Transcript
 

(The State of Prisons)


a)
My reader will judge of its malignity, when
I assure him, that my clothes were in my first journeys so
offensive, that in a post-chaise I could not bear the windows
drawn up; and was therefore obliged to travel commonly on
horseback. The leaves of my memorandum-book were often
so tainted, that I could not use it till after spreading it an hour
or two before the fire:

b)
Many who went on healthy, are in a few months changed to
emaciated dejected objects. Some are seen pining under
diseases, "sick, and in prison" ; expiring on the floors, in loath-
some cells, of pestilential fevers, and the confluent smallpox;
victims, I must not say to the cruelty, but I will say to the
inattention, of sheriffs, and gentlemen in the commission of
the Peace.

c)
Many prisons have no water. This defect is frequent in bride-
wells, and town gaols. In the felons' courts of some county
gaols there is no water: in some places where there is water,
prisoners are always locked up within doors, and have no more
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than the keeper or his servants think fit to bring them: in one
place they were limited to three pints a day each: a scanty
provision for drink and cleanliness!

d)
I must here add, that in some few gaols are confined idiots
and lunatics. These serve for sport to idle visitants at assizes,
and other times of general resort.

e)
And petty offenders who are committed to
bridewell for a year or two, and spend that time, not in hard
labour, but in idleness and wicked company, or are sent for
that time to county gaols, generally grow desperate, and come
out fitted for the perpetration of any villainy. Half the robberies
committed in and about London, are planned in the prisons, by
that dreadful assemblage of criminals, and the number of idle
people who visit them. - How contrary this to the intention of
our laws with regard to petty offenders; which certainly is to
correct and reform them!

f)
Men and women felons have their day-rooms apart, at the
upper end of the court. Women sleep in their day-room: but
the court being common, the men associate with them. Men
have for their night-rooms two vaulted cells. One of them, the
low dungeon, is ten steps underground, twenty-one feet by
nine, extremely close, dark, and unwholesome; very hot even
in winter. Their other cell, the high dungeon (twenty feet
two inches by eleven feet two), is close and offensive, though
not underground; and had an iron-latticed door.