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The prison mirror. [volume] (Stillwater, Minn.) 1887-1894, April 06, 1893, Image 1

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~Vol. VI. —No. 35
One day a convict at Joliet prison, Illinois,
picked up a paper from tlie corridor, on which
were these lines:
1 walked through the woodland meadows
Where sweet the thrushes sing.
And found on a bed of mosses
A bird with a broken wing.
1 healed its wound, and each morning
It sang its old sweet strain;
But the bird with a broken pinion
Never soared as high again.
I found a young life broken
By sin’s seductive art.
And touched with a Clirist-like pity.
1 took him to my heart.
He lived with a noble purpose.
And struggled not in vain;
But the life that sin had stricken
Never soared as high again.
But the bird with a broken pinion
Kept another from the snare.
And the life that sin had stricken
liaised another from despair.
Each loss has its compensation.
There is healing for every pain:
But the bird with a broken pinion
Never soars as high again.
In estimating the value of these verses to the
Antler it must be understood that lie had reform
ed in the early part of his imprisonment, but
was at times greatly depressed over his past lift 1 .
—Ad rth Wextem Former and Breeder.
A Philosophic View
A man who has been a criminal, anil
followed a criminal existence for any
length of time, must, in his different
undertakings, exert more or less de
termination or will-power, and it is this
same force that must be brought into
play to effect whatever reformation
may take place in him. It is only
through his own endeavor that his ref
ormation can take place, although these
endeavors can be materially assisted by
the help of kindly hands.
Opportunities to gain money or its
equivalent by theft, are, by no means,
placed within easy reach of those who
make theft their means of livelihood.
Far from it. Those whose position in
life is apt to mark them as prey for
thieves and robbers, do not hesitate to
utilize every appliance, or take every
precaution that could possibly guaran
tee safety to themselves and property.
To overcome these obstacles, the man
of criminal proclivities must devise
plans that will give promise of success,
before undertaking any criminal intent
he may have in mind. Take the man
who commits a crime of any nature
—from snatching a pocket-book to the
highest grade of bank burglary he
must exert some degree of determina
tion. according to the magnitude of
his undertaking. This determination,
or will-power, as we have said, must
constitute the foundation upon which
all hopes of reformation are to be built.
It is the one factor that is to keep him
in the path of honesty, when once he
starts upon it.
No doubt there are many, at this day,
inmates of prisons, who have started
sometime during their lives to reform,
but found the task harder than they
bargained for. The sneers of their
fellow-men. the whispers of “ Tie’s an
ex-convict,” and many things of like
nature, have all done their part to
cause a relapse into criminal ways.
But does one by giving up the struggle
so easily utilize the will-power within
him? T)oes he, when engaged in one
of his criminal undertakings, give up
his life of crime because his pians mis
carried, and a certain “job’’ turned out
unsuccessful? By no means; he looks
upon such failures as natural happen
ings of his profession, and straightway
commences to devise other schemes,
probably more intricate, and thus he is
ready to try again. It takes more phys
ical and mental energy to lead a crim
inal existence, than it does an honest
-one, so why not utilize these mental
and physical powers to bring about
one’s reformation; persevering in a
path of honesty, as hitherto we have
persevered in that of crime. At the be
ginning, no doubt, the battle will be
<£l)c fhmnt JMirror*
in<; HEART
, v
hard, but once started, the balance
of the way will be easier. We must make
up our minds not to allow small disap
pointments to deter us, but to over
come them as we did those which pre
sented themselves when leading a crim
inal career. Determination is all that
is required, and any man who has been
a criminal possesses that. “He con
quers who endures.’’ A.
Torturing- Prisoners.
There is a general but very erroneous
belief that torturing prisoners, in order
to make them confess before magis
trates. has been long since banished
from civilized lands, but it is practiced
in this very time, and of all countries
in the world, in civilized (?) Switzer
M. Borel, member of the assembly
of Lucerne, recently proposed that in
formation should be asked from the
federal council as to the torturing of a
prisoner in the canton of Zug.
The man in question was accused of
theft. When brought before the court
the prisoner acknowledged that he had
taken the missing articles, but insisted
that he had not stolen them but found
Following this the court ordered fur
ther inquiries to be made.
