chapter  6
18 Pages

Border Crossings: Care and the ‘Criminal Child’ in Nineteenth Century European Penal Congresses

ByChris Leonards

In the late spring of 1848 Willem Hendrik Suringar, chair of the Dutch Society for the Moral Improvement of Prisoners (Nederlands Genootschap tot Zedelijke Verbetering der Gevangen, referred to here as the Dutch Prison Society), was very concerned about the social and political upheavals occurring across several European cities and the part that criminals in particular might be playing in this. He feared that in Amsterdam, ‘released prisoners could play a pernicious role and could threaten and endanger the tranquillity, possessions, health, - yes, the very lives of many in municipality or town’. In France, where released prisoners allegedly numbered between 30 and 40 thousand, he thought it likely that large numbers of them had been involved in the Paris uprisings where, ‘assisted by wives, concubines and children, [they had] formed a strong army that, having nothing to lose, had no thought of respect or fear whatsoever’.1