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found for those who are able to go to work. Railroad tickets are
provided for girls who are willing to return to their homes in other
cities and would be unable to do so otherwise. During the summer
of 1909, Hillcrest Farm was maintained by the Association as a home
for probationers, where girls with their babies and those who had not
been well could spend a few days or weeks out of doors before they
were able to go to work.

The Association is not only interested in helping the individual
girls and seeking to improve probation work, but in understanding
the causes of the failure of these girls so as to prevent others from
entering the ranks. We have learned that many girls have entered
upon a life of immorality or prostitution through the influence of
procurers, men who live on the proceeds of prostitution, and older
prostitutes, because they were deserted by men who had promised to
marry them, or because of ignorance or conditions at home, at work
or at play. The crowded homes in the congested quarters of our
city, where sweatshop work goes on, and others where there is lack
of understanding and sympathy, the grinding work at low wage
in factory and shop with the accompanying temptations, the love of
amusement which finds its gratification in wretched dance halls,
where the girls first learn to drink and meet dangerous companions —
all these are partially responsible.

Extraordinary efforts must be made to convict procurers, check
the spread of prostitution in the tenement districts and prevent the
opening of disorderly resorts side by side with our factories or
stores. Then much must be done to improve conditions under which
our girls live and work and play, so that there will be fewer avenues
of approach to a life of wretchedness. In helping those who are
in danger of becoming morally depraved, and so preventing them
from coming to the courts and in aiding probation work in the
courts, a volunteer probation association finds a large field for use-
fulness.



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36 The Annals af the American Academy

With the probation officer rests the ultimate success or failure
of probation work. The work for girls and women must be done
by women who bring to it intelligence, common sense, tact, skill,
sympathy and enthusiasm, faith in human nature and in the task they
are undertaking. They must be efficient and trained workers and
women with personality. Theirs is the difficult task of influencing
characters and lives, of bringing others to forget the things that are
behind and to reach forth to the things that are before, of stimu-
lating ambition and inspiring to noble purpose in life.



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REFORMATION OF WOMEN— MODERN METHODS OF
DEALING WITH OFFENDERS



By Katharine Bement Davis, Ph. D.,
Superintendent, New York State Reformatory for Women, Bedford, N. Y.



In looking over the programs of recent meetings of various
bodies devoted to the study of social conditions in different parts of
the United States, the consideration of the duty of the state toward
the delinquent woman appears with increasing frequency. It sig-
nifies a change of attitude on the part of society toward the offender,
and particularly toward the woman offender, which is most en-
couraging. It is not so long ago that the woman who sinned was
considered so far out of the pale as to be unworthy of any con-
sideration whatever. Any effort to do more than punish her when
she broke the written laws of the community was considered a
waste of time and money. With the growing recognition of social
responsibility for the environment which reacts on character has
come the realization of the duty of society toward those who are
made what they are largely by society itself.

The problem of delinquent women is complicated as the prob-
lem of delinquent men is not, by social conditions and social con-
ventions, and this will continue to be the case so long as society
tolerates two standards of conduct for the two sexes. Lombroso
has stated in his work on the "Female Offender" his opinion that
the prostitute among women occupies a corresponding position to
the criminal among men. This is in a great measure true. It is
found in studying the histories of women in the state prisons, peni-
tentiaries and similar institutions, that a large majority of them
have been unchaste, have lived loose lives sexually, even if they
have not been actually among the class of prostitutes who support
themselves by their profession. As a result of this it is necessary
in considering methods for reformation of women to make allow-
ances for the feelings of the society into which the women must
eventually be placed.

We recognize to-day that the woman offender is divided into
two general classes. The first class includes those who are delin-

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38 The Annals of the American Academy

quent on account of some congenital defect — ^physical weakness,
lack of will-power — if not of active criminal tendencies. This class
includes various degrees of feeblemindedness — of mental unbalance
— ^between which and insanity it is difficult to draw a line. Often
with lack of vitality she is unfit for difficult or continuous labor.

The second class includes those for whom environment is largely
responsible — those who have failed through lack of moral, mental
or physical training. For this class society is directly responsible.
Crowded and unsanitary conditions in our cities, the lack of en-
forcement of city ordinances, the failure to enforce compulsory
education laws, inefficient methods in our public school system,
unjust economic conditions and the low moral standard among men
which prevails in our cities, all of these are the things which are
directly controlled by society and which are largely responsible
for the making of the delinquent women who fall into this class.

Society is indirectly responsible for the first class. The burden
has simply moved back a generation, and the children are what they
are because the parents are what they are. Environment and hered-
ity are so closely related that it is difficult to draw a line. Society
is getting to recognize these facts, and is getting ready to shoulder
its responsibility.

