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THE NEED FOR A UNIFORM SETTLEMENT LAW

Arthur P. Hasking, M.D., County Adjuster, Hudson County,
New Jersey

For a long time there has been recognition of the responsibility of a community for the care of its dependents, and also for the temporary care of those in their midst who are transient or recent residents. It was also recognized that this responsibility should be followed by reasonable and proper attempts to remove or aid in the removal of these latter to the place where they really belonged.

Because of this there were evolved legal procedures as to the way in which this was to be accomplished, and to determine when and where the responsibility for care should be placed.

Under the English law this was determined by settlement laws. These were brought to the colonies and served as the foundation for statutes in states and were adopted in principle by states later entering the Union, so that today there is some legislation on this subject in every state. At first there was general uniformity, but later changes have brought considerable conflict in the statutes. In England the problem was generally between counties or towns under a uniform national law, while we have the state as a new unit between divisions of the community and nation, and, under our form of government, the state laws govern the counties composing it, we having no national laws. The states have enacted legislation which has produced, through lack of uniformity, conditions not originally anticipated.

It has been said, under common law, and generally accepted as a principle, I believe, that no one is without legal settlement somewhere, but, principally due to lack of uniformity in our state laws, people are found who have no legal settlement. It is this lack of uniformity in laws and the resulting conditions that should urge us to take some remedial measures.

I wish to urge the great importance of this and, through recognition by this organization and similar bodies interested in social welfare, to bring this subject to the attention of the legislative bodies so that our communities shall not be needlessly burdened by care of the non-settled, yet the non-settled may be humanely cared for, and that their removal may be effected in an orderly manner, so that the interests of all may be properly guarded.

When we consider the large number of non-settled non-residents or alien dependents who receive care in addition to the regular citizens of a community we must realize that it produces a condition of overcrowding or of inadequate care of the real citizens for whom the institutions were primarily built and maintained. In many states, the burden of the alien or non-settled has increased to large proportions and necessity for their removal has become pressing. The great importance of this cannot be denied. It is becoming recognized by the financial department of our states because of the increasing cost of care of de

pendents. I wish to refer to the able presentation of the facts pertaining to New York, in this regard, by Dr. Spencer L. Dawes, of the Bureau of Deportation, New York State Hospital Commission, before the American Psychiatric Association in 1924, and published in its Proceedings.

It is not only the recognized right, but, I believe, the duty, of the community to remove dependents having only transient or temporary claims to its services, but how is this to be brought about, with the many conflicting state statutes and the many agencies of the state charged with this duty? It has been said by some that only federal action, legislation, or constitutional amendment will do this; with this I do not agree. I believe it is a matter that can, and should, be met by the states. To point the way, we have but to consider the automobile; after it came into existence, there came legislative need to govern its use; each state legislated as it saw fit, but these regulatory acts varied, as did local conditions or views, and in consequence, interstate auto travel was handicapped. This resulted in a conference between heads of motor vehicle departments of a few neighboring states, and the working out of a plan for uniformity in the essentials relating to the use of automobiles in states other than those in which they were registered. This, in turn, resulted in state legislation in conformity with the general plan, so that now, I understand, there is approximately a uniform law covering the interstate use of automobiles. All this was brought about by simple conference and agreement. Similarly, there are many laws concerning business relations that have been made practically uniform throughout the states.

If uniformity can be brought about in such matters, how much more proper is it that we should seek uniformity in matters relating to the welfare of unfortunates who, from some physical, mental, or social disability, have become unable to care for themselves? Certainly the humane aspects should be the strongest incentive for prompt movement in this direction. How shall we accomplish this, and what are the important points to be considered?

I believe that prominent organizations like this, the American Psychiatric Association, and the departmental officers of the various states could do this very well, as their recommendations would have great weight with the legislatures.

I feel that we have more uniformity in cases of the insane. Many of the states are in accord in major details for this class of dependents, yet there are many to be improved. In New Jersey, in 1915, a commission was appointed by the legislature of persons officially connected with this work; that commission, as a report, submitted a bill, which was enacted in 1916, dealing only with the insane. Its usefulness was so demonstrated that in 1918 the feebleminded, epileptic, and tubercular were included within this act. In 1924 the poor laws were revised and the general provisions and scheme of placing responsibility of the general act was incorporated in the poor law, so that we now have in New Jersey one general uniform plan for determining details of support, maintenance, set

tlement, and removal of all dependents, and all groups, practically, are handled through the same agencies and departments. I believe that in the plan of a uniform law within the state for all classes of dependents we have a basis of effort for uniformity between states. The practical point is that one state agency negotiates for all groups of dependents; the success of the plan in our state, I believe, justifies its principle.

Therefore it might be well if the states made their requirements uniform for all classes of dependents. I do not think many changes will be found to be necessary. Many states are now practically in accord relative to the removal of the insane.

