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YORK CASTLE,_THE COUNTY JAIL.!
On your entry into this handsome and extensive building, you are introduced to a very spacious court-yard, in which the debtors walk and expose various articles for sale, and into which the public are admitted with little or no reserve. On the right hand as you enter, are the court-houses ; on the left the several buildings in which are imprisoned the misdemeanants and others confined for a limited term, part of the debtors, and the women; in front, the governor's house, apartments over it for most of the debtors, and the prison for male felons, both before and after conviction—the tried being kept apart from the untried. There is no inspection from the governor's house over any part of the castle, except the great court and one of the felons' yards.
The chaplain attends this prison three times in the week to read prayers, and preaches twice. The prisoners are allowed one pound and a half of wheaten bread daily, and one shilling per week; but there is one particular class of them who have one shilling and sixpence per week. From the squalid appearance of some of the men, it seemed to us questionable whether the allow- · auce of food was sufficient to maintain them in health : the apothecary of the prison, whom we saw, expressed an opinion that it was not. Firing is now allowed to the prisoners, and soap; but no clothing, except in cases of emergency. Several of them were extremely ill clad ; two men without shirts. The felons, whether tried or untried, are heavily ironed.
That part of the prison in which the women are confined, is kept in a state of cleanliness and order. The women,- of whom one was for trial, and the others convicts, about seven in number,appeared very decent; and some of them were busily employed in washing for the debtors. Their day-room does not admit sufficient light, but is otherwise comfortable ; so are their sleepingcells, and the będding quite sufficient. The rest of the prison, except the debtors' rooms, which we did not see, but more especially the felons' day-room, appeared to us very far from cleanly. Every yard, however, is supplied with water ; the means of warm and cold bathmg are provided in the felons' prison ; and we informed that the whole jail is white-washed twice in the year. The men who are sentenced to a temporary confinement are kept apart from the other prisoners, and are employed in making laces, caps, garters, &c. which are sold in the great court. By this means they earn from threepence to sixpence per day, the whole of which
Visited eighth month 22d, in company with Benjamin Hornor of the Grange, near York.
they are allowed to take for themselves. The male felons, whether tried or untried, are totally without employment. There were at this time about forty of them in the prison. Of these, the greater number were walking up and down a small yard, separated from the great court by a double iron palisade, or grating, the outer being divided from the inner grate by a space measuring ten feet in breadth. Through this grating they keep up a free and easy communication not only with the debtors but with the public. At this very time a great number of persons were standing at the outside, holding conversation with the prisoners. Men and women, grownup persons and children, have an equal access to this scene of depravity and distress. It is evident, that so free a communication must give every facility to the introduction of improper articles into the prison, and probably to the pawning of the prisoners' clothes, which we understood to be a prevalent custom here: it must also afford an easy opportunity of corruption to the inha. bitants of York and its neighbourhood. The day-room for these felons, opens into the yard in which they walk, and measures twenty-four feet by fifteen. The turnkey remembers the time when there were eighty felons confined in it. The night-cells connected with this part of the prison are ill ventilated; three or four of them are totally dark, and admit no external air. The prisoners generally sleep two in a bed. Those who are unable to read, receive for the most part no instruction whatever. On
This has not at all times been the case, as will be evinced by the following interesting statement received from William Richardson of York, a most respectable minister of the established church.
“York, November 24, 1818.“ About three years ago some boys from Sheffield were tried and condemned at York, for robbing a watchmaker's or silversmith's shop, and left for transportation. One of the magistrates, who was of the grand jury, struck with compassion for the youth and the miserable appearance of these poor culprits, spoke to them after their conviction, and, on his return to his own seat in the country, wrote to the governor of York castle, expressing a wish that some useful instruction might be afforded them while they remained there, promising to be at the expense of it, and desiring him to consult with me on the subject, h occurred to me that the best thing to be done was to establish a school in which the boys might be regularly taught. The governor was kind enough to furnish a proper room ; a decent young man (a prisoner for debt) who had been master of a 'cheap school in the north of Yorkshire, was hired to teach this little school; and I undertook that my curate or myself would inspect it. The project succeeded beyond our expectations. The master soon grew fond of his pupils, on account of their rapid improvement in reading, writing, &c. The boys were diligent and attentive to instruction, happy, and orderly; their behaviour at the chapel, and their whole conduct at other times, gave us
the whole, although this prison has some excellencies and great capacities, its evils are very conspicuous. They are as follow :Easy access of the debtors and of the public to the felons ; insufficient clothing, and scarcely sufficient food; heavy irons; want of cleanliness, want of further classification, want of inspection, want of instruction, want of employment. It is most earnestly to be desired, that suitable accommodations may ere long be provided, to supply the last and most important of these defects. Were the prisoners employed, they would not be occupied, as has hitherto been the case, by various devices for effecting their escape. Their chains might be knocked off with safety. They would not cut even their iron bedsteads to pieces, as they have done in their
present state. They would have no time to corrupt either one another or the public. They would leave the prison with the habits of industry and comparative virtue, instead of being confirmed in idleness and deepened in crime. All the evils of York castle are, with some expense and trouble, capable of being remedied ;-and shall they not be remedied by the inhabitants of so extensive and so opulent a county as Yorkshire -Our visit to this castle was re
pleasure. This continued till the time of their departure from the castle, when they were visited by their benevolent patron, who had wished to see and examine them before they left the country. He was highly satisfied with the result of his experiment; and furnished them with viseful religious books and tracts to take with them. He also made each of theni a present of a guinea, saying at the same time,' I give you this to dispose of just as you please; but I cannot help observing that the man whom you robbed is now in the castle, a prisoner for debt; and if I were in your case, I should think it right to make him some compensation for the wrong I had done him. But you are quite at liberty to do what you like.' He then left them and returned home. When he was gone, and the boys were left to themselves, they unanimously agreed to send all that their benefactor had given them (I think to the amount of five or six guineas) to the man they had robbed, desiring only that he would return them each a shilling for pocket money. The poor man, surprised - and affected by this unexpected act of restitution, did more than they requested.-Care was taken to keep them separate from the other convicts during their journey to the ship, and a charge given to the master of the transporı to watch over thein during their voyage. I also gave them a letter to Mr. Marsden, the senior chaplain of New South Wales, recommending them to his pastoral care. This successful experiment has excited in my mind a strong wish that schools could be formed in all our larger prisons, where juvenile offenders are so often to be found. This measure, together with occupation for all, and a proper classification, seem to me, after forty years' acquaintance with the inmates of a prison, to be the most promising means of producing, reformation. - William Richardson, preacher at Yurk castle.”
