1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Juvenile Offenders
JUVENILE OFFENDERS. In modern social science the question of the proper penal treatment of juvenile (i.e. non-adult) offenders has been increasingly discussed; and the reformatory principle, first applied in the case of children, has even been extended to reclaimable adult offenders (juveniles in crime, if not in age) in a way which brings them sufficiently within the same category to be noticed in this article. In the old days the main idea in England was to use the same penal methods for all criminals, young and old; when the child broke the law he was sent to prison like his elders. It was only in comparatively recent times that it was realized that child criminals were too often the victims to circumstances beyond their own control. They were cursed with inherited taint; they were brought up among evil surroundings; they suffered from the culpable neglect of vicious parents, and still more from bad example and pernicious promptings. They were rather potential than actual criminals, calling for rescue and regeneration rather than vindictive reprisals. Under the old system a painstaking English gaol chaplain calculated that 58% of all criminals had made their first lapse at fifteen. Boys and girls laughed at imprisonment. Striplings of thirteen and fourteen had been committed ten, twelve, sixteen or seventeen times. Religion and moral improvement were little regarded in prisons, industrial and technical training were impossible. The chief lesson learnt was an intimate and contemptuous acquaintance with the demoralizing interior of a gaol. There were at one time in London 200 “flash houses” frequented by 6000 boys trained and proficient in thieving and depredation.
The substantial movement for reform dates from the protests of Charles Dickens, who roused public opinion to such an extent that the first Reformatory School Act was passed in 1854. Sporadic efforts to meet the evil had indeed been made earlier. In 1756 the Marine Society established a school for the reception and reform of younger criminals; in 1788 the City of London formed a similar institution, which grew much later into the farm school at Redhill. In 1838 an act of parliament created an establishment at Parkhurst for the detention and correction of juvenile offenders, to whom pardon was given conditional on their entrance into some charitable institution. Parkhurst was technically a prison, and the system combined industrial training with religious and educational instruction. These earlier efforts had, however, been quite insufficient to meet the evils, for in the years immediately preceding 1854 crime was being so constantly reinforced in its beginnings, under the existing penal system, that it threatened to swamp the country. Unofficial, but more or less accurate, figures showed that between 11,000 and 12,000 juveniles passed annually through the prisons of England and Wales, a third of the whole number being contributed by London alone. In 1854 the total reached 14,000. The ages of offenders ranged from less than twelve to seventeen; 60% of the whole were between fourteen and seventeen; 46% had been committed more than once; 18% four times and more.
The Reformatory School Act 1854, which was thrashed out at conferences held in Birmingham in 1851 and 1853, substituted the school for the gaol, and all judicial benches were empowered to send delinquents to schools when they had been guilty of acts punishable by short imprisonment, the limit of which was at first fourteen and became afterwards ten days. A serious flaw in this act long survived; this was the provision that a short period of imprisonment in gaol must precede reception into the reformatory; it was upheld by well-meaning but mistaken people as essential for deterrence. But more enlightened opinion condemned the rule as inflicting an indelible prison taint and breeding contamination, even with ample and effective safeguards. Wiser legislation has followed, and an act of 1899 abolished preliminary imprisonment.
Existing reformatories, or “senior home office schools” as they are officially styled, in England numbered 44 in 1907. They receive all juvenile offenders, up to the age of sixteen, who have been convicted of an offence punishable with penal servitude or imprisonment. The number of these during the years between 1894 and 1906 constantly varied, but the figure of the earliest date, 6604, was never exceeded, and in some years it was considerably less, while in 1906 it was no more than 5586, though the general population had increased by several millions in the period. These figures, in comparison with those of 1854, must be deemed highly satisfactory, even when we take into account that the latter went up to the age of seventeen. Older offenders, between sixteen and twenty-one, come within the category of juvenile adults and are dealt with differently (see Borstal Scheme below).
