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ART. I.--JUVENILE DELINQUENCY.
Report of the Inspectors of Prisons, published by order of the
House of Commons. Part IV.
In our last Number we gave a short account of the Colonie Agricole de Mettray, an institution in France, for the reformation of Juvenile Offenders. We expressed a hope in that article that we should be able to resume the consideration of the subject, and to offer facts and suggestions for a more humane policy. We propose in this paper briefly to show the mode in which Juvenile Offenders are treated, in one of the best and largest of the Gaols in England : we shall give the results of that treatment both in a moral and financial shape, and we shall then show by a comparison with different modes of treatment adopted both in England and in other nations, the necessity for a thorough and vigorous change in the management of that class of our people who have the strongest claims on our sympathy, inasmuch as they are the most destitute of the means of moral cultivation, and the most wretched in point of physical comfort.
We have said we can only enter on this subject briefly, for the space which can be afforded in a publication like ours to this discussion must necessarily be small. We trust however that we shall at least supply materials for thought and motives for action ; and if we succeed in directing a greater degree of attention to the fearful magnitude of the evil involved in this question, we shall have contributed to provide a remedy for one of the most grievous calamities in our social system. We are the more earnest in the matter, because we fear that Government will not undertake the responsibility of making the first experi
VOL. IV. No. 17.-New Series.
ment. That must be the work of individuals, or of some great municipality. We believe that the Council of the Borough of Liverpool might set this example with the greatest advantage, not only to the nation, but to themselves. They have a criminal jurisdiction over a population of 300,000 souls. The desperate character of the criminal part of this vast population may be estimated from the fact that the re-committals of Juvenile Offenders in Liverpool are 66 per cent., those for the same class in London being but 35} per cent., and those in five principal gaols in England being only 324 per cent. This striking fact proves that the Gaol in Liverpool has no reformatory discipline worthy
and this arises not from the want of capacity of the Governor of that Gao), for he is zealous and capable, nor from the want of attention on the part of the Chaplain, but it principally arises from the incapacity of the prison, and the impossibility of classification. If the Council of Liverpool, who the expenses of the criminal jurisdiction in that Borough, were to establish an institution for the reformation of juvenile offenders on a well-considered plan, we believe that whilst they performed a great service to humanity, they would save their own funds, for we hope to prove, from what has been accomplished in other places, that the whole expenses of such an establishment would not be as great as those now incurred in the detection, maintenance and prosecution of Juvenile Offenders now confined in their Gaol. The importance of Liverpool, in its commerce, its population, and the power of its municipality, induce us to select that town as a place in which the experiment of a Juvenile Reformatory might be well tried, and we believe that the public authorities of that place, when they shall have well considered the existing system and the inevitable consequences of the increase of crime which it entails, will be among the most earnest advocates of any wise plan calculated to remedy the evil. We subjoin an extract from a letter addressed by the Governor of the Gaol in Liverpool to the Inspector of Prisons, the substance of which is printed in the report to which we have already referred.
“ The real state and character of Juvenile delinquency in Liverpool will be most accurately estimated by a reference to the accompanying table. It contains a comparative statement of the number and other particulars respecting the adult and juvenile prisoners committed during one year to the Liverpool Borough Gaol; to eleven of the principal prisons in England; and to the Glasgow Bridewell in Scotland. It has been compiled from the digest of Gaol Returns, which appears in the report of the Inspectors of Prisons for the Home District, 1840, and from the report for the same year of the Inspectors of Prisons in Scotland. From this table, it appears that during one year the number of Male Juvenile Prisoners committed to the Liverpool Borough Prison was, in proportion to the whole number of male prisoners, much greater than in any of the Gaols selected, and that the proportion of Juvenile re-committals was in Liverpool nearly double that of the average proportion of the Metropolitan Prisons, and more than double the average of the remaining five English Prisons,—whilst of the worst class of re-committals, (those who had been in Gaol four times or oftener,) the proportion in Liverpool was upwards of seven times the average proportion in the Metropolitan Gaols, and nine times more than in the five Provincial Gaols.
The proportion of Male Juveniles to the whole number of male prisoners committed to the Liverpool Borough Gaol was 4 per cent. more than the average proportion in the six Metropolitan Prisons, 8} per cent. more than the proportion in Salford New Bailey Prison, 10% more than Bristol, 10 more than Warwick, 123 more than Wakefield, 71 more than Hull, and 4 per cent. more than in Glasgow, or about 9 per cent. more than the average of six of the largest provincial prisons attached to the most populous manufacturing and commercial towns and cities in the Kingdom.
“ The character of the offences for which they were committed, will be evident from the fact, that of 709 Juvenile Prisoners committed during the year to the Liverpool Borough Prison, 316 were committed as known or reputed thieves, and 256 as vagrants.
“The proportion of the Male Juvenile re-committals to the whole number of Male Juveniles during the year was in Liverpool 66 per cent. Of these, 281 per cent. had been in prison four times or oftener: so that 66 out of every 100 boys committed to this Gaol had been previously imprisoned, and more than 28 of each 66 who had been previously committed, had been in Gaol four times or oftener. In the Metropolitan Gaols, the proportion of re-committals to the number of juvenile prisoners, averaged 35per cent., and in the other five Gaols in England 324. The number of re-committals to the Glasgow Bridewell does not appear
in the returns. Compared with the proportion of re-committals in the Adult Class of Male Prisoners, the proportion in the Male Juveniles was much greater, generally; the average number per cent. having been in the Metropolitan Gaols 35), whilst of Adults it was 231 ; and in the other five Gaols, the average re-commitments of Juveniles was 323, and of Adults 181 per cent. In Liverpool, the proportions were, of Adults, 36, of Juveniles, 66 per cent.
The returns of the preceding year exhibit nearly similar results. Of the 2,740 Juvenilere-committals to 203 prisons, in England and Wales, 299, or about one-ninth of the whole, occurred in Liverpool; and of the 506 Juveniles who had been in Gaol four times or oftener, the number in Liverpool was 138, or upwards of one-fourth of the whole number of this class in 203 prisons, from which the returns were made.
Comparative Table of Committals and Re-committals of Male Adult and Juvenile Prisoners, for the Year 1839, to Liverpool Borough Prison, and
to certain other Prisons herein named, with Proportions per cent.
709 3175 775
356 134 114 291 ||134
14 | 51
44 114 18 10
13 633 295 171 283
154 | 7
44 67 13 10
Number of Re-committals.
Number of Prisoners
cent, on the whole Number.
Proportion per cent. of Re-com- Proportion per cent. of Re-committals on the whole mittals on the
Number of Prisoners committed. whole Number of Prisoners committed. Adults.
Adults. Juveniles. TOTAL.
Juveniles. Once. Twice. Thrice
Juveniles. Once. Twice. Thrice
Once. Twice. Thrice
183 926 299 123 211 227