Ticket-of-leave - Encyclopedia

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TICKET-OF-LEAVE, a term first invented for the "emancipists" in the days of Australian transportation (see Deporta Tion); in the English penal system, a document or "pass" handed to a convict who has completed the second stage of his sentence and is about to enter the third and last, that of conditional liberation or semi-freedom, in which he goes at large to earn his own livelihood as a more or less independent member of the community. The "ticket" or "licence" is the outward sign of "remission" gained by industry and blameless conduct in prison (see Prison), and it may be forfeited for disobedience or neglect of certain conditions endorsed upon the licence. Convicts are by law required to report themselves at an appointed place within forty-eight hours after liberation and again every succeeding month at the police station nearest to their place of abode, between the hours of nine in the morning and nine in the evening. They must get their living by honest means and regular employment, and must reside - that is to say, sleep - at the address notified by them to the police in order that they may be found at once if required for any legal and justifiable purpose. If they ' See Warton's note in the Bathos (ed. Pope and Elwin, x. 388) where he quotes from Tickell's version and from Addison and says the same author.

change their address or withdraw from any known police district, they must give notice of their removal at the police station at which they have been reporting, stating the place to which they are going, and, as far as practicable, their address there, and also at the nearest police station within forty-eight hours of arriving in any other police district in any part of the United Kingdom. They must produce their licences whenever they are called upon to do so by a police officer.

This treatment of offenders who have already expiated their crimes has been deemed to bear heavily on any who are anxious to turn over a new leaf. To be ever subject to the watchfulness of the police must often increase the licence-holder's difficulty of leading an honest life. The struggle is known to be often severe; employers of labour are not too ready to accept the services of "gaol birds," and free workmen often resent the admission of an old convict amongst their number. Private charity has come forward to diminish or remove this hardship, and many societies have been called into existence for the purpose of assisting discharged prisoners. They are to be found in most of the principal cities of the United Kingdom. London alone has those of the Church Army, the St Giles's Christian Mission, the Salvation Army, the Catholic Aid Society and the Royal Society for the Assistance of Discharged Prisoners, which was founded in 1856 and has done a vast and meritorious work. It labours chiefly in the metropolis; it is supported by private subscriptions, but it has control also over the gratuities of the licencees who accept its aid. The prisoners on release are first examined at the society's office as to their prospects and wishes; they are given some pocket-money out of their own gratuities; and their "liberty clothing," a present from the prison, is changed for more suitable clothes. They are then placed in respectable lodging-houses until employment is obtained for them, after which the society undertakes the reporting to the police and by its own agents exercises a watch over its proteges. There are upwards of sixty-five societies, all certified by the secretary of state, of which the number is increasing; every year the subscriptions increase, more money is expended, more cases are aided and more ex-convicts are rehabilitated. Unfortunately a large number of those who solicit help belong to the class of "lazy loafers who like neither work nor honesty," and who, when the first is found, will not adhere to the latter. Most of the societies employ agents who act as intermediaries between employers and ex-convicts and fill a place analogous to that of the "probation officers" in parts of the United States (see Probation); but the probation officer generally interposes at an earlier stage and shields the first offender from the consequences of his act, by sparing him a visit to the gaol. In a speech on Prison Reform in the English House of Commons on the 10th of July 1910, the home secretary outlined a proposed scheme for abolishing ticket-of-leave altogether, and entrusting the after-supervision of released prisoners to a central agency of semi-official character.

Aid to discharged prisoners has been largely undertaken in European countries, where it is known under the name of patronage. Local societies exist in most of the capitals and chief cities, and efforts are made to rescue neglected or criminal children and find work for adults on leaving gaol. This assistance has been called by its keenest supporters the best prophylactic for crime. Conditional liberation is in force in most of the Northern states of America, and prisoners are constantly released on "parole" when they have satisfied the parole board (of prison officials) that they will not abuse their liberty; a watch is kept over all thus released, who are expected to make a monthly report of their conduct and actual position at the time of reporting. If any one relapses he is liable to recommittal. See Three Reports of Commons' Committee on the Operation of the Act substituting other Punishment in lieu of Transportation (1856); F. H. Wines, Punishment and Reformation (1895). (A. G.).

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