All who have to deal with the removal or care of non-settled realize the great advantage that would result if we were working under a uniform plan for all groups of dependents. While there are details to be considered in making the laws uniform, I offer some of the more important points for your consideration: First, should any distinction be made between a non-settled person who is a citizen of the United States and one who is not? Some states make citizenship necessary for settlements. While this is a debatable point, and I concede that strong arguments can be offered on both sides, still, after considerable thought, I am inclined to take the position that a distinction should be made. Second, a definite and distinct way should be provided in which legal settlement is to be acquired. In most states the requirement is continuous residence for a year. Third, a definite and distinct way should be provided in which legal settlement is to be lost. In many states it is absence for a year; some say "Residence without the state for more than a year"; and some state "Physical absence for over a year." We should have a definite provision covering the ordinary conditions of travel, absence on account of health, business, etc. As many states are making provisions for absentee voting, this also should be considered in this provision as expressing intent of the person to retain settlement. Fourth, I believe time spent in any charitable or correctional institution, public or private hospital, should be deducted. In other words, the settlement of the dependent should be considered as that which existed when he entered. Fifth, definite provision as to the settlement of a wife or minor children should be made. In most states, the settlement of a wife is that of her husband. Under federal laws, the settlement of aliens is a personal one, and not derived or dependent upon relationship. As women have the right to vote, I believe that a wife's settlement could be determined by the place of her choice as indicated by her vote; otherwise it should remain that of her husband. Sixth, a comprehensive definition should be given as to what legal settlement is. Seventh, provision should be made whereby a wife who is institutionalized in a proper state would not be transferred if the husband should later move into another state and then acquire a legal settlement there. The state has power to remove, within the prescribed time, to prevent a dependent from obtaining legal settlement, yet it could not remove the husband for any reason, and later the state may be called upon to receive the

wife, and she would not be deportable. Eighth, special provision having been made for persons in charitable homes or fraternal institutions, whereby a change in either the phyical, mental, or financial status renders further care at that place impossible and they become public charges there, how is settlement to be determined? This is important, as a state in which is located an institution of this type would later be penalized by the burden of their cases. One state has a provision that their settlement is to be computed as of the time of their admission, provided they did not vote locally while in the institution. This, I think, is a fair provision. Tenth, terms "resident," "residence," or "residing" should be discarded. These terms have been generally used and variously legislated upon or interpreted by the courts. Let us use the old term "legal settlement," or else a new definite or distinctive one. Eleventh, provision should be made whereby a person, non-settled, may be retained in the state while full board is paid, and, when that stops, the patient should be treated as under the fourth suggestion. In some states the law will not allow a non-resident to be retained in a state institution, irrespective of indigency; of course, this provision would have to be reconsidered if this was to be allowed. Twelfth, some simple method should be provided for appointment of a guardian. Thirteenth, a reciprocal clause, whereby a state concedes to another the same distinctions and classifications as that state accords it, should be provided. This provision could be the first proposed, as many of the states are now nearly uniform in their requirements, and it would provide an incentive to other states to avail themselves of more advantageous disposal of their cases. It would do more, I believe, to expedite the adoption of a law that was uniform in all states than any other provision; here again I want to emphasize the great importance of having one agency in each state authorized to handle all groups of dependents, as in a short time these agencies could probably better bring about uniformity than any other group.

I hope I have made clear the great necessity for uniformity in our removal and settlement laws and offered suggestions as to ways in which it might be done. In closing, I believe the strongest argument is that the retention of the non-settled dependents deprives our citizens of the full facilities of the institutions and agencies provided and maintained for them, and also adds an additional burden on the already overburdened taxpayer.

THE NEED FOR A UNIFORM SETTLEMENT LAW

J.L. Gillin, Professor of Sociology, University of Wisconsin, Madison For almost five hundred years the law of settlement has plagued Western civilization. Its difficulties are as great today as in the days when the first statute was enacted in England nearly half a millennium ago. It still vexed pub

lic poor relief officials and the executives of private charity organization. What is the history of this perplexing law?

In 1348 the Black Death swept over England and destroyed from a third to a half of the population. Laborers were in great demand, and consequently asked higher prices for their labor. The employing classes, chiefly members of the aristocracy then in charge of Parliament, passed the famous Statute of Laborers to correct this tendency and to keep the wages at the level they had occupied before the Black Death. Laborers who hitherto had been quite fixed to the manor farms began to migrate in search of higher wages. Furthermore, a little later on, the breakdown of the old manorial system of agriculture, due to the inclosures of the common land for sheep raising, added to the restlessness of the population and added an incentive to control the movement of labor. Moreover, an agricultural and industrial revolution occurred at that time. This revolution came about by certain changes, such as the discovery of America and the subsequent bringing in of large quantities of silver; by changes in the population and industry due to the many wars. In consequence large numbers of men left their settled occupations and began to wander about the country, many of them becoming vagabonds and vagrants of a dangerous character. The breakdown of the feudal system, the agricultural aspect of which was that the villeins of the manor were practically freed and placed upon their own resources and responsibilities, resulted in large numbers of people without stable relationships, who hitherto had been taken care of upon the manors by their lords. In these changing situations in a new social and economic world we find the conditions which called out the law of settlement.

This law finds its application to the problem of the dependent when in the sixteenth century, the various communities of England began to take in charge the dependent individual. One of the clauses of the first Statute of Laborers, which was passed in 1349, related that "many strong beggars, as long as they may live by begging, do refuse to labor, giving themselves to idleness and vice, and sometimes to thefts and other abominations." The law provided that no person, upon pain of punishment, should, under any color of pity or alms, give anything to such persons, and that no person should presume to favor them in their idleness, so that they might be compelled to labor for their living. This statute was followed by others in 1360 and 1388, both of which endeavored to prevent laborers from traveling about the country. Those who disobeyed were to be branded on the forehead at the discretion of the justice of peace or placed in the public stocks. Impotent beggars, that is, those really unable to work, were made the responsibility of the locality where they were at the passing of the act. So many of these wanderers had drifted to London that that city in 1359 passed a city ordinance ordering them to leave the city at once or be put into the stocks. The first general poor law passed in England in 1536, and the next, the great Law of Elizabeth, in 1601, again tried to place the responsibility for the support

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* Lee, Source Book of English History (New York, 1905), p. 208.

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