thereabouts, in the different penitentiaries : 

* 1 Convict native of Maryland, out of 3954 inhabitants. 
1 1 Convict native of Pennsylvania, to 11,821 inhabitants. 

266 Appendix. Statistical Notes. 

The desire of liberty, common to living beings, prompts him to 
seize on every opportunity of escape ; the consequence of which, 
if he is retaken, is an increase of the physical means by which 
it is attempted to secure him. From whatever point of view we 
may look at the old prison system, we find that one evil engen- 
ders a still greater one. There is no doubt, that solitary confine- 
ment during night is a great safeguard against attempts at escape, 
which require more or less the combined efforts of many. 

Vidocq, in his Memoirs, quoted several times in this work, 
says distinctly, that on days of rest, most plots are formed in the 
bagnea and other prisons. We would also refer to the remark on 
safety produced by solitary confinement, in Judge Wells's esti- 
mate, given above. " Divide and rule" is nowhere better exem- 
plified than by the penitentiary system. It might be said : "divide 
and rule even criminals." TRANS.] 

No. 18. 
Some Comparisons between France and America. 

No. I. Classification of convicts according to their offences, in France and in 
America. II. Comparative Table of mortality in the " central prisons" of 
France, and the penitentiaries of America. III. Comparative Table of recom- 
mittals in both countries. IV. Proportion of men and women in the prisons 
of France and America. V. Tables : 1. of the foreigners imprisoned in France 
and in America ; 2. of the number of Frenchmen not born in that department 
where they were tried, compared to the number of Americans not born in 
that state in which they were tried. VI. Age of convicts in France and 
America. VII. Proportion of convicts to the population in France and in 

No. I. Classification of Convicts in France and in America. 

In the year 1830 there were sentenced 10,046 individuals in 
France, criminally and " correctionally,"* to one year's im- 
prisonment or more. Of these 10,046 individuals :t 
1208 had committed crimes against persons, or 12.02 of 100 ; 
8838 had committed crimes against property, or 87.98 of 100 ; 

195 had committed forgery, or 1.94 of 100 ; 

208 had committed crimes against morals, or 2.07 of 100. 

In the same year, 1830, the average of condemnations pro- 
nounced in the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, 
and Pennsylvania, presents the following : 

* Or by the police courts, of which we have spoken above. THAKS. 

f In the division of crimes against persons and property, we have not adopted 
precisely the order of the tables of criminal justice, in order to be able to estab- 
lish a more correct comparison between France and the United States. 

Appendix. Comparisons. 

Convicted for crimes against persons, 8.66 of 100. 
Ditto crimes against property, 91.29 of 100. 
Ditto forgery, 10.26 of 100. 

Ditto crimes against morals, 4.05 of 100. 
The proportion of crimes against persons, has been, as will be 
seen, a little larger in America than in France.* 

A great difference shows itself in the crime of forgery. 

The state of knowledge in the United States, the immense 
number of banks, and the great commercial activity in that 
country, explain easily this difference. 

In France, it has been observed that crimes against persons 
had a slight tendency to decrease. Thus in 1825, they formed 
22 of 100 ; in 1826, 22 ; in 1827, 22 ; in 1828, 19 ; in 1829, 
18 ; and in 1830, 17 of 100 crimes. 

For thirty years, however, the crimes against persons seem to 
have become more frequent. t 

Statistical Notes, No 17, First Division- 

Tableaux de la justice criminelle en France, 1830, page 2, 
114 ; 1829, page 2 ; 1828, page 2 ', 1827, page 2 ; 1826, page 
2 j 1825, page 2. 

No. II. Comparative Table of mortality in the central houses 
of France, and in the penitentiaries in the United States. 

In 1828, there were imprisoned in "the central houses" in 
France, 17,560 individuals; of these, 1,372 died during the year, 
or 1 of 12.79. 

In 1829, the number of prisoners was 17,586 ; died, 1,386, or 
1 of 12.68. 

In 1830, the number of prisoners was 16,842; died, 1,111, or 
1 of 15.16. 

Thus, during the three last years, the mortality has, on an 
average, been, in the "central houses" of France, about 1 out 
of 14 prisoners. 

In America, during the same years, there died, on an average, 
in the five penitentiaries, at Sing-Sing, Auburn, Wethersfield, 
Baltimore, and Charlestown, but 1 of 49 prisoners. 

This result will appear still more extraordinary, if it is con- 
sidered, that there are in the United States, in the five peniten- 
tiaries of which we speak, but few or no women. But if we 
would deduct the number of women imprisoned in France, the 

* But it must be remembered, tlint in the United States it is almost always the 
injured party who prosecutes, and not unfrequently it is his interest not to com- 
plain. In France, in most cases, public authority takes care to revenge the 
offended, and government pays the expenses of the process. 

| Owing, undoubtedly, in a great measure, to an improved state of police. 

256 Appendix. Statistical Notes. 

From 1827 to 1831 there was in Connecticut 1 foreigner to 
13.27 prisoners. 

From 1827 to 1831 in Maryland 1 to 12.65. 

In 1829 and 1830 in Massachusetts 1 to 6. 
Do. in Pennsylvania 1 to 5.79. 

From 1825 to 1830 in the state of New York 1 to 4.77. 

Those states, as the reader will have remarked, which have 
the largest cities and present most resources to industry, show 
the greatest number of foreigners. This result explains itself. 

No. VIII. Proportion of Irish and English among the 
foreigners in the prisons. 

The proportion of the Irish among the foreigners in the pri- 
sons of the United States is as follows : 

There has been numbered 

In Connecticut, from 1827 to 1831, 1 Irishman to 3.66 foreigners. 
Massachusetts, 1822 to 1831,1 " 3.06 

New York, " 1825 to 1830, 1 " 2.11 " 

Maryland, " 1827 to 1831,1 " 1.85 " 

Pennsylvania, " 1829 to 1830, 1 " 1.75 " 

It would appear that the proportion of Irish people among 
prisoners to foreigners has always remained the same for thirty 
years. Because from 1800 to 1805 there was in the prisons of New 
York 1 Irishman to 2.05 foreigners, which is almost the same 
with the proportion in 1830. 

It is easy to indicate the reasons which bring so large a num- 
ber of Irish into the prisons. 

Of all foreigners who emigrate to the United States, the Irish 
are, without any comparison, the most numerous; they arrive 
poor and burthened with children. In the beginning of their 
emigration they are exposed to misery ; afterwards they find, 
on the contrary, an ease and comfort to which they never have 
been accustomed, and which their long privations as well as 
their violent habits frequently cause them to abuse. 

Excess of misery as well as prosperity impels more among 
them than among other emigrants to crime. 

The two states where the proportion of the Irish is the small- 
est, belong, as it will have been remarked, to New England. 
The Irish do not emigrate much to that part of the Union, and 
especially to Connecticut, where no populous cities exist. On 
the contrary, Englishmen emigrate to that part much more fre- 
quently. They find the habits, manners, and ideas much more 
in harmony with their own j the country offers more oppor- 
tunity to their modes of industry. 

Appendix. Statistical Notes. 257 

This fact, which we have ascertained on the spot, is exhibited 
by the following numbers : in the greater part of the Union the 
proportion of English among foreigners in general in prison is 
very small. In the penitentiary of Massachusetts, on the con- 
trary, there is 1 Englishman to 3.74 foreigners; in Connecticut 
1 to 2.50. 

It will have been seen, that the Irish increase in number the 
further you go to the south ; this is chiefly owing to a cause 
which it is as well to know. In the north, the white population 
begins already to be crowded ; the coloured race is reduced, sla- 
very abolished ; and a great number of white people are found 
willing to do any work. There, moreover, labour is honourable. 

In the south, on the contrary, and particularly in the slave- 
holding states, there are fewer persons of white colour willing 
to do the harder labours of husbandry or industry. This trouble 
is left to the negroes. Labour is not honoured in the south; it is 
detested as a servile thing. 

Now, these humiliating duties, this rude and little produc- 
tive labour, are those to which education and misery condemn 
the Irish emigrant ; and he goes where the competition of ivhite 
labour is the least to be feared. 

The Irish disperse in the cities and not in the country; they 
arrive in the United States poor and ignorant ; they have neither 
money to buy land, nor industry to cultivate it. The singular 
inconstancy of their national character makes them moreover 
little fit for the cares of husbandry and the stationary life of an 
agriculturist. The activity and the wants of cities alone suit 

No. IX. Comparative table of convicts, natives of the state 
in which they have committed their crimes. 

In Pennsylvania, in the years 1829 and 1830, there was 1 
Pennsylvanian to 2.76 criminals. 

In Massachusetts, from 1826 to 1831, there was 1 native of 
the state to 2.14 prisoners. 

In the state of New York, from 1827 to 1832, 1 New Yorker 
to 2.12 prisoners. 

In Connecticut, from 1827 to 1831, 1 Connecticut man to 1.77 

In Maryland, from 1827 to 1831, 1 Maryland man to 1.43 

We must remark, however, that there is an inaccuracy in this 
calculation. Our chief object, in making it, was to know in 
what proportion the imprisoned inhabitants of the states were 
to the prisoners in general. Now, in the statements from which 
we made our calculations, the place of birth, and not of domicil 

260 Appendix. Statistical Notes. 

Thus there are crimes for which, in some states, the convict is 
sent to the state prison, in others, to the county jail. 

Secondly, the minimum of a punishment for which a convict 
is sent to the state prison, varies very much. Now, it is reason- 
able to believe, that the prison which contains convicts sen- 
tenced to a^ear's imprisonment, will contain more prisoners, 
comparatively, than that which holds convicts sentenced to three 
years imprisonment. 

The differences arising from these varieties in the laws, are, 
however, not so great as upon first consideration they may ap- 
pear. We have found that the crimes for which offenders are 
sent to the state prison, are every where nearly the same. These 
crimes are punished with imprisonment of longer or shorter 
duration, according to the legislation of each state ; but all those 
who are guilty of such crimes are sent to the state prison ; 
whether the minimum is fixed at one or two years. Thus the 
adulterous husband is punished with one year's imprisonment in 
Connecticut, and with two years' imprisonment in the state of 
New York : but both are sent to the state prison. 

Yet it is necessary not to lose sight of these preliminary ob- 
servations in comparing the following results : 

From 1820 to 1830, there was annually, 

In Connecticut, - 1* convict to 6,662 inhabitants. 
Massachusetts, - 1 " 5,555 " 

Pennsylvania, - 1 " 3,968 " 

Maryland, - It " 3,102 " 

State of New York, 1 " 5,532 " 

The proportion of criminals to the population increases in pro- 
portion to the number of foreigners and of coloured people in 
each state. Thus, Connecticut, where but few foreigners and 
coloured people live, has less convicts than Massachusetts, 
which, without having more people of colour, attracts more 

Massachusetts has less criminals than the state of New York,:}: 
which has more coloured and foreign people. This state again 
has less criminals than Pennsylvania; and the state which pre- 
sents most criminals, without comparison, is Maryland, where 
the coloured race forms the sixth part of the population. 

[It is hardly necessary to mention here, that it would be rash 
indeed to conclude from the above facts, that in general any 
greater tendency to crime, or less susceptibility of the ideas of 

* The minimum of a punishment requisite to qualify the convict for these 
three penitentiaries is one year. 
J- Minimum : two years. 
$ Especially if we consider the difference in the minimum of punishment. 

Appendix. Statistical Notes. 261 

right and wrong, were inherent in the coloured race. No ex- 
periment whatever, so far, authorizes us to make this conclu- 
sion. Coloured people are free citizens indeed in many states ; 
no legal disability is attached to their race, and a governor of 
Massachusetts might be, according to the law, a coloured man. 
But what is legal disability compared to social ? History inva- 
riably shows that a degraded race, a race which does not fully 
and freely partake of the great amount of national civilization, 
which by prejudice or circumstances, labours under social dis- 
abilities, is also that which commits most offences, if some very 
peculiar and special circumstances do not prevent it; e. g. such a 
race being kept so entirely separate from the other members of 
society, that they live in a kind of semi-barbarous state, which 
offers in itself few opportunities for crime, as the Russian bond- 
man. In such case, the oppressed part of the population commits 
few crimes, for similar reasons with those which cause the slave 
in this country to appear less criminal than the free coloured 
person. Social oppression operates much more powerfully than 
legal. TRANS.] 

