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numerable defects, many of them of the gravest characte
in the administration of every agency of criminal justice i
the city. What it suggested was not a merely critical a
titude on the part of the community but a complete ove-
hauling of the entire system, with new men of proved if
telligence, integrity, and capacity to administer it nothin
short of a civic revolution in fact. What it got was, i
effect, a crime commission, differing in no essential respec
from the one that the business men of Chicago had set u)
Is there any reason to doubt that the defects in the ao
ministration of criminal justice are less grave, less deej
rooted, in Chicago or in any other great American city tha
Dean Pound and his colleagues found them to be in Clev
land? From this point of view the local crime commissio
wears the aspect of a counter-irritant in a case where
major surgical operation is indicated.

More significant and more hopeful of substantial resul
than the local effort, with its restricted aims, is the Sta'
Crime Commission of which Missouri furnishes the firs

April 15, 1927


and, so far, the best example. This, the Missouri Associa-
tion for Criminal Justice, was organized and, as Chancellor
Hadley described it, "fully equipped to study with the ut-
most thoroughness the administration of criminal justice" in
the entire state "in rural districts as well as in metro-
politan centers." Within two years after its organization
the Association published The Missouri Crime Survey,
representing the study of every important aspect of the
problem, some of them by highly qualified and disinterested
experts lawyers, university men and specialists in public
administration and laying a substantial foundation for
constructive legislation. Bills for the amendment of the
constitution and of the criminal code of the state have been
drafted for submission to the legislature now in session and
the formidable character of the membership of the Associa-
tion is such as to justify the expectation that it will carry
its program through. As the Association is, in fact, the
creation of the Missouri Bar Association, it derives its
effective membership and consequently its legislative pro-
gram from legal sources.

FOLLOWING this auspicious lead a dozen other states
have already equipped themselves with similar organ-
izations, some of them, like that of New York, official in
character, but most of them, like that of Missouri, privately
organized and financed. There should and there will be
more of these. They represent a more intelligent apprehen-
sion of the nature of the problem than does the vigilance
committee of the town. They see it in longer perspective.
They are not out to "crush" or to "smash" anything, but
to perfect the administration of justice. They take a single
law-enforcement unit, the state, and try, first, to get at the
facts as to the comparative movement of crime in city and
country and in the several urban and rural areas and the
relation of these facts to the various law enforcement
agencies of the state. Invariably they find themselves baffled
by the circumstance that there is nowhere any trustworthy
record of the facts. This, then, is their first constructive
task: to devise and by appropriate legislation to set up
adequate machinery for gathering, recording and tabulating
the data as to crime and its treatment in the state. But
even a superficial survey such as is now possible will have
disclosed many defects in the administration of criminal
justice, perhaps even in the substantive law defining crimes
and prescribing penalties. In so far as these are remediable
by legislation, statutes for correcting them will be drafted
and urged on the attention of the legislature. Of course no
legislation can of itself improve administration. At its best
it can only make good administration possible. Whether it
becomes actual or not will depend on the intelligence, the
independence and the good faith of the officials on whom
the responsibility rests and this can be attained only through
the creation of a sound public opinion.

For the attainment of these aims the ascertainment of
the facts as to crime and its treatment, the proposing of
legislative remedies for the defects in the administration of
criminal justice which these facts disclose and the stimula-
tion of the public to demand and provide a wise and honest
administration of the law it is obvious that the state crime
commission must be a continuous body. Its work will not
be done, it will be scarcely begun, in a year or a decade.
Possibly it should be an official body representing the state.
Some of our best legal minds have suggested the creation
in every state of a "ministry of justice," charged with the

supervision and the progressive improvement of the law
and its administration.

It is scarcely necessary to say that, in the picture I have
drawn, I have not presented the state crime commissions
as they now are, though the Missouri Association has, in
fact, furnished the inspiration and most of the material for
my vision. As far as I am aware no other organization of
this type except the Crime Commission of the State of New
York has functioned to a degree that would justify any at-
tempt to assess its value to the community, and the New
York organization is a temporary makeshift, a glorified
legislative committee, whose only title to fame so far is the
body of drastic legislation enacted a year ago and bearing
the name of its chairman, Senator Baumes.

In curious contrast with the legislative program of the
New York Commission as a whole is the work of an en-
lightened committee of this body, known as the Sub-Com-
mission on Causes of Crime, which devotes itself to prosecut-
ing studies into crime-breeding conditions both in urban and
in rural communities and into the mental and social history
of inmates of the state prisons. Whether this incongruous
activity of the Commission will prove to be anything more
than an innocent diversion of that truculent body may well
be doubted but it may nevertheless prove to be its one endur-
ing and redeeming achievement. Indeed, nothing more
constructive than "Baumes' laws" can be expected of a body
constituted ad hoc, for the sole purpose of dealing summarily
with the crime situation, and continued from one year to
another by legislative enactment. The Missouri Com-
mission, on the other hand, while it has attempted nothing
as fundamental as the work of the New York Sub-Com-
mission, is, at least, a permanent body, under no pressure
to produce an annual grist of bills for legislative action*
and with far less need to satisfy the clamor of the mob
for vindictive legislation.

OUPERIMPOSED on this structure of local and state
Vj organizations, dealing each in its own way, some wisely
and some unwisely, with the crime situation, we now have
the National Crime Commission organized in the city of
New York in the summer of 1925. Owing its inception to
the efforts of a group of sensational promoters of the crime-
wave propaganda, its direction and control was from the
first assumed by an executive committee of intelligent and
public-spirited citizens drawn from all sections of the coun-
try. Among its active members are statesmen, great finan-
ciers, college presidents, deans of great law schools, former
governors of states and a former justice of the Supreme
Court at Washington. Its list of cooperating committeemen
reads like a transcript from Who's Who in America.
When the list of the Executive Committee was first given
out it was sharply criticised by Dean John H. Wigmore in
the Journal of the American Institute of Criminal Law and
Criminology for its lack of any specially qualified persons
criminologists, etc. in its membership, but as Dean
Wigmore himself, with Dean Roscoe Pound, Judge
Frederick Cabot, Col. Arthur Woods and many others not
open to this reproach, have since accepted service on com-
mittees of the Commission we may wisely await the results
of its activities before passing judgment on it.

The central aim of the National Crime Commission is
identical with that of the (Continued on page 122)

* The Baumes Commission reported 82 "crime bills" to the recent session
of the New York legislature (1927) of which 14 got as far as the Gov-
ernor's desk.

The Mayor's Committee on Race Relations in Detroit

The Committee was appointed in May, 1926, following the Sweet case in
which a colored family defended its life and property against a mob in-
furiated by the gradual influx of Negroes into what was considered a white
neighborhood. Chairman, Rev. Reinhold Niebuhr; vice-chairman, Bishop
William T. Vernon (African Methodist Episcopal Church}; secretary, Dr. E.
A. Carter; Fred M. Butzel, Fred G. Dewey, Frederick C. Gilbert, Donald
J. Marshall, W. Hayes McKinney, Mrs. Charles Novak, Mrs. C. S. Smith,
Walter H. Stowers, Jefferson B. Webb; director of the study, Forrester B.
Washington (executive secretary, Armstrong Association of Philadelphia)
and Robert T. Lansdale (Sociology Department, University of Michigan}.

The Negro in Detroit


WITHIN less than a year, the inter-racial
committee appointed by Mayor John W.
Smith of Detroit under the chairmanship of
the Rev. Reinhold Niebuhr has produced
a substantial contribution to our knowledge
of the Negro in a northern industrial city. The report does
not attempt to cover with equal thoroughness every aspect
of Negro life in Detroit. Yet the survey was sufficiently
comprehensive to make sure that there are not lurking some-
where unidentified major causes of trouble. The staff work
was concentrated on known difficulties. The rest of the
information, gathered through the cooperation of municipal
departments, social agencies and a large number of indi-
viduals, is not of equal value. Some of the section reports
are more or less formal statistical studies, some are too
general to be of much assistance, and one on community
organization is in tone out of keeping with the rest. The
twelve mimeographed section reports on which the present
article is based, are not, in fact, intended to be more than
the working papers from which the final summary report
of the committee was prepared.

After appointment of the committee, the Detroit Com-
munity Fund appropriated $10,000 for a fact-finding survey,
to be expended through the Detroit Bureau of Govern-
mental Research. The mimeographed report is evidential
and contains only a minimum of interpretation. The com-
mittee has separately published its own interpretation of
the main facts, together with its recommendations, through
the Bureau of Governmental Research (Public Business,
Whole No. 108, March 10, 1927). Copies of this bulletin
can be obtained from the bureau at 316 East Jefferson
Avenue, Detroit.

The section on Population tells us where the 81,000
colored people of Detroit (6.6 per cent of the population)
come from, where they live, and so on. The small average
family is explained by the recent settlement and this, with
the housing shortage, also explains the excessive mobility of
the Negro population within the city. The origin of these
pioneers is significant: the great majority have come within
very recent years from some of the culturally most back-
ward sections of the South, the "black bottoms" of western
Georgia, western Alabama and Tennessee.

The difficulties of these dark southerners in Detroit are

essentially the same as those met by large numbers of
British immigrants a century and a half ago, which rr.ide
Ben Franklin harangue on the subject of the German-
speaking proletariat in Pennsylvania, which led to anti-
Irish riots in Massachusetts and to anti-Chinese demonstra-
tions in California. Since 1920, the Negro population of
Detroit has doubled and, as in every similar previous case,
the industries that brought in this large additional supply
of labor, have washed their hands of all responsibility for
meeting the ordinary needs of these living men and women
and children. Yet in this case, industry did better than is
usually the case ; it did not, generally speaking, discriminate
against colored people in the matter of wages or working
conditions, though it is true that the great majority of them
were assigned to the least paid and least agreeable jobs.

THE permanency of the colored worker in the industries-
of Detroit seems assured, for he has given satisfaction
to his employers. In some plants engaged in rough processes,
colored workers constitute more than one-half of the per-
sonnel, and even in some of the great automobile concerns
they exceed one-third of the total. Preconceived ideas about
the racial qualities of the Negro worker gradually give way
to a more realistic and accurate assessment of his abilities.
Where discrimination cannot easily become operative, as in
civil service appointments, relatively large numbers of col-
ored people have made good even at tasks which often are
assumed to be outside their ability. In short, differences
in efficiency in this the Detroit report seems to confirm
many other recent findings are less racial than they are
the result of differences in early environment.

It is partly due to the very humble origins of the major-
ity of these colored workers that so large an influx into an
industrial community could take place without serious inter-;
racial friction. Their coining coincided with the growth of
the automobile industry and a labor shortage, and tended to
shove up white wage-earners into jobs at higher wages. In-i
dustrially there is peace in such a situation as long as
the total volume of employment goes up and the new-
comers remain content to occupy the lowest status.

This shows itself clearly if we compare the industrial
opportunities of the Detroit Negroes with their business
opportunities. Here the sense of competition is sharpei^


April 15, 1927



and discrimination more bitter. Yet, the inclusion of a sec-
tion on Thrift and Business in the present report is in itself
proof that these economic interests of the race are considered
as worthy of attention. To what extent the difficulties of
the Negro business man result merely from unwillingness to
recognize him as a social equal, it would be difficult to say.
So far, his activities are still largely in branches where per-
sonal contact -is a factor: eating-places, amusements, and
the like.

THE educational report is, in large part, an intensive
study of why so large a proportion of colored children
are retarded, based on a comparative investigation of two
schools. This painstaking inquiry revealed that the causes
of retardation nearly always have an environmental basis:
inadequate schooling in the previous place of residence,
poverty and employment of mother, overcrowded home and
poor conditions surrounding the home. Biologically, the
colored children in special classes are no worse than white
retarded children; that is to say, nearly all their physical
defects are due to preventable causes, and few are feeble-

Optimism as regards a substantial improvement in school
work seems justified by these findings. But it remains to
be seen whether the community will really welcome a large
proportion of colored children in the high schools, ready to
enter the better-paid occupations. The reason given for
the small number of Negroes who prepare for teaching and
of Negro teachers in the public schools is their expectation
of discrimination in employment. For the same reason the
proportion of colored families that make sacrifices to give
their children a higher education is small. On the other
hand, the attendance of adult Negroes at night classes is
relatively large.

No special section of the report is given to the subject
of race relations as such; we are given only a glimpse
here and there of the attitudes that prevail between white
and colored fellow-workers, class-mates and fellow-citizens
in the ordinary contacts of daily life. But an attentive
reader has no difficulty in discovering an implied attitude
that runs through all the sections ; and that is the unwilling-
ness of white Detroiters, generally speaking, to have social
contact with colored people. They do not, as we have seen,
feel a strain of economic competition ; they want to see
justice done in all matters of public policy ; they are rarely
anything other than courteous in their contacts with colored
people in public places; but they will not meet with them
on a social basis. (There are, of course, exceptions such,
for example, as the complaint of a white woman as to the
snobbishness of her colored neighbors who will not speak to
white people unless first spoken to!)

THIS is brought into focus by the section on Recreation
which indicates the alarming extent to which what is
usually looked upon as the southern attitude to race con-
tact has found entrance in this northern city. Space does
not permit discussion of the various forms of segregation
and discrimination that are practiced, but it is evident that
the character of a racial group is being judged by the tem-
porary condition of its majority. There is danger of great
injustice to the colored people in the future if special steps
are not taken continually to keep the community aware of
the diversity of talents and of social status to be found in
the Negro group as in any other. Eventually, unless special

handicaps are placed in their way, a much larger proportion
of these recent newcomers will find their way into the higher
social classes.

Insufficient recreational choices explain in part the rela-
tively high delinquency rate of the colored people. But here
the survey touches a subject of particular difficulty; for the
attitude of the Negro to law is necessarily different from
that of his northern fellow-citizen. Not because his re-
actions are biologically different but because since slavery
days a different morality from that of the white man has
been expected of him, the colored newcomer from the South
often does not immediately catch on to the code of the older
residents, white and colored, irr the northern city. Add to
this the vicious environment into which too many of these
people are thrust, partly through segregation and partly for
no other reason than that they are the economically weakest
group in the community, and no other explanations are
needed for the relatively high rate of arrests and convictions.
Yet there are other reasons. There is evident discrimination
against colored men in the courts; they are more easily con-
victed and receive heavier sentences. There are exception-
ally few policemen of their own race on the force, and
evidently there is a good deal of anti-Negro feeling in the
force, whatever the reason.

THE sections on religion, on welfare and on community
organization contain little that was not known. It is
interesting to read, however, that even within a few years
of northern residence, the attitude of the southern Negro
toward his church is apt to change; this is probably not
so much because of the larger opportunities for formal edu-
cation as to the multitudinous contacts with white workers
of many experiences and points of view. The large Sunday
school attendance in relation to church membership seems
to indicate that educational interests have begun to predom-
inate over the older emotional type of spiritual hunger.

The section on health contains a number of facts that
are contrary to popular belief. For example, the birth-rate
for Negroes is increasing while that of the white popula-
tion is decreasing. However, this may be due to an influx
of women and a high marriage rate following what at first
was chiefly a movement of young men. But there is no easy
explanation for an increasing tuberculosis rate, unless it is
that congestion has increased. And why is the colored rate
for heart disease higher than that of the white? As regards
institutional provision, we have the old story. Popular feel-
ing necessitates a certain amount of segregation; and the
consequence inevitably is that the minority race suffers.

The most substantial and important of the sectional re-
ports is on housing conditions, which are generally worse
than in other American cities the size of Detroit. Negroes
pay higher rents and prices than white people. They arrive,
in many instances, with living standards below those of in-
dustrial workers in the North. In consequence, they can
and do pay the landlord more than white wage-earners of
the same income class could or would pay. Moreover, the
fact that many are single brings a high proportion of room-
ers and income for meeting high rental.

The result is a deplorable standard of domestic life in
the poorer, centrally situated areas of Detroit that are occu-
pied by colored people. The evil effects of overcrowding,
occupation of old and insanitary houses, of poor and ill-
kept neighborhoods need not here be stressed. But it seems
to the present reviewer that (Continued on page 123)

Whither Social Work?


SOCIAL work has unbounded faith in the power
of man to control his own destiny. This faith did
not originate with social work; it was, rather, a
heritage from the prophets of the Nineteenth Cen-
tury Ruskin, Carlyle, Morris, Kingsley and, in
America, Emerson, Channing and Theodore Parker. Their
glorious conception of the greatness of man and his dominion
over the powers of darkness, was the stock in trade of the
idealists up to the beginning of this present century. Then
came the Great War. As the years 1914-18 recede in our
memories, their effects will remain branded upon our intel-
ligence. We in America live, as it were, in a child's para-
dise, but in Europe the despair of thoughtful men does not
perceptibly lift. The pessimistic mood of Europe is a chal-
lenge to our facile progress of social improvement. These
are now thrown against the background of the disorder
of the world, from the effects of which we are no longer
immune. As we follow the course of European thought,
we may not be sure whether the light we do see is the
flickering end of the candle or the strong rays of the morn-
ing sun. I do not fully share this despair, yet it and the
facts which occasion it must be faced.

Social workers did not create the War, but they did not
prevent it. The same statement may be made of the church,
the labor movement, the socialist group, and the inter-
national organizations of science and the arts. Upon all
these idealizing groups the War fell like some rude cosmic
force, crushing our ideologies in the general destruction.
Unless the way can be found to wipe out war and the prep-
aration for war, our struggles against poverty and social dis-
organization are as vain gestures in the air.

Another facet of modern society which balks the
efforts of social workers is the survival of social ani-
mosities. In spite of the efforts to create understanding
and tolerance, the older psychology of hatred and fear often
prevails and has even increased in America since the War.
If the democratic sympathies of social workers are to tri-
umph, they must be reinforced by science, by religion, and
by the enlargement of the cultural outlook of the American
people. The South European peoples in our midst, the
Negroes, the Mexicans, the Orientals, are already chafing
under the effects of our discriminatory laws. The racial
problem is as baffling as any which we face; it requires a
patience and skill beyond our present attainments.

THE industrial conflict is another problem of human
relationships which may well dampen our ardors. To
this question the social workers have given much time in
recent decades and not without good effect. But its solution
in any large way lies out of their hands. Through low
wages and unemployment the plane of living of a large
share of the industrial population is depressed, and the so-
cial workers act the futile role of trying to stretch an inade-
quate income and spend their efforts upon enlightenment,
conciliation and the improvement of standards. But, the
attainment of the ends of industrial justice and a decent
plane of living for all must rest with statesmanlike leader-

ship in business and in the labor movement itself, and still
further with the capacity of our resources to support an
ever growing population.

In the population problem we are concerned not with the
relation between man and man but with the adjustment
between man and nature. Malthus raised the issue a cen-
tury and a quarter ago, and it will not down. Of course,

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