Other schools must be classed with the reformatory, although they have no connexion with prisons and deal with youths who are only potential criminals. The first in importance are the industrial schools. When the newly devised reformatories were doing excellent service it was realized that many of the rising generation might some day lapse into evil ways but were still on the right side and might with proper precautions be kept there. They wanted preventive, not punitive treatment, and for them industrial schools were instituted. The germ of these establishments existed in the Ragged Schools, “intended to educate destitute children and save them from vagrancy and crime.” They had been invented by John Pounds (1766-1839), a Portsmouth shoemaker, who, early in the 19th century, was moved with sympathy for these little outcasts and devoted himself to this good work. The ragged school movement found powerful support in active philanthropists when public attention was aroused to the prevalence of juvenile delinquency. The first Industrial School Act was passed in 1856 and applied only to Scotland. Next year its provisions were extended to England, and their growth was rapid. There were 45 schools in the beginning; in 1878 the number had more than been doubled; in 1907 there were 102 in England and Wales and 31 in Scotland.
The provisions of the Education Acts 1871 and 1876 led to a large increase in the number of children committed for breaches of the law and to the establishment of two kinds of subsidiary industrial schools, short detention of truant schools and day industrial schools in which children do not reside but receive their meals, their elementary education and a certain amount of industrial training. The total admissions to truant schools in 1907 were 1368 boys, and the numbers actually in the schools on the last day of that year were 1125 with 2568 on licence. The average length of detention was fourteen weeks and three days on first admission, seventeen weeks and five days on first re-admission, and twenty-three weeks six days on second re-admission. The total number of admissions into truant schools from 1878 to the end of 1907 was 44,315, of whom just half had been licensed and not returned, 11,239 had been licensed and once re-admitted, 8900 had been re-admitted twice or oftener.
The day industrial schools owed their origin to another reason than the enforcement of the Education Acts. It was found that some special treatment was required for large masses of youths in large cities, who were in such a neglected or degraded condition that there was little hope of their growing into healthy men and women or becoming good citizens. They were left unclean, were ill-fed and insufficiently clothed, and were not usefully taught. The total number who attended these day schools in 1907 was 1951 boys and 1232 girls.
The disciplinary system of the English schools is planned upon the establishment or institution system, as opposed to that of the “family” or “boarding out” systems adopted in some countries, and some controversy has been aroused as to the comparative value of the methods. The British practice has always favoured the well-governed school, with the proviso that it is kept small so that the head may know all of his charges. But a compromise has been effected in large establishments by dividing the boys into “houses,” each containing a small manageable total as a family under an official father or head. Under this system the idea of the home is maintained, while uniformity of treatment and discipline is secured by grouping several houses together under one general authority. The plan of “boarding out” is not generally approved of in England; the value of the domestic training is questionable and of uncertain quality, depending entirely upon the character and fitness of the foster-parents secured. Education must be less systematic in the private home, industrial training is less easily carried out, and there can be none of that esprit de corps that stimulates effort in physical training as applied to athletics and the playing of games. No very definite decision has been arrived at as to the comparative merits of institution life and boarding out. Among the Latin races—France, Italy, Portugal and Spain—the former is as a rule preferred; also in Belgium; in Germany, Holland and the United States placing out in private families is very much the rule; in Austria-Hungary and Russia both methods are in use.
The total admissions to English reformatory schools from their creation to the 31st of December 1907 amounted to 76,455, or 64,031 boys and 12,424 girls. The total discharges for the same period were 70,890, or 59,081 boys and 11,809 girls. The results may be tested by the figures for those discharged in 1904, 1905 and 1906:—
Boys.—3573 were placed out, of whom 66 had died, leaving 3507; of these it was found that 2735 (or about 78%) were in regular employment; 158 (or about 4%) were in casual employment; 439 (or about 13%) had been convicted; and 175 (or about 5%) were unknown.
Girls.—480, of whom 11 had died, leaving 469; of these it was found that 384 (or about 82%) were in regular employment; 28 (or about 6%) were in casual employment; 17 (or about 4%) had been convicted, and 40 (or about 8%) were unknown.
