The Terrace Gaol, Woolcombe Street, Wellington, occupies one of the pleasantest situations in the City, and it is so well provided with trees and ornamental grounds that it is a long way from being the eyesore that Mount Cook Gaol seems destined ever to be. The area enclosed is about twelve acres. The cells are each provided with a hammock, blankets, and pillow, a dish, a pannikin, a tin knife, and a wooden spoon. A bible and hymn book are also provided for each cell. There is a library stocked with books of only the best writers, to which the prisoners have access; and those who are unable to read and write have every opportunity afforded them of learning. Many of the prisoners improve their education considerably during their incarceration. Cleanliness is, of course, insisted on, sufficient baths being provided to admit of the prisoners having a bath every week, hot water being supplied only on medical grounds. The prisoners rise at 5.30 all the year round, and are locked up for the night at 6.30 in winter and 7.30 during the summer months. They have three meals a day, the midday meal consisting of soup, meat, and potatoes. Mutton and beef are served boiled on alternate days. The special class good-conduct men are allowed baked meat; and all are served with a mug of tea without milk. All meals are served in the cells. This is an alteration made by Mr. Garvey, with the consent of Colonel Hume, as the effect upon the less hardened criminals of mixing with the others in a common dining-room was found to be very baneful. A great improvement is noticeable as the result of this change. Very great efforts are made to insure that the prison shall be a reformatory institution, and not a “training-school for criminals,” and to keep the prisoners as much apart as possible is a necessary step to all measures of reform. The gaol hospital is often without a patient, though the doctor calls twice a week, and immediately attends to a summons when required. When the hospital is empty it is used as a dormitory for some twenty-eight of the older men who need more careful treatment. In very cold weather a little fire is provided for them. This indulgence is greatly appreciated, and does much to foster the “good conduct” which is practically the price of admission to the comforts. On entering the gaol, a prisoner is weighed and his height measured, and these particulars are duly recorded, with a description of complexion including the exact colour of his eyes and hair, and a minute account of the marks on his body. He is then thoroughly bathed, though sometimes it is necessary that he be bathed first for these particulars to be accurately taken, the colour of the eyes being the only point absolutely unaffected by a thorough cleansing of the person. All the clothes and legitimate effects belonging to a prisoner are cleansed and carefully kept, to be given him on his discharge; but should his own clothes be insufficient, he is provided with a decent suit of no recognisable description, good strong boots, socks, and underclothing,
The Terrace Gaol.
and a small amount of money. Formerly expirees were all discharged in suits of the same material, but this change is one of a number of prison regulations innovated during the last few years. All the clothing and boots for the prisoners are made at the gaol, as part of the prison labour; and furniture, tinware, mats, etc., are provided in that way. The tinware for all the gaols in the Colony is turned out at the Wellington Gaol. Bricks are made in large numbers at the Mount Cook Gaol, and are of such good quality that contractors are only too eager to get them, and will readily pay five shillings per thousand more for them than for the bricks by ordinary makers. Brickmaking is the principal work done at Mount Cook, whither the prisoners from the Terrace Gaol are marched, before seven o'clock in the morning. The average number of prisoners in the Terrace Gaol for 1895 was 140. During that year 667 were admitted and 650 discharged. About twenty per cent, are females, but the efforts of the Salvation Army and other religious bodies are tending to reduce the percentage of female criminals. During 1895 only twenty-nine prisoners were punished. The daily sick average was £52. On admission four were under fifteen, and thirty-three over sixty years old. Flogging has almost ceased, and cannot now, as formerly, be administered on the authority of two visiting justices. The sentence of the judge of the Supreme Court, delivered at the time of trial, is the only authority for flogging. Capital punishment, as everyone knows, has not yet been abolished; but the little plot in front of the gaol contains but seven mounds, of which all are neatly preserved and labelled with the initials only of those whose remains lie beneath. A gallows is kept at this gaol for the use of the Colony, and is erected here or shipped away as the locality of the case may require. Throughout the Gaol there is abundant evidence of perfect order and cleanliness, the only alteration which the most fastidious in this respect could suggest being a daily instead of a weekly bath. That one bath a week is sufficient for fair bodily cleanliness is very probable; but it is more than likely that a bath every day would have a salutary effect, mentally and morally, which it were folly to despise. This, however, is a matter of prison regulation, and in no way affects the reputation of any particular gaol. In the opinion of the compilers of the Cyclopedia
the Wellington Gaol is an exemplary institution and one conducted on lines well abreast of prison reform, as represented in New Zealand by the Legislation and public opinion of to-day.