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About The Wealth makers of the world. (Lincoln, Nebraska) 1894-1896 | View Entire Issue (Jan. 31, 1895)
THE WEALTH MAKERS
January 31, 1895
Ne braaka Prlaon Association
(Continued from tit pair. )
tnat several of these son t hern states
have recently iriven it up. The reforma
tion of prisoners is simply an inipossi
bility under such a system. In all the
states of the Union where state boards
of charities have been created, every.
thing pertaining to the nature of a lease
system in handling the prisoners has
been completely, and no doubt forever,
When I made my annual report to the
National Conferenceof Charities und Cor
rections in Chicago a year ago lost June,
I expressed quite fully my views on the
condition of our State Penitentiary. A
little time in that meeting was set apart
to consider the matter. I was called to
the platform and questioned concerning
tne situation in particular. At that
time and since then I have received offers
from several of the most noted philan
thropists in the country to come out to
Nebraska if there was anything which
they might be able to accomplish in the
overthrow of this wicked system which
now obtains in our State Peniten
tiary. I said to them, "I have
faith in the people of Nebraska mid
have faith in the coining legislature, that
a State Board of Charities will be created
and that this evil, together with muny
other evils prevailing in our state, will
speedily be done away with."
So I do have faith in our present legis
1 at ure, that these things will receive at
tention, oud that a State liourd of Char
ities will be created to look after these
matters in the future.
In the next place I want to say that
the fee system now prevailing ought to
be instantly and forever abolished. It
seriously interferes with the administra
tion of penal justice in our state. To be
gin with it is an injustice to the officers
who receive fees, because it makes the
source of their income a great uncertain
ty. It also furnishes to them a tempta
tion, in many coses, to make the fee
larger than it ought to be; so an injus
tice is many times done to the parties
who are compelled to pay the fees. This
system causes the arrest of a great
many innocent parties. The statistics
of Baltimore show that the very year
the fee system in that city was abol
ished the number of nrrests dropped off
more than oue-tliird. There is ulso a
temptation in many instances to convict
parties who are wholly innocent. The
magistrate in many cases is entitled to a
fee, whether the man is convicted or not.
Yet, in conversation with these magis
trates, I have been told by them that,
in case the man is convicted, his friends
will rally to help him pay the fine and
fees, etc., and that the chances are a
great deal more favorable for his getting
the fee. The magistrates and officers ac
tually find that In very many cases, un
less the parties are convicted, they never
get uiwir iees.
I have no doubt in my own mind but
that if we had a State Board of Charities
it would not be long until this evil was
corrected in our commonwealth. I wnnt
to call your attention also to the fact
that in Nebraska, we need a place of de
tention for preliminary examination, es
pecially in the case of of minors and par
ties who are arrested for the first time.
Under the influence of the State Board of
Charities fn Massachusetts, a place is
provided for the preliminary examination
of all children and all first offenders, anf
in hundreds and thousands of cases per
sons are kept from the disgrace and deg
radation of being placed behind the pris
on bars. This is found especially true in
cases of the young offenders. More than
a year ago I was made to realize the ne
cessity for such a place of detention in
Douglas county, when six little boys, all
of them under eleven years of age, were
arrested for breaking into a store on Six
teenth street .They were locked up in
the city jail and then, under the law, were
bound over to the county jail and
brought in contact with old and hard
ened criminals. They were kept in that
condition for many weeks until the day
f trial in the district court. I went into
the court and asked the court to turn
over to me one of the little boys, named
Eddy, and assured him that I would be
responsible for finding him a good home
in the country. I received a letter a few
days ago from the farmer who has this
little boy in charge, and he tells me that
the boy is the most loving and obedient
and truthful child they ever have known,
Ihey tell me be never has used an oath,
and that he is cheerful and happy and
affectionate; in fact they described an
ideal boy. Allow me to soy that it hap
pened in the case of Eddy that about
two weeks before he was arrested for
breaking iuto the store he was driven out
of his home one night by a drunken
mother, who, as I learned from the neigh
bors, tried to kill him with a butcher
knife, barely escaping. He get some out
to come with him and found me about
eleven o'clock that night. I furnished
him temporary shelter, and a few days
afterwards a farmer ceme in from a little
west of Omaha and wanted to take the
boy on trial, hoping to give him a per
manent home. I let him go out with
him, and it proved to be a mistake, be
cause it was too close to the city aud be
cause too much work was required of the
little fellow, and, after a few days, he ran
away and came back to Omaha. He was
ashamed to come to me. He had no home
to go to; he slept several nights in an
old stable; then got into company with
bad boys, and the result was thebreak
iog into the store and then his experience
in jail life.
The little fellow never should have been
locked up behind the prison bars in com
pany with those old criminals. There
are numerous cases similar to this, mak
ing a place of detention, for preliminary
examination, of great importance.
I want also to say a few words now in
regard to the fundamental object in
punishing criminals. The primary ob
ject should be the reformation of the pri
soner. I know that some claim that the
primary object in the punishment of
crime should be the protection of society.
But let me ask you how society can be
protected, unless these prisoners are
transformed into good citizens. The way
it is now, they are, by the methods em
ployed, sunk lower into criminal lives, so
that when they get out of the prisons it
is almost certain that they will go on as
criminals, injuring society more than
ever.- John Howard, the author of
Penological Science, more than a hund
red years ago clearly apprehended the
reformatory idea. He saw the motto
written in letters of gold over the portal
of the House of Refuge in Rome. It was,
- ''parum est improbis coercere poena nisi
probia efBciaa diaciplina," which trans
lated means, 'It is of small cousequence
to coerce the wicked by punishment, un
less yon make them good by discipline.'
