1892: New Prison Regulations

Prison Record, Queensland
New prison regulations came into effect in Queensland 1892, introducing clearly-defined rules for staff and inmates. The following description of the rules is adapted from The Queenslander, 18 June 1892:

'Important rules and regulations relating to prisons have just received the assent of the Governor-in-Council, and have come into operation as from the 1st of the present month. They are of a most voluminous and comprehensive character, and must have cost the compilers - Captain Townley (the sheriff of Queensland) and Captain Pennefather (the governor of St. Helena) - a vast amount of trouble. They have been in preparation for some time, and have also, before receiving Executive approval, passed through the hands of the Colonial Secretary and the Chief Secretary.

The regulations are made under the Prisons Act of 1890, and amongst other things deal with the safe custody, discipline, classification, individual separation, and punishment of prisoners, and regulate the hours of labour, the mode of employment, provide for the religious ministration and divine service amongst the prisoners, the granting or withholding of indulgences from prisoners, regulate the remission or mitigation of sentences for continued good conduct and industry, and otherwise deal with the general management of prisons and prisoners confined therein. From the above it may be gathered that they are of a most elaborate description, but in addition to that they are deeply interesting, as in many respects an entirely new method of prison management is initiated.

Putting on one side the rules for the general discipline of the staff with the remark that they are very comprehensive, we come to those for the visiting surgeon. He is required to attend the prison each day, and in oases of sickness more frequently. He is required to examine every prisoner as soon as possible after his or her arrival, and to make a visit of inspection of the whole prison once a month, in company with the superintendent and the visiting justice. When it is necessary to transfer a prisoner in bad health from one prison to another, a memorandum of the fall particulars of such prisoner's case and the medical treatment he has been undergoing shall be furnished by the visiting surgeon, and attached to the prisoner's papers. The superintendent's duties are amply defined, as are also those of the chief warder, clerk and storekeeper, schoolmasters, senior warder and warders, and female warders. Offences by warders are detailed at some length, and it is notified that they will be vigorously dealt with.

Classification of Prisoners
We now come to probably the most important part of the regulations, under the heading of ‘General rules and regulations applicable to prisoners,’ and first in this division there is a classification of prisoners. Under these regulations persons incarcerated in gaols will be divided into eight classes, as follow:-

1st Class. - Prisoners under sentence of imprisonment with hard labour or penal servitude on first conviction.
2nd Class.- Prisoners under sentence of imprisonment with hard labour or penal servitude on a second or subsequent conviction.
3rd Class. - Prisoners under sentence of imprisonment only, and who have not previously been convicted.
4th Class.- Prisoners under sentence of imprisonment only who have been previously convicted.
5th Class. - Prisoners awaiting trial or under examination who have not been previously convicted.
6th Class. - Prisoners awaiting trial or under examination who have been previously convicted.
7th Class. - Debtors and persons imprisoned for contempt of court, or for failing to give security for the peace or for good behaviour.
8t Class. - Lunatics. The object in view can easily be seen, the principal being to separate old offenders from those who have only just graduated in crime, persons under sentence from those awaiting trial, and so on.

The provisions for the treatment of the various classes are detailed at length, and may be summarised as follows: -

Prisoners of the first class shall be placed in separate treatment immediately they are received into prison, and be treated for the first three months of their sentence, during which time they are not to be allowed to write or receive letters. Afterwards they will come under the general rules for correspondence and visitors contained in these regulations. They shall not be allowed to associate or converse with other prisoners during their term of separate, treatment; they shall be allowed exercise for one hour per day, or more if the visiting surgeon thinks advisable. They shall be employed, as may be found most suitable, within their cells. After such period of separate treatment they shall be associated with the prisoners of their class only and employed at the hardest description of available labour. They shall be locked up in their cells at all times when not employed at outside work, or at exercise, or when attending divine service. They shall wear a distinguishing badge – ‘A,’ coloured light blue, on right arm of coat. If a prisoner of this class misconducts himself during his term of sentence, he will render himself liable to undergo such further period of separate treatment, not exceeding three months, as the visiting justice may direct. Prisoners of this and the second class whose sentences do not exceed three months shall serve the full period in separate treatment. Prisoners of this and the second class whose sentences exceed twelve months may, unless otherwise directed, be at once transferred to the penal establishment at St. Helena.

Prisoners of the second class shall be placed under separate treatment for the first six months of their sentences. The restrictions as to letter-writing or conversing are similar to those in the first-class, but are made applicable for six months. When they have completed their period of six months under separate treatment they shall be associated with prisoners of their class only, and employed at the hardest description of available labour. They shall be locked up in their cells at all times when not employed at outside work, or at exercise, or when attending divine service. Prisoners of this class shall wear a distinguishing badge – ‘B,’ coloured red, on right arm of coat. If a prisoner of this class misconducts himself, he shall be liable to undergo such further period of separate treatment, not exceeding three months, at the visiting justice may direct. Prisoners of this class whose sentences do not exceed three month; shall serve the full period in separate treatment.

