New Brunswick. Commission on the Gaol System of New Brunswick.

Abstract: Commission on the Gaol System of New Brunswick, 1948

In 1948, J. Bacon Dickson was charged with making an examination of New Brunswick's gaol system. Unlike the majority of the early commissions of enquiry, he reported that he had travelled extensively throughout other parts of the country as well as holding public hearings in Fredericton, Moncton, Bathurst, and Saint John.

Dickson's final report consisted of two parts: first was a historico-philosophical examination of questions regarding incarceration. The report devoted significant space to questions of crime prevention, vindictive justice, and recidivism. As well, there were numerous allusions to and direct quotations taken from the Archambault Commission, a Federal Royal Commission which examined the Canadian penitentiary system in 1938.

The second part of the report specifically examined the state of New Brunswick's gaol system. The theme that emerged most clearly in this section was that of consolidation and systematization. Dickson noted time and again that there were no provincially generated guiding principles on which county gaolers could rely. The system was idiosyncratic: in some regions of the province the local Sheriff was in charge of the county gaol, in others the gaoler was hired separately. In some areas the food for prisoners was purchased and prepared by the county, in others those interned had to largely rely on friends and family for sustenance. In some counties prisoners were put to work, in others they were left idle.

Bacon made four recommendations in his report. First, he recommended that the province construct a penal system which would incorporate rehabilitation and reformation as well as punitive measures. Second, he proposed that a system be developed under direction of the Department of the Attorney General. The third recommendation was that there be a prison farm established in the central part of the province. Finally, Bacon recommended that county gaols should be abolished and replaced by a provincially run system.


J.Bacon Dickson

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Enabling LegislationpdfFull-textincluded with Main Report

Bibliographic Information

View the file's header (TEI format) which contains bibliographic information about the print and electronic versions of the report of this Commission.