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will to adhere to his resolution, employment is se-
cured for him in the outside world and he is dis-
charged ; not because retributive justice is satisfied,
not because he has paid the penalty of his mis-
deeds, bat because he is a cured man. It will be
asked. Would you give a prison tribunal absolute
authority to determine this question ? Would you
allow them to discharge a murderer at the end of
a month's confinement, and keep in prison for life
a boy who had stolen an apple ? No ; this would
be vesting too much power in a prison tribunal :
neither do we now allow such power in our sen-
tencing tribunal. There is a mininnim and a
maximum sentence, and within those limits the
judge must exercise his discretion. It would be
quite legitimate for the legislature, in initiating
this plan, or in extending it where it has already
been initiated, to put some limits on the discretion-
ary power of the prison tribunal. It might well
assume that certain classes of criminals of dansfer-
ous tendencies could not be permanently cured
during a brief confinement, and might well require
their continuance in the reformatory for a certain


minimum length of time. Would not the prison
tribunal make mistakes ? Would it not discharge
men who were not really reformed, and who would
go back to criminal courses again ? Yes, it cer-
tainly would. So do our present tribunals make
mistakes. Infallibility can no more be expected
in the administration of redemption than in the
administration of retributive justice ; but experi-
ence had demonstrated that the mistakes are less
disastrous to the community in the former than in
the latter case. While from thirty to fifty per
cent, of the prisoners discharged from our States'
prisons are rearrested for crime, less than twenty
per cent, of those discharged from the Elniira
Reformatory,^ where the indeterminate sentence is
in a modified form carried out, return to criminal
courses again. Will not the abolition of the re-
tributive element, and the substitution of the
redemptive element, be disastrous in its influence
on criminal classes outside the jails and prisons?
On the contrary, experience indicates that no
cruelty of vengeful punishment exercises so de-
terrent an influence on the criminal class as the
strict and rigorous execution of such a redemptive
system as is here indicated. Criminals brought up
for sentence continually entreat not to be sent to
Elmira, where the length of their imprisonment

1 See address of R. Brinckerhoff, in Report of National Prison
Association, 1889, p. 180 ; H. C. Lea, in Forum, August, 1894 ;
Eighteenth Year-Book New York State Reformatory, 1893, pp. 38
and 40.


will depend upon their reformation. They prefer
to pay the penalty of their crime by a definite im-
prisonment elsewhere, and then return to crime
again.^ There is nothing which the criminal
dreads so much as to be put under aggressive
moral influences, and kept there until his refor-
mation is complete. Can all criminals be cured?
No ; there are incurable criminals, as there are
incurable lunatics and incurable invalids, and for
these incurable criminals permanent institutions
should be provided, where they should serve out
the remainder of life, earning, under a compulsory
industrial system, so much toward their subsist-
ence as can fairly be secured from them. This
redemptive system assumes that, when the crimi-
nal is cured and has become an honest and efficient
man, he can find employment ; but who will give
employment to a discharged convict ? Very few,
under the present system ; for the discharged con-
vict comes out of prison with the stigma of his
crime upon him, and with the probabilities, as in-
dicated by prison statistics, that he will return
to crime again. But under the redemptive system
he comes out of prison with the affirmation of a
competent tribunal that he has been cured ; in
other words, with a doctor's certificate. His dis-
charge is a quasi letter of recommendation ; and,
in point of fact, a large proportion of those who
are thus discharged from the Elmira Reforma-

1 I make this statement on the authority of at least two crimi-
nal judg-es in New York city.


tory have employment found for them when they

A single illustration may serve to put in a clear
light the difference between the punitive and re-
demptive systems. Under the punitive system, a
man who is found drunk and disorderly in the streets
of New York city is arrested and sent to Blackwell's
Island, usually for ten days. This gives him just
time enough to get sober; discharged, he goes
straight to his customary saloon and his customary
companions, and begins to drink again. There
are well-known "rounders" who divide the year
nearly equally between New York city and Black-
well's Island under this system of ten days' im-
prisonment. Under the redemptive system, society
would put this man, who will not or cannot con-
trol his appetite, in an inebriate asylum, under the
best medical treatment, shut off from all access to
liquor, and keep him there until such a habit of
sobriety is formed that he can be safely dis-
charged. And if such a habit of sobriety cannot
be formed, then it would keep him there, or in the
institution for incurables, for the rest of his life.
There is no reason why society should bear the
burden of a drunken man who neither supports
himself nor his family, and should add to that the
burden of supporting a policeman to arrest him,
a police justice to try and sentence him, and a
prison to keep him in idleness during half the