For industrial schools, including truant and day schools, the total admissions, up to the 31st of December 1907, were 153,893, or 120,955 boys and 32,938 girls. The total discharges to the same date (excluding transfers) were 136,961, or 108,398 boys and 28,563 girls. The results as tested by those discharged in 1904, 1905 and 1906 were as follow:—
Boys.—8909 were placed out, of whom 118 had since died, leaving 8791 to be reported on; of these it was found that 7547 (or about 86%) were in regular employment; 415 (or about 4.7%) were in casual employment; 419 (or about 4.7%) convicted or re-committed; and 410 (or about 4.6%) unknown.
Girls.—2505 placed out, of whom 50 had died, leaving 2455; of
these 2180 (or about 89%) were in regular employment; 112 (or about 4%) were in casual employment; 21 (or about 1%) convicted or re-committed; and 142 (or about 6%) unknown.
These results are of course wholly independent of those achieved by the juvenile-adult prison reformatory at Borstal instituted in October 1902. The record of the first year’s work of this excellent system showed that 50% of cases placed out had done well, thanks to the system and philanthropic labours of the Borstal Association.
An interesting point in regard to the reclamation of these criminally inclined juveniles is the nature of the employments to which they have been recommended, and in which, as shown, they have done so well. In 1904, 1905 and 1906, the total number of boys discharged and placed was 12,482. By far the largest number of these, nearly a sixth, joined the army, 679 of them entering the bands; 292 joined the navy; 961 the mercantile marine; 1567 went to farm service; 414 worked in factories or mills as skilled hands; but others joined as labourers, a general class the total of which was 1096. Other jobs found included miners (629), carters (352), iron or steel workers (214), mechanics (301), shoemakers (181), tailors (161), shop assistants (228), carpenters (178), bakers (131), messengers and porters, including 112 errand boys (315). The balance found employment in smaller numbers at other trades. The fate of 585 was unknown, 858 had been re-convicted, and the balance were in unrecorded or casual employment.
The outlets found by the girls from these various schools naturally follow lines appropriate to their sex and the instruction received. Out of a total of 2985 discharged in the three years mentioned, 1235 became general servants, 268 housemaids, 203 laundry-maids, 52 cooks, 98 nursemaids, 65 dressmakers, 221 were engaged in factories and mills, and the balance was made up by marriage, death or casual employment.
In Ireland the reformatory and industrial school system conforms to that of Great Britain. There were in 1905 six reformatory and 70 industrial schools in Ireland, mostly under Roman Catholic management.
A short account of the reformatory methods of dealing with juvenile offenders in certain other countries will fitly find a place here.
Austria-Hungary.—The law leaves children of less than ten years of age to domestic discipline, as also children above that age if not exactly criminal, although the latter may be sent to correctional schools. There they are detained for varying periods, but never after twenty years of age, and they may be sent out on licence to situations or employment found for them. These schools also receive children between ten and fourteen guilty of crimes which are, however, by law deemed “contraventions” only; also the destitute between the same ages and the incorrigible whose parents cannot manage them.
In Hungary the penal code prescribes that children of less than twelve cannot be charged with offences; those between twelve and sixteen may be deemed to have acted without discretion, and thus escape sentence, but are sent to a correctional school where they may be detained till they are twenty years of age. An excellent system prevails in Hungary by which the supervision of those liberated is entrusted to a “protector,” a philanthropic person in the district who visits and reports upon the conduct of the boys, much like the “probation officer” in the United States.
Belgium.—The law of November 1891 places the whole mass of juveniles—those who are likely to give trouble and those who have already done so—at the disposal of the state. The system is very elastic, realizing the infinite variety of childish natures. The purely paternal régime would be wasted upon the really vicious; a severe discipline would press too heavily on the well-disposed. Accordingly, all juveniles, male and female, are divided into six principal classes with a corresponding treatment, it being strictly ruled that there is no intermingling of the classes; the very youngest, rescued early, are never to be associated with the older, who may be already vicious and degraded and who could not fail to exercise a pernicious influence. One of the great merits of the Belgian system is that the regulations may be relaxed, and children of whose amendment good hopes are entertained may be released provisionally, either to the care of parents and guardians or to employers, artisans or agriculturists who will teach them a trade.
