Page images

biologv etc., in a wholesome, scientific way, the knowledge been brought to light in his court. He said the question of these subjects, instead of having these children secure it was only whether knowledge on this subject should be obfrom the filth and slime of the street.

tained from the right or wrong, sources, and deplored the

fact that only few parents are prepared to impart the Dr. Favill, one of the leadinng Chicago physicians, knowledge right. He suggested the propriety of parents' stated that on this subject the physicians and laymen must meeting and pleading with the parents present not to suppose stand together. He called attention to the dignity of this

that this condition was confined to the children of the slums. subject and that the prevailing tendency of the refined mind

He told of some women who were so busy in attending the was to shrink from all considerations of it, and often allows

clubs and other social functions that they had no time to get this to go so far as to very improperly avoid it altogether.

acquainted with their daughters nor to discover that they At the same time he mentioned the inconsistency of these

were going to destruction. He pleaded that this subject same people, who would discuss in society and out of society,

should be handled discreetly, wisely but earnestly, and that at the table and away from it, their various body ailments

this society might bring light where heretofore there had from which no possible good can come either to themselves

only been darkness. or others. He said what the child needs is information rather

The concluding speaker was Dr. Bacon president of the than misinformation.

Chicago Medical Society. de ask that present might Judge Mack told of his amazement at the revelation of constitute themselves as missionaries for this work and the extent of open immorality among not only youth, but emphasize to the public the dire need of just such a movethose that could only be considered as mere children, that has ment.-Life Boat.

New York.

the City of New York,

Report on the System of Probation in Operation in the Court of Special Sessions

First Division.

Court of Special Sessions in the Ctiy of New York, First Division (The old City of New York), is published in the hope that it may be suggestive and useful to other courts and other judges.

Probation work, with a probation officer, was instituted by this Court in December, 1900, before there had been any legislation on the subject. It has been carried on systemat

To the Justices of the Court of Special Sessions

in the City of New York, First Division:
Your Committee, having carefully examined the system
of probation as inaugurated in the main part in 1900, and in
the Children's part in 1902, and the statistics for each year
thereafter to and including the year 1907, respectfully sub-
mits herewith its report, with facts and figures, together with
some words of explanation and likewise some general ob-
Dated New York, March 6th, 1908.





Probation is a new word in its application to judicial procedure, and when so applied should be accorded a precise and definite meaning. There can be no judicial probation

V without the exercise of a discretionary function inherent in the Court-suspension of judgment. The Court of Appeals has held (Forsyth vs. The Court of Sessions of Monroe Co., 141 N. Y., 288) that no limitation can be put upon a court's exercise of this function. It naturally follows that probation and all that relates therto should be, and properly is, within the direct control of the Court.

What is this Probation? It is a test or trial of character; a proving of a convicted offender under suspension of judgment, in order that the Court may determine if he be fit to retain his place as a helpful member of society, or, being

Hon. Willard H. Olmsted. unfit, must be deprived of his liberty as a menace to society. For many years the inherent power of the courts to suspend ically, so far as it related to adult offenders, since that time. judgment has been exercised with this object of the moral Four years ago a female probation officer was appointed to regeneration of the convicted criminal in view. Not until deal exclusively with adult female misdemeanants. When recently, however, has the probation work taken on con- the Children's Court was established, in 1902, the work was crete form.

organized systematically in its application to all classes of Courts throughout the civilized world are adopting it in children brought before the Court for disposition. Prosome form. The work is not uniform, however, even in our bation in the case of children differs greatly from that in own State and this statement of results obtained in the the case of adults. In many cases it is the delinquent

parent who is actually under supervision, and the subject of reformation, and in many others the good parent is the real probation officer for the delinquent child.

Of adults there have been 2,231 to whom the probation test has been applied. In the Children's Court 6,579 cases have been treated in a probationary way. The adult probation cases were chosen from 4,896 individual defendants whose records were first investigated by direction of the Court. These 4,896 individual cases were the grist from a judicial mill into the hopper of which nearly 60,000 cases were poured during the period covered. The cases of juvenile probationers were selected from 45,000 cases tonsidered. In none of these probation cases did the Court delegate any of its powers. Each was treated individually by the Court and therein lies the strength of the system and to that fact must be ascribed chiefly the resulting benefits.

These statistics are given as warrant of authority for this statement relative to the work of probation. There is nothing tentative about this probation system. It has stood the test of experience,

Although of more recent application, child probation will be first considered. The establishment of courts to deal specially with children has made it possible to systematize this work and public interest is quite naturally directed to it.

Child Probation.

