Front Page Titles (by Subject) SECTION XX.: OUTLETS, INCLUDING AIRING-YARDS. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 4
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SECTION XX.: OUTLETS, INCLUDING AIRING-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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OUTLETS, INCLUDING AIRING-YARDS.
Areairing-yards to be looked upon as a necessary appendage to the building? If so, what extent ought to be given to them? Ought any, and what, divisions to be made in them, corresponding to so many divisions among the prisoners? In what manner may the influence of the inspection principle be extended to them to the best advantage?—The answers to these questions will depend partly upon the general plan of management in view, partly upon local circumstances.
Of these points, the first and third are considered under the head of management:† and the result is, that airing-yards to be used on working-days are not essential to the establishment; but that for Sunday’s use they would be at least convenient: that if both sexes are admitted, one division, and consequently two separate yards, are indispensable: but that, as between prisoners of the same sex, the advantage to be gained by any further division seems hardly decided enough to warrant the expense‡
Whatever be the extent of the airing-ground, and whatever the number of divisions made in it, two erections must at any rate be made in it, in order to extend to these exterior appendages the all-vivifying influence of the commanding principle: 1. A look-out, or exterior inspection-lodge; 2. A line of communication for prisoners as well as inspectors, between this look-out and the building. Let the look-out, then, be considered as occupying the centre of a circle: of this circle, the line of communication forms one radius: from the same centre may be projected, as co-radii, walls in any number corresponding to the number of divisions pitched upon.∥ See Plate III.
In section 16 we left the line of communication at the spot at which, having cleared the building, it cuts across the external annular area. But at this spot it is considerably below the level of the ground in the yards through which it leads. The surface of the ground I suppose exactly on a level with the floor of the lowermost story of cells; which floor is 7:6 above the level of the intermediate area. The floor of the prisoners’ passages, being 10 inches below the level of that area, has 8:4 to rise before it comes to a level with the surface of the ground. That of the inspector’s passage, being five inches above the level of the same area, has consequently but 7:1 to rise before it comes to a level with the ground. But in the straits under the arch we gave the inspector the advantage in point of ground over the prisoners to the amount of 1:3; and for this advantage there is the same occasion in one part of the line of communication as in another. Adding, therefore, this rise to that of 7.1, which the floor of the inspector’s passage has to make in order to reach the level of the ground, we have 8:4, which is the same rise as that given to the prisoners’ passages. In this way the two floors preserve their parallelism during the whole of their course.
The particulars of this course may be thus made out:—
Underneath this flight of steps there is ample room left in the exterior annular area, as well for passing as for conveying goods. Before it has advanced in length to within four feet of the wall bounding the external area, it is more than six feet above the level of that area in that part; and at the surrounding wall, 9 feet.*
Inspector’s Passage between the Prisoners’ Passages.
Lengths—The same as above: the difference, which is only in point of level, being the same throughout, except that, in this passage, the flight of steps gaining the level to which they lead a little earlier than in the prisoners’ passage, the inspector’s bridge† is a few inches longer than that of the prisoners’.
As to the floor of the prisoners’ rising-stairs, iron seems preferable, partly for the reasons which plead in general in favour of that material, partly on account of the small degree of thickness it requires. A wooden floor, or a brick floor supported upon an arch, might reduce the height above the floor of the exterior well to such a degree, as to make it necessary either to sink the floor of the well in that part still more, or to increase the width.‡
From their immersion out of the building, the three passages should be covered through the whole length of their course across the external area: that of the inspector, for the sake of obscurity, as well as for the sake of protection in bad weather: the two prisoners’ passages on each side, partly for the latter reason, but principally to cut off converse with the cells immediately above; for which reason they must also have a back reaching up all the way to the roof, so as to form a complete case.
When the prisoners have got the length of the lanes, or of the yards on each side, that is, at the least, near thirteen feet distance from the building, the interception of converse must, as it safely may, be trusted to the expedients employed for preventing those in the cells from looking out of their windows.
