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against these ordinances are only semi-criminal in nature, and are disposed of in the Recorders' Courts in a summary manner. Such offenses as playing ball on the public streets, "hopping cars," "shooting craps,” disturbing the peace generally, etc., etc., come under this head. In such cases juveniles are not arrested unless they fail to appear when a summons is served, a warrant then being sworn out against them. No criminal record is kept, their cases being simply recorded in what is known as "the calendar of offenses against the city ordinances". The Judge frequently dismisses the child with a good talk or a word of warning. Sometimes a fine is imposed which parents or friends usually pay.
To give an idea of the number of juvenile arrests in the city of Detroit each year, a tabulated statement is placed in the appendix. This shows at a glance the large number of different offenses with which juveniles may be charged. It will be noticed that the greatest number fall under the heads of “simple larceny”, “truancy”, and "juvenile disorderly”, respectively. With boys “assault and battery” and “malicious injury to buildings” make up quite a number of offenses. With girls, on the other hand, the number of different offenses is much smaller and, as one would expect, involve little or no physical force.
Another good definition of what constitutes juvenile delinquency is found in the Illinois Juvenile Court Law. A very careful distinction is made between dependent, neglected and delinquent children. While it is practically impossible to draw exact lines about these three classes, we may tentatively take the definition it gives of a “delinquent child” as describing "our juvenile offenders”:
“The words 'delinquent child' shall include any child under the age of sixteen (16) years who violates any
law of this State or any city or village ordinance; or who is incorrigible; or who knowingly associates with thieves, vicious or immoral persons; or who is growing up in idleness or crime; or who knowingly frequents a house of ill-fame; or who knowingly patronizes any policy shop or place where any gaming device is or shall be operated.”
Laws defining juvenile offenders in practically the same terms have been enacted in Pennsylvania, Wiscoilsin, Ohio, and in Washington, D. C. From the definitions given above and the tabulated statement in the appendix a correct idea can be formed of the children regarded as "juvenile offenders” by law. But after a juvenile has been arrested and brought before a judge it is imperative, for the best disposition of the case, that as complete a knowledge as possible of the child's heredity and environment should be obtained.
On account of its immaturity the child bears an entirely different relation to crime from that of the habitual adult offender. A child is in the formative period when impressions for good or bad are most easily made. What it does is largely the result of home surroundings and school associations. (It is true, there seems in some children to be a predisposition to criminal actions; but even in such cases much can be done to save the child by furnishing a wholesome environment and suitable education.)
(Again, a child cannot understand the highly complex social relations which exist in modern society. It must attain a social life by a process of gradual development.
6Illinois Juvenile Court Law, Section 1.-Definitions. pendix.)
Biologically speaking, the child is an animal working out the life history of the race in its own active life. It recapitulates certain phases in the life of its primitive ancestors. Accordingly, migratory and predatory instincts frequently manifest themselves. If a child then happens to commit some offense against the laws of the more highly organized society in which it is living we cannot, in any true sense, consider it a criminal; but rather that it is living in an age when migratory and predatory instincts were predominant. Through these stages of growth the child should have careful guidance. It does not need punishment, or even reformation, so much as it does formation.)
( Society is continually changing its attitude toward criminal offenses. Many which, at one time, were considered grave crimes are no longer so regarded; on the other hand, a number of acts formerly considered trivial are now prohibited by law, "Crime is a variable quantity. It is the product of the aggregate social conditions and tendencies of a people at any given moment in its history." This should ever be remembered when dealing with our juvenile offenders. Intelligent treatment of them depends upon a recognition of the fact that a social environment, which is constantly changing, is largely responsible for their actions. Two boys charged with precisely the same offense would be equally guilty in the sight of the law; but they might need entirely different treatment, depending upon their home environment and education. With one the offense might be very serious; with the other it might indicate only a temporary lapse or a yielding to impulse which showed neither premeditation nor malice. Such a case comes to mind as I write:
A bicycle had been taken from a rack in front of one
"Punishment and Reformation, by F. H. Wines, p. 23.
of the Summer Gardens, and two boys, Roy H. and Wm. C., each 14 years of age, were arrested by a detective for stealing it. They were arraigned in the Police Court, and their case was set for the following Monday morning. Both were allowed to go to their homes, with the assurance that they would appear when their case was called. During the week the boys were noticed loitering about the courts and jail with the hope of seeing a man then on trial for a horrible murder. When Monday morning came the boys were again seen in front of the court building; but when their case was called in the Police Court they failed to appear.
Later it was found that the boys had stolen two other wheels and had taken them to Canada where they were sold for four and five dollars apiece. On returning to Detroit the boys were afraid to go to their homes, so they lived in cheap rooming and boarding houses down-town. They were arrested again and brought into court. This time they were confined in the county jail until the day of their trial. Both were then found guilty, and sentenced to the Industrial School for Boys at Lansing
Both boys were equally guilty according to the law; but the causes leading to their offenses were essentially different. Wm. C. had been sent to Lansing before. The stealing of the bicycles was not his first offense. He was evidently a very bad boy, and on the road to a criminal career. It was he who largely influenced the other boy to steal the first wheel, and again to disappear the day of the trial. Roy H.
weakwilled and unfortunate. This was his first offense against the law. Previous to arrest he had been working. His father had a criminal record.
While Roy was quite young his mother had been murdered by the father. The father was then arrested, but escaped from jail with four other men and has never been heard from
since. The boy was placed in a House of Refuge as a destitute child. Relatives of his mother removed him, and took him to Detroit; but they took very little interest in his welfare. Naturally he drifted to the streets where he was easily drawn into the offense for which he was arrested. What this boy needed more than anything else was a good home with someone to look intelligently after him.
Another case which well illustrates the pernicious effects of wretched home environment is that of Willie Kos—ski, a black-haired, bright-eyed little Polish fellow of nine years. Willie's father had been sentenced to the State Prison at Jackson for five years. During his confinement the mother "took up" with another man and, in some ways, sadly neglected her two boys and two girls. Just before the father was released in March she ran away with the other man, leaving the children with a neighbor. The father returned and found the children—but with reputation gone and no definite work in sight he could not support them. The two girls were placed in the Home for the Friendless; the boys had to shift for themselves. Where else had they to go but to the streets, or to cheap lodging houses ?
Willie, alert upon the streets, struck up an acquaintance with a boy who possessed a bicycle. It was not long before he obtained permission to ride. The ride was so exhilarating that, alas, he rode too far, and then did not think it worth while to return the wheel. The police were notified, and Willie was arrested; but being so young he was let off on suspended sentence. In the week of his release he went into a neighbor's house, took a pocketbook and spent the money. Another complaint was entered against him. While the truant officers were looking him up another wheel was stolen. He was brought up in the Police Court on Monday morning; but as there was no place suitable to send him he was