Prison reform in 1841 and now

by Instant Noodle

There is one portion of the [Punch puppet] drama we wish was omitted, for it always saddens us—we allude to the prison scene. PUNCH, it is true, sings in durance, but we hear the ring of the bars mingling with the song. We are advocates for the correction of offenders; but how many generous and kindly beings are there pining within the walls of a prison, whose only crimes are poverty and misfortune! They, too, sing and laugh, and appear jocund, but the heart can ever hear the ring of the bars.

We never looked upon a lark in a cage, and heard him trilling out his music as he sprang upwards to the roof of his prison, but we felt sickened with the sight and sound, as contrasting, in our thought, the free minstrel of the morning, bounding as it were into the blue caverns of the heavens, with the bird to whom the world was circumscribed. May the time soon arrive, when every prison shall be a palace of the mind—when we shall seek to instruct and cease to punish. PUNCH has already advocated education by example. Look at his dog Toby! The instinct of the brute has almost germinated into reason. Man has reason, why not give him intelligence?

Here’s the news from a couple of days ago,

www.guardian.co.uk screen capture 2013-1-29-13-29-56(July 1841)

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