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By SAMUEL J. BARROWS, Commissioner for the United States on the International Prison Commission.
If the question be asked, “What is the most notable development in judicial principles and methods in the United States within the last five years? the answer may unhesitatingly be, " The introduction and establishment of juvenile courts." Never perhaps has any judicial reform made such rapid progress. Beginning in Chicago in 1899, this institution has sprung up in city after city and State after State until it is now established in eight States and eleven large cities.
This progress has been made not merely by changes in procedure or legal technique, nor by the introduction of a new method; it is most of all by the introduction of a new spirit and a new aim.
In the application of the same repressive machinery which has been traditionally applied to older offenders, children have been sent to the same jails and have often been confined in the same tiers or even in the same cells with hardened criminals; they have been judged by the same laws and in the same spirit. The main question before the court has been, “How much of a man is this child? Did he know that a particular action was wrong, and how much shall he be punished for this particular offense?” In short, the judicial attitude of society toward the child has been that of punishment and repression.
The attitude of the juvenile court, on the other hand, is benignant, paternal, salvatory, and for these very reasons is more efficiently corrective. It must not be supposed that the juvenile court is only a smaller court for smaller offenders or simply a court holding separate sessions for such offenders; it represents an altogether different principle. The juvenile court is a life-saving institute in society.
It is scarcely necessary to say that child-saving methods, institutions, and organizations have long flourished in the United States. The Northern States have regarded juvenile reformatories as a part of their correctional equipment, and the courts have served as vestibules for such institutions; but they have only been incidentally a part of the process. We have not before realized what the court might be and do before resorting to institutions.
The children's court still maintains relations with the reform school, but it represents in itself active and vital forces and invokes a whole range of influence and motives which are personal and formative. It appeals to the reform school not as the first, but only as the last resort. The juvenile court has discovered that the child is a child, and, as Judge Hurley says, “ The child should be treated as a child. Instead of reformation, the thought and idea in the judge's mind should always be formation. No child should be punished for the purpose of making an example of him."
In the juvenile court the child is corrected, but he is not corrected as a criminal. Above all, he is not corrected so as to make him a criminal. The court does not turn over to any other institution the work that it can do and should do itself.
Not all children's courts rise to the heights of their possibilities any more than do other human institutions; but to know what such a court may be we have only to see what in some places it really is. It has already passed beyond the stage of experiment; it is old enough to have an experience and young enough to have a future.
ORIGIN OF CHILDREN'S COURTS.
Not until a new invention is brought into the world and its success is demonstrated do we discover the various steps which led to it. Then it is easy to see that the undeveloped germ had existed perhaps years before. So we now find in English chancery law authority conferred upon the judge in relation to children which invests him with nearly all the powers required for a judge of the juvenile court. Nor is that feature of the children's court which consists in a separate trial for juvenile offenders new. In this country Massachusetts had long taken the lead in securing a trial for children separate from the session for adults, and had provided for the presence of the State agent in juvenile cases and had placed children in the care of Protestant and Catholic societies. In New York the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children had taken for years the legal care of children under 16 years of age arraigned before the courts. The placing-out system had been successfully conducted in Michigan and Massachusetts and in Pennsylvania and Maryland. The children's court, however, as it has been developed to-day did not exist. In the States named the need of it was less evident because of the improved methods of dealing with children already described.
The children's court first went into operation in Chicago, July 1, 1899. It was established in that city as a protest against judicial methods of dealing with children. Children had been kept in police cells and jails in company with the worst offenders. “ Under such conditions," says Judge Tuthill
, “ 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 outiaws who have crowded our jails and penitentiaries. The State had educated innocent children in crime, and the harvest was great."
It was not without a hard fight that the juvenile-court law of Illinois was established. It was not a perfect law, but it was a beginning in a new direction. The duty of holding the juvenile court was placed in the circuit court. Police officers were detailed to act as probation officers. Women probation officers were supported by the Chicago Women's Club. An experienced lawyer on the staff of the city law department was appointed chief probation officer to look after the preparation of papers and superintend the work of the probation officers. Children instead of being sent to jail were permitted to remain with their parents or kept at the detention home. “Admonition and probation were tried with the most beneficial results.
In Buffalo the prelude to the work of the children's court was separate trials for children, established by Judge Murphy. In Denver Judge Lindsey, and in Indianapolis Judge Stubbs showed how much could be done without new legislation by judges who were determined to go just as far as they could go in changing bad conditions for the better. But even they found themselves hampered without important changes in the law. Clear it is that the juvenile court needs for its best effect a good judge and a good law. Judges have been the strongest enemies of the innovation and judges, too, have been its warmest friends.
In Philadelphia the trial of a child 8 years of age in a criminal court was the incident which set the juvenile court in motion. It was the women there, under the lead of Mrs. Hannah Kent Schoff, who took hold of the work of securing a children's court and of supporting the necessary probation officers. Likewise in Missouri the reform came largely under the leadership of women because young children were jailed and held as criminals. In Colorado the enthusiasm of the judge has been matched by the enthusiasm of the women, and splendid success has been achieved there.
What has been most significant in developing the children's courts in this country is the moral awakening of the community to a new consciousness of its duty to the child. In some States, evidence of such consciousness of responsibility could be found on the statute books; but sleeping laws do not execute themselves. Judge Lindsey observes that even before the juvenile law of Illinois of 1899 became effective Colorado had upon her statute books nearly every feature of that law, though not put into actual practice. Yet in spite of these laws conditions in that State were intolerable. Over 2,000 Denver boys between 10 and 16 years of age were thrust into a wretched jail during the six years prior to the establishment of the juvenile court. It will be seen, therefore, that the real history of the juvenile court does not date from scattered provisions on the statute books of the States, or even from any codification of them, but rather from the embodiment and organization of a new spirit and a new method in actual practice. | As Judge Lindsey says: “ It is not so
l much a question of law as a question of work for and with the children. " It is a question of doing the thing.'
