Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Churchill Series – May 22, 2007

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

In 1910 Churchill, then age thirty-six, was Home Secretary, in which office he oversaw Britain’s police and prison functions. He wrote at the time:

The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of the civilization of any country.

A calm and dispassionate recognition of the rights of the accused against the State, and even of convicted criminals against the State, a constant heart-searching by all charged with the duty of punishment, a desire and eagerness to rehabilitate in the world of industry all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment, tireless efforts towards the discovery of curative and regenerative processes, and an unfaltering faith that there is a treasure, if you can only find it, in the heart of every man – these are the symbols which in the treatment of crime and criminals mark and measure the stored-up strength of a nation, and are the sign and proof of the living virtue of it.
Martin Gilbert, In Search of Churchill: A Historian’s Journey. (John Wiley & Sons) (pg.269)