Let us examine, at present, whether, in the five states above 
mentioned, the number of crimes increases or diminishes with 
the progress of time. 


1795-1800,* 1 convict to 4,181 inhabitants. 

1800-1810, 1 " 4,387 " ' 

1810-1820, 1 " 3,028 " 

1820-1830, 1 " 3,968 " 

[The reader will bear in mind the period when the Pennsyl- 
vania Penal Code was revised. It may be set down as an almost 
invariable rule, that there appear more convicts after the revision 
of a Penal Code. The very desire of the public to adapt their 
penal laws more to the existing circumstances, explains why the 
laws thus revised, and therefore fit to meet the circumstances, 
are more strictly enforced. TRANS.] 

We have not been able to begin our comparison at an earlier period than 
1795, though the Walnnt Street Prison was erected several years previously. 
But before the year mentioned, convicts of the city and county of Philadelphia 
alone were imprisoned there. On March 22d, 1794, a law was passed, allowing 
the judges to send to Walnut Street all convicts sentenced to more than a year's 

The reader has seen, that the law of March 22d, 1794, authorized the judges 
to send convicts to Walnut Street, but it did not oblige them to do so. It is 
possible, therefore, that some prisoners, sentenced to more than one year's im- 
prisonment, have been retained in the county jails. Yet, we allow, it is not 

262 Appendix. Statistical Notes. 


1789 to 1SOO, 1 convict to 27,164 inhabitants. 
1SOO to 1810, 1 " 17,098 " 

1810 to 1820, 1 " 13,413 " 

1820 to 1830, 1 " 6,662 " 

[We refer the reader to our note above, respecting the reasons 
of increasing criminality in Connecticut. TRANS.] 


From 1820 to 1830, the only period of which we have any 
knowledge, the number of crimes has continually decreased in 
Massachusetts. In fact, it results from the reports of the prison, 
that during these ten years, the annual number of convicts has 
constantly remained the same. The population has constantly 
increased ; it was, in 1320, equal to 523,287 inhabitants, and in 
1830, 610,014. 

Thus, whilst the population increased one-seventh, the amount 
of crime remained stationary, hence the relative number of 
crimes diminished. 


The same observation is applicable to Maryland ; for ten years 
the annual number of convicts has remained stationary, whilst, 
during this period, the population of the state increased one- 

New York. 

1800 to 1810, 1 convict to 4,465 inhabitants. 
1810 to 1820, 1 " 4,858 " 
1820 to 1830, 1 " 5,532 " 
These tables show that the number of convicts in the state 
prison diminishes, comparatively speaking, to the population, in 
New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland. 

After having increased in Pennsylvania, during the period of 
war,* it resumes nearly its former level, and seems to tend to a 
decrease rather than an increase. 

* This war has had a great influence upon the number of crimes. It will be 
the same in all wars undertaken by the United States. The Americans, strange 
as it is, have preserved in their armies the old regulations of Europe. [Ought to 
be Continent of Europe. TRASS.] The soldier is a bought mercenary, who 
fights without chance of promotion. To the privileged class of officers belong 
the honours and the glory. If a war is at an end, the greater part of the army 
is disbanded. The soldiers, who in general have no home, and have learned no 
useful profession, disperse in the country, and crime soon increases with rapidity. 
In 1814, more than two hundred thousand French, it is said, left the army, and 
yet crime did not increase in France. These men belonged to the honest popu- 
lation of the kingdom ; almost all of them knew a useful art or profession, or 

Appendix. Statistical Notes. 263 

In Connecticut, the progress is inexplicable: it doubles almost 
every ten years. The reasons which have been given to us in 
the country itself, are not sufficient to explain completely this 
phenomenon. The excessive increase of convicts in Connecticut, 
is owing, in all probability, to some local circumstances with 
which we are unacquainted. Connecticut is, of all the states 
compared above, that which least deserves our attention. Its 
population does not exceed that of our smallest departments. 

[Here is also a reason, which tends, together with others, to 
explain the increase of crimes in Connecticut. A few criminals, 
say four or five, who happen to go there and to be caught, have 
a decided influence upon the annual proportion, whilst the frac- 
tion becomes almost inobservable in states with a large popula- 
tion. TRANS.] 

In general, it maybe said, that, according to the natural course 
of things, the number of criminals must continually tend to 
diminish in most parts of the Union, though this would not pre- 
cisely prove an increase of morality. 

The population of the United States is composed of three very 
distinct elements. 

1. Of whites born in the country; 2. of coloured people; 3. 
of foreigners. 

The morality of these three classes is very different The 
white person, surrounded by his parents and friends, and owner 
of the soil, must necessarily be less inclined to commit a crime 
than the foreigner, who arrives, unknown to anybody, exposed to 
a thousand passing wants, or the negro, degraded by public opi- 
nion and the law. 

Now, the more time advances, the more also will the native 
white race preponderate over the two others. In fact, the natural 
progress of population will not be the same for the black and the 

had other means of supporting themselves. [That armies on the continent of 
Europe have totally changed their moral character since enlisting has been 
abolished, and every citizen is obliged to serve for a certain period in the stand- 
ing army, and since there is no barrier between the lowest soldier and the highest 
commander, except that which the service requires, as every one must begin 
from the grade of a private, is a fact well known to every body who is acquaint- 
ed with the present armies and those of the last century. There are some, as fop 
instance the Prussian, which, as a body, must be considered to possess great 
intelligence and morality, both as to officers and privates (numerous establish- 
ments of instruction for both exist); nor is it less doubtful that these armies are, 
in respect of moral elevation, incomparably superior to the English and American 
standing armies ; yet a citizen of the United States, or an Englishman, would 
consider it strange doings were he to be forced to serve in the standing army. 
See Story's Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, vol. iii. p. 
65. We cannot consider a detached subject in judging of a body politic ; we 
must consider the whole organization. A French or German theatre is undoubt- 
edly less riotous, and for decent people much more agreeable than English or 
American theatres. But if you desire this result, do not forget the police and 
gend'armes who produce the effect. 

264 Jippendix. Statistical Notes. 

white race. In the north and centre of the Union, comfort and 
ease are to be found with the white, and poverty with the colour- 
ed people. Moreover, the whites continually receive additional 
members, the coloured, on the contrary, lose them. If we com- 
pare the native whites to the foreigners, we arrive at the same 
result. There are, undoubtedly, now, more Europeans annually 
emigrating to the United States, than thirty years ago ; but the 
natural increase of the American population is still faster, by 
far, than the increase of emigrants. Besides, the emigrant counts 
but for himself in the class of foreigners : his children increase 
the number of Americans. 

Each year, therefore, comparatively speaking, there must be, 
among the convicts, more native white Americans, and fewer 
coloured persons and emigrants ; which, in fact, is the case. (See 
the Tables.) The sum total of convicts, in proportion to the whole 
population, must thus be annually less, because that class, which, 
according to circumstances, furnishes most crimes, is, at the same 
time, that in which criminals, in proportion to the population, 
are and must be less in number. Does it follow that the morality 
of the country increases ? By no means ; because the native 
white, the emigrant, and the negro, may each remain stationary 
in their respective morality, and yet the result be favourable. 
The decrease of crimes proves, not that the elements which 
compose population become more moral, but only that their re- 
lative proportion changes. 

That which can be affirmed with greater certainty, is, that as 
long as the increase of crime in the United States, follows merely 
the progress of population, far from concluding from it, that the 
morality of the people remains the same, we must, on the con- 
trary, conclude that it diminishes. Because, if the natives, the 
true population, did not commit, every year, more crimes, the 
total number of convicts ought to decrease continually, instead 
of remaining stationary. 

The south of the Union alone makes an exception to this prin- 

In slave-holding countries, there is a special cause, which con- 
tinually tends to increase the number of persons sentenced to 
imprisonment;* this is manumission. The slaves, as we have 
seen before, are not subject to the Penal Code of the whites ; 
they are hardly ever sent to prison. To manumit a slave, there- 
fore, actually amounts to introducing into society a new element 
of crime. 

It results from all that we have said, that in the actual state of 
the statistics of the United States, it is almost impossible to deter- 

* It must not be forgot, that those alone who are condemned to prison, serve as 
a basis for the calculation of the number of crimes in America. 

Appendix. Statistical Notes. 265 

mine with exactness, which, in respect to morality, of the dif- 
ferent states, compared among; themselves, or to Europe, has the 
pre-eminence ; or to establish whether there is an increase or 
decrease in crime. 

In order to obtain a fair and truly significant result on this 
point, it would be necessary to know the number of crimes com- 
mitted by the native population, the only one which can be 
called American. If this number were known for several differ- 
ent periods, then, and then only, it would be possible to say with 
certainty whether morality increases or decreases in America. 
But it was impossible for us to obtain a similar document, except 
for the three years previously to 1831. Incomplete as it is, we 
will give it here : it will throw a new light upon our argument. 

From 1827 to 1831, there has been sentenced : 

1 native of Massachusetts, of 14,524 inhabitants, 

1 " Pennsylvania, of 11,821 " 

1 " State of New York, of 8,610 " 

1 " Connecticut, of 8,269 " 

1 " Maryland, of 3,954 " 

Thus Pennsylvania, one of the states where, from 1820 to 
1830, most convicts were imprisoned,* shows herself in reality 
one of the most moral states of the Union ; whilst Connecticut, 
placed at the head of the scale of legal morality, in the tables to 
which we allude, is in fact one of the states, which, from 1827 
to 1831, sent most natives to prison. 

[It would not have been uninteresting, had the authors been 
able to show, in a table, how many convicts escaped under the 
old system, and how few under the new. In fact, we know of 
but one single escape from the Auburn prison, when a visiter 
entering with two cloaks, gave one to a convict, who passed out 
with the visiters. None have escaped from Wethersfield. Escapes 
were very frequent under the old system. We find, in a report 
to the Legislature of New Jersey, in January, 1830, the follow- 
ing passage : 

" We have obtained information, from the records of the pri- 
son, concerning escapes which have actually been effected since 
the prison was built. This list is now before us. It contains the 
names of one hundred and eight convicts who have made their 
escape. This is more than one-twelfth part of all who have been 
committed to the prison a proof of the insecurity of the prison, 
so far as our knowledge in the history of prisons extends, with- 
out a parallel.'* 

Though the number of escaped criminals was not everywhere 
so large, it was sufficiently so to become very alarming to society, 
We consider it barbarous not to keep a prisoner perfectly safe, 

The table at the beginning of this chapter. 

266 Appendix. Statistical Notes. 

The desire of liberty, common to living beings, prompts him to 
seize on every opportunity of escape ; the consequence of which, 
if he is retaken, is an increase of the physical means by which 
it is attempted to secure him. From whatever point of view we 
may look at the old prison system, we find that one evil engen- 
ders a still greater one. There is no doubt, that solitary confine- 
ment during night is a great safeguard against attempts at escape, 
which require more or less the combined efforts of many. 

Vidocq, in his Memoirs, quoted several times in this work, 
says distinctly, that on days of rest, most plots are formed in the 
bagnes and other prisons. We would also refer to the remark on 
safety produced by solitary confinement, in Judge Wells's esti- 
mate, given above. " Divide and rule" is nowhere better exem- 
plified than by the penitentiary system. It might be said : "divide 
and rule even criminals. " TRANS.] 

No. 18. 
Some Comparisons between France and America. 

No. I. Classification of convicts according to their offences, in France and in 
America. II. Comparative Table of mortality in the "central prisons" of 
France, and the penitentiaries of America. III. Comparative Table of recom- 
mittals in both countries. IV. Proportion of men and women in the prisons 
of France and America. V. Tables : 1. of the foreigners imprisoned in France 
and in America ; 2. of the number of Frenchmen not born in that department 
where they were tried, compared to the number of Americans not born in 
that state in which they were tried. VI. Age of convicts in France and 
America. VII. Proportion of convicts to the population in France and in 

No. I. Classification of Convicts in France and in ftmerica. 

In the year 1830 there were sentenced 10,046 individuals in 
France, criminally and " correctionally,"* to one year's im- 
prisonment or more. Of these 10,046 individuals :t 
1208 had committed crimes against persons, or 12.02 of 100 ; 
8838 had committed crimes against property, or 87.98 of 100 ; 

195 had committed forgery, or 1.94 of 100 ; 

208 had committed crimes against morals, or 2.07 of 100. 

