THE relations of Social Science and Charity Organization are

1 so intimate that they must necessarily occupy the same field of inquiry. Much of the work now undertaken by the Philadelphia Society for Organizing Charity, has been the subject of investigation by the Philadelphia Social Science Association. The Philadelphia Charity Organization Society has really undertaken an examination of the Penal and Reformatory Institutions of the city and its vicinity, and for this purpose appointed a Committee to investigate and report on the subject. This was done in order to point out to the Charity Society the kind of work which it could do in this direction and the nature of the inquiry which its members and representatives might advantageously pursue. The existing Penal and Reformatory Institutions of this city are of such varying extent and importance, that there cannot well be any general statement as to their work and their results. Each must be examined as to its means and its proportionate influence in alleviating the condition of its beneficiaries. The limits between purely public charities and those of a purely private nature are not very carefully defined, and much of the best relief extended to helpless poverty comes from private sources through public officers. The City Trusts control the expenditure of a large sum of money for the relief of the poor in various ways, including a small fund for the assistance of struggling mechanics. Girard College, with its provision for a thousand orphan boys, is on a scale of almost unequalleci liberality, and it must bring home comfort and blessing to many whose children without its help would be in great danger of destitution. Froin this downward, both in numbers and resources, there is a long list of charitable institutions established and largely maintained by private beneficence, which care for children of all sexes, color and ages, from the most tender up to the time when they can support themselves, and do good work. How far they contribute to the increase of pauperism, by relieving parents from the duty of caring for their children, is one of the questions that may fitly be studied by the members of the Charity Organization Society in their visits to the homes of those who come to its offices for aid. No one can fail to see that in many instances habits of improvidence are encouraged by the facility with which a family of children is distributed in public and private institutions throughout the city, from which they are taken at an age when their labor can make some return to the parents. In many cases, too, such children, after being tenderly cared for in these homes, are taken away by their parents and sent out into the streets to beg or to follow worse pursuits, to support their parents in vice by the earnings of their wretchedness. It is, therefore, entirely within the province of the Charity Organization Society, to examine the condition of the Penal and Reformatory Institutions of this city, to see how far they are doing their work for the benefit of the public who contribute to maintain them, and of the children and adults who are gathered together within their walls, and to suggest such changes as may bring them to the highest standard of efficiency. There can be no doubt that the results of preventive measures by means of Reform Schools are clearly traceable here as in other places, and it is well to study carefully reports of the work elsewhere. The systems of government in France and England are such that a paternal care is exercised by those highest in authority over the smallest of their subjects; but here, in royal disregard of the prevention of evil, the state leaves it to private benevolence to set on foot measures intended for the ultimate benefit of the whole community, and only when the result is shown by years of labor, does the legislature give something out of the State and city Treasury to the support of charitable institutions engaged in the care of young children and in trying to save them from ruin. In England, the government has made it compulsory upon the parents of children entrusted to such institutions, to contribute, according to their means, towards the expense of maintaining them, and in this way the necessity of parental duty is enforced. It would be well if some such measure could be devised to bring home to parents the good done their children who are placed in the House of Refuge and other Reformatories. Impressed with these views, the Charity Organization Society of Philadelphia, appointed their committee on Penal and Reformatory Institutions, and when their report was made to the Assembly of that body, referred it to the Board of Directors, with a recommendation that it be transmitted to the Governor and Legislature and to the Mayor and Councils, with a request for the appointment of a commission to consider the whole subject of Penal and Reformatory Institutions, to examine their workings and to report such changes and improvements as may be suggested by such an investigation. This suggestion has an interest for all who are concerned in Social Science in its practical application. The action of such a Commission would necessarily be moulded by the recognized authorities on the subject, and there can be little doubt that their recommendations would do away with some existing incongruities, would prevent much waste of money and labor in reduplicated institutions, would enable the public to ascertain where their support could be best given, and would benefit the recipients of charity by so organizing it that it could readily be extended to all cases calling for its help.

The question of existing needs of the Penal and Reformatory Institutions in and near Philadelphia, is of itself broad enough to take all the force that can be expended in that direction. The data of what has been done here and elsewhere, fill a great volume of 719 pages, “ The State of Prisons, and of Child-Saving Institutions, in the Civilized World,” by E. C. Wines, published after the death of that veteran in prison science, and constituting a monument to his devotion to the subject. In it will be found succinct accounts of the work done in the way of improving penal and reformatory institutions the world over. The principles governing the former, as set forth by Mr. Wines, are briefly as follows: Prison reform consists of five principal heads, Ist, Safe-keeping, to detain offenders; 2nd, Repression, to intimidate them ; 3d, Correction, to reform them; 4th, Duration of Imprisonment, so that it is, ist, Repressive, and 2nd, Reformatory; 5th, Limit of Prison Population, which is fixed for this purpose, at 500.

