Everybody knows that the penalty for murder is death in the ordinary course, but the various punishments for lesser offences are not so universally known.
Imprisonment may be with or without hard labour. With hard labour, the maximum sentence is two years, but most habitual criminals would prefer to undergo a short term of penal servitude, as the ‘hard labour’ is no mere figure of speech. Imprisonment without such hard labour is spoken of as in the Third Division. For lesser offences there is imprisonment in the Second Division which, allows the offenders a few privileges in the matter of receiving visits, letters, &c. For smaller offences, say, where a person is convicted of Contempt of Court, punishment is in the First Division. People so convicted do not put on prison clothes and their punishment-consists of little more than detention. Juveniles may be sent to reformatory schools for terms of three to five years, where they learn trades and are otherwise taught to be useful citizens. See also Borstal System.
This was devised to replace transportation to one of the colonies, and is never for less than three years and may be for life. During a portion of the first year, the prisoner is shut off from other convicts ; afterwards he works in associated labour, usually in the open air. By good conduct, he may earn remission of a quarter of his sentence.
Solitary confinement was abolished thirty years ago, and ivhip-ping is no longer prescribed for females. Life Sentences mean twenty-one years, but good conduct will earn a remission of part of the period.