The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Review, Vol. 1, No. 10, October, 1911

This ebook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this ebook or online at If you are not located in the United States, you will have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this eBook.

Title: The Review, Vol. 1, No. 10, October, 1911

Author: Various

Publisher: National Prisoners' Aid Association

Release date: October 15, 2017 [eBook #55753]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Larry B. Harrison, Craig Kirkwood, and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team at
(This book was produced from images made available by the
HathiTrust Digital Library.)



Some Prison Problems

Echoes from Omaha

Building New Prisons

In the Prisoners’ Aid Field

Events in Brief

VOLUME I, No. 10. OCTOBER, 1911




T. F. Carver, President.

Wm. F. French, Vice President.

O. F. Lewis, Secretary, Treasurer and Editor Review.

Edward Fielding, Chairman Ex. Committee.

F. Emory Lyon, Member Ex. Committee.

W. G. McClaren, Member Ex. Committee.

A. H. Votaw, Member Ex. Committee.

E. A. Fredenhagen, Member Ex. Committee.

Joseph P. Byers, Member Ex. Committee.

R. B. McCord, Member Ex. Committee.


[At the recent meeting of the American Prison Association, Frank L. Randall, Superintendent of the Minnesota State reformatory at St. Cloud, read as chairman the report of the committee on reformatory work and parole, from which we print the following extracts.]

To the chief executive officers of penal and correctional institutions in the United States and Canada was submitted the following question: “To what extent do you recognize mental inadequacy and constitutional inferiority among the persons in your charge?”

The estimates are various. Among prisons for adults they range from 3 persons out of 240 in Wyoming, to 10 per cent. in Nebraska and Philadelphia, 20 per cent. in Rhode Island, 25 per cent. in Vermont, 30 per cent. in Indiana, 30 per cent. to 40 per cent. in Wisconsin, fully 50 per cent. in Kansas, 60 per cent. in West Virginia, 50 per cent. to 75 per cent. in Minnesota, and a still higher percentage of prisoners lacking in energy, mentally or physically, in one Michigan prison. Major McClaughry, and Warden Wood of Virginia, wrote that they could not answer the question.

From state reformatories came estimates covering a range from 25 per cent. to 40 per cent. only in Iowa, Washington, Kansas, and New York (Elmira). The writer, regretting his inability to report more exactly, because the work in his institution has not been completed, feels safe in concurring in the general approximations cited by reformatory superintendents.

From the New York reformatory for women at Bedford Hills we have the following: “Realizing that a large percentage are subnormal, July 1, 1911, we employed a trained psychologist who will make it a year’s study.” From juvenile institutions the returns are neither more hopeful, nor more satisfying, and many institutions of that class seem to have no special facilities for caring for weaklings, and depend upon a relaxation of the discipline in their behalf. A study of 200 in the boys industrial school in Kansas disclosed that 174 were mentally dull, markedly defective, or two or more years behind their proper place in school. In the industrial school of New Hampshire about 75 per cent. are reported to be four to five years below their normal grade in school.

Other letters say “probably 25 per cent., at least;” “one-third;” “50 per cent.;” “to a very large extent;” and so forth. The Idaho industrial training school reports: “A very small per cent.; I think not above five per cent.;” and the Georgia state reformatory reports that “the discipline has to be based on the fact that 75 per cent. of inmates are mental defectives and 99 per cent. are moral defectives.” The girls industrial home of Ohio says: “Fully nine-tenths are subnormal mentally, and a large per cent. physically weak or crippled.” From the[2] Iowa industrial school for girls comes the following: “There is a certain inferiority, either mental or constitutional inadequacy, in each and every one. In the majority of cases it is a weakness; that is, they are easily influenced, therefore easily led astray.”

It seems fair and right to allow for a difference among the writers as to the full import of the question to which they have responded, but that may not entirely account for the considerable differences in estimates. Possibly varying court proceedings, and the use of the power of probation by some of the courts or other exemptions from detention, may, in some places, have culled out most of the normal children.

Your committee rather inclines to think however that longer and more extensive experience, in many cases, tends to fix in the mind the necessary recognition of a grave amount of mental inadequacy and constitutional inferiority, calling for custodial care, among all classes of delinquents, including juveniles, no less than adults.

While the incompetents remain with the normal persons in labor, in school, and in recreation, the progress of the bright is certain to be retarded by the association, while the outlook for the dull is not improved. This mingling and attempted classification of unequal units seems to be the rule almost everywhere, with consequent lowering of efficiency and tone, to the basis of the inferior.

So far as returns have been received from prisons, reformatories and juvenile institutions for correction, the average terms of office of the executive heads during the last twenty years have been about as follows: In prisons about four and one-third years. In reformatories for adults about eight and one-third years, and in institutions for juveniles about six and one-quarter years. These averages are considerably higher than they would otherwise be, by reason of the fact that in some states it is not usual to make a disturbance without cause, and somewhat lower than they would otherwise be, because in some states each change in the personality of the governor, as well as each change in party politics, has almost uniformly resulted in the dismissal or enforced resignation of the wardens and superintendents of the class of institutions under consideration, quite regardless of their capacity and fidelity, and sometimes apparently without a serious inquiry as to the peculiar fitness of the new appointee.

Some of the delegates to this Prison Congress may hardly appreciate the fact that there are institutions in some states where neither institution heads nor subordinates attend caucuses, discuss politics, contribute to campaign funds or take any part in election matters, except to vote: and where the political preferences of the members of the staff are unknown to each other, or to their chief. The elections bring to the institutions no unusual excitement or personal anxiety.

The establishment of truant schools in the cities has demonstrated that the best and most capable teachers and managers are necessary to their successful conduct and discipline, and for the same reasons a prison or reformatory should be manned by the best obtainable talent.

Your committee have made diligent inquiry but have not learned of any jurisdiction in which the compensation and status of subordinates in penal and correctional institutions is such as to ordinarily attract young men and women of the kind and character needed for the work; and neither do we find that such subordinates are any where required to have technical training or prior experience, before assuming their responsible positions as exemplars, directors and officials to those whose careers have been, at least to some extent, oblique.