Society teaches us to hate the criminal ; Christ
teaches us to love anel to pit}" him. Society gives
expression to its hatred in a system of vindictive
justice ; that is, in a system of penalties adjusted
to express the degree of hatred which the wrong-
doing perpetrated ought to excite. Jesus Christ
bids us express love and pity in redemptive disci-
pline, adjusted solely for the purpose of curing
wrong-doers and making them sane and healthy
members of the community. Society bids us or-
ganize a punitive system for our own protection ;
Jesus Christ tells us we shall best save ourselves
by seeking to save our neighbors. Society has
great faith, in spite of years of experience, in the
deterrent power of fear. Jesns Christ uses the
deterrent power of fear very sparingly ; relies him-
self, and bids his followers rely, on the ins23iring
power of hope and love, enkindling in the despair-
ing and the outcast a new aspiration, and inspiring
them to a new life.



An unknown j^oet writes in the Book of Prov-
erbs the description of a scene which he has wit-
nessed in some city of the oklen time : —

For at the window of ray house
I looked forth through my lattice ;
And I beheld among the simple ones,
I discerned among- the youths,

A young man,

Void of understanding,

Passing through the street near her corner.

And he went the way to her house ;

In the twilight, in the evening of the day,

In the blackness of night and the darkness ;
And behold, there met him a Woman
With the attire of an harlot, and wily of heart.

She is clamorous and willful ;

Her feet abide not in her house ;

Now she is in the streets, now in the broad places,

And lieth in wait at every corner.

So she caught him, and kissed him,

With an impudent face she said unto him :

" Sacrifices of peace offerings are with me ;
This day have I paid my vows ;

Therefore came I forth to meet thee.

Diligently to seek thy face,
And I have found thee.


I have spread ray couch with carpets of tapestry,

With striped cloths of the yarn of Egypt ;

I have perfumed my bed

With myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.

Come, let us take our fill of love
Until the morning ;

Let us solace ourselves with loves ;
For the goodman is not at home,
He is gone a long journey :
He hath taken a bag of money with him ;
He will come home at the full moon."

With her much fair speech she causeth him to yield.
With the flattering of her lips she forceth him away.

He goeth after her straightway,
As an ox goeth to the slaughter.
Or as one in fetters to the correction of the fool ;

Till an arrow strike through his liver ;
As a bird hasteth to the snare,
And knoweth not that it is for his life.

Now therefore, my sons, hearken unto me,

And attend to the words of my mouth.
Let not thine heart decline to her ways,

Go not astray in her paths.
For she hath cast down many wounded :

Yea, all her slain are a mighty host.
Her house is the way to Sheol,

Going down to the chambers of death. ^

There is not a city, ancient or modern, pagan
or Christian, in which this scene has not been
repeated. It may be witnessed every night in our
own time wherever great populations are gathered
in one community. What shall we do with this
woman? What would Christ have us do with
her ?

