The Journal of Prison Discipline and Philanthropy (New Series, No. 46, January 1907)
“The probation officer has custodial as well as supervisorypowers, and may surrender the probationer for misbehavior.Probation turns the attention of its subject to the future ratherthan the past. Punishment deals with one past act. Probationdeals with the future—with the establishment of character. Itputs the emphasis upon what the probationer must do, not uponwhat he has done.
“Probation as a means of securing reformation has anexcellent record. Punishment has failed in a great proportionof its cases. It is only reasonable that the records of the twosystems shall be compared. If the law of the survival of thefittest is to prevail in this domain, it is certain that the use ofprobation is destined for increase, and the use of imprisonmentto decrease, as a method of dealing with those who have brokenthe laws. It will be adopted more and more generally becauseit succeeds, while imprisonment will be more generally abandonedbecause it fails.”
Papers were also read by Mr. H. F. Coates, Alliance, Ohio,on “Probation for First Offenders,” and by Samuel J. Barrows,New York, on “The Organization of Probation Work.” Mr.J. G. Phelps-Stokes, New York, spoke on “The Justice of Probation.”Charlton T. Lewis once said: “We are not dealingwith acts, but with actors; not with crimes, but with the menwho have committed them.” A man is largely the creature ofenvironment. Too often we overlook the fact that crime isnot always chargeable to the individual, but to his surroundings.If punishment is to be just, we must know that he who26is punished is justly punished. Some of the prolific causes ofa criminal career are evil associates, street training, and badhomes. Do we ask as we should, whether those now in prisonhad such favorable surroundings as the reputable portion ofsociety? How many children grow up without proper hometraining! Their parents must go out to hard work to theneglect of the children. There is no play for the child exceptunder evil influences; and in New York alone there are 85,000children deprived of the benefits of a public school education becauseof deficient school accommodations. Among those whocan go to school, truancy is not uncommon. The recreationwhich every child needs is found by many in saloons, dancehalls, cheap theatres, and other demoralizing places. The stressof hard work and long hours also makes it impossible for manyparents to care properly for their children. Do we wonder thatunder such circumstances only harmful influences come tothem? Punishment is just only in proportion to culpability;and yet how many have no opportunity to learn what is rightor wrong!
The conditions to which first offenders are subjected inmany prisons are simply appalling. Hundreds are thrown inwith the vilest beings and the most hardened criminals, and are,in addition, obliged in the majority of prisons to endure a livingdeath by reason of the most unsanitary surroundings. It ishorrible to sentence a man, woman or child, not only to moraldegradation, but to a physical death as well. Imprisonment asa corrective and deterrent is a failure. Punishment can havebut two justifications: the correction of the offender, and theprotection of society. Probation, on the other hand, at leastresults in making one refrain from such criminal acts as willsend him to prison.
The speaker of the evening was Mrs. Maud BallingtonBooth, of the Volunteers of America, who delivered a mosteloquent and sympathetic address on “The Hopeful Side ofPrison Work.” Mrs. Booth began her work among “her boys”behind the bars ten years ago, at the time of the division in theSalvation Army, which resulted in the formation of the Volunteersof America. To-day she is everywhere known amongprisoners and ex-convicts as “The Little Mother.” Mrs. Boothsaid in part: “I am not here to instruct wardens and chaplains,nor have I come to represent myself, but the work of theorganization for which I stand. I see before me another27audience to-night, namely, those behind the bars. All I knowregarding this work is from within the walls, and I speak,therefore, from the standpoint of the prisoner. I was alwaystold that the task with criminals was a hopeless one, but I havelearned to know better. People who talk like that have neverbeen behind the walls of a prison. The theorist looks uponconvicts as men who are generally unredeemable. Not so thewardens and chaplains and other prison workers, who have hadpractical experience. No man or woman would be any goodamong prisoners without hope. Where there is life there ishope. I do not forget the crime or the stain, and am not asentimentalist regarding the reformation of criminals; but Ifirmly believe that no one has fallen so low as to be absolutelybeyond redemption. Many of those behind the bars have fromearliest childhood never known anything of human or divinelove; but have only been cuffed about in the world. Bringthese the touch of sympathy, and tell them something of theFather’s love and of the Saviour’s power to save, and youagain bring hope into their lives. This must be the foundationof our work within the prison; and where those whohave served their time come out, it is love again—mother love,if you please—that must direct their course. In dealing withthe convict, our first endeavor must be to enkindle new hopewithin his heart; and toward the ex-convict the public mustassume a better attitude. Finally, if we leave God out weshall not succeed.”
Tuesday, September 18
This day of the Congress had been set apart by the NewYork State Prison Department for an excursion to beautifulLake George. At 8.30 o’clock over three hundred delegatesleft Albany by special train. On arrival at Lake George thesteamer Horicon was boarded, and after a sail of several hourson the lake, the excursionists were landed at “The Sagamore,”where a basket luncheon was served, after which the meetingof the Chaplains’ Association was held, the Rev. William J.Batt, D. D., of the Massachusetts State Reformatory, in thechair.
