However, there is in transportation, as in the death penalty, an unquestionable element of reason. For when it is perpetual, with very faint chances of return, it is the best mode of ridding society of its most injurious factors, without our being compelled to keep them in those compulsory human hives which are known as cellular prisons.
But again, there is the question of simple transportation, first put into practice by England, which consists of planting convicts on an island or desert continent, with the opportunity of living by labour, or else of letting them loose in a savage country, where the convicts, who in civilised countries are themselves half savage, would represent a partial civilisation, and, from being highwaymen and murderers, might become military leaders in countries where, at any rate, the revival of their criminal tendencies would meet with an immediate and energetic resistance, in place of the slow machinery of our criminal trials.
For Italy, however, the question presents itself in a special form; for there a sort of internal deportation, in the lands which are not tilled on account of the malaria, would be far more serviceable. If the dispersion of this malaria demands a human hecatomb, it would evidently be better to sacrifice criminals than honest husbandmen. Transportation across the sea was very difficult for Italy a few years ago, especially in view of the lack of colonies; for then there was always the obstacle of which Franklin spoke in reference to transported English convicts, in his well-known retort: ``What would you say if we were to transport our rattlesnakes to England?'' But since Italy has had her colony of Erythrea the idea of transportation has been taken up again. In May, 1890, I brought forward a resolution in Parliament in favour of an experimental penal colony in our African dependencies. The proposal found many supporters, in spite of the opposition of the keeper of the seals, who forgot that he had written in his report on the draft penal code that prisoners might also be detained in the colonies. Soon afterwards the proposal was renewed by Deputy De Zerbi, and accepted by M. Beltrani Scalia, director-general of prisons.
In a similar manner M. Prins declares himself in favour of transportation for Belgium, since the constitution of the Congo State.
But it is my matured opinion that transportation ought not to be an end in itself. The penal colony for adults ought to be a pioneer of the free agricultural colony. The problem of a penal colony in our African possessions cannot, therefore, be solved in advance of two other questions.
Before all, we must see whether these possessions offer suitable districts for agricultural colonisation. And secondly, we must consider whether convicts would not cost less to transport into districts nearer home which need to be cleared, a plan which would also prevent their going over to the enemy, becoming leaders or guides of the barbarous tribes which are at war with us.
In any case, whether we decide on transportation to the interior or beyond the seas, for born and habitual criminals, there is still the question as to the form of seclusion.
In this connection the idea has been suggested of ``establishments for incorrigibles,'' or hardened criminals, wherein should be confined for life, or (the same thing in this case) for an indefinite period, born criminals who have committed serious crimes, habitual criminals, and confirmed recidivists.