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volved in judicial administration, the court fees, and the necessity of retaining expensive counsel, which are the ordinary incidents of legal proceedings, are in numberless cases an effective barrier to the adventure of securing justice. The splendid pledge of Magna Carta, "We will neither sell nor will we deny nor will we delay right or justice," is still, after seven hundred years, "a vision of fulfilled desire." The task of painting this picture of the virtual denial of right and justice to the poor and of the cooperation of the lawyer and the social worker in overcoming the handicap and making good the proud boast of our judicial system that "the rich and the poor are equal before the law" will be adequately performed by Mr. Bradway, my colleague on this occasion.
Let me turn, then, to that phase of the question which is covered by the phrase, "the administration of criminal justice." Here the problem is not the relatively simple one of removing obstacles to the equal application of the law, but the more difficult one of altering the concepts on which the law proceeds. These concepts may be said to be three in number. The first is that the delinquent is a wilful and shameless violator of the law; the second, that his violation, in and of itself, demands punishment; the third, that such punishment of the wrongdoer is the most effective means of protecting society against similar acts of violation.
I venture to assert that the social worker takes issue with each and every one of these fundamental concepts of what we are pleased to term criminal justice. He or she regards the delinquent as an individual member of the human family who, whether through mental or physical defect or through the conditions of his upbringing, has made a failure in his adjustment to the complex conditions of social life. He has earned, not punishment, but understanding. Indeed, society, in many instances, may require his temporary or permanent segregation, but it is served best by a course of treatment which, in many other cases, may restore him to the heritage of useful living which previously had been denied him.
Holding such views as these, so widely at variance with those that prevail in the administration of the law, what can the social worker do to make them prevail?
I am putting this question as it might have presented itself in the first year of the century that now is, when the fact is that it is already by way of being answered. In the quarter-century that has since passed, the social worker, as probation officer, as psychiatrist, as social investigator, has gained a secure footing in the courts that deal with the delinquent.
The juvenile court is, of course, his great achievement, and this has been followed by morals or women's courts and by domestic relations or family courts, in all of which, sometimes only to a slight, but upon the whole to an increasing, extent, the methods of mental and social investigation are being employed and the disposition of the case made to depend on the results of such examination.
If, in the ordinary courts of criminal jurisdiction, these methods still for the most part are regarded as dangerous innovations, we have the notable example of the recorder's court of Detroit and of other courts in many American cities where individual judges, men of light and leading, have adopted similar methods. Let me give you one or two illustrations out of my own experience. Some five years ago I was invited to sit in at a weekly conference which was held by a judge of criminal jurisdiction in an eastern city. Monday was "sentence day," on which the judge in question was accustomed to make final disposition of all the cases that had resulted in conviction of the offender during the preceding week. The conference took place in the judge's chambers and continued for an hour or more before the opening of the court. On the occasion when I was present there were about a dozen cases to be disposed of. The others in attendance were the chief probation officer, a woman of the highest intelligence and professional standing, two assistant probation officers, one a man, the other a woman, and an excellent psychiatrist. There were several other people in an ante-room who were called in when the cases in which they were interested were under consideration. One of these was the wife of a man whose case was up for disposition.
Written reports on the several cases had previously been submitted to the judge and had apparently been read carefully by him. The cases were taken up one by one and submitted to the group of advisers for their opinion. In every instance the question first asked was: "Is this a case that can be handled by our probation service?" If probation was not advised, the place and the term of imprisonment were discussed. From the beginning I was made to feel myself a member of the judicial group and was encouraged to express my opinion. In only one of the cases was there any difference of opinion, that of the man whose wife was waiting outside. So she was called in and the case decided with her help. The husband was a chronic alcoholic who, while under the influence of liquor, had committed an atrocious assault. The wife had come to beg for a suspended sentence, but was led to agree that the safety of the community demanded a prison sentence.
About two years ago I found myself sitting beside the chief justice of a criminal court in a great mid-western city, at a judicial luncheon. The judge, a rather old-fashioned jurist, told me of the recent development of his court, and asked me what I thought of the probation office and psychiatric clinic that were the principal features of the development. I answered honestly but cautiously that I should suppose that these new agencies would furnish the court with information of great value with respect to the individuals brought up for sentence. His reply was, "That's just the trouble. They give the court too much information. They tie the thing up so we don't know what to do." Then he told me of a report that had been handed up to him that morning. It concerned the case of a young bandit who had been convicted a week before of robbery with a gun. The psychiatrist's report, after a lot of technical language about the culprit,
stated that he was unfit for commitment either to the state prison or the reformtory. In either place he would be a seriously disturbing influence, and neither institution had proper facilities for taking care of him nor of giving the treatment that his condition called for. The chief probation officer joined with the psychiatrist in the further opinion that the case was an unfit one for probation. The man would be sure to make further trouble. "Now, what's the court to do when it gets a report like that?" said the judge.
We must sympathize with the puzzled jurist who, as a matter of hard fact, had no alternative but to release the malefactor or to send him to prison. But the more socially minded judge previously described was in precisely the same predicament. Neither of them had been provided with institutions of a type suitable for the segregation and treatment of offenders whose social maladjustment was rooted in alcoholism, mental defect, insanity, or some other psychosis. You may say that this doesn't carry us very far toward our goal. But you must admit that we are on our way. Give us another quarter-century and I venture to say that there will be few courts of criminal jurisdiction, in our cities at least, that will not have adapted their procedure to the methods of study, understanding, and treatment of the delinquent. May I also venture the prediction that this treatment will not include the gallows nor the electric chair, nor any arbitrarily imposed sentences to a definite term of imprisonment?