Denmark.—There were 61 establishments of all classes for juveniles in Denmark in 1906, holding some 2000 inmates. In 1874, by the will of Countess Danner, a large female refuge was founded at Castle Jagerspris, which holds some 360 girls. Another of the same class is the Royal Vodrofsvei Bonnehjem at Copenhagen, founded in the same year by Mlle Schneider. The régime preferred in Denmark is that of the family or the very small school. The Jagerspris system is to divide the whole number of 360 into small parties of 20 each under a nurse or official mother. Employment in Danish schools is mainly agricultural, field labour and gardening, with a certain amount of industrial training; and on discharge the inmates go to farms or to apprenticeship, while a few emigrate.
France.—There are five methods of disposing of juvenile offenders in France:—
1. The preliminary or preventative prison (maisons d’arrêt and de justice) for those arrested and accused.
2. The ordinary prison for all sentenced to less than six months, whose time of detention is too short to admit of their transfer to a provincial colony. It also receives children whom parents have found unmanageable.
3. The public or private penitentiary colony for the irresponsible children, acquitted as “without discretion,” as well as for the guilty sentenced to more than six months’ and less than two years’ detention.
4. The correctional colony, where the system is more severe, receiving all sentenced for more than two years and all who have misconducted themselves in the milder establishments.
5. Various penitentiary houses for young females, whatever their particular sentence.
Foremost among French penal reformers stands the name of F. A. Demetz (1796-1873), the founder of the famous colony of Mettray. M. Demetz was a judge who, aghast at the evils inflicted upon children whom he was compelled by law to imprison, left the bench and undertook to find some other outlet for them. At that time the French law, while it acquitted minors shown to have acted without discretion, still consigned them for safe keeping and inevitable contamination to the common gaols. M. Demetz conceived the idea of an agricultural colony, and in 1840 organized a small “société paternelle,” as it was called, of which he became vice-president. Another philanthropist, the Vicomte de Bretignières de Courteilles, a landed proprietor in Touraine, associated himself in the enterprise and endowed the institution with land at Mettray near Tours. The earliest labours at Mettray were in the development of the institution, but as this approached completion they were applied to farmwork, agricultural employment being the chief feature of the place. The motto and device of Mettray was “the moralization of youth by the cultivation of the soil”; a healthy life in the open air was to replace the enervating and demoralizing influences of the confined prisons; and this was effected in the usual farming operations, to which were added gardening, vine-dressing, the raising of stock and the breeding of silkworms. The labour was not light; on the contrary, the directors of the colony sought by constant employment to send their charges to bed tired, ready to sleep soundly and not romp and chatter in their dormitories. The excellence of its aims, and the manifestly good results that were growing out of the system, soon made Mettray a model for imitation in France and beyond it. Many establishments were planned upon it, started by the state or private enterprise; penitentiary colonies were created for boys in connexion with some of the great central prisons. The colony of Val de Yèvre has a good record. It was started by a private philanthropist, Charles J. M. Lucas, (1803-1889) but after five-and-twenty years was handed over to the state. Other cognate establishments are those of Petit Quevilly near Rouen, Petit Bourg near Paris, St Hiliar and Eysses. There are several female colonies, especially that of Darnetal at Rouen.
It is for the magistrate or juge d’instruction to select the class of establishment to which the juvenile delinquents brought before him shall be committed. The very young, those of twelve years of age and under, are placed out in the country with families, unless they can be again entrusted to their parents or committed to maisons paternels, containing very limited numbers, twenty or thirty, in charge of a large staff. After twelve, and from that age to fourteen or fifteen, the “ungrateful age” as the French call it, boys are sent to a reformatory or “preservative school,” where they will be under stronger discipline. For the third class, from fifteen to sixteen or eighteen, stricter measures are necessary, so as to dispose of them in specially selected penal colonies, as has already been done at Eysses, where the discipline is severe, while embodying technical and industrial instruction.
