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NEW ZEALAND
Reformatory Prison CP - June 1900



Corpun file 22980

Nelson Evening Mail, 7 June 1900

The Stoke Industrial School.

Anomalies of the Law.

Diversity of Punishments.


Click to enlarge

A LARGE section of the Nelson community has been greatly stirred during the past week by the statement that the Chairman and two members of the Charitable Aid Board had paid a surprise visit to the Stoke Industrial School and that they had reported to the Board on two cases of solitary confinement and caning of boys (Maher and James), who had been remitted to the Institution to be punished according to the rules of the School.

[...]

By the Criminal Code (57 Vic. 1893, No. 56). "no sentence of flogging or whipping passed under this or any other Act shall be carried out except as provided in this Section." That is to say, males under 16 years may be "whipped" with strokes not exceeding 25 at one time (sec. 11, sub-sec. 2), with a rod of the description prescribed by the Bench of Justices; and (sub-sec. 3), "In each case the Court shall in its sentence specify the number of strokes to be inflicted." The Industrial Schools Act of 1882, and its amending Act of 1895, both carefully define the extent of corporal punishment and limit the use of the instruments of such punishment. In compliance with the amending Act certain strict regulations were issued by Order in Council, dated October 17th, 1895, and they will be found in Vol. II of the "Government Gazette" of that year, page 1611. The regulations refer especially to "Government Industrial Schools," and, in regard to corporal punishment, enjoin:-

[...]

"No cane, stick, or whip may be used for chastisement of any inmate of a Government School. A leather strap may be used, provided that such strap shall be in breadth not less than one inch and a-half, and shall not exceed twenty-five inches in length, a quarter inch in thickness and four and three quarters ounces in weight, and shall not be pierced with holes or cut into a fringe, and that in the punishment of girls and young boys, and in every case where severe punishment is unnecessary, a much lighter strap shall be used. Such whipping as mothers administer in private with the hand or the slipper is not forbidden. A birch may be used when some show of ceremony appears to be called for, but no birch shall be used until it has been certified to by the medical officer of the school as suitable for the purpose."

If only a strap of strictly limited weight and dimensions can be used in Government Industrial Schools on boys presumably as bad as the worst at the Stoke Private Industrial School, by what law or logic is it legal for the supplejack to be used at Stoke by the Brothers in charge?

A caning with a supplejack may be lighter, not so severe as with a prescribed strap; but that is not the point. The law says strap: Who gave the Stoke school the right to use supplejack?

In regard to the punishment of absconders sec. 57 of the Industrial Schools Act of 1882 says: -- If any inmate shall abscond from any school. . . he shall on conviction thereof in a summary manner, be ordered. . . . to be sent back there to be punished as shall be prescribed. . . And such inmate, if a male, shall in addition to such punishment be liable . . . to be privately whipped in such manner as the Resident Magistrate shall direct." That is to say, a boy may be whipped at the Police Court as prescribed; but who is there with the right to direct and prescribe canings with a supplejack in a private school in addition to confinement or other punishment? Coming to solitary confinement -- which is rendered none the less technically "solitary" by boards or partitions shutting out in any degree sight and communication -- the Criminal Code Part II, sub-sec. 2 sec. 14 defines punishments and says "No person shall be sentenced to solitary confinement." The sub-section goes on: "But this provision shall not prevent the making and enforcing of regulations authorising periods of solitary confinement for breaches of rules of discipline under the provision of any statute in force." In order to comply both with the penal code and the Industrial Schools Act 1882 Amending Act of 1895 (that is to say, to comply with the abolition of solitary confinement), the Order in Council already quoted thus regulates solitary confinement of punished inmates of Government Industrial Schools:

* "The Manager may at his discretion punish an inmate by restraint of liberty or by restriction of diet," subject, however, to the strict observance of the following rules:-

"Confinement in a dark cell is forbidden.

"Solitary Confinement for more than three hours in one day is forbidden.

"The punishment of bread and water diet must not last longer than twenty-four hours at one time, and must not be repeated without an interval of seven days.

"The substitution of porridge for the ordinary dinner, or the deprivation of Pudding or other esteemed article of diet may not be continued in any case for more than seven days ; and after undergoing a punishment of this kind for any number of days an inmate shall not be punished again in the same way until after the lapse of twice as days

"In any case in which restriction of diet is imposed as a punishment core must he taken that food is supplied in sufficient quantity to satisfy a healthy and natural appetite."

The dark cell is so strongly legislated against that the Industrial Schools Act 1882, Amendment Act 1895, sec. 9, fixes a penalty thus: --

"It shall not be lawful for the manager of or any person in authority or employed in any Industrial School to confine any inmate in any dark room for any offence whatsoever ; and no inmate of any such institution shall as a punishment for insubordination or other misconduct or for any breach of the rules be placed on a bread and water diet for a longer period than twenty-four hours and any manager or other person who shall be guilty of a breach of this provision shall on conviction thereof be liable to a penalty of not less than five pounds and not exceeding fifty pounds."

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