Let me, at this stage, offer our tribute of admiration and gratitude to the psychiatrist for his immense contribution to this process of transformation in judicial procedure. Without him the task would, indeed, have been an impossible one. To the research of the ordinary social worker he has contributed his convincing interpretation of the subjective and external factors that determine the conduct of the individual and, in addition, has furnished new solutions of the problem of treatment. Under his influence and guidance the new types of institutions above indicated are being provided for the custody and care of those who are unfit for a free life in society, and he can be depended on to impart a therapeutic quality, which mere humanitarianism has been unable to contribute, to what we now call prison life.
Heretofore the principal contact of the social worker with the process of criminal justice has been as social investigator and probation officer. His study of the delinquent has had no aim but to determine whether the case was or was not a suitable one for probation. Aided now by the diagnosis and prognosis of the psychiatrist, we may look forward confidently not only to a more trustworthy determination of this question, but, in addition, to a greatly enlarged measure of success in the adjustment of the individual to the social environment. But the most valuable result of this continued effort certainly will be the gradual education of the judge as to the real nature of delinquency and the superior desirability of a therapeutic treatment of the delinquent. What this all comes to is that the attitude and method of the best of our juvenile courts will be extended to all our courts of criminal jurisdiction.
years hence. The late distinguished professor of Legal History in Cambridge, England, Frederick W. Maitland, once wrote, "Law schools make tough law”— a true saying. But the time seems to be at hand when the law schools will make a more flexible law, a law which will be continually renewed by the new knowledge of each succeeding generation. Here, then, is a unique opportunity for the social worker. He, and he only, knows or can easily ascertain, the facts which the research of these legal students of the social problem is aimed to disclose. He, better than anyone else, can contribute to the sound interpretation of these facts. He finds himself at once a partner with the best minds in the legal profession in the splendid enterprise of socializing the law.
But to play this part effectively, as well as to make his contribution to the more immediate reforms projected by the crime commissions and various agencies of the bar, the social worker must know something of the law and of legal procedure. How else can he organize his material so as to make it of use either as material for teaching in the law schools or for securing desired legislation? For this reason it seems to me indispensable that every school for the training of the social worker shall provide adequate courses in these subjects.
As the social worker believes in treatment rather than punishment, so, like the wise physician, he will prefer the certainties of prevention to the hazards of treatment. Except in the field of social legislation the law has been slow in turning itself to preventive measures. But in the institution of the policewoman it has opened a new range of useful cooperation on the part of the social worker. Here there is a great opportunity for genuine preventive work in delinquency which we cannot neglect. Of all the agencies of crime repression, the police are the first to meet the onset of actual delinquency. They need go only a step farther to anticipate and prevent the overt act. After the social worker as policewoman we may well find the social worker as policeman, protecting and conserving the human values that are now going to waste before his eyes.
I trust that I shall not appear to be going beyond the scope of my commission if I suggest that far the most effective form of cooperation of the social worker with the state is in the support of all legal efforts whose aim is the prevention of misery, vice, and crime. As has been pointed out above, these efforts are an increasing factor in the function of government in our time. Every statute which aims to make the world safer for those who must find their way through its mazes should command our allegiance, and of all of these that appeal for our support, the most important, because the most far-reaching, is the prohibition law. I confess that I have been surprised at the indifference of many social workers to the widespread violation of this law and to the resulting contempt for all law. There are, indeed, many of our number, as there are many more in the larger community, who do not believe in the principle of the legal suppression of the liquor traffic, or who are skeptical as to its beneficial effects. But these are, I believe, a small minority. Most of us believe that the law in question, however inadequately enforced, has already produced substantial results
in the improvement of living conditions and in the reduction of vice and delinquency. But, whether this be true or not, no one doubts that the strict enforcement, or better still, the general observance, of the law would be of incalculable value in these respects. I am not impressed by doubts as to whether such a result is possible. The social worker who doubts is damned. It is not by our fears, but by our faith, that we move mountains. Let us go forward, trusting to the invisible forces that make for a better world.
SOCIAL WORK AND THE LAW: LEGAL AID
John S. Bradway, Secretary, National Association of Legal Aid
Three years ago your program contained two papers on legal aid and social work. You were told that legal aid was an orphan being introduced to one of its foster parents, social work, so that it might receive suitable parental care.
In 1923 we said that legal aid work was important to social work because it was preventive. It kept people from needing social care. If everybody received his legal rights there would be fewer people requiring actual relief such as your relief agencies give. If everybody received wages when due, had adequate knowledge about laws relating to domestic problems, could obtain redress as far as the law allows in every case, fewer people would require food, shelter, and clothing from your already overtaxed resources.
The greeting three years ago between the foster parent and the orphan was not overwhelming in the intensity of its affection. The foster parent sat and gazed suspiciously at the newcomer. The orphan retained its own ideas about the foster parent. Since then, in spite of obvious still-existing differences in point of view, there has been a growth of understanding. We are closer together than we were three years ago. This is an accounting to you of the way in which we are endeavoring to find a basis for mutual respect. If it contains few figures, we must realize we are considering a growth that cannot be measured by rule. You cannot determine the worth of a child by its weight or height alone, nor by the color of its hair or eyes. Many of you have insisted that I take into consideration the mental, moral, and spiritual element in legal aid clients. I am now asking you to consider something of the same sort with the work in hand. In formal legal fashion I indite my statement of account as counsel representing those who are engaged in the work.
In the Court of Public Opinion: First triennial account in the matter of the development of relations between legal aid work and social work.
The accountants charge themselves with the following: one group of social workers; one group of lawyers; one body of differences of opinion, among which appeared the idea that lawyers were perhaps morons, or at least a definitely