With their small pay, and perhaps small chance for promotion, and often with an uncertain tenure, their hours of duty long, and their work somewhat monotonous, and depressing to those not peculiarly fitted to it, they not infrequently have uncomfortable quarters, and but little opportunity to develop their social side.

It is not to be wondered at that many of the young people who should follow institution work turn their attention in some more pleasing and promising direction, and that the service generally fails to measure up to its possibilities.


Subordinates are found, to be sure, who fill every requirement, and who could not be improved upon on any basis of wages, but that merely indicates what might be done, if the appointing power might only offer inducements for likely young people to come to the institution, and make them glad to remain.

The State attempts to secure first class work for second class compensation, and while it may often succeed in individual instances, the policy is not to be approved.

In conclusion we wish to recapitulate to the extent of indicating in brief the points deemed by us to be the most important for improvement in reformatory work, as follows:

1. The recognition of mental incompetency and constitutional inferiority among delinquents.

2. The segregation of persons of marked inferior equipment and capacity, and their detention in custodial asylums, and other places suited to their care and treatment.

(This for the purpose of humanely and favorably disposing of, and caring for, helpless recidivists, dements, chronic invalids, epileptics and others.)

3. The furnishing to the public of reliable and important information regarding the character of the inmates of institutions, and the work carried on.

4. The need of men and women of higher ideals and higher culture in places of confinement, necessitating preliminary training, higher wages, improved accommodations, suitable hours, fair tenure of office, and opportunity for promotion.

5. The elimination of political consideration from the conduct of the institutions, and from the appointment of all persons of high or less high degree in connection therewith.

6. The closest scrutiny into the physical and mental condition capacity of each person detained, and into his past history and environment.

7. The establishment of a system under which no delinquent shall be released, unless in the judgment of the board, after searching inquiry, there is good reason to believe that he can and will maintain himself without relapsing into crime, and will be of some service to society; and under which no delinquent will be further held when such a condition is believed to have been reached.

8. The extension of state agency and other supervisory means for observing and aiding the delinquent on parole, and for selecting suitable location and employment for him, and caring for his surplus earnings.


[The American Prison Association held its annual meeting at Omaha, Nebraska, from October, 14th to 19th. The Review publishes this month some echoes of the convention. In November further attention will be devoted to the meeting.]

Morons in New Jersey Reformatory.—Dr. Frank Moore, superintendent of the Rahway Reformatory gave an address before the annual convention of the American prison association at Omaha, on “Mending the Immoral Moron.” He said, in part:

“In our New Jersey reformatory we have during the last two years made a careful study of this problem. Each inmate that has been received has been tested concerning his mentality, with the result that 46 per cent. were found to be deficients and to have minds that in knowledge or ability were only equal to the minds of children from 5 to 13 years old. Fully 33 per cent. or one-third of our population, we concluded was of the Moron class.

“The problem presents very great difficulties. The ordinary institution officers declare that prisoners are ‘dopes,’ and sometimes the psychologist agrees with them.

“The methods employed in dealing with this difficult problem must be unusually wise. The first thing that seems important is to know the man. He must be recognized as a defective. A special system must be adopted to him. His is a feeble mind. To place the same load upon him that is put upon others is either[4] to cause him to balk or to break down altogether under the strain. He is a child mentally and not the abstract, but concrete or kindergarten mode of instruction must be used. In school he must be separated in some way from the others.

“In his training in work the calibre of his mind needs also to be considered. The trades that need planning and skill are too much for him. To the work of the laborer, the farm, garden and dairy he is best suited, and in them he is really most contented.

“Discipline which is firm yet kind is most successful. The most of immoral morons that we get have been ill-treated. Those who have not understood them have tried to beat sense into their stupid heads, and they are filled with fear and suspicion. They need, therefore, to be reassured.

“Care must be given to correct such physical defects as are often times the cause of mental and moral weakness.

“Of the 46 per cent. who by the test were feeble-minded in our institutions the percentage of physical defects was as follows:

“Defective eyesight, 40 per cent.; flat foot, 35; bad teeth, 32; throat difficulties, 17; nasal obstruction, 47; total number having some physical defects, 88 per cent.

“The work that the true chaplain may do is very great. The best way to mend the immoral moron is through persuasion and influences of religion.

“Our learned friend, Dr. Goddard, of Vineland, N. J., has declared that nine years is the average age when the tendencies of crime begin to develop. At this and even an earlier age it has been arranged by infinite wisdom, it would seem, that religion should begin to make its formative impressions on the mind.

“Concerning the question of parole or discharge, we cannot agree with those who advocate that the moron should be kept in permanent custodial care. Our success with this class on parole has been fully as good as it has been with the normal mind. Of eighty-three paroled during three months, not long ago, the morons have made even a better record than the normals.

“We could point to many other morons who are doing their part well in the world’s work. They have their place in the economy of society; they peculiarly fit certain kinds of employment.”

Judge De Courcy on Unpunished Homicide.—Quoting President Taft as saying that “The administration of criminal law in this country is a disgrace to civilization,” Judge C. A. De Courcy of Lawrence, Mass., justice of the supreme court of Massachusetts, pointed out in a paper read at Omaha in his absence that the United States is conspicuous for the great number of unpunished murderers. The defence of insanity, the limitation of the power of judges and the character of testimony allowed to be introduced in behalf of the defendant were some of the evils which, he said, ought to be rectified. “The number of homicides in this country for 1910 were 8975—an increase of nearly 900 over the number in 1909; yet but one in eighty-six was capitally punished in 1910 as against one in seventy-four during the year preceding,” said Judge De Courcy. “It is said that in 1896 for each million of the population there were 118 homicides in the United States; in Italy less than fifteen; in Canada less than thirteen; in Great Britain less than nine; in Germany less than five.

“In New York City, 119 cases of homicide were investigated by the grand jury during the last year, but only forty-five convictions resulted. Chicago reports 202 homicides were committed in that city during the last year. Only one of the offenders was hanged; fifteen were sent to the penitentiary and the others were set free. In Louisville, with a population of 224,000, during the last year, there were forty-seven cases of homicide and not a single murderer was hanged. In Alabama a conviction for stealing hides was recently set aside because the indictment failed to state whether they were mule, cow, goat or sheep hides. And indictments were dismissed because father was spelled farther (in South Carolina); because the letter ‘i’ was omitted in spelling malice (in Alabama).” Judge De Courcy then suggested some criminal law reforms which included simplified forms of indictments, change[5] in the selections of juries and in the rules governing pleadings.