The Children's Court of the City of New York, First Division, dealing with the largest number of cases of any similar tribunal in the world, and, naturally, having applied probation in more cases than any other Children's Court, has waited for something like an adequate test before setting forth results. Opinions ventured on an experience of less duration and narrower scope might properly be said to be premature and without the justification of ripe judgment.

With the experience indicated, it can now be asserted with assurance that the probation system as applied in this Court is marvelously successful, and an invaluable asset in a humane and common sense tribunal that bears so important a relation to our future citizenship.

Probation was rarely employed in the cases of children until after the creation of this tribunal, and the records of the Court now give the best opportunity ever afforded for this branch of procedure. The five years of experience, and the uniform results obtained year by year, are conclusive that this form of judicial remedy as here adminstered has proven highly efficacious. Its strength and chief virtue lies in its direct control by the Court which has been the directing power and there has been neither scattering of energy nor wasting of effort through bureaucratic interference. Children and parents have been directly responsible to the Court. Both have realized this with a resultant response to be obtained in no other way. It has already effected a salvage to the State of thousands of lives of future usefulness and, from the standpoint of financial economy, a present saving to the municipality of hundreds of thousands of dollars--a future saving of millions, when it is remembered that the careers that were changed had started in the roads that terminate in almshouses, reformatories, asylums and prisons.

Of the six thousand five hundred and seventy-nine children placed on probation from September 2d, 1902, when the Children's Court first opened, to December 31st, 1907, it has been possible to set the feet of 5,543 so firmly in the way that leads to good citizenship that neither has their commitment to institutions been necessary on the original case, nor have they been brought back to Court at any time in all of that period and committed for recurrent offenses. In other words there has been a saving for the entire period of

more than 84 per cent. It is to be remembered, of course, that probation has been used only in those cases where it was felt the child stood at the crossing of the ways; where the next step would mean the making of a helper or hurter of the State. There has been no indiscriminate application of the system where home conditions were good and nothing more serious than thoughtless mischief was the offense. The offenses of the children who have been placed on probation have been of a serious nature, or there have been home or other conditions that stood seriously in need of radical reform. Often these conditions have been overcome by a complete change of environment, and this at times has presented a serious problem. Sometimes antagonistc influences either in the home, school or place of employment had to be overcome to bring about a change vital to the child's future welfare. The working out of these problems has properly been left to the Court. Outside interference, as has sometimes been proposed, would prove a fatal handicap. The Court itself should at all times be allowed to have direct supervision of the probation work. The thrusting in of outside agencies would only lessen the Court's control and give rise to bewildering and conflicting influences.

As has already been suggested in our foreword, the application of judicial probation to cases of children must differ essentially from the methods adopted in the case of adults. In most cases reliance must be had on those in parental relation to the child to see that the conditions imposed by the Court are obeyed. With proper guardianship no need exists other than parental supervision supplemented by periodical investigation and report by an agent of the Court, the child to be present for admonition, advice or encouragement on the receipt of the report.

Where parental restraint, control or discipline is faulty for any reason and the Court believes the fault may be cured, it is really the parent who must be admonished and placed on probation. When the person in parental relation is hopelessly incompetent or unfit, there is no recourse but the commitment of the child. Besides the parents the teachers and principals of the schools are really unofficial probation officers, aiding the Court with reports as to the manner in which the child, provisionally at liberty, is obeying certain conditions imposed upon him. It must be remembered, too, that there is a big percentage of children who come before the Court who are not sufficiently matured mentally to have a full appreciation of the effort of the Court in their behalf. To them probation means merely liberty without punishment. No probation officer could help them in the slightest, and the Court has relied upon enforced home discipline and control. If that fails the child must be committed for improper guardianship. It is the exception that a child is treated as a criminal. No matter what the delinquency, he is seldom committed unless he be the victim of improper guardianship.

This statement regarding the peculiarity of probation work in its application to children is necessary to a proper understanding of the system which has been adopted in the Children's Court,

The Court was particularly fortunate in that at its very inception it had the invaluable aid of a society which was the pioneer in the work of child saving and protection. The records of the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, covering a period of more than thirty (30) years, were at its disposal. Nearly every child who has been arraigned in the Court has either been in the detention house of the Society or the fact of his arrest has been reported to that Society.

The result has been that from the teeming records of this Society a brief history of the child or his family is prepared and presented to the Court for its information before it finally acts. No greater aid to proper action can be imagined than these reports.