Germany.—In most parts of the German Empire juvenile delinquents and neglected youths are treated in the same establishments. No child of less than twelve years of age can be proceeded against in a court of law, although in some German states destitute or abandoned children have been taken at the ages of six, five and even three years. Youths between twelve and eighteen may be convicted, but their offences are passed over if they are proved to have acted without discretion. There are many kinds of correctional institutions and a number of schools not of a correctional character. These last are generally very small, the largest taking barely a hundred, but are very numerous. Many private persons have devoted themselves to the work. Count A. von der Recke-Volmerstein (1791-1878) about 1821 founded a refuge for neglected children in Düsselthal, between Düsseldorf and Elberstadt. Pastor T. F. Fliedner (1800-1864) built up a fine establishment at Kaiserswerth from 1833, in which was an infant school, a penitentiary and an orphan asylum. Another famous name is that of W. von Türk (1774-1846), who studied under Pestalozzi in Switzerland.
A school which has largely influenced public opinion in Great Britain, as in Germany, is the Rauhe Haus, near Hamburg, founded by Dr Wickern in 1833. This began with a single cottage but had grown in twenty years to a hamlet of twenty houses, with from twelve to sixteen inmates in each. The establishment is a Lutheran one; both boys and girls are admitted, in separate houses, and a marked feature of the place is the number of “brothers,” young men of good character qualifying for rescue work as superintendents of homes, prison officers and schoolmasters. They take part in the work and are in constant touch with the boys whom they closely supervise, being bound to “keep them in sight day and night, eat with them, sleep in their dormitories, direct their labour, accompany them to chapel, join in their recreations and sports.” These “brothers” are honourably known throughout the world and have performed a large work in distant lands as missionaries, prison officers and schoolmasters. The Rauhe Haus receives three classes of juveniles: first, the boys, mostly street arabs; second, girls of the same category; third, children taken as boarders from private families, who confess their inability to manage them. The instruction given is in trades, in farming operations, gardening and fruit-raising. The pupils are largely assisted on release, through the good offices of the citizens of Hamburg.
Holland.—In the Low Countries, refuges, called “Godshuis,” were founded as early as the 14th century, intended for the care and shelter of neglected youth and indigent old age. In the 17th century people came from all parts of Europe to learn from the Dutch how orphans and unfortunate children could best be cared for. The Godshuis of Amsterdam was a vast establishment, into which as many as 4000 juveniles were sometimes crowded, with such disastrous effects that its name was changed to that of “pesthuis,” and the government in the beginning of the present century ordered it to be emptied and closed. Other reformatory institutions in Holland are the Netherlands Mettray, the reform school of Zetten, near the Arnheim railway station, for Protestant girls; and that of Alkmaar for boys; the reformatory school of St Vincent de Paul at Amsterdam for both sexes; the Amsterdam reformatory for young vagabonds, male and female; the reform school of Smallepod at Amsterdam. The Netherlands Mettray, which is about five hours’ journey from Amsterdam on a farm called Rissjelt, near Zutphen, is planned on the model of the French Mettray and was founded about 1855 by M. Suringar, a veteran Dutch philanthropist, long vice-president of the directors of prisons in Amsterdam.
Italy.—In Italy there is no distinction between the treatment of the offending and the neglected or deserted in youth. There are seventeen or more correctional establishments, eight of which are state institutions and the rest founded by private benevolence or by charitable associations or local communities. None of these is exclusively agricultural; ten are industrial, seven industrial and agricultural combined. In Italy the age of responsibility is nine, below which no child can be charged with an offence. The Italian schools are mostly planned on a large scale. That of Marchiondi Spagliardi accommodates 550, divided among three houses under one supreme head. The Turazza institution at Treviso holds 380, and there are eight others with from 200 to 300 inmates. The régime is very various; the larger number of schools are on the congregate system, with daily labour in association and isolation by night. The “family” method is also practised with small groups, divisions or companies, into which the children are formed according to age or conduct.