In the same year, 1830, the average of condemnations pro- 
nounced in the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, 
and Pennsylvania, presents the following : 

* Or by the police courts, of which we have spoken above. THAWS. 

j- In the division of crimes against persons and property, we have not adopted 
precisely the order of the tables of criminal justice, in order to be able to estab- 
lish a more correct comparison between France and the United States. 

Appendix. Comparisons. 267 

Convicted for crimes against persons, 8.66 of 100. 
Ditto crimes against property, 91. 29 of 100. 
Ditto forgery, 10.26 of 100. 

Ditto crimes against morals, 4. 05 of 100. 
The proportion of crimes against persons, has been, as will be 
seen, a little larger in America than in France.* 

A great difference shows itself in the crime of forgery. 

The state of knowledge in the United States, the immense 
number of banks, and the great commercial activity in that 
country, explain easily this difference. 

In France, it has been observed that crimes against persons 
had a slight tendency to decrease. Thus in 1825, they formed 
22 of 100 ; in 1826, 22 ; in 1827, 22 ; in 1828, 19 ; in 1829, 
18 ; and in 1830, 17 of 100 crimes. 

For thirty years, however, the crimes against persons seem to 
have become more frequent! 

Statistical Notes, No 17, First Division. 

Tableaux de la justice criminelle en France, 1830, page 2, 
114 ; 1829, page 2 ; 1828, page 2 ; 1827, page 2 ; 1826, page 
2 ; 1825, page 2. 

No. II. Comparative Table of mortality in the central houses 
of France, and in the penitentiaries in the United States. 

In 1828, there were imprisoned in "the central houses" in 
France, 17,560 individuals; of these, 1,372 died during the year, 
or 1 of 12.79. 

In 1829, the number of prisoners was 17,586 ; died, 1,386, or 
1 of 12.68. 

In 1830, the number of prisoners was 16,842; died, 1,111, or 
1 of 15.16. 

Thus, during the three last years, the mortality has, on an 
average, been, in the "central houses" of France, about 1 out 
of 14 prisoners. 

In America, during the same years, there died, on an average, 
in the five penitentiaries, at Sing-Sing, Auburn, Wethersfield, 
Baltimore, and Charlestown, but 1 of 49 prisoners. 

This result will appear still more extraordinary, if it is con- 
sidered, that there are in the United States, in the five peniten- 
tiaries of which we speak, but few or no women. But if we 
Would deduct the number of women imprisoned in France, the 

* But it must be remembered, that in the United States it is almost always the 
injured party who prosecutes, and not unfrequently it is his interest not to com- 
plain. In France, in most cases, public authority takes care to revenge the 
offended, and government pays the expenses of the process. 

| Owing, undoubtedly, in a great measure, to an improved state of police. 

368 Appendix. Comparisons. 

mortality would show itself still greater. Thus, we have said, that 
in 1830, the average mortality had been 1 of 15.16 prisoners; it 
would have been 1 of 14.03 had the male prisoners alone been 

Documents, furnished by the Minister of Public Works 
and Commerce. 

Comparative Tables respecting the State of New York, 
paragraph 2. 

No. III. Comparative Table of recommittals in France and 
the United States. 

In France, during the years 1828, 1829, and 1830, there have 
been sentenced 95,876 individuals, of whom 13,622 were re- 

Proportion: 1 recommittal of 7 convicts.* 

In Pennsylvania, from 1810 to 1819, there was 1 recommit- 
tal of 6 convictions. 

In Maryland, from 1820 to 1832, 1 of 7. 

In the State of New York, from 1803 to 1820, 1 of 9. 

At Auburn, from 1824 to 1831, 1 of 19. 

Thus France has had annually less recommittals than Penn- 
sylvania, from 1810 to 1S19, as much as Maryland, and nearly 
three times more than New York since the foundation of the 
Auburn penitentiary. 

It must be kept in mind, however, that these comparisons can 
never furnish anything more than approximations. The number 
of recommittals in the United States cannot be exactly compared 
to the recommittals in France. In the United States no criminal 
administration, properly so called, exists. Generally speaking, 
it is but the return of the criminal to the same prison which 
proves the recommittal. In France a thousand means exist to 
know the previous conviction of a criminal. 

The result therefore is, that whilst the stated number of re- 
committals in the United States is the same with that in France, 
it may be believed, that in reality there are more recommittals 
in the United States than in France. It cannot be doubted, for 
instance, that there are less recommittals in France than in Ma- 
ryland, though the numbers of both countries are precisely the 

[But there was no better way of finding out a recommittal in 

* This number only represents the recommittals legally testified in 1828, 
1829, and 1830. But however great the activity of the judicial police may be, 
there exists even with us, a number of individuals, whose previous life remains 
unknown to the courts, and whose recommittal is found out only in prison. 
There were in 1830, of the 16,000 prisoners in the " central houses," 4,000 in 
state of recommittal, which gives one recommittal out of four prisoners. 

Appendix, Comparisons. 269 

the United States before the foundation of penitentiaries than 
after; on the contrary, a recommittal is at present in many cases 
more easily detected, and how does the proportion of recommit- 
tals immediately fall with the establishment of penitentiaries ! 
It is not only Auburn which affords such favourable results; it is 
the same with Charlestown, Wethersfield, &c. See their re- 
ports. TRANS.] 

Comparative Tables of recommittals, No. 17, paragraph 3. 

Compte rendu de la justice criminelle en France, 1828, 
p. 192 and 112 ; 1829, p. 193 and 114 ; 1830, rapport au Roi, 
p. xi. xvii. and xviii.; p. 165 and 94. 

No. IV. Comparative number of women in the prisons of 
France and the United States. 

Of 22,304 individuals who were sentenced for crimes in 
France, from 1825 to 1831, there were 3,911 women. 

Proportion: 17.53 women to 100 convicts of both sexes. 

Of 31,655 individuals, sentenced by the " correctional 
courts"* to one year and more, during the same period, were 
8,087 women. 

Proportion: 25.54 women to 100 convicts of both sexes. 

If we sum up these two numbers in order to make the com- 
parison with the United States easier, we find, that of 53,959 
individuals, sentenced from 1825 to 1831, criminally or " cor- 
rectionally" to one year's or more imprisonment, there were 
11,998 women. 

Proportion: 22.23 women of 100 prisoners of both sexes. 

Of 104,709 individuals, sentenced during the same period, 
correctionally, to less than one year's imprisonment, there were 
20,542 women. 

Proportion : 19.27 women of 100 prisoners of both sexes. 

In the United States, in the state prisons of New York, Con- 
necticut, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, the women were in pro- 
portion as 9.34 to 100 of both sexes. 

If we compare to this number that of individuals sentenced, 
criminally and " correctionally," in France, to one year's im- 
prisonment and more a number composed nearly of the same 
elements it will be seen, that the number of imprisoned women 
in France is nearly double that of the imprisoned women in the 
United States. 

Still more, it must be remarked, that the proportion of 9 to 
100 applies to all American women, white and coloured ; but if 
we should take only the number of white women, the difference 
between France and the United States would be much greater 

* See our previous note on this subject. THIICS. 

2 70 Appendix. Comparisons. 

still ; because, in the American penitentiaries, the white women 
are, to all white prisoners of both sexes, as 3.87 to 100.* 

We cannot compare the number of women sentenced to less 
than one year's imprisonment, with any corresponding number 
in the United States. We only know, that in the United States, 
in proportion as the punishment becomes less severe, the num- 
ber of convicted women becomes greater ; this at least we have 
observed in the states of New York and Pennsylvania. It is 
not so in France. The proportion of women sentenced to less 
than one year's imprisonment, is not so large as that of women 
sentenced to more than one year. 

Proportion of men and women in the different penitentia- 
ries. No, 17, paragraph 3. 

Tableau de la justice criminelle en France: 1826, p. 9 
and 121 ; 1827, p. 9 and 132; 1828, p. 14 and 149 ; 1829, p. 
14 and 151 ; 1830, p. 14 and 125. 


1. In France, of the number of foreigners among the com- 
mitted, and of the number of Frenchmen not born in the 
department where they have been tried. 

2. In the United States, of the foreigners among the convicts, 
as also of the Americans not born in the state where they 
have been tried. 

In France, of 21,731 individuals accused, from 1827 to 1831, 

697 were not French ; 

15,691 were born in the department where they were tried; 
5,303 were natives of other departments. 

* It would be wrong, however, to compare the number oF white women in the 
American penitentiaries with that of the women in the French prisons. The 
white women in the United States, even those who belong to the lower classes 
of society, occupy, in comparison to coloured women, an elevated station in so- 
ciety. To be confounded with the latter, seems to them the highest degree of 
ignominy. [A white servant generally, perhaps always, refuses to wash linen 
for a coloured fellow servant. TRAHS.] The fear of a similar shame prevents 
many of the white women from committing crimes. Often, also, the jury them- 
selves shun the application of a punishment to which the idea of infamy is at- 
tached. [The authors have not understood this country in this respect. It is 
not the station of the white women compared to the coloured women alone 
which prevents crime among them; it is the absolutely elevated station of the 
white woman (and comparatively also of the free coloured woman) in the United 
States, incomparably higher than the station of women in any other nation, 
which prevents crime. If we consider, that, in some states, many or most of 
the imprisoned women, white and coloured, have been sentenced for adultery, 
(in the Wethersfield prison they are nearly all imprisoned for this reason,) whilst 
adultery is not punished in France with imprisonment, the difference becomes 
still more striking. A table, showing the per centage which imprisoned emigrant 
women bear to all imprisoned women in the penitentiaries, would have been 
very interesting. TBAMS.} 

Appendix. Comparisons. 271 

Thus the foreigners were to the whole of the accused as 3 
to 100. 

The accused born in the department were to all tried in the 
same department as 72 to 100. 

The accused not born in the department, to the whole of the 
individuals tried in the same department, as 23 to 100. 

In America, (in the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New 
York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland,) the individuals sentenced 
to the state prison, are thus classified : 

14 foreigners to 100 convicts; 

51 individuals born in the state where they were tried to 100 

33 individuals not born in the state where they were tried to 

100 convicts. 

The comparison of these numbers establishes a fact with which 
the reader is already acquainted, viz. that the population of the 
United States is infinitely more transitory than that of France. 

It becomes the more convincing if we consider that our de- 
partments in general are much smaller than the states of the Union, 
and that no political tie attaches those who have been born there. 
It ought to be, therefore, more common with us than in the 
United States to change the domicil; however, the contrary 
happens ; [and quite of course ; because communication between 
the different parts of the Union is so great, the vast field of in- 
dustry so open to every one, and the population so homogeneous 
and enterprising. TRANS.] 

Statistical Notes, No. \1, paragraphs 7, 8, 9. 
Tableau de la justice criminelle en France : 1828, p. 26 ; 
1829, p. 26 ; 1830, p. 27. 

No. VI. Comparative table of the age of convicts in France 
and in flmerica. 

Of 21,703* individuals, who, from 1825 to 1831, have been 
sentenced in France, for crimes: 

4,251 were under 21 years of age, or about 1 of 5 convicts. 
7,504 were from 21 to 30 years of age, or 1 of 3 convicts. 
5,195 " 30 to 40 " or 1 of 4 

2,800 " 40 to 50 " or 1 of 8 " 

1,211 " 50 to 60 " orloflS " 

483 " 60 to 70 " or 1 of 46 " 

There have been in reality, during these five years, 21,740 convicts; but 
there were 37 whose age is unknown. 

272 Appendix. Comparisons. 

There are a few convicts over the age of 70, but their number 
is too small to need determination in the present place. 

If we compare these numbers with corresponding ones ob- 
tained for the United States, little difference is observable. 

The convicts under 20 years of age, are, in the United States, 

in the proportion of 1 to 10 

Those between 20 and 30 - 1 to 2 

Those between 30 and 40 1 to 5 

Those between 40 and 50 1 to 9 

Those between 50 and 60 1 to 25 

The two first proportions present the greatest differences in 
the two countries. 

But it must not be forgotten, that for France, the first propor- 
tion is composed of those under 21 years of age ; in America, of 
those under 20 years. This one year causes the apparent but 
merely apparent difference. [We cannot see that this one year 
can double the proportion. Mr. Ouetelet, in his Observations, 
reprinted in the Courrier des Etats Unis, April 25, 1S32, gives 
an interesting table on this point, also in respect to women of 
the different ages.] 