By way of getting at the truth as to
the prisoner’s guilt or innocence, the
following course was pursued:
From the 26th of October to the 10th
of November the man was kept in sol
itary confinement on a sparse diet of
bread and water, but this treatment
failed to induce him to vary his first
On the 11th and 12th of November
thumb-screws were applied to the man’s
hands, and his thumbs were pressed till
the blood burst through the skin at the
ends, still he persisted in his storv.
On the three following days he was
stripped every morning and beaten on
the bare back with green withes till the
skin was torn off. The poor fellow
shrieked with agony, and after each
beating an attendant would ask him:
“Now will you tell the truth?’’
“I have told the truth,’’ persisted the
“That you found the things?’’
"Then the torture will continue till
you confess that you stole them,’’ was
the attendant’s response.
After each beating the man’s back
was washed in cold brine, and he was
thrown again into a dark cell:
On learning of the prisoner's obstina
cy, the judge had him brought before
him again, and said:
“Why do you not tell the truth?’’
“I have told the truth." was the reply.
“Then the torture must proceed.’’
“Your honor can kill me, but he can
not make me say I am a criminal when
I am innocent,’’ said the prisoner.
The judge ordered the prisoner back
to his cell, and here, after three months
of such torture as even the Inquisition
never dreamed of, he was released one
night—by death.
And all this happened not in the AI id
dle Ages, but last year in the heart of
the free and independent Swiss repub
Fortunately the man's death promises
to result in a repeal of the barbarous
law of torture. — Ex.
Cost of Prisons.
The statement made by one of the or
ators before the Prison Congress, that
the cost of keeping criminals in this
country amounts to $400,000,000 annu
ally, ought to set people thinking. That
is an enormous sum of money to be ex
pended for any purpose. It would pro
vide bread for a million homes, it would
give substantial aid to all the charities
of the world, it would soften the burden
of taxation if it could be saved, it would
give a mighty impetus to educational
work of moral reform if it could be
turned in that direction, or it would
create new industries which would give
honest employment to thousands of
laborers. This tax upon the people of
America is twice as great as the pension
burden, and reaches up into the region
of amounts derived from tariffs which
have been called unreasonable and un
just. It is a drain upon industry which
has not been sufficiently considered.
When it is added that this annual pay
ment of 8400,000,000 is in the nature of
waste, then it becomes a matter of seri
ous importance. Prisons exist and
ought to be managed for three distinct
purposes. The first is just punishment
for wrong doing. A criminal has vio
lated law, besides having outraged pub
lic decency and must be punished, and
prison reform which does not concede
that ground is essentially unsound.
The second purpose is the protection of
society from its enemies; hence thick
walls iron doors and armed guards. The
third purpose is to reform the criminal
and restore him to freedom a self-sup
porting and law-abiding citizen. In the
pursuit of these purposes it is a serious
question whether the present machinery
of the courts does not need a very great
amendment. The laws also appear to
be working at the problem from the
wrong end, and the result is a large and
increasing criminal class is growing up
in our country which the present penal
arrangements help to develop rather
than check. It costs 8400,000,000 to sup
port this class now; what will it cost
twenty-five years hence? Baltimore
Capital Punishment.
Mr. Andrew J. Palm, editor of the
American Journal of Politic, contrib
utes to his magazine an article on capi
tal punishment. He maintains that
the only sure protection to human life
in any country, is to have it regarded
with reverence by the whole people,
and that, consequently, if the govern
ment wishes to teach that human life
is sacred, it must not set the example
by deliberately destroying it:
“ The favorite argument that to take
away the fear of the death penalty would
result in an increase of murders may or
may not have any force in philosophy,
but in practice it has been proven false
repeatedly. In those of our own States
where capital punishment has been
abolished, the statistics furnished by
the census reports show a smaller num
ber of murders than in those States
that still follow the law of ‘an eye for
an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.' The
same* is true of other countries. The
Howard Association of London has
made a careful study of the subject,
and its investigation has shown beyond
doubt that death as a punishment for
murder has the only effect that might
be expected, that it hardens instead of
softens the emotions, and prepares men
to commit murder by contemplating it.
