Roumania Past and Present eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 387 pages of information about Roumania Past and Present.
classes of prisoners seemed to associate without restraint, and although perfect order prevailed, this freedom of association and conversation must be, and indeed is, most inexpedient and injurious.  Young men new to crime herd together with hardened criminals, and we were told by a Juge d’Instruction, to whom we subsequently spoke on the matter, that the free intercourse is greatly provocative of crime.  ‘Young fellows,’ he said, ’who, when they are first arraigned, are disposed to admit their guilt and repent, come before us, after a temporary adjournment of their cases, with quite another story, evidently prompted by some hardened criminal whom they have met in the intermediate prison.’

Every class was represented there, from the comparatively well-dressed swindler and forger to the peasant and half-naked gipsy.  The prisoners appear to be leniently treated, and those who are unconvicted are permitted to purchase such food as they please.  The cells and dormitories are not very clean, but they are comfortable compared with those in another prison, to be referred to presently; the ventilation within doors is good, and the open court has all the advantages of a healthy convalescent institution.  The food appeared very good; certainly the soup was so, and altogether there could be no complaint on the score of harsh treatment, although some men were, on sufficient grounds, placed in solitary confinement.  The chief defects are free intercourse amongst the prisoners, want of cleanliness, the absence of educational means, and only partial employment of the prisoners, some of whom are engaged in the book manufactory, whilst the greater proportion lounge about in idleness.  Our guide, the Chief Inspector, expressed great anxiety for an improved system, and pleaded, as usual, the want of necessary funds.  Although there appeared to be an amount of liberty inconsistent, as it seemed to us, with prison discipline, all attempts at mutiny would be easily suppressed if they should arise; for there are always about ninety soldiers in the barracks, attached to the prison, and the prisoners are well aware that insubordination would be immediately quelled and punished.  But we have said enough of this rough and ready mode of dealing with the lighter forms of crime, and must now ask our readers to accompany us on a somewhat unpleasant though interesting excursion to one of the establishments where the worst class of convicts expiate their offences against society—­a penal salt mine.


There are five salt mines in Roumania,[73] two of which are worked by convicts, and the one we propose to visit is that of Doftana, generally known as the Telega mine, which is situated at a short distance from Campina, a station on the railway line, about halfway between Ploiesti and Sinaia.  Before descending into the mine, however, a few particulars concerning the treatment of the prisoners maybe of interest. 

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Roumania Past and Present from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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