There is one law, one court, one penalty awaiting every criminal alike, in what are called our courts of justice. Whatever may have been the culture, or want of it, whatever the temptation or power to resist, the courts have no discretion really, and so are bound to pass sentence according to law and evidence on all alike. The injustice, not to say cruelty, of this, would be less grievous, were our penalties and prisons designed for reformation, as hospital cures instead of modes and means of torture as in the past ages. The New York Tribune, on Christmas morning, proclaimed the following on the treatment of criminals. It is an evangel worthy that auspicious morn; almost literally fulfilling the promise of eighteen hundred years ago, “to open the prison doors to them that are bound.”
In the Irish Times, we find an account of a treatment of criminals so new, so surprising, and successful, as to be worthy of special notice. About twelve years ago Government secured the title to 170 acres of land, at Lusk, 14 miles north of the city of Dublin, overlooking Dublin Bay, and a beautiful wooded country. The object was to make an experiment with convicted criminals in redeeming the land and in carrying on a farm. This was to be what is termed the “intermediate system.” For many years the land had been a common; a part was swampy, much of the surface had been removed by neighboring farmers, and it was of little value. A gang of convicts was brought on, and, under judicious managers, the land was drained, the subsoil brought to the surface, manure was applied and also lime to correct the acidity; houses, barns and outbuildings were erected, and, finally, the tract has been brought to a high state of fertility.