Prisoners of the third class shall not be allowed to associate or converse with prisoners of any other class than their own. They shall be employed at such moderate work or labour as may be directed by the comptroller-general, and shall occupy during the day such yard or yards as may be allotted for their use. They shall wear a distinguishing badge – ‘C,’ coloured white on right arm of coat.

Prisoners of the fourth class shall be subject to the same rules as those of the third class, except that they shall serve the first month of their sentence in separate treatment in their cells; after which if their conduct is good they shall be allowed to occupy a yard set apart for their use only, unless their work necessitates their employment outside. If any prisoner of this class misconducts himself he will be liable to undergo such further period of separate treatment, not exceeding one month, as the visiting justice may direct.

Prisoners, of the fifth class shall be kept separate from prisoners of other classes; they may be allowed to associate with each other in such yard as may be set apart for them. They shall be required to keep the yards and cells occupied by them thoroughly clean and orderly. They will be allowed to maintain and clothe themselves, but shall not be permitted to do so in part. They shall be permitted at all reasonable times to see their legal adviser, being a practising barrister, solicitor, or legal practitioner, or his clerks authorised in writing, as also any relations or friends requiring to see them in reference to their trial. They may see other relations and friends twice in each week, or more frequently if there be special reason, in presence of an officer.

Prisoners under examination will be allowed no communication in the prison with any person except their legal advisers aforesaid, unless specially sanctioned by the justices conducting their examinations. The superintendent will exercise a discretion to prevent any communication by prisoners under committal, whereby the ends of justice may be frustrated, but he will at the same time see that such prisoners are not deprived of the fair and proper means of arranging for their defence.

Prisoners in the sixth class shall not be allowed to associate with prisoners of any other class than their own, and shall be subject to the same rules and restrictions as provided for Class 5.

Debtors will be allowed to maintain and clothe themselves. No gaming will be permitted under any pretence, and all dice, cards, and other instruments of gaming found with any debtor may be seized and destroyed. Each debtor is required to keep himself clean in person and in clothing. Debtors unable to obtain necessary changes of decent clothing may be compelled to wear the ordinary gaol dress. So far as may be necessary for the purpose of cleanliness, a debtor's hair may compulsorily be cut, and for the same reason he may be shaved if the superintendent be orders. Debtors must make up their own beds and keep their wards clean. Loud noises by singing, whistling, or otherwise are prohibited. Under no circumstances shall a debtor communicate with a prisoner of another class in the gaol, orally, in writing, by signs, or otherwise; nor shall a debtor send or give to any such prisoner any food, clothing, or other articles whatsoever. Breaches of these rules, or any of them, shall be forthwith reported to the visiting justice, to be dealt with under the prison regulations. Every debtor must instantly obey any order given to him for the enforcement of these rules, or any of them, by a prison officer.

Prisoners of the eighth class shall be kept in separate cells, under the general supervision of the surgeon, and under the immediate care of a warder, assisted by such prisoner-keepers, carefully selected, as may be necessary. The diet for each such prisoner shall be carefully regulated by the surgeon, who will make a written prescription of diet in every case. To avoid as far as possible the detention of lunatics in gaol after the expiration of their sentences, the superintendents are to bring immediately under the notice of the surgeon any prisoner who may appear to be of unsound mind, be that an order for his transmission to the hospital for the insane may, when practicable, be obtained before the sentence terminates. Lunatic prisoners are not under any circumstance to be put in irons, either within the prison or on transit.

Copies of the medical certificates given in cases of lunatics are to be forwarded with the lunatics to the asylum, for the information of the superintendent of that institution. All marks or braises on a lunatic are to be carefully noted on the papers, and any received while on escort, as well as any coercive restraint, shall be reported by the escorting warder or constable at the prison where lie delivers the inmate. The superintendents are instructed that no two insane prisoners, or prisoners supposed to be insane, are to be allowed to occupy the same cell. When lunatics under committal for trial or under remand are sent to an asylum, copies of the committal or remand warrant must be sent with them for the information of the asylum authorities.

Pacific Islanders and aboriginal prisoners shall not be required to undergo separate treatment, but shall, where practicable, be kept in the daytime, when not at work, in a yard by themselves and apart from other prisoners.

