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AN ANALYTICAL AND COMPARATIVE STUDY OF THE TREATMENT OF WOMEN OFFENDERS PASSING THROUGH THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION IN THE CITY OF NEW YORK

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Genz, Kerta Natalie, 18911941
An analytical and comparative study of
’.G4
the treatment of women offenders passing
through the Department of correction in
the city of New York...
Nev.' York, 1941.
x,520,c83 typewritten leaves, plate,
tables (part fold.) forms. 29cm.
Thesis (Ph.D,) - New York university,
School of education, 1941,
Bibliography: p.412-422,
"One hundred informal interviews with
inmates of the house of detention for
women in New
<«*- York city": p.425497.
-'.74233
■**
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T H IS D IS S E R T A T IO N HAS BEEN M IC R O F IL M E D E X A C T L Y AS R E C E IV E D .
yo
I Thesis accepted
Date.
.
SEP 20 mf
AN ANALYTICAL AND COMPARATIVE STUDY OF
THE TREATMENT OF WOMEN OFFENDERS PASSING
THROUGH THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION IN
THE CITY OF NEW YORK
HERTA N. GENZ
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the
requirements for the degree of Doctor of
Philosophy in the School of Education of
New York University
1941
PLEASE NOTE:
Some pages may have
indistinct print.
Filmed as received.
University Microfilms, A Xerox Education Company
TABLE OP CONTENTS
PABI I. TREATMENT OF WOMEN OFFENDERS PASSING
THROUGH THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION OF THE
CITY OF NEW YORK IN 1938
CHAPTER
I.
INTRODUCTION; THE PROBLEM AND RESEARCH PROCEDURE
Statement of the Problem
1
Need for the Study and Its Significance
2
The Nature of the Study
3
Related Studies
5
Limitations of the Study
6
Method of Procedure
7
Method of Collecting Data
9
Nature of the Data
II.
PAGE
1
FORMAL PROCEDURES FROM ARREST TO FIRST APPEARANCE IN COURT
14
17
Arresting Officers and Correctional Officers in Contact
with Yfomen Offenders
17
Procedure of Arrest
19
Treatment of Women Offenders from Arrest to First Appear­
ance in Court
20
At Police Headquarters
22
Detention of Women Offenders Held for First Appear­
ance in Court
23
Detention at the Station House
23
Detention at District Prisons
24
Detention at the >CJ.ty Erisons
27
Detention at Felony Courts
28
A 74233
i
CHAPTER
III.
PAGE
Detention at Private Institutions
29
Detention at City Hospitals
30
Reaction of Women Offenders to Methods of Arrest and
Detention Awaiting a Hearing
32
Summary and Conclusions
37
GENERAL ORGANIZATION OF NEW YORK CITY AND COUNTY COURTS
39
City Magistrates' Courts
39
City Magistrates* Courts (Specialized)
40
Woman's Court (Day)
40
Night Court for Man
40
Traffic Court
41
Municipal Term Court
41
Homicide Court
42
Night Bail Court
42
Felony Court
42
Adolescent Court
43
Court of Special Sessions of the Cityof New York
43
Municipal Court of the City of New York
43
City Court of the City of New York
44
Appellate Term of the Supreme Court
44
Court of General Sessions of New YorkCounty
44
County Court (All Counties Except NewYork County)
45
Domestic Relations Court
45
Surrogates' Court
45
The Grand Jury
'
46
The Supreme Court
47
Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, First Depart­
ment (Manhattan)
47
Court of Appeals
48
ii
PAGE
CHAPTER
IV.
The Judicial System and Criminal Justice
48
COURT PROCEDURES
53
The City Magistrates' Courts
53
Organization
54
Personnel
55
Jurisdiction
56
Formal Process of Arraignment
58
The Trial
60
Magistrates' Court Social Service Bureau
61
Critical Comment on the Magistrates' Courts from the
Current Literature of Criminology
64
The Court of Special Sessions of Hew York City
Organization
66
Personnel
67
Jurisdiction
67
The Trial
68
The Court of General Sessions of New York City
V.
66
69
Organization
69
Personnel
70
Jurisdiction
71
The Trial
71
Critical Comment on Court Procedures of Today from the
Current Literature of Criminology
73
SPECIALIZED COURTS DEALING WITH WOMEN OFFENDERS
76
The Women's Court
77
Organization and Personnel
78
Jurisdiction
78
Formal Process of Arraignment
79
Bail Security for Appearance
81
iii
CHAPTER
PAGE
The Study of the Case
83
The Trial
84
Number and Distribution of Convictions
85
Reaction of Women Offenders to Court Procedure
90
Summary and Conclusions
95
The Wayward Minor's Court
99
Organization and Personnel
100
Jurisdiction
100
Study of Case Before Hearing When Defendant Cooperates
with Court
101
VI.