While twenty-two states out of the forty-seven states have so
far met their duty as to establish under various names training
schools for delinquent girls, but three states in the Union are ful-
filling their obligation toward the women of the state. It is a
truism to say that if the obligations to the boys and girls were all
properly met there would be no need for the consideration of de-
linquent men and women. But do the best we may, it is likely to
be many years before we can dismiss the latter class from our
minds and hearts.

For centuries society has tried to cure wrongdoing by punish-
ing the offender. That it has not been successful it is only neces-
sary to turn to the records to be convinced. Education for the
hopeful seems to be the only way out. If we are to be logical,
there seems to be an undebatable course open to us. First, to afford
the means of education and training to all delinquents. Those who
have failed through lack of these will thus be enabled to return
to society, self-respecting, self-supporting, law-abiding citizens.
After proper study and effort, those who are too thoroughly dis-



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Reformation of Women 39

eased to be cured must be isolated to prevent social contamination,
just as we are getting to isolate the tubercular, and so prevent the
spread of wrongdoing by contagion and by direct propagation.

Three states have in a measure recognized their obligation by
establishing institutions where experiments are being made in this
kind of work. In each of the three states — Massachusetts, In-
diana and New York — the work accomplished has fallen far short
of what it might be. States are slow-moving bodies, and it is not
easy to so frame laws, plan experiments and secure the necessary
money to carry them out as to realize ideals at once. But there
is an advance being made, and the hopeful sign is that in a con-
siderable number of other states agitation is active at this time to
secure a change in the treatment of wcwnen offenders, and to estab-
lish educational institutions for their care. Massachusetts was the
pioneer in this work, as it has been the pioneer in so much that is
good. When the reformatory prison at Sherboume opened, there
was no other institution of this kind in the United States. Sher-
boume showed the way, but has been handicapped by unfortunate
changes in the law and by its antiquated type of building. Indiana
reformatory prison for women has also accomplished pioneer work,
but is located in a city on the congregate plan. New York, in es-
tablishing its reformatory institutions, has profited by the work
of these two other states, and has located its schools in the country
and has built upon the cottage plan.

There is every reason to believe that the states which are about
to start upon this work will take advantage and profit by the mis-
takes of the other three states.

In establishing reformatories for women two points are funda-
mental — location in the country and building on the cottage plan.
The first is desirable for reasons of health — for the possibility of
varied industries and for opportunities for outdoor life and work.
The second is necessary to enable a proper system of classification
to be put into effect. We are getting more and more to believe
in the healing and restorative effect of life in the country and in
the open air. It is my personal conviction that growing emphasis
will be laid on this side of the work, not only in institutions for
men, but in those for women. Our own experience along various
lines of outdoor occupations has convinc(ed us of the practicability
and desirability of this. Even if it is not possible to train women



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40 The Annals of the American Academy

for outdoor occupations and for country life as a means of liveli-
hood, so much that is valuable in the way of training, to say nothing
of conditions essential for the improvement of general health and
nervous condition is to be gained, that there is little doubt of its
value as a method.

The necessity of a system of classification is almost self-evident.
Women offenders are not a homogeneous body. The accidental
offender may be a woman of refinement, some education, decent
ancestry and with a dislike for what is vile. It is a cruel thing to
compel a woman of this class to daily association with the habitual
offender, and to bring her in close contact with those whose thoughts
are vile and whose language, when allowed free expression, de-
grading.

The younger women who are full of life and spirit can be
best managed by a given method of discipline. Older women, with
resources in themselves, get on best when placed by themselves.
Neither age, character of the offense committed, nor social con-
dition is a safe guide in classification. The ideal thing is the
study of the individual, extending over some weeks, and then the
classification based on character and needs. To carry out an ideal
system of classification necessitates a somewhat expensive equip-
ment. Schoolrooms, workrooms and play spaces should be kept
separate. To secure such facilities it is necessary to persuade the
state authorities that the result, and, hence the money value, of the
returns will be proportionate to the expenditures.

Experience seems to prove that a large percentage of women
offenders are women of little education and who need to be in-
structed in fundamentals. Their industrial efficiency is largely on
a par with their literary attainments. The industrial training to
be taught in a given institution must and ought to depend largely
on local conditions and opportunities for employment after leaving
the institution. It is obviously wasteful to instruct women in occu-
pations for which they cannot be placed or in which it is unsafe to
place them. In different states economic conditions vary, and this
should be studied when planning the industrial work in a given
reformatory.

