Front Page Titles (by Subject) SECTION XVI.: COMMUNICATIONS—EXIT INTO THE YARDS. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 4
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SECTION XVI.: COMMUNICATIONS—EXIT INTO THE YARDS. - Jeremy Bentham, The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 4 
The Works of Jeremy Bentham, published under the Superintendence of his Executor, John Bowring (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1838-1843). 11 vols. Vol. 4.
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COMMUNICATIONS—EXIT INTO THE YARDS.
The exit into the yards is one of the nicest parts of the anatomy of the prison.
The diametrical passage, when arrived at the anterior circumference of the farther side of the annular area, is absorbed by it: but recommencing at the posterior circumference, is there cut into three branches: a middle one, being a line of communication joining without discontinuance the inspection-gallery over-head to the watch-house, or look-out, that serves for the inspection of the yards; and two lateral ones, one on the male, and the other on the female side. Taking their common departure from the grating of the annular grated passage, they run on in parallelism, like a nerve, an artery, and a vein.
The nerve which conveys to the most distant extremity of this artificial body the allvivifying influence of the inspection principle—the line of communication, I mean—at its origin in the inspection-gallery, preserves its level for some space; that is, so long as it hangs over the intermediate area, and till it reaches the region of the cell-gallery. While it does so, I call it the inspector’s bridge: and, to distinguish it from a similar pass on the outside of the building, the inspector’s inner bridge. At that line, in order to fall within the width of the grated passage, and get from thence into the arch that leads to the outside of the building, it makes a sudden drop.† Four feet being the whole width, two of them are allowed to form the slope at the descent, the other two are allotted to give room for the inspector at the instant after his landing, and before any part of his body is within the arch.* The space occupied by the first two of these four feet I call the inspector’s drop: that occupied by the other two, the inspector’s landing-place. Under the lowermost story of the prisoner’s cells, all round, runs a sunk story of cells, composed of arches of the same width and depth, but wanting a foot and a half of the height of those which compose the cells. That part of the line of communication which runs through and occupies one of these subterraneous arches, I call the straits. The whole width I divide into three passages: the middle one, being a continuation of the inspector’s landing place, I call the inspector’s straits. The two others, one on each side of the inspector’s straits, receive the prisoners, and conduct them through the arch from the grated passage: these I call the prisoner’s straits. The floor of the inspector’s straits I make as much higher as the height of the arch will admit, above the floor of the prisoner’s straits on each side: the reason is, that he may have the more commanding view of them, as he and they go out together. As a farther help, their floor may drop a step just before their arrival at this pass; and from thence it may sink a little further by a very gentle slope:† and the advantage would be increased by giving an arched form to the partition on the side of the prisoners on either hand, the curve bending from his side towards theirs. In this way, the advantage given him may amount to about 14 inches, a superiority which, taking into account the differences of height between man and man, seems to be as much as can be requisite. This superiority will be thus made out:—
In point of width, the line of communication, at its origin from the inspection-gallery, and before it reaches the entrance of the arch, has no particular limitation:‡ but at that pass, which I call the straits, it must conform to the dimensions which the width of the arch allows, after reservation of a sufficient space for the prisoners on each side. If anything like difficulty occur anywhere, it must be at the very entrance into the arch, since from that pass it widens gradually to the exit. Ought the width of all three passages to be alike? or should any, and which, have the advantage in this respect over the other two? The occasions on which inspectors will have to pass one another will occur but rarely: but in the instance of the prisoners, these occasions will be still more unfrequent. On week days, twice a-day each prisoner descends to the airing-wheel: but should they descend even in pairs, or three’s, they would not cross one another at all; for one does not quit the wheel till another has arrived there. Neither on Sundays is there any occasion for them to cross, at least at this particular spot: and all their motions may be predetermined and provided for. Restraint is suitable to their condition; freedom to that of the inspector. A confined space will have the further use of cramping any exertions a prisoner might be disposed to use, in the view of bursting in upon an inspector when engaged in so narrow a pass, with a partition between them of so little thickness.
Here follows, then, an example of the dimensions, in point of width, that might be given to these passages:—
Upon this view, the widths capable of being allowed are so much beyond what is absolutely necessary, as to leave a considerable latitude of choice.∥ The partitions may accordingly be made more or less thick, according to the nature of the materials. When the inspector’s passage, having gained the region of the yards, assumes the name of the covered way, the partitions which bound it will naturally require the strength and thickness of a wall; while the prisoners’ passages, having no longer any part of the building to bound them, will require each of them a wall on purpose, as will be seen under the head of Outlets.
