In the Media

From the archive, 9 December 1862: Ticket-of-leave system and jail discipline

PUBLISHED December 9, 2011

Originally published in the Manchester Guardian on 9 December 1862

At the Sheffield quarter sessions yesterday, Mr. Wilson Overend in addressing the Grand Jury strongly condemned the ticket-of-leave system, and advocated a recurrence to transportation. He said that, during his long experience of the criminal class, he had never known a reformed convict. "I knew one man," he observed, "but he could not be said to be reformed. He was a clever and noted burglar, and after he returned he occupied himself in making burglars' tools, but he never himself became an active burglar again."

The Magistrates Clerk and the Chief Constable, like himself, had never met with a reformed convict. Mr. Overend then referred to the necessity for more stringent measures in our penal establishments. At present, our prisons were most comfortable quarters, and after having been once in one of these establishments, they went back without any fear whatever. "I will illustrate the comfort which prevails in those places," he said, "by a single instance which has been told to me by the Chief Constable. A girl pawned some stolen property, which was found in the possession of a pawnbroker. He described the appearance of the girl, and, in consequence of that description, a girl was apprehended; he swore positively to her identity, and she was committed for trial. Very soon afterwards, another girl went into his shop, and the pawnbroker found he had made a mistake. He went to the authorities, and said he had made a mistake; the girl he had identified was not the one who had pawned the stolen property. The question then was, what was to be done with the girl then in prison? The pawnbroker said he would be bail for her, but her answer was, 'No, you have sent me here; it's the most comfortable place I ever was in my life, and I won't go out.' And they could not get her out; she was committed to await her trial, and unless she chose, they could not get her out. Of course, when the sessions came on the bill was thrown out by the Grand Jury, but even then there was difficulty in getting rid of her."

Vitriol throwing, in Manchester

Elizabeth Woolley was charged with throwing a quantity of vitriol at one Margaret Johnson, in Manchester, on the 8th of October last, with intent to do bodily harm. The Jury found the prisoner guilty, and the Judge sentenced her to nine months' hard labour. It appeared that the prisoner was, when sober, a very orderly woman; but she was very much addicted to drink, and, when under its influence, she was very quarrelsome. © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds