New York (State). State Probation Commission.

Annual report of the New York State Probation Commission, Volume 12 online

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the judge or magistrate should not have the power vested in him
to revoke the license, or at least make it mandatory upon the
Secretary of State, and it was felt by a great many of our automo-
bile friends that our moods and temperaments vary so much that
it wouldn't be quite fair, but rather we should have it vested in a
central authority who would be responsible for his acts.

- Judge Fbedeeic Kernochan, New Yoek: If the license is
revoked, can the operator get it back again after a reasonable

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Twelfth Annual Report 349

^ Judge Cobb : Yes, there is the provision giving the time limit.
I think it shall not be less than six months in case of total revoca-
tion, but in case of suspension that may be for any time.

Judge T. H. Noonan, Buffalo: If it accomplishes ten days,
that is considerable inconvenience and something of a preventive
of a man getting reckless again. It puts him to a lot of trouble.

Another way that the automobile police test out in our city is
by comparing their speedometers with each other after they have
been tested. Of course in the country where you cannot have a
traffic officer or where the State Constabulary are not visiting,
about the only way you can catch a man is by timing him over a
certain measured distanca

Judge Kebnoohan: New Jersey has had examinations for
operators of cars for a long while.

Judge Cobb : Yes, New Jersey has had that examination for a
long time. There has been no trouble there at all ; in fact, in talk-
ing to my friends I found they never resent taking examinations.
Young girls will go to Newark or Trenton and take the examina-
tions with a great deal of glee and feel proud of the fact that they
have been able to pass them.

Judge Keenochan : Are the drivers any better than they are
in New York as evidenced by accidents, convictions, and such
things? I have heard it said that to make the examination
effective it would have to be go strict it would cost too much to
carry it out.

Judge Cobb: It should be effective as the army truck exam-
inations were effective. The tests they had were most elaborate.
There were mental tests and educational tests and most minute
sort of road tests, with various markings on the way a man passes
between stakes and how he turns around on a hill, and all about
the mechanism.

Judge Noon an: The mere fact his license could be revoked
would have a very salutary effect, it seems to me.

Judge Cobb : I know of nothing that disconcerts a driver more
than facing the fact that he has got to give up his car for a while.

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350 State Probation Commission

It is vastly more effective than any fine you could impose, par-
ticularly where a man has considerable worldly meajis.

Judge Keenochan: Don't you think the character tests are
more important than the technical test? I think we suffer more
from the skillful but reckless driver, than we do from the

Judge Cobb 5 We contemplate having on the chauffeur's licatise
at least three vouchers. Two of those will be as to character and
they will be sufficiently detailed so they will mean something,
something like the vouchers on the present civil service applica-
tions, and the third will probably be a physician's certificate as
to the physical and mental condition of the applicant.

Judge IIenby Shove, Oneonta ; On this question of eighteen
years of age I think they are radically wrong and must make an
exception as to f aim laborers. There are thousands and thousands
of young men sixteen and seventeen that have to drive farm trucks
to the market for feed and about the farm whom under the pres-
ent conditions, you have got to allow to operate motor vehicles or
you are going to create a hardship. If you want to cut them out
in the cities or provide that they shall not operate a car for pleas-
ure, all right, but on two-thirds of the farms the truck driving
and labor is done by boys sixteen and seventeen years of age and
they are just as competent as any men in the country.

As far as the revocation of licenses is concerned, I have thought
many times it would be a great deal better if that recommendation
should go to the county judge in each county because it is forcing
too much upon the Secretary of State to take up and look into
local affairs in the several counties. If the magistrates in the
several counties had a right to recommend that the license be
removed and the county judge should take the matter up and
hear it, they could be easily taken care of where they knew the
situation and something about the character of the individual.

Judge Geo. L. Hageb, Buffalo : I think that is a very wise
suggestion in regard to the revocation of licenses. We have
received many communications in our court from the Secretary
of State after complaint has been made by our clerk who handles
that Olid of the business. After the conviction for driving while

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Twelfth Annual Rbpoet 351

intoxicated, a complaint is made by our clerk to the Secretary of
State who hajs written frequently asking the judges to recom-
mend or not, as they saw fit, the revocation of the license. I
think this suggestion of having the matter referred to the county
judge and possibly giving the man an opportunity to be heard
would save a vast amount of work for the Secretary of State.

Judge Cobb : We made the objection to the Secretary of State
that it was almost impossible to secure suspension or revocation
imless you had transcribed and sent to him the whole record in
the case, and he said he appreciated the difficulty of that and
indicated that perhaps he would exercise more latitude if the
facts were simply embodied in the law in the future. As a matter
of fact, I think probably there has not been that understanding
and spirit of co-operation or co-ordination even between the Sec-
retary of State's office and the magistrates that there should have
l)een. As I search my own conscience and look over the trans-
actions of the Traffic Court I find that even though our recom-
mendations loom very large in the total for the whole State, I do
not believe we have done all we could, and I think that this thing
may produce a real awakening not only in the Secretary of State's
office, but amongst ourselves as well.

To revert for a minute to what Judge Shove has said relative
to the farm laborers, if the experience proves that some of these
farm boys do drive carefully and that there are few, if any, acci-
dents from them in the rural districts and their labor is neces-
sary, I have no doubt that the legislative committee would con-
sider that and perhaps include some suggestion limiting this pro-
vision to cities of the first and second class, or even to the third
class. That is a detail to be considered. I don't think such a
thing would necessarily weaken the scheme of the proposed
amendments to an unreasonable extent.

Judge E. B. Harrington, North Tonawanda: I think the
Highway Law would be better if it were uniform throughout
the State, outside of Xew York City, in respect to the prescribed
maximum rate of speed. This would eliminate the necessity of
villages and cities resorting to local ordinances. That maximum
rate of speed, as applied to cities and villages, might be fifteen

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352 State Probation Commission

miles an hour, or whatever rate of speed might be deemed proper.
This would make the charge, if it had to be laid in case of a vio-
lation, a much easier charge to lay than the one that is now
required for a violation of the city ordinance. In order to be
technically proper in lajdng a charge for violating a city ordinance
in relation to running at an unlawful rate of speed it is neces-
sary to set forth the ordinance and also to set forth in the informa-
tion that the slow-dcAvn signs are properly posted and all those
thing's have to be set forth in the information or charge if it is
technically right and proper. I think those points have been passed
upon by the Appelate Division.

Judge Cobb : So far as that question is concerned in its rela-
tion to this proposed bill, I would have to beg the question by
stating there was such a great diversity of opinion in the con-
ference as to prohibitions that we deemed it best to confine our
deliberations upon the licensing of chauffeurs and operators and
means of revocation or suspension and we didn^t go beyond that

Judge Woolsey : These laws ought to be made general for the
reason that people are travelling all over the State in different
villages and cities and how would it be possible for the motorist
to acquaint himself with the local ordinances throughout the
State? It seems to me it would be impossible for a man that
wanted to abide by the law to know what the law was in various
places, so for that reason they ought to be made as general as


Judge Kernociian : Judge Collins is very sorry not to be able
to be here. He has prepared a Monograph, published by the
Xew York City Department of Public Health, on '' The Drug
Evil and the Drug Law." This has been sent to all members of
the Association. Judge Collins and Mr. Ray B. Smith drew the
law which was passed last year. It provided for a central com-
mission of drug control which has been established.

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Feiday Aftebnoon, Pbbbuaby 21, 1919

The President : I take pleasure in introducing to you as the
first speaker of the afternoon, Mr. W. C. Smith of the State
Department of Education, who speaks with authority on a subject
in which everyone of us is vitally interested in our court work.



Me. W. C. Smith^ Supeevisoe of Immigeant Education,
State Department of Education, Albany : I am glad to have
the opportunity of speaking this afternoon on the State Drive
Against Illiteracy in the State of New York and am proud of the
fact that New York has recently adopted a program for the elimi-
nation of illiteracy.

New York State is engaged in a campaign to wipe out illiteracy
— DO one knows better than yourselves the cost to the State of
its 406,000 illiterates — you know how large a percentage of the
violations of the criminal and civil law is caused by this serious
condition, this blot on .the State !

We have in New York State a population of 2,729,272 foreign
bom — 600,000 non-English speaking and 362,025 illiterate
foreign born. New York, being the gateway and getting the
backwash of the immigrant tide, has one-fifth of the problem of
the non-English speaking population in the United States. We
realize the challenge and the State accepts the responsibility thus
imposed. It has enacted into law, in order to enter into a cam-
paign to reduce illiteracy by 1920, a group of measures calcu-
lated to arouse public opinion and furnish the machinery nece^
sary to bring about this much desired result.

Three laws, known as the Teachers^ Training Law, the Open
School Law and the Compulsory Attendance of Illiterate Minors
Law, were enacted last year. The Teachers Training Law
through which we have supplied 2,500 teachers with a method and


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354 State Probation Commission

background with which to attack the problem was of the first


Laws of 1918, Chapter 409 '
An Act to amend the Education Law, in regard to the maintenance of night
schools in cities and school districts.

The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly,
do enact as follows:

Section 1. Section ail of article 11 of chapter 21 of the Laws of 1909,
entitled "An act relating to education, constituting chapter 1ft of the Con-
solidated Laws," as amended, is hereby amended by substituting therefor a
new section to read as follows:

§ 911. Kindergartens; night schools. The board of education of eadi
school district and of each city may maintain kindergartens which shall be
free to resident children between the ages of four and six years.

Night schools wherein the common branches and such additional sabjecta
as may be adapted to students applying for instruction are taiight on three
nights each week, for two hours each night shall be maintained by the
board of education.

1. In each city of the first class throughout the duration of the day school

2. In each city of the second class on at least one hundred nights.

3. In each city of the third class on at least eighty nights.

4. In each city not subject to the foregoing provisions and in each .school
district where twenty or more minors between the ages of sixteen and twenty-
one years are required to attend school, or where twenty or more persons
over the age of sixteen years make application for instruction in a night
school, for at least seventy-five nights.

All night schools shall be free to all persons residing in the districts or

§ ^ This act shall take effect September 1, 1918.

The "Open School" Law above, requiring boards of educa-
tion to open night schools when twenty people request the same, is
also important. The compulsory attendance of illiterate minors^
sixteen to twenty-one years, is of the highest importance in the
campaign. A copy of this law, chapter 415 of the Laws of 1918,
follows :

Laws ob* 1918, Chaptee 415
An Act to amend the Education Law, to require the attendance at school of

non -English speaking and illiterate minors.

The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly,
do enact as follows:

Section 1. Article 23 of chapter 21 of the Laws of 190», entitled "An act
relating to education, constituting chapter IG of the Consolidated Laws."
as amended by chapter 140 of the Laws of 1910, is hereby amended by adding
thereto a new section, to read as follows:

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Twelfth Annual Bepobt 355

§ 637. Attendance of illiterate minors. 1. Every minor^ between sixteen
and twenty-one years of age, who does not possess such ability to speak, read
and write the English language, as is required, for the completion of the
fifth grade of the public or private schools of the city or school district in
which he resides, shall attend some day or evening school or some school
maintained by an employer as hereinafter provided in subdivision six of this
act, in the city or district in which he resides throughout the entire time
such school is in session; provided that no such minor be required to attend,
if the commissioner of health, or the executive officer of the board or depart-
ment of health of the city, town, village or district, where such minor resides,
or an officer thereof designated by such board, department or commissioner
shall deem such minor physically or mentally unfit to attend.

2. Any minor subject to the provisions of this section, who wilfully vio-
lates any provisions of this section, shall be punished by a fine of not exceed-
ing five dollars.

3. Every person having in his control any minor subject to the provisions
of this section shall cause such minor to attend a school as hereby required;
and if such person fails for six sessions within a period of one month to
cause such minor to so attend school, unless the conunissioner of health or
the executive officer of the board or department of health of the city, town,
village or district where such minor resides or an officer thereof designated
by such board, department or conunissioner shall certify that such minor's
physical or mental condition is such as to render his attendance at school
harmful or impracticable, such person shall, upon complaint by a truant
officer and conviction thereof, be punished by a fine of not more than twenty

4. Whoever induces or attempts to induce such minor to absent himself
unlawfully from school or employs such minor except as is provided by
law, or harbors such who, while school is in session, is absent imlawfully
therefrom, shall be punished by a fine of not more than fifty dollars.

5. The employer of any minor subject to the provisions of this section
shall procure from such minor and display in the place where such minor is
employed the weekly record of regular attendance upon a school and it
shall be unlawful for any person to employ any minor subject to the pro-
visions of this section until and unless he procures and displays said weekly
record as herein provided. It shall be the duty of the teacher or principal
of the school upon which he (such minor) attends to provide each week
such minor with a true record of attendance.

6. Any employer may meet the requirements of this act by conducting a
class or classes for teaching English and civics to foreign-bom in shop, store,
plant or factory, under the supervision of the local school authorities, and
any minor subject to the provisions of this act may satisfy the requirement
by attendance upon such classes.

§ 2. This act shall take effect September 1, 191&

We believe this law can be enforced. It baa teetb in it as you
will see. With your co-operation we can accomplish much.

The State Defense Council before it terminated its work in
December, 1918, supplied us with $12,000 with which fund the

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356 State Probation Commission

Americanizatioii Bureau was able to do some important prelim-
inary work by way of experiment in different sections of the
State. Cards of illiterates roistered in the State Militaiy Census
were made available and constituted a valuable list for locating
illiterates and for canvassing purposes. Some valuable service
was performed under this authorization, especially in Jefferson,
Monroe, Erie, Albany and Nassau and Suffolk Counties and in
Greater New York as well. This beginning, we hope, will make
possible action by the present L^slature giving an appropria-
tion for the establishment of a zone system by which the problem
of illiteracy could be attacked on a State-wide basis.

(Since Mr. Smith's address was made the L^islature passed
the Sage bill which appropriates $100,000 and authorizes the
Commissioner of Education to place directors, organizers and
teachers in the fifteen zones into which the State has been divided
to carry out the education program.)

Magistrates can aid this important movement in many ways
among which the following may be noted: (1) Call the attention
of all offenders to the laws above set forth. (2!) Aid in spreading
publicity. (3) Enforce these laws when called upon to do so. (4)
Co-operate with school officials when cases come up involving
these laws.

Secretary Lane found 700,000 people in the selective draft
who could neither read nor write English. When these facts
were focused on our attention we began to wake up to the fact
that the problem was a real problem to the State of New York
which has one-fifth of the non-English speaking population of
the whole coimtry. Of the 3,000,000 there listed there are 600,-
000 in New York State, according to the census of 1910. For
each of the five years succeeding 1910 more than a million came
to the shores of the United States. The increase in the population
of the State of New York, according to the census, was 1,185,000.

We know the tremendous contribution which these foreign bom
have made in the war has fully set at rest the claim that they have
not been loyal. You read the casualty lists and find twenty-two
out of sixty-five names that are of foreign extraction. The
trenches have Americanized the boys who went " over thera"
The processes have been completed. When those fellows come

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TwBi*FTH Annuai. Bspobt 357

back they will be thoroughly Americanized. They are coming
back here with new ideas. It is up to us to reocjgnize our obliga-
tion and to be able to meet the problems which they will bring.
They have been made brothers in the trenches.

