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Beyond Penn's Treaty

The Life of Thomas Eddy; Comprising an Extensive Correspondence

Page out of 347
, Esquires, Commissioners appointed by
the Legislature to examine and report on certain
questions relating to the State Prisons.

I received your circular letter, containing a number
of queries, to which you request distinct replies.

First—Is the present system established in the

prison, a real system of punishment? Are
the convicts, in general, less comfortable than they
would be if at liberty?

Answer—I beg leave to state that, in my opinion,
the system established in the New-York

State Prison
is not a real system of punishment calculated to pre-
vent crimes.

Undoubtedly convicts are, in general, less comforta-
ble than they would be if at liberty.

Second—Have you ever known any satisfactory
instances of reformation produced by the present, or
any prison discipline? And, if so, please to state the
cases particularly, so far as may be proper?

Answer—The general habits of intemperance pre-
vious to the confinement of convicts, and their ex-
treme attachment to the use of ardent spirits, has
scarcely, in any instance, been cured even by a long
imprisonment; and their minds, owing to a number
of them being together during the night in one room,
have been so corrupted, that experience has proved,
that reformation has rarely taken place. During
several years that I served as an inspector of our
state prison, I only recollect two cases of complete
reformation. One of these has resided many years
in a neighbouring government, the other, in this
state; both are, at this time, men of considerable pro-
perty, much respected and well esteemed. It is not
known to their present friends and neighbours, that
they ever were under confinement. Each of them