REPORT ON GAOLS and RULES FOR PRISONERS
from the 'BC SESSIONAL PAPERS, 1888
by Hugh Armstrong,
To the Honourable the Attorney-General,
&c., &c., &c.
SIR,- Obedient to the Act providing for the "Proper Management of Gaols," dated April
I have the honour to submit my first Annual Report on the condition and management
of the principal Gaols
in the Province, together with an account of the outlying prisons or lock-ups and
their management as far as
they have come under my observation.
It is satisfactory that the number of criminals received in the different gaols
has been gradually
decreasing during the last two or three years, although the population, of the
principal cities has perceptibly
increased during the same period.
It is also gratifying to be able to state that the expense of maintaining the
prisoners has, through the
energy and good management of the respective gaolers, been largely, reduced without
curtailing the comfort
of prisoners or reducing the prison fare.
Mechanical skill among the prisoners has been utilized in the different gaols
for making and repairing
boots and clothing, which has reduced the cost per man in that respect to less than
half what it has been
The conduct of the prisoners during the year has been good and the punishments
for breach of prison
discipline of a light character. It is found that kind, generous treatment, with a
strictly just enforcement of the
prison rules, has much improved the conduct of the prisoners.
The following rules are printed and posted in conspicuous places in the different,
gaols for the guidance
of officers and for the observance of the prisoners: -
RULES TO BE OBSERVED IN THE VICTORIA AND NEW WESTMINSTER
1. All prisoners upon being admitted to the Gaol must be thoroughly searched in
the presence of a Constable and Officer of the Gaol.
2. Prisoners must be searched every evening before being locked up in their cells,
and the cells and beds must also be searched.
3. The cells in use must be scrubbed and whitewashed every week, and the passage every
4. Prisoners shall have clean underclothing and a bath when required, not less than
once a week.
Hard labour prisoners shall have their hair cut to one inch in length.
5. Strict silence must be observed in the cells, and no shouting or loud talking shall
be allowed in the Gaol yard.
6. No lights will be allowed in any of the cells. All lights and fires in the Debtors'
room, must be extinguished at 8 o'clock p.m.
7. No visiter shall be allowed in the Gaol, or to speak with prisoners, except by
permission of the
Officer in charge, and some Officer must be present at all interviews
with prisoners unless otherwise
8. The prisoners shall rise at 6.30 o'clock a.m. from, April 1st to September 30th,
and at 7 o'clock
a.m. from October 1st to March 31st, and will be allowed half an hour to wash and dress
Guard must be on the balcony before the cells are opened.
9. The Gaoler may allow such prisoners as he thinks fit to be out in the Gaol yard
an hour and a halfin the morning and the same time in the afternoon. On Sundays
and holidays all prisoners, except those in
solitary confinement, are, to be allowed this privilege.
10. The Chain-gang shall leave the prison for work at 7.30 o'clock a.m. in the sumumer time
(videRule 8), returning at 5.30 o'clock p.m.; and in the winter time at 8
o'clock a.m., returning before dark. One
hour shall be allowed at noon for dinner.
11. All prisoners must obey the orders of any of the prison officers. Those in the
outside the gaol, must obey the orders of any of the guards.
12. The Gaoler may place such irons on any prisoner, other than a debtor, as he
may deem necessary
for the prevention of escape, subject to the approval of the Superintendent of Police. The Senior Convict
Guard may refuse to allow any prisoner to go out in the Chain-gang until he is ironed to his satisfaction,
subject to approval, as above.
13. Prisoners' irons must be examined daily; those of the Chain-gang, on leaving
for work, by the
Senior Convict Guard, and on return by the officer in charge of the Gaol at the time.
14. While the Chain-gang are outside the Gaul, the Senior Guard shall have charge
of the guards and
15. The Assistant Gaolers and Guards, while inside the Gaol, aball be under the
orders of the Gaoler
or the officer in charge of the Gaol at the time.
16. The Gaoler will be held responsible tor the good order, cleanliness, and neatness of the
17. Any prisoner who shall be proved guilty of wilfully disobeying the orders of
the officer in charge
of the Gaol, or of fighting in the Gaol or Chain-gang, or of refusing to work, or of
making an unnecessary
noise in the prison, or of destroying clothing or other property of the prison, or of
refusing to keep himself
clean, or of refusing or neglecting to clean his cell when necessary or when ordered
to do go, or of breaking
any of the prison rules, may be punished by order of the Superintendent of Police, or,
in his absence, by order
of any Police or Stipendiary Magistrate, or of any Justice of the Peace when there is
no such Magistrate.
18. The punishment to be inflicted upon prisoners for any disobedience of the prison
rules shall not be
other than the following:-
(1.) Solitary confinement in dark cell, with or without bedding, not to exeeed
days for any one offence, nor three days at any one time.
(2.) Bread and water diet, full or half rations, combined or not with No. 1.
(3.) Cold water punishment, with the approval of the visiting physician.
19. In the absence of the Superintendent of Police, the Gaoler or officer in charge
of the Gaol,
shall have authority summarily to confine any prisoner, for misconduct, in
a solitary cell, or to place
irons upon his hands and feet should he find it necessary; such restraint not, to extend
over a longer
time than is necessary to bring the matter before the Superintendent of Police, or, in his
a Police or Stipendiary Magistrate, or of any Justice of the Peace when there is no such Magistrate.
20. Any person who may be found interfering with the discipline of the prison shall
the prison as a visitor.
21. A book will be kept by the Gaoler, in which the conduct of prisoners shall be
with a view of obtaining a mitigation of punishment from the proper
authorities in cases meriting reward.
By order. C.
Superintendent of Police.
The cost of guarding the Chain-gang at Victoria and New Westminster, together
with the cost
of tools and material used, amounts to about 65 cents per day to each man
working in the gang, and
it is doubtful if the amount of work done by the convicts is worth the cost to, the
Marching the prisoners through the streets in irons does not improve them morally;
is a disagreeable sight to most citizens, as well as to strangers who visit our cities.
In connection with my report, the annexed statements, carefully oompiled from the
will assist in showing the condition and management of the gaols, and will assist
materially in forming an
estimate of the amount of crime committed in this part of the Dominion.