The Delinquent (Vol. IV, No. 3, March 1914)
VOLUME IV, No. 3. MARCH, 1914THE DELINQUENT
(FORMERLY THE REVIEW)
A MONTHLY PERIODICAL, PUBLISHED BY THE
NATIONAL PRISONERS’ AID ASSOCIATION
AT 135 EAST 15th STREET, NEW YORK CITY.
THIS COPY TEN CENTS. ONE DOLLAR A YEAR
|T. F. Garver, President.|
|Wm. M. R. French, Vice-President.|
|O. F. Lewis, Secretary, Treasurer and Editor The Delinquent.|
|Edward Fielding, Chairman Ex. Committee.|
|F. Emory Lyon, Member Ex. Committee.|
|W. G. McLaren, 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.|
Entered as second-class mail matter at New York.
THE “DOPE HABIT”
[We reprint Edward Marshall’s illuminating article from the New York Times of February 22nd on themost recent serious menace within our prisons, and outside of them. There has come throughout the country,apparently a relatively sudden realization of the fearful effects of the habit-forming drugs.]
Habit-forming drugs and their ravages,destructive of both the morals and thehealth of the community, seem at last tohave aroused commensurate human indignation,at least in New York city.
Discussion is continual of this strangestand saddest of the problems of our moderncivilization; city officials are definitelyinterested, studying and planning; a committee,including in its membership magistratesand others of sociological force,works on an impulse supplied by Mrs.Vanderbilt; and from a third source definitelegislation emanates to be offered inthe Legislatures of this and other Statesand in the National Congress.
Nothing more astonishing, nothing moreappalling than the hold which habit-formingdrugs have taken on the communityat large can be found among the tragediespeculiar to modern civilization.
And all this has come suddenly. Not somany years ago the opium smoker was theonly known victim, and he was a curiosityof Chinatown; the morphine taker was arare, and troubled spirit, stalking solitaryin its slavery and misery; the cocaine fiendremained unknown, and the heroin addict—latestin all this incomparably tragic company—wasundreamed of.
Now opium smoking, though still thecause of an occasional police raid, hassunk into insignificance by comparison withmorphine taking; cocaine habitues are notuncommon sights upon the streets to thosewith the depressing knowledge which identifiesthem; police slang has coined aname for them—“snowbirds”; and weread in almost every issue of our dailynewspapers of new developments of the“heroin habit.”
Habit-forming drugs of one kind or anotherhave gained so strong a hold uponthe people of this country, more especiallyupon the people of American cities,that they have reached the dread proportionsof a national curse.
They play their tragic part in uncounteddomestic tragedies; an annual crop of businessand professional failures numerically2approaching the sad army of alcoholicwrecks is thrust into the various binswherein we hide our human refuse; drugssend their yearly thousands of young meninto the prisons, of young women to thestreets.
A native Southerner, of national fame,high in the councils of his party, told merecently that habit-forming drugs, cocaineprincipally, have of late so complicated thenegro problem of the South as to triple itsdifficulties and dangers.
These heroin and cocaine groups, latelyso conspicuous, are insignificant in numbersand in tragedy when compared bythose who know with the thousands to befound among our citizenship who, drivenonly into misery, not into viciousness orcrime, by drug addictions, fall innocentvictims to this most terrible of moderncurses, sad sacrifices to illness and to pain,to ignorance and to cupidity.
The victims of drug habits who havebeen led into them through the mistakenmethods of the doctor, who first administersthe drug to ease acute physical suffering,and by the proprietary medicine or drugstore preparation passed out as cure-allswith an indifference to or ignorance ofconsequences which must remain incredibleto those who understand, is infinitelymore numerous than the growing groupof drug takers led into their addictions bythe tendency towards dissipation.
Drugs are even taking hold upon ouryouth. Within the year many instanceshave been cited in the newspapers, whichhave uncovered peddlers of cocaine andheroin to school children. I listened recentlyto the appalling story of a seventeen-year-oldConnecticut boy, brought byhis father for treatment in this city, whotold how he had been the center of a groupof not less than a hundred other boys in hisown town who gained the drug throughhim and were completely at his mercy.
I was present recently when this fathertold the story, having brought the boy tothe metropolis for treatment. It was practicallythe duplicate of many, and illustratesthe real necessity of legislation,which will impose upon the druggist andthe medical profession a general restriction.
“My boy,” this sorrow-racked and disappointedfather said, “was employed by aphysician living near us to care for his automobile.He paid him for his work by givinghim prescriptions for heroin. My boy quicklybecame a victim of the habit, and soon formedthe centre of a group of twenty or moreother boy victims, who secured from him theprescriptions by means of which they broughtthe drug.
“Two large manufacturing establishmentsin our home town were thus infected, and atthe present time not less than one hundredboys have become slaves to the habit. Theybuy the drug in quantities as large as theycan pay for from the largest drug store inour city, and are never questioned.”
Their home city is Bridgeport, Conn. Ihave in my possession one of the prescriptionsgiven to the boy by the physician,who thus paid him for his services in attendingto his motor car.
In New York State and city the situationis not better. The police records have beenfull of “dope cases” for years. Morphineand heroin are doing serious work in thedemoralization of the city, and the ravagesof cocaine are as serious here as they canbe among the negroes of the South.
Miss Katharine B. Davis, now in the fullswing of her duties as Commissioner ofCorrection, tells me that she finds her problemscomplicated all along the line by drugaddictions among inmates of the city’sprisons and jails, and the Mayor and othermembers of the city government are lookinginto the whole subject with deep interest.
In her efforts to discover how the city’sprisoners get drugs, Miss Davis has uncoveredstrange, almost uncanny methods. Aprisoner’s wife or “girl” brings him cleanhandkerchiefs or shirts, stiffly starched.Left alone with them, he chews them eagerly,getting thus the morphine which impregnatesthe starch.
Another prisoner greedily sucks an orangewhich has been brought to him. Investigationshows that through a tiny punctureits juice has been withdrawn, to bereplaced through a hypodermic syringe,after it has been transformed into a saturatesolution of morphine.
Fountain-pens are now taboo among theprisoners. Their barrels may be filled withdrug tablets.
In a letter now in my possession, writtento Charles B. Towns, the drug expert, by3Dr. Charles W. Farr, prison physician ofSing Sing, the doctor, after announcing thesuccessful treatment of some drug addicts,continues:
“But the men seem to be able to get thevarious drugs as readily as ever. I supposethat the usual method is to have the guardsbring it in for them. When questioned theprisoners always blame the traffic on thehonest and unpopular guards who are notreally concerned with it. I asked a convictto estimate the number of drug takers amongthe prisoners. He answered:
“‘Counting the habitual users and the“joy riders,” there are probably two hundredin this prison.’”
And while these demoralizing noveltiesare frequently discovered in the underworld,the hold which habit-forming drugsare getting elsewhere, with the worthwhile, is admittedly appalling. There arepharmacists in New York city whose importanttrade is drug traffic; there are physicianshere, and not a few, who, whiledrug addicts themselves, find their practicealso among drug addicts, furnishingprescriptions daily