Sweden.—All children below the age of sixteen may be sent to a correctional establishment or boarded out in respectable families:—
1. If they have committed acts punishable by law which indicate moral perversity and it is deemed advisable to correct them.
2. If they are neglected, ill-used, or if their moral deterioration is feared from the vicious life and character of parents or friends.
3. If their conduct at school or at home is such that a more severe correctional treatment is necessary for their rescue.
Under this law the state is also to provide special schools to take all above ten who have shown peculiar depravity; all who have reached eighteen and who are not yet thought fit for freedom; all who have relapsed after provisional release. Sweden is rich in institutions devoted to the care of destitute and deserted children, all due to the efforts of the charitable. The largest correctional establishment is that founded at Hall, near the town of Sodertelge on the shores of the Baltic. This admirable agricultural colony, modelled on that of Mettray, owes its existence to the “Oscar-Josephine society,” founded by Queen Josephine, widow of Oscar I.
United States.—In the words of a report made in 1878 by F. B. Sanborn, secretary of the American Social Science Society, “America can justly plume herself upon the work accomplished by her juvenile reformatories since their inauguration down to the present time.” The first in point of date and still the most considerable of the reformatories in the United States is that founded in 1825, thanks to the unwearied efforts of the great American publicist and philanthropist Edward Livingston, which now has its home on Randall’s Island in New York City. In the following year a reformatory of the same class was founded in Boston, and another in the year after in Philadelphia. All were intended to receive criminal youth. There are state reformatories now in almost all the states of the Union, and those for juvenile adults in New York and Massachusetts have attracted world-wide attention, aiming so high and with such an elaboration of means that they deserve particular description.
The great state reformatory establishment of Elmira, New York, called into existence in 1889 with the avowed aim of compassing the reformation of the criminal by new processes, partakes of the system involved in the treatment of juvenile offenders. It was based upon the principle that crime ought to be attacked in its beginnings by other than ordinary punitive and prison methods. Under this view, the right of society to defend itself by punishment was denied, and it was held that a youthful offender was more sinned against than sinning. It was urged that his crime, due largely to inherited defects, mental or physical and vicious surroundings, was not his own fault, and he had a paramount claim to be treated differently by the state when in custody. The state was not justified in using powers of repression to imprison him in the usual mechanical hard and fast fashion and then return him to society, no better, possibly worse, than before; it was bound to regenerate him, to change his nature, improve his physique, and give him a new mental equipment, so that when again at large he might be fitted to take his place amongst honest citizens, to earn his living by reputable means and escape all temptation to drift back into crime. This is the plausible explanation given for the state reformatory movement, which led to the creation on such costly and extensive lines of Elmira, and of Concord in Massachusetts, a cognate establishment. There is very little penal about the treatment, which is that of a boarding school; the education, thorough and carried far, includes languages, music, science and industrial art; diet is plentiful, even luxurious; amusements and varied recreation are permitted; well stocked libraries are provided with entertaining books; a prison newspaper is issued (edited by an inmate). Physical development is sedulously cultivated both by gymnastics and military exercises, and the whole course is well adapted to change entirely the character of the individual subjected to it. The trouble taken in the hope of transforming erring youth into useful members of society goes still further. The original sentence has been indefinite, and release on parole will be granted to inmates who pass through the various courses with credit and are supposed to have satisfied the authorities of their desire to amend. The limit of detention need not exceed twelve months, after which parole is possible, although the average period passed before it is granted is twenty-two months. The hope of permanent amendment is further sought by the fact that a situation, generally with good wages and congenial work, provided by the authorities, awaits every inmate at the time of his discharge. The inmates, selected from a very large class, are first offenders, but guilty generally of criminal offences, which include manslaughter, burglary, forgery, fraud, robbery and receiving. The exact measure of reformation achieved can never be exactly known, from the absence of authentic statistics and the difficulty of following up the surveillance of individuals when released on parole. Reports issued by the manager of Elmira claim that 81% of those paroled have done well, but these results are not definitely authenticated. They are based upon the ascertained good conduct during the term of surveillance, six or twelve months only, during which time these subjects have not yet spent the gratuities earned and have probably still kept the situations found for them on discharge. No doubt the material treated at Elmira and Concord is of a kind to encourage hope of reformation, as they are first offenders and presumably not of the criminal classes. Although the processes are open to criticism, the discipline enforced in these state reformatories does not err in excessive leniency. They are not “hotels,” as has been sometimes said in ridicule, where prisoners go to enjoy themselves, have a good time, study Plato and conic sections, and pass out to an assured future. There is plenty of hard work, mental and physical, and the “inmates” rather envy their fellows in state prisons. A point to which great attention is paid is that physical degeneracy lies at the bottom of the criminal character, and great attention is paid to the development of nervous energy and strengthening by every means the normal and healthful functions of the body. A leading feature in the treatment is the frequency and perfection with which bathing is carried out. A series of Turkish baths forms a part of the course of instruction; the baths being fitted elaborately with all the adjuncts of shower bath, cold douche, ending with gymnastic exercises.