Statistical Notes, No. 17, paragraph 12. 

Tableau de la justice criminelle en France, 1826, p. 14; 
1828, p. 22; 1830, p. 22 ; 1827, p. 14; 1829, p. 22. 

No. VII. Proportion of convicts to the population in France 
and in the United States. 

In France in 1830, there were sentenced 10,261 individuals 
to one year's imprisonment and more. 

Proportion : 1 convict to 3118 inhabitants.* 

This proportion is not the result of chance, because it is 
nearly the same in 1829, 1828, and 1827. 

In the United States, from 1820 to 1830, if we take the 
average of all the results obtained in the penitentiaries of Mas- 
sachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, and Mary- 
land, we find 1 convict sent to the state prison to 4,964 in- 

In France there are, therefore, more people sentenced for 
grave crimes than in the United States. But, we must remem- 
ber, that for France we have adopted as the basis of our calcula- 
tions, the minimum of convictions to one year's imprisonment, 
whilst in two of the largest states here compared, the minimum 
is two year's imprisonment.! 

Taking 32,000,000 as the population of France. 

f Nor must it be forgotten, that, in France, criminal justice is infinitely more 
active than in the United States. 

Appendix. Comparisons. 273 

We have reason to believe, that, if it were possible to com- 
pare in the two countries the total number of individuals sen- 
tenced to any kind of imprisonment, the advantage would re- 
main on the side of France. 

This opinion is founded upon the following fact: 

In 183U there were sentenced in Pennsylvania 327 persons to 
the state prison; there was then 1 convict of this kind to 4,121 
inhabitants, a proportion which approximates the average num- 
ber indicated above. 

In Pennsylvania, during the same year, there were sentenced 
to less than a year's imprisonment, in the county of Philadel- 
phia, 1,431 individuals. 

This number is not produced by the view of one year. It 
forms about the average number of four years previously to 

In adding 1,431 and 327, we obtain 1,758. 

It is clear, that this number is far from representing the 
whole number of individuals sentenced to prison in 1830 in the 
state of Pennsylvania; since one of the elements which com- 
pose it is furnished by a single county, and the results of the 
fifty other counties are not known to us. 

We will, however, compare this number, incomplete as it is, 
with that of the inhabitants of Pennsylvania in 1830 ; and we 
will have one prisoner to 767 inhabitants. 

Now, in France, in 1830, there was but one person sentenced 
to imprisonment of 1,043 inhabitants, and this proportion has 
been about the same in 1829, 1828, and 1827. 

The individuals, therefore, sentenced to the state prison in 
Pennsylvania, added to the individuals sentenced to less than a 
year's imprisonment only in the county of Philadelphia, are al- 
ready more numerous in proportion to the population of Penn- 
sylvania, than the individuals sentenced to any imprisonment in 
France in proportion to the population of the kingdom. 

The comparison would be still more favourable to us, if we 
could obtain the results of criminal justice in the 50 counties in 
Pennsylvania of which we have no reports. 

We estimate, that if this were done, we would have found at 
least one person sentenced to imprisonment out of 600 in- 
habitants,* whilst, in France, but one of 1000. 

This great number of imprisonments must be attributed to 
two causes chiefly : 

1. To the severity of principles which the first settlers im- 
printed on the laws. There is a number of little disorders which 
our codes leave unpunished, and which the American codes re- 

* See the details on this point in the Statistical Notes, No. 16, 5. 

274 Appendix. Comparisons. 

press : such as gambling of all kinds, swearing, noise, intoxica- 
tion, idleness in many cases. 

2. These laws are severe ; their application is still more so. 
They contain much that is arbitrary. 

[The most satisfactory results would be obtained by com- 
paring the number of crimes of various classes committed in two 
different countries, e. g. in France so many burglaries, in the 
United States so many burglaries ; in France so many thefts, in 
the United States so many thefts. This comparison, together 
with the careful consideration of attending circumstances, such, 
for instance, as the authors have mentioned in regard to for- 
geries committed in France and in the United States, would 
lead to more satisfactory results respecting the morality of two 
given countries. It cannot be too often repeated, that it is in- 
dispensably necessary to keep always distinctly in view, what 
you wish to ascertain by any statistical inquiry a rule which 
sounds very plain, and yet is every day neglected. Nothing is 
more liable to mislead in statistical inquiries than names. Crime, 
imprisonment, schools, &c. are names which signify very dif- 
ferent things in different countries. TRANS.] 

In general the liberty of the poor is badly guarantied in the 
United States.* One of the principles of the British Constitu- 
tion is to allow the upper classes the right of constituting the 
police of society. In the United States the English aristocracy 
does not exist, but part of its attributes has remained with the 
municipal administrations, which, composed of plebeian magis- 
trates, have nevertheless adopted the same doctrines. [We can- 
not give any comment or refutation on this passage, because we 
are unable to understand the authors. The reader will have ob- 
served ere this, that they had not an opportunity, when writing 
this work, of investigating deeply the British institutions; a 
consequence of which was, that they misunderstood this coun- 
try almost always where the British Constitution alone offered 
a key. TRANS.] 

Statistical Documents on Pennsylvania, p. 15. 

Tableau de la justice criminelle en France, 1830, p. 12, 
p. 125. 

* We have spoken of this opinion above. TBAITS. 

Appendix. Financial Division. 275 

No. 19. 


SECTION FIRST. (Old System.} 


Daily expense, after deduction of the produce of labour. 

Newgate (Connecticut). 

The maintenance of the old prison of Newgate (Connecticut) 
has cost, during the last ten years of its existence, as follows: 

In 1817 - - $12,679 51 

" 1818 12,494 27 

1819 11,403 73 

1820 9,704 11 

1821 6,000 00 

1822 5,263 65 

1823 5,500 00 

1824 8,002 80 

1825 7,284 90 

1826 6,301 08 

Sum total, $84,634 05 

In 1828 there were, in the new state prison, 93 prisoners : 
suppose an equal number in the old prison, during the ten years 
above mentioned ; each of which caused an average expense of 
$8,863 40, produce of labour deducted, it results, that each pri- 
soner cost the state, daily, 26 cents and 10 mil. But in taking 
the number 93 for the average number of prisoners in the old 
prison, from 1817 to 1826, we certainly take too high a num- 
ber, since it has been shown that crime increases in Connecti- 
cut : it is therefore probable, that the support of prisoners cost 
still more ; but it is certain that it cannot have cost less. 

From 1797 to 1829, the state of New Jersey has paid for the 

276 Appendix. Financial Division. 

support of its prison $164,963 81. (See 5th Report of the Bos- 
ton Prison Discipline Society, page 423.) 

It must be remarked, however, that of late the Lamberton pri- 
son has singularly improved in a financial respect. In 1831 its 
expenses surpassed its revenue only by $1,038 65. See Report 
on the Prison of New Jersey, included in a Letter of Judge 
Coxe of Philadelphia. 

Walnut Street (Pennsylvania.) 

During eleven years, from 1819 to 1829, inclusive, the state 
of Pennsylvania has paid, for the support of Walnut Street pri- 
son, the following sums : 

$8,234 46 
7,110 75 
4,330 00 
3,050 40 
4,118 13 
4,065 83 
6,046 80 
4,046 80 
5,095 17 
56 80 
256 22 

Total, - $46,411 36 

In 1827 there were 576 prisoners in Walnut Street prison : 
suppose an equal number there during the preceding years and 
the two following ones, each of the eleven years has cost, on an 
average, $4,191 94, a deduction of the produce of labour being 
first made ; and consequently every prisoner has cost the state, 
per day, at least 1 cent 99 mil. 

See 5th Report of the Boston Prison Discipline Society, 
page 354. 

The causes which influence the economy or expensiveness of 
the administration of a prison, are very well shown in the above 
quoted passage of the Report of the Boston Society. 

Newgate (New York). 

In twenty-three years, from 1797 to 1819, inclusive, the old 
prison of New York has cost, for construction as well as sup- 
port, $646,912. It seems that about $200,000 have been spent 
for construction ; $446,912, therefore, remain for the support 
alone, a deduction of the produce of labour being made. Each 
of the twenty-three years then has cost, on an average, $19,432. 

Appendix. Financial Division. 277 

There were 440 prisoners in Newgate, during the above years ; 
from which it results, that each prisoner in this prison has cost 
the state, per day, 12 cents 32 mil. 

SECTION SECOND. (New System.) 

s , n .. ^Pennsylvania System. 

1. Construction. < a , y c , y 
{auburn System. 

EXPENSE or CONSTRUCTION. (Pennsylvania System.) 
Penitentiary of Cherry Hill, near Philadelphia. 262 Cells. 

$432,000, which makes each cell $1,648 85. 

(Document obtained by us on the spot.) See also Report of 
the Commissioners of Revision, also that of Judge Powers, 

[See the estimate of the new penitentiary of New Jersey, on 
the Pennsylvania plan, which we have inserted after Judge 
Wells's estimate, No. 12. TRANS.] 

Penitentiary of Pittsburg. 190 Cells. 

$186,000, which makes each cell $978 95. (See Carey.) 
We mention the penitentiary of Pittsburg under the title of 
Pennsylvania system, because it has been erected for solitary 
confinement during day and night, which forms the characteris- 
tic of this system : we ought to observe, however, that the pri- 
soners at Pittsburg do not work, their cells having more resem- 
blance to those at Auburn than to those at Cherry Hill. 


Washington Penitentiary. 160 Cells. 
$180,000, which makes for each cell $1,125.* 

Charlestown Penitentiary, near Boston. 300 Cells. 
$86,000, which makes each cell $286 66.t 

Sing-Sing Penitentiary 1,000 Cells. 
$200,000, which makes each cell $2004 

* This statement has been furnished to us by the present superintendent. 
The finished part of this penitentiary has not yet cost more than $120,000; 
but that which is yet to be done is estimated at $60,000. It is possible that the 
expenses will be greater than the estimate. 

| See the pamphlet which contains the regulations of the new prison at 

* See MS< note of Mr. Cartwright, engineer at Sing-Sing. 

278 Appendix. Financial Division. 

Wethersjield Penitentiary. 232 Cells. 
$35,000, which makes each cell $150 86.* 

Baltimore Penitentiary. 320 Cells. 
$46,823 44, which makes each cell $146 32.t 

Blackwell Island Penitentiary. 240 Cells. 
$32,000, which makes each cell $133 33.J 

We do not exactly know the expenses of building the peni- 
tentiary at Sing-Sing, which we have given as amounting to 

It appears from documents, which we find partly in the re- 
ports to the legislature, partly in a note of Mr. Cartvvright, that 
the construction of the penitentiary has cost the state about 
$150,000. But to this sum must be added the price of labour 
of the prisoners, employed in building instead of free labourers. 
It is for this reason that we add $50,000. It is evident that 
$50,OCO exceeds much the value of the work done by the pri- 
soners. The reader is certain, therefore, that in estimating the 
expense of construction of Sing-Sing at $200,000, we go be- 
yond the real expense. 

It is seen from the above table, that a cell costs, on an average, 
$257 47 ; it must be added, that this high price is caused by 
the Washington Penitentiary, and is disproportionate to the 
others ; and it would be, perhaps, more just to find the average 
price of the others, as the Washington penitentiary has been 
built without regard to economy. Doing this, we would obtain 
the average expense of $191 for each cell. It must not be for- 
gotten, that the question is here of the price of each cell and all 
accessory buildings of the prison. 

See MS. notes of Judge Wells of Wethersfield, and Reports to the Le- 
gislature on the Connecticut State Prison. 

f See page 10 of the Report of the Inspectors of the Penitentiary of Mary- 
land, of Dec. 23, 1828. 

t See Carey, page 38. 

Appendix. Financial Division. 279 

c n TT, { 


The Statistic Tables which follow, are but the very succinct rtsumf of an im- 
mense labour, which we have undergone on the financial situation of the pri- 
sons of America, and the extent of which itself prevents us from giving it here. 
We can, however, assure the reader, that not one of our numbers is given with- 
out being founded on official documents. All justificatory papers have been de- 
posited with the Minister of Commerce and Public Works. 


Year 1825 386 Prisoners (average}. 

Expenses of the prison, $24,275 92 

Produce of labour, - - 13,976 10 

Balance against the prison, - 10,299 82 

Year 1826 433 Prisoners (average}. 

