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proper officers, and yet there is no real reform. The occasional humanity of a sheriff remedies one abuse, relieves one misery, redresses one wrong, cleanses a sewer, whitewashes a wall; but the main evils of want of food, air, clothing, bedding, classification, moral discipline, and consequently moral amendment, remain as before, with this additional aggravation, that ignorance of these grievances cannot be pleaded as an excuse for the neglect of duty in not redressing them.

The Grand Jury of Middlesex having presented the deplorable condition of Newgate, a copy of which presentment was moved for in the House of Commons by Mr. Eden, a Committee was appointed to inquire into the state of that prison, &c.

I had the honor of being one of its members, and Mr. Eden was chairman. The Report of that Committee being published, and of so recent a date, it is not necessary to enter into a minute detail of its contents. It may be necessary, however, to remark, that, in the debate which took place when the Committee was appointed, the arguments of your members went to prove, that there were no evils in Newgate but those arising from over-crowding; and that, when the debtors and transports were removed, there was a prospect of a remedy. Mr. Alderman Atkins vindicated the whole establishment, compared the inside of a prison to a gentleman's dairy in the country, and said that, if there was any want of cleanliness, it was owing to the women, whom it was impossible to keep clean: and then, in no very disguised terms, insinuated, that Mr. Eden was not actuated by a desire of remedying the abuses he complained of; but by the unworthy motives of depreciating the characters of the magistracy. The House of Commons was not, however, turned from its purpose: a Committee was unanimously voted, and Sir William Curtis seconded the motion. To satisfy you, however, how little the magistrates knew of the inside of their own prison, I shall enumerate some of the prominent defects, which are set forth in the Report, and in the evidence annexed to it.

The prison of Newgate was calculated to hold one hundred and ten debtors, and three hundred and seventeen criminal prisoners. Mr. Box, the surgeon, affirms, that, when the whole number exceeded five hundred, great danger of infectious fever was to be apprehended. In January, 1814, three were eight hundred and twenty-two persons confined there.'

No bedding was provided, and the allowance of food to the prisoners was so small as, without the assistance of their friends,

1 Mr. Neild mentions, that he has been informed there were, at one time, three hundred and twenty-five debtors, and nine hundred criminals; making in all upwards of twelve hundred prisoners.

to be hardly sufficient to support life. To the debtors neither coals nor candles were provided. Garnish was suffered to be taken from all new comers, and from thirteen pounds to one guinea were demanded and exacted. Among the criminal prisoners, there was hardly an attempt at classification; and those who were confined for assaults, as well as the political libeller, were associated with the perjured and fraudulent, and with persons convicted for attempts to commit abominable crimes.

The keeper of Newgate never attended divine service; and the ordinary did not consider the morals of even the children who were in prison as being under his care and attention. No care was taken to inform him of the sick, till he got a warning to perform a funeral. There was no separation of the young from the old, the children of either sex from the hardened criminal. Boys of the tenderest years, and girls of the ages of ten, twelve, and thirteen were exposed to the vicious contagion that predominated in all parts of the prison; and drunkenness prevailed to such an extent, and was so common, that unaccompanied with riot, it attracted no notice.1

In the following year, 1815, I moved for a Committee to examine into the state of the Fleet, King's Bench, and Marshalsea Prisons, and also to inquire into the arrangements made for the better management of the prisons of Newgate, &c. The Committee reported, that many good arrangements were projected, and that some had taken place; a better allowance of food and coals was made, and some of the prominent evils were removed; but the classification of persons remained as defective as before. And it is observed in the Report,

"That it is with pain the Committee have learned, from Mr. Cotton, the new ordinary, the condition of the female criminal prisoners; and they hope that it is not in many prisons in England where it can be said, that swearing and drinking are among the women prisoners the prominent evils; that they stupify themselves to get rid of all reflection; that they have ceased to have any consciousness of sex; and, that they seem to be unsexed when they come into the gaol.”


This disgusting and painful, but true picture of the condition of the female prisoners, I have selected from the rest of this valuable and right-hearted testimony, in order to beg your attention to this circumstance; namely, that the tried and untried were all mixed together, and that it has happened to young, modest, and innocent girls to be detained in this dreadful assemblage for weeks before they obtained their discharge by an acquittal of a jury. To remedy

1 Commons' Report and Evidence, 1814.

2 Commons' Report, 1815.

this acknowledged evil, it was sometimes the practice to place these victims in the hospital, amid the diseased and the dying, in order to save them from the moral infection that prevailed among their companions in prison.

The next statement of the condition of Newgate is to be found in the Second Police Report of the last session; and Mr. Poinder, who gives this valuable evidence, must be well known to you all, as fully qualified to speak correctly upon the subject, he having filled the office of under-sheriff for three years. You will judge from his account also if the over-crowding the prisoners was the only defect of the prison; and you will not forget, that the passage in his evidence to which I refer you, is a copy of a Report which he made officially to the sheriffs, and that it bears the date of 1816. This valuable witness speaks with becoming horror of the remarkable corruption of the metropolitan prison :

“The indiscriminate visiting of the prison of Newgate by all persons, whether male or female, who claim any relationship with the prisoners, is altogether opposed to the moral improvement of those who are confined, and to the due regulation of the interior. The following reasons may serve to show, that this opinion is well founded.