peated on the 29th of the 9th month, in company with Samuel Tuke, of York. We perceived no alteration in its arrangements, or in the condition of its inmates. DURHAM OLD JAIL, HOUSE OF CORRECTION,
AND NEW JAIL.
The Old Jail is built over a gateway in the middle of the city. We found it clean, and in as much order, with respect to its arrangements, as the excessive contraction of the building will admit. Classification and inspection are impossible in this prison, nor is it capable of any accommodations for the employment of its inmates.
The criminals are allowed 4s. 6d. per week for each person, together with a little clothing on particular occasions. They find their own firing. They are ironed only when refractory. At this time they had all their fetters on, in consequence of an attempt which they had made the eveving before to escape from prison. The chaplain visits this prison once every week.
The women prisoners are so ill accommodated that they pass both day and night in one apartment, nor are they at all classified. In the nien's day-room, which is small, we observed several prisoners, two of them under sentence of death, and two detained merely for want of bail. This lamentable want of classification was, however, owing partly to the temporary disuse of another small room, not in a condition of security. You descend from the felons' dayroom and from the daylight, by thirty steps, to the sleeping-cells, which are perfectly dark, and without any ventilation except from a hole in the ceiling. From these cells there is a still deeper descent into a horribly close dark dungeon, far under ground. This dun geon is no longer used; it is the dreadful relic of obsolete barbarity!
Besides the Old Jail, there is a House of Correction, now used only for vagrants. It is built against a steep bank close by the ri
The unfortunate persons, who are confined in this prison, are obliged to pass the night in a damp and most dismal vault, measuring nineteen feet and a half by fourteen, and built immediately above the level of the river, but thirty-three steps below the street from which you enter the prison. This dungeon is entirely without light, nor does it admit any air except from the passage which leads to it. Fifteen persons have at times been locked up in it together. These vagrants are allowed no other bedding than straw and few rugs.
When it is considered that those to whom this detestable lodging is allotted, are often guilty of no other offence than that
Visited eighth month 24th, in company with Thomas Henry Faber, Esq, one of the county magistrates, and Jonathan Backhouse, jun. of Darlington:
of passing from one place to another, and begging some assistance, it cannot be denied that in being consigned to such a place, they are treated with extreme injustice and cruelty. The very obvious evils of these two prisons have for some years been under the particular notice of the magistrates; and neither of them will be any longer required, when the New Jail, now far advanced towards its completion, is finished.
That jail is a handsome and extensive building on the outskirts of the town ; its situation airy and convenient. In the middle of it is the governor's house, from which there will be inspection over all the airing-grounds; and, if certain arrangements now in contemplation are carried into effect, over the work-rooms also. On the right of this house is the debtors' prison; on the left, the house of correction; and in front of it, a large building not yet finished, intended for the reception of felons. The two former buildings are already partly occupied, chiefly by convicts sentenced to temporary confinenient, some of whom beat flax and pick oakum. The day-rooms and sleeping-cells in these divisions of the prison are of a sufficient size, dry and airy. From the unfinished state of the felons' prison we were unable to form any accurate judgment of it: at the same time, we could easily perceive that it would not, on the plan then laid down, admit of any provision for work-rooms, or for the complete classification of the prisoners. We have since had the pleasure of learning that the magistrates propose making in this plan some important alterations, by which both these objects may be accomplished. It would indeed be a subject worthy of great regret, were a prison covering a large extent of ground and entirely new, to be left unprovided with those essential accommodations without which it must ever be a source of serious and deplorable evil. We were sorry to observe that so large and fine a house had been erected in this prison for the governor. The individual who is appointed to fill that office, and who is now the governor of the Old Jail, appears to be a person much devoted to his duties :— but were not this the case, might not a reasonable fear be entertained, lest the accommodations now provided for him should elevate bim above his true station ?
NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE TOWN AND COUNTY
JAIL. The Jail at Newcastle, like the Old Jail at Durham, is a tower
Visited eighth month 25th, in company with George Richardson and Daniel Oliver, of that place. The county of Newcastle extends from north to south about four miles, and two miles and a half from east to west, and is very populous.