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society agreeing to “look after” the person so released. The law would become more fully operative, and become a potent means of reducing the prison population, if it provided further for systematic surveillance by proper officers, with stated reports to the court as to the condition and welfare of all against whom suspended sentences were standing. The Prison Association of New York has accepted the task of such surveillance in a number of cases, and has never had occasion to regret its having done so.
There is in New Zealand a system whereby any person found guilty of a crime may be released on a stated suretyship in money, together with a pledge of two responsible citizens that they will look after and promote the interests of the prisoner. Only a few of the most heinous crimes stand in the way of release to any man found guilty in a first offence.
Hundreds of penitent offenders, who would otherwise be filling the prisons, are living industrious lives outside, under the fostering interest and guidance of those whose experiences of life have been more reputable and more fortunate. I regret exceedingly that I have not the figures at hand that show the actual working of the New Zealand system. An enthusiastic penologist borrowed my copy of the New Zealand report, and omitted the formality of returning it. In a conversation with the chief justice of a neighboring county to that just named I was informed that there was justification of the leniency of the law in about four-fifths of the cases. In
any event, the State was practically insured from harm; and then, a chance having been given a man, he could be sent to prison without further trial if he failed to take advantage of it.
In the Italian penal code, one of the tersest in the world, there is a provision whereby women and minors, guilty of certain kinds of misdemeanors, are sentenced to their own homes. The plan works so well that there is a likelihood of its application to older offenders, such particularly as ply a handicraft in their own homes. I can see no reason why it should not be adopted in our own country. Its advantages are manifest.
Let us suppose a woman of the tenementhouse class develops shrewish propensities, indulges in staircase battles, goes from house to house in the neighborhood, provoking quarrels and promoting fights. There are many such women. She is the mother of a family of small children who need her care. She supplements her husband's earnings by taking in washing or sewing. By and
by there is a battle of unusual ferocity. The police are summoned, and she is taken away for a year to the penitentiary. The household is broken up. The children are taken to an institution, and the husband takes to drink. Or there is a cigar-maker whose factory is his kitchen. Heated with liquor in a neighboring saloon, he has a desperate fight, and is sent off to prison. He is not allowed by the labor agitators to earn his own living there, much less to send surplus earnings to his family. The wife is unable to keep the family together, the household goods are sold, and there is a home the less in the city. When he leaves prison, he has no place to go to. Stigmatized as he is, he loses heart, and becomes a fixture in the class where the law has placed him.
Of the 86,000 prisoners in the country, there are at least 5,000 who would have been better off themselves, and done better for the community, if they had been sentenced to their own houses instead of the penal establishments. Of course there is some trouble and expense in the way of surveillance, but not so much as would be anticipated, since those who violate the conditions of their domiciliary sentence are obliged to serve out the full time of their sentence at hard labor in a prison. It may be said that under cover of the night there would be removals from one State to another. This danger is guarded against by the provisions made by law, as touching escaped prisoners,— one of the few complications in interstate relations that has been pretty generally agreed upon and settled. If by any chance any prisoner sentenced to his home should escape the mild surveillance of the police and get out of the country, we should have to get on as best we could without him. I look forward to the day when there will be a very general adoption of the principle involved in domiciliary imprisonment. There are hundreds of men in our penitentiaries and prisons who could, under proper restrictions, do better service outside. Take some of our defaulting clerks and bank officers. Released under proper sureties, there is no one who could so well straighten out their own involved accounts or help more efficiently in the rescue of properties that have passed through their hands. Deprived of citizenship, having been exposed and suffered disgrace, and prohibited from entering upon any business involving pecuniary responsibility, a has suffered as much as the most hardened advocate of retributive justice could wish. Freed on parole, subject to constant surveillance, his life is one of daily suffering, such as it would not
be in the comparative seclusion of a prison. This condition of suffering is one inherent in the situation, and not placed there for the sake of revenge.
In this brief paper I have purposely omitted all concern with the matter of retribution or vengeance. I cannot, indeed, understand the arrogance of any soul who would assume a prerogative of divinity without the wisdom of divinity, and take a responsibility of judgment which God declares belongs to himself alone. For severe and exemplary punishments there has been to my mind but one excuse, that of deterrence. Now that penology has become a science, with methods and statistics of its own, this excuse has been proved an unworthy one, since cruel and extreme punishments are shown to have little or no deterrent effect.
Another potent agency in reducing our prison census is to be found in the thorough, the unflinching application of anthropometric identification,- making it a part of an international law, whereby a criminal who has served a term in any penal establishment in the civilized world may be at once recognized if he is. again arrested, and his biography be made a standard upon which his character may be judged and upon which his treatment shall be based. This, indeed, would have a deterrent effect. The Bertillon system has, to a great extent, driven criminals from the countries where it is in vogue, - France and Belgium,- and has greatly reduced crime. A man is far less likely to commit a crime for the second time when he is positively sure that he will be recognized and judged and punished as an old offender. The Bertillon system is not complex, and it is sure. The mathematical certainty of identification is as 1,300,000,000 to 1.
One might go on at great length showing how our prisons might be further emptied by remedying defects in our educational system, by putting greater stress and more definite duties upon parental responsibility. But these are indirect influences. It is enough for me here to show what is my honest belief,— that we can reduce our prison census, and reduce the necessity of prisons, at least 50 per cent., by a rigid application of the following principles.
1. The reformatory treatment of all whom penal science agrees. are amenable to reformation ; by removing all minors from the penal establishments and placing them in educational institutions.
2. By the removal of drunkards to asylums. 3. By the substitution of conditional liberation in its forms of
parole, ticket-of-leave, probation, domiciliary imprisonment, etc., for definite periods of servitude in establishments.
To conclude, I am fully convinced that, with the depressing effect on character that inheres in ordinary prison methods, with the ties of criminal association formed in the prisons, the difficulties that meet discharged prisoners in reinstating themselves in society, and considering the great cost at which penal establishments are maintained, the community would not be greatly harmed if a selection numbering many thousands of the prison population was turned loose to-day, without other conditions than the ordinary restraints of society.
I look forward to the day when prisons shall be maintained for incorrigibles only, and that, while no effort is spared to reform all who are reasonably amenable to reformation, no severity shall be too great for those who persist in criminal acts and in whom criminal character is fixed.