1 Proverbs. Prof. Pt. G. Moulton's arrangement.


What society does with her is, on the whole,
well expressed by the phrase often used to de-
scribe her. She is said to be an abandoned woman.
We think of her, if we think of her at all, as
abandoned of God, and abandoned by herself, to a
life of immorality, vice, and shame. A man may
be habitually and flagrantly licentious, and not
even be cast out from reputable society while still
unrepentant ; but if a woman, falling or enticed
into the sin of unchastity, enters upon a life of im-
morality, we call her an abandoned woman ; we
put a cordon around her ; we bring her no message
of salvation ; we think her abandoned by herself,
and so treat her that, if she thinks of God at all,
she thinks God has abandoned her. We shut her
out in the outer darkness — out from all homes ;
from honorable avocations and employments ; from
social relationships ; from that which woman longs
for most of all, the strong love of a strong lover,
and let her find only the false pretence of it in
the continuance of vice. We shut her out from
schools, and practically from churches. She may
walk in, unknown, to the sanctuary, but if she be
known she will receive but cold welcome there.
If taken sick, she was, until recently, shut out from
most hospitals.! We shut her out from our hopes
and our expectations. Even the moralists write
that for this class there is no hope, and that as
long as the world stands it must be expected to

^ Westminster Revieiv, vol. xeiii. pp. 121. 123 (January, 1870),
and pp. 508 f. (April, 1870).


infest our cities, that man may be gratified in liis

In thus abandoning her to herself, shutting her
out from our hopes and our hel23fulness, society has
pursued three courses of dealing with the moral
and physical ills which her sin inflicts upon the

It has tried by legal pains and penalties to re-
press her altogether. This was the method of an-
cient Judaism, which punished offenses against
the Seventh Commandment by death.^ This was
the method of ancient Rome, which visited severe
penalties upon the offenders ; confiscated the house,
the clothing, and the furniture ; sentenced them to
be flogged, to be banished, to work in the mines,
or to be executed. This was the method under

1 Westminster Beview, vol. xcii. p. 182, July, 1869. I am speak-
ing here of professional prostitutes, not of women who have been
betrayed, fallen by a single lapse, and endeavor thereafter to re-
turn to a pure life. Says an expert worker among the unfor-
tunate and vicious concerning such (Report of Aid given to Des-
titute Mothers and Infants, ^. Q) : "It is sometimes said that a
woman who has once done wrong is shut out from all hope of
retrieving her character, that no respectable employment is open
to her, that no home will receive her, that she can never marry.
Such has not been our experience. We are able to say, and do
say With perfect truth, to the young women who come to us :
" Do not think, because you have done wrong once, that you can-
not be a good, respectable woman. It depends on yourself. If
people see that you wish to do right, if you lead a steady, upright
life, especially if you are a good mother, you will live down the
past, you will be respected. We will do what we can for you,
but it is little that any one else can do ; everything depends on
your own behavior."

2 Deut. xxii. 13-27.


Charlemagne, which extended the penalties to
those who harbored the abandoned woman. It was
the method, in the thirteenth century, of St. Louis
of France, repeated, in spite of failure, again in
the sixteenth century.^ It is the method to-day in
most Anglo-Saxon and in all Puritan communities,
though the penalties are no longer so severe. Pub-
lic infamy, scourging, confiscation of goods, per-
petual banishment, the galleys, death itself, have
all been tried in the endeavor to repress the social
evil by prohibitory measures, and all have failed.^
The prophetic books of the Old Testament contain
many allusions which convince the student that Mo-
saic legislation failed to rid Palestine of the harlot.
The licentiousness of Rome was not lessened by
the penalties of Constantine. The ordinances of
Charlemagne were soon abandoned as impracti-
cable or useless. St. Louis of France found legal
penalties unavailing, and substituted an equally un-

1 Westminster Review, vol. xciii. p. 126.

2 " The first ages of the Christian Church were followed by
centuries during which the history of this class, in all the pro-
fessedly Christian cities of Europe, is one prolonged tale of sav-
age persecution. These poor women were fined, imprisoned,
loaded with chains, flogged in public, pilloried, branded, racked,
expelled from cities and from provinces, sold into slavery. Of the
many modes of torture invented to terrify the people from profli-
gacy, we will cite one as a specimen. A custom prevailed at
Toulouse of shutting these poor women up in cages, which were
then plunged three times into the nearest river, the whole popu-
lation being assembled to witness the scene, and encouraged to
assail with mud and filth the half-drowned creatures as they re-
turned home." — Contemporary Beview, vol. xiii. p. 24, " Lovers
of the Lost." by Mrs. Josephine E. Butler.


availing system of regulation. The earlier policy
of repression in France lias been supplanted by
one of license ; nor can one who knows anything
of the condition of New York and London where
prohibition is attempted, as compared with that of
Paris and Vienna where regulation is attempted,
declare that one scheme has succeeded much better
than the other. The apparently trustworthy sta-
tistics respecting the number of abandoned women
quite conclusively demonstrates the failure of re-
pression by legal pains and penalties.