In all prisons where females are confined, the foregoing classification shall, so far as it may be applicable, be carried out, and the yards, workrooms, wards, cells, hospital, and other buildings for the use of female prisoners shall be separate and apart from those for males, and shall be fitted with looks requiring different keys from those in use in other parts of the prison. Neither the superintendent nor any other male officer shall have in his possession keys of the portion of the prison allotted to females, nor any keys which will afford access to such portion. No male officer or person shall be permitted to enter into or remain in any of the yards, work rooms, wards, cells, hospital or other portions of the prison allotted to females, except in the company of a female officer and while one is in attendance.

Scale of Rations
A varied dietary scale is allotted, and it may be stated that the allowance under the new regulations is more liberal all round than under the old. The first ration for prisoners serving sentences of six months and under is:- Bread, 12oz. (females, 8oz.); maize-meal, 8oz.; meat, 40z.; vegetables, 8oz.; rice or barley, 1/2oz.; salt, 1/2oz.; soap, 1/2oz. Prisoners serving sentences of over six and under twelve months, after six months' service; also debtors, prisoners under civil process, awaiting trial, under remand, and detained as witnesses for want of bail, receive 8oz. of meat and 12oz. of vegetables (females, 8oz.) in addition to the other things as above specified.

Prisoners serving sentences exceeding twelve months after a service of twelve months, when not at hard labour, and for all prisoners at hard labour serving sentences under twelve months, 16oz. of bread (females, 12oz.), 12oz. each of meat and vegetables; prisoners when employed at hard labour serving sentences exceeding twelve months, 20oz. of bread (females, 16oz.), 16oz. of meat (females, 12oz.}, and 12oz. of vegetables. The ration authorised to be issued to prisoners when on the sick list and by order of visiting surgeon:—Bread, 8oz.; rice, 2oz.; arrowroot, 2oz.; oatmeal 2oz.; tea, 2oz.; sugar, 2oz.; milk, according to order; salt, half oz.; soap, half oz.

Labour gratuity
A ‘labour gratuity system’ is also new. The regulations provide that all prisoners when actually employed shall be entitled to receive a labour gratuity of 1d. per diem. Deductions will be made from gratuities as follows: - For each ‘idle’ mark, 3d.; and for each ‘disorderly’ mark, 6d. There are a number of other provisions, but the effect of them is as above; for instance, a prisoner with a pretty long sentence would, provided his sheet was ‘clean,’ receive perhaps as much as £8 or £4 on leaving gaol. It should be understood, however, that the regulations are in no way retrospective. There is a special ration for children of female prisoners. General regulations for the treatment and conduct of prisoners are also of a comprehensive nature.

Remission of Sentences
We come next to another new and important innovation - namely, the remission of sentences and regulations for a mark system. This is an entirely new departure. Prisoners will by continuous good conduct and industry become eligible to a remission of sentence in proportion to the time served by them in accordance with the subjoined scale. In cases of cumulative sentences the united period is to be deemed the term of sentence.

Scale of Remission: - Sentences of twelve months and not exceeding five years, a remission of one-sixth. Sentences over five years and not exceeding ten years, a remission of one-fifth. Sentences of more than ten years, a remission of one-fourth of the term.

By ‘good conduct’ is meant not merely the prisoner's obedience to all prison and penal rules, but a readiness to assist in maintaining order, and a willingness as well as steady industry in every employment or work which may be required of him. Any portion of a prisoner's term of sentence passed under punishment inflicted for misbehaviour shall be deducted from his prescribed period of remission within the meaning of these regulations. In dealing with the cases sent in for remission where the conduct of the prisoner is returned is good, and he has earned the whole number of ‘orderly’ and ‘industrious’ marks obtainable, the full remission will be recommended; but for every ‘disorderly’ mark he shall lose from his remission two days; for every ‘idle’ mark he shall lose one day; and for each day passed in a punishment cell for misbehaviour he shall lose one day; and if a prisoner while in prison is sentenced to corporal punishment, three days' remission shall be deducted for each lash inflicted.

Hair Cutting and Shaving
Another alteration in prison procedure which will generally commend itself to the public is that which deals with the hair-cutting and shaving of prisoners. The new regulation provides that all male prisoners shall have their hair cut short upon reception, and afterwards monthly; and all prisoners whose sentences exceed three months shall be shaved once a week; but prisoners under committal shall not have their hair cut short or be shaved except so far as may be necessary to preserve their appearance at the time of their examination and for the sake of cleanliness; and prisoners serving sentences of not less than six months may be permitted to grow their hair and beards for two months before the expiration of their sentences; and those serving longer sentences, for three months previous to the expiration of the time when, according to their conduct under the remission regulations, they may be eligible for discharge, due regard being observed to cleanliness. Under very special circumstances the shaving may be dispensed with by the superintendent, who will report the circumstances to the comptroller-general. This, it will be seen, will do away with the distinguishing feature known as the ‘gaol crop,’ so noticeable on men who have newly been liberated.'

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