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The national homes stand on a different footing. The seven branches two on the Atlantic Coast, one on the Pacific, and four in the interior constitute one home. The Treasury of the United States is their maintenance. The law and power of the United States are their authority. They comprise large tracts. The average extent of the seven branches is over 600 acres each. Omitting the Hampton Home, the average of the remaining six is over 700 acres. They are large communities, the smallest having nearly 2,000, and the largest nearly 6,000 members. The grounds are beautifully laid out in groves and lawn, farm land and garden. Each has a large post fund, library, reading-room, theatre, band, and a beer saloon, neat and orderly, where the men buy freely the best of beer; but no one is allowed to drink to excess.
While the decent and well-disposed are so well-provided for, the topers and unruly are also cared for. A high fence, enclosing the ample grounds, entered by guarded gates, controls their coming and going. A numerous guard preserves order. Military law extended to them prescribes as much of army discipline as is expedient, and ample quarters of seclusion take charge of the insubordinate. The decent and orderly, on the one hand, and the drunkards and the unruly, on the other, are kept apart; and both are well cared for.
In thirty years there will be left only a group of men about eighty years old and upward; and in a few years more the last of these homes will be closed, and will have passed away.
But the memory of them will remain as a grand manifestation of a nation's gratitude to the men who freely offered their lives in its defence. Probably they will never be needed again. But, if another war should come,-- which calamity may God avert! - the volunteers of that day will go to battle with full assurance that the disabled survivors will not be forgotten.
NECESSITY FOR RADICAL PRISON REFORM.
BY PHILIP C. GARRETT.
When philanthropy first began to deal with the prison question, before penology became a science, its discussions related to the hitherto undisclosed horrors of prison interiors. Great reforms. followed, and a revolution in criminal jurisprudence, in which a horde of capital offences were swept from the statute books. The discussion of the various questions — the causes of crime, the motives that should govern its punishment, the best systems for the construction of prisons and for their administration, the treatment of discharged prisoners, preventive measures, etc.—has gone on since with unabated vigor and indefinite, varying results. Very little of the time and thought devoted to these themes has been given to the problem whether imprisonment is a wise way of treating crime,— imprisonment, the one universally accepted and almost sole recourse for its correction. A few people are still punished with death, which saves the community from further care and expense in dealing with them. Fines are to a small extent resorted to, the offender being committed until they are paid. Banishment to penal colonies is no longer in vogue. The prison is the one remedy.
But the day has come when it is seriously considered whether something better cannot be substituted, whether jails are not in themselves schools of vice and crime instead of places of reformation,— whether, in fact, a revolution of the whole system is not needed, and demanded urgently. The suggestion is not iconoclastic ; for the steps that lead to it have been cautiously, gradually, and experimentally taken, and whatever conclusions are reached have been reached after much consideration.
One hundred and twenty-four years have elapsed since John Howard started his crusade against the evils of European prisons; and yet the problem, how to deal with crime so as to banish, as far as possible, its baneful presence from our midst, has met with no successful solution in America. Figures, based on the number of people in prison, show a lamentable increase in the United States up to the present time; while the prison population in Great Britain, according to the reports of the Commissioners of Prisons, declined from 20,833 in 1878 to 12,663 in 1892 (increasing to 13,604 in 1895).
There are no statistics of the number of evil people, and it is not to be inferred that the American people are inherently more wicked than those of other countries. And it is not necessarily the case that those behind the bars are more wicked than those who are out of jail. Let any one leave a good umbrella where theft will not lead to detection, or a purse of money on a path in the midst of a field of clover, and he will probably discover that the chances are not in favor of honesty, and the finder not particular to look for the owner. It would be about as safe as it is now if many of those now in limbo, swelling the ranks of crime, were at large. It is so in England and Belgium. Saint Paul says, "The human heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately' wicked." Let us accept it as a cardinal principle that the human heart is everywhere inherently the same.
