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justified if there were ground for it. But what do we find? A string of little niggling complaints about lighting, heating, and ventilation, every one of which would apply to nineteen private houses out of twenty, to most clubs and hotels. Perfect lighting, warming, and ventilation do not exist; every building has rooms that are illlit, badly ventilated, and under-warmed or over-heated. In spite of a theoretically admirable system of heating and ventilation, we are told, 'actually the cells are stuffy on still days and draughty on windy days'—a condition quite unknown, of course, outside the prison gates. 'Often the current of air is imperceptible'; and when it is perceptible it no doubt becomes a 'draught,' as it does everywhere else. An ex-prisoner is quoted as saying, 'It was long before I could determine which was the intake and which the outlet ventilator.' If the prisoners know which is which or have them at all in their homes they have the advantage over most of their neighbours, who do not even possess a system which theoretically 'may be admirable.' But does this system never work in prisons? Is the warming, lighting, and ventilation never up to the average standard-say-of other buildings voluntarily frequented by the prisoners when out of gaol? If so, a fair account would recognise the fact; and evidently it is so; for the defects noted are said to occur 'often' or 'frequently,' and the obvious inference is that sometimes they do not. Investigators concerned to state the facts truly would say so and not content themselves with picking out defects.

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Every detail is treated on the same lines. The flooring of the cells, if of some hard impermeable material -no doubt for reasons of cleanliness-is 'very cold'; asphalt is warmer but 'the appearance is not pleasing.' Wooden boards are apt to harbour vermin and smell badly when constantly sluiced with water.' This, by the way, is the usual flooring of hospital wards and is washed down every day. Prison hospital cells are apparently better off, as they are usually floored with wooden blocks; but are not these apt to harbour germs? One is at a loss to know what on earth the cells should be floored with. Then there are basements, many of which are 'dark and depressing places'—as in most London houses,

The prison routine takes up the tale in the same vein. The prisoner arrives in the police van-from which he cannot see the hope-destroying exterior-the gate 'closes sternly upon him and the outside world knows him no more.' He is taken to a 'reception' cell, which sometimes bears dirty traces of previous occupants,' and has to strip, partly for a medical examination and partly to prepare for the bath and the prison dress. This is called 'enforced separation from his clothing and other personal belongings.' Every doctor knows that stripping is necessary for a thorough examination; if it were not done the examination would no doubt be denounced as a sham. After the bath the prisoner puts on a 'makeshift assortment of prison clothing,' consisting of the uniform stamped with the broad arrow, underclothing, and accessories. Then he is 'supposed to have' several interviews with officials in addition to the doctor-the chaplain, the schoolmaster, the governor or chief warder, who gives him instructions or it is suggested-fails to give them. Arrived at his cell, he assimilates' himself to it by buttoning on the 'unsightly yellow badge inscribed with some such device as A. 3.21 or C. 2·8,' and 'his name itself becomes lost.' The clothes and the badge are denounced as humiliating to the wearer and intended to be a 'garb of shame.' The uniform, ' crudely cut, untidy, ill-fitting, and besprinkled with broad arrows, emphatically gives that impression. On the jacket hangs an ugly yellow disc, bearing the prisoner's number.' An ex-prisoner is quoted:

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'After I put on the prison clothes, I had a difficulty to retain my self-respect. The ugliness of them, the dirty colour, and the patches in the coat and trousers, the arrows denoting my criminality, the disc bearing the number of my cell-all had a degrading effect, making me feel less like a man and more an outcast.'

The indictment against the clothing, which seems to be a very sore point with these sensitive persons, extends beyond its primary ugliness; they do not like the way it is repaired. This, we are told, is often done in the crudest way.' Old material, got from the serviceable parts of condemned garments, is used as far as possible by order (obviously for reasons of economy);

and 'sometimes this material is not of a very promising character, and when the generally inexpert hands of the prisoners who do the repairs are applied to it, the results cannot be expected to be very satisfactory.' Is the material used for repairs at home, obtained in the same way, always very promising, are the hands applied to it always expert and the results always satisfactory?

It is admitted that the diet has been improved and little direct criticism of quality or quantity is offered; but every ex-prisoner who gave evidence said that 'the effect was bad in some respect or other,' and the method of serving is condemned on the following grounds :

"There is an entire absence of those social elements which we associate with meal-times and which serve so effectively to develop a sense of human fellowship and the cultivation of character. . . . The prisoner's door is opened about ten inches, the tins are thrust on to his table and the door slammed to again. The whole process is impersonal and inhuman, a mere matter of providing the prisoners' bodies with sufficient food to keep them going. This is not a criticism of the operators, for obviously the more rapidly they distribute the food the hotter and more appetising it will be. It is the system itself which is at fault.'