THE UNDERLYING PRINCIPLE.
The underlying principle of the Illinois law, as given by Judge Tuthill, isthat no child under 16 years of age shall be considered or treated as a criminal; that a child under that age shall not be arrested, indicted, convicted, imprisoned, or punished as a criminal.
Mr. Hurley, of the same court, says:
The child should be treated as a child. Instead of reformation, the thought and idea in the judge's mind should always be formation. No child should be punished for the purpose of making an example of him, and he certainly can not be reformed by punishing him. The parental authority of the State should be exercised instead of the criminal power.
Judge Tuthill likewise says:
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 methods of children's courts, or juvenile courts, as they are termed in some States, differ in different places. In some States the judge is detailed from some other court; in some courts but one judge is assigned to this work. In New York several judges from the court of special sessions act successively in turn as judges of the children's court
. In Maryland and Indiana the judges of the children's courts exercise this function only, and it is claimed that it is better than the method of rotation, since the judge who confines himself to juvenile court cases becomes a specialist in this work. In Col-orado Judge Lindsey is not only judge of the juvenile court, but also of the county court. He finds advantage in the fact that in his first capacity he can protect the child, while as judge of the county court he can also sentence the guardian or parent who is responsible for the child's delinquency.
THE PROBATION SYSTEM.
An essential feature of every juvenile çourt is the probation system and probation officers. Their duty is to investigate the case before trial, and, if the child is placed on probation, to exercise watchcare over them until the period of probation is closed. It is in this way that the parental care of the State is exerted. “The law recognizes
“ the truth," says Judge Tuthill, " which sometimes has been lost sight of, that the parental care of the State can be exercised only through individuals. The passing of 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 exercise over their own children, so far as is possible.”
In some courts probation officers are paid by authority of law; in other courts they are made up wholly of unpaid workers or of those paid by charitable organizations. In spite of the diversity of practice, the weight of opinion and experience favors paid probation officers for the daily work of investigation of children brought before the court, with the assistance of volunteer officers to help care for those placed on probation. Attention is invited to the opinion of Judge Tuthill (p. 5). Mr. Bert Hall, of Wisconsin, thinks " that the public ought to pay for this most important work, and that only persons known to be expert in the management of children should be appointed.” Similar testimony is rendered by Judge Lindsey (pp. 39 and 59).
In Buffalo, where the unpaid system prevails, probation is nevertheless recognized by Judge Murphy as
as "the keystone of the system." "Much might be said of the advantages of a separate court for children, but I should feel that the arch was not complete had probation been omitted from it or had probation proved to be a failure.
•The most interesting and striking example of the combination of the paid and volunteer officers is seen in Indianapolis
. The law in Indiana provides for the appointment of two paid probation officers, and also for the appointment of many volunteer probation officers who may be needed and who are willing to serve without pay. Nearly 200 of these volunteer probation officers have enrolled themselves. À
detailed and very interesting account of the organization in Indianapolis of this volunteer probation force and the results obtained is given by Mrs. Helen Rogers in her paper (p. 153).
THE PERSONAL TOUCH.
The personality of the judge, as well as that of the probation officer, is an element of vast importance in the success of any juvenile court. Such a court can not be run on automatic or mechanical methods. Let it be reduced to a mere technical mechanism of rules and procedure and it will fail altogether. | A firm yet sympathetic, tactful man of magnetic personality, as well as of legal knowledge, who understands boys and can secure their confidence is the man needed for this work; and some such men have already been called to this position. Fortunately partisan politics has not yet dictated nominations or prescribed the qualifications for judges in such courts; they have thus far in nearly all cities been kept out of politics.
In dealing with adult criminals it is only in recent years that attention has been paid to the offender as well as to the offense; but in the work of the children's court it is the offender who is of first importance, and the court exists primarily not for his condemnation but for his salvation. In this work the personal attitude of the judge can not be overvalued. “I have always felt and endeavored to act in each case," said Judge Tuthill, of Chicago, “ as I would were it my own son that was before me in my library at home charged with misconduct.” In a similar vein Judge Stubbs, of Indiana, says:
It is the personal touch that does it. I have often observed that if I sat on a high platform bebind a high desk, such as we had in our city court, with the boy on the prisoners' bench some distance away, that my words had little effect on him; but if I could get close enough to him to put my hand on his lead or shoulder, or ny arm around him, in nearly every such case I could get his confidence.
No judge has more forcibly illustrated this personal power than Judge Lindsey. He is not a legal hair splitter; he is a moral dynamo. He understands the boy nature and he makes boys understand him. He knows their dialect and uses it; he gets their ear, their confidence, and their heart. They will tell him stories of their own wrongdoing which they have not confessed to their teacher, their pastor, or their own parents. He not only gains their confidence, but he gains their affection, so that boys keep straight in order to keep ** square with the judge." The judge, instead of being looked upon as an enemy, as is the average policeman, is regarded as a friend and ally, who even protects the boy against the nagging policeman when necessary, and who will stop a civil proceeding in the county court, a “million-dollar case,” to listen to the story of such a boy and give him a note that will do it. What chains and handcuffs and jails could not do has been done by this courageous judge, who has smashed the police and judicial traditions, and after frightening the police captains and other conservative people has ended by converting them. If there is any place in which the people believe in the juvenile court, it is in Denver. The popular appreciation in which it is held is shown by the union of all political parties in the nomination of Judge Lindsey. These and other tributes of public approval have been made not because of the number of offenders he has condemned,