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While our criminal codes are less barbaric in the punishments they
gist would put them with the criminal classes. The same is true of
More important than the establishment of a criminal zone for the designation of those who fall within its boundaries is the practical identification of criminals determined by scientific measurements and based upon their police and prison records. If criminal anthropology is of little value to the judge and the prison director, criminal anthropometry is of great value in establishing the identity of a man, and thus connecting him with his previous history, whether it be good or bad. It is of great practical importance, in any police system, to determine the identity of a person who is arrested. The application of the Bertillon system of measurements renders this not only possible, but easy, with reference to any person who has been previously arrested. This system is now adopted throughout France. Thirty minutes after a man is arrested, it is possible to tell whether he has been arrested before, how many times he has been committed, and what sentences have been imposed. In short, the identification of a person will furnish the key to his record. It does not matter in what part of France he may be arrested: the central bureau at Paris can furnish the information to any police court in the republic. In the United States this system has been adopted in a few cities; but we are far behind Europe, and especially France, in this respect. Criminals go from State to State and from city to city. While some of them may be well known to the police, others have no difficulty in concealing their identity. The adoption of laws for cumulative sentences in
many of the States renders identification very important. In some States the criminal may be committed for twenty-five years after the third offence. Under such laws identification is absolutely necessary. It is to be hoped that a more general adoption of the Bertillon system in this country and a central system of registry will check the migration of criminals.
Centralized Administration.— Certain countries of Europe England and France, especially-have a great advantage over the United States in the uniformity and economy which they secure through centralized administration. In the United States, for instance, there are forty-five States, with forty-five systems of prison administration. There is not even a central bureau of information. Not only are there forty-five different State systems, but even in the same State authority may be divided and distributed in different counties. For instance, in the State of Massachusetts, though we have a board of prison commissioners, their plenary authority only extends over the State institutions. They have no authority over the institutions of the city of Boston, and only a power of inspection and suggestion over the county prisons. It is apparent that we could get along with fewer institutions in Massachusetts, and secure better classification, greater uniformity and economy, and better reformatory results, if all the penal institutions of the State were under State control. The results gained in England and France by such centralization are beyond dispute. In the United States, though we cannot have federal centralization, it is very desirable to have State centralization, which would sufficiently preserve any advantages of local government.
Prison Officials.-In Europe, prison officials have the advantage of a more secure tenure of office than where they are still subject, as with us, to the caprices of political fortune. The establishment of a merit system in France is supplemented by schools for the instruction of prison officers in their duties. Officers are detailed from the different departments to Paris, to receive instruction. I was struck also in Prussia with the intelligence and character of prison officers. Personality is a great element in any method of prison reform. We have obtained in the United States the services of many devoted and superior men in this work. They need the protection which comes from a secure tenure of office and opportunity for promotion.
Prison Labor.— Prison labor in Europe is hampered to some extent, as on this side of the water, by labor agitation. I suspect, though I am not sure, that prison labor on the Continent is more diversified than with us. But in one respect they are far ahead of us in Europe: I mean in introducing productive labor in their jails, -obligatory for those under sentence, and optional for those who are under accusation. It is not uncommon on this side for a man to remain several months in jail without work or the opportunity to get it. It is demoralizing to the prisoner and unnecessarily expensive to the State.
Earnings of Prisoners.- Still another respect in which Europe has the advantage is in the very general adoption of the practice of allowing the prisoners a percentage of their earnings. This custom prevails in nearly all European countries. It is a valuable aid to good discipline and furnishes a stimulus to energy. Half of the amount thus allowed to prisoners is available during their imprisonment, and may be applied to the purchase of such articles as the director permits, or, if the prisoner is married, may go toward the support of his family. The amount which the prisoner may thus earn varies greatly in different countries on the Continent. In some cases it is very small. In others it amounts to a considerable sum, sufficient to give substantial aid to his family and to furnish the discharged prisoner with money for transportation to his home, to buy tools, and to pay his board until he can secure work. In the few American States in which it has been adopted it has worked well, though much, of course, depends upon the rate of compensation and the rules under which it is secured.