The theory of imprisonment has for its aim the prevention of three things : escape, mutual corruption and relapse into crime, and, based on these conditions, it is the aim and purpose of Prison Reform to protect society from offenders against its laws, to punish such offences, and finally to convert the offender from an enemy of the law to one of its supporters; just so far as prisons and reformatories do these things they are successful, but when they, fail in any of them they fall short of their task.

CHILD-SAVING WORK. One of the greatest factors in the success of all prison reform, has been the rapid growth of reform schools; the preventive effect of their work is clearly measurable in the reduced ratios of crime to population where such schools have been most flourishing. The statements made on this score have been such as to excite question, and yet they seem well authenticated; take for instance that of the County of Gloucester in England, where in the course of thirty years, instead of seven prisons there is one, and its population has been reduced from 870 to 170. The city of New York is the home of forty-four associations which have in view the redemption of vicious and exposed children. Of these the Children's Aid Society is the one best known by reason of the variety and success of its work. Besides its seven lodging houses, where thirteen thousand homeless children are annually sheltered, it has twenty-one day industrial schools and thirteen night schools; it has been busy since 1853 in finding homes in the West for poor boys saved from vice ; beginning with two hundred in that year, it now sends out from three to four thousand annually, making a total of nearly fifty thousand men, who have thus gained the opportunity of useful lives. All this has been done at a cost of two millions of dollars, and to-day from legislative and municipal grants, but chiefly from private benefactions, it has an annual income of nearly a quarter a million. Now, as the result of this work, the Society points to the fact that the commitments of females for vagrancy fell from 5,880 in 1860 to 548 in 1871; if this proportion had followed the increase of population, it would have numbered 6,700 in place of 548. The commitment of young girls for petty thieving shrank from 1,133 in 1860, to 572 in 1871 ; and of juvenile female delinquents, from 240 in 1860, to 59 in 1870; and of young children, from 403 in 1863 to 212 in 1871. The same proportions hold good of males; for vagrancy the decrease was from 2,829 in 1859 to 934 in 1871, instead of an increase to 3,225; for petty larceny, from 2,626 in 1859, to 1,978 in 1871, instead of an increase to 2,861 ; of commitments of boys under 16, from 1,965 in 1864, to 1,017 in 1871; of juvenile pickpockets from 466 in 1860, to 313 in 1871. Great Britain has 200 reforni and industrial schools, organized by private charity and assisted by government only after individual efforts have secured the success of the undertaking. In twenty years, from 1855 to 1875, the number of children committed to prison, was reduced from 10,329, to 7,584; in London alone, in the nine years of work of the London

School Board, it has taken out of the streets over 5,000 vagabond children and sent them to industrial schools or to its own training ship, or its own infant schools. It is estimated that in the United States there are half a million children receiving no public instruction, a large number of them born and reared in crime. To arrest this downward stream, there must be infant asylums, kindergartens, orphanages, homes for abandoned children, industrial schools giving food and instruction, others supplying, besides, clothing and lodging, apprentices' schools, societies to help apprentices, and all such appliances in use in this and other countries, where it is recognized that it is cheaper to prevent crime than to punish it. During the last fifty years, Pennsylvania has spent perhaps a million of dollars in preventing crime, by reform schools, and each one of its penitentiaries has cost over a million. More than one-fifth of the prisoners in this country are under twenty; more than two-thirds under thirty, and certainly the statistics of our own state and city bear out these proportions, many of whom might be saved by preventive remedies. In an appeal to the State authorities, issued by the officers of the House of Refuge, it is stated that there were committed to the county jails near Philadelphia, between 16 and 21: In the years 1878-9-'80,

661. In Philadelphia,


[blocks in formation]

An average annual commitment of 491. There were committed to the House of Correction,

An average of, 403.

I 210.

A total average for each year of, 894.

Total for three years of,



There are now in the Eastern Penitentiary, boys

under twenty-one, There were convicted of crimes and sent to county

jails and Reformatories in this State, in the year 1878, offenders under twenty-one,

[blocks in formation]

this number was 24 per cent. of the whole number of commitments during that year.

The House of Refuge has had an experience of over fifty years;

« VorigeDoorgaan »