To give the inspector his possible view of the prisoners as they pass, there must, of course, be sight-holes. They may be closed with glasses. They ought to be conical; narrower on the inspector’s side than on the prisoners’ side. Though these holes should on the different sides be on the same level, they will not yield to the eye of the prisoner the thorough light: for they are considerably above his eye, and no line drawn towards his eye, from any hole on the one side, would pass through any hole on the other: another advantage in sinking the floor of the prisoners’ passage below the level of the inspector’s passage. The wall of this passage, in the same manner as those of the inspection-gallery of which it is the continuance, should for the same reason be painted black: those of the prisoners’ passages, for the opposite reason, kept as white and as glossy as possible.
The least convenient part of the whole is the inspector’s drop.*
But out of this very inconvenience I extract a superior advantage. The descent is by a sort of ladder, deviating so little from the perpendicular as to oblige a man, in order to find footing as he goes down, to turn his face to instead of from the steps: in so doing, he gets, and is obliged to get, a view of the diametrical passage and the warehouse on each side; such as it would have been difficult to have given him by any other means. A rope or bar to hold by on each side saves him from all danger, and even from all inconvenience, beyond that of being obliged to turn himself half round.
A few inches below the level of the ceiling of the diametrical passage, is a sight-hole in the partition that forms a back to the steps: through this, as he descends with his face to the ladder, he gains a full view of that passage: and on each hand another sight-hole, through which he gains a view equally full, through correspondent apertures, of the inside of the warehouse on each side.† By this means, the labour of the prisoners may be made use of with the less scruple in all those stations, without the necessity of stationing along with them in each place an inspector on purpose, and yet without departing in this, any more than in any other instance, from the principle of omnipresence.
As to the relative width to be given to this line of communication in its different parts, it admits of considerable latitude. The most natural course is to give it the same width throughout. In its whole width, whatever that be, it blocks up, not only the whole of the opposite cell of the first story of cells, but even a part of the height of the second story: filling up the place of the cell-gallery in both instances. To give a passage round from the cell-gallery on one side to the cell-gallery on the other, requires some little contrivances, with relation to which it is not necessary to be either very particular or very determinate. In the upper one of the two stories, the obstruction may be obviated, partly by lowering the ceiling of the line of communication in that spot; partly by giving a step or two from the cell-gallery on each side, to carry the passenger in that spot across and over the obstruction: in the lower one of the two stories, by cutting out of the cell, all round the obstruction, a space sufficient to make a passage of equal width with the cell-gallery, viz. four feet.
It is scarce necessary to observe, that in order to maintain in this part the limitation set to the prisoners’ path, and to prevent them from straggling into the intermediate area, or clambering up the line of communication, so as to get at top of the inspection-gallery, or force their way in at the windows, the grating of the annular grated passage must, in its form, be governed by the configuration of the parts in question, and apply itself to them with particular care: and where any part of the line of communication is within reach of the prisoners, either walking in their passage or abiding in their cells, it should be of materials equally impregnable.
[† ]Of the making this sudden drop, instead of giving the line of communication in that part a regular descent, commencing at the inspection-gallery, one reason is, that it may not block up the intermediate area, and obstruct the introduction of bulky packages from the diametrical passage. Another use is, the forcing the inspector to take a view, in his descent, of the diametrical passage and the warehouses on each side, as will be seen presently.
[* ]Two feet is no great thickness: but a man of greater corpulency is certainly not fit to bear an executive part in the government of a prison.
[† ]This slope would have the farther use of facilitating the carrying off the water employed in washing the intermediate area.
[‡ ]Except with reference to the opposite cell; of which it covers from a direct view, a width equal to its own. On this account, the narrower the better.
[∥ ]If they were not, the arch thus allotted to receive the line of communication might be made wider then the rest, upon the condition of giving the same extra width to that whole pile of arches all the way up.
[* ]Two feet only in width, to 11 feet 7 inches descent, leaves, at the large allowance of nearly one foot for each step, little more than two inches projection of each step beyond the one above it.
[† ]The warehouses are laid out, as far as convenience admits, in such a manner as to favour this view, upon the radial principle, as explained under the head of Outlets.