Expenses of the prison, $30,736 05 

Produce of labour, - 20,522 13 

Balance against the prison, - 10,213 92 

Year 1827 476 Prisoners (average}. 

Expenses of the prison, $36,543 91 

Produce of labour, 25,191 17 

Balance against the prison, - 11,35274 

Year 1828 547 Prisoners (average). 

Expenses of the prison, $33,571 84 

Produce of labour, - 33,460 56 

Balance against the prison, - 111 28 

Year 1829 604 Prisoners (average}. 

Expenses of the prison, $38,200 80 

Produce of labour, 34,056 17 

Balance against the prison, - 4,144 63 

280 Appendix. Financia I Division. 

Year 1830 609 Prisoners (average}. 
Produce of labour, $36,251 79 

Expenses of the prison, 36,226 42 

Balance in favour of the prison, - 25 37 

Year 1831 643 Prisoners (average}. 

Produce of labour, $36,209 44 

Expenses of the prison, 34,405 60 

Balance in favour of the prison, - 1,S03 S4 

(See Reports of the Inspectors of the Auburn prison for the 
years 1825, 1826, 1827, 1828, 1829, 1830, and 1831. 

[To this we will add the following passage of the Annual Re- 
port of the Inspectors of the Auburn Prison, January 14, 1833. 

Including those brought from Sing-Sing, the number of 
convicts in this prison has increased during the last year 27; 
but excluding those, there has been a decrease of 23. But by a 
law of the last session of the legislature, the territory from which 
convicts are sent to this prison has been enlarged, so as now to 
embrace five out of the eight senate districts; which law went 
into practical operation about the time that the said convicts 
from the Sing-Sing prison were received. Since that time the 
number of convicts in this prison has gradually increased from 
666, to the present number, 683. It appears to us, therefore, 
highly probable, that with the present territory, there will be a 
gradual increase of convicts at this prison. 

The earnings of the convicts for the year ending 
on the 30th day of September last, and which 
have been charged to contractors, amount to $37,951 26 

The earnings of convicts, not employed by con- 
tractors, as charged to individuals, and cash re- 
ceived from visiters, and for articles sold, and 
other incidental sources, amount to - 3,882 21 

The earnings and profits of the prison as above, for 

the past year, amount to U,833 47 

The expenditures during the same period, for the 
general support of the prison, and which includes 
all expenses, except those authorized by the act of 
the 25th April, 1832, for building 220 cells, 
amounts to $38,305 31 

Leaving a balance in favour of the prison, of $3,528 16] 

Appendix. Financial Division. 28 1 


Year 1828 (half a year] 95 Prisoners (average}. 

Expenses of the prison, - $2,598 31 

Produce of labour, - - 3,615 47 

Balance in favour of the prison, - - 1,017 10 

Year 1829 115 Prisoners (average}. 

Expenses of the prison, - $5,876 13 

Produce of labour, * - - 9,105 54 

Balance in favour of the prison, - - 3,229 41 

Year 1830 150 Prisoners (average]. 

Expenses of the prison, - $ 7,295 00 

Produce of labour, - 12,363 94 

Balance in favour of the prison, - * 5,068 94 

Year 1831 174 Prisoners (average). 

Expenses of the prison, - * - $ 7,342 16 

Produce of labour, * 15,16613 

Balance in favour of the prison, * 7,824 02 

The new penitentiary of Wethersfield has, then, within three 
years and a half, produced a revenue to the state, deduction of 
all expenses made, of $17,139 53. 

The ancient prison of Connecticut (Newgate) cost the state, 
from 1790 to 1826, not less than $204,711, for the support of 
prisoners, over and above the produce of the labour of the pri- 

(See Reports of the Inspectors of the Penitentiary of Con- 
necticut for the years 1828, 1829, 1830, and 1831.) 


Year 1828 317 Prisoners (average}. 

Expenses of the prison, * $15,883 79 

Produce of labour, 27,464 31 

Balance in favour of the prison, 11,580 52 


282 Appendix. Financial Division. 

Year 1829 342 Prisoners (average). 

Expenses of the prison, - $1 6,265 00 

Produce of labour, \ u - ' M < 36,216 25 

Balance in favour of the prison, 19,951 25 

Year 183Qfor nine months 363 Prisoners (average). 

Expenses of the prison, - $13,292 61 

Produce of labour, - - 26,10529 

Balance in favour of the prison, 12,812 68 

Thus the penitentiary at Baltimore has yielded to the state of 
Maryland a revenue, over and above all expenses for the state 
prison, within two years and nine months, $44,344 45. 

(See Reports of the Inspectors of the Penitentiary of Mary- 
land for the years 1828, 1829, and 1830.) 


Years 1828 and 1829 541 Prisoners (average). 

Expenses of the prison, - $33,654 00 

Produce of labour, ... .. 4,648 19 

Balance against the prison, 29,005 81 

(See Report of January 6, 1830.) 

Years 1829 and 1830 669 Prisoners (average). 

Expenses of the prison, - $36,606 00 

Produce of labour, - 13,253 01 

Balance against the prison, 23,352 99 

(See Report of the Inspectors of January 5, 1831.) 

Year 1831 875 Prisoners (average). 

Expenses of the prison, - $51,703 31 

Produce of labour, - - 40,205 33 

Balance against the prison, 11,497 98 

(See Report of the Inspectors of January 12, 1832.) 

In all the reports upon which we have made the above calcula- 
tions, the annual expenses are given as much exceeding the 
number which we have stated, because the reports include the 

Appendix. Financial Division. 283 

expenses occasioned by the construction of the prison, whilst 
we only state the expenses of support. 

The number indicating the expenses, thus reduced, is exact : 
that of the produce of labour is not. The reason is this : until 
1831 the majority of prisoners were employed in constructing 
the prison; it follows that their labour, which was productive, 
inasmuch as it saved an expense, nevertheless produced no re- 
venue, and was therefore not enumerated as produce of the la- 
bour or revenue of the prison. In 1831, there have been 526 
prisoners out of 875 employed in productive labour; and the 
number indicating the revenue strikingly increased ; we might, 
in establishing a proportion, calculate how much must be pro* 
duced by the labour of 875 prisoners, by taking as a basis, that 
which has been produced by 526 prisoners. But, in this re- 
spect, there would be a danger of making an erroneous calcula- 
tion. In fact, the produce of labour does not always double 
with the prisoners at work: it often happens, that the production 
of articles exceeds the consumption and the wants of commerce; 
and we do not know whether 1,000 prisoners, breaking and cut- 
ting stones in the quarries of Sing-Sing, would yield proportion- 
ally as great a revenue as 526 convicts. 

All that may be said is, that according to all probability, the 
prison will support itself, and will cost absolutely nothing to the 
state, when the labour of all the prisoners shall be employed in 
a productive way. 


We do not give any statistic table of the financial situation 
of the penitentiary in Philadelphia, because it has been impossi- 
ble for us to obtain the necessary documents respecting the 

However, it results from the 2d Report to the Legislature, in 
1831, that during the first year of its operation, the support of 
the prisoners has been covered by the produce of their labour; 
and the state had only to add the salaries of the officers. The 
report of the following year seems to announce a similar result. 
Yet no number is given. It must be remarked, that the number 
of prisoners in the new penitentiary of Philadelphia is very 
small; and Mr. Samuel Wood, the director of this penitentiary, 
believes, that the labour of the prisoners will become more pro- 
ductive in proportion as the prisoners become more numerous. 

(See 2d Report on the Penitentiary at Philadelphia.) 

[To this we will add the following passage, taken from the 
Message of the governor of Pennsylvania to the legislature of 
that state, Dec. 6, 1832 : 

284 Appendix. Financial Division. 

tf The annual accounts of the prison are not closed until No- 
vember 30. I have not, therefore, been able to ascertain with 
accuracy how far the earnings of the prisoners will be available 
to defray the expenses of the institution. It is believed, that, 
for the present, they will pay all except the salaries of the offi- 
cers ; and it is not doubted, that, as soon as the prison shall have 
been fully organized, the entire expenses will be defrayed out 
of the proceeds of the establishment." \ ' 

There is no good reason why labour in solitary confinement 
should not be made as productive as in the Auburn system ; be- 
cause, it must be remembered, that the principles of the latter 
do not permit any united labour in which several convicts come 
too closely together ; the species of labour in which they can be 
employed, must be therefore pretty nearly the same with that 
in which the solitary convict can be employed. This is not only 
our opinion, but also that of Judge Wells of Wethersfield, and a 
better authority respecting the economy of penitentiaries we do 
not know. THANS.] 

Appendix. Financial Division. 285 



Auburn. (Average of seven years.} 

Total expense of each prisoner per day, - 17 cents 16 mil. 
Labour of each prisoner produced per day, - 14 " 59 " 

Sing-Sing. (Average of the three last years. ) 

Total expense for each prisoner per day, - 16 cents 33 mil. 
Labour of each prisoner produced per day, - 10 " 26 " 

Wethersfield. (Average of four years.} 

Total expense of each prisoner per day, - 13 cents 55 mil. 
Labour of each prisoner produced per day, - 23 " 35 " 

Baltimore. (Average of the three last years.) 

Total expense of each prisoner per day, - 13 cents 36 mil. 
Labour of each prisoner produced per day, - 26 " 31 " 


Food alone of each prisoner has cost, on an average, per day : 

At Auburn, (average of 6 years,) 4 cents 36 mil. 

At Sing-Sing, (average of 2 years,) 6 " 00 " 

At Wethersfield, (average of 4 years,) - 4 " 72 " 

Expense of guarding alone. 

The surveillance of each prisoner, (i. e. watching, salary of offi- 
cers, &c.) costs, on an average, per day: 

At Auburn, (average of 6 years,) 6 cents 17 mil. 

At Sing-Sing, (average of 3 years,) 6 " 83 " 

6 " 87 " 

At Auburn, (average of 6 years,) 
At Sing-Sing, (average of 3 years,) 
At Wethersfield, (average of 4 years, 


The food, clothing, and bedding of each convict cost, on an 
average, per day: 

At Auburn, (average of 3 years,) 5 cents 76 mil. 

At Sing-Sing, (average of 3 years,) 8 " 07 " 


Appendix. Financial Division. 

If we compare the above table with the statistical table of the 
ancient system, it will be seen, that, in Connecticut, every con- 
vict has earned for the state, during the four last years, 46 cents 
65 mil. over and above the expenses which he caused ; whilst, 
during the ten years which preceded the establishment of the 
new system, each prisoner cost the state per day, on an average, 
26 cents 10 mil.; which makes a difference of 34 cents 90 mil. 
for each prisoner per day. 


During the seven years which elapsed, from 1825 to 1831, 
each prisoner has cost, on an average, per year, 63 dollars, 76 
cents, 6 mil. 

The most a prisoner has cost per year, is 76 dollars and 77 

The least is 53 dollars, 50 cents, 8 mil. 


643 convicts. 


875 convicts. 

(Old prison.) 
276 convicts. 

174 convicts. 

Other officers, 

$ 1,250 

$ 1,750 

$ 1,500 
11,671 55 

2,513 33 

Total, - - - 



$13,171 55 

$3,713 33 

Note. The superintendent of the Virginia state prison receives $2,000. 

Appendix. Pennsylvania System. 287 


An Article reprinted from the Encyclopedia Americana. 

[We reprint here the above named article, because, as we 
stated in the preface, some gentlemen, whose opinion on mat- 
ters connected with prison discipline cannot but have great weight 
with us, requested us to do so. Besides, there is no reference 
in the Encyclopaedia, in which the article Prison Discipline 
stands in its proper place, made to this article in the Appendix, 
and it may therefore easily escape the notice of many readers. 
We shall add at the end of it some remarks. TKANS.] 