The world has been very slow to under
stand this great truth. Some still cling
to the oid idea of retributive justice.
There are many who insist upon the
warning given to others by means of
punishment; while there is an element of
truth in all these various objects men
tioned, that which is primary and funda
mental and which is necessary to the
accomplishment of all the other ends de
sired, is the reformation of the prisoner.
There is no doubt but that much can
be accomplished in this direction. Mnch
has been accomplished at the Elmira Re
formatory, New York. In that institu
tion an average of more than one thous
and prisoners are dealt with on princi
ples of the indeterminate sentence, the
marking system and the parole in dis
charge. Humane and Christian methods
are employed, upon scientific grounds in
dealing with these inmates. The results
are wonderful. The records for the past
eighteen years show that an average of
over eighty per cent of the nmates are
lifted up into good lives, aud become
good citizens. Many come into that
prison, as into other prisons, who are
sluggish and stupid and exceedingly
ignorant. Sometimes they are put into
workshops where it is found they can
make no progress whatever. They are
then taken out and put through severe
and rigid treatment, by meunsof Turkish
baths, massage, special diet, gymnasium
training, military exercises, etc. By and
bv they wake up and are taken into the
8 liool room aud into industrial imes of
training and into the workshops again
and are found to be able to make the
average progress which is made by the
more intelligent. It is certainly a won
der that over sixty per cent of the dull,
stupid, prisoners are thus transformed
and lifted up into good lives and become
self-supporting citizens in the communi
ties where they live. It is recognized in
that institution that labor is a necessity
in the reformation of the lives of prison
ers. Labor is made use of, with that end
in view. Idleness causes defeneration. It
is found also, that intellectual training
is necessary. We know that statistics
show that seventy-five per cent of all
criminals are grossly ignorant. There
can be no doubt but if we had a State
Board of Charities there would soon be
introduced into Nebraska, methods look
ing to the reformation of the prisoners;
methods which should take thepluce of
those that are now in operation in the
Iu the next place.allow me to call your
attention to the question, as to whether
crime is upon the increase in America,
... 1 .1 . .
r. ii. wines ot Illinois, the notea statue
tienn says, "There can be no question,
but that crime is upon the increase in
this country." The statistics gathered
by the bureau of information at Wash
ington show that thirty years ago there
was only one prisoner to about three
thousand of the population, and that
now there is one prisoner to about every
eight hundred. ,
I would not be understood as advocat
that the world is growing worse, but
upon careful examination of the statis
tics as compiled in this country, I am
compelled to agree with the penologists
of this country that the number of ar
rests yenr by year, has been steadily in
creasing beyond the increase of popula
lation. Just the opposite facts are clear
ly shown in England and Wales. Mr.
Greene, late judge of the supreme and
circnit courts of Michigan says; "We are
half a century behind England in meth
ods of the treatment of crime and in
prison reform." The English records
show that crime has been steadily de
creasing in England and Wales for many
years past. The actual number of ar
rests and imprisonments have been
steadily becoming smaller year by year,
whilst in this country they are steadily
growing larger. In England and Wales,
eleven years ago, there were 31,504 pris
oners locked up in their prisons. Last
year there were only 21,277, showing a
decrease of 10,227. This condition of
things in our country as compared with
England is very largely due to the bad
methods in operation here. In England
the administration of penal justice is
wholly removed from politics. We know
that this is not always the case in this
country. Sometimes the warden of a
penitentiary is appointed merely upon
political grounds, when in many cases he is
totally unfitted to fill such an important
position. A man who is to have the re
sponsibility of handling several hundred
prisoners to the best advantage, with a
view to the reformation of their lives,
should be a man of the broadest educa
tion and a man thoroughly fitted to fill
the position. There ought to be opened
in our State University a department for
the training of men and women to fill
these various positions of responsibility
in our correctional and charitable insti
tutions. In England officers enter the
service in the prisons first in the lowest
position, and after successfully passing
the examination before the Civil Service
Commission are promoted to a higher
and more responsible position. In all
chsps they are promoted strictly ac
cording to merit, and, step by step,
rise from one position of responsibility
to another until they reach the highest
position. During all this time they are
not in the least danger of losing their
positions unless they deserve it. In this
way good officers are secured, men who
are adapted to the work, men who make
it their life work; and the law provides
that after teu years of service these of
ficers are entitled to a pension of one
sixth of their salary. In 1878 the con
trol of all local prisons of England and
Wales was transferred to the general
government. These prisons at that time
numbered 113; within a few weeks after
the transfer, fifty-four of them were dis
continued altogether. Since that time
there has been a having to the govern
ment on an average of $420,000 annu
ally. The most important advantages,
however, of the change have been the
great improvement in the prison disci
pline, as well as uniformity. In many of
the states in this country great improve
ments have been made in the methods of
dealing with the criminals under the in
fluence of the State Bourds of Charities:
As soon as we have such a board created
in our state we shall look for greater
changesand greater improvements, which
will result in the reformation of many
Allow me, in conclusion, to appeal to
you for co-operation in the efforts which,
are made to bring about a better condi
tion of things in our state. I make this
appeal on the ground of Christianity. Ii
make it. in the interest of humanity. I;
make it on the ground of patriotism. We
love this state of ours. We have chosen'
this commonwealth for our homes. 1
"Breathes there a man with soul so dead
that never to itself hath said, This is
my own, my native land?"
Moved by the highest spirit of patriot
ism, let ns do all that we can to correct
the abuses which are now prevailing in
this loved state of ours. Let us combine
Our Great Clubbing
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