The agents of this Society are peace officers and the Court, very naturally, availed itself of their services as investigators. Their investigations had been made for years, and the records of the Society are made up largely of the reported results of such investigations. These reports regularly made with the requirements that children probationers and those in parental relation to them make personal reports to the Court have been found to be about all that is necessary to constitute a proper and most effective parole system. Where the fault of the probationer is found in his school record a prompt report by his teacher principal of his first delinquency results in the visit of a police officer with a bench warrant and the speedy re-arraignment of the delinquent in court, where he is properly disciplined.

The system of investigation and report referred to may be best illustrated by reports made in a typical case. A child is convicted, or maybe a case of improper guardianship is pending and the Court desires an investigation as to home conditions, general environment, school attendance, etc. A day is set for judgment and on that day the report is forthcoming. To illustrate:


The Court is aided by such reports in determining what is the next best step. It sometimes happens that there is an imperative need for an immediate commitment to an institution as conditions would in no way be favorable for probation. The number of commitments to reformatory or charitable institutions is not large, however, considering the great number of arraingnments. For the year ending December 31st, 1907, there were arraigned in the Children's Court 11,446 boys and girls. Of this number only 1,847 were committed on indeterminate sentences, the indeterminate sentence being the rule in Children's Court commitments. In a great number of cases there is the chance of saving the child at home by a release on probation, and in the year ending December 31st, 1907, 1,479 children were so released. Of this number 1,344 were boys and 135 were girls. It was necessary to commit to institutions for a violation of parole only 151 boys and 18 girls of this number. The reports of the preceding years show about the same proportion of salvage.

To illustrate something of the information embodied in the usual parole report we shall follow the case above cited another step. The circumstances surrounding the case had led the Court to believe that the child could be reclaimed by provisional release and by the exertion of proper influences. When the child came into court on the return day, the following report was submitted:


First Division, Children's Court.

No. 206961.


The People


First Division, Children's Part.

The People



New York, April 17, 1907. Case No. 206961. Officer, Vivien. Date of arrest, April 14th, 1907. Charge petit larceny (stole a bundle of newspapers valued at $6.68 from L station at Eighth street and Sixth avenue). Age of child, 12 years. Religion, Catholic. Father, Patrick. Mother, Mary. Residence, W. Houston street.

An investigation by the Society shows that October 1, 1904, the defendant was arraigned at Children's Court before Justice Olmsted on a charge of burglary (broke into a stable at 127 Barrow street for the purpose of stealing). He pleaded not guilty on charge of unlawful entry, was tried and convicted, and paroled until October 29th, when sentence was suspended.

July 12, 1905, he was arraigned at Children's Court charged with disorderly conduct (participating in stone fight). Justice Deuel fined him $2.

Defendant resides with his parents in a very comfortable home of six rooms. The parents are well spoken of by the janitress and neighbors and are respectable working people. Defendant is known as a thoroughly sad boy, who will not attend school regularly, associates with bad company and keeps late hours. His mother states he has at all times been obedient to her, but she admitted that he has not attended school regularly, associates with bad company and keeps late hours.

At P. S. No. 8 officer obtained the following school report:

April 17, 1907. John ........ has been present at school 16 days since February 1st, 1907, absent 31 days.

While at school the boy is well behaved, gives very little trouble, but does not learn quickly.

(Signed) M. E. Devlin, Principal. All which is respectfully submitted.

(Signed) E. Fellows Jenkins, Supt.

Aged 12 years.

New York, June 17, 1907 Officer, Cunningham. Date of arrest, April 14, 1907. Charge, petit larceny. Address, formerly W. Houston street, now Bleecker street. Religion, Catholic. Father, Patrick. Mother, Mary.

Record: April 15, 1907, defendant was arraigned at Children's Court charged with petit larceny (stole a bundle of newspapers valued at $6.68 from the foot of L station at Eighth street and Sixth avenue). He pleaded not guilty, was tried and convicted and Justice Zeller remanded him for sentence until April 18th, on which date he was paroled to May 4, when he was continued on parole until June 22, 1907.

Society's reinvestigation of this case shows that the defendant resides with his parents in a clean and comfortable home at Bleecker street. The mother states that the boy has been obedient, attended school regularly, keeps good hours and does not associate with bad company. Parents bear good reputation at the house.

At P. S. No. 8 on King street officer obtained the following report: John

(12) has been in attendance at this school every day, with the exception of one-half day during the past month, on date of parole from Children's Court. His behavior is good. (Signed) Michael E. Devlin, Princ.

Per A. McDonnough. Asst. Princ.
All which is respectfully submitted.

E. Fellows, Jenkins, Superintendent. This is but a sample of thousands of parole reports that have been submitted in accordance with the Court's directions and it may serve to illustrate in concrete form something of how the system works. If the Court so requires, there are reparoles until further supervision is regarded as unnecessary.