Failing to prohibit, society has attempted par-
tially to protect itself by a policy of segregation.
She has been put in a quarter by herself, required
to wear a peculiar dress, and permitted to practice
her unholy calling, provided she will do it within
defined limits. This was the method which St.
Louis attempted after the failure of his prohibi-
tory policy.^ This was the method attempted in
the fifteenth century by Spain, with the sanction
and cooperation of an army of ecclesiastics. In
our own century it has been essayed again in
Rome ; and in recent discussions it has been j^ro-
posed by moral reformers as a remedy for the more
notorious evils resultant from this vice in the city
of New York. But segregation has succeeded no
better than repression. The abandoned woman
would not wear her uniform ; she would not re-
main in the Ghetto which had been reserved for
her. She defied or evaded the penalties attached

^ Westminster Review, vol. xeiii. p. 126.


to her issuing from it, and the black district dedi-
cated to vice became a fountain of poison, send-
ing its virus throughout the city. One might as
well attempt to keep the body healthy by leav-
ing poisoned globules in the blood, and trying to
shut them up in one spot, as attempt to keep a city
pure by permitting immorality, but endeavoring
to confine it within the limits of a single pestilen-
tial district. The report made by Mr. Elbridge
T. Gerry of the result of this experiment in the
city of Rome, as attested by Cardinal Simeoni,
ought to be quite conclusive upon this subject.
To err is pardonable, but to repeat the errors of
others, demonstrated by their experience to be
errors, is unpardonable. The testimony of Mr.
Gerry on this subject is so important that I trans-
fer it in full from his address published in the
" Philanthropist " of March, 1895 : —

" In the winter of 1886-87, while at the city of Rome,
Italy, I had a personal interview with Cardinal Simeoni,
which lasted over two hours, cliiefly in reference to the
course pursued by the Italian government, while in the
hands of the Vatican, in the matter of regulating prosti-
tution. The Cardinal stated to me that the experiment
of attempting to confine sexual vice within a specified
district had been most thoroughly tried. A portion of
the city, remote itself and not particularly attractive for
purposes of residence, had been selected. The govern-
ment had defined by metes and bounds its limits ; had
practically taken possession of the various houses, per-
mitting the owners to rent them to the licensed prosti-


tutes ; and, in order to prevent contact with the outer
world and the prostitutes, when once within the district,
leaving the same and again spreading over the city,
various shopkeej^ers in the necessaries of life, such as
butchers, grocers, hardware, dry goods, and the like,
were induced to open stores in the locality, so that the
wants of the residents might be fully supplied. At the
same time, a very strict cordon of j)olice was placed
around the geographical boundary, and any attempt on
the part of the females who had once entered the dis-
trict to escape therefrom was followed by j^rompt and
immediate arrest. The idea was so novel that at first
quite a number of registered prostitutes entered the dis-
trict, hired and occupied the houses, and attempted to
ply their vocation there. But the district soon became
very notorious. The thieving, the lawless, and the sedi-
tious found their way there, and became permanent resi-
dents. They brought with them very little money, and,
as the sole means which the inmates of the district had
of supporting themselves was by the sale of their per-
sons, it was obvious that their custom must come from
without, and not from within, as men generally did not
care to be known as inhabitants of the district. And as
soon as the fact of its establishment was made public,
men were very wary about entering the district, for fear
of identification. This was not only true of married
men, but also of single ones, as the only jDurpose for
which they could be found therein was not a moral one,
and the class of men that did enter the district was not
those who would spend money lavishly on vice. And
it was not long before the storekeepers com})lained that
they coulxl not make a living. Even the women found
that the money did not flow in upon them as it did when


