« ForrigeFortsett »
Mr. Greig mentioned to us a curious fact respecting the easy removal of houses in this country, of which, indeed, Canandaigua had furnished several examples, he being the first to commence it. He said that the first house he occupied stood just in front of his present mansion; and when this was completed—which I was surprised to learn was accomplished in two seasons, and every portion of the work, beautiful as it was, executed by mechanics of the villagehis family moved from the old house into the new one, which was just in its rear. Instead, however, of pulling down the old house and removing the materials, which would have been the process observed in England, the whole house was lifted up from its foundations, and rollers being placed under the whole, it was removed to a considerable distance, and appropriated as a parsonage-house to a new clergyman that had just arrived in the village, for whom dwelling was wanted, and in whose occupancy it now remains.
Another instance was the removal of a large courthouse, one of the largest and best of the public buildings in the place. The original position which it occupied was not deemed favourable, and it was accordingly lifted up, placed on rollers, and removed from one part of the town to another, and ultimately set down side by side with the postoffice and townhouse, to form one side of a public square just opposite the principal hotel, where it still remains. Still another instance was added, in the removal of the Methodist Church, with its lofty spire, one of the largest places of worship in Canandaigua. This was brought from its original position into the middle of the principal street, and then gradually drawn by a long train of horses and oxen up the hill and along the street, until it arrived opposite its newly-chosen locality, where it was more ad. vantageously placed, and as firmly fixed as ever, and where it still remains.
Journey from Canandaigua to Auburn.-First Sight of an American country Funeral,
Visit to the State Prison.-Condition of the Establishment.-Act of the Legislature restricting prison Labour.—Statistics of Crime, Education, and Intemperance.Moral and religious Reform.-Description of the Edifice and its Cells. -- Discipline and Treatment of the Convicts, Visit to the Chapel during Divine Service.- Defects of the Auburn System of Prison Discipline.- Opinions of Dr. Lieber, of South Carolina.-Objections to the Pennsylvania System answered. --Opinions of British Inspect. ors on the Auburn System.-Superiority of the Philadelphia System.--Description of the Town of Auburn.
We left Canandaigua on the morning of Saturday, the eighth of September, for Auburn, and, following the usual stage-route by which we had before travelled on our way hither, we passed
through the same places, namely, Geneva, Waterloo, Seneca Falls, and Cayuga, all of which appeared to us as beautiful as when we first saw them, and lost nothing by a second inspection. The landscape scenery, indeed, was beginning to assume a new aspect, from the first appearance of the autumnal tints of decay on the woods around; and, few as they yet were, their brightness in the yellows and scarlets threw a great charm over the forest masses.
The only incident that occurred on the way was the meeting a country funeral, which was conducted much after the manner of a funeral in the west of England forty years ago. A plain hearse, with black velvet covering, contained the corpse, and took the lead in the procession; and following after this were not less than fifty carriages, cars, and gigs, all filled with respectably-dressed farmers and their families, mostly in black, attending their departed friend to his last home. There was an absence of ostentation and parade, and a simplicity, decorum, and earnestness of sorrow instead, which made it at once natural and impressive; and, as such, greatly more venerable than the cold and formal pomp of funerals with hired mourners, and the entire absence of the family, as sometimes seen in London.
We reached Auburn about five o'clock, having left Canandaigua at half past nine, and were thus seven hours and a half in going thirty-nine miles, though we made no stoppages to take refreshment on the road, and had a large extra stage, capable of holding nine persons, occupied by four only, with four good horses all the way; the roads, even at their very best, are so rough and unfavourable to speed, compared with those of England. The town of Auburn looked more beautiful than when we saw it before, and struck us as even handsomer than Canandaigua as we entered it; and we found agreeable apartments and excellent accommodation at one of the best houses in the route, the American Hotel.
On the following day I had an opportunity of examining the State-prison at Auburn, having been provided with a letter of introduction to the superintendent, who afforded me every facility, and furnished all the information I desired. This prison, which is on the northwestern extremity of the town, was built in 1816. It is a hollow square, enclosed by a strong stone wall of 2000 feet in extent, or five hundred feet on each side. The edifice within this wall has a front of 300 feet, facing nearly to the east, in the centre of which is the keeper's residence; and two wings of 240 feet each extend behind this dwelling to the westward. It is in these two wings that the cells for the prisoners are contained, and between them is a grassplat, with gravel walks. Beyond or behind these, to the westward, is an open space called the yard, surrounded with the workshops in which the men are employed, and having in the centre reservoirs of water. The shops, which are built against the surrounding wall, extend to nearly 1000 feet in length;
STATE-PRISON AT AUBURN.
they are built of brick, and are fire-proof, and they are all well lighted from their skylights and the courtyard. The walls within which these shops are enclosed are thirty-five feet high and four feet thick, and the other walls of the prison are about twenty feet high and three feet thick. The whole was erected by the labour of convict prisoners, under the superintendence of the architect; and, in addition to the cost of their maintenance while labouring, the money actually expended, in materials and superintendence, exceeded 300,000 dollars.