One of the points which have occasioned the greatest division of 
opinion among the friends of the penitentiary system, relates to 
solitary confinement. One party contend that this should be 
made the very basis of prison discipline, and have carried their 
principles into effect in the Eastern Penitentiary of Pennsyl- 
vania: others strenuously oppose it. The opinions expressed in 
the article Prison Discipline, in this work, are rather unfavour- 
able to the plan adopted in Pennsylvania. As the question is- 
one of great interest, and as many misconceptions on this sub- 
ject exist among those who are sincerely devoted to the reforma- 
tion of prisons, we have thought it not improper to give, in this 
place, a view of some of the arguments which may be urged in 
support of the principle of uninterrupted solitary confinement. 
All that will be attempted will be to touch upon the main fea- 
tures of the question, and to offer some suggestions, derived 
from the writer's own experience, with the view of making it 
appear that the system of solitary confinement, as now prac- 
tised in the Eastern Penitentiary in Philadelphia, is the only 
effectual mode of making prisons schools of reformation, instead 
of schools of corruption. The more light there is thrown upon 
this subject, the better for the cause. Strong, and, in our opinion, 
unfounded prejudices against the system of solitary confinement, 
are entertained even by men justly esteemed for their enlighten- 
ed views and strenuous labours for the good of mankind. The 
late William Roscoe, for instance, was extremely hostile to the 
system, as appears from several pieces which he has written on 

288 Appendix. Pennsylvania System. 

the subject of prison discipline.* Mr. Roberts Vaux, of Phila- 
delphia, addressed to him a Letter on the Penitentiary System 
of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, 1827), from which, and from an- 
other production of this gentleman, we shall present to our readers 
various extracts in the course of this article. We would also 
refer the reader, for more particular information than our limits 
will allow, to other publications of Mr. Vaux, who is indefati- 
gable in promoting the education of children and the correction 
of criminals. The publications to which we allude are Notices 
of the Original and Successive Efforts to improve the Prison 
Discipline in Philadelphia, and to reform the Penal Law of 
Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, 1826) ; a Discourse delivered be- 
fore the Historical Society of the State of Pennsylvania on 
New- Year's Day, 1827 (Philadelphia, 1827); and a Letter to 
Bishop White, the President, and other Members of the Phila- 
delphia Society for alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons, 
in No. 8, vol. i. of the Journal of Law (Philadelphia, lS30).t-~ 
Before going into the subject of this article, we would remark 
that it is believed by many foreigners, that the Pennsylvania 
penitentiary system has been abandoned in the very state from 
which it takes its name. The following passage from the mes- 
sage of the governor of Pennsylvania to the legislature of that 
state (Dec. 6, 1832), shows that this is a mistake, and throws 
light upon other points in question : " Our penitentiary sys- 
tem," says Governor Wolf, "as immediately connected with 
the administration of criminal justice, is to be regarded as being 
of the first importance, in reference as well to the security of the 

* We learn, from Doctor T< S. Traill's memoir on that distinguished scholar, 
read before the Literary and Philosophical Society of Liverpool, in October, 
1832, that he said " that no literary distinction had ever afforded him half the 
gratification that he received from the reflection on the part he had taken on this 
great question; and he expressed his satisfaction that he now might be permitted 
to think that he had not lived altogether in vain." And yet to such mistakes 
are great men liable we believe that Mr. Roscoe had but a very imperfect 
knowledge of the effects of solitary confinement, and that his conclusions on the 
subject were drawn from unfounded suppositions. Since the above and this 
note were written, we saw the letter of Mr. Roscoe to Doctor David Hosack, 
New York, dated, Liverpool, Tonleth Park, July 13, 1830, of which also the 
French authors make mention. It appears, that Mr. Roscoe's chief objection 
was against solitary confinement without labour. He distinctly says, that, in his 
opinion, the great question is labour or no labour; in general he seems, however, 
to prefer the Auburn system. Whether Mr. Roscoe was, at that distance from 
our penitentiaries, sufficiently informed upon the two penitentiary systems, their 
principles and operation, we are unable to say. 

f These writings are known beyond the limits of the United States. We find 
them mentioned with respect in the Lectures on Prisons, &c., by Nicholas Henry 
Julius (Berlin, 1828), and in the Annals of Institutions for Punishment and Cor- 
rection of Paupers, their Education, &c., published monthly at Berlin, by the 
same author (both in German) works little known in this country, on account 
of the language in which they are written, but which contain a great mass of in- 
formation on the subjects mentioned in their titles. 

Appendix. Pennsylvania System. 289 

persons and property, as to the general morals of our citizens ; 
and, so far as regards the Eastern Penitentiary, the philanthro- 
pic advocates of penitentiary reform may justly congratulate 
themselves upon the success with which their exertions have 
been crowned, in bringing so near to perfection a system sur- 
rounded by so many difficulties. The government of this prison 
has been conducted, in regard as wll to its economy as its dis- 
cipline, in a manner worthy of all commendation ; and the ex- 
periment of the efficacy of solitary confinement with labour, so 
far as there has been opportunity to test it, has exceeded the ex- 
pectations of the most sanguine among its friends. On the 25th 
October, 1829, the first convict was received into the Eastern 
Penitentiary ; and from thence until the 1st November, 1832, 
the whole number admitted amounted to 132 males, and 4 fe- 
males, convicted of various offences. On the day last mentioned, 
there remained in confinement 90 male and 4 female prisoners. 
The whole number discharged between the above dates, by rea- 
son of the expiration of sentence, was 28: 9 died and 5 were 
pardoned. One fact, in reference to this institution, bears strong 
testimony in favour of its discipline. It appears that not a single 
convict discharged from this prison has ever been returned to it; 
which would seem to prove pretty clearly, either that a thorough 
reformation has been produced, or that a dread of a repetition of 
the unsocial manner of life which had proved so irksome before, 
has deterred from the commission of crimes within those limits 
of the state in which a conviction would ensure a sentence to the 
Eastern Penitentiary. The annual accounts of the prison are not 
closed until the 30th of November. I have not, therefore, been 
able to ascertain, with accuracy, how far the earnings of the pri- 
soners will be available to defray the expenses of the institution. 
It is believed that, for the present, they will pay all except the 
salaries of the officers; and it is not doubted that, as soon as the 
prison shall have been fully organized, the entire expenses will 
be defrayed out of the proceeds of the establishment.* The ex- 
periment made in the Eastern Penitentiary has demonstrated the 
fact, that solitary confinement with labour does not impair the 
health of those subjected to that species of discipline The pri- 
soners work to more advantage : having no opportunity for con- 
versation or amusement, they eagerly desire employment ; here 
all communication is cut off; no one knows his fellow prisoner; 
no acquaintance is formed ; no contamination takes place; the 
convict sees no one, holds communion with no one, except such 
as will give him good advice; he is placed in a situation where 
he has every inducement to grow better, but little temptation to 

* See our previous remark on the productiveness of labour in solitary confine- 
ment in No. 19, Financial Division, Section 2d, 2, Part, Pennsylvania System. 


290 Appendix. Pennsylvania System. 

grow worse ; here thought and reflection will crowd upon the 
mind, and prepare it for solemn impressions, and for moral and 
religious instruction. The discipline established in this prison; 
the manner of the construction and arrangement of the building 
itself, and of the cells in which the prisoners are confined and 
employed, are admitted, by all who have turned their attention 
to the subject of penitentiary reform, to possess decided advan- 
tages over those of any other establishment designed for similar 
objects, in this or any other country. Foreigners, whose espe- 
cial business it has been to visit the penitentiaries in this coun- 
try, generally, for the purpose of acquiring information in re- 
ference to the subject of penitentiary punishment, and its efficacy 
in producing reformation in those subjected to its discipline, 
have, with one voice, awarded the meed of merit to that esta- 
blished in the Eastern Penitentiary of Pennsylvania. I have the 
satisfaction to inform you, that, of the 400 additional cells re- 
cently directed by the legislature to be constructed, 100 are 
finished, and will be ready as soon as the plastering shall have 
become sufficiently dry to receive prisoners: 118 more are in a 
state of forwardness, and the whole number will be completed 
in the course of the ensuing season."* The report to be made 
upon the Eastern prison during the present session of the legis- 
lature of Pennsylvania, we understand, will contain satisfactory 
proofs of the advantages of the system, and an account of essen- 
tial improvements in the architecture of the prison. In the arti- 
cle on Prison Discipline, in the body of this work, (the Ency- 
clopaedia Americana,} it is said that, "unless some decided 

/^advantage is to be gained by a more expensive system (the Penn- 
sylvania plan of separate confinement), it (the Auburn system) 

V. ought to be preferred." We believe that the Pennsylvania sys- 
tem affords many advantages which can be but partially attained 
by the Auburn system, or not at all ; and that it is the best suit- 
ed, of all the prison systems yet devised, to the demands of the 

" The governor continues as follows: "From the last report of the inspectors 
of the Western Penitentiary, as well as from a partial personal inspection of it, 
I am satisfied that its condition, and the fruits of the course of discipline there 
exercised, are directly the reverse of that which I have just attempted to de- 
scribe. From the imperfect plan of the building itself, and the inconvenient, 
injudicious arrangement of the cells, the discipline of solitary confinement with 
labour cannot be enforced; the prisoners cannot be restrained from conversing 
with each other; every prisoner may acquire a knowledge of the individuals con- 
fined within its walls; contamination from conversation with his fellow prisoners 
may take place; the cell of the prisoner cannot, as in the case of the Eastern 
Penitentiary, be used as his workshop, in which he may always be usefully and 
profitably employed; there are no separate yards connected with the several 
cells, which renders it necessary, for the health of the prisoners, to allow them 
frequently to associate with each other in the common yards. Many other de- 
fects exist, and many important alterations will be required to fit this establish- 
ment for the same course of salutary disci pline so successfully practised in the 
Eastern Penitentiary." 

Appendix. Pennsylvania System. 291 

age. All persons agree that it is of the first importance to pre- 
vent prisoners from contaminating each other. It is a melan- 
choly fact, that, wherever a number of persons, who have openly 
transgressed the laws of society, or whose characters are corrupt, 
are brought together, and allowed to have free intercourse with 
each other, each individual has a tendency to sink to the level 
of the worst. The intercourse of the vicious is mutually cor- 
rupting, in the same manner as the intercourse of good men is 
mutually improving. To prevent this contamination, all agree 
that, during the night, every prisoner should be separately con- 
fined ; but many have thought that, during the day time, the 
criminals engaged in common work may be so strictly watched 
that no communication can take place among them. In order to 
effect this which is the system followed at Auburn a very 
severe discipline has necessarily been resorted to. No criminal 
is allowed to speak to a fellow prisoner : the meals are taken in 
the separate cells. Beating by the keepers must be allowed, or 
the discipline cannot be enforced; and it can easily be imagined 
how severe a discipline is required to suppress that desire of 
communication which is so deeply planted in human nature, 
and to counteract the artifices of a host of adepts in cunning, to 
suppress looks, signs, &c.* Mr. Lynds, who built the prison at 
Sing-Sing, in the state of New York, and who must be consider- 
ed as the inventor of the system of discipline pursued in the 
prisons of Auburn and Sing-Sing, says that his greatest difficulty 
has been to find keepers who were not too lenient. 

We would also refer the reader to a letter written by Mr. Ed- 
ward Livingston (the present secretary of state, and the framer 
of the code of Louisiana) to Mr. Roberts Vaux, Oct. 25, 1828 
(and which appeared at the time in the public prints), concur- 
ring in the opinion that communication can be prevented only 
to a certain degree, and only by the use of very great severity, 
if the convicts work together in the day time. See also the In- 

* We do not believe that absolute silence is or can be enforced. The con- 
victs learn to speak without moving the lips, and a gentleman who was for a 
series of years one of the directors of a penitentiary on the Auburn plan, inform- 
ed us, that, during his visits to the workshops of the convicts, he sometimes 
heard the sound of whispering without being able to discover which of the con- 
victs spoke, except by continued attention. We know of two facts in two dif- 
ferent penitentiaries, celebrated for their excellent discipline, which prove that 
the convicts communicate with each other. We admit that this communication 
cannot be such as to expose the convict to any great danger of contamination, 
as long as active keepers enforce the system; but two things cannot be prevent- 
ed, 1. the convicts knowing each other? 2. their attention being drawn from 
themselves and their accustoming themselves to a (most injurious) feeling of be- 
ing part of a community of villains. The abovementioned gentleman, in whose 
experience we have great confidence, considers it visionary to believe, that ab- 
solute silence can ever be obtained without absolute solitude; but that farther 
corruption certainly can be prevented, which we do not deny to be one great 
point gained. 