Probably there is not another court which has jurisdiction of cases of children so fortunately situated as is the. Children's Court in the County of New York, in having ready at hand a body of trained investigators or in having access to such a wealth of pertinent and valuable records. There is no reason, however, why every community cannot have a similar system of probation. The Justices of the court are pleased to see that strong effort in this direction is having the cordial support of the united humane societies in the State. This has taken the form of a bill now pending in the Legislature providing for a comprehensive plan of child probation. This bill from its first to its last section recognizes probation as the exercise of a judicial function and places all the power and all of the responsibility, from the appointment of probation officers to the supervision of the work, in those members of the judiciary who deal with cases of children.

The supervision of probation for children in this State should be placed in the hands of those who are acquainted with children's courts and all that pertains to the saving of juvenile offenders and victims of neglect from the crushing weight of vicious environment and not in the hands of officials whose interests lie entirely in other and diverse directions.

The judges who sit in the various children's courts in the State are all working for a common end. Co-operation between them is important and necessary. Interchange of ideas and comparison of notes between these justices, too, are of

the highest value in improving those who are ambitious and energetic and stimulating others who may be inexperienced or fail to grasp the importance of the work.

Assistance which has been rendered to the Court by the various committees representing the great religious faiths is of inestimable value. Representatives of these committees have been in court daily, ready to help at a moment's notice in any case where such assistance was of immediate necessity. These committees, made up of volunteer workers who have engaged in this service purely for love of helping their less fortunate fellows, have often obtained employment for children legally entitled to work; have assisted to get them into night classes; into gymnasiums, and otherwise in practical ways helped the Court to show these children that the community really cared that they did well morally and materially. These workers have always been careful not to interfere with the Court's instructions and thus there has been no trouble, because the children and parents knew that they were responsible to the Court alone and in the religious worker had merely found a new and valued friend. For all this valuable and humane assistance, the Court cannot express its appreciation in too high terms.

The Department of Education, too, has co-operated and has a representative in attendance daily at sessions of the Court. This official representative lends active and valuable assistance in returning school children who have been absent without good cause and in calling the attention of the school authorities to cases that require special treatment, or in transferring to another school when such transference is desirable.

First Report of the New York State Probation Commission.


this special Commission, providing for state supervision of the work of probation officers as well as for various amendments to the existing laws, failed of passage. Bills were introduced the following year in the Senate and Assembly by Hon. George A. Davis and Hon. James T. Rogers, respectively, which became law June 6, 1907, constituting chapter 430 of the Laws of 1907 an act to establish a State Probation Commission and defining its powers and duties.

To the Honorable the Legislature of the State of New York:

Pursuant to chapter 430 of the Laws of 1907, which provides the State Probation Commission shall “make an annual report to the legislature showing its proceedings..... and the results of the probation system as administered in the various localities of the state, with any suggestions or recommendations it may consider wise for the more effectual accomplishment of the general purposes of this act,” the State Probation Commission transmits its first report covering the six months from July 1 to December 31, 1907, inclusive, with a statistical report for the three months beginning October 1..

Duties of the Commission.

Origin of the Commission,

The need of state supervision was shown by the investigations and report of the previous special State Probation Commission of 1905-06, created by chapter 714 of the Laws of 1905 for the purpose of investigating the operations and value of the probation system. The report of the temporary investigating Commission of 1905-06, transmitted March 12, 1906, gave the statutory history of probation in this state to that time, described the operations and results of probation among both adults and juveniles as observed in various parts of the state, and made recommendations for improving the probation system, one of which recommendations was for state supervision over the work of probation officers. Bills introduced in the Legislature of 1906 at the instance of

The duties of the Commission as set forth in the statute creating it may be summarized as follows:

1. To exercise a general supervision over the work of probation officers throughout the state.

2. To collect and publish statistical and other information as to the operation of the probation system.

3. To keep informed as to the work of all probation officers, and from time to time to inquire into their conduct and efficiency.

4. To conduct a formal investigation, when it shall seem advisable to do so, into the work of any probation officer.

5. To secure the effective application of the probation system and the enforcement of the probation law in all parts of the state.

Plan and Scope of the Commission's Work.

