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in many cases, and draw the inference that more severity should be employed. The evidence of this particular case is not very valuable, because it is plain that the trouble was expected by the officers of the prison, and no measures were taken to prevent it. Certainly there is no incompatibility between a mild treatment of convicts and taking precautions to avoid insurrections. The suspicion is not wanting that the prison officials deliberately permitted this insurrection to occur, merely making sure that it should be unsuccessful. Whether it is justifiable to give prisoners a chance to revolt, and then to torture them for so doing, is a question that will be answered in different ways by different persons. The word "torture" is none too strong to describe the treatment accorded to some of these Massachusetts prisoners. True, no racks, or thumb-screws, or even whips, were employed; but the essential feature of torture is the infliction of severe pain; and there can be no doubt that to shut up seven or eight persons in a cell seven feet by nine, ventilated only by an aperture the size of a brick in the ceiling, with the thermometer ranging in the nineties, becomes in a few hours as real torture as that inflicted by more ingenious contrivances.
It is probably not at all desirable that prisons should be pleasant places of abode; the State could not afford to make them such, and to do so would be putting a premium upon crime. But there is little danger in this direction. That convicts feel keenly the loss of liberty, which is inevitably implied by imprisonment, is testified by the value they set upon being allowed "the liberty of the yard." To treat criminals with much greater severity than simply depriving them of their personal freedom, with the attendant discomforts, can
not be justified, unless it can be shown that severity would work for their reformation. This is what editorials upon the Massachusetts outbreak freely assume. But it does not follow that because mild measures fail to effect a reform of character, severe measures would succeed. The question could easily be determined by the facts at our disposal if only the right interpretation could be found. Severe and cruel treatment has been extensively tried in the past, and crime is less frequent in most civilized nations now than it was formerly. If any one holds that the decrease of crime has been due to the severity of punishment, he may consistently hold that a return should be made to former severity. But probably not many are satisfied with so simple an interpretation as this, and many plain facts make against it. In England prisoners are more kindly treated, on the whole, than in this country; but crime is increasing here and diminishing there.
There is not any more ethical warrant, using the words in their ordinary sense, for depriving men of liberty or life than for torturing them; but the latter is more repugnant to our sentiments, and the evidence is by no means conclusive that torture is really effective. Certainly there are very few individual cases in which reformation has been effected by this means. Crime is due largely to inheritance and disease, and it is an anachronism to advocate the savage method of expelling an evil spirit from a man's body by physical methods. The disease, certainly, is not often so violent that the prospect of imprisonment will not modify its development, and in those cases in which it is uncontrollable by the individual afflicted there is no occasion for anything more than preventing him, by confinement, from doing harm.
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