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it is to look after all dependent, neglected and delinquent children is no doubt a step in the direction of a more thorough probation system. At present the County Agents in the large city districts have more cases than they can well investigate and conscientiously follow up. It is also unfortunate that the office is under political control. Too frequent change in Agents is not conducive to the best interests of the children whose friend and guide the County Agent should be. The above objection might be eliminated by having the State Board of Corrections and Charities appoint the County Agents, and holding them responsible to the Board. At any rate the County Agent system with a few desirable changes could easily be made the basis for an efficient probation system, and with a separate juvenile court in large cities would place Michigan in the forefront in her treatment of unfortunate children.
The State Public School at Coldwater has done good work in caring for and placing out numbers of destitute and dependent children. In both the Industrial School for Boys at Lansing and the Industrial Home for Girls at Adrian an effort is made to conduct them largely on the "cottage plan”. All high walls and fences, as well as unnecessary bolts and bars, have been done away with. But there still is room for better treatment of delinquent children in the police courts and jails of the larger cities throughout the State.
The conditions which prevail in Detroit for the treatment of juvenile offenders are capable of some improvement. A careful study of the situation would convince any unbiased person of this. It is true that Act No. 110, approved May 9, 1901, provides that "no child under 16 years of age, while under arrest, confinement or conviction for any crime, shall be placed in any apartment or cell of any prison, or place of confinement with any adult who shall be under arrest, confinement or conviction for any crime, or shall be permitted to remain in any court room during the trial of adults,” etc. It also provides that "the trial of children under 16 years of age for any crime or misdemeanor, before any magistrate or justice of the peace, or in any court, shall be heard and determined by such court at a suitable time, to be designated therefor by it, separate and apart from the trial of other criminal cases."
An attempt has been made to adhere to the letter of the law by setting apart Monday mornings for the trial of juvenile offenders; but it was found practically impossible to keep them entirely apart from the contaminating influences of a criminal court. The cases were tried in the lower Police Court by a justice jury in almost the same manner as adult offenders. Sometimes older offenders were brought handcuffed to the wrist of an officer into the court room while juvenile cases were in progress. At the time set for juvenile cases it was my experience usually to find the court room crowded to the doors. It had all the appearance of a criminal court. A lack of decorum was noticeable on several occasions, the bailiff having constantly to call the spectators to order. A number of young boys and girls having apparently nothing to do with the case were often present.
The prosecuting attorney presents the case to the jury in the usual manner. Witnesses are brought in on both sides. The County Agent, who is supposed to have thoroughly investigated the home surroundings of the child, is the only defense, if no lawyer is hired to take the child's part. Practically no defense is made by the County Agent during trial. It seems that he confers with the Judge after the jury has disposed of the case, and recommends to him what shall be done with the child.
It should be noted that since this investigation was undertaken, a change has been made from Monday to Saturday mornings for the trial of juveniles, and with some good results. At the end of the week the docket is cleared of most of the cases that accumulate over the previous Saturday night and Sunday—the inevitable drunks and disorderlies. There has been a marked improvement in other respects. However much improvement there may be, it is safe to say that there can be no permanent good results so long as the children are exposed to the contaminating atmosphere of a lower police court without the kindly guidance of efficient probation officers.
A word should be said as to the confinement of juveniles in the county jail. No doubt advances have been made there in classification and treatment. The statute abovē noted provides that juveniles shall be kept apart from older criminals in the jail. That they are so kept apart is about all that can be said in favor of the present method. After the children are found guilty in court and sentenced to the Industrial School they are taken immediately to the county jail and there incarcerated until the County Agent removes them.
In some cases boys have remained in jail two weeks before being transferred to the Industrial School. Boys twelve and thirteen years of age who have never been in jail before are known to have been placed in a cage with fellows sixteen years old who had been to the Industrial School several times, and were then in jail charged with serious offenses. Is it, therefore, not time that steps be taken to provide a separate place of detention for our juvenile offenders ?
JUVENILE COURTS AND THE PROBATION SYSTEM.
The Juvenile Court idea is a natural outgrowth of careful study given to the underlying causes of delinquency and crime. It is a recognition of the fact that crime is largely the result of neglected or misdirected childhood. By preventive measures it wisely aims to check the stream at its source. This is not an isolated idea. In business, in medicine, and in our charities it has long been felt that prevention is always better, and much less expensive, than uncertain cure.
The first comprehensive expression of the new idea was the Illinois Juvenile Court Law. Its framers were not radical, impractical “reformers”; but men of mature thought and legal insight. They simply embodied in legal phraseology what students of penology and sociology had for some time been working out. The drafting of such law reflects more humane and natural methods in dealing with unfortunate children.
In the treatment of juvenile offenders, as with adults, there has been a gradual evolution. The historical development in "The Care of Destitute, Neglected and Delinquent Children" has recently been put forth in an admirable manner by Mr. Homer Folks. In his book on that subject he points out that at the beginning of the nineteenth century "there was not in existence in the United States a single institution for the reformation of juvenile delinquents.”21
The almshouse was originally the “catch-all" in which destitute, neglected and, ofttimes delinquent, children were placed indescriminately with pauper and mentally deficient. In time a separation between pauper, insane and criminal was effected. But a very loose classification between destitute, neglected and delinquent children prevailed. "Children convicted of offenses were committed to jails and prisons along with adult offenders. The history of juvenile reformation during the century may be epitomized in a sentence—the removal of youthful offenders from association with adults, and their treatment from an educational and reformatory, instead of a punitive, point of view."22
21 The Care of Destitute, Neglected and Delinquent Children, p. 198. 22 Ibid, pp. 198-9.
At first it was deemed necessary to maintain large institutions where juvenile delinquents could safely be kept and disciplined. In a number of these institutions grave evils arose. It became practically impossible to make proper classification. The children, if retained too long, invariably became "institutionalized”. Some of the “houses of refuge” and “reform schools” proved veritable “schools of crime” for first offenders. Despite all that was done to "reform" juvenile offenders they increased with alarming rapidity.
It gradually dawned upon those striving to solve the problem that if juvenile delinquency was to be checked the causes which produced it must be sought and, if possible, prevented. Mr. Henry Boies, in his "Science of Penology”, has 'recently laid down some general rules which well show the tendency of modern society in dealing with juvenile offenders. They are:
“Ist. Imprisonment of juvenile and first offenders is
absolutely prohibited, except as a last resort for
those convicted of flagrant crimes. 2nd. When a limited imprisonment is necessary it must
be by entirely separate confinement. 3rd. Juvenile and first offenders should never be con
fined in jail with other prisoners while awaiting
trial or under remand. 4th. The primary and supreme object of the sentence of a
convicted juvenile or first offender is his rescue
from a criminal life. 5th. The character and circumstances of the accused
should be carefully investigated, and allowed full weight and influence in determining whether the