Facts on a Thread of Fiction: In Prison and Out, by Hesba Stretton.


Mrs. Fell, a poor, but moral, woman lived with her two children, David (14) and Bess (13). David went begging for money to buy basic necessities and was arrested. He went to jail for three months and was labeled a jail-bird. He was led into the self-image of being a prisoner from society's treatment and subsequently went deeper into crime. This story illustrates the need of reform of the criminal justice system of nineteenth century England. Hesba Stretton seemed to contrast the necessity of begging for food with unfair criminal penalties, and how sending children to jail might hinder their whole life.-Curiosmith (2010)

Postscript from In "Prison and Out":

I earnestly entreat those readers who wish to know for themselves the facts upon which the forgoing story is founded, to read as diligently as they will find that I have done a book entitled, "The Gaol Cradle: Who Rocks It?" It is neither a bulky book nor a costly one. The gist of it may be gathered in two or three hours' reading; though it may well be pondered over, and if pondered over will haunt an trouble the reader's mind. It contains not only the problem of juvenile crime, but I believe in it may be found the solution of that problem.

No gaol for children. At least one country has come to this decision. In Germany no child under twelve years of age can suffer a penal sentence. Between twelve and eighteen years of age, youthful criminals are free to declare whether, while committing the offence, they were fully aware of their culpability against the laws of their country. In every case any term of imprisonment above one month is carried out, not in a gaol, but in an institution specially set apart, and adopted for young offenders. These institutions serve not only for the purpose of punishment, but also provide the education of the wards; the neglect of education being recognized as one of the chief sources of crime. "The Gaol Cradle: Who Rocks It?" You and I.
Further reading:
The Gaol Cradle: Who Rocks It? by Benjamin Waugh.