they practiced their calling unrestricted by geographical
limits, and it was not long before escapes from the dis-
trict became impossible of prevention by the police, and
some of the most notorious women in Rome, after hav-
ino- been put there and sent there, made their escape,
and were found in other quarters plying their trade.
Every effort was made by the police, acting under the
directions of the government, to restrict the inmates
to the geographical lines, but it was like attempting to
retain eels in a basket, and they slipped out impercepti-
bly ; and it was not long before the shopkeepers could
not make their living, and the unfortunate women who
occupied the quarter were themselves in a state of ex-
treme destitution. The government then abandoned
absolutely the attempt to restrain them in any locality,
and the present government of Italy simply provides
for their registration and surveillance by the police.
The system there is not even as stringent as it is in
France in regard to medical examinations and inspec-

" The Cardinal stated to me that the attempt to dis-
trict vice was, in his judgment, a stupendous failure;
that the Church had used every effort to reclaim the
fallen when so environed by the police, and placed in
a locality where it could put its hand upon them, but
to no purpose."

The third method which society has adopted in
dealing with the social evil is regulation. Society
has said : " This woman is abandoned ; she is be-
yond all hope and help ; and yet the city cannot do
without her. It would not be safe if she did not
exist. There must be some outlet for the fiery


passions of men : therefore we will license her,
guard against the physical evils which her trade
produces, and so reduce the dangers of her pres-
ence to a minimum." This was the method of
ancient Greece. The state not only tolerated but
protected abandoned women, and taxed and took
profit from them. This is the method of modern
Paris, Berlin, and Vienna; and this method has
been tried in successive cities of America, specifi-
cally St. Louis, Cleveland, Davenport (Iowa) and
perhaps elsewhere. Even England has adopted
this method in India, for the benefit or the demor-
alization, as the reader may determine, of the Brit-
ish army. But this method has not succeeded any
better than the others. It has increased vice by
the endeavor to make it safe and reasonable. Im-
morality was worse in Corinth under license than
in Jerusalem under prohibition. It is worse in
Paris, Berlin, and Vienna under license than in
London and New York under prohibition. The
license system has not even proved effective for
the one purpose for the sake of which it is ap-
proved by its apologists and defenders. It has not
even lessened the ravages of disease. Says a care-
ful writer in the " Westminster Review " : ^ " It
appears, then, that notwithstanding the elaborate,
costly, and, in respect to the women concerned,
tyrannical machinery of police and sanitary sur-
veillance in question, — machinery which is worked
by ample power, and under circumstances, as well
1 Vol. cvi. p. 148, July, 1876.


as in the presence of a public opinion, facilitating
its action, — the attempt to enforce the registration
of the public women of Paris results, in so far as
seven eighths of them are concerned, in signal
failure ; that year by year even the small number
of those who are on the register steadily lessens ;
that the number of maisons tolerees is steadily les-
sening ; that the number of those women who are
subject to the most complete inspection, namely,
inmates of those houses, is steadily lessening :
that the proportion of registered prostitutes found
infected with disease is steadily increasing." M.
Lecour, the former administrator of this system
of licensure, estimates the number of abandoned
women in Paris at 30,000, of whom only about
4,000, less than one seventh, were brought under
the license system, and the proportion continually
lessened, while at the same time the disease which
this traffic brings into the city continually in-
creased under this system of license. The results
of the Paris experiment are all summed up in one
sentence from M. Lecour's official report : " They
demonstrate that prostitution augments, and that it
becomes more dangerous to the public health."
This was in 1876 ; since then the enforcement of
the license system has been transferred from a
special bureau to the regular police, but without
either a diminution of the number of unlicensed
women or a lessening of the disease. The similar
experiment in India has been accompanied by


similar results. The disease, against which the
license system was expected to protect the troops,
rose steadily under that system year by year,
until, from 196.8 per thousand in 1871, the year
the act was passed, it became 371 per thousand in
1888, the latest year of which I have been able

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Online LibraryLyman AbbottChristianaity and social problems → online text (page 22 of 25)