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it was established in 1828, and it has sent forth nearly twenty thousand young persons who have derived more or less benefit from their stay there. It is after this long and intimate knowledge of the difficulties that beset its inmates after they leave its shelter, that its venerable President now asks the legislature to purchase the present buildings and use them as a prison for offenders between sixteen and twenty-five, thus relieving our county prisons and jails from the burthen and responsibility of making hopelessly corrupt those of still tender years, who are sent to them, that with the proceeds of sale the House of Refuge may establish itself on a farm, where it can give its inmates the benefit of open air work and life in small family groups.
There can be little discussion over the condition of our county jails and prisons,—the Reports of the State Board of Charities, a body that only needs greater executive power to be more efficient, sufficiently attest the fact that they are nearly all bad,—it is only a question of degree as to which is the worst—there is almost no pretence of any reform being possible to their inmates, and the work of prison discipline can hardly be said to be applied to them. Certainly there is abundant room for the work of individual and organized charity in securing the introduction of reforms which suggest themselves to every observer. Another field of active usefulness very near at hand is that of the Station Houses, in which offenders of all classes and unfortunates of every kind are huddled together, where no small part of the primary instruction, and sometimes advanced lessons in crimes are given. That venerable body, the Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons,-established in 1775, chartered in 1787, is full of honorable work done in its long career of usefulness; proof of its activity is the statement that in the last twenty years it has secured the discharge of 35,000 prisoners from the Philadelphia County Prison, saving an expenditure estimated at two millions of dollars, and suggesting a state of affairs in the administration of justice by the minor judiciary that must inflict untold mischief on the least helpful class. What the Prison Society, through its visitors and agents, has done for the Eastern Penitentiary and County Prison, remains in great part to be done at every county jail throughout the State, at every Station House and in the office of every Committing Magistrate in the city, where visitors clothed with authority from
just such an authoritative source as the Prison Society or the Charity Organization Society, ought to be frequent in attendance, watchful and constant against neglect or abuse. What has been done in other places, must necessarily guide our action here. In Great Britain, one of the latest and most effective steps taken in the matter of Prison Reform, is that of putting all prisons under central authority, and thus preventing any effort to secure economy at the expense of efficient control. It is as if the State of Pennsylvania, recognizing the mischiefs that are incidental to local influences, should hand over the County Jails and such parts of the Poor Houses as belong to preventive and reform work, and with them the care of abandoned and vicious children, to the Board of State Charities, not merely as an advisory board, but as an executive board, with power to require local management to come up at once to such efficiency as the requirements of prison and reformatory discipline dictate. There can be little doubt that the necessary outlay required to provide proper prisons, as supplementary to our own County Prison and in place of the more faulty county jails, would be fully returned in the improvement, now next to impossible, of their shifting population.
While political influence has been largely eliminated from our prison management, it still remains in the Philadelphia Alms House, that enormous aggregation of inconsistent establishments. The question of how to overcome its confessed evils, overcrowding and insufficient means of distinguishing between vice and misfortune, is almost necessarily bound up with the weighty problem of its removal. No greater benefit can be gained for the city and its poor, than the removal of Blockley Alms House, in whole or part, from its present locality, and re-establishing its great Hospital, its Lying-in Department, its Childrens' Wards, and its other branches in a better neighborhood. * Why could not the same principle be applied there that has been so well tested in many of our best charitable institutions? Private charity, individual munificence, organized benevolence have given us the Blind Asylum, the Deaf and Dumb Asylum, the House of Refuge, and scores of other useful institutions, and only gradually and after years of successful work, have the State and city come forward to supplement private foundations by a per capita or other annual appropriation. There are undoubtedly many existing institutions of approved usefulness and experience, in whose care many of the present inmates of the Philadelphia Alms House could be properly distributed, and maintained at an average cost not greater than that which is now expended at Blockley. In that way the overcrowded population now gathered there could be reduced to that average which is alone reconcilable with health and good discipline, and part of the land, now grown very valuable, be sold for trade purposes, producing enough to put the present buildings in habitable condition for such purposes as may best be carried on there.
* This whole subject was exhaustively discussed by Dr. Ray in his paper read before the Philadelphia Social Science Association on March 27, 1873, “What shall Philadelphia do for its Paupers ?" Unluckily, the question still remains unanswered.