In every institution for women much stress should be laid on
their physical wellbeing. It is hopeless to try to reform a woman
whose nervous system is demoralized or who has some pronounced



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Reformation of Women 41

physical ailment which unfits her for continuous effort. Every
such institution should possess a skillful woman physician, a trained
nurse or nurses and a properly equipped hospital, large enough, not
only to care for acute illness, but to afford a place where obscure
cases can be studied with a view to determining how far delin-
quency comes from physical causes. For all physically unfit a
proper amount of proper work in the open air is advisable, and
open-air exercise and play should in all cases form a part of
daily life.

In all such institutions religious instruction must be of a charac-
ter to avoid any accusation of proselyting, but in my judgment
reformatory work of any kind will fail unless the spiritual part
of the individual can be aroused. The awakening of this spiritual
life, and the direction of the energies along ethical lines, need not
necessarily include any doctrinal teaching. The sensitiveness of
some religious bodies as to what is vital is considerable, and it will
probably be sometime before we are broad enough to make it un-
necessary to hold distinctively denominational services, at least for
Catholics, Protestants and Jews. It is not easy to find the right
person to conduct such services, but they should exist in each com-
munity.

Beyond anything that can be accomplished by means of formal
religious instruction of whatever sort is the influence of the lives
of those in charge of these institutions. Too much cannot be said
of this. The old anecdote of Mark Hopkins that he on one end
of the log and a boy on the other would constitute a college, is
pertinent to this point. More important than location or equip-
ment is the character of the officers of an institution. No institu-
tion will succeed which fails to include on its staff a majority of
men and women who are devoted to their work from other motives
than that of merely earning a livelihood.

Not less important along modem reformatory lines is the prin-
ciple of parole. The logical accompaniment of a proper parole
system is a truly indeterminate sentence. So far as I know, no
state has as yet been brave enough to attempt this. So soon as an
inmate of an institution is able to go out in the world, and lead
an honest, self-supporting life, he should be encouraged to do so,
under the watchful care of the officers of the institution, and, know-
ing that failure to make good means the return to the institution,
while success means a full discharge.



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42 The Annals of the American Academy

From my viewpoint the reform of the offender is only one
phase of the large subject of the administration of justice. The
making of just laws and their impartial enforcement, the sure and
speedy consequences meted out to those who prove themselves in-
capable of social living, either by probation or by a term in a
training school and the subsequent release on parole, and the in-
evitable corollary of permanent segregation of those who prove them-
selves socially unfit, all are parts of one whole. We cannot say
that any one part is more important than the other. We each have
our work along our special lines, but we each should be able to do
that work better if we can come together and find out what each
is doing, in order that co-operation may be both sympathetic and
intelligent. Only in this way shall we finally secure the ends for
which we are all working.



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FALLACIES IN THE TREATMENT OF OFFENDERS



By F. H. Nibecker,
Superintendent, Glen Mills School, Glen Mills, Pa.



I had in mind to enimciate that old fallacy, for so it seems it is,
that the administration of justice is for the protection of society;
that It is not a reformatory measure ; that it is not an effort for the
benefit of any particular individual, but is for the protection of so-
ciety, and that our dealing with the accused and the convicted offender
should be such that it will result primarily in the protection of so-
ciety in general, and not primarily benefit any offender in particular.
Now that may be an extreme fallacy in the view of the wisdom of
fifty years hence, but still that is the idea which had somehow lodged
in my mind after the observation and consideration of twenty-five
years of looking at things that are abnormal and anti-social in the
world. If I had not been driven away from that point, I would have
held next that the great obligation resting upon the courts in the ad-
ministration of justice, that is, dealing with the offender both before
and after conviction, is to reduce crime. Optimism may say that the
reason crime seems to be increasing, is because we have better sta-
tistics, but somehow or other the people, including some who read
statistics, have a notion that crime is increasing; that there is a
great deal of crime, but that may be another fallacy. Now if our
present methods of dealing with crime have been a failure and it
continues to grow apace, and society is not protected from the crim-
inal, then the courts of law and the system of jurisprudence under
which they act, are not such as are required in order to fulfill their
proper function.

Another equally fallacious notion had lodged in my brain during
these few years of observation, and that is a fearful looking forward
to a judgment to come had something to do with men's conduct in
the world. Indeed, I believe I have heard talk of this kind in
churches of all kinds. It has been something like an appeal to the
people to look out, or something would happen if they did not behave
themselves. This notion has been sustained by a little book I have
at home which may be known to some of you. Now, being of that