Wickersham on Prison Reform and Parole.—The attorney general of the United States said at Omaha that in the battles of economic forces for supremacy, the law must be obeyed, even though it seems to favor one class as against another. Punishment in some form, declared the attorney general is still necessary in our land to prevent crime. He discussed at length the broad question of punishment for crime and the administration of the federal parole law. Modern penal legislation, he said, is based on a recognition of the expediency of endeavoring to reform the criminal. Mr. Wickersham favored the extension of the parole law to include life prisoners. He regarded it as an incongruity that prisoners sentenced to long terms for vicious crimes should be eligible for parole when the man convicted of second degree murder must remain in prison for life.

Since the parole law was placed in operation last autumn, only one prisoner had violated his parole. The two hundred prisoners who were paroled from the time the law was put into effect in the autumn of 1910 to June 30, 1911, earned nearly $22,000, whereas, if they had remained in prison, the attorney general pointed out they would have been a charge on the government. Mr. Wickersham expressed the belief that the parole boards should be enlarged by adding two unofficial persons selected from among prominent citizens of the locality in which the prison is situated.

Base Ball in Prison.—At Omaha this question was vigorously discussed, not unfavorably, but as to the day or days when the game should occur.

J. K. Codding, warden of the Kansas penitentiary, told of base ball and other recreations for prisoners in his institution and the discussion which followed the general expression was that base ball, athletic contests, moving picture shows and other recreations render prison discipline easier by affording opportunity to reward those who do well and to deprive of pleasure those who break the rules.

The statement of Chaplain Le Cornu of Walla Walla, Wash., that Sunday afternoon in his institution is devoted to base ball, raised a protest from others, particularly Warden Codding of Kansas and Warden Saunders of Iowa. Mr. Codding said he didn’t let the men play ball on Sunday because he didn’t expect them to advocate Sunday ball when they got out. Mr. Saunders said his men played Saturday afternoon; that he would allow the men to play Sunday if they couldn’t play any other day.

Warden James of Oregon said he not only had base ball games, at which the men were allowed to root until they were hoarse, and weekly moving picture shows, but he intended this fall to put in a gymnasium. Several wardens said the reason that prisoners in many prisons are locked up all day Sunday is that the state is too stingy to hire a few extra guards.

A Colorado woman delegate said the men in the Colorado prison play base ball without guards, and in the rock camps they enjoy themselves at various sports, without guards, all day Sunday.

Mrs. Booth on Prisoners’ Earnings.—“Every man who works in prison should work for the support of his family or those depending upon him, after his board and clothing have been paid for,” declared Mrs. Maud Ballington Booth in a lecture at Omaha. “Some officials and law makers seem not to know that a convict may have a family, yet there is always this heart-saddened, home-broken circle of gloom, the mothers, wives and children of convicts, about every penal institution. Wherewith are they to be fed and clothed? What recognition does the state give to them, from whom it has taken their only source of support? When this wife married the man he promised to support her. Then if the state takes him in hand, why should it not make provision for his carrying out the promise?

“I know of one case where the state gets $500,000 a year for its convict labor. A nice little source of revenue! What of the army of helpless and hopeless wives and children who are being deprived of the support of these laborers[6] who are their husbands and fathers.

“The helping hand extended to the family frequently has a reflex action on the man in prison. He decides that if there are people outside who think enough of his babies to care for them they are worth his efforts too.”

Shackling Chain Gangs.—At Omaha, during the American Prison Association meeting, some plain talk was printed in one of the newspapers, quoted from the lips of some delegates who saw the Omaha chain gang going through the streets, and who pronounced the shackling system bad and unnecessary. Word comes now from Columbus, S. C., that the convicts on the city chain gang who are not disorderly or those who have not attempted to run away are no longer required to wear the iron shackles about their ankles. When a prisoner is convicted before the recorder and given a sentence on the gang he is told that the shackles will not be put on him if he promises not to give the guards trouble.


According to the Kansas City Star, the United States government is building at Fort Leavenworth a $2,000,000 military prison which is costing the government only $617,000.

It is building the new prison with convict labor. And when it is finished about two years from now, it will be the biggest military prison in this country. With the old buildings, which are to be remodeled, the completed military prison and accessory buildings will represent a value of $3,000,000. It will be a model prison as well. Every improvement that has been incorporated in all the prisons that have been built hitherto will be found in this one.

Several hundred convicts at the United States military reservation at Fort Leavenworth are building the new military prison around themselves. It was two years ago that congress made the initial appropriation for the new military prison. Practically everything needed except steel and cement was found within less than a mile of the building site or the military reservation. So Colonel Slavens began the monumental work of building a $2,000,000 military prison for $647,000.

He opened a rock quarry, where an excellent grade of building stone could be obtained. He opened a second quarry where rock for making lime was abundant, and established lime kilns, and began making forty barrels of lime a day. A rock crusher was installed. A brick plant was erected and shale quarries opened for making the 16,000,000 bricks that are going into the prison buildings. A concrete block plant was established, where 200 concrete blocks were turned out daily. Sand for the masonry work is obtained from the Missouri river. Wood for burning the brick and lime was found in the forest on the reservation, as well as for scaffolding, and much of the lumber that is being used in construction. All of these are being operated by prison labor on various parts of the reservation, while the armed guards look on. Within the old prison walls iron and wood working machinery has been put in, as well as tin and electrical working machinery. All of the iron and steel is being brought to the prison in practically a raw condition, and the prisoners are working it up into finished product. To do this it was necessary for the prisoners to master every building trade.

Long before anything of this work was done the tedious task of teaching the convicts the mechanical trades began. In fact, it was the idea of Colonel Slavens that entirely apart from the problem of building the new military prison, the convicts should be taught trades. So schools were established, and everything from reading to writing to stenography and typewriting is taught in classes that meet three times a week. Expert civilian superintendents were employed to teach the convicts and act as superintendents of the work in the new prison, and they have developed some remarkably fine mechanics. Each convict is allowed to follow his natural bent wherever possible. Electricians, ironworkers, brick masons, tinners, and a score of other trades have been taught the men. Two hundred and seventy-five of the prisoners are being[7] worked on the prison building proper, while an additional 176 are working in the brick plant, lime plant and quarries. A difficulty is encountered in the fact that about the time many of the convicts become first-class workmen their term of service expires. Forty-one per cent. of the prisoners confined at the military prison are deserters, the maximum penalty for which in time of peace is imprisonment for two and one-half years. Many of the others are confined for less serious offenses.

