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The Missouri Prisoners

The Missouri Prisoners image
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A few dnjê bídco we woro happily eurprised ny a en II Iroin Mr. Burr, ono of tho three phiIaniliropi3ts itninurcd in tlie Missouri Suiic l'rison for the horrible crime of 'uitcudln-r to help on upprenéü slavc escape froin tho power öf an Americnn yrnnt nnd dcepot. For Ütis ofTence. uid without the existence of any lnw in Mitsouii iliit would reach ihe ense, tlu-y wcre suntenccd 'o iwolve yeare iiiiirisonincnt at hnrd labor, imong tliieves, btacklegg. nduherers nnd niurderors! aio the tender niccics of Amer■enn Sl.ueiy. Mr. Work was liberatcd last y car; Mr. Burr 'i few nionihs eince, nnd it is supposed that Mr riiumson mnd lm rcleascd ere long. Mr. Burr liad ilie niitiforiunt: to liave liis riglit hand perrfinhórrtly injtned by the mauhinrry, wlücli ren dered hun nculy uselcstí to the Icsseos ól ihc I'rison. and was perhaps, oue induoenieril for iiis release, l'rcviously to that lie worktd at ihe luimess of a carpcnier. The oMulition ol lic prisoners was worse ihan in the eastern State Priatma, tnnaniuth asthey were n iho power of :ho Ipsaccs. wh se interest it wad 10 niakc os mucli giin out of cach as they H-jnce they werc pooily fed and clothed. and worked from the time they could sce in the uiorning till durk. But they had opportunilics lor conversing together which are no' periuittcd in better regulatud prisons. Aë Mr. Hurr had been in prison five ycars, and had had considerable opportunities for observaiion. wc made inquines of him concerning the character of the prisoners generally, and the feasibility of attemptiug to reelaim them. He informed us tliat lliero wasevery radation of moral eharacter umong the convicts, from the strictest regard to the principies oí virtue, down to the blackes'. and most malignant depraviiy. - Some. he fully belie'ved, wcre entirely innocent of the crimes ol which they werc legally convicted: very many more wcre not concerned at all asoriginators or principáis, but wero indirectly mplicated as accessories. in the eyc of the law, to crimes which they diti not perpetratr, and could not have been induced to commit. Many of ihcse wcre young persons, misled by bad company. Othcrsuccupied their time with planning ncw schemes of crime, or with thoughtsof revengo agamsl those who have been intrumental in thcir mprisoiuncnt. Mr. Burr thought persons so esceedingly digeitnilarin character sliould bc treatcd very diflerently, nnd kept separate from cach other. The división of the prisoncre into severol classes, according to thcir behuvior and character, with a corrceponding dillercnce of treannent. by allowing peculiar privileges to the better classes, would bring the principio of Hope into full operation. and would largoly supersede ihc necessity of punishment. Whoreas Fear is the presiding genius of most State Prisons, Werc this classification carried out, nnd pardons grantcd only to prisoners in the best cl.iss, tho inducemenis to good behaviour would be greaily increased, and the Prisons become.tomporarily at least, housea of reformntion. Wheraa, at present, it is well known that confincment in them rarcly tv8ults in a permanent changc of clianiccr, but usually makes the convict worse iustead ol better.