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In conclusion, the Committee reported their opinion, that the employment of convicts on the roads was the worst method of treatment that could be resorted to. Without any proper Jail Discipline, the Engineer officers, anxious to obtain as much work out of the prisoners as possible, fed them highly, gave many holidays, and presents, as well as other privileges inconsistent with prison regulations. In short, the better an executive officer discharged the duties of his own profession, the less fit he must be for a Jailor.

Upon this strong evidence, the Governor-General in Council decided that “ the entire system of employing the convicts in 'road-gangs, or otherwise under Engineer or Executive Officers,

at a distance from the Jails of their respective districts, should • immediately be put an end to throughout the Presidencies."

The convicts transported beyond the seas from Bengal, were, in most cases, employed in road-making, or let out to private individuals as domestic servants. At Singapore, there were 901 Bengali convicts, of whom 857 were placed in road-gangs; the rest remained with private individuals, or, in some instances, were permitted to live free from any restraint, and to provide for themselves, somewhat on the Ticket-of-leave system. At Penang, there were 566 Bengal convicts, and at Malacca, 284, of whom very trifling use appears to have been made, whilst the discipline amongst them amounted to nothing. In the former settlement, a wealthy Bengali, transported for a heinous offence, was carrying on trade to a very considerable extent on his own account, and in his own name, as freely as any merchant could do. In the Tenasserim Provinces, the prisoners from Bengal were placed on the roads or at similar work, and employed from day-break until 4 P. m., with one hour allowed for breakfast, but otherwise with very lax discipline.

An analysis of the cost of keep and productive labor of these transported convicts, gives the following results :

“At Singapore, their cost amounted to Rs. 3-12-4 per month, ' whilst the value of their labor was put down at Rs. 5-8.9. At Penang, the monthly cost was from Rs. 2-12 to Rs. 4, and " the produce of their labor was said to be Rs. 2-8 to Rs. 3. At

Malacca, the keep of the convicts amounted to Rs. 4 monthly, " whilst their labor was estimated at Rs. 6. In the Tenas

serim Provinces, their cost was Rs. 4-8, and their monthly

work yielded Rs. 5. But these figures, or at any rate, the pro• ductive side of the account, must be taken with some degree of 'caution, as they were supposed to be very roughly estimated."

The Report under notice is dated January, 1838. In October of the same year, an elaborate "minute" on the subject appeared, in which, amongst many other improvements suggested, the abandonment of road-gangs, at a distance from the respective Jails, was determined upon, and at once carried out; whilst an extension of in-door occupation, especially as regards manufactures, was ordered. The energy thrown into the subject by the Committee of that day, appears to a great extent to have died with their labors, and it was not until the year 1843, that any beginning was made with the regular introduction of manufactures into our Jails.

The Report for 1855-56, by the present Inspector of Jails for the Lower Provinces, gives evidence of new vitality infused into this department of the public service, by one who is able, and thoroughly resolved, to render the Jails of Bengal effective both as reformatories, and as places of punishment, with as little cost to the State as possible. The elaborate character of Dr. Mouat's first Report is a proof of what may be accomplished even in India by an indefatigable man. In his enquiries and suggestions of reform, he doubtless encountered prejudice in some, ignorance in others, especially amongst the inefficient subordinates; yet already he has accomplished several striking reforms, not the least note-worthy of which has been the prohibition of tobacco amongst the convicts. His labors must not be the less valued, that he has had to struggle against "a corrupt

and inefficient subordinate agency, and a construction of prisons, which, in many cases, invites escape, defies classification, renders penal servitude impossible, and unites every quality that is undesirable in a place of incarceration."*

Of the fifty-five Jails now under his supervision, from Assam to Arracan, Dr. Mouat contrived to inspect and report upon thirty-three during the first year of his tenure of office. The tabular returns in the Appendix give ample, and on the whole, accurate details as to the present working of those establishments. It could be wished, however, that regular periodical returns of the number of prisoners confined in the various Jails, were given, instead of the one statement of those incarcerated on the 30th April. This is acknowledged in the Report, for we are told that “ the result of this imperfect plan is that the quarterly,

half-yearly, and annual, returns, all differ in their results, and • the discrepancies are so hopeless that I have in despair abandoned the attempt to reconcile them."

A daily return is recommended, by which monthly averages could be arrived at. He cordially agrees with our suggestion where the report says: “ there is no mention in the enumeration

of the number of recommitments, nor is any information furnished as to the causes of crime, its increase or diminution in particular districts, the number of previous imprisonments the criminals have undergone, or any other circumstances to show

Report on Jails of the Lower Provinces, 1855-56. Page 19.

the effects of imprisonment on crime, and how far the punish"ments inflicted are efficacious or otherwise, either as regards the

criminal himself, or the class from which he comes. All those

particulars might be easily afforded, without inflicting much · additional trouble on Magistrates, by abolishing all unnecessary ' multiplication of returns, and by substituting for them one com

plete set of monthly records furnished to a single central office, and these collated with the extreme care and attention necessary, to render criminal statistics of any value.”

Without some well devised and honestly worked plan of statistics, as regards the lives of former prisoners, the effects of Jail discipline, and especially of Jail industry, cannot be ascer. tained. It is so far satisfactory to know that the health of the convicts is not needlessly sacrificed, and that their cost is greatly reduced by placing them to occupations in-doors instead of on the roads, but as regards the after-effect of their industrial prison teaching, we are, under the present system, in most complete ignorance. We are anxious to know whether the various new or improved branches of manufacture, taught them during their imprisonment, are in their after-career made a means of obtaining an honest livelihood, or if the teaching be scattered to the winds, and they return to their former evil habits. This is certainly one of the most essential points to ascertain, and until we are enlightened on the subject of recommitments, we shall continue to be groping in the dark.

On the 30th April, 1855, there were in the various prisons under Dr. Mouat, 18,788 males and 568 females : of these, 1,146 were “life prisoners." The number of those sentenced to labor, was 16,048, of whom 3,367 were employed on roads, 6,076 engaged in manufactures, 8,595 otherwise occupied, and 3,005 inefficients for age or other causes. The principal employments under the head of manufactures, consist of gunny and clothweaving, paper-working and brick-making.

The gross financial results of the year were as follows :
Value of articles sold in the bazar.....
Ditto consumed for public purposes

............................Rs. 1,65,999 2 4

36,666 8 0 Ditto in Store at the end of the year

49,599 4 21 Total .......

.Rs. 2,52,264 14 61 Deducting from this, the value of articles in Store at the end of the


52,041 8 31 The earnings of the year will have been

.Rs. 2,00,223 6 25 From which deducting the cost of raw materials and

sundry charges, there would be a nett profit of ......Rs. 90,859 2 1 Against that of the previous year.

Rs. 81,163 1 3

The table accompanying shews, at a glance, the progressive increase in the produce of Jail industry, since the first systematic introduction of in-door manufacture in the year 1843 :

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It must be observed here, that this statement includes the working of the Calcutta House of Correction, the receipts from which were excluded from the return previously analysed.

The earnings of the several Jails vary considerably : the difference arising from the better system pursued in some establishments, as well as from the more advantageous locality of their positions, in regard to the value of labor in the market.

The four Jails indicated below, stand at the head of the list in this respect, shewing against each name, the yearly earning of a single prisoner :Hooghly, Earnings per prisoner ............Rs.

....Rs. 53 0 0
Alipore, ditto

27 0

26 0

22 0 0
Whilst far below these in the long list we find :
Monghyr ....

Rs. 12 0

8 0 0 And this result was in spite of the superior quality of the article produced by them, so that it is, clearly, not the actual money value of the manufacture which yields the largest amount of profit. Some Jails, from their unfavorable position, do not realise above one rupee per prisoner; and for this, there would appear to be no remedy at present.

It appears that the total cost of each convict in the different

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Jails, ranges from Rs. 30-3-3 per annum to Rs. 96-12-3, the bulk of them being between Rs. 34 and Rs. 44. Here again we must not place all this difference to the credit of economical management, though it does happen that the best managed Jails are those which cost least. A good deal of the extra costliness of many at the bottom of the list in the matter of expenditure, arises, beyond a doubt, from the dearness of the particular district, and not from the defective management of the establishment. The first result of the working of the year under review, is that the average annual cost of all the nineteen thousand prisoners confined in the fifty-five Jails of the Lower Provinces, amounts to Rs. 42-10-7, including all fixed and extra charges, whilst the average earning per man for the same period, was Rs. 5-11-10.

The four establishments already instanced, as shewing the highest returns in their manufacturing products, will be found as regard their cost and earnings, to stand thus :

For least cost. For greatest earnings. Alipore


2 Hooghly.....


1 Jessore

3 Nuddeah......


4 In many of the Jails, the introduction of manufactures has been too recent to yield any favorable result, and in some of them, we find that the cost has slightly exceeded the value in the market of the articles produced. Time will however put all this right.

In the latter part of last year, an exhibition of articles of Jail manufacture was held in the Town Hall of Calcutta. It lasted for many days, and was attended by great numbers of all classes of the community. This was the first exhibition of the kind in British India. The articles shewn were such as are ordinarily made in the Jails, and not specially manufactured for the purpose; so that the exhibition may be said to have fairly enough represented the actual working proficiency of each Jail. Many of the articles shewn were not of a nature to interest Europeans, yet they were probably the most suitable manufactures for the districts in which they were produced, where the population is entirely native, and the cost of transporting a superior produce to Calcutta or elsewhere would doubtless have proved it a ruinous proceeding,

The exhibited articles comprised cloths of various descriptions in use amongst the native population of the various districts, table-covers, towelling, dusters, carpets, durrees, blankets, horse-clothing, saddlery, gunny bags, thread, tape, twine, paper, bamboo and rattan articles, carpentry, ironwork, bricks and tiles, pottery, shoes, oil, &c. &c.

SEPT., 1857


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