« PreviousContinue »
they cannot be taught any trade. There is nobody who would contract for the labor of those criminals, because they come there ignorant of any trade, and consequently the lives of the inmates are passed in comparative comfort and absolute idleness. They are better clothed, better fed, better housed than when they were outside, and they feel satisfied no doubt about the continuance of their immunity from want. As has been said by the gentleman from Pennsylvania, to an overwhelming majority of the criminal classes mere confinement in a house of correction is no punishment at all. As the fall of the year approaches you will find that men commit a certain class of petty offenses so as to secure comfortable quarters for the winter. I remember last fall of a respectable looking man breaking a plate-glass window, and expressing great disappointment when he was only sentenced to jail for sixty days; he had expected to get a snug berth for the winter. Now, with this condition of things society is necessarily driven to secure some method of protecting itself against the criminal classes.
The offenses against property, of course, in this report we do not touch upon, but for the offenses against the person, where the circumstances show a deliberate, brutal intention on the part of the offender to make a brutal assault, it is proposed to apply the lash. In the words of the distinguished gentleman from New York, let a man who has been guilty of a brutal assault be whipped for his crime. Now, the offense which first called for some legislation on this subject in Maryland was the great frequency with which the police reported cases of wife-beating. They didn't call attention to quarrels between husbands and wives, but to cases of great brutality which occurred noticeably on Saturday night when a man would come home with so much of his wages as he had not spent in drink and then commit a brutal assault upon his wife. The only punishment that could be inflicted was to try that man before the committing magistrate and send him to jail for, thirty, sixty, or ninety days. What was the
result? The woman and children were left to starve until he got out of jail, therefore the wife would always say : “I cannot testify against him. I cannot call aloud for the police. I must either be beaten and say not one word or I must be prepared to beg until this man is released from jail.” Therefore the Legislature saw fit to say that in cases of this sort they would inflict the only punishment which seemed to be appropriate and did not make the poor woman suffer as well, and so they provided that the offenders should be punished by whipping. What was the result? The Committee of this Association applied to me to secure statistics upon this subject in the State of Maryland. Now, I am well aware that statistics are not always very reliable, but, conscious of the responsibility, I did not go to the court for my statistics. I went to the Marshal of Police, I went to the Captains of Police in the various districts, and I collected as carefully as I could all the information that they had, and the statistics as furnished in the report of the Committee I am assured by the Marshal of Police-who has been at the head of the police force of Baltimore for twenty years—understate rather than overstate the facts. And the result has been that cases of wife-beating have been rare indeed. A few days ago I saw in the papers the first case of the kind that has attracted public attention in three years, and it was the comment of the paper that it had been so long since a case of this sort had come before the court and so long since the last offender had been flogged, that it did seem as if it was necessary that the minds of these men should be enlightened that the law still stood on the statute books of Maryland.
I think that a system of punishment which has been so useful in stamping out the crime of wife-beating might be profitably extended to other classes of crime. I think that where a man has been brute enough to commit a brutal crime the punishment would brutalize him no more.
E. B. Green, of Ohio :
resolution, but simply to say in behalf of the women of the United States, outside of Connecticut, that I hope this Association will not fall into the error which that State has, granting to a man a divorce if he can prove that he has beaten his wife.
Julius B. Curtis :
I cannot furnish ears and talk too. I said the wives were entitled to get a divorce if they were brutally treated by their husbands.
E. P. Green:
Well, in Ohio, when we divorce one, we divorce the other, —not following the example of New York, divorcing only one.
E. O. Hinkley, of Maryland :
I feel that in accepting an office in this Association I have not lost my right to descend to the floor and debate occasionally, and I have done it at rare intervals. When I heard Baltinjore referred to I thought it was right that those from that State should be heard. Mr. Wilmer has said nine-tenths of what I wanted to say, and, therefore, I will not go over the ground that he has covered, but I will go to another point. I have long been convinced that there is an inherent principle in regard to the nature of application of punishment derived from the nature of the crime, that there is a certain ratio between the crime and its punishment. I take that to be an inherent principle, a law of society, a law of nature, inherent and inevitable. I find it in history, and I find it in the history of the oldest nation of whose laws we have any record. It is called the lex talionis. Now, as a father, I know that children must be corrected, but any man of good sense and feeling will never go a hair's breadth beyond the application of a principle that will make the subject feel the consequences of his own act. Thus, if it were
possible, Mr. President, I should say that the crime should work out its own result. If a man in folly strikes his fist against a stone wall, that stone wall hits him back as hard as he hit it; that is a physical way of putting the thing. Now, let him strike the law, and let the law hit him back, and let the man feel that the punishment that is coming is by society adopted as nearly as it is possible for human ingenuity to contrive to the nature of his offense. Now, my next point is this : That everything which we do in the law ought to be adopted to the end designed, and ought to be practical. Therefore, I quit my theories as perhaps not altogether practically sound in the views of some, although I am convinced that the general principle is correct, and let us come to the practical question.
I heard this argument adduced about capital punishment: A man coming to the scaffold to be hung said: “I never would have killed that man if I had known that I was going to be hung for it. I thought the punishment was imprisonment for life.” That was once urged in favor of hanging. I think that a man would have a sense of the particular evil he was doing if it were retaliated, and he felt that it was to come right back upon himself. We avoid those things that in nature do retaliate, and some of them retaliate so quickly that we shrink in horror of the result. Now, the gentleman from New York has given some testimony upon this subject; the gentleman from Pennsylvania, who has had considerable experience with criminals, has given his views, and we have listened to what has been said by the gentleman from Baltimore, and to that I can add a story that has long been told in Baltimore, of one of our wealthy citizens, who is an Irish
There is an Irish woman in Baltimore who is very apt to be noisy on the street, and she was very often admonished about it. When she was talked to about her conduct, and particularly about her thriftlessness and liability to be in want in the winter, she said : “Och! I've only to go up to me brother Mc- and break a window, and I'll get a nice
lodging for the winter.” That has often been told in Baltimore to show that people are not deterred by being put in the penitentiary. I remember a case that I had for contempt of court, where the woman was put in jail, until at last the judge begged of me to make a motion to the court to let her go, because she didn't care anything about it. She was quite comfortable there in the jail, and had better living than she was accustomed to outside. Now, I come back to the point that there is an inherent principle in the law that the law must retaliate something that it has derived from crime itself, and the punishment ought to be something that has relation to the crime ; and then I have no doubt as to the results, and the proof of the matter is in the final practical result. I think we in Baltimore do know that that law which says that a man who is guilty of wife-beating shall be whipped has had a deterrent effect. With regard to the relation of husband and wife, I was interested in what the last speaker said. Can it be supposed that there is no room for a return of a man who has beaten bis wife when he is punished by the law to his proper relation. It won't do, I think, to say broadly that he cannot or will not return. If it should so happen that a woman of delicate sensibilities had relatives, who said to her that they would take care of her, and“ You never shall live with that man again,” very well. Now you are going into high walks in society, where such things prevail, but when you are coming to the lower ranks, I don't hesitate to say that a man may whip his wife and then be whipped by the law and then go back again.
R. E. Monaghan, of Pennsylvania :
If you whip the husband for flogging his wife, what will you do with the wife that flogs the husband ?
E. O. Hinkley :
W. T. Houston, of Louisiana :