Discharged Convicts. Two years ago, at the session of the International Prison Congress in Paris, I made a special study of the work for discharged convicts. I was somewhat surprised to find how much further ahead England, France, and Switzerland are than the United States in this matter. A report made by me through the State Department to the Congress of the United States has been published, with other special papers, in connection with the report of the last International Prison Congress. A few more copies of this report are still available for distribution on application to “The United States Prison Commissioner, State Department." At the time this report was prepared, two years ago, it appeared that, while there were ninety societies in Great Britain, nearly fifty in France,
and twenty-five in little Switzerland, there were not more than five active societies in the United States. Work of this kind, to be sure, is done to some extent by charity organization societies, so that the case against us may not be quite so bad as it seems; but the figures are sufficient proof that this work is here much neglected. We have much to learn from the experience and example of Europe in this direction. Especially are the Swiss methods worthy of adoption, under which the prisoner is brought, some months before his release, into personal relation with the designated patron, who visits him before he leaves the prison, makes his acquaintance, gives him encouragement and advice, helps to reconcile him to his friends, takes charge of the money he has earned, and sees that it is not wasted on his release. This direct personal interest in the prisoner and his welfare has been productive of the most beneficent results, and the percentage of recidivism in the cantons where it is applied has been greatly reduced.
SIMPLICITY IN JAIL CONSTRUCTION.
ABSTRACT OF PAPER BY ERNEST BICKNELL,
SECRETARY BOARD OF STATE CHARITIES, INDIANAPOLIS, IND.
From the old methods of primitive jail construction we are in danger of going to the opposite extreme. We are likely to make our jails too good. There is a modern tendency to leave out of our calculations in jail building two of the essential conditions: first, a consideration of the persons for whose detention the jails are built; and, second, the persons who usually have charge of jail administration.
The population of the average jail is composed chiefly of people who know and care little about sanitary laws. The indiscriminate association of the innocent and first offenders with the hardened criminals does not, as a rule, impress them as particularly objectionable. Unsanitary habits, which are counteracted by fresh air and exercise in ordinary life, are carried into jail, where their unwholesome effects are unchecked and multiplied.
The facts are almost identically the same in regard to the average jail officer. His knowledge of laws of sanitation or proper rules for government of prisoners under his control is little greater than that of the prisoners themselves.
To be counted against the efficiency of the officer, also, is the ineradicable inclination of the ordinary jail-keeper to pursue the line of least resistance. This inclination leads him to leave undone many important duties, and to do harmful things or permit them to be done in order to avoid displeasing the prisoners. It is a common occurrence for a jailer to excuse his derelictions of duty by quoting the wishes or opinions of his prisoners. This inclination to do the easiest thing is particularly fruitful of bad results in the management of any system of mechanism which requires careful, 'timely, or fre quent attention, in order to insure its successful operation. But, be the jailer well fitted for his position in all other respects, he is a rare officer who has the power of command necessary to maintain order among the prisoners, who, as a rule, are strangers to discipline.
As long as the county jail system obtains, as at present organized, this condition will continue. The number of jails and their small size will make it impracticable to secure trained officers or to pay salaries sufficient to secure the services of efficient men. Political conditions, too, must be reckoned with in a majority of the States; and these lead to frequent changes in officers and to the selection of men for political reasons without regard to personal fitness for the duties intrusted to them. The impossibility of greatly changing these conditions, for many years to come, leaves for us no alternative. We must so construct our jails that they will serve their purpose as well as possible within the governing circumstances.
The local authorities, who control county revenues and have the final word, belong to one of two classes. Those in one class believe all that is necessary in a jail is a building of four massive walls, a few small windows heavily barred, and a strong door, with just sufficient division of the space inside to keep the sexes from indiscriminately mingling together. They maintain that, if people do not like the "accommodations," they should keep out of jail, and usually remark with conclusive and sarcastic emphasis that the county cannot afford to run a first-class hotel for its criminals. They sometimes add that they, the officers speaking, have managed to live in comfort without sewers, water-works, bath-rooms, ventilators, etc., in their