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nor has it been considered of much importance, that frequently a convict while serving his term of punishment, has obtained for himself a good trade, and although he may have been of but little or no pecuniary advantage to the State, is enabled after being discharged, to procure good employment: thus keeping him from his former haunts of idleness and dissipation, and preventing his return to prison after a short absence.
It appears from the records of punishment that during the last sisteen months, the whole time spent by the convicts in solitary confinement for punishment, amounts to two hundred and twenty six days, equal to about three days to each prisoner ; and this is the only punishment that has been inflicted, with the exception of a single case of whipping, which was inflicted upon a convict after having spent at different times, in solitary confinement, sixty days. It must be evident from this, that the conduct of the prisoners has been good, and goes far in establishing the advantage of kind treatment, and encouragement of convicts, over the old system of discipline.
Experience shows very plainly that mild and humane treatment does much towards improving the disposition of the vicious, and encouraging those who are anxious for reformation; while prisoners are treated with harshness and cruelty by their officers, without receiving from them one encouraging word or look, feeling themselves as the subjects of revenge, and outcast from society, with no prospect or hope of meeting with a kind friend after serving their term of confinement, there is but little reason to expect that a salutary and permanent reformation of character will be the result, but the fair presumption is that they will improve the first opportunity to gratify the feelings of revenge, which during their confinement has been suppressed, but not subdued, and their return to prison may be daily expected. But let the prisoners be well clothed, fed, and lodged ; let proper attention be paid to cleanliness, and every means taken to preserve their health ; place them in a situation, when received into the prison, to learn a trade; let them be kindly instructed and encouraged by their overseers, and be made to feel if possible, that by applying themselves to such trade, they may still make useful members of society, when discharged; let them be well
supplied with useful books to occupy the time while in their cells, with suitable moral and religious instruction ; and in many cases a thorough and permanent reformation in their character will be the result; and although the immediate result may not be so much to the State in dollars and cents, yet crime will diminish, the number of prisoners be reduced, jails relieved, and the criminal dockets in the courts of justice very much lessened.
The Inspectors are satisfied from a careful examination at their frequent visits, that since the prisoners have occupied the new building, where they can enjoy the privilege of sleeping in clean, dry and warm beds, and have good light enabling them to read the bible and other useful books, with which the cells are supplied, that thay have been more obedient and willing to perform their work to the satisfaction of their overseers, than they were after having spent the night in the cold and wet cells or pit-holes of the old prison ; and consequently but little punishment has been required.
When convicts are seen by those visiting the prison, busily engaged in the shops, they think it strange that the returns from the different departments show but a small amount as the earnings of each convict; but when it is remembered that a large number of them are almost wholly ignorant of the business at which they are engaged, and that in making the returns from the departments, the proceeds of the labor of those who are good workmen are to be divided with those who are entirely ignorant, and whose labor has been of no profit, it will readily be seen that a large daily income cannot be expected from the whole number. In addition to this, there are many who are too old, or infirm, to do any work to advantage, but must be employed, and generally are returned as being engaged in some of the income departments, as they are unfit for cooks, waiters, or washers.
The whole amount of stock in the various departments is $17, 437 89, to which should be added the sum of $225, expended in rebuilding prison fence, and $475, in building lime shed and kiln, as these sums have been charged to building and repairs, and to the quarry, but have not been included in the account of stock. Without thus accounting for these sums, the actual situation of the departments to which they are charged would not be shown.
It was found absolutely necessary to rebuild a part of the fence, as the old one had become entirely unsafe from decay. The new kiln was built for the use of those who manufacture the rock from the prison quarry. By affording facility for burning the rock, a much larger quantity of it finds a market, and the rent for the use of the kilns makes them a source of profit.
The expenditures since December 31, 1844, appear propotionately larger, and the receipts less than for the last few years; but this is readily accounted for, when it is recollected that the time embraces two winters, which must necessarily increase the expenses of support, and diminish the proceeds of labor. It requires a large quantity of wood to warm the prison and shops during the cold weather, and this has been much higher than usual for the last season. The working time of the prisoners is much less during the short days of winter, than in the summer; besides this, many convicts are taken from the quarry where their labor yields a profit, and placed in some of the shops, where from their entire ignorance of the work, they pay little or nothing.
During the last winter so many of the convicts had to be placed in the shoe shop, that it became necessary to employ an additional overseer to look after them, while the other was cutting and fitting their work and attending to the other duties of his situation. The expense of subsistence has been increased on account of the high price of corn and the impracticability of procuring potatoes, which are generally very much used by the convicts, and the want of which has been very seriously felt during the past season.
The expense account is larger than it otherwise would have been, owing to the amount which has been paid in conducting a suit commenced some time since, in Massachusetts, to recover an amount due for limerock delivered on contract. This suit is still pending, although the Warden has used every exertion to have it brought to a close.
The Wardens of the prison have at various times, made contracts with individuals for labor to be performed by the convicts, with the expectation of receiving the pay for it when accomplished. In all such cases, the Wardens seem to have fulfilled their
of such contracts in good faith, agreeably to the spirit and letter of their agreement; but instead of receiving the pay for it, this amount is accounted for, year after year, either as stock on hand or amount due from individuals, but after a while is put into the hands of an attorney for collection, where it is constantly a bill of expense, and after a series of years, perhaps after it has been abandoned on the books as worthless, or otherwise disposed of, may return in the form of an execution, which in its turn, requires constant attention and some expense to keep it alive.
If individuals would pay their liabilities to the prison, with any thing like reasonable promptness, there would be no need of calling upon the treasury even for officers' salaries. The Inspectors are confident that under the prudent management of the present Warden, the prison could meet every demand from its own resources, were it not for the time, trouble and expense, that is too frequently spent in collecting debts; but still it will not do to abandon the barter trade, as the sales for cash alone would be exceeding small.
It will be necessary, in the course of the present season, to rebuild the northern gateway leading into the prison yard, as the old one is very rotten; and the Inspectors would advise that a permanent stone gateway be erected instead of the present wooden one. The dwelling house must soon be repaired, as it is very leaky, and its durability and safety would be much increased by covering the roof with slate instead of wood. So long as buildings and fences are constructed of wood, the State must be at constant expense in keeping them in repair.
It appears from the present situation of the prison, that its income has paid its expenses and $2,522 40 towards the officers' salaries, which amounts to $5,783 83 for the last sixteen months. There has been received from the treasury the sum of $5,681 for the payment of salaries (except the Warden's); but $1,235 of this amount was for the quarter ending December 31, 1844; the amount of salaries for the quarter ending in March, 1846, has not been received. In addition to the above sum paid toward officers' salaries, should be added the amount paid for conducting the suit in Massachusetts; then taking into consideration the increased expense for fuel for two winters, while the profits of the summer cannot be shown, the pecuniary situation will be good.
The report of the Chaplain will present the manner in which the religious services have been conducted during the past year.
The attention of the different officers to their various duties, has been such as to meet the entire approval of the Inspectors.
In the amount due to individuals on books, in the annered tables, is included the balance due to Mr. Carr, the Warden, amounting to $2,641 69.
BENJ. F. BUXTON, Inspectors of
STEPHEN BARROWS, State Prison. Maine State Prison, May 11, 1846.