Victorian London - Prisons - breaking windows to get into prison


Sir, - Instances are now becoming more frequent of paupers preferring a prison to a workhouse, and resorting to the method of window breaking, as described in your police report of yesterday. Now, the law in its present state is merely an incentive to a repetition of the act; and, therefore, as it affords me no redress, I intend to take it into my own hands. I employ two porters on my premises, and have provided them with stout cudgels. If any pauper should deliberately break a large square of glass they will rush out, and thrash them most unmercifully. Where is the advantage in giving them into custody? By that means you confer a favour on the offender; and the very hour he is at liberty he will return and continue to repeat the offence until again incarcerated. It is no argument to tell us to use less expensive glass, as the pauper would soon find other means of accomplishing his object. What is required is this - and I ask the assistance of your all powerful pen in its favour - that a law should be passed condemning the perpetrator to a sound whipping and immediate discharge.
    I am, Sir, your obedient servant, A CITY TRADESMAN.

letter in The Times, January 5, 1850