Before any work on the new buildings began, the commandant had to coach a company of prisoners in the gentle art of housemoving. Forty-one houses, occupied by civilian employees and guards, covered the site on which it was desired to build the new prison. These were moved to a site a quarter of a mile away. Then a fill, in some places a depth of thirty-five feet, was made, before the new site was ready for the buildings.

The grounds covered by the old and new buildings comprise an area of about seventeen acres. A wall of concrete, several feet thick, and in some cases rising to a height of fifty-five feet, now is practically completed around this site. A power plant covering half a city block is about finished. The power plant is connected by tunnel with the main building under process of construction. An examination of the power plant gives every evidence of expert construction. It is built of brick and concrete, with an immense circular brick chimney rising to a height of over 100 feet. When it is in operation it will be in charge of a convict engineer.

The main building of the new prison is being constructed on the radial plan, with the cell, hospital and other wings radiating from a central building or rotunda. This is for simplicity in control of the prisoners. By this means eight guards, armed with repeating rifles, patrolling the “gun walks” of the rotunda and cell wings, will be able to keep in subjection the 2,100 prisoners that are expected to occupy the new prison when it is finished. All the necessary utilities for the maintenance of life will be under one roof when the building is completed. There will be a hospital, laundry, bakery, refrigerating plant, amusement hall (used mainly for devotional purposes), and even the cells will be fitted with individual toilet facilities.

There will be a total of 2,182 cells in the five cell wings radiating from the new building. There are now 909 cells, containing 932 prisoners. As soon as the new prison is completed there are enough prisoners waiting in the guard houses of the various military posts throughout the country to fill all of the 2,182 cells, and they will be sent to Fort Leavenworth.

The government manifests no anxiety to give out details touching its business, but the information is vouchsafed that on the lime that is going into the new building, a saving of 80 per cent. on each barrel is effected, and that in the case of brick, it is costing the government 60 per cent. less to make it than it would cost to purchase it in the open market. This, with the saving in labor, gives an idea of how the government is able to erect $2,000,000 worth of buildings on an appropriation of $647,000.

The government has no intention whatever of going into the open market in competition with outside labor. It will manufacture nothing at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, which is not used in the conduct of the prison itself. In pursuance of this policy in the past, it has built with prison labor six miles of terminal railroad at the fort, and has constructed and is maintaining many miles of rock road.

There are only two other military prisons in the United States. One is a provisional prison on Governor’s Island, and the other a small prison at Alcatraz, Cal., about one-fourth the size of the present Fort Leavenworth prison. The government has not announced whether it will abandon these.

When the new prison is finished about $50,000 will be spent in remodeling the old buildings, some of which are very ancient. One was built in 1877 and another in 1830, but they are still in a fair state of preservation. They were originally built for a quartermaster’s depot.

New York’s New Prison.—Great Meadow Prison is now in operation, the latest and only modern structure among[8] New York’s state prisons. The Brooklyn Citizen describes it thus, in part:

A couple of hours’ ride from Albany northward on the Delaware and Hudson Railroad brings the visitor to the station Comstock—a flag stop for a few trains each way per day. The dozen or so dwelling houses scattered about the beautiful landscape with their outlying barns and stables proclaim a farming community. Eastward, about a quarter of a mile from the railroad depot, one sees a big yellow brick building rising like a Gulliver above a squadron of Lilliputian contractor shanties.

The big building is the Great Meadow Prison cell house, about 600 feet long, 80 feet high and 70 feet wide. Unfinished end walls indicate that the cell house is only half completed and that another wing of equal length, height and width is to be added. The completed part of the building contains 624 cells on four floors. Each cell is about the size of a New York hall room; is equipped with a white enameled closet and a white enameled stationary washstand and running water, while the furnishings consist of a white enameled iron hospital bedstead with felt mattress, felt pillow, white bed linen and cotton blankets. A small lock cabinet and cloth rack complete the equipment. The cells are finished in natural cement; the doors have upright bars from floor to ceiling, the bars being painted with aluminum color—and the color effect of cement gray and the silvery aluminum is rather pleasing. A touch of quiet elegance is even added by the bright nickel plated water spigot and water control push buttons above the toilet stand and wash basin. The cell house walls are 75 per cent. windows and each cell is flooded with light. At night in each cell an electric light, with a shade throwing the light downward, provides splendid illumination for reading, writing, drawing, etc. The cell house has a comprehensive ventilating system, with ventilating ducts connecting each cell.

Opposite the cell house stands the administration building. When the whole prison plant is completed—which will take several years yet—this building will be used exclusively for hospital, school and library purposes. At present the building is used for all the housekeeping departments of the prison, including bathroom, laundry, tailor shop, shoe shop, kitchen, dining room, storeroom, hospital, chapel, library, warden’s office, principal keeper’s office, guards’ quarters and a small dormitory for the kitchen gang. It is a beehive of activity, with its sixty-odd inmate workers, and a poor place for the night guards to do their day-sleeping. The halls and rooms are daily mopped and scrubbed and every nook and corner is kept scrupulously clean by a gang of porters.

The inmates are marched into the dining hall three times a day for their meals, including Sunday. The farm operated in conjunction with the prison and by prisoners (under direction of proper officials) supplies seasonable vegetables, and now and then fresh meat from the farm’s herd of cattle and pigs. This gives an advantage to the steward of the prison in providing a greater variety of food and a more attractive menu at the same per capita expenditure as the other prisons in the State are allowed which are not favored with a farm. The per capita expenditure in all State prisons is limited by legislative appropriation. The fine air, good water, sound sleep in clean beds and clean rooms, the daily exercise at work on the farm and at such other work as is connected with running the prison—all combine to supply a hearty appetite to the inmates. This appetite is met by a table limited by the legislature, as already stated, and is limited also for the men’s own good by hygienic restrictions.