If we get the Federal Aid Bill through it will give help on
the problem of illiteracy; New York^s share would be $360,000 to
$850,000, and if the cities or the State would allow an equal
amount of money we would spend for this problem $165,000.
There are 42,065 native illiterates in the State of New York.
Si)eaking of illiteracy in New York in a general way we mean
the general problem of non-English speaking people. Two million
four hundred and seventy-eight thousand are of foreign birth.
Eighty-one per cent of the population in the city of New York is
either foreign or of foreign extraction. Only nineteen out of a
hundred in the city of New York are native bom Americans so
that New York is no longer an American city.

The city of New York is spending $269,000, the city of Auburn
is spending $6,500, the city of Buffalo $90,000, the city of
Rochester over $30,000 on the problem. Probably we are spend-
ing now between six hundred and seven hundred thousand dollars
on the problem of evening schools. The bulk is in New York
City. That would mean that on this problem during the next
year if this bill became a law we would spend three million
dollars which would be quite worth while and in that way would
reduce the non-English speaking product to a negligible quantity.

We have to get behind our job and do the best we can. We
must mobilize every force there is under the sun to do the job and
it is a real big job.

I like Miss Stewart^s definition: The public school should be
open at any hour of the awakening Ufa

There is a tremendous field in this work. These fellows are
here, they are not going back. There are 5,516,000 illiterates in
the United States. We have pounded these fellows around and
exploited them and there is not a piece of big construction work
that could be done in this United States without these
foreign bom people. As a matter of fact we can't begin to assert

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358 State Pbobation Commission

the tremendouB possibilitieB there are if we Americanize not only
the foreigner but the American.

I like to present in closing Mark Twain's attituda He saw
a cabby overcharge a foreigner three dollars when the ordinance
permitted him to charge only fifty cents. The foreigner remon-
strated with the cabby. Mark stepped up and said, " What are
you doing ? " The cabby said, " What is it to you ? " Mark said,
" I will make it my business.'' He turned to the foreigner who
couldn't speak English and couldn't say a word in his own cause.
Mark says, " The ordinance permits you to charge fifty cents,
give him back his money." Mark chajsed him three days and made
him give the foreigner back his money, thus endearing himself
for all tim« to " Tony," and his strange friends.

We must have a heart, friendliness and brotherliness and
sympathy for these fellows and no longer call them " wops " and
" dagos " because they have demonstrated in the trenches that
they are full fledged American citizens.

Judge Cobb : Concerning your statement as to the insuflScioit
wording of subdivision 2 of section 637, it simply provides for
punishment by fine not exceeding five dollars. I would like to
say in the Municipal Term Court in New York City which I
have presided over from time to time and where we have a depart-
ment known as the Compulsoiy Education Department, we have
actually enforced this section^ We have perhaps gone a little
afield in doing so, but we have gone upon the theory first that
there was such a breach of statutory duty as the Code of Criminal
Procedure construes as a misdemeanor, and that beyond that it
was the evident intention of the Legislature by using the word
" punish " and fixing an amount, to define something in the nature
of the criminal penalty, and even though a day's imprisonment
was not included, that that deficiency was likewise supplied by
section 484 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Nevertheless, I do agree that it would be better to make the
law more specific in that regard and provide days of imprison-
ment, though I don't know that it is necessary to class it as a
misdemeanor. I think we have already gone entirely too far in
classing petty offenses as misdemeanora I think that the mis-
demeanor is something of a graver nature, often savoring of moral

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Twelfth Annual Eeport 359

turpitude, and that we should recognize a third class of offenses,
as the Court of Appeals has done, which are leas than misde-
meanora At any rate, we have had a number of these cases in
the Municipal Term Court. I recollect one Italian girl about
nineteen years of age whom we fined twice. She said she was
quite uninterested in learning English and she did not intend to.
Magistrate Appleton fined her on the first occasion; I fined her

Online LibraryNew York (State). State Probation CommissionAnnual report of the New York State Probation Commission, Volume 12 → online text (page 28 of 45)