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of Heaven. We degrade the conception of God's wrath against sin when we confound it with the anger of a police justice and a pickpocket. We destroy the spirituality and nobility of religious thought when we compare the decree of the all-wise, all-just Creator, who looks upon the heart and weighs the whole life in unerring scales, with the sentence of the judge, specifying a term of confinement, within narrow legal limits, upon the technical proof of a single


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Let us face the truth. The system of imprisonment for definite terms as retribution for individual offences is an utter failure. It is without reason in principle; it is without practical value. It has broken down in philanthropy, in morals, and in experience. While it has controlled and inspired the general legislation of nations against crime, therefore it has failed to satisfy statesmen, philanthropists, and social students, and has met with a steadily increasing protest and revolt from them all. The system seemed a generation ago to be firmly intrenched in public opinion, and its critics were almost voiceless. But a gradual, silent change has taken place, until now it is modified, weakened, undermined in every direction. Even the penal codes themselves begin to bear strong traces of the revolt against it.

Thus, in many jurisdictions, prisons for retributory confinement have been made, in a greater or less degree, institutions for the reform of criminals, the aim of retaliation giving way in part to that of education. With this in view the principle of shortening the confinement for good behavior and that of release upon parole have been widely introduced. Instead of such prisons, reformatories have been built for young criminals or first offenders, in which the entire organization is devised for the purpose of fitting the inmates for free and useful life. Several States have adopted the indeterminate sentence, either generally, for all offenders confined in particular institutions, or at the discretion in each case of the court. Each of these improvements is in itself a distinct abandonment of the entire theory on which our penal codes are constructed, and logically involves the rejection of all retaliatory punishment, the overthrow of the system of apportioned periods of imprisonment, and the adoption of the principle that the sole end of criminal' law is the protection of society. But logical consistency is as yet unknown in the criminal law of any community. No comprehensive and consistent

system of penal law, founded on this true conception of the duty of government, has yet been framed and proposed, much less enacted in any country.

Of all recent encroachments upon the traditional system of criminal jurisprudence, the most significant and the most momentous in its promise is that which is before us for discussion to-day. Its origin was not in theory, but in local experience. It is true that, early in 1870, Émile de Girardin, the famous Parisian editor and sociologist, published a series of articles in his daily journal, La Liberté, showing the failure of imprisonment as a penalty, the practical effect of the prison system as the educating institution of the criminal class, and the necessity of a great reform by which all first offenders should be made the wards of the community, and placed in social relations under every influence of restraint and training which society can bring to bear to fit them for social life. But these papers were doubtless unknown to the humane laborers who introduced the probation system in Boston a few years later. Nearly twenty-five years ago an old man of leisure and of the highest benevolence became known in the criminal courts of Boston as a watchful friend of every friendless youth dragged before them. Father Cook was a practical philanthropist, who sought to do good to the needy in each individual case as he met with it, and left the theories of law to others. He came every day to learn whether among the unfortunates seized as culprits there were any who were innocent, or any whose error was but an incident strange to the tenor of life and without root in character, or any who were not yet hardened, but in whom there was hope, under proper guidance, of penitence and reform. He investigated each case, and was gladly accepted by the courts as an adviser. His experience and his insight into human nature gave weight to his intercession. When there was a prospect of saving the accused from a life of crime, he voluntarily accepted his guardianship; and the judges were eager to place such cases in his charge. Thus he became, informally and without official position, the recognized probation officer for the young offenders of Boston; and scores of boys were saved by him from entering the prison which would have been their hell, and were restored to self-respect and independence. In 1878 the first law on the subject was passed, requiring the appointment of a probation officer for the city of Boston; and the courts were so wise and so fortunate as to obtain in this office

the services of the late Edward H. Savage, formerly chief of police. of the city, who filled it for fourteen years, till his death, with selfsacrificing zeal and with an efficiency which commended the system to general approval. In 1880 a law was passed for the whole State, authorizing the aldermen of each city save Boston and the selectmen of each town to establish the office; but hardly anything was done under it, the municipal authorities proving to be as narrow and destitute of enlightened enterprise in Massachusetts as elsewhere. In 1891 the late Governor William E. Russell, in his inaugural address, brought the principle of this reform impressively before the public mind, and recommended the universal adoption of the Probation System; and on May 28 of that year a law was passed requiring the criminal courts to appoint probation officers throughout the Commonwealth, and defining their powers and duties. Successive amendments have improved the system by increasing the number of such officers, by adding a woman to the force in Boston to take charge of the cases of female offenders, and by enlarging the powers of the courts, through these almoners of their bounty, to grant efficient help to these most needy dependents.