The only possible alternative is to have meals in common. Then what about contamination by association, which is one of the indictments brought against the prison system? Long-sentence convicts are permitted by the rules to have meals in common, but the permission is not exercised apparently because the prisoners themselves do not wish it.

Enough has been said to indicate the purpose and method of the writers. Their purpose is to make out a case against the prison system and their method is to accumulate defects by searching for them with a microscope and scraping up every trifle that will serve. The effect is just the opposite to that intended. The reader feels that every conceivable objection has been raised and every possible criticism recorded, and the impression produced is one of astonishment that there is so little substance in the indictment. It is not strengthened but weakened by the laboured catalogue of partial, slight, or factitious defects, which throw into greater relief the Vol. 238.-No. 473.

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absence of serious positive evils. A strong case would have no need to be filled out with such trivialities and rhetorical phrases as those mentioned above. A plain tale would suffice and be infinitely mere impressive. So it was with the early reformers, who had a plain tale to tell. A comparison of the descriptions of actual scenes by John Howard, James Nield, Sir T. F. Buxton, Mrs Fry, and others, with this book reveals the enormous difference between then and now in regard to the facts and their presentation.

Miss Gordon, who is no apologist for the prison system, makes light of the supposed hardships, so far as women are concerned, and disposes, as it were with a wave of the hand, of most of the defects in standing conditions so laboriously catalogued by Messrs Hobhouse and Brockway.

'In a local prison discipline consists mainly in the enforcement of such rules as are necessary for the peace, wellbeing, and safety of prisoners. . So long as order is good, in a local prison the prisoners' needs are small. The prison system is not going to affect the prisoner very much one way or the other. No one sympathises with the offender who has committed an annoying or cruel theft, or who is a habitual drunkard, or who assaults other people or knocks her own children about. She is here to-day and gone to-morrow and will, perhaps, be back the next day. The public quite rightly does not desire for her that she should be luxuriously or expensively detained. Her detention is unavoidably costly, but it is generally considered that the minimum amount of food and clothing that will keep her in health is enough. Some of us, when we see the ample supplies of good bread, and bacon, and suet, and potatoes, and cocoa in the prison storerooms, cannot help wishing that the prisoner's children, or perhaps her victims, were going to eat it instead of herself. The minimum food and clothing that she gets is good enough. As long as sentences are as short as they are, there is no object in making them more comfortable for ordinary offenders or more agreeable to the few persons of refined and superior habits who ever come to prison.'

Miss Gordon has also some interesting remarks on would-be reformers, who frequently approached her. 'The suffrage agitation was beginning and, through it, people were taking a good deal of interest in prisons

and prisoners.' And all of them seemed to take it for granted that petty offenders suffered unreasonable deprivations or were ill-treated.' Without knowing anything about the conditions they wanted to alter them. 'Curiously enough, many people who wanted to reform prisons had no idea what they wished to see reformed and really came to ask me to tell them.' If Miss Gordon had studied the reforming habit she would not say 'curiously enough,' but 'as usual.' The genesis of the Prison System Enquiry' is here unintentionally revealed and the desire to make out a case explained.

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Messrs Hobhouse and Brockway find fault with the prison inspectors' reports as 'formal and restricted in scope.' That defect cannot be urged against Miss Gordon's book, but its freedom from formality and restriction brings out the hollowness of a great part of their case more effectively than any official report could do. She was evidently on very confidential terms with the prisoners under her jurisdiction, whom she has closely studied, and the lively conversations with them that she quotes bear the stamp of reality and carry conviction. Among other alleged hardships and injurious conditions, on which her experience on the women's side throws light are hard labour,' the silence rule, and the suppression of individuality. About the first she says, 'When I began my prison work I was surprised to find that hard labour meant an exceedingly moderate day's work in scrubbing or at the wash-tub.' One would rather expect 'hard labour' to fall more heavily on women than on men, and the wash-tub is certainly harder work than picking oakum or sewing mail-bags, which appear to be the staple forms of work performed by male prisoners. But 'hard labour' has become a judicial fiction. Miss Gordon says, 'Any woman prisoner was only too glad to work if she could and punishments for idleness or refusal to work were very few. ... The majority liked work.' The silence rule, too, should fall more severely on women, who are naturally more loquacious than men; to most of them the exercise of the speech function may be said to be a physiological necessity. Miss Gordon says that they do talk and that the idea of complete silence is a myth. It seems to have been spread by suffrage prisoners who being under

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