« PreviousContinue »
GROWTH OF PENAL INSTITUTIONS
Of course, the penal institutions have grown. We are very proud of our penal institutions. I think the Federal penal system is one of the finest in the world. But it costs a lot of money
ADDITIONAL PROBATION OFFICERS REQUIRED
Incidentally, in connection with that, the probation system requires, if it is to be effective, more probation officers and better ones, for that matter. I do not say that as a reflection upon those already serving, but I mean we should constantly try to improve the type of men doing that highly important work.
Mr. Bacon. As a matter of fact, the Federal probation system is much superior to the probation system of most of the States; is not that true?
Mr. CUMMINGS. Yes; undoubtedly. I was, at the moment, trying to distinguish between probation and parole.
RESULTS FROM WORK OF PAROLE BOARD
We have a parole board, and the results of the work of that board are highly encouraging to those who believe in the principle of parole.
That board operates without the slightest pressure, political, personal, or otherwise being exercised upon it. It decides questions on the merits of the cases and a careful study that takes into account the probability of good behavior on the part of the person paroled.
We get back, roughly speaking, about 6 of every 100 who are paroled. By that I mean that about 94 out of 100 persons paroled go straight and do not come back and give us any trouble.
About 6 out of 100 cause some trouble, but that includes those who are sent back for violations of parole which may not, in themselves, be serious and do not amount to fresh crimes, but are simply violations of the orders of the parole board, as, for instance, a failure to make reports or obey the instructions of the parole officers, or some other infraction of the rules.
I have not available the statistics of the 6 percent, as differentiating between those who commit serious depredations and get into trouble again, or those who commit minor depredations. I do know, however, that the 6 percent includes both.
Mr. TARVER. Those statistics will be available to the committee during the course of its deliberations?
Mr. CUMMINGS. They are difficult to secure but Mr. Bennett may be able to give you some light on that.
Mr. TARVER. I think it is very important. There is a lot of illconsidered criticism of the parole system, and whenever a parolee commits a crime a lot of newspapers are inclined to condemn the entire system very highly because of one instance in which it may not have worked satisfactorily. So the figures as to the number of parolees who may have committed some violation of the law, with figures showing what percentage of the total number they are, will be of considerable interest to the committee if they could be made available.
Mr. CUMMINGS. We will give you all the information we can on that subject.
PAROLE STATISTICS HARD TO GET
Those statistics are rather hard to get. But if you stop to think that 94 men out of every 100 that are released from Federal prisons are released with safety to the public, as against only 6 of them that create trouble, with only a minor part of the number of such cases of a serious nature, you become convinced that we have a system that has succeeded, because you ought not to keep 94 men in jail who are fit to go out and earn their living and not put a burden upon the Government merely because 6 percent do not know how to behave themselves when they do get out.
PAROLE ADMINISTRATION IS EFFICIENT
The Board of Parole is very careful in the way it administers its very important duty, and it is eminently successful.
Mr. Bacon. Do you not think that the parole system in some of the States is in very bad shape and that because of that condition it brings the whole system into disrepute?
Mr. CUMMINGS. That is what is happening. My theory is that it is our job to make our system as nearly perfect as we can, because if backward State—and there are backward States in this matter have its attention drawn to the Federal system and to the fact that it is working successfully, it is a powerful help to the people in such State who are trying to improve conditions. They are able to say, “See here, this is what the Federal Government has been able to do. Why cannot we do it, too?”
So, as an inspiration and an example, it is very helpful.
If the Federal parole system should break down probably the entire parole system of the country would break down, because everybody would lose confidence in it.
But no one who has studied our parole system can fail to be pleased with it, or hesitate in saying that it has been a very great success within its area.
DISTINCTION BETWEEN PROBATION AND PAROLE
I was thinking a moment ago about probation as distinguished from parole. We have probation officers appointed by the courts. When a prisoner is probated by the courts, or his sentence suspended, he is placed in charge of a probation officer. That is an operation, in a way, outside of anything that we can very much control because these probation officers are appointed by the courts.
NEED FOR MORE PROBATION OFFICERS
It is desirable that the standard of that type of officer be made as high as possible, and that there be more of them, because one of the difficulties is that each probation officer has too many individuals to look after, and he just cannot look after them and see what they are doing and advise with them and encourage them and keep them running right.
This is a subject that probably Mr. Bennett can very much more usefully elaborate upon than I can. It is a field in which we owe a duty to the public. So when you come to that feature of it I hope it will have your very thoughtful study.
NO CHANGE IN NORMAL EXPENSES OF DEPARTMENTS
As I said before, the normal expenses of our Department, so far as the Department of Justice iteslf is concerned, have been running along on a rather even keel. There has been some slight increase in the last few years, but not much, and the expenses are very much lower than in 1932. That was during the prohibition era when we had the heavy expenditures, as you will recall.
With your permission, Mr. Chairman, I shall just mention a few subjects I would like to accentuate, so when you come to inquire about them more in detail you will know that I am very much interested in them, for they are a part of our real problem.
One of the most important is the Claims Division. The Claims Division of the Department of Justice, which is in charge of Mr. Whitaker, has to do with all civil litigation in which the Government is interested, either as plaintiff or defendant, excepting only tax suits, antitrust suits, suits involving large amounts, and criminal suits. Most of the activity is in the Court of Claims.
Mr. Whitaker will tell you later on exactly what his problems are, and I will only indicate in a cursory fashion what my view of it is.