A commission appointed in 1896 to investigate the Charitable and Reformatory Interests and Institutions of the Commonwealth reports that this probation system has worked with admirable results, and advises its further enlargement. Meanwhile, year by year, the legislature has in many ways relaxed and modified the traditional notions of criminal justice. The authorities are now permitted to release on parole prisoners with not more than six months to serve, all convicts sentenced for the first offence who have served two-thirds of their time, after the reductions allowed for good behavior, and even those. confined as habitual criminals, upon proof of reformation. Thus the old notions of retribution have been abandoned, and a steady approach made to the principle that no man should be confined in prison who can with safety to society be free. In many other States of the Union penal codes have been modified in the same direction. Reformatories have been built, the indeterminate sentence has been authorized, the parole of prisoners deemed worthy of trust has been permitted. The probation system in its full extent has been recommended by Prison Boards for adoption. A similar method of dealing with juvenile offenders has been practised in Great Britain with extraordinarily good results for several years, and delegations from

some countries of the continent of Europe have recently visited Massachusetts to study the system with a view to its introduction at home. Another significant fact in this connection is that the State prisoners of North Carolina have for many months been led out upon the open highways with no guard save one foreman for each gang, to do hard work in making roads. They have been subject to no more restraint than other laborers, seeking food and lodging wherever their labor took them, and in some instances in their own former homes. Not a single effort has been made to escape; and the labor has proved even more efficient than that of the average hired workman, while the effects on the character and temper of the men have proved highly beneficial.

The tendency of the times, then, is already to reduce to a minimum the use of stone walls and iron bars for the confinement of men. There has never been any pretext for the general and indiscriminate adoption of imprisonment for offenders against law except the utterly baseless and exploded fancy that it could be distributed in proportion to their desert. In olden times, when the prison was used simply to detain people who were wanted for trial or punishment, or to restrain a foeman's liberty, there was at least an intelligible purpose in it. The assertion sometimes made that · jails are meant to hold people who cannot safely be left at large has no meaning at all in our penal systems. Can anything be more absurd than a law which declares that, if a man picks a pocket, his liberty shall be inconsistent with the safety of society for at least six months, but not more than three years; while, if he steals at night from a dwelling, his neighbors will need this protection for at least two years, but he will surely be fit for freedom after ten? Our scheme for assigning periods of confinement to particular crimes has no relation whatever to the safety of society or the fitness of men for liberty. We have now abandoned the superstition that such sentences are a just recompense to offenders. They have, therefore, no foundation whatever in principle. They are merely a relic of beliefs and forms of thought which belong to an earlier stage of civilization.. Until the method by which government shall deal with crime is considered as a question of social science, wholly uninfluenced by the traditional codes, there can be no clear conception even of the nature of the problem.

There is very grave doubt whether, on the whole, our prisons do

not do more harm than good. For a century past they have been in every country the great schools of crime. Men are sent to them on trifling charges, and corrupted for life. Thousands of innocent persons, detained on mistaken accusations or as witnesses, have been consigned to degrading associations and made criminals by them. Thousands of others, condemned for a sudden impulse or a temporary weakness, which did not prove a depraved character, have been shut out from hope and forced to become enemies of mankind. The graduates of the prison, with the rarest exceptions, make up the criminal class of Christendom. It has been the effort of philanthropists, from the days of John Howard, to reform the prisons themselves, and to put an end to the filth and vile companionship, the idleness and vice, the irresponsible and brutal government, which has made so many of them images of hell. But even in these respects the reform is sadly imperfect; and its difficulties are better understood, the more the effort is pressed. In the richest States of our own Union, and amid the universal charities of our day, there are a hundred institutions maintained at the public cost which are carrying on their work of destroying body and soul. Nor would the end of the reform be accomplished if every prison and jail in the world were at once made the home of cleanliness, industry, and Christian education. The fact remains that the solitary life of a prison is unnatural. It crushes the social habits and instincts, and unfits men for life among their fellows. Take a young man of average capacity and conscience, whom you wish to train for useful citizenship, and lock him up for one, five, or ten years, and you will not have helped him. You will have maimed him, mind, heart, and soul, for all the future. If he is a weak or passionate or unruly nature, prone to disorder, in need of all the training naturally gained by social intercourse, and by steering his own career among men, is he helped by depriving him of human society and of the habit of self-regulation and self-guidance? Is he helped by branding him forever with the name of convict, prison-bird, felon, enemy of mankind? No: true prison reform consists in doing away as far as possible with prisons.

These considerations show that the probation system is in its infancy. It is the partial and tentative expression of a great principle which is susceptible of vast extension and of general application. It points to wholly new and rational methods of dealing with crime. How to prevent offences, not how to avenge them,

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