A remarkable and unique institution is the state reformatory for women at Sherborn, Massachusetts, for women with sentences of more than a year, who in the opinion of the court are fit subjects for reformatory treatment. The majority of the inmates were convicted of drunkenness, an offence which the law of Massachusetts visits with severity—a sentence of two years being very common. This at once differentiates the class of women from that in ordinary penal establishments. At the same time we find that other women guilty of serious crime are sent by the courts to this prison with a view to their reform. Thus of 352 inmates, while no fewer than 200 were convicted of drunkenness, there were also 63 cases of offences against chastity and 30 of larceny. The average age was thirty-one and the average duration of sentence just over a year. In appearance and in character it more resembles a hospital or home for inebriates than a state convict prison. A system of grades or divisions is relied upon as a stimulus to reform. The difference in grades is denoted by small and scarcely perceptible variations of the little details of everyday life, such as are supposed in a peculiar degree to affect the appreciation of women, e.g. in the lowest division the women have their meals off old and chipped china; in the next the china is less chipped; in the highest there is no chipped china; in the next prettily set out with tumblers, cruet-stands and a pepper pot to each prisoner. The superintendent relies greatly also on the moralizing influence of animals and birds. Well-behaved convicts are allowed to tend sheep, calves, pigs, chickens, canaries and parrots. This privilege is highly esteemed and productive, it is said, of the most softening influences.
The “George Junior Republic” (q.v.) is a remarkable institution established in 1895 at Freeville, near the centre of New York State, by Mr. William Reuben George. The original features of the institution are that the motto “Nothing without labour” is rigidly enforced, and that self-government is carried to a point that, with mere children, would appear whimsical were it not a proved success. The place is, as the name implies, a miniature “republic” with laws, legislature, courts and administration of its own, all made and carried on by the “citizens” themselves. The tone and spirit of the place appeared to be excellent and there is much evidence that in many cases strong and independent character is developed in children whose antecedents have been almost hopeless.
