« AnteriorContinuar »
Mrs. Spencer, that it seemed to him rather an ungracious reflection upon an unfortunate class of people, to intimate that their misfortune was the result of their profligacy, or the profligacy of their parents. He did not believe that the experience of the superintendents of insane asylums, or the history of the patients in these institutions would support any such assertion. He supposed that the reason why the causes of insanity had not been discussed, was because they had been listening to the reports of States on matter of administration.
REPORT OF THE STANDING COMMITTEE ON THE WORK OF BOARDS OF STATE CHARITIES.
BY R. BRINKERHOFF, OF OHIO, CHAIRMAN.
As Chairman of your Committee I have found it impossible, by correspondence with my associates, to obtain such a comparison of views as will authorize me to present a report expressive of the conclusions of all, or even of a majority, upon all the points involved; and, therefore, I have deemed it best to present the subject submitted to us in such form as will fairly indicate the points which seem to demand discussion at this Conference; and then leave the whole matter for your consideration and action.
Among those best informed in regard to the charitable and correctional institutions of the several States, the opinion is apparently unanimous that there should be in every State a Board of State Charities, or some other organization or method by which, at least, thorough inspection can be had of all charitable and correctional work. Thus far such Boards have been established in nine States, and their utility has been so conspicuous that it seems very desirable that all the other States should follow their example; but when we come to examine the form and methods of these organizations, we find such a dissimilarity that we are left in doubt as to which it is best to recommend for adoption. Comparison, however, readily separates these Boards into two classes, so that the essential points of difference are so narrowed down as to require a judgment upon only two fundamental principles. All else will only be such a variation in details as best to suit the requirements of the individual States.
To indicate these differences distinctly, it is necessary to present a brief abstract of the organic powers and functions of these several Boards; and first upon the list, chronologically arranged, is
The credit of originating and establishing Boards of State Charities in the United States belongs to Massachusetts, and for sixteen years from the date of its creation in 1863, the Annual Reports of its Board have been the best argument possible for the existence and continuance of such organizations. On the first of
July, 1879, the functions of this organization, as a simple Board of
With this organization, and with these functions, to which, of course were added the amplest powers for visitation and enquiry, the Board did a noble work, not only in the reformation of the charitable and correctional institutions of Massachusetts, but of the whole country; and its fifteen Annual Reports still remain, by all odds, the richest mine of information upon the subjects committed to its consideration.
By Act of the Legislature of April 30, 1879, the Board of State Charities, the State Board of Health, the Boards of Trustees of the State Reform School, and the State Industrial School, the Boards of Inspectors of the State Primary School, the State Workhouse, and the State Almshouse, the Advisory Boards of Women to the Inspectors of the State Almshouse, and the State Primary School, and the Visiting Agency, were all abolished, and in their place. was created a State Board of Health, Lunacy and Charity, conTo this Board were given all the sisting of nine members.
powers, duties and functions of the central Boards and Agencies
Boards of Trustees, some of which were retained, and others consolidated or reorganized. The Trustees of the State Lunatic Hospitals were left undisturbed. Practically, therefore, the Board of State Charities for Massachusetts, as an advisory or supervi
sory body, still continues, under a new name (the Board of Health, Lunacy and Charity), with enlarged powers, but without those of a centralized and comprehensive Board of Trustees, such as were proposed for it in a bill which was defeated in 1878. For Massachusetts, therefore, as well as for less advanced States, it would seem that local boards of trustees are deemed best for the government of the special institutions, but that these are benefited by advisory supervision. The experiment of governing several State institutions by a single board of trustees, or commissioners,such as the three reformatory and preventive schools by one Board, and the two State prisons by another, is now on trial in Massachusetts, with good results thus far; but these boards are independent of the State Board of Health, Lunacy and Charity.
The State Board of Charities in New York was organized in 1866, and consists of eleven members appointed by the Governor, one residing in each judicial district, two from the county of New York, and one from Kings County; all holding office for eight years. Two of the Commissioners are women. The LieutenantGovernor, the Secretary of State, the Comptroller, and the Attorney General, are also ex officio members. Said Board, or any one or more of its Commissioners, are authorized, whenever it is deemed expedient, to visit and inspect any charitable, eleemosynary, correctional or reformatory institution in the State, excepting prisons, whether receiving State aid, or maintained by municipalities, or otherwise; and also to visit and inspect any incorporated or private asylums, institutions, homes or retreats, licensed for the detention, treatment and care of the insane, or persons of unsound mind. In regard to institutions receiving State aid this duty of inspection is mandatory so far as to require at least once in each year, that said Commissioners or some one of them, shall visit all such institutions, and ascertain whether the moneys appropriated for their aid are, or have been judiciously expended; whether the laws in relation to them are fully complied with, and whether 'l parts of the State are equally benefited by the said institutions;
and they report in writing to the legislature, annually, the result of their investigations, together with such other information and recommendations as they may deem proper. They are required also, at least once in two years, to visit and examine into the condition of each city and county almshouse, and report results and recommendations; and are authorized to make special investigations of abuses, to call for persons and papers, and take testimony. Of late, too, the Board has some administrative functions in regard to the removal of the pauper insane from poorhouses to State Asylums, and the disposition of pauper children.
The Ohio Board of State Charities was originally created in 1867, but was abolished in 1871, and reëstablished in 1876. As now organized, it consists of six persons, not more than three of whom shall be from the same political party, who serve for the term of three years and without compensation. The Governor of the State is ex officio a member of the Board and president thereof. The law requires "That the Board shall be provided with a suitable room in the State House. Regular meetings of the Board shall be held quarterly, or oftener if required. They may make such rules and orders for the regulation of their own proceedings as they may deem necessary. They shall investigate the whole system of public. charities and correctional institutions of the State, examine into the condition and management thereof, especially of prisons, jails, infirmaries, public hospitals, and asylums; and the officers in charge of all such institutions shall furnish to the Board, on their request, such information and statistics as they may require; and to secure accuracy, uniformity, and completeness in such statistics, the Board may prescribe such forms of report and registration as they may deem essential; and all plans for new jails, infirmaries and children's homes, shall, before the adoption of the same by the county authorities be submitted to said Board for suggestions and criticism. The Governor, in his discretion, may at any time, order an investigation by the Board, or by a committee of its members, of the management of any penal, reformatory, or charitable institution of the State; and said Board or committee, in making any such investigation, shall have power to send for persons and papers, and to administer oaths and affirmations; and the report of such investigation, with the testimony, shall be made to the Governor, and