292 Appendix. Pennsylvania System. 

troductory Report to the Code of Prison Discipline, explanatory 
of the Principles on which the Code is founded, being Part of the 
Penal Law prepared for the State of Louisiana, by Edward Liv- 
ingston ; printed separately by Carey, Lea and Carey (Philadel- 
phia, 1827). But all this severity is avoided in the system of 
permanent separate confinement. Communication, and conse- 
quent contamination, cannot take place; and yet the system re- 
quires neither stripes nor any punishment in order to enforce it. 
It works calmly and steadily, without subjecting the convict, by 
continually repeated punishment, to a continual recurrence of 
disgrace for misdemeanors which the common principles of 
human nature are sufficient to induce him to commit. But even 
if we could obtain entirely the desired end interruption of 
communication by the Auburn system, would this system be 
desirable on other accounts? The article on Prison Discipline, 
speaking of solitary confinement, says, "In the silence and 
darkness of night the voice of religious instruction is heard; and, 
if any circumstances can be imagined, calculated to impress the 
warnings, the encouragements, the threats or the hopes of reli- 
gion upon the mind, it must surely be those of the convict in 
his cell, where he is unseen and unheard, and where nothing can 
reach him but the voice which must come to him, as it were, 
from another world, telling him of things which, perhaps, never 
entered into his mind ; telling him of God, of eternity, of future 
reward and future punishment, of suffering far greater than the 
mere physical endurances of the present life, and of joy infinitely 
beyond the pleasures he may have experienced." This effect 
certainly may take place ; but it cannot occur often if the convict 
is in his cell only during the night, when his time will be prin- 
cipally spent in sleep ; and, though the nights of winter afford 
much more time than is required for this purpose, men can ac- 
custom themselves to very protracted slumbers, especially if 
they have never been accustomed to reflection, which must be 
the case with most convicts. The great object referred to in the 
above passage can be obtained, in our opinion, only by separate 
confinement day and night. The greatest step, we believe, 
which a convict of the common sort can make towards reforma- 
tion, is from thoughtlessness to thoughtfulness. Few of those 
committed to prisons are accustomed to think: it is for want of 
thought that they became guilty. Surrounded as they are, in the 
Auburn system, by a variety of objects during the day, they 
cannot feel the same inducement to reflection as under the pres- 
sure of constant solitude. It is difficult, even for a man accus- 
tomed from his youth to reflection, and to a mode of life which 
offers a great variety of objects and subjects, to entertain himself 
in long-continued solitude. He must occupy his mind with him- 
self. The writer may be permitted to refer to his own expe* 

Appendix. Pennsylvania System. 293 

rience, having been imprisoned for a considerable period during; 
a time of political persecution ; and, though he was not haunted 
with remorse, and had more resources, from the habits of his 
past life, than can fall to the lot of most of the inmates of pri- 
sons, he can testify to the power with which solitude forces a 
man to make himself the subject of his contemplation a power 
which can hardly be realized by one who has not felt it. How 
strongly must it operate on the common convict! Deprived of 
most of the resources of educated men ; constantly reminded of 
the cause which brought him into this situation; undisturbed by 
any distracting objects; enveloped in silence he needs must 
think. This power of solitude was acknowledged by the wisest 
and best of antiquity, who retired from the walks of men to pre- 
pare themselves for great tasks by undisturbed contemplation. 
The labour which the convict performs in his cell, and which is 
indispensably necessary, does not disturb him, because it soon 
loses the distracting power of novelty; and, though it will en- 
gage him sufficiently to prevent him from sinking into torpid 
sullenness (as experience shows), it does not interrupt his con- 
templations. When he has once begun to reflect, he must come 
to the conclusion that virtue is preferable to vice, and can tran- 
quillize his troubled mind only by resolving on reformation: he 
must at last seek comfort in the mercy of that Being who created 
him in his goodness, and who will receive him, notwithstanding 
his guilt, if he is sincere in his repentance. This will be the 
natural course of most prisoners in uninterrupted solitary con- 
finement, judging from the observation which we have made on 
convicts thus confined. All agree that prison discipline ought to 
be such as to afford a possibility for the reformation of the pri- 
soner; and this seems to us possible only in the Pennsylvania 
penitentiary system. The cases must be very rare in which a 
person, in the moment of his conviction, feels the entire justice 
of it, and resolves to become better: it requires a moral energy 
of which very few are capable. The feeling usually produced 
in any man, by any punishment, is that of offended pride, of 
irritated self-love. The prisoner, at the moment of conviction, 
does not reflect on the justice of his punishment, but places him- 
self in opposition to the rest of mankind, as an injured man, or, if 
he be of a better nature, with the embittered feeling of an out- 
cast In this state of mind he enters the prison.* If uninter- 

* It has been often observed, that the moment when a convict for the first 
time enters the inner prison; when the door closes behind him; and his clothes 
(those of honest men) are changed for the prison dress, is most impressive upon 
him. Many show the state of mind into which shame, repentance, and horror 
throw them, by abundant tears. Could but that precious moment be made use 
of! In the old system the convict soon became ashamed of his shame. This un- 
fortunate effect is avoided by the Auburn system; but does not the mere sight 
of a number of fellow convicts somewhat reconcile him to his unhappy situation? 

294 Appendix. Pennsylvania System. 

rupted solitude awaits him, he will, if he is capable of reforma- 
tion by any means but the devoted labours of personal friends 
(in which character, of course, the government cannot address 
him), become thoughtful. When he has reached this state, no new 
punishment awaits him ; no new shame; no corrupting and degrad- 
ing company ; no new cause for considering himself an outcast, and 
fit associate for the worst. His solitary confinement hangs over 
him, indeed, as a severe dispensation, but does not daily renew 
the irritation of his pride. However much he may have been 
offended by his sentence, the prison in itself inflicts no further 
degradation. The keeper appears as a friend rather than a se- 
vere overseer. If he is disposed to reform, his weakness is not 
constantly put to the trial by offended shame, by the considera- 
tion that he is an outcast and associate of outcasts. We have 
asked many prisoners, in permanent solitary confinement, 
whether they would prefer to be placed together with others; 
and they have almost invariably answered that they considered 
it as the greatest privilege to be left alone. It ought not to be 
supposed that solitude bears so hard upon the mind of the pri- 
soner, that he would exchange it for any other situation which 
would bring him into contact with other human beings. When 
the writer, after an imprisonment of eight months, was offered 
the company of another prisoner in his cell, confined also on 
political grounds, he refused the offer, though it was repeated at 
several different times. If the prisoner has made any step to- 
wards reformation, he always will wish to remain alone. How 
different from this is the operation of the Auburn system ! As 
soon as the convict leaves his cell, he sees and feels anew that he 
is degraded: he knows and is known by his fellow convicts; the 
keeper is (and necessarily must be) a severe, inexorable over- 
seer. He is treated every day anew as an outcast from society; 
his pride is constantly offended; or, if he has no pride, no oppor- 
tunity is afforded for the feeling of self-respect to spring up. We 
hardly see how the slow process of reformation can go on under 
these circumstances. Yet the most humane of all systems of pri- 
son discipline that of Pennsylvania has been called, and by an 
excellent man too (Mr. Roscoe), " the most inhuman and unna- 
tural that the cruelty of a tyrant ever invented, no less deroga- 
tory to the character of human nature than it is in direct viola- 
tion of the leading principles of Christianity." We have already 
shown why we believe that it is not only not " unnatural," but 
founded on the deepest principles of human nature; that, so far 
from being " inhuman," it is founded on the very principles of 

Man is always more easily reconciled to any idea or situation in company than 
alone. But in the Pennsylvania penitentiary system, this moment, so precious, 
because if allowed to pass unheeded, irretrievably lost, retains its full power. 

Appendix. Pennsylvania System. 295 

mercy, because it affords the fullest opportunity for reformation, 
and prevents all exposure to shame and contamination. And is 
it cruel? All agree, that contamination must be prevented at 
any price, or reformation entirely given up. The question, then, 
can only be a comparative one What is the cruelty of this com- 
pared with the Auburn system? Perfect solitude, alleviated only 
by the permission to work, and to read the Bible, may be a hard 
situation; but is it more so than being placed in the company of 
many fellow-prisoners, with whom all intercourse is prevented 
by the threat of whipping? This must be torture indeed, like 
that of Tantalus, with the tempting viands constantly before 
him, and constantly receding from the approach of his famished 

Solitary confinement, as practised in the Eastern Prison of 
Pennsylvania, is rather a deprivation of most of the comforts of 
life, than the infliction of positive punishment. It is severe ; it 
ought to be so ; it ought to be feared. Is it cruel in a physical 
respect ? Let us answer this question in the words of Mr. Vaux, 
page 7 of his Letter to Mr. Roscoe, who represents the cells to 
be "destined to contain an epitome and concentration of all hu- 
man misery, of which the Bastile of France, and the Inquisition 
of Spain, were only prototypes and humble models." To which 
Mr. Vaux replies "The rooms of the new penitentiary at Phi- 
ladelphia are fire-proof, of comfortable dimensions, with conve- 
nient courts to each,* built on the surface of the ground, judici- 
ously lighted from the roof, well ventilated and warmed, and 
ingeniously provided with means for affording a continual supply 
of excellent water, to ensure the most perfect cleanliness of every 
prisoner and his apartment. They are, moreover, so arranged as 
to be inspected and protected without a military guard, usually 
though unnecessarily employed in establishments of this kind in 
most other states. In these chambers, no individual, however 
humble or elevated, can be confined, so long as the public liberty 
shall endure, but upon conviction of a known and well-defined 
offence, by the verdict of a jury of the country, and under the 
sentence of a court, for a specified time. The terms of impri 
ment, it is believed, can be apportioned to the nature of every 
crime with considerable accuracy, and will, no doubt, be mea- 
sured in that merciful degree which has uniformly characterized 
the modern penal legislation of Pennsylvania. Where, then, 
allow me to inquire, is there, in this system, the least resem- 
blance to that dreadful receptacle constructed in Paris during the 
reign of Charles V., and which, at different periods, through 
four centuries and a half, was an engine of oppression and torture 

* The exact size of the chambers is 8 feet by 12 feet, the highest point of the 
ceiling 16 feet. The yards are 8 feet by 20 feet. 

296 Appendix. Pennsylvania System. 

to thousands of innocent persons ? Or by what detortion can it 
be compared to the inquisitorial courts and prisons that were in- 
stituted in Italy, Portugal, and Spain, between the years 1251 
and 1537 ?" Or is it believed that the influence of solitary con- 
finement on the mind is cruel ? that the human mind cannot bear 
it, and must be driven to madness? We believe this by no means 
to be the case. Mr. Vaux's testimony on this point is important. 
Cases of insanity, he says, in the pamphlet just quoted, seem not 
to be more frequent in jails than among the same number of 
persons in the ordinary condition of life. The cells of the old 
penitentiary are small and badly contrived, and yet many indi- 
viduals have, for acts of violence committed in the prison, been 
confined in them for six, nine, and twelve months in succession, 
generally in irons, and always on a low diet ; but no case of 
mental alienation has ever occurred there. When the mind be- 
comes hardened by a career of vice, ultimately reaching a point 
of degradation which fits it for the perpetration of those crimes 
that are punishable under the penal statutes, no fear of exciting 
its tender sensibilities need be entertained, by its mere abstrac- 
tion from equally guilty minds, so as to induce either melancholy 
or madness. All experience proves how difficult it is to make 
any impression whatever upon the feelings of the benighted and 
unhappy subjects of criminal punishment. As to the influence of 
this system upon the health, we refer the reader to Dr. Franklin 
Bache's Letter to Mr. Vaux, contained in No. 8 of the Journal 
of Law (Philadelphia, October, 1830), which concludes with the 
words " We may assert, that the entire seclusion of criminals 
from all association with their fellow criminals, is altogether 
compatible with their profitable employment at useful trades, 
and with the preservation of their health." And in his Letter 
to Bishop White and others, Mr. Vaux adduces facts to confirm 
4his statement. Not one case of the Asiatic cholera appeared in 
the Eastern Prison of Pennsylvania, whilst the disease swept 
away numbers in the city of Philadelphia and its environs; and 
the prison stands close by the city.* The report mentioned 
above, will be, we understand, entirely satisfactory on the point 
of the health of the prisoners. The expense of the Pennsylvania 
system has always been considered a great objection to it. It is 
true that the Eastern Prison has cost much ; but another prison 
could be built much more cheaply; and, probably, experience 
will show the possibility of further reductions, though this sys- 
tem may always be more expensive than the other. Yet the ad- 

* The appalling Report of the Committee appointed to investigate the local 
causes of cholera in the Arch Street Prison (Philadelphia), Mr. Gibbon Chair- 
man, February, 1833, forms a striking contrast with the above statement. See, 
respecting the state of health of the prisoners in the Eastern Penitentiary, the 
Inquiry into the Penitentiary of Philadelphia, No. 10. 

