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ing suggestion that everything would be much simpler if
the client were allowed to choose his own category. Finally,
Harry Levine, of the Emergency Relief Bureau, speaking
from the "trade union point of view," called attention to
opportunism, compromise and lack of any sense of social
responsibility in the category system.

From the composite of discussions certain basic pros and
cons, bearing upon today's problem, materialized. They all


centered around the present urgency of choice between
category and generalized relief, as states and cities are meet-
ing the necessity of caring for their own "residual relief
loads," beyond the limits of social security services and
WPA employment. New York, like many other cities, is
in process of effecting an administrative merger of its one-
time emergency relief, social security services and long estab-
lished department of welfare. Local public assistance, in
such cases, faces the proposition, long discredited in arith-
metic books, of "adding a dog, a cat and an apple" to pro-
duce one system which makes long range sense.

AAj the weight of opportunism favors the category over
the general comprehensive relief plan. The potency of
federal money for supplementation, in the social security
services, argues for similar categories in local relief. His-
tory seems to support the general opinion among category
"fans" that legislatures "can't add"; that they will appro-
priate money more readily for special groups than for gen-
eral relief and that lump sum appropriation bills look more
ominous than the same amounts broken down into special
allocations. First steps up from the old almshouse and low
standard poor relief came with the beginning of classifi-
cation which, Mr. Lurie pointed out, was the differenti-
ation between the "worthy" and "unworthy poor." Special
groups gradually were taken out of the "poorhouse" as
progress came to poor relief. It follows, argue those who
see the category as a facile and workable device for raising
relief standards, that categories will develop eventually to
care for what is now the "residual load." Categories arise
with the need for them, they hold, citing unemployment
relief as a case in point. Partly because the stigma tends
to be less in category relief and no less because category
relief traditionally is in cash, the clients themselves seem to
prefer being comfortably categoried.

What assurance is there, ran the argument, that, if we
drop these categories we will not lose such standards as
they have propped up, and perhaps find ourselves back in
old type poor relief? How do we know that a new plan of
general relief will be adequate or will comprehend all
groups, any more than do categories? The only legal basis
for adequacy of relief in New York State is a phrase in the
law specifying that it be "adequate insofar as public funds
are available." In practice, one forum speaker reminded,
general relief too often has been administered with a wary
eye on aldermanic investigations and credit associations.
"Let's not hazard the gains and the structure we have." A
further compromise suggested to draw the sting of the cate-
gory is the use of a central local unit of administration
where clients, in their categories, all are handled by a sin-
gle staff.

But the long-lookers view and point with alarm to dan-
gers which they believe to be inherent in category relief.
In her vigorous attack on the "compartmentalization of
human beings," Miss Colcord contended first that category
relief is undemocratic; that it creates classes of greater and
less eligibility.

Directing attention to notable examples throughout the
country, she with other opponents of the category showed
it as an invitation to political manipulation by strong
groups such as veterans and the aged. Coupled with this
is the illogic of arbitrarily setting eligibility requirements
according to more or less fortuitous disabilities, often with-
out real social significance, instead of on the basis of need
as related to resources. Such determination of who shall

receive help and how much, without relation to need, is
wasteful of funds.

Waste of time and services was charged up as a major
debit to the account of category relief. So much time must
be spent in establishing formal data such as settlement,
citizenship, date of birth and so on, that workers with per-
ennially overpowering case loads cannot give enough atten-
tion to the individual client. This point met with enthusi-
astic affirmation from the forum audience of social workers.

The effect upon workers' skills and job alignment, of a
shiftover from category relief to a general case load, or
vice versa, was raised. Must workers learn the skills needed
in all types of relief work? If so, when and how would
they be learned? To what extent are those skills essentially
transferable, to what extent differentiated? It was Miss
Hamilton's contention that they are nearly impossible to
identify and that they cut across categories as well as de-
velop within them, that the essential special skills may well
be used for selected case loads within an administrative unit
or within a category.

Attacking on the administrative side, Miss Colcord
found category relief cumbersome. Putting funds and peo-
ple into compartments is difficult and inevitably results in
inequalities of money and available services within the same
area. Furthermore this method makes auditing difficult. In
order effectively to supervise social eligibility, auditors must
have trained social work judgment.

From different angles the charge of social injustice was
levelled at category relief by Miss Colcord and Mr. Le-
vine. To Mr. Levine's assertion that it is opposed to the
basic principle of social responsibility, Miss Colcord added
the practical comment that it affords no comparable secu-
rity for those who automatically are excluded from its
various pigeonholes. In the rush of states to match federal
social security funds, she said, little or nothing for general
relief remains in many state treasuries.

A FEW points of agreement sifted out of the discussion.
Viewed from all angles, the central unit for local
administration, whether by categories or through general-
ized relief, was looked on with favor though it was que-
ried whether a completely unified local administration
could still be called category relief. It was agreed that
there is far too much present concern with eligibility re-
quirements having no real social significance, and, with
unanimity, that administrative procedures must be simpli-
fied. Finally, in whatever direction or by whatever method
it is effected, change must be gradual, both in the learning
of new skills by workers and in administrative procedures.
Called on to outline a nation-wide non-categorical pro-
gram of public assistance Miss Colcord's reply was, in
substance :

A federal Department of Social Welfare dealing with state
departments of public welfare on all relief fronts.

Federal funds for grants-in-aid to states on an equaliza-
tion basis for all forms of relief and for administration.

A federal Department of Public Works entirely divorced
from administration of relief.

Eligibility for employment on public works not based on
establishment of need. Wages to be full time at going wage

Work relief programs of state and local relief agencies,
either to pay no wages (therapeutic, vocational training, self-
help cooperatives) or if wages are paid, to adjust earnings on
the basis of budgetary deficiency.

A special plan for relief to non-residents, so that (a) rights


of individuals to move freely from state to state will not be
interfered with (b) substantially the same relief standards
for non-residents will prevail throughout the country (c) ex-
penditure from local funds for non-residents will either be
cancelled out through a centralized clearing house system,
with inequalities reimbursed from federal grants, or the
whole expense of relief to non-residents be transferred to
federal funds through 100 percent reimbursement.

Administration of all forms of relief to be local, with state

State grants to localities to be on an equalization basis.

Local departments of public welfare to be free to set up on
a generalized basis or to departmentalize if they see fit.

AH assistance to be granted on a budgetary deficiency basis,
with the family as the unit. Considerations of residence and
citizenship, should no longer have bearing on eligibility. Con-
siderations of race, family composition, age, physical condition,
occupation and employment, while entering into determina-
tion of the amount of relief given, should have no bearing on

A Parole Officer's Day

Senior Parole Agent, District No. 6, Pennsylvania Department of Justice

THE bell shrilled. In the dim dawn, only half awake,
I reached for the telephone. If one is a senior parole
agent, with almost seven thousand square miles of
territory to cover, the telephone is close to the bed.

Answering my sleepy "hullo" an excited voice asked,
11 I get married today ?" It was a proper question for a
paroled man to ask, for a rule, strictly enforced, is that no
parolee may marry without permission from his supervisor
and a health certificate from both parties to the marriage.
But surely, I told him, this could wait till after breakfast.

By eight I was at the office, pausing as always for a look
out the window. Far away was the lake, blue under the
morning sun ; in the distance the faint, narrow line of the
Canadian shore. That view is soothing and steadying, as
more than one nervous man on parole has discovered.

As I turned away the door opened to the would-be bride-
groom and his girl.

Our files contain detailed information on some 600 per-
sons on parole in my district, information on the family
backgrounds, their crimes, their prison records and psycho-
logical and mental tests. In this case it was not necessary
to consult the files. I knew this parolee.

Eighty-four percent of all men on parole go straight.
This man was one of that great majority. His crime had
not been serious: too many drinks, a car taken for a joy
ride, an accident. But the judge had given him six years.
His mental age was about thirteen the average of those
on parole his emotional background a little unstable. But
he had a job, had behaved himself, and it was with pride
that he handed me the health certificates.

I asked him a few questions. Where was he going to live?
Nd parolee may live at a place not approved by the agent.
He would stay with his mother. How much was he mak-
ing? Fifteen dollars a week, and the girl was making ten.
I wished them luck and was sorry I couldn't go to the

Five minutes later came my second visitor who swaggered
up to the desk and slapped down a blue card, his arrival
notice. Every man released on parole must report either by
mail or personally within twenty-four hours after leaving
the prison. Appearance in person is necessary for those who
live in the city.

I remembered this man's record from the investigation
required before parole. He was a gangster, behind him a
series of crimes and a poor record generally. His appear-
ance and manner were slick and arrogant.

Fully 90 percent of the men on parole are pretty pa-
thetic figures. Their crimes usually were the result of an

emotional upheaval, some weakness of will, that made
trouble inevitable. But there are others who must be re-
minded instantly that you represent the law.

I looked at the blue card without picking it up. The
man had been out of prison for five days. He should have
reported within twenty-four hours.

"Pick up that card and hand it to me."

He stiffened, reached for the card and handed it to me.
I lighted a cigarette and gave him one. Asked why he had
not reported within the proper time, he offered a flimsy
excuse. I told him that parole rules were to be obeyed ;
that we were square with the parolees and expected
squareness from them. I went over the rules with him line
by line. There would be trouble with this man, and soon,
of that I was morally certain.

THE mail had come, a lot of it, and another caller.
Picking up the letters, I greeted the man and took him
into the inside office.

Not young this time, about sixty-five, nervous, cringing
a little, with the marks of a long term in prison. A bewil-
dered man, startled when I gave him a cigar and asked
his name.

He had been in prison for thirty-eight years. A sex crime.
I rang for his file. Everything was wrong with this man,
including his sentence. He had needed hospitalization, not
prison. I was gravely doubtful if even now he should be
walking the streets.

We talked. I could not allow him to live with his sister,
who had two children in her home. His crime had been
with small children. Residence settled, we went over the
rules. He would be on parole for fifteen years.

Leaving he hesitated, and asked, "Can I look out the
window? It's thirty-eight years since I saw the town."
From the thirteenth floor we looked over the city and the
blue lake to the far Canadian shore.

The mail was heavy. The usual report cards, letters
from parolees in trouble. Each one would have to be in-
vestigated. From the State Board of Pardons were four
cases to be investigated. That meant days of digging
inquiry into the crime, the family, education, environment,
everything one could learn. Here also were seven pre-parole
investigations inquiries into family, the sponsor, the work
the man would do. And three investigations for other states.
We supervise parolees of other states. Here was a request
from California. Would I accept for parole (his mother
had written that I would) a youth now in Folsom Prison?
I knew what the request meant and I had heard of the


man heard too much. A bad record, sexual delinquency,
irresponsibility. I dictated that answer first. I would not
accept him as a parolee. There was no reason why I should.
His family had never lived in this state, and we had no
obligation whatever toward him. Let California keep her
tough boy. We had plenty of our own.

All morning, between telephone calls, a stream of
visitors. Mostly people in trouble. Parolees reporting,
friends pleading, even a clergyman urging that I rescind
my decision to send Jim back to prison. Jim, he said, was
"a little wild," but all he needed was a chance. Jim had
had a dozen chances. His latest escapade was robbery with
a gun. The discussion ended when I sent for the boy's
record and read some of its sultry passages.

A parolee for whom I had sent, arrived. I told him I
knew he had been keeping late hours, frequenting cheap
drinking places. Reminded him of the rules, frightened him
a little. The violations were not serious enough to put in
the record but he would have to be watched.