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44 The Annals of the American Academy

common mind that takes up with the folklore and superstitions of
the ages, I had gotten it into my head that the effect of an act might
deter a man from committing it; and therefore I should have said
that anything in the adminstration of justice, either through the lack
of apprehension of or in dealing afterwards with those who have
committed crime, leading to the greater possibility, of evasion of the
punishment of crime by making the result of doing the act uncertain,
weakens the deterrent effect of punishment upon the community. I
am perfectly sure that I have known boys in my youth, who would
have taken apples from an orchard across the street, if there had
not been a dog in the orchard. I am very sure of it, because they
lived on the same street that I did. I am sure that young men,
because of the possible effect of certain acts upon their bodies or
reputations, never committed those acts. There were dogs in that
orchard, too. It may be true that those who are influenced by such
motives are only a weak kind of humanity who are not governed by
the pure moral law. We ought to do a thing because it is right,
perhaps, but still there are many who are thus weak, and law-
breakers are hardly the morally strong. I was going to argue that
anything which weakened the deterrent effect upon the community
was to be avoided. I can conceive that you might save a criminal,
and, by the way, it is done, do harm to hundreds by losing and
making uncertain the results which should follow criminal acts. If,
however, punishment of crime has a deterrent effect upon men, and
that idea is not an antiquated notion, then whatever laxness there
is in the adminstration of law, whatever makes for easy evasion of
the penalty of crime, also makes for crime in the community, and
thus does not help society, whether it saves the individual or not.

Those of us who deal with social questions are thinking too
much of the individual. There is the great social being which is just
as full of life and is just as much of an entity as the single individual,
and we lose sight sometimes of the fact that it is the law's business
so to deal with the offender that that great social body shall not
suffer because of eagerness to protect the single individual. I
know it is also an old saying that "Better a hundred guilty persons
escape than a single innocent one suffer." That may possibly be true,
but it is not salutory teaching for society. How many hundred
innocents suffer in every good cause, in every good work, in fighting
fire, in protecting you in bed at night — ^how many innocents suffer



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Fallacies in the Treatment of Offenders 45

in order that the community at large may be saved. I tell you those
hundred guilty ones that escape are a terrible incubus on society.
Now if we can impress upon the community the fact that the ad-
ministration of the law should be something like natural law, if we
could only make it self-executing, if we could only bring it about
that a man would know that if he took that which did not belong
to him, if he violated any right of his neighbor or of the state, the
penalty would be just as sure as would be the bum when he put his
hand into the fire, I do not believe he would violate the law often.
If the first time an individual disregards the warning of "punish-
ment to come," he is "sent up," and he finds that in everything save
personal liberty, he is better off than ever before; if his desire for
and habit of idleness are gratified, almost to satiety ; if his surround-
ings are such as to lift him above all unsatisfied desires ; if in short
he enjoys himself, he will be very likely to come back again.

If, however, law could be self -executing just as natural law is
self -executing, and as moral law is self -executing, where the soul
that sins dies, it would have a much greater effect upon the indi-
vidual and would reduce crime. Just so long as laws are not self-
executing; just so long as there are hundreds of crimes committed
without arrests ; just so long as there are 8,800 homicides and one
and one-tenth per cent, of the slayers are brought to execution, the
law will not deter very pronouncedly one who may be subject to
criminal impulse.

We have heard some people say that the law is not to punish
crime, but to reform the criminal. We have heard others say that
crime has no moral character, that it is a disease. Just so long as
we foster these notions in criminals, the results will be disastrous.
There was a little fellow in Camden who was guilty of a most heinous
offense, and when he was talked to he said, "Well, you know, I never
was very strong, I never went further than the second grade ; I do
not know — ^that must be the reason why I did this thing." Where
did a child of thirteen get such a notion ? Is it far to seek when the
newspapers are so often filled with advanced thinker's expositions
of the innocence of criminals and the general applause given to such
doctrines by the large part of those publicly identified with social
work? So long as the public neglects and minimizes the moral
quality of acts, as shown by an illustration in one of our papers,
one that we all swear by in Philadelphia, crime will not grow less.



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46 The Annals of the American Academy

It was a picture of a street car surrounded by a crowd, with several
well-grown boys and young men in the foreground, and under it
this line, "The usual way the riot begins, some thoughtless boy throws
a stone and starts a riot." Is it any wonder that the boy and the
man do not think it a very serious thing to violate the law, when it is
minimized in that fashion? I am not criticising that paper, for I
am sure there are many people in this audience who have talked
more foolishly than that. The fact is, if we are to reduce crime,
we must bring every influence to bear that will prevent crime, and
not make it less serious by sugar-coating its consequences after
belittling its viciousness. But all of this is not to say every thing
possible should not be done to set right our erring brothers.



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II. Juvenile Courts and the Treatment of
Juvenile Offenders



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THE JUVENILE COURT— ITS LEGAL ASPECT



By Bernard Flexner,
Louisville, Ky.



The framers of the Illinois legislation of 1898 and 1899, which



Online LibraryNational American Woman Suffrage Association Coll American Academy of Political and Social ScienceAnnals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science → online text (page 5 of 85)