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House. Comm. on Gaols and the Penitentiary. Report, 1827
[Quite long] H.R. No. 50 House Committee to examine the state of gaols ... Report, February 16, 1827. The Committee recommended a gaol wherever
there was a court because persons needed to be held for trial. Each county should have a House of Correction to segregate lunatics from the criminal
population, the charged-but-not-tried from the convicted, and minors from hardened criminals. The mentally ill rarely got treatment. A good gaol would
have a yard with very high walls, one prisoner per cell, good air circulation, frequent cleaning and lime washing, space for a few sick people within
the facility, have regular schooling available, create some sort of employment or skills teaching in the facility; the last was hard to do. Some
gaols were supported by taverns, but that was a bad idea. Keepers should not be dependent for their support on skimming the food and clothing allowance,
but should be paid a real wage. Each county's Court of Sessions should visit the county gaol at least twice a year. The Committee suggested perhaps
building two or three solitary confinement facilities in the state to relieve county gaols of a difficult responsibility. On P. 22 began two Acts: An
Act for the further regulation of prisons, 1827. The County Courts of Session were to manage, or hire management, for a county gaol, but the Court had
to visit the gaol twice a year. There was to be a yard around the gaol with a high wall. Debtors were to be separated from criminals. No more than
four men per room. Those under twenty-one were to be separated from older prisoners and those awaiting trial separated from the convicted. Walls and
floors were to be whitewashed twice a year, with each cell being lime washed once a month from May to November. There were to be two meals per day
and suitable bedding and clothing. Someone other than the gaoler had to contract for those things. Each gaoler had to keep good records and categories
were specified. He had to show his register to the Court twice a year. There were to be no taverns on gaol premises. The Act gave directions for
Houses of Correction in Section 10. Adjoining counties could build a facility large enough to share. The Court of Sessions could create an oversight
board for the gaol. There were specifications for an annual report to be sent to the Secretary of the Commonwealth. Second: An Act for the safe
keeping of lunatics and persons furiously mad, 1827. Massachusetts General Hospital was to take as many as possible and the state would contract with other
hospitals for their care. Or, create and build a facility with a Board of Visitors who came twice a year. A person would be committed after a
hearing. If a criminal was not guilty by reason of insanity, the court could commit him or her to the hospital instead. The emphasis should be on
careful, humane treatment. Once there was a facility for lunatics, they should no longer be housed in gaols. The Committee had created a set of
Interrogatories for Gaol-Keepers with questions about the physical plant, number and classes of prisoners, care of prisoners, budget for the facility, etc. The
Committee visited many facilities and ended up with reports from seventeen gaols. Almost none had an exercise yard, schooling, space for solitary
confinement, or hard labor. Most served two meals a day. Very few were able to separate classes of prisoner. None had toilet or bathing spaces.
Nearly all gaols had at least one female prisoner and many had one or more colored prisoners. At the end of the report was a very interesting list of
crimes with numbers of offenders. (Digitized from a microfilm copy of title originally held by the Massachusetts State Library).
Title:   Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In the House of Representatives, February 16, 1827 : The Committee of the House of Representatives appointed at the last session "to examine into, and ascertain the state of the several gaols, in this Commonwealth and also the penitentiary at Worcester, and the manner of confining and treating prisoners and report the result of their inquiries, and any regulations, which they might think it proper to be adopted, and also to inquire into the expediency of limiting by law, the expense of supporting and employing persons to the House of Correction at Worcester, and also, to consider the expediency of providing by law for the support and employment of persons committed to any House of Correction by any lawful authority" and report at the present session, respectfully make the following report ...
OCLC Number:   1405224934
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