THE REFORM OF THE CRIMINAL.
i To the Editor.
' Sir-The sound and effective system of dealing with criminals,, which, through the agency of Captain Neitenstein, Comptroller
General of Prisons, is now in operation, in I New South Wales, leaves the other States of the Commonwealth in a graver' situation than ever, as regards the menace of cri- minality. The Habitual Criminals Act of New South Wales provides that when a person has been convicted of an indictable offence, and has been previously so con- victed for similar classes of offences on at least three occasions (two in certain cases) he may be declared an habitual criminal. As such he is compelled, on. serving the de- finite part of his sentence, to enter upon an indefinite term of imprisonment, the duration of which depends on the time he takes to-reform. Reporting on this inno- vation, Captain Neitenstein -says:-''There can be no doubt as to the wholesome de terrancy of this law, and the effect which it is producing on the criminal classes." The governor of the Darlinghurst Gao: says:-"Numbers of the habituais have been informed of the operation of the Act, and all express the intention on discharge of either going straight or clearing out of the State." Grafton Gaol reports:-"Gene- rally speaking, the old criminal feels that his day is over in New South Wales." The measure of success which has already at- tended this instalment of penal reform in New South Wales, seems to me to empha- sise the need of concerted action between the States. One can hardly be sanguine enough to suppose that every habitual cri- minal now incarcerated at Darlinghurst or Parramatta will be permanently reclaimed, while fresh woods and pastures new await him in other States, which will not at- tempt to exact irom him- straight living in lieu of incapacitation. Let us strengthen the hands oí the mother State by institut- ing the indeterminate sentence, a proper 6ys£em of classification of prisoners, and the separate- and scientific treatment of inebriates. Unless we taken some step in this direction we may expect to receive our share of those for whom the moral atmos- phere of New South Wales has become too bracing. Already the burden for the tax- payer in South Australia is heavy enough the cost of the upkeep of goals and prisons alone is over £12.000 per annum, and any acquisition of New South Wales incor- rigibles must not only add to this expendi- ture, but must prove a serious menace to life and property, as well as tend to lower the moruLtone of the community.-I am,
EVELYN GOODE VAUGHAN.
Maylands, September 30, 1906.