The Prison Farm at Occoquan, Virginia.—An interesting account of the progress of the District of Columbia’s prison farm was recently given by Rev. J. T. Masten, secretary of the Virginia state board of charities and corrections.

The past year’s experience of the prison commissioners of the District of Columbia has made a great impression upon him, as it has on every thoughtful student of criminology. Two years ago Congress wrote in the appropriation bill authority to the prison commissioners of the District to do away with the jail system by placing the prisoners on a farm.[9] The sum of $190,000 was appropriated for the purpose. Under the old system it was costing the commissioners $150,000 to care for the prisoners each year.

The board took the money and bought a farm of eleven hundred acres near Occoquan, in Prince William county, Va.

They took the male prisoners to the farm and used them exclusively in the clearing of the land and preparing it for cultivation and in the erection of the necessary buildings, one-story frame buildings erected by the prisoners. To illustrate the economy of the work the administration building, which is 30 by 175 feet, cost in actual money two hundred dollars, the prisoners doing the work, sawing the lumber from the timber on the property.

The work proved a splendid moral and physical tonic to the men. The prison motto was made, “Reformation, not vindictive punishment.”

At first one guard had charge of six prisoners. Now one man has charge of twenty prisoners and directs them in their work.

The prisoners do not wear chains and are not bound at night. There are no bars at the windows and two men take care of 225 male prisoners at night and one woman cares for sixty female prisoners.

During the first year there passed through the prison farm three thousand men. There were but sixty attempts to escape—just two per cent. Twenty of these attempts were successful, or less than one per cent. of the total number of men confined.

The punishment for the unruly is solitary confinement on a diet of bread and water and this form of discipline has only been found necessary for an average of five cases each month, with an average prison population of 550 men, or less than one per cent. From July 1 to September 8 there had been but four women punished. This shows that the methods in use, the farm work and country quiet, and the ennobling influence of honest toil in the open, have accomplished wonders in the handling of the prisoners.

Then the farm method of handling prisoners is splendid economy. It is estimated that to complete the rock-crushing and brick-manufacturing plant, to finish grading the grounds and building the roads and the erection of additional barns and other outbuildings and to pay the ordinary expenses of the prison for the year the cost will be $120,000, which is thirty thousand dollars less than it cost the District to support the prisoners during the last year under the old jail system.

Within three years, the superintendent, Mr. Whittaker, estimates that the farm will be self-supporting, and it may be reasonably expected, the superintendent thinks, that the farm will clear from twenty to thirty thousand dollars a year after paying all the expenses of maintaining the prisoners.

It is found that the new system has caused a decrease in prison population. Many of the prisoners reform, while the class which has no liking for honest toil and has heretofore taken a season in the district jail in search of rest and refreshment which they could not otherwise obtain are fighting shy of the district police courts. It seems now that, at the present rate of decrease, the population of the prison-farm the second year will be some nineteen hundred less than during the first year.

The superintendent, Mr. Whittaker, endeavors to impress upon the men that it is better in every way to work as free men and earn wages than to be sent to the farm and be compelled to work without wages. Three of the best and most useful employees of the farm are men who were once confined thereon as prisoners.

The products of the work on the farm will not be used in competition with those of the public. Such products will be used in connection with the support of other public institutions or in the construction of public roads.




The Society for the Friendless grew out of the efforts of Rev. and Mrs. Edward A. Fredenhagen to apply the methods of Jesus to the redemption of the submerged masses.

The first home was opened at 1219 Washburn Ave., Topeka, Kansas. Previous to this, a group of leading men had been interested in the work. Foremost among these was Judge T. F. Garver. He became the first president and the counsellor, and his wise counsels as well as his legal talent have aided in directing the society to its present carefully developed legal and philanthropic status.

The first tour, to investigate Kansas, was made in December, 1900. The family reached Topeka in the Christmas holidays of the same year. Work began at once and culminated in April, 1901, in the organization of the first board of directors and the incorporation of the Kansas society for the friendless.

The society was welcomed heartily by Governor W. E. Stanley, and by J. S. Simmons, superintendent of the reformatory at Hutchinson.

The following June Rev. R. A. Hoffman, just leaving the chaplaincy at the penitentiary, became the first district superintendent, with headquarters at Salina, and served the society for six years. He did a great deal of hard and capable work and left to go to the Colorado prison association. The next superintendent to join was Rev. Frank Brainerd, a neighboring pastor of the general superintendent in Illinois. He remained with the society for seven and a half years and did excellent work. He left to become general secretary of the associated charities in Kansas City, Kansas. The third superintendent was Rev. George S. Ricker, a scholarly pastor, who desired to give the remainder of his life to work among the lost classes. He is still with the society, and is senior among all the district superintendents.

By the autumn of 1901 the employment department and the temporary home were well established. Then the next important step was taken in the organization in the Kansas Penitentiary of the first of a series of prison leagues, which were to form the nucleus of the important department of jail and prison evangelism. Chaplain McBrian became the superintendent of this league and for the eight years of his chaplaincy, was the unwavering friend of the Society.

It soon became evident that the religious work in the prison would not have its rightful opportunity unless the department of prison reform should be developed in the state. So the society began a campaign for the passage of the indeterminate sentence and the parole law to apply to the penitentiary the same as it was operating in the Reformatory. This passed the legislature in 1903, and has been one of the most successful laws bearing upon the crime problem, operating in Kansas. Under it the penitentiary has been changed from an old type punishment prison to an up-to-date reformatory. The improvement in prison management has kept pace with the change in the criminal code.

Finding children in the jails of Kansas, the society began, in 1903, a campaign for the juvenile court act. The bill to introduce it in the state senate in 1903 was defeated. Then followed the campaign, covering two years, in which there was delivered over two thousand addresses. Over twenty thousand calls were made on individuals in the state during the biennium. Leading philanthropists came to the society’s aid.

The bill passed unanimously both house and senate, and a juvenile court was established in every county in Kansas. The juvenile court system of this state is modeled after that of Colorado.