The distinguishing feature of this state-prison in its object is, that the convicts shall be made, by labour, to defray all the expenses of the establishment, and, if possible, yield a profit to the state, making the reformation of the criminal the subordinate consideration. It is this, more than any other feature, which distinguishes it from the Penitentiary of Philadelphia, where the reformation of the criminal is the first object pursued, and the produce of the prisoner's labour is the subordinate end. They differ also materially in their discipline; the prisoners at Auburn being separated only at night, and brought together to work and take their meals in company, but not permitted to speak to each other on any account whatever, and hence this system is called “the Silent System;"> while at Philadelphia each prisoner is confined in a separate cell from the time of his entry to that of his discharge, and never sees, or is ever seen by, any of his fellow-prisoners during all that period; and hence this is called “the Solitary System.'
As profit to the state is the main object of the Auburn establishment, great pains are taken, by the classification of the prisoners who are acquainted with trades and the teaching of those who are not, to make the workshops produce as much as possible; and for
purpose the convicts are made to labour about thirteen hours per day. The whole number of convicts in the prison is about 900, and their total earnings were 59,747 dollars from labour performed and articles manufactured and sold during the last year. The ordinary expenses are usually such as to leave a surplus profit of from 2000 dollars to 4000 dollars per annum to the state; but in the past year, owing to various improvements made in the prison itself
, the expenditure has exceeded the receipts, and, accordingly, a grant of 25,000 dollars became necessary to meet the deficiency. The following statement of expenditure and receipts for the last year, 1837, will show the details of each:
238 89 Officers and keepers 13,849 32 Guard
6,990 00 Matron
240 00 Chaplain
499 92 Hospital
1,079 33 Repairs and Improvements
3,531 65 Provisions
21,684 06 Clothing
3,992 81 Firewood
2,693 52 Oil and candles
993 75 Charcoal
413 53 Brooms
22 08 Horse, &c. .
196 68 Stationery
121 74 Postage
54 65 Sheriffs
7,398 46 Inspectors
288 00 Discharged convicts . 391 00 West yard
State of New York. 25,000 00
3,950 75 Tool shop
1,312 45 Cotton workshop
3,172 20 Tailor's shop
2,980 44 Clock shop
2,190 32 Machine shop
4,769 06 Comb shop
3,676 81 Frame shop
3,775 42 Cabinet shop
4,946 40 Carpet shop
3.583 72 Shoe shop
4,426 70 Stone shop
4,526 35 Smith's shop
479 25 Prison
998 53 Visiters
Deduct expenditures 70,077 13
In consequence of the variety, excellence, and cheapness of the articles made by the convicts, the prison wares were in general preferred to those made by mechanics out of doors; and this class felt themselves aggrieved, therefore, by the interference of the prison labour with their usual profits. Accordingly, petitions and representations were sent to the Legislature of the state, which induced it to pass an act in May, 1835, providing that “no mechanical trade shall hereafter be taught to convicts in the state-prisons of New York, except the making of those articles of which the chief supply for the consumption of the country is imported from foreign countries ;” and also enacting that " in all those branches of business in which the consumption of the country is chiefly sup plied without foreign importation, the number of convicts to be employed or let shall be limited by the number of convicts who had learned a trade before coming to the prison.” The object of this law was to protect the labour of the honest mechanic outside the prison against the competition of the cheaper labour of the criminal within its walls. But the effect has been to throw a great number of the convicts out of employment altogether, and thus to produce the double evil of lessening the ability of the directors to maintain the establishment by the profit of convict labour, and compelling them to apply for grants from the state, and also to relax the discipline, and make the government of the prison more difficult, by turning occupied criminals into idle ones.
This feature of the Auburn system, that it should be self-supporting, or even yield a surplus profit to the state, may for the pres. ent, therefore, be considered to have ceased ; and its future claims to imitation or adoption in other countries will depend on the other feature, that of its combining labour in company with solitary confinement at night, and perfect silence during both these periods. Before entering on this subject, however, it may be well to present some farther statistical details.
Among 3000 convictions, extending over 20 years, from 1817 to 1836, selected for analysis, the following numbers appear to be the principal classes of crimes : larceny, 1568; forgery, 303; burglary, 264 ; making or passing counterfeit money, 253 ; perjury, 95; attempt to kill, 86; attempt at rape, 67; manslaughter, 54; arson, 42; rape, 41; swindling, 37; bigamy, 34; robbery, 29; receiving stolen goods, 16; murder, 11; felony, 8; incest, 7; sodomy, 8; poisoning, 3. The rest were misdemeanours and attempts to escape. Of the whole number of 3000, the females were only 101, the negroes 270, and Indians 26. Of second convictions there were 142, of third convictions 14, and of fourth convictions 1. Those born in the State of New York amounted to 1403, those from other parts of the United States were 1022, and those from other countries were 575.
Of the causes that led to the commission of the various crimes for which the prisoners were condemned, ignorance and intemperance were, as usual, the most productive, and this will be seen by the following returns from the chaplain's report for 1838 :
" 1232 convicts sentenced to this prison may be classed, with reference to their education, former habits, &c., as follows: Of collegiate education .
934 Of academical ditto 13 Temperate drinkers
276 Could read, write, and cipher 351 Total abstinents
22 Could read and write only. 311 Could read 272
1232 Could not read the Bible 282
Under the influence of liquor 1232 at the time of committing crimes
736 Excessively intemperate 457 Had intemperate parents or Moderately ditto : 477 guardians
458 Others not so influenced
1232 Many of these, however, desperate as their cases were, have been reclaimed by the influence of education and religious instruction, and there is every reason to believe that they have gone out into the world reformed, fully prepared to lead a sober and honest life.
It appears, too, by a table framed from the records of the prison, and imbodied in the chaplain's report, that out of 1735 convicts