THEN came the necessity to make a decision in the case
of Harold. Parole has two objectives: to enable the
man to rehabilitate himself; to protect society. In other
words, we parole officers are supposed always to be one
jump ahead of any crime a parolee might commit. Harold
had persistently violated his parole. Lately he even had
boasted that he could do as he pleased. I went through the
police report, noted his associates, his general behavior.
His psychological report was far from good: quick tem-
pered, untruthful, emotionally unstable, intelligence rating
eleven and a half years. If he continued he might commit a
new and more serious crime. Stepping to the telephone I
called up the police chief of a distant city. Told him to
arrest this man for parole violations. I would keep him in
jail for a week. It might give him pause.

There was a curious ending to that case. Harold was
arrested but because the jail was full was put in the wom-
en's section. He simply walked out and disappeared. Fol-
lowed in close succession an attempted and near murder,
kidnapping, the robbery of four banks, a chase which
covered the nation. In the end the judge gave him this odd
sentence, "ninety-nine years and life." I shall always think
that if the police had kept him behind the bars for a week
the story might have been different.

By eleven the mail had been handled. There was just
time to hurry to court. There was no doubt that this
parolee had violated the rules. On his second night out of
prison he had wandered into a saloon, had drunk more
than he should. In the midst of an argument the owner
called him a "jail bird." Furious, drunk, the parolee had
swept all the bottles to the floor. Damage, $110.

In court some one offered to pay for the damage and
the costs. That was well enough, but he had violated his
parole ; the papers had reported the incident with headlines,
Paroled Man Goes On Rampage. I could send him back to
prison but if I did, after only two days out of prison, he
would have to serve the remainder of his term, six years.
I allowed his friend to settle the damages, then took him
over to the office to talk it over. I did not send him back.
Perhaps I was wrong, but so far he has gone straight.

It was one o'clock and I was to speak to the Rotary
Club. I faced 150 men. When I ended, up jumped a business
man to refute me. Parole was a menace, it coddled crimi-
nals, most crime was committed by paroled men, parole
was costly and sentimental.

I had some figures for him, that out of some three
hundred thousand major crimes of the previous year, only
2 percent had been committed by paroled prisoners. In our
state 84 percent of the paroled men never got into further
trouble. As for cost, in our state it was $650 a year to keep
a man in prison; around $39 to supervise him on parole.

Then another rose to his feet, not to ask a questions, but
to make a speech. Most crime is committed by persons of
low intelligence. It is a sad fact, he said, "that children
lead all groups in law violation."

He was wrong. Intelligence tests show the mental age
of the so-called criminal as almost fourteen, higher than
the average for the nation as shown by the army tests.
Warden Lawes declares that the inmates of Sing Sing
have a higher I.Q. than the prison guards. The real trouble
is low emotional stability. As for children committing
crime, the average age of the men in our prisons is around

It was after two when I got back to the office. More
mail, more reports, more people. If I was to drive fifty
miles and make half a dozen investigations, I needed to

Every man on parole in my district is visited once a
month by me or by one of my two assistants. We also
make each month about thirty investigations of applications
for parole and ten applications for pardons. We drive over
four thousand miles a month, often work until after mid-
night. In theory we carry guns and gas pistols but most of
the time I never can find mine. I have never needed them.

My first call was on an old lady whose boy would be
out of prison in a week. He never, she said, had been
"really bad, just a little wild." Showed me his picture as
a chubby-faced youngster. I did not tell her that his rogues'
gallery picture was in my office. His record was pretty
bad but there was a chance for him.

A SECOND call, a routine monthly call. This was an
uneducated Italian, one of my best men. Oh yes, he
had committed a murder, in a frightened frenzy. Curiously
enough the best men we have on parole are those who have
committed murder. As a rule they never repeat, omitting
gangsters of course, and the occasional professional criminal.
My Italian once walked forty miles in order to report on
the proper date. I was always an honored guest in this
house, poor as it was, with every problem of the family
discussed in full detail.