Taking the Kansas society as a nucleus, the general superintendent accepted calls into Missouri and outlying states. The first step was to organize a league in the Missouri state penitentiary, under Chaplain Geo. J. Warren, D. D. Since then the general superintendent has made twenty-six major and many minor national tours, the longest one being seven thousand miles. During that period, fifteen states have been opened to the work of the society. Of these eleven still maintain the society for the friendless. Ministers[11] of ability and consecration have accepted calls to be superintendents. There are seventeen of these now in full service, with two laymen giving part time.

There are twenty centers of religious activity in penal institutions, originally projected by the society.

When the society was nine years old the first national convention was held in Kansas City, in January, 1910. In 1906 the original society had been expanded from a state organization to one including all the states and territories in the United States. At the first national convention in 1910 the first elective national board was chosen. Previous to this the board of directors of the “Kansas and Missouri division,” (Kansas and Missouri having been united in one unit of territory), was a holding board for all the work in the other states. In November, 1908, the general office was moved from Topeka to Kansas City, the office being in Missouri and the temporary home on the Kansas side of the line. The first national convention came as a natural sequence. It was to more completely develop this slowly evolving organization, so that it would cover all the territories occupied by the living organism—the society itself.


Warren F. Spalding, Secretary of the Massachusetts Prison Association, has been nominated by Governor Foss, chairman and executive of the Prison Commission, succeeding Mr. Pettigrove. Of the appointment the Boston Transcript says editorially:

The Governor has supplanted one good man with another good man. That Mr. Pettigrove was not to be reappointed was announced by the governor some weeks ago, and yet Mr. Pettigrove’s friends hoped that he would reconsider, as he had done on so many other occasions. There will be regret at the passing of Mr. Pettigrove, who, in the many years in which he has been prison commissioner has served the State well and given his department the benefit of long experience and real ability. The public, while regretting the departure of Pettigrove, will welcome the incoming of Spalding. As secretary of the Massachusetts prison association for many years, and backed by his long experience in prison labor affairs, Mr. Spalding has been one of the foremost prison men of the United States. The association of which he is the secretary has been a leader in progressive ideas on prison management, and in this Mr. Spalding has been the executive officer and initiator. There will be no question whatever of the progressiveness of Mr. Spalding’s administration and of the value of his services to the State.

Mr. Spalding is not unfamiliar to that office, having been secretary of it from 1879 until he resigned in 1888.

Mr. Spalding was born in Hillsboro, N. H., Jan. 14, 1841, but was educated in the public schools of Nashua, N. H. After leaving school he engaged in the furniture business in his native place for several years, and in 1870 came to Boston. There he became connected with the Boston Daily News, and later worked for the Globe and the Commercial Bulletin, both as a reporter and an editor.

Since 1872 he has been a resident of Cambridge and represented a district in that city in the general court during 1894 and 1895. He has been engaged in prison work for many years, having been secretary of the Massachusetts Prison Association since 1890. In 1896 Mr. Spalding was elected to the Cambridge Board of Aldermen. Mr. Spalding was a private in Co. F, 1st New Hampshire Heavy Artillery, during the Civil War and is a member of Post 186, G. A. R.

The governor’s nomination must be approved by the governor’s council.


This day was observed as usual in several states on either the fourth or last Sunday in October. The Connecticut prison association, in issuing a call, directed attention to the fact that the great need in that state is a change in our treatment of petty offenders. “We made great progress in the treatment of these cases when we established the probation service,[12] which keeps many out of jail. But during 1910 there were 10,468 commitments to our county jails. Six thousand and fifty of these, by their own admission, has been in prison before.”

In New York the prison association sent special letters to about 1,500 pastors, 200 of whom responded favorably. Special literature was furnished each pastor.


In an interview in the New York Sun, O. F. Lewis, general secretary of the prison association of New York, said recently:

“The principal prison needs of this State are a separate cell for each prisoner in State prisons, employment for eight hours a day for all able-bodied men in State prisons, the marketing of all prison-made products in this State to the State and its political subdivisions, such as counties and cities; the introduction and development of industries in our county penitentiaries and jails; the centralization of administration of our penitentiaries and jails under a proper department of the State; the abolition of idleness and filth in many of our jails; the development of the women’s farm and the farm colony for vagrants and tramps; the creation of a separate institution or separate wings of an existing institution for feeble-minded criminals, not the insane criminals—and other things too numerous to mention.

“They had just such a jail situation in England thirty years ago, when the State took over all the local prisons, that correspond to our county jails. To-day all these institutions are under the management of the prison commissioners of England, a body that no one would think of accusing of the least bit of graft, and the institutions are run with regard to the rights of the prisoner and the welfare of society. That is our great need—that the state should manage the correctional institutions within its borders through boards of managers, at least in part.”


[1] Abridged from the last issue of the society’s publication, “The First Friend.”


[Under this heading will appear each month numerous paragraphs of general interest, relating to the prison field and the treatment of the delinquent.]

Going to School at Charlestown, Mass.—The Hartford, Conn., Times, tells of a summer school for illiterate prisoners which was started this season by Benjamin F. Bridges, warden of the state prison at Charlestown, Mass. A school has existed in the state prison for many years, but it was Warden Bridges who placed it upon a practical basis, such as has made it a power for good.

In the correspondence school, as in the other, the teachers are all prisoners. As soon as a man is sent to the prison and has become accustomed to his surroundings he is interviewed by one of the teachers to ascertain if he wishes to study and improve his mind while in prison. If he does, he is given an application blank, and he fills out the list of studies he wishes to pursue.

If there is doubt as to his ability to enter some classes he has a private examination by the teacher in elementary subjects. If he shows ability to enter the correspondence school he receives material and lesson blanks, and works out his exercises in his own cell in his spare time, sending his answers to the school office. There his work is carefully inspected, and if it is satisfactory new work is sent to him.

The prisoners entered in this correspondence school never assemble in classes, but all their work is done in their own cells, lights being allowed until nine o’clock for such study. While the prisoner-teachers rarely, if ever, see their pupils after they have joined the correspondence school, the hold the teachers obtain upon the respect and interest of the solitary students is truly wonderful.

A teachers’ association was formed recently in the prison, and these men meet at intervals with the prison chaplain to map out lessons and arrange other details of the work. There is almost no limit to the amount of advanced work that may be undertaken.