The criminal is very much the same as other men. He is for the most part exactly the same. And millions of men of good repute are criminals at heart, differing chiefly from felons in having more self-respect, greater self-restraint, and more regard for the opinion of others, and for their own personal liberty and safety. That reckless quality which leads some men to the commitment of offences against the law is in others the admirable characteristic known as "independence." One man will cheat and overreach his fellows, keeping within the limits of the law with consummate cunning, yet dishonest to the very verge of robbery. He will amass wealth, and be universally praised as an enterprising citizen; for "men will praise thee when thou doest well for thyself." His companion, more honest, but less prudent, oversteps the boundaries of the law, goes to the penitentiary, loses all self-respect, becomes the associate of felons, and dies an outcast from society.
Often it is the proportion in which the elements of a character are
mingled that turns the scale and decides its fate. Too great a predominance of acquisitive or erotic or destructive tendencies over the attribute of caution converts an otherwise respectable character into a criminal. And, perhaps oftener than all else, the force of habit working through education and tradition, and that regard for the opinion of others which constitutes a wholesome and civilized propriety, is the bulwark that keeps a man from dangerous error. He may sin: he does not commit crime. This applies to most men, and with double force to women, and is probably the reason for the small proportion of that sex in prison cells. They have too much regard for the good opinion of others. In fact, a study of the reason for the small number of women, compared with the number of men, in prison, should aid us in reaching conclusions as to the prevention of crime. It is not to be thought that because a person belongs to the female sex she is thereby intrinsically less liable to depravity. Yet it is an undeniable fact that she commits less crime punishable by imprisonment. This fact must therefore be due to some peculiarities of the female character and environment,- partly, perhaps, to greater timidity, to less independence of action, less self-reliance, and receiving more lenient treatment at the hands of men from motives of gallantry, but largely to a love of admiration, and consequent dread of the ill-opinion of others. The small percentage of female prisoners gives emphasis to the conclusion that a large part of the men out of prison are little better than the few who are in prison; for, granting that women are not in themselves better than men, yet women are not wicked enough to deserve prison. If this syllogism is not fallacious, then imprisonment, which by admission often renders men more criminal rather than less so, is unnecessary to the welfare of society. And, if unnecessary, being injurious and deteriorating in a great many cases, it is in a great many cases wrong: in which hypothesis it should clearly be replaced by something else that is not injurious, something which will save selfrespect, avoid the contempt of fellow-men, and confirm the convict's repentance when it comes, and insure his reformation instead of his degeneration.
There are exceptions to this ruling: murderers and offenders who are committed for the third time, and who have thus proved themselves to be hardened, if not incorrigible, should be exempted from this immunity, and retained under lock and key.
Now, in getting to the bottom of this subject, we must not deduce too much from partial statistics.
The increase of crime in this country is largely apparent, not real. What we mean is that it is not to be inferred that there is an increase in depravity proportioned to the statistical growth in the number of convicts. Legislation creating new causes for imprisonment, an ill-defined and fluctuating justice in the courts, and inadequate provision of warehouses and houses of correction for misdemeanors,
all tend to increase the number in prisons and penitentiaries. It is much the same case as that of insanity, of which statisticians also claim a large increase. In point of fact, all men have sinned, and all, or nearly all, come a little short of perfect and absolute sanity; and the question is not yet settled, on a scientific basis, exactly how many of either it is essential to the safety of society to place under lock and key. It is coming to be pretty well understood, as to both, that there has been a damaging excess of restraint and close confinement. The analogy does not cease here. There is a closer connection between crime and insanity than has been generally supposed. It will be increasingly recognized in the future. Inherent depravity is due to physical abnormality, or, in other words, to disease. If we use the language so often applied by alienists to insanity, inherent depravity therefore is "a disease," we would rather say, is due to a diseased condition; for it may have its origin in many different diseases. But, if inherent depravity is to be regarded as disease, then induced depravity is also probably the result of morbid physical condition; for bacilli of disease do not often settle in a perfectly healthy tissue.
This all points to the importance of individual treatment of all reformable cases,— treatment in which physical nutrition shall have a part, in which medical considerations shall play an important part, discipline for the correction of evil habits a leading part, and in which the whole nature of the man is to be turned from an evil course into good channels. And one thing that this necessarily involves, as we shall see, is an indefinite sentence.
Reverting to the excess of crime in America,— as shown by statistics, which we have said was chiefly apparent, not real, and which therefore must be remediable, it may partly be due to historic and social conditions:
1. The Civil War of 1861-65 involved nearly all the young men,