After a brief paper by the Rev. W. E. Edgin, Chaplainof the Indiana State Reformatory, Jeffersonville, on “Soul-Winningin a Reformatory,” and an address by Prof. EdwardEverett Hale, the president introduced Mr. Joseph F. Scott,28of the Elmira Reformatory, whose admirable paper on “TheChaplain from the Warden’s Point of View,” we here reproducein full:
“Because prisoners are men, they have the same impulses,motives, hopes, and aspirations, and are susceptible to thesame influences and amenable to the same forces as othermen, though possibly in a less degree. Because some men areprisoners they need the same inspiration, faith, strength, andcourage that other men find themselves in need of.
“In the prison of which I am superintendent, there areburglars, pickpockets, and thieves of every description. Thereis no law on the statute books that has not its offenders there,and they are thought of and spoken of by people in general assuch. But when the parents of one of these write me, theysay, ‘My son’; or if the brother or sister write, they say, ‘Mybrother’; and I believe if it were possible for me to hear thewords of the Father in Heaven, concerning one of these, theywould be, ‘My son,’ or the words of Jesus, ‘My brother.’Should not our words be the same?
“If I had a son of my own I should insist upon such rulesof diet, sleep, and exercise as would insure to him a healthfulbody and a good constitution, such education, necessary to awell-disciplined mind, such works or pursuits to assure successin life; such disciplinary and moral training as would buildup a stable character; all to the end that his place in life wouldbe that of a useful citizen. The need of the prisoner and theprison discipline brought to bear upon him need be nothingmore, and should be nothing less than this. He needs physicaldevelopment, mental quickening, industrial training, disciplineand moral instruction, if he is to be returned to society aself-sustaining and useful citizen; and no prison is doing itsproper work that does not in some way afford means for theseessential elements of discipline.
“The moral instruction is the especial work of the prisonchaplain, and he should be given that freedom of action andbreadth of scope to make his work efficient. I believe thatChristianity is the greatest moral force in the lives of mento-day, because it has humanity as the basis of its ethics. Ithas come down through the years as a forming, transformingand reforming force in the lives of men, and I believe it isto go on through the ages until selfishness shall have beenuprooted, and men brought closer and closer together; whenwe shall love our neighbor and be willing to work for himas for ourselves, and will do unto others as we would be done29by; when we shall live in one great fraternal organization;when wars, and robberies, and strife shall cease and povertyshall be no more; when the strong shall carry the burden ofthe weak, and succor the unfortunate, and men will live togetherin brotherly love, under a Christian socialism or in theNew Jerusalem, or such designation as you may please to giveit. This force, which has accomplished and is to accomplishso much for the world, we cannot deny a place in transformingthe lives and characters of prisoners, to that of upright living.
“The prison chaplain, in his work among prisoners,should thoroughly believe that these great Christian forceswhich have done so much for the world are applicable to themen under his charge and are as efficient in their lives as inthe lives of other men; and any Christian clergyman, desirousof helping his fellow men and entering into the service of theLord and humanity, and of placing himself where he can dothe most good, should not hesitate to accept a prison chaplaincy;and a call to such a place should be in his mind equalto the call to one of the best churches in the land.
“It is not my purpose to give a detailed outline for thework of a prison chaplain. No two men can perhaps be successfuland do their work in the same way; but every personconnected with the prison, be he superintendent, warden, orchaplain, or other officer, should seek every inspiration andgood example and ideal within his possibilities, and then simplybe his natural self in dealing with the prisoners’ needs.
“When I was superintendent of the Massachusetts Reformatoryat Concord, it was the custom there to avail ourselvesof the services of the students from Andover TheologicalSeminary. One student, fresh from his work in theseminary, came into my office one day and asked me what heshould do in the prison. I told him that if I were to get someone to do what I wanted done, I would probably get some oneelse, but that I expected him to go into prison, mingle freelywith the prisoners, and find something, some place where hethought he could be of use to them, and give those qualities inhimself that he thought would be of the most help. And thatis what I would say to a prison chaplain entering the work.Where one is strong another may be weak, and each shouldwork along those lines where he himself feels that he can dothe greatest good. The compensation of a prison chaplainshould be sufficient to command the services of clergymen ofhigh attainments, and to support themselves and families in acomfortable way. And never should a chaplaincy be looked30upon as a place for a broken-down clergyman, or one who hasfailed in other fields of activity. The chaplain should be given,as I have previously said, sufficient latitude and freedom ofaction in the prison to carry on the work in such lines as hehimself feels that he can be of the greatest service. Therefore,the superintendent, or warden, should not place upon thechaplain such routine duties as will interfere with his doingthis. It is recognized by all that the Sabbath is the specialday for the chaplain’s work. I believe that we should gofurther than this, and set aside to him some portion of eachday for such religious work as he deems best. He should notbe burdened with such work as supervising inmates’ correspondence,the library, teaching school, or the many routineduties which are foisted upon him in many instances,