As the work of the school in the prison progressed it became evident that it kept the men employed and gave them less opportunity to grow morose and desperate. It was found that they were more contented and cheerful, and with education, in many cases, came a pronounced change in character, a reformation that was not assumed in any way, but a natural result of the change from ignorance to intelligence and a knowledge of their own ability to make a way in the world if given an opportunity. The deportment of the prisoners improved wonderfully and has been first class since the school work was started by General Bridges, many years ago.

This spring General Bridges took steps to establish a day summer school for the illiterate prisoners. There are usually about eight hundred odd prisoners in the institution, and from the entire lot about forty were selected as being thoroughly illiterate and have been placed in this newly started class.

In the forty prisoners in the class are represented no less than twelve different nationalities. A mere glance at the men constituting the class is sufficient to indicate that ignorance has been the cause for most of the class finding themselves in prison.

This class in the prison school were allowed to assemble in one room in the institution, and they had desks like ordinary school children. Now every one of the forty prisoners can read, write and cipher in a very creditable manner. It is a new experience to them to be able to read, and their interest in newspapers and stories from simple books impresses one who sees it for the first time.

Some of the men in this illiterate class could not speak English when they entered it, and now they fairly love the warden for having made it possible for them to communicate with their relatives and former friends, although such communications have all to pass inspection before they leave prison.

The ages of the men in this school class run from twenty to forty-five. Some of them will be eligible for parole in a few years and they are looking forward to the fact that they will be able to write out their own applications for such parole.

Police Condemn Crime Pictures.—In reply to requests sent to police heads by the State Charities Aid and Prison Reform Association of New Jersey for information concerning moving picture shows and their influence on the young, these replies have been received:

“I am heartily in favor of legislation which would prevent the exhibition of pictures showing any action which in real life would be a crime.”—Chief of Police Corbitt of Newark.

“I think they are the cause of 20 per cent. of our crime, especially of petty larceny. These shows cannot locate in our town.”—Nutley.

“In my opinion, moving picture shows are bad for women and children. I know where children steal to get money for shows; also where women neglect their families to go.”—Weehawken.

“Children are inclined to steal in order to go there; also neglect their studies.”—Passaic.

“I had a case drawn to my attention of a five-year-old boy who attended a cheap picture show where there was shown a picture with a hold-up in it. This boy’s mother was ill. The child got an old revolver, walked into his mother’s room and told her to throw up her hands. When he was asked where he had learned that he answered he saw it in the show. I believe if the revolver had been loaded some one would have been killed.”—Hackensack.

Big Brothers in Atlanta and Macon.—Atlanta’s probation system for adults, which embraces drunkards, vagrants, wife beaters, deserters of families and the like, is to be materially enlarged in scope and made more efficient through the development of a volunteer probation force of 100 business and professional men who are willing to give a few hours of their leisure time each week in an effort to save the men and youths who come under the supervision of the probation officer. This volunteer force will work in conjunction with Officer Coogler and the Prison Association of Georgia, which has headquarters at 404 Gould building.

In Macon, Lewis J. Bernhardt, agent of the Georgia prison association, has secured 100 names of Macon people who[14] will aid in the perfection of an organization in that city to cope with conditions in the city and county prisons and convict camps and to aid in securing a better penal system for Georgia.

Radical Experiments in Oregon.—According to the Newark Evening News, Governor West of Oregon has inaugurated an “honor system” with astonishing results. Chains and stripes have been abolished. Convicts are put at work outside the prison walls, without guard on roads, farms and buildings, on their word that they “will not throw the governor down.” They are given a chance to fit themselves for useful callings, are assured of parole, with work at good wages, when they deserve it. There have been but three attempts at escape since the system was inaugurated six months ago. The new system is carefully worked out. The state prison aid society works with the state parole board and governor to find remunerative employment for paroled men. Men that have proven reliable and efficient on prison work are recommended for parole; a job is secured them. If they get a better one they can take it. But they must work! And every man of the fifty paroled in the last three months has made good.

When Governor West inaugurated his guardless, outside policy he sent for a fifteen-year convict. “Put him on the street car, give him car fare; don’t send a guard, and tell him to come to my office,” the governor ’phoned the astonished warden. The man came, and went into executive conference with the governor. The plan was outlined, the honor system worked out, and the man went back to the prison on the next car and spread the news through the 450 men behind the walls. Once the governor sent half a dozen long-term men to town to see the sights for half a day and report back to the warden by sundown. They had a good time and reported back to the minute, sober and contented.

When the convicts were first sent out to work alone on the roads the farmers protested loudly. But the men soon proved that they were human, were living up to their honor pledge and were making better roads for the farmers than the farmers could make for themselves. The farmers of Marion county, where the prison is, are now the heartiest supporters of the new policy.

Is it safe to let convicts out without a guard? From January to July this year, with 150 men working outside, without guard, but three have escaped, and all three were “weak in the head,” and should have been in the asylum. During the same period two years ago, some ten men escaped, though under heavy guard all the time. During the latter part of 1909 an attempt was made to work prisoners outside under heavy guard. In a few months eighteen escaped, and on October 6, 1909, six overpowered their guards, took their guns away from them and fled to the hills. Four were recaptured, wounded. Two were killed. Then the cry went up that prisoners couldn’t be worked outside the penitentiary because it would take more guards than there were prisoners.

Governor West solved this problem by doing away with the guards. All there is to the new prison policy of Governor West’s is this: “Give the men a chance. If they don’t take it you have done your part.” But they do take it.

Convicts May Raise Trees.—It is not illegal for convicts to be employed in reforestation as planned by the conservation commission, according to Attorney General Carmody of New York State, nor is it illegal to sell trees raised by convict labor for the reforestation of private lands.

A Candidate’s Proclamation.—E. C. O’Rear, a gubernatorial candidate in Kentucky, has stated his convictions on prison labor thus:

“If elected Governor I will recommend the submission to the people of an amendment to the constitution allowing convict labor to be used in building and repairing the public highways and for no other purpose, outside the walls. It is best for the prisoners themselves to be so employed and until such an amendment to the constitution can be secured, my contention is that they should be employed, whatever they do, at the same[15] wage that is paid the same character of labor outside the prison walls; and that the profit of their labor be applied by the State to the maintenance of the families of the convicts instead of going to and enriching the contractors.”

Judge O’Rear also agrees with the following plank in the Republican platform:

“We demand the enactment of a law providing for bi-partisan control of penal and charitable institutions, and for the abolition of contract convict labor; and we denounce the board of prison commissioners in hiring out the children under their charge at the reform school for the benefit of whose morals and education that institution was originally established.”

Plans for a New Sing Sing.—That there is no need for the proposed new Harlem prison in Wingdale and that the present Sing Sing prison, New York, should be improved and retained is the opinion of Joseph F. Scott, superintendent of State Prisons. Plans tentatively mapped out will save the State at least $2,000,000. By expending $1,000,000 for improvements in Sing Sing, including the construction of a new cell block to accommodate 1,500 prisoners, and employing convict labor on the proposed improvements. Mr. Scott believes the institution can be used to as good advantage as the proposed new Harlem prison. Sing Sing is more accessible to New York city and at least $40,000 to $50,000 would be saved annually in the cost of the transportation of prisoners and freight, it is said.

“Outside of the cell block at Sing Sing the present prison plant is all right,” Mr. Scott is reported to have said, “and with a new cell block at Sing Sing and the 600 cell-capacity at the Great Meadows prison completed to its contemplated 1,200-cell capacity, the State would have a capacity of 1,200 cells each at Auburn, Dannemora, Great Meadows and Sing Sing, or for 4,800 convicts, and the present prison population is 4,500. So far the State has expended $400,000 at Bear Mountain and Wingdale in the attempt to get a new prison, and to complete the Wingdale project would cost $3,000,000 more.

“There are many features about the Wingdale site which make it too costly and unsuitable for a prison. Transportation of convicts and supplies would cost $50,000 a year more than at Sing Sing, and it would cost $250,000 more than anticipated for a water supply and sewerage and grading. A portion of the Wingdale site is swampy, also.”

New York Lockups.—There are now in the state of New York, according to the Commission on Prisons of New York, about 500 police stations and town and village lockups. During the past two years practically every one of them has been visited by an inspector from this department. The commission has been endeavoring to remedy some of the recognized evils quite prevalent in their management, and to insist upon more adequate provision for housing police prisoners and for more sanitary conditions in these local jails.

It has been insisting that there should be a more complete segregation of women from men than that now provided in some cases. Another evil which has received attention and criticism has been the common practice of commingling police prisoners with tramps or lodgers and the failure to segregate boys and adults.

Prisoners held in these lockups have been arrested simply on suspicion and have not had any hearing, and are entitled to decent and humane treatment. With many of them are common drunks, others are of a more reputable class and should not be locked up in crowded unsanitary quarters with tramps and hoboes of the worst kind. The commission has been insisting that these evils be minimized, and that if localities desire to have a lodging place for tramps it should be entirely separate from the quarters where prisoners are confined who are charged with offenses but who will be later allowed opportunity for defense before a court.

Through the persistent efforts of the commission great improvements have been made in these respects in very many of the towns, villages and smaller cities of the state, and the commission believes[16] in its duty to prosecute this work still further until the evils heretofore arising from the improper housing and unwise coming of these various classes of people shall be eliminated.

Detroit Aids Dependent Families of Prisoners.—In the Review for March, 1911, we described the financial success of the Detroit House of Correction. From the annual report of the board of poor commissioners of Detroit we learn that between July 1, 1910, and June 30, 1911, 88 families, comprising 360 dependent persons, were supported by the wages that the husband and father earned while confined in the house of correction. The sum expended for the dependent families was $3,355.

There have been many families who would have gone in absolute want rather than appeal to the city for aid, but under this ordinance they were given the right to requisition a portion of the wages which the head of the household was earning while imprisoned, and they have not felt that they were receiving gifts of charity. Tables prepared with the report show that of the 88 families assisted from the house of correction fund, 39 were Americans, 19 Polish, 10 Austrians, 10 Canadians, and five Germans, while English, Irish, Scotch, Russians and Negroes had but one family each. Seventy-nine of the offenders were sentenced from the police court and nine from the recorder’s court on charges ranging from bigamy and forgery to failure to send children to school.

The report also embodies the suggestion that some system of adequate and permanent relief is needed by means of which provision can be made for widows and their children. Three hundred and forty-five widows with young children, or 24 per cent. of the total number of cases, aided by the poor commissioners, were assisted during the year. Commenting upon this fact, the report says:

“When we think that the average income of these families is not more than $4 or $5 a week, it is impossible to believe that these children are properly fed, housed and clothed. Can we wonder that so many of the children in these families go astray and find their way into the juvenile court detention homes and reformatories?”

Reporting to the American prison association at Omaha, William H. Venn, parole officer for Michigan, outlined the compensation plan operated in the Detroit House of Correction, which he said had met with general commendation.

“On July 6, 1911, the Detroit House of Correction passed its fiftieth milestone. During the last thirty-two years over $1,000,000 in profits have been turned over to the city of Detroit, the families of prisoners, and to the prisoners themselves. Since 1880 the city of Detroit has annually received sums ranging from $9,016.83 to $52,711.64. The original expenditure by the city of $189,841.36 has been turned back into the treasury of the municipality, the institution has paid its own way, and in the fifty years has shown a fine balance of $1,254,178.15. In addition to this showing, since July, 1901, the prisoners have been receiving financial benefits ranging from $5,958.14 to $9,670.38 annually.

“In addition to amounts paid to prisoners, some of which is sent by the men to their families, provision is made for the families of those who are imprisoned on the charge of abandonment. This is accomplished under a statute which provides that $1.50 per week for the wife and an additional 50 cents for each child under fifteen years of age be paid them out of the funds of the institution.”

By oversight there was omitted from the article in the September REVIEW, by Mr. Whitin on Prison Labor Legislation in 1911, a footnote stating that the article had been prepared for the Labor Legislation Review, Vol. 1, No. 3.

Transcriber’s Notes:

The Table of Contents was created by the transcriber and placed in the public domain.

The one footnote has been moved to the end of its article and relabeled.

Illustrations have been moved to paragraph breaks near where they are mentioned.

Punctuation has been made consistent.

Variations in spelling and hyphenation were retained as they appear in the original publication, except that obvious typographical errors have been corrected.