Borstal Scheme in England.—The American system of state reformatories as above described has been sharply criticized, but the principle that underlies it is recognized as, in a measure, sound, and it has been adopted by the English authorities. Some time back the experiment of establishing a penal reformatory for offenders above the age hitherto committed to reformatory schools was resolved upon. This led to the foundation of the Borstal scheme, which was first formally started in October 1902. The arguments which had led to it may be briefly stated here. It had been conclusively shown that quite half the whole number of professional criminals had been first convicted when under twenty-one years of age, when still at a malleable period of development, when in short the criminal habit had not yet been definitely formed. Moreover these adolescents escaped special reformatory treatment, for sixteen is in Great Britain the age of criminal majority, after which no youthful offenders can be committed to the state reformatory schools. But there was always a formidable contingent of juvenile adults between sixteen and twenty-one, sent to penal servitude, and their numbers although diminishing rose to an average total of 15,000. It was accordingly decided to create a penal establishment under state control, which should be a half-way house between the prison and the reformatory school. A selection was made of juvenile adults, sentenced to not less than six months and sent to Borstal in 1902 to be treated under rules approved by the home secretary. They were to be divided on arrival into three separate classes, penal, ordinary and special, with promotion by industry and good conduct from the lowest to the highest, in which they enjoyed distinctive privileges. The general system, educational and disciplinary, was intelligent and governed by common sense. Instruction, both manual and educational, was well suited to the recipients; the first embraced field work, market gardening, and a knowledge of useful handicrafts; the second was elementary but sound, aided by well-chosen libraries and brightened by the privilege of evening association to play harmless but interesting games. Physical development was also guaranteed by gymnastics and regular exercises. The results were distinctly encouraging. They arrived at Borstal “rough, untrained cubs,” but rapidly improved in demeanour and inward character, gaining self-reliance and self-respect, and left the prison on the high road to regeneration. It was wisely remembered that to secure lasting amendment it is not enough to chasten the erring subject, to train his hands, to strengthen his moral sense while still in durance; it is essential to assist him on discharge by helping him to find work, and encourage him by timely advice to keep him in the straight path. Too much praise cannot be accorded to the agencies and associations which labour strenuously and unceasingly to this excellent end. Especial good work has been done by the Borstal association, founded under the patronage of the best known and most distinguished persons in English public life—archbishops, judges, cabinet ministers and privy councillors—which receives the juvenile adults on their release and helps them to employment. Their labours, backed by generous voluntary contributions, have produced very gratifying results. Although the offenders originally selected to undergo the Borstal treatment were those committed for a period of six months, it was recognized that this limit was experimental, and that thoroughly satisfactory results could only be obtained with sentences of at least a year’s duration, so as to give the reforming agencies ample time to operate. In the second year’s working of the system it was formally applied to young convicts sentenced to penal servitude between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one. In the next year it was adopted for all offenders between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one committed to prison, as far as the length of sentence would permit. The commissioners of prisons, in their Report for the year 1908 (Cd. 4300) thus expressed themselves on the working of the experiment:—
“Experience soon began to point to the probable success of this general application of the principle, in spite of the fact that the prevailing shortness of sentences operated against full benefit being derived from reformatory effort. The success was most marked in those localities where magistrates, or other benevolent persons, personally co-operated in making the scheme a success. Local Borstal committees were established at all prisons, and it was arranged that those members of the local committees should become ex officio honorary members of the Central Borstal Association, which it was intended should become, what it now is, the parent society directing the general aid on discharge of this category of young prisoners.”
In spite of the general adoption of the Borstal system, there was a large class of young criminals who were outside its effects, those who were sentenced to terms of ten days and under for trifling offences. These juvenile adults, once having had the fear of prison taken away by actual experience, were found to come back again and again. To remedy this state of affairs, a bill was introduced in 1907 to give effect to the principle of a long period of detention for all those showing a tendency to embark on a criminal career. The bill was, however, dropped, but a somewhat similar bill was introduced the next year and became law under the title of The Prevention of Crime Act 1908. This measure introduces a new departure in the treatment of professional crime by initiating a system of detention for habitual criminals (see Recidivism). The act attempts the reformation of young offenders by giving the court power to pass sentence of detention in a Borstal institution for a term of not less than one year nor more than three on those between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one who by reason of criminal habits or tendencies or association with persons of bad character require such instruction and discipline as appear most conducive to their reformation. The power of detention applies also to reformatory school offences, while such persons as are already undergoing penal servitude or imprisonment may be transferred to a Borstal institution if detention would conduce to their advantage. The establishment of other Borstal institutions is authorized by the act, while a very useful provision is the power to release on licence if there is a reasonable probability that the offender will abstain from crime and lead a useful and industrious life. The licence is issued on condition that he is placed under the supervision or authority of some society or person willing to take charge of him. Supervision is introduced after the expiration of the term of sentence, and power is given to transfer to prison incorrigibles or those exercising a bad influence on the other inmates of a Borstal institution. The act marks a noteworthy advance in the endeavour to arrest the growing habit of crime.