"First. One object of confinement is the withdrawing the criminal for a time from the companions of his former life, and from the evil courses to which he has been addicted, in order that, by such retirement, leisure and opportunity may be afforded for an alteration of conduct. Upon the present system, he associates with the same companions, talks the same language, and enjoys the same vices to which he has been accustomed in the world. So far, therefore, as the criminal is concerned, he remains the same character still. Nor is the general aggregate of crime lessened by his confinement, since it can be proved, that, from the facility of intercourse which subsists between the interior and exterior of Newgate, some of the worst and most extensive burglaries have been plotted in that prison. Forged notes have been both fabricated and passed there, and coining itself has been carried on within its walls.


Secondly. The introduction of spirituous liquors, and their ordinary use through the prison, is inevitable upon the present system. The fact is notorious, that, in spite of public acts of parliaments, and the regulations of the court of aldermen, spirituous liquors may be procured by all the prisoners, not excepting those under sentence of death, who are frequently under the sensible influence of liquor (though not in a state of intoxication) from the time of the report coming down to the period of their execution. A search of visitors, particularly of females, is indeed professed to be made by the turnkeys; but whoever has had an opportunity

of observing the manner in which this is done, must be sensible, that it is little else than a matter of form. A trifling bribe will purchase the right of passing without too strict an inquiry; and, although convictions have occasionally taken place of persons for carrying liquor into the prison, such cases are usually only those in which a proper understanding has not subsisted between the turnkeys and the offenders: and the practice does undoubtedly prevail to a very large extent: nor will it be possible to prevent it, so long as the unrestrained influx of visitors is permitted.

Thirdly. The principal evil, perhaps, which is consequent upon the present system of visiting, is the constant introduction into the prison of the most profligate and abandoned females who are to be found in the metropolis. A woman has only to state herself to be the wife of a prisoner, and although she may be well known as a common street-walker by every turnkey, she must pass; she is admitted without farther inquiry. In this way every man in Newgate is visited by any woman who chooses to inquire for him; and the mere mention of his name is in the same way permitted to pass all those women who choose to apply for admission for the purposes of general prostitution. It is hardly necessary to enter into any detail of the consequences of such a system, nor to advert to the gross scenes which must have been observed in open daylight, by every one who has been much in the habit of frequenting the prison. But this is not all, nor perhaps the worst. It is certain that females are not excluded at the time of locking up the prison for the night; but every woman, who chooses to remain through the night, may do so upon the small fee of one shilling being paid for this permission. This perquisite of the turnkeys is technically called the bad money, and is divided between them. It is easier to conceive than to describe the horrid profligacy and indecency attending such a system as this, in wards, each containing several beds, most of which are not separated from each other even by a single curtain. Nor is there, perhaps, any circumstance which calls more loudly for reform and correction than this, nor one which more clearly marks the evil of indiscriminate female visiting; since, whatever rules may be made, which are intended to be obligatory either on the keeper or the turnkeys, the practice of visiting, on the part of the females in general, can never be subjected to regulation so long as it is permitted to exist at all. If an alteration were once to take place in this particular, and to be acted upon with firmness, incalculable improvement in the condition of the prison and the character of the prisoners could not fail to be the result. At present, the depravity of the metropolitan prison is proverbial. The cases of venereal disease, always to be found in the infirmary, are for the greater part, if not altogether, contracted in the prison; and, in short, a more deplor

able state of society cannot be imagined than that which is consequent upon the unlicensed intercourse which subsists between the prison and public."

Mr. Poinder was asked by the Committee, if he ever complained to the keeper of Newgate of the detection of women in the prison after the lock-up hours. He answered, that he had done so frequently; but that Mr. Newman denied any knowledge of the fact. The witness had no doubt of the truth of the statement; and it had been repeatedly told him by criminals about to be executed. In confirmation, of this evidence, I declare, that I entertain no doubt, from the various communications that have been made to me, that the circumstances detailed by Mr. Poinder were of


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Before I refer to the alterations and improvements that have taken place in Newgate since Sir Richard Phillips first published his Letter, and the attention of Parliament was directed to the subject by the present Lord Auckland, I wish to draw your at tention to the condition of that prison in May, 1817, seven years after the Common Council passed sundry resolutions recommending various measures of improvement; and two years after the debtors had been moved to their new prison, which, according to your magistrates and representatives, was the great desideratum, and which event in itself would remedy all the objections which were made to their mode of managing their prisons. I do not know where I can find a more detailed account than is contained in the evidence I gave before the Police Committee last year; and, though it be already before the public, I reprint it here, that you may have the progress of the improvement in Newgate; and when I show you, which I shall shortly do, its pretent state, you may be able clearly to see what yet remains to be done.

"I wish to state to the Committee the result of the observations that I have had an opportunity of making upon the general subject of the Police of the metropolis; and, in order to be able to speak precisely upon the condition of the different prisons of London, I have lately minutely examined them in detail.

"I visited Newgate in the beginning of the month of May, 1817, and went round, first, the female side of the Prison. Í had been there a few weeks before, and found it, as usual, in the most degraded and afflicting state. The women were then mixed all together, young and old; the young beginner with the old of fender; the girl for the first offence, with the hardened and drunken prostitute; the tried with the untried; the accused with the condemned; the transports with those under sentence of death; all were crowded together, in one promiscuous assemblage, noisy, idle, and profligate; clamorous at the gratings, soliciting money,

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