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The State Board of Charities and Corrections calls the attention of the judges, police justices and justices of the peace to the following decision of the Attorney General, and a resolution of the State Board of Charities and Corrections:
CONCERNING JUVENILES RELEASED FROM CUSTODY
WHO HAVE BEEN PREVIOUSLY COMMITTED.
June 6, 1918.
My Dear Sir:
I acknowledge receipt of your letter of June 6, 1918, in which you state that a certain police justice committed to the Virginia Home and Industrial School for Girls a young girl 16 years of age, the commitment being in due form, signed by the said police justice, and that the same was forwarded to the Virginia Home and Industrial School for Girls. You state also that an agent of the School went to the jail of that city on June 1, 1918, and found that the young girl had been released that morning and given to her mother who had moved from that city to a neighboring city. You state that the release and delivery of the girl was by order of the aforesaid justice of the peace.
You desire to know whether or not this justice had the authority to release the girl.
Chapter 350, of the Acts of the Assembly, 1914, found on page 696 of the said acts, deals with the question you have in mind, and in section 8 of the said act, as far as is necessary to be referred to here, reads in part as follows:
. If sufficient to justify a conviction or to send the child on to a grand jury or to require the giving of security for good behavior, then the court is empowered to act under the provisions of this statute as to the disposition of said child; provided that the child shall have the same right of appeal from any order entered by such court or police justice or justice of the peace as is provided by law or an appeal from any judgment of conviction entered by any such court. of any
such appeal the court to which such appeal is taken, or in case of such child being sent on to a grand jury, the court to which the child is so sent shall, after the trial is had in conformity with the requirements of law, have, if the child is held guilty of crime, the power to act under the provisions of this statute as to the disposition of the child."
It will be seen from this part of section 8 that a justice has no authority to even grant a new trial, and it is certain that he has no right, after committing a child to the Virginia Home and Industrial School for Girls, to release her from custody. The act provides for an appeal to the proper court having jurisdiction in said city for this class of cases, and if there is no appeal taken, there is nothing left for the police justice to do in the matter.
In view of the facts in this case, as related in your letter, and the law bearing on the question, I am of the opinion that the police justice acted without authority in releasing the girl referred to and delivering her into the custody of her mother.
Very truly yours,
JOHN R. SAUNDERS,
II. CONCERNING COMMITMENT OF JUVENILES TO CITY OR
WHEREAS, an act of the General Assembly approved March 14, 1918, provides that when any city farm in this Commonwealth has provided separate quarters for the housing and detention of juven. iles and when such farm shall make provision for working and at all times keeping separate and distinct juveniles from adult prisoners, the several courts and police justices of the State, with the consent and approval of the secretary of the State Board of Charities and Corrections of this State and with the consent of the said farm board, may, in their discretion, commit the said juvenile to any such farm for an indeterminate period not to exceed one year to be dealt with in such manner and required to do such work as will promote the best interest of said juvenile and the Commonwealth; and
WHEREAS, the commitment of juveniles to jail for misdemeanor is discountenanced inasmuch as the law declares that unless the ends of justice demands otherwise children should not be committed to jail, workhouse or police station; and
WHEREAS, the city farm is established for misdemeanants in lieu of the jail; and
WHEREAS, juvenile and adult offenders should not, in the opinion of this Board, be incarcerated in the same institution; and
WHEREAS, the providing of separate quarters on city farms for the reception of juvenile offenders means nothing more than the multiplication of juvenile reformatories; and
WHEREAS, the Board of Charities does not believe it wise to multiply juvenile reformatories:
TIIEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That the State Board of Charities and Corrections hereby expresses the opinion that the secretary of the Board should not consent to the commitment of children under eighteen years of age to city farms by the judges and justices of the Commonwealth.
Resolution adopted by the State Board of Charities and Corrections, June 7, 1918.