The scope and methods of work of the Commission as decided upon at its meeting September 19, 1907, were based Distinction between Probation and Parole.

upon the provisions of the statute creating the Commission. The first essential duty of the Commission was to familiarize itself with the actual operations of probation as at present conducted in different localities of the state, and to establish a system for gathering accurate and useful statistical information which would show both the extent and the results of probation in the state. Preliminary to this, the Commission collected the names of probation officers throughout the state by sending letters to all judges authorized to appoint probation officers, by examining the testimony of the previous Commission of 1905-06 as well as various local reports and other records, by gathering newspaper clippings and by correspondence. Blank forms for probation officers' special reports concerning various data regarding their appointment, and also blank forms for probation officers' monthly statistical reports, were adopted at the September meeting to be used, for the period beginning October 1, 1907. By means of the statistical reports, submitted monthly by probation officers, the Commission has kept itself informed of the extent and nature of the probation work being done throughout the state. Pursuant to the direction of the September meeting of the Commission the secretary made an exhaustive study during part of October and November of the probation system as conducted in Yonkers, a report of which has been distributed to judges, probation officers and various other persons. The report is appended hereto.

It is desirable that there be more uniform usage in the use of, the words probation and parole, As was stated in the report of the temporary Commission of 1905-06, there exists at present in different places in this state considerable diversity in the use of these terms. That report gave the following definitions which seem to be worthy of general adoption: “Probation is the term used in connection with the release of an offender under a suspended sentence and without imprisonment, but under the oversight of a probation officer, for a definite period and for the purpose of reclaiming him from evil courses. Parole is the term used in connection with conditional release from a penal or reformatory institution after a period of incarceration therein. The term probation has no appropriate use in connection with the oversight of prisoners from penal or reformatory institutions, nor is the term parole wisely applied, in our opinion, in connection with the release of offenders under a suspended sentence and without imprisonment.

In some places persons released from an institution upon a court order before the expiration of their temrs, are said to be thereby placed on probation. Such cases are properly parole cases. It has become customary in some courts to adjourn cases from time to time through a period of weeks or months keeping the defendant upon parole, without meanwhile determining whether the defendant be guilty or innocent. This so-called parole is more nearly akin to probation than to parole.

Present Probation Laws.

[merged small][ocr errors]

The principal statutory provisions regarding probation work in this state are as follows:

Section 11-a of the code of criminal proceduce directs that justices of courts having original jurisdiction of criminal actions shall from time to time appoint one or more persons as probation officers, to hold office during the pleasure of the court or justice, and to work under the direction of such court or justice; and that probation officers may be salaried when so voted by proper municipal or village authorities. The second subdivision of this section describes the duties of probation officers as being to investigate the antecedents, character and offenses of persons arrested for crimes, and to report their findings to the court; to give a written statement to each probationer containing the conditions of his release; to report to the court at least monthly any violatios of the terms of probation by any probationer; and to require such reports from probationers as the court may direct.

Section 12 of the penal code authorizes courts to suspend sentence during the good behavior of any person convicted, provided that the maximum term of imprisonment for such offense does not exceed ten years, and such person has never been convicted of a felony. At any time within the longest period for which the defendant might have been sentenced, the court, in case of violation of the terms of probation, may issue process for the rearrest of the defendant, and proceed to impose sentence as if there had originally been no probation. In the case of children, however, the term of probation is limited to one year. Section 291 of the penal code extends probation to neglected and abused children, except in New York city.

Sections 483 and 487 of the code of criminal procedure provide for the placing of probationers under the supervision of probation offiecrs, and for the imposing of fines to be paid while on suspended sentence under such surveillance.

There are also special provisions relative to probation in the charters of New York, Buffalo and Rochester. The probation laws of New York State are printed in full in the appendix.

While the Commission is giving thought to the matter of probation legislation, it is the policy of the Commission to accomplish as much as possible under the present laws, before requesting any very material amendments. With the view of being prepared, however, to recommend wisely when the time for further legislation arrives, the Commission is analyzing the laws and practices of other states and countries, and considering the same with reference to the needs in New York state.

At this time the Commission especially desires an amendment to section 11-a of the code of criminal procedure to make it permissible for such counties as may desire to do so, to pay salaries to probation officers; and to provide that appointments of probation officers be in writing and filed with the State Probation Commission. The

reasons for amending this section are given on pages 42 to 43.

Number of Probation Officers in the State.

Through correspondence with judges and by searching various records as described above, the Commission has collected the names of over 200 probation officers in the state. The Commission has divided these into active and inactive officers, classifying as active the 140 who have exercised probationary oversight between October 1 and December 31, 1907. Special reports have been gathered from both active and inactive probation officers, and monthly statistical reports are being regularly filed by the active officers. As the Commission learns of additional probation officers every few days either former officers not previously reported to the Commission or officers newly appointed, the list is still growing.

[ocr errors]

(Continued on page 11.)

« PreviousContinue »