NUMBER OF CASES ON FILE IN COURT OF CLAIMS
Exclusive of numerous cases pending in the district courts, there were, on July 1, 1937, in the Court of Claims alone 661 cases involving a total of 692 million dollars, averaging a little more than a million dollars per case.
NUMBER OF ATTORNEYS HANDLING CLAIMS CASES
Now, just think of this. We have 14 attorneys handling those cases, and the majority of those attorneys are junior attorneys. Including the junior attorneys, that is 47 cases for each attorney, with the average case involving a million dollars.
AVERAGE SALARY OF JUNIOR ATTORNEYS
Mr. McMILLAN. What, may I ask, Mr. Attorney General, is the average salary of those 14 junior attorneys?
Mr. Cummings. What would you say, Mr. Whitaker, is the average salary of the junior attorneys?
Mr. WHITAKER. It is around $2,600, I think.
Mr. TARVER. Is it not true that a great many of these cases involve only a comparatively small amount, and the average you speak of is brought about by the pendency of some cases involving many millions of dollars?
Mr. CUMMINGS. Yes; many cases only involve $50,000 or $100,000.
NUMBER OF CASES INVOLVING A MILLION DOLLARS OR MORE
Mr. TARVER. Will you tell us how many of the 661 cases involve a million dollars or more?
Mr. CUMMINGS. I do not know. Mr. Whitaker can give you all those details when he comes before you. I am only sketching the outlines of this problem.
Mr. TARVER. Then, judging from the size of those cases they are all important cases?
Mr. CUMMINGS. There is not a case that is not important and one that involves a lot of money, and in which we have on the other side skillful and highly-paid counsel.
WORK IN COURTS MUCH DELAYED
The thing I have to confess—and I might as well make a clean breast of it—is that the net result is that we are away behind in the work. These attorneys cannot keep up; they cannot do it; it is not humanly possible.
All patent cases—and there are a lot of those--and all eminentdomain cases bear interest, and the amount involved in patent infringement cases in the Court of Claims is $319,000,000. How much of that amount is inflated, and how much is actual, I do not pretend to say. But it is very large, in any event, and the running of the interest on the claims that are actually ultimately allowed proves that we are blind to our own best interests. We must implement that division so that it can get current with its work.
That is about all I have to say about it. Mr. Whitaker will take pleasure, I am sure, in presenting his difficulties to you. It will be somewhat of a ruefúl sort of pleasure, but it will be à necessary procedure.
The Antitrust Division is under the direction of Mr. Robert H. Jackson.
Far be it from me to suggest, in view of the finding of the Budget, what should be done, but I think I would be warranted in calling this situation to your attention.
COMPLAINTS OF VIOLATIONS OF ANTITRUST LAW
The Department of Justice, in the Antitrust Division, is on the receiving end of innumerable complaints of violations of the Antitrust law. Mr. Jackson himself, and Mr. Dickinson, who preceded Mr. Jackson in Mr. Jackson's present position, are both persuaded that we ought to have had a technical staff, because all of these large cases run into difficult economic questions, and are all very involved.
COST OF ANTITRUST SUITS
Every antitrust suit of fair proportion will cost the Government at least $100,000 a year to maintain.
With that as a basis, you will note from the appropriation how many suits we can keep running simultaneously, because we cannot pay these bills out of our own pockets, and we either have to have more money or less suits. It is hardly fair for people in public places to
criticize the Department for not having 10 or 15 suits going, when every suit costs $100,000 per year-not per suit, because they sometimes run over 2 or 3 years. They are long-drawn-out affiairs, and they are very difficult.
So we are right up against the question of what we are going to do about it.
On the one side the Department is being pressed by public opinion and men in the Halls of Congress to do something about the antitrust situation. They say, "Why do you not investigate and sue this group and that group?” and by the time they have gotten through enumerating the groups there are a lot of them.
NUMBER OF SUITS LIMITED BY APPROPRIATIONS
On the other hand, there is a limit to which we can go in dollars and cents. That is a problem for Congress. I am ready and willing to function 100 percent to the extent that Congress will let me. But that is as far as I can go.
So, that is not my problem so much as it is the problem of Congress. If they want to save the money they cannot have so many suits. If they want more suits they must supply more money so that we can carry them on.
SOME DEMANDS FOR SUITS NOT WELL FOUNDED
Mr. TARVER. Of course, there are many demands for the institution of suits that are not well founded, but it does seem to me that Congress should provide an adequate sum to finance, institution of an investigation and prosecution, where just cause exists, and if you could give the committee some idea of the number of investigations and prosecutions of that sort which ought to be instituted, and the amount of money which would be sufficient for the antitrust division to carry on its justifiable investigations and prosecutions, it seems to me it would be very helpful in enabling us to determine how much we ought to appropriate.
Mr. CUMMINGS. You shall have that information. I am sure Mr. Jackson can answer every one of the questions you have suggested. He has intimate knowledge of the number of complaints received and the type of complaints, the number of investigations we now have going, and the number of suits now pending, and other pertinent information. I have said all I care to say about that aspect of the matter.
TAXES AND PENALTIES DIVISION
Let me say just one word about the Taxes and Penalties Division. There are some people who think that the Taxes and Penalties Division is temporary in character and should gradually be liquidated. I would be glad to have you hear quite extensively Mr. Lawrence, the head of that division, who has all the figures to place before you. My impression is that he will be able to satisfy the committee that that division is well worth while? It brings in about $3 for every dollar it costs to run it.
The point of it is that most of that money or practically all of it comes from stale claims, claims against people who are of the type that have gouged the Government, for the most part, and each dollar