“The executioner has been steadily
plying his gory trade in the United
States ever since the foundation of the
government, but instead of his being a
terror to evil doers, murders have been
constantly increasing. In 1888 there
were 2184 homicides in the United
States; in 1889,3567; in 1890, 4290; and
in 1891, 5906. Is not this evidence
enough to warrant a change in our
method of dealing with the crime of
murder ? When it comes before the
legislators of the different States, I
trust they will not act on their ideas of
what they are afraid might occur if
capital punishment were abolished,
rather than on the actual facts as they
have occurred where it has been abro
“ The death penalty defeats the ends
of justice in allowing thousands of
murderers to go at liberty. It is a fact
beyond dispute that the average juror
of to-day hesitates to assume the re
sponsibility of being an instrument in
sending a fellow to death, and often
times when there is no other verdict
possible except that of guilty of mur
der in the first degree or not guilty of
any crime, the convenient reasonable
doubt comes in, and the prisoner is set
:*•' <-•
at liberty; when, if the punishment had
not been death, he would have promptly
been found guilty.
“In Massachusetts from 1862 to 1882,
a period of twenty years, there were 123
trials for murder in the first degree and
but 29 of these, or less than 24 per cent.,
were convicted. In Connecticut during
thirty years from 1850 to 1880, 97 per
sons were tried for first degree murder,
and of these but 13, or a little less than
13 per cent., were found guilty.
“Capital punishment was abolished
in Rhode Island—a State in ail respects
very similar to the other two —in 1852.
During the next thirty years there were
27 persons tried for first degree murder
in that State, of whom 17, or 63 per
cent., were found guilty as charged.
The same truth is shown in Michigan.
Wisconsin and Maine, the statute books
of which are no longer disgraced by the
law of death as a punishment for
Mr. Palm gives statistics to show
that relatively to population, murders
are becoming less frequent in many
States which have abolished capital
punishment. Review of lie vie ms.
What is success in life, and who is
the successful man? Is it not he who
sets out in life with the determination
to accomplish a certain object, concen
trates all his energies upon the attain
ment, and attains it, no matter what
else befalls him? If, then. I strive to
be rich, like the late Jay Gould, and win
riches, am I less successful because at
last, like him I am afflicted with poor
health which cuts short my days and
prevents me from enjoying my riches ?
Am I less successful as a lawyer or a
banker because my wife is a vixen, or
my children are spendthrifts? Most
certainly not. Yet many persons would
seem to think I am. Why, asks a great
Roman satirist, do you wish for wealth,
which ruined Seneca; or for eloquence,
which caused Demosthenes and Cicero
to be assassinated; or to be a great gen
eral like Hannibal, who was defeated at
last, and killed himself in exile? Rut
did not each of these men win the very
thing he aspired to win ? Why, then,
judge of his career by its last days,as if
its character depended mainly on its
catastrophe? Why regard a man's life
as successful if it ends triumphantly,
and as a failure if it ends disastrously ?
If a man lives seventy years, does the
seventieth year contain more or less
than one-seventieth part of his life, aud
can it affect the success or failure of
that life to more than just that extent ?
If Hannibal and Napoleon sought to be
great generals, and became such, were
they less successful because they finally
met with reverses in war and died in
gloriously ? Was General Grant an un
successful man because he died of a
very painful disease? Was William
Pitt, who aspired to be and became the
leading statesman and parliamentary
orator of Great Britain, unsuccessful
because his efforts to crush'the hydra
headed power of Napoleon were defeat
ed by the victory of Austerlitz and he
sunk under the'blow? If he won the
highest station in the kingdom—was
first lord of the treasury and chancellor
of the exchequer—did he not obtain the
object of his wishes, albeit he dies of a
broken heart ? Because, again, the ob
ject of a man's life pursuit does not
satisfy him when gained, because
“The lovely toy, so firecely sought.
Hath lost its charm on being caught,”
is the success less positive ? Is not suc
cess one thing, and happiness another ?
—William Matthews , in Harper's
Young People.
Magistrate O'Googhan: Hov’n’t you
been befar me befar ?
Astute Prisoner: No, y’r honor, I
never saw but one face that looked like
yours, an* that was a photograph of an
Irish king.
Magistrate O’Googhan: Discharged!
Call th’ nixt case.— New York Weekly.
-; v ■ ‘
-r cnlln . * SI.OO per year, in advance.
I ERMS. j si x Months 50 Cents.
Success in Life.
Hit His Soft Spot.

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