The Hearing When Defendant Cooperates with Court
102
Hearing and Trial of Defendants Who Refuse to
Cooperate with the Court
103
Medical Examination, Psychometric and Psychiatric
Tests in Wayward Minor Cases
105
Number and Disposition of Cases
105
Obstacles Confronting Wayward Minor's Court
109
Summary and Conclusions
111
The Domestic Relations Court
114
Organization and Personnel
115
Jurisdiction
116
Formal Process of Arraignment
117
Children's Court Procedure
118
Family Court Procedure
120
The Study of the Case
123
The Trial
123
Number of Cases
125
Summary and Conclusions
128
TREATMENT OF WOMEN OFFENDERS FOLLOWING CONVICTION:
PROBATION
131
Beginning of Probation in New York State
132
iv
CHAPTER
VII.
PAGE
Development and Progress of Probation
135
Organization and Jurisdiction
136
Preliminary Investigation of the Case
138
Probationary Supervision of the Case
138
Probation in the City of New York
139
Probation Department of the
Magistrates' Courts
140
Probation Department of the
Court of
Special
Sessions147
Probation Department of the
Court of
General
Sessions148
Executive Division
151
Division ofInvestigation
151
Division ofSupervision
154
Division of Finances andAccounts
156
Division of Research
157
Summary and Conclusions
159
TREATMENT OF WOMEN OFFENDERS FOLLOWING CONVICTION:
INSTITUTIONAL TREATMENT
164
The House of Detention for Women
164
The Physical Plant
165
Capacity and Population
Staff Organization and Salaries
Routine Institutional Treatment of Women Offenders
:170
173
174
Reception at Institution
175
Classification and Unit Placement
177
Daily Routine of Inmates
178
The Detention Woman
179
The Sentenced Woman
180
Discharge from Institution
The Medical Service
181
182
Hospital and Staff
v
182
■
CHAPTER
PAGE
Types of Medical ServiceRendered
183
The Psychiatric Service
187
The Psychological Service
188
Religious Services
190
The Social Service Program
191
The Educational Program
196
Academic Subjects
196
Music
197
'1
|
|
Vocational Training
198
-j
Creative Recreation
198
f
Reaction of Women Offenders to Institutional Treatment
200
;J
Summary and Conclusions
205
■I
■. X
VIII.
TREATMENT OF OFFENDERS FOLLOWING CONVICTION:
PAROLE AND FOLLOW-TJP WORK
215
";i
J
Beginning of Parole in City of New York
216
j
Organization and Jurisdiction of Parole Commission
217
:4
|
Organization of the Parole Department
218
|
Pre-Parole Investigation of the Case
219
I
|
Supervision of Parolees
221
I
Parole in the City of New York
222
Follow-up Work with Parolees
227
I
I
§
Summary and Conclusions
230
f
PART II. COMPARISON OF PRESENT TREATMENT OF WOMEN
OFFENDERS PASSING THROUGH THE DEPARTMENT OF
CORRECTION OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK WITH THE
TREATMENT IN 1900
IX.
TREATMENT OF WOMEN OFFENDERS IN 1900 FROM ARREST TO
CONVICTION
233
Arrestiiig Officers in Contact with Women Offenders
235
Detention of Women Offenders Held for First Appearance
in Court
239
vi
I
CHAPTER
PAGE
City Magistrates1 Courts of the City of New York
in 1900
X.
XI.
243
Jurisdiction
244
The Trial
245
Number and Distribution of Convictions (First
Division)
247
The Court of Special Sessions in 1900
254
The Court of General Sessions in 1900
255
Summary and Conclusions
256
TREATMENT OF WOMEN OFFENDERSIN 1900
AFTERCONVICTION
258
Introduction
258
The New York Workhouse
264
The Physical Plant
265
Capacity and Population
267
Staff Organization and Salaries
267
Routine Reception at Institution
268
Classification
269
Daily Routine of Inmates
271
Visiting Hours
272
Discharge from Institution
272
The Medical Service
273
Religious Service
274
Social Service
274
Educational Service
275
The Raymond Street Jail (Kingfe County Prison)
278
The New York County Penitentiary
280
King's County Penitentiary
282
Summary and Conclusions
284
COMPARISON OF TREATMENT OFWOMEN OFFENDERS
vii
IN 1900AND 1938
285
CHAPTER
PAGE
Introduction
285
Comparison of Formal Procedures of Arrest and Temporary
Detention
286
Comparison of Court Procedures in 1900 and 1958
290
Introduction of Probation
290
Comparison of Number and Distribution of Cases for
1900 and 1958
292
Comparison of Institutional Treatment of Women Offenders
for 1900 and 1938
295
PART III. COMPARISON OF THE PRESENT TREATMENT OF
WOMEN OFFENDERS PASSING THROUGH THE
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION OF THE CITY OF
NEW YORK WITH THE STANDARDS SET UP IN THE
CURRENT LITERATURE OF CRIMINOLOGY
XII.
COMPARISON OF THE PRESENT TREATMENT OF WOMEN OFFENDERS
PASSING THