No. 3
20 January 1868
Sir,
I have received your Despatch of the 28th September No. 133 written on the receipt of my Circular Despatch of the 18th June last and enclosing in answer to that Despatch a report from the Colonial Secretary of a visit of surprize paid by him to the Prison of Victoria.
TheManuscript image
The Colonial Secretary reports that the Goal is clean, that no substantial exception can be taken to the management, that although the prisoners cannot be classified for want of means, they are well cared for, well fed, and well clothed, that they make no complaints, and that the absence of complaint is sufficient of itself to show that the management cannot be unsatisfactory.
On this reasoning you make no remark and I cannot therefore but fear that you in some degree misapprehend the object of my Circular Despatch of the 18th June and of the enquiries which precededitManuscript image it.
It had been found some few years ago that in a considerable number of the prisons in this country, not perhaps otherwise illmanaged, the essential object of imprisonment in repressing crime and affording security to person and property, had been lost sight of. Industrial employment not only in the later stages of imprisonment but in all stages, had been substituted, with a shot-sighted view to profit for strictly penal labour by the bread-wheel or crank or by shot drill. Separation had been very imperfectly provided for. DietarieshadManuscript image had been on too high a scale. The time allotted for sleep had been unduly prolonged. Remissions were loosely granted without applying the labour test, by which alone it is generally practicable to ascertain that they have been earned. The result was that recommitments from the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and, for still higher numbers of times had become numerous, and a large increase was accruing to the class of offenders who, when not in prison, pass their lives in the habitual commission of crime.
When careful enquiry had disclosed this state of things at homeandManuscript image and what was amiss had been to a great extent corrected by legislative and administrative action, it was deemed expedient to enquire into the prison systems of the Colonies and ascertain whether and to what extent the same evils might exist in them and the same remedies be applicable. You were furnished with the result of the enquiry in the digest and report accompanying my Despatch of the 18th June. The particulars noted respecting the prison in Vancouver's Island and that in British Columbia are to be found at p.p. 30, 59, and 60. Amongst other things it is stated that thereisManuscript image is no strictly penal labour, no separation, not even classification except of a very partial character, a high diet, and in Vancouver's Island twelve hours for sleep, and that tickets of leave are granted on condition of quitting the Colony.
I do not enter upon the question in what degree peculiar local circumstances and the character of the races to be dealt with or the nature of the offences commonly committed, may render the principles of prison discipline adopted in this Country unsuitable to British Columbia; but it is a question which deserves your attention, and on reverting totheManuscript image the report of the Colonial Secretary enclosed in your Despatch you will perceive that it has been written without reference to the questions at issue and apparently in ignorance of them.
If you will again direct your attention to the Prison Digest and Report Part II, or merely to the "general summary" at p. 87, you will find a statement of the principles of Prison Discipline laid down by the Lord Chief Justice of England in 1863 which may be said to have a universal applicability, and a further statement of the penal means by which, inthisManuscript image this country and probably in most other countries, effect may best be given to those principles.
On receiving what is there written I assure myself that you will find it worthy of the active and attentive consideration which you are in the habit of devoting to all subjects affecting important public interests.
I have the honor to be
Sir,
Your most obedient
humble Servant
Buckingham & Chandos
People in this document

Grenville, Richard

Seymour, Frederick

Places in this document

British Columbia

Vancouver Island

Victoria

Grenville, Richard to Seymour, Frederick 20 January 1868, NAC RG7:G8C/15, 13. The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871, Edition 2.2, ed. James Hendrickson and the Colonial Despatches project. Victoria, B.C.: University of Victoria. https://bcgenesis.uvic.ca/B687003.html.

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