1774: 14 George 3 c. 59: Health of Prisoners Act.

1774: 14 George 3 c. 59: An Act for preserving the Health of Prisoners in Gaol, and preventing the Gaol Distemper.

[Preamble.]

WHEREAS the malignant Fever, that is commonly called The Gaol Distemper, is found to be owing to a want of Cleanliness and fresh Air in the several Gaols in England and Wales, and the fatal Consequences of that Disorder, of which there has been, of late, too much Experience, might be prevented, if Justices of the Peace were duly authorised to provide such Accommodations in Gaols as may be necessary to answer this salutary Purpose: May it therefore please Your Majesty that it may be enacted; and be it enacted by the King’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the Authority of the same,

[Powers of the Justices at their Quarter Sessions,]

That the several Justices of the Peace, in that Part of Great Britain called England and Wales, within their several Jurisdictions, in their Quarter Sessions assembled, are hereby authorised and required to order the Walls and Cielings of the several Cells and Wards, both of the Debtors and the Felons, and also of any other Rooms used by the Prisoners in their respective Gaols and Prisons, where Felons are usually confined, to be scraped and white-washed. once in the Year at least; to be regularly washed and kept clean, and constantly supplied with fresh Air, by Means of Hand Ventilators, or otherwise; to order two Rooms in each Gaol or Prison, one for the Men, and the other for the Women, to be set apart for the Sick Prisoners, directing them to be removed into such Rooms as soon as they shall be seized with any Disorder, and kept separate from those who shall be in Health; to order a Warm and Cold Bath, or commodious Bathing Tubs, to be provided in each Gaol or Prison, and to direct the Prisoners to be washed in such Warm or Cold Baths or Bathing Tubs, according to the Condition in which they shall be at the Time, before they are suffered to go out of such Gaols or Prisons upon any Occasion whatever; to order this Act to be painted in large and legible Characters upon a Board, and hung Uu in some conspicuous Part of each of the said Gaols and Prisons; and to appoint an experienced Surgeon or Apothecary, at a stated Salary, to attend each Gaol or Prison respectively, who shall, and he is hereby directed to report to the said Justices by whom he is appointed, at each Quarter Sessions, a State of the Health of the Prisoners under his Care or Superintendence.

[They are to make Orders as they shall think fit.]

II. And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That the said Justices of the Peace, in their said Quarter Sessions assembled, are hereby authorised to direct the several Courts of Justice within their respective Jurisdictions to be properly ventilated; to order Cloaths to be provided for the Prisoners when they see Occasion; to prevent the Prisoners from being kept under Ground, whenever they can do it conveniently; and to make such other Orders, from Time to Time, for restoring or preserving the Health of Prisoners, as they shall think necessary.

[Expences how to be defrayed.]

III. And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That the Expences attending the Execution of the Orders of the said Justices, made in pursuance of this Act, so far as the same shall respect County Gaols and Prisons, and Courts of Justice belonging to Counties, shall be borne and defrayed, at all Times, out of the respective County Rates; and so far as the same shall respect the Gaols and Prisons, and Courts of Justice, of particular Cities, Towns Corporate, Cinque Ports, Liberties, Franchises, or Places, that do not contribute to the Rates of the Counties in which they are respectively situated, such Expences shall be defrayed out of the Publick Stock or Rates of such Cities, Towns Corporate, Cinque Ports, Liberties, Franchises, or Places, having such exclusive Jurisdictions, to which such Gaols, or Prisons or Courts of Justice, shall respectively belong:

[Gaolers disobeying Orders to be proceeded against in a summary way.]

And if any Gaoler or Keeper of any Prison shall, at any Time, neglect or disobey the Orders of such Justices made in pursuance of this Act, he may be proceeded against in a summary Way, by Complaint made to the Judges of Assize, or to the Justices, in their Quarter Sessions; and if he be found guilty of such Neglect or Disobedience, he shall pay such Fine as the Judges of Assize, or Justices, shall impose, and shall be committed in case of Non-payment.

Source: Ruffhead, Statutes at Large, volume 12.