No man is granted a parole until he has a sponsor. We
always investigate the sponsor and if we are not satisfied
with his character and responsibility, reject him. Also the
parolee must have a job. The sponsor I was now to see had
offered work to a man shortly to come out of prison.

One look around the dirty cluttered junk shop told me
that this sponsor never would do. He told me that he
would pay the man $7 a week; finally admitted that he
himself was on relief, and told a hesitating story about his
interest in the proposed parolee. A visit to the police re-
vealed the fact that the would-be sponsor had a record of
his own. The man in prison would have to find a new
and better sponsor.

It was dark now, and raining, but two routine calls
remained. A drive over narrow, winding roads to a lonely
farm with no one at home but a tired woman. Her son, she
said, had gone to town to the movies, but he was a good
boy and was behaving himself. They always say that. More
often than not it is true.



The last call; the parolee wanted to go to Detroit to
visit his brother. Might he drive a car? We had to talk it
over. His record was good and after seeing the letter from
his brother I gave him permission to get a driving license
and to leave the state for a week.

Home at 1 1 :30, but with the office only two blocks away
I had to know what had happened in my absence. A lot
can happen in an afternoon and frequently does. On the
ilolc was a memo: "Call the police station." I knew that
spelled trouble and it did. A parolee had stolen a car, held
up the owner with a gun. That meant but one thing, he
would have to stand trial. If found guilty he first would
serve his parole sentence before starting the new court
sentence. Guilty or not on this new count, I would have

to return him to prison. No parolee may carry a gun, ever.

It was after one when I entered my own home. A lunch
was on the table. With the dog beside me, the paper
propped before me, I ate and read. There was an editorial,
Parole Is a Menace. I smiled a little as I read.

Came the sharp ring of the telephone. "Long Distance,"
said the operator. I groaned to myself. Somewhere in my
7000 square miles of territory was trouble. I was right.
The police chief of a large steel city informed me that a
parolee had stolen a locomotive. Yes, a locomotive. Yes,
the man was in jail. OK, I'll be over in the morning.

As I looked down at the dog our eyes met and we both
yawned. I was tired. I scowled at the telephone and
tumbled into bed. Tomorrow would be another day.

Old Folks Go Union

Department of Sociology, University of Washington

"Dear sir my husband is 82 years old and I am 77 we
are getting $17.50 each pension, all we can do is eat and
scarcely anything for clothes . . . we would like to join
the pension union if you will let us know just what to do.
Thank you."

HUNDREDS of letters like this have been mailed
during the past few months in response to nightly
radio broadcasts by Howard Costigan, executive
secretary of the Washington Commonwealth Federation,
a coalition of liberal groups. They presage a new pension
movement that may sweep the country.

Early in July, Mr. Costigan casually remarked over
the radio that the old folks ought to do something right
here and now about their pension needs. He suggested
that a union type of organization, with grievance com-
mittees to bargain collectively with the state and local au-
thorities, would produce immediate results while the old-
sters were educating the public to establish more liberal
pension provisions by law. The flood of letters which
descended upon the radio station amazed everyone.

The time certainly was ripe for such a movement. The
Townsend organization, with its internal dissension, its
fantastic economics and its lack of results, was losing its
strength and its members. Many oldsters, trained to think
in terms of $200 a month pensions as the panacea for all
our economic ills, were becoming disillusioned and embit-
tered. The anti-labor and at times even fascistic tendencies
in the Townsend movement produced a frame of mind that
might have been dangerous if more young people had been
in the Townsend clubs.

Small wonder, then, that hundreds of the old people in
the Northwest rose to the union idea as "what we've been
waiting for." In July, the pension union idea brought
1200 persons together at a mass meeting in Seattle to form
the first local. By October, 102 locals of the "union" had
been formed in twenty of the state's thirty-nine counties.

In Washington, the county boards of commissioners
have charge of local policies under the social security act.
The county commissioners of King, Thurston, Pierce and

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