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CHILDREN'S COURTS IN THE UNITED STATES.

ILLINOIS.

HISTORY OF THE CHILDREN'S COURT IN CHICAGO.

By Hon. RICHARD S. TUTHILL,
Judge of the l'ircuit Court of Illinois, Cook County, Chicago.

Prior to 1899 little was done in Illinois, and, so far as I know, in any other State in the Union, that was not wrongly done by the State toward caring for the delinquent children of the State. No matter how young, these children were indicted, prosecuted, and confined as criminals, in prisons, just the same as were adults pending and after a hearing, and thus were branded as criminals before they knew what crime was. The State kept these little ones in police cells and jails among the worst men and women to be found in the vilest parts of the city and town. Under such treatment they developed rapidly, and the natural result was that they were thus educated in crime and when discharged were well fitted to become the expert criminals and outlaws who have crowded our penitentiaries and jails. The State had educated innocent children in crime, and the harvest was great. The condition in Chicago became so bad that all who were cognizant of this condition and were interested in correcting it sought a remedy. A bill was prepared and presented to the legislature of the State, which, in due time, and after overcoming much opposition, was enacted into a law known throughout the world as the "juvenile-court law of Illinois.”

BASIC PRINCIPLE.

The basic principle of the law is this: That no child under 16 years of age shall be considered or be treated as a criminal; that a child under that age shall not be arrested, indicted, convicted, imprisoned, or punished as a criminal. It of course recognizes the fact that such children may do acts which in an older person would be crimes and be properly punishable by the State therefor, but it provides that a child under the age mentioned shall not be branded in the opening years of its life with an indelible stain of criminality, or be brought,

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even temporarily, Into the companionship of men and women whose lives are low, vicłeås, and criminal. :: The låw divides children into two classes, the “dependent” and the “delinquent.” A dependent child, in the language of the law, is a childwho for any reason is destitute or homeless or abandoned, or has not proper parental care or guardianship, or who habitually begs or receives alms, or who is found living in any house of ill fame or with any vicious or disreputable person, or whose home, by reason of neglect, cruelty, or depravity on the part of the parents, guardian, or other person in whose care it may be, is an unfit place for such child.

A “delinquent” child is defined to be any child under the age of 16 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.

The law places its enforcement upon the judges of the circuit court, who are required to select one of their number to perform these duties as a part of the judicial work of such judge. Since the enactment of the law the writer of this paper has been discharging this duty, relieved from time to time when absent from the city or on vacation by his brother judges.

The circuit court is a court of original and unlimited jurisdiction, the highest in the State, and the duties of holding the juvenile court was placed in the circuit court (which for convenience is designated “the juvenile court”) as an indication by the legislature of the importance to the State of the work to be done.

The case of each child brought into court, whether dependent or delinquent, becomes of record, and every step taken in the case is shown upon the court record. The life and the surroundings of every such child are correctly deemed of greater importance and concern to the State than the disputes of citizens as to the possession of moneys and lands.

In speaking of this work I shall use the masculine pronoun, which will apply equally as well to the girls as the boys.

The initial step in the proceeding in each case is the filing of a petition by any responsible citizen setting forth the facts, all that are known, concerning the child, be he delinquent or dependent. Thereupon the parents are notified to bring such child into court, and should they fail to do this a probation officer is sent for him. reasonable period is then allowed for notice of the time and the place of hearing. Before the hearing takes place and during the waiting period the child is permitted to remain at home with his parents or is kept at the Detention Home under the kindly care of the probation officer and wife there in charge.

HEARING OF THE CASE.

The hearing of the case is in the open court, but with little of the formality usually observed in court proceedings. I have always felt and endeavored to act in each case as I would were it my own son that was before me in my library at home charged with some misconduct. I know of no more helpful principle to be guided by in dealing with this class of cases than that embodied in the Golden Rule, modified so as to read, “Do unto this child as you would wish to have another in your place do unto yours.”

I first speak to him in a kindly and considerate way, endeavoring to make him feel that there is no purpose on the part of anyone about him to punish, but rather to benefit and help, to make him realize that the State-that is, the good people of the State—are interested in him, and want to do only what will be of help to him now and during his entire life. I think this is of the utmost importance, for the boy who has known nothing of the State but the club of the policeman and the cell of the police station and jail comes to look upon the State and the people who constitute the State as his enemies and to feel that the hand of everyone is against him, and, naturally, he in turn arrays himself against the State and its citizensy he becomes an Ishmaelite, defiant and rebellious, and rarely, if ever, does such a one become reconciled to authority and obedience to the law; his only effort will be to escape the punishment which the State provides for those who violate its enactments. This talk to the boy is intended for the parents to hear as well, and usually reconciles them to the entire proceeding, as they soon come to understand they are to be more benefited than anyone else by having their disobedient and bad boy transformed into a good boy who, when he grows to be a man, will be a good man, honest and industrious, the pride and support of their old age.

In making inquiries as to the specific acts charged against the delinquent boy I usually have not found it necessary to examine many witnesses, for the boy has, in most cases, answered my questions frankly and told me all about himself after I have gained his confidence, and his father and mother have with equal frankness, in most cases, given their views as to the conduct of their child.

The point of inquiry is not to find out whether he has done an act which in an adult would be a crime and punish him for that. The idea of punishment is eliminated. The facts are considered merely as evidence tending to show whether the boy is in a condition of delinquency, so that the State, standing in loco parentis to the child, ought to enter upon the exercise of its parental care over him.

The adjudication in the case of the delinquent child is that he is or is not in a “condition of delinquency.” It being, upon the consideration of the evidence, adjudged that the child is in a "condition of

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delinquency," the court thereupon decides what shall be done with him.

PARENTAL CARE OF THE STATE.

The law recognizes the truth, which sometimes has been lost sight of, that the parental care of the State can be exercised only through individuals. Passing laws will amount to nothing unless there be men and women to exercise, in the name and in behalf of the State, over each child the care which wise, patient, and loving parents exércise over their own children, so far as is possible.

In order to provide individuals through whom this parental care of the State can be exercised the law authorizes the court to appoint “probation officers"-as many as he sees fit. The city of Chicago, for this purpose, has been divided into districts, each of which is in the charge of a district probation officer, who may have assistants-as many as are needed.

Nothing is received in Illinois from the public treasury on this account except the salaries paid to some 15 policemen, who, in citizen's clothes, without baton or badge of office save a star under the coat, act also as probation officers of the juvenile court. From a fund which is raised through a committee of the Women's Club of Chicago, a number-10 to 15—of women probation officers are paid small salaries. Several wealthy men and women, desiring to cooperate in this work, pay each a salary to some individual probation officer appointed by the court.

There is a chief probation officer, who is an experienced lawyer on the staff of the city law department, detailed for service in the juvenile court, who looks after the preparation of the papers, directs, upon suggestion of the court, all needed outside investigations, and superintends the work of all probation officers.

It has been my almost invariable practice to place every child charged with delinquency and brought into court for the first time under the care of a probation officer and permit him to return home. Monition and admonition are given to the child and to the parents as well. The probation officer visits the home at frequent periods or requires the child to report from time to time at a designated place. This probation officer acts as a parent, and does in each case what seems wisest and best for him to do, having the authority and sanction of the court to fall back upon. The fact that in a large majority of cases this treatment by probation officers, wisely and faithfully persisted in, has so resulted that it has been found unnecessary to have the child brought into conrt again is convincing evidence of the wisdom, efficiency, and economy of such a course of treatment. Of course many are returned, but when one considers the squalor of the homes to which these children must return from the court, the vice, drunkenness, and criminality with which they are brought in con

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stant contact, the evil surroundings and the natural weakness of youth, one can not but wonder that many more do not slip and fall.

Facilities in the way of schools and places of detention are needed for the successful doing of this work. A place for temporary detention, pending a hearing, of the children in our larger cities must be provided, a permanent home and school in the country where children can live under the guidance of a good “house mother” and “house father," where they can be instructed and pleasantly and interestingly occupied in the school, shop, and upon the farm is in my judgment absolutely essential.

These children are suffering from disease, contagious diseases, incorrigibility, disobedience, and defiance of authority, and criminal misconduct. For such a hospital—such a school as I have spoken of-is needed as much as are hospitals for curing physical diseases. These delinquent children should be placed in such hospitals where they can be carefully watched, treated, and trained, not for a period of months but for a year, or two, or three years, if need be, until permanent reclamation is accomplished and they are adjusted to a better life.

That in such an institution recovery from such disease can be accomplished is not questioned. Those who have had the largest experience in such work under favorable conditions, who have had actual experience in it, declare that over 90 per cent of the delinquents can be and have been, under proper care, transformed and sent out into the world useful, industrious, honest, and self-supporting citi

zens.

LACK OF ADEQUATE FACILITIES.

As I have said adequate facilities for doing the work, required in order to a successful carrying out of the purpose and requirements of the juvenile-court law, must be provided. The chiefdeficiencies here in Illinois have been and are two:

First. There is, as stated before, no provision in the law for the payment of salaries to probation officers. The court has been, and is yet, compelled to rely on the contributions of charitable citizens for funds from which to pay salaries. The number of probation officers who can and do give all their time to the work is far too small; hence they, no matter how faithful, are unable to give to the too large number of children committed to them the care and constant attention “parental care” requires.

Second. As yet we have no such school and home in the country where children, housed in cottages, with a "house mother” and “house father” to watch over them, can come to know family life and be brought under the elevating influences of a good home, where they can be instructed in matters which will awaken and hold their interest, and serve at the same time to fit them for the real duties and

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