When the prisoners are a few feet advanced beyond the external area, they come to a door, which lets out upon the open ground such of them as belong to the two yards immediately contiguous on each side; since it would be useless to carry them on to the look-out, only to return them from thence into those yards. If there are no more divisions, no more yards, than these two, here the prisoners’ lanes terminate: if there are other yards, the lanes lead on till they terminate in the common central yard encompassing the look-out. The inspector, at any rate, has his door corresponding in situation to those just mentioned.
The central yard is a circular, or rather annular yard, encompassing the look-out: it serves for the discharge of the different classes of persons into their respective yards. That the individuals thus meant to be kept separate, may not have it in their power to straggle into the central yard and there meet, the entrances into their several yards are closed by gates or doors. Lest by a mutual approach towards their respective doors, they should obtain an opportunity of converse, the doors are placed, not in the circumference where the walls terminate, but in a set of short partition-walls joining the respective walls at a little distance from the ends—the intermediate portion answering the purposes of the protracted partitions spoken of in Letter II. in the first rough sketch of the building. A wall carried through the central yard, so as to join the look-out, perfects the separation between the male and female side.*
Near to the lateral doors opening from the covered way on each side, will be the situations for the airing-wheels:† the numbers and exact situations of which will depend on local circumstances, and on the details of the plan of management pursued.
Hereabouts, too, might be the temperate baths, or bathing-basons, in which prisoners might at stated hours be obliged to wash themselves. By means of a slight awning, these baths might easily be concealed from the view of the prisoners in the building, while they were fully exposed to the observation of an inspector (or, according to the sex, an inspectrix) from the look-out.
Made long rather than circular, they would be the better adapted to the purpose of enforcing such a continuance in this state of discipline as should be deemed expedient. The prisoner being required to pass through from one end to the other, the number of traverses would thus afford as exact a measure as could be wished for, of the degree of discipline to which it were proposed to subject him.
Of the construction of the look-out, it seems hardly necessary to attempt a minute description. It should be polygonal, that form being cheaper than the circular. It might be an octagon; or, were the number of the airing-yards definitively fixed, the number of its sides might be the same with that of the yards, the walls of those divisions corresponding to the angles of the building. The fittest form and size for it would vary, according to local circumstances and the plan of management. The precautions relative to the thorough light need not here be so strict as in the prison; the greater distance rendering the figure, when obscured by blinds, more difficulty decernible: and the obscurity would be farther favoured by heightening the elevation. Experiment would easily show what sort and thickness of blind was best adapted to the purpose. If a strict inspection be required, the inspection-lantern already described would furnish a proper model: if a looser were deemed sufficient, a room employed as a work-shop in some sedentary trade, such as that of a tailor or shoemaker, might answer the purpose. In the capacity of apprentices or journeymen, he might have a few of the most orderly and trust-worthy among the prisoners. On working days, according to the plan of management here proposed, he would have nobody to inspect but such of the prisoners as were occupied for the time being in walking in the wheels: at that time he would of course front that way as he sat, and a casual glance stolen now and then from his work would answer every purpose. It is on Sundays, and on Sundays alone, that the prisoners in general would be at certain hours in the yards; and during those periods he might give his whole time and attention to the business of inspection, as it would then be his only occupation.
A male and female inspector might here also be stationed under one roof; whose inspection might, by the means explained in another place, be confined to their respective divisions. This junction and separation would of course be necessary, if a bath for females were placed near the walking-wheel on that side.
As to the degree of spaciousness to be given to the yards: in a general sketch which has no individual object in view, to specify dimensions will be seen to be impossible: principles, with illustrations, are the utmost that can be expected.
The objects to be attended to are, on the one side, room and ventilation; on the other, facility of inspection, and cheapness.
To estimate what may be necessary for room, it would be necessary first to settle the operations that are to be carried on in the yards, and the articles that are to be placed in them. Such are—
1. Airing-wheels: enough for supplying water to the building. See the Section on Airing.
2. Additional number of airing-wheels: in the whole, a wheel (say) to every 18 persons, or a proportionable number of double, treble, or quadruple wheels. I call the wheel a single, double, treble one, &c., with reference to the number of persons that are to be set to walk in it at once.
3. Machines to be kept in motion by such supernumerary airing-wheels.
4. Bathing-basons, one or two, according to the sexes.
5. Open schools, for Sunday’s schooling. See the Section on Schooling.
6. Walking or marching parade for Sunday’s exercise.
As to ventilation, though a distinct object, it is one that will hardly require a distinct provision. A space that affords room enough for the walking-parade can scarcely be deficient in point of airiness.
In ventilation, much depends upon the form of the ground. A declivity is in this point of view preferable by far to a dead flat. Place the building upon a rising ground: the wall, though a high one, may be but little or not at all higher than the surface of the ground is for for some distance round the building. So far as this is the case, so far the walls afford no obstruction at all to the current of air.
But even in a dead flat, there seems little necessity for bestowing any expense, in giving on this score any addition to the quantity of space absolutely necessary for the marching exercise above alluded to. Noxious trades out of the question, the only imaginable sources of contamination to which the air is exposed are putridity and respiration. Against the former, sufficient security may be afforded by the discipline of the prison:—no hogs—no poultry—no dunghill—no open drain—no stagnant water. As to mere respiration, it can scarcely be considered as capable of producing the effect to a degree worth notice, in a place ever so little wider than a water-well, if open to the sky.
As to facility of inspection, it is obvious, that the longer you make your airing-yard, the less distinct the view which the inspector will have of a prisoner at the further end of it. But the consideration of the expense will be sufficient to put a stop to the extension of this space, long enough before it has acquired length sufficient to prejudice the view.
In speaking of the expense, I do not mean that of the ground; for that, everywhere but in a town, will be of little moment: but the expense of the walls. I speak not merely of the surrounding wall; for, whatever be the height of that wall, the separation-walls, if there are any, cannot, as we shall see, have less. For the surrounding wall, according to the common plans at least, no ordinary height will suffice. But, by doubling the height of your wall, you much more than double the expense; since, if you would have it stand, you must give it a proportionable increase of thickness.
The height of the separation-walls, I have said, must not be less than that of the surrounding wall: why? because if the former join on to the latter, they must be of the same height, or whatever height is given to the surrounding wall is so much thrown away. The attempt, if any, will of course be made at that part where the wall is lowest, which will serve as a step to any part which rises above it. Let a wall of twelve feet be joined by another of six feet: what is the obstacle to be surmounted? Not one wall of twelve feet, but two walls of six feet each. In fortification, the strength of the whole is to be computed, not from the strength of the strongest part, but from that of the weakest.
That the separation-walls should join the surrounding wall, is not indeed absolutely necessary; but whether the discontinuance could in any instance be made productive of any saving upon the whole, seems rather questionable. They may indeed be left short of it to a certain distance; the gap being supplied by a ditch, to which the persons meant to be separated on each side, may be prevented from approaching near enough for the purpose of converse, by a palisade, which may be a very slight one, being intended rather to mark transgression than to prevent it. In the day-time, there will be no possibility of approaching the ditch without detection, since it will be full in view: at night, there will be no motive, as there will be no persons on the other side to hold converse with—no prisoners in the yards. The ditch itself need not be continued far on each side of the wall: but the palisade must be continued all along; for if it were to terminate anywhere, it would be useless; and if it were to join the wall anywhere, it would take so much from the height. But the palisade, however slight, would cost something: and, what is more material, the space between that and the wall would be so much sacrificed; and the greater the space, the more extensive, and consequently more expensive, must be the wall. If, therefore, the surrounding wall should not rise much above the height, which for the purpose of preventing converse it would be necessary to give to the separation-walls, reducing the height of the latter by the help of the above expedient would not be worth the while.
But although no saving should be to be made in the height of the separation-walls, this is not the case with regard to such part of the general surrounding wall as is not accessible to the prisoners. What part that may be, will be immediately conceived by turning to the draught—See Plate III. In a line with the projecting front, continue the wall of the building on each side till it meets the two lateral of the four surrounding walls. To this wall, and to every wall that is behind it, must be given the same extra height, whatever that be. But to whatever walling there is before it, no greater height need be given, than if there were no such thing as a prison in the case.
Thus much, supposing the necessity of high walls and multiplied divisions. But if my ideas be just, both these articles of expense may be saved: the former, by the mechanical regularity of the airing discipline—See the Section on Airing:—the other, by the mode of guarding—See the next Section.*
The less the space is between the look-out and that one of the four surrounding walls that runs at right angles to the direction of the covered way, the nearer the two radii drawn towards the ends of such a wall will of course approach to parallelism. Direct them so as to terminate, not in the opposite wall, but in the two lateral walls that join it at right angles, and you have a long space, which, without departing from the inspection principle, might, if the employment presented any adequate advantage, be converted into a rope-yard.
Why introduce here the mention of rope-making? Is it that I myself have any predilection for that business? By no means: but others, it seems, have. My first care is on every occasion to point out that course which to me appears the best: my next is to make the best of whatever may chance to be preferred by those whose province it is to choose. To a gentleman to whose information and advice upon this occasion particular attention appears to have been paid by a committee of the House of Commons,† to this gentleman it occurred that rope-making was of all trades one of the best adapted to the economy of a penitentiary-house. Of the many advantageous properties he attributes to it, a considerable number may, for aught I know, belong to it without dispute. But in one instance, at least, his zeal has got the better of his recollection. In rope-making, “no implement employed that can contribute to escapes!”—To a seaman, a rope is itself a staircase. Will any charitable hand take charge of it on the other side of the wall? over goes the rope one instant—the next, over goes the sailor.‡ And can no other hand support itself by a rope? Was La Tude a seaman? Will the walls of a penitentiary-house be like the walls of the bastile? A vigorous arm will supply the place of practice. I speak but what I have seen.
Rope-making is, perhaps, of all trades known, that which takes up the greatest space. Elsewhere it requires no walls: but here it must not only have walls, but those, too, of an extra height and thickness.
With all this, should any rope-making legislator, or any legislator’s rope-making friend, make a point of it, in a Panopticon penitentiary-house, I would even admit a ropery. But in what character? as one of the most—no, but as one of the least promising of all trades. I would admit it—not certainly in the view of favouring, but rather of trying the strength and temper, and displaying the excellence of my instrument. I would take my razor and hack stones with it—not as thinking stone-cutting the fittest employment for razors in general, but in the way of bravado, to shew that my razor can perform what in ancient lore stands recorded as a miracle for razors. I would provide part of my prisoners with this gentleman’s ropes; I would arm another part with another gentleman’s sledge-hammers; a third part with another gentleman’s cast-iron; a fourth with a fourth gentleman’s saws, taking my chance for my felons serving their keepers as the children of Israel served the Ammonites.—For what? for security’s sake? No: but just as I would set up a sword-cutlery, or a gun-manufactory with a powder-mill attached to it, if any gentleman would show me such a measure of extra profit attached to those trades, as should more than compensate the extra risk and the extra expense of guarding and insurance.
Protesting, therefore, against this of rope-making, as one of the least eligible of trades for any other prison, I would not, by any peremptory resolution, exclude even this from a Panopticon penitentiary-house. Let Euristheus speak the word, and I will turn in serpents to my infant in its very cradle.—Why? Is it that serpents are the best nurses? No: but because my infant is an Hercules.
Recapitulation of the Horizontal Lengths of the several component parts of the Line of Communication between the lowermost Inspection-gallery within the building and the Look-out in the yards.
The Figure annexed represents an Airing or Marching Parade. It serves to show how a given number of men may be aired by walking, in the least possible space, without infringement on the Plan of Separation.
Each cell is supposed to occupy a distinct line: the numbers in a line being 1, 2, 3, or 4.
The number annexed to each line shows the station occupied by each cell when the figure is completed.
The lines might be marked out by double rows of clinkers; the track of each man by a single row; and the walks, if necessary, by stakes and ropes.
At every turning, the outermost man at one or other side turns a quarter-round, as in the military exercise, while his comrades on the same line, by a short run, gain the new line. Thus the exercise of running is combined with that of walking.
The number annexed to each line shows the station occupied by the inhabitants of each cell when the figure is completed.
This plan being designed merely for illustration, it was not thought worth while to bestow the pains that would have been necessary to give it a thorough discussion, and clear it altogether from the imperfections that may be observed in it. From this example, it will be easy to accommodate the line of march to the form of the ground; giving it the radical figure, and making the entrance from the central yard. The walks would in that case diverge from one another in pairs at the farthest extremity, like fingers on a hand. But the greater the divergence, the more space will, it is evident, be consumed in waste.
The wheels, which on six days serve for gain as well as air and exercise—would there be any objection to their serving on the seventh for air and exercise without gain? If not, then even the walking-parade, with the expense of the walls with which it must be surrounded, might be struck out as superfluous.
The question would be particularly material in a town, where not only the expense of the walling might be grudged, but the ground itself might be unobtainable.
In such a situation, if the wheel-exercise were thought improper for Sundays, even the roof of the building, might, if made flat on purpose, be made to answer the purpose of a marching parade; only in this case the space not being sufficient to air the whole number of prisoners at once, without breaking in upon the plan of separation, the half only, or the third part, can partake of the exercise at a time.
The same situation might, with like management, be made to serve likewise for the schools, proposed to be held, whenever weather will permit, in the open air on Sundays. See the Section on Schooling.
[† ]See the Sections on Employment, Airing, and Schooling.
[‡ ]The numerous yards in Plate III. are given only by way of illustration, and to show upon what principles the topographical division, were it to be judged necessary, might be formed to most advantage.
[∥ ]In the magazine of expedients, the most simple is seldom that which first presents itself to our search. In the first hasty design, as sketched out in the Letters, it was by a surrounding gallery that the influence of the inspection principle was to have been extended to uncovered areas; and this gallery was to have been attached to the surrounding wall. The advantages of centrality were thus thrown away without necessity, and without any advantage in return. In point of expense, the disadvantage might be more, and could not be less, than in the proportion of a circumference to a semi-diameter—about six to one: and the galleries would have diminished in effect, to the amount of their height, the height of the wall to which they were attached.
[* ]This comes from the pavement of the exterior area being sunk in that part 1:6 below the level of the internal.
[† ]To distinguish it from that within the building, I call this the inspector’s outer bridge.
[‡ ]The roof of the line of communication, as it emerges from the building, affords a landing place to the windows of the cells immediately above, by which the prisoners, could they get out of the windows, might at night time find their way into the yards, and be so far on their way to an escape. To obviate this danger, it is evident that the gratings to those windows ought to be constructed with a degree of caution which would not be equally necessary in any other part of the circuit.
[* ]N.B. This protracted separation wall is not represented in the draught.
[† ]See the Section on Airing.
[* ]It may be thought that the walls here spoken of as not requiring any extra height, might be omitted altogether. But besides that they will be convenient for the inclosing of offices and officers’ gardens, they are essential to the plan of guarding. For on considering the centinel’s paths, it will be easily seen that it is necessary they should be regular, and that one of them should pass by the approach. Add to this, that the contrivance of the approach supposes a wall all round, to serve as a barrier against a hostile mob.
[† ]See Report of the Felon Committee, printed in 1779.
[‡ ]Even without an associate, a rope, by the help of a brickbat fastened to the end of it, will, I have been assured, carry a man over a wall.