Appendix. Pennsylvania System. 297 

vantages are so great; the final saving of the government, by 
preventing all the prisoners from leaving the prison worse than 
they were at the time of entering it, and by dismissing many 
who will return to duty and usefulness, is so decided, and the 
necessity of the system, if any of the desirable objects are to be 
obtained, so imperious, that we believe the greater expense ought 
not to be considered an objection wherever means exist to meet 
it.* We shall quote Mr. Vaux also respecting this point. It is" 
certain that the prisoners do not leave the Pennsylvania peni- 
tentiary worse than they entered it, are not irritated and embit- 
tered against mankind, and, if they have truly resolved to become 
better, are not exposed to be driven by associates in the prison 
to the commission of new crimes, which has hitherto been so 
common an occurrence, as every one knows who has paid atten- 
tion to the history of convicts. Men confined in common prisons, 
or even in those conducted on the Auburn system, find it ex- 
tremely difficult, after their release, to disentangle themselves 
from the net of vice, though they may earnestly wish to do so. 
But the Pennsylvania system does not even allow the convict to 
know the names of his fellow prisoners. The wish to return to 
a life of honest industry is not so rare in released convicts as 
most persons suppose, provided the prisoner has not been kept 
in a state of constant contamination. A vicious life is not com- 
fortable ; generally, the causes which make a wicked person 
prefer the path of crime to an honourable life, are twofold- 
idleness, reluctance to regular labour, and the love of excitement. 
If you can overcome these two dispositions; if you can instil 
into the convict a love of labour, and make it a habit with him ; 
and if you can cure him of the craving for excitement, you will, 
in most cases, have laid the firmest foundation for a thorough 
reformation. Now, labour appears to the prisoner in solitary 
confinement as the sweetest comfort. He asks, he begs for it ; 
and no punishment could be harder than denying him the comfort 
of labour in his lonely cell. They all will tell you so. And as 
regards the second point, what more effectual means can be found 
of curing a man of a vitiated love of excitement, (such as is found 

If the question of deciding between the Pennsylvania and Auburn systems 
is reduced to this point, it is, of course, a mere question of expediency. And 
this is, in our opinion, the only question which can exist respecting this subject. 
We know that it will be found, sometimes, impossible to induce a community 
to go to the expense necessary for erecting a prison on the Pennsylvania plan ; 
and if there is no hope for a change of public opinion for some time to come, it 
will be advisable to adopt the Auburn plan rather than no penitentiary plan at 
all. As to the absolute question, which of the systems is better, we have 
the opinion of Judge Wells of Wethersfield on our side, though, as we just ad- 
mitted, he considers it impossible, in some cases, to gain public opinion for the 
first outlay of money for the erection of a penitentiary on the Pennsylvania plan. 
But we have little doubt but that public opinion will gradually become more and 
more favourable to this plan. 



298 Appendix. Pennsylvania System. 

in robbers, pirates, burglars, &c.) than uninterrupted confinement 
in solitude for years ? It is a severe infliction, indeed, but it is 
effectual, and not more severe than is necessary. Another objec- 
tion to perpetual solitude, is that the convicts cannot worship 
together; but in the Eastern Prison of Pennsylvania, they have 
preaching addressed to them. A curtain is drawn along the cor- 
ridor, the sound-hole of each cell is opened, (see the description 
of the building in the Article Prison Discipline,} and the 
preacher stands at one end of the corridor, from which he may 
be heard by all the prisoners in that corridor, though no convict 
can see into the opposite cell, being prevented by the curtain. 
In our opinion, the Pennsylvania penitentiary system is the 
creation of a spirit of enlightened humanity, which reflects the 
greatest honour on the disciples of Penn, and has solved one of 
the most difficult problems presented to the lover of mankind. 
If widely adopted, as it probably will be, it bids fair to accom- 
plish all that can be attained in the way of prison discipline. We 
would direct our reader's attention to an interesting letter on the 
subject of solitary confinement, written by a convict, and append- 
ed to Mr. Vaux's letter, quoted above, and will conclude our 
remarks with a summary taken from Mr. Vaux's letter to Mr. 
Roscoe : " By separate confinement, it is intended to punish 
those who will not control their wicked passions and propensi- 
ties, and, moreover, to effect this punishment without terminating 
the life of the culprit in the midst of his wickedness, or making 
a mockery of justice, by forming such into communities of 
hardened and corrupting transgressors, who enjoy each other's 
society, and contemn the very power which thus vainly seeks 
their restoration, and idly calculates to afford security to the state, 
from their outrages in future. In separate confinement, every 
prisoner is placed beyond the possibility of being made more 
corrupt by his imprisonment. In separate confinement, the pri- 
soners will not know who are undergoing punishment at the 
same time with themselves, and thus will be afforded one of the 
greatest protections to such as may happily be enabled to form 
resolutions to behave well when they are discharged. In separate 
confinement, it is especially intended to furnish the criminal with 
every opportunity which Christian duty enjoins, for promoting 
his restoration to the path of virtue ; because seclusion is believed 
to be an essential ingredient in moral treatment, and, with reli- 
gious instruction and advice superadded, is calculated to achieve 
more than has ever yet been done for the miserable tenants of 
our penitentiaries. In separate confinement, a specific graduation 
of punishment can be obtained, as surely, and with as much 
facility, as by any other system. Some prisoners may labour, 
some may be kept without labour; some may have the privilege 
of books, others may be deprived of it ; some may experience 

Appendix. Pennsylvania System. 299 

total seclusion, others may enjoy such intercourse as shall com- 
port with an entire separation of prisoners. In separate confine- 
ment, the same variety of discipline, for offences committed 
after convicts are introduced into prison, which any other mode 
affords, can be obtained (though irregularities must necessarily 
be less frequent), by denying the refractory individual the benefit 
of his yard, by taking from him his books or labour, and lastly, 
in extreme cases, by diminishing his diet to the lowest rate. By 
the last means, the most fierce, hardened, and desperate offender, 
can be subdued. From separate confinement, other advantages, 
of an economical nature, will result : among these may be men- 
tioned a great reduction of the terms of imprisonment j for, in- 
stead of from three to twenty years, and sometimes longer, as 
many months, excepting for very atrocious crimes, will answer 
all the ends of retributive justice, and penitential experience, 
which, on the actual plan, the greatest detention in prison alto- 
gether fails to accomplish. Besides this abatement of expense in 
maintaining prisoners, very few keepers will be required on the 
new system j and the females should be intrusted wholly to the 
custody of suitable individuals of their own sex, whose services 
can, of course, be secured for less compensation than those of 
men. Such of the prisoners as may be employed, will necessarily 
labour alone ; and, the kinds of business in which they will be 
engaged, not being as rough and exposing as those now adopted, 
the expenditure for clothing must be much diminished. On the 
score of cost, therefore if that indeed be an object in ai work of 
this magnitude the solitary plan recommends itself to the re- 
gard of the public economist. But the problem of expense, in 
my opinion, can only be truly solved by showing the cheapest 
method of keeping prisoners to be that which is most likely to 
reform them, to deter others, by the imposing character of the 
punishment, from preying upon the honest and unoffending 
members of society, afterwards involving heavy judicial costs 
to establish their guilt, and becoming, at last, a charge to the 
country as convicted felons." So far the Article of the Ame- 

Those prisoners who wish for books, (because their moral 
and intellectual faculties ought to be awakened and called forth 
as much as possible, as it is one of the best means to improve 
their inward condition,) ought to be provided with suitable works, 
which might be had for a very reasonable expense. Among these 
books ought to be, in our opinion, 1. Extracts of the Bible. We 
believe it to be advisable not to give the whole of the Scriptures 
at once to an individual who has never paid any attention either 
to the general character of the Bible, or the different nature of 
its component parts, and who cannot have, according to his 
situation, the constant and various explanations of those who 

300 jSppendix. Pennsylvania System. 

have made the Bible a subject of attentive study. A vitiated 
mind, like that of a convict, would be liable to very great mis- 
understandings of some parts of it, and sometimes, even, would 
select those from which his uncultivated and corrupted soul 
would derive no profit. 2. A brief catechism of our duties as 
men and citizens, which would acquaint the prisoners with their 
obligations to society, as well as to their family and others. The 
ignorance which the greater number of convicts show on all 
these points, is inconceivable for those who do not know it by 
experience. 3. A book on history, particularly of their own 
country, with an account of the organization of its society, to 
which they shall return, if possible, as useful citizens. 4. A col- 
lection of contemplations and prayers, peculiarly adapted to their 
situation. There are but too many convicts who never have 
learned to appear before their Creator, and such a work would 
assist in obtaining one great end of solitary confinement that 
of producing reflection in the thoughtless criminal. These books 
might easily be adapted to the various moral and intellectual 
stages of the different prisoners. It ought always to be borne in 
mind, that the elements of knowledge are of the greatest im- 
portance to a prisoner. They have acquired so universal an in- 
fluence in our society, that he who js deprived of them, stands 
in a very disadvantageous position to the rest of his fellow men 
a position which will increase the difficulty of returning to 
the path of honesty. An individual who does not know how to 
read, is in our times very differently situated from what per- 
sons, equally untaught, were, a century ago. Let us un-bru- 
talize the convict as much as it is in our power; we can return 
him to society with so much less fear. 

In countries in which persons are sometimes imprisoned for 
offences, which, though declared by society or government to 
be such, are yet essentially different from those crimes which 
the code, written in every man's heart, acknowledges as grave 
offences, a different imprisonment ought to be applied to the for- 
mer from that inflicted on persons guilty of the latter description 
of crimes, if solitary confinement were introduced in such coun- 
tries, as in fact a difference is made even now in many cases. 
An individual confined for political offences is, in the more 
civilized monarchies of Europe, rarely exposed to all the rigours 
of imprisonment, which common criminals have to endure. 
Political offences are often of so delicate a nature, they become 
so often offences only because success favoured an opposite 
party, right and wrong is often in these cases so equally divided; 
that it would be in very many cases cruel indeed to inflict 
all the rigours of permanent solitary confinement, such as it is 
applied to the common criminal, upon political offenders. Be- 
sides, the avowed objects of permanent solitary confinement 

Appendix. Pennsylvania System. 301 

are the prevention of contamination and the effecting of reflec- 
tion in the thoughtless, and the acknowledgment of guilt be- 
fore his own conscience. But many political offenders do not 
only not believe themselves guilty, but very often exult in what 
they have done. And have they not sometimes good reason to 
do so ? It is thus, that La Fayette says, he never dreamed of re- 
volutions more often than in the solitary prison atOlmutz. This 
is undoubtedly true; but to conclude from this fact, that the 
thief, the defaulter, the robber, will also dream of theft, forgery 
and robbing in their solitary cells, would be a rash conclusion. 
These deeds are written down as crimes in every body's soul ; 
and if you can bring the criminal to reflect on them, he will 
soon acknowledge their total immorality. It is not so with the 
political offender. Whether right or wrong, he will, in many 
cases, reflect on them with pleasure. The great object of per- 
manent solitary confinement, therefore, would be lost in these 
cases. Yet, it might be said, that even in these cases, it would 
be serviceable, inasmuch as it would more effectually deter men 
from their commission. But, if we allow this, we render that 
system of imprisonment, which recommends itself for its prin- 
ciples of humanity and its merciful disposition, a more cruel 
one than those already existing. Every advocate of permanent 
solitary confinement would be grieved to see this. We allow, 
that in no case whatever, can the mixture of prisoners be con- 
ducive to any good ; but offenders, of the kind we have men- 
tioned, might be allowed favours, to go out into the garden, to 
receive visiters, 4*c. which are and ought to be denied to com- 
mon convicts. The best mode would always be, to confine them in 
entirely different places, such as forts, &c. where the commandant 
of the place might allow them all the favours compatible with 
safety, because the great object in confining political offenders is 
to make them harmless. We have not mentioned this case in 
the original article, because political offenders, strictly so called, 
are unknown to our laws. No proscription can exist. It will, 
therefore, be considered pardonable that such cases escaped our 
attention. It is in respect to prison discipline, as in every 
thing else, one of the wisest rules: guard against extremes, and 
do not allow the zeal with which you advocate certain means, 
to obscure the object sought to be obtained by them.