The House of Refuge ought to be removed to the country, and established there on the system of family homes of less than fifty ; it could certainly take many of the inmates of the Alms House, the House of Correction and the County Prison and Poor House, out of the evil influences that necessarily surround every household counted by hundreds ; it could give its inmates the advantage of a training that would fit them to find homes in the far West, instead of almost forcing them now to find employment in the city in the midst of the very temptations from which they are sedulously guarded during their stay within its walls. There can be little doubt that the State would be a great gainer by taking the present House of Refuge for a prison for offenders between sixteen and twenty-one, and reforming them, instead of huddling them with confirmed criminals in the County Prisons.
A field for activity that promises great success, is that of training the officers of prisons and reformatories. The work so well done by De Metz at Mettray, by Wichern and by all the best men in various reformatories, was largely due to the fact that before the doors of their institutions were opened, they began to train those who were to be their officers. This system has been applied in Germany with characteristic centralization. The German Prison Society is not, as with us, a gathering of philanthropists, but it is an active association of all prison officers, high and low, whose training is special and whose efficiency is proportioned to the labor taken to reward merit and secure its acknowledgment by promotion. Almost as important is that of a suitable training of the volunteers who undertake the duty of visiting prisons and personally becoming acquainted with the prisoners, their needs and condition, with a view to assisting them on their discharge, so that they may not relapse into vice and have the old and often valid excuse that they could get no work and had no means of earning an honest livelihood. The efficiency of all institutions, penal and reformatory, largely depends on intelligent supervision, for in this way the officers are kept up to an active discharge of their duty. The duties of prison visiting require great prudence and forbearance, and these are much more likely to be the fruits of intelligent and trained experience than of such perfunctory inspection by Grand Juries as is now too often all that is ever made. There is a criminal population of over 5,000 in this State, in the sixty-six county jails, two penitentiaries, workhouses and houses of correction. Over 50,000 pass through the criminal courts and those of the minor magistracy during the year,—of course, the larger proportion are discharged without trial, but still it leaves a great body whose offences are slight in proportion to the ruin to them in purse, in person, and in morals, inflicted on them by detention in prisons where they are thrown together, with no restraining influence, and out of which they go, poisoned by contamination, with no guidance in the right way, and with no helping hand to save them from sinking deeper and deeper into crime and vice. In the Reform Schools of this State there is a population of about a thousand, black and white, male and female, whose great danger arises from the shortness of their stay, and the difficulty, on their release from the care that protects them, in finding employment under wholesome influences. Their return to their old associations soon brings them back again, and the proportion of recommitments, nearly fifteen per cent. of the annual admissions, is in painful contrast to the returns of other reformatories.
There is great need of a prison for juvenile offenders, between 16 and 21, where a severer discipline would serve to deter and punish repeated offences. The study of the antecedents and surroundings of the inmates of the House of Refuge and other Reformatories reveals a painful picture of vice and crime, intemperate parents, parents separated, living in vice, without pursuit, on the proceeds of charity or worse, and yet to them the children must be surrendered as soon as they can earn a livelihood. In these institutions the employments found for the inmates are necessarily few, and, for the most part, of a kind that offers to them small resources on their release. The problem of how to teach them trades that shall be remunerative during their detention, and secure them work when they leave it, is one that is yet to be satisfactorily solved.
A Poor Boy's Home, similar to the Newsboy's Homes in New York, might meet this need, where a boy, on leaving the House of Refuge, to seek a situation or employment, could find a home, surrounded by good influences, at a rate for board and lodging that would enable him to live comfortably on small earnings. Another much needed step is a school ship; this has been found effective in England and in New York. The Government will not admit on its school ships any boy who comes from a reformatory. It would be well if there could be a fund raised here to man and supply one of the old vessels, such as the Government gives to every city that will pay the expenses of maintenance, where boys from the House of Refuge, and those who may be on the way to become its inmates, could find work and instruction. Philadelphia has a large and growing shipping, and it would be well if charity and commerce could be united to secure to both a benefit likely to be of lasting mutual advantage. The floating population which now drists across the river for the summer and autumn earnings of small fruit culture, and goes to the House of Correction for winter quarters, and the boys from the House of Refuge and Reformatories could furnish a great many sturdy recruits for our merchant marine.
Of the hundreds of children in the Blockley Alms Houses, few are likely to live to become good men and women. The example of the great London charities ought to be taken to heart here. There, at a vast expense, the old system, still in vogue in Blockley, of putting all classes of poor under one management, has been completely broken up, and now the Reform Schools and other charities for children are invariably established in the country, apart from all contaminating influences. The good result is clearly noticeable in the improved condition of the class to which their inmates belong. There is no good reason why the same experience should not be applied here with the same result:-break up the Blockley Alms Houses, keep, if you will, a hospital there, with all the best scientific appliances, but send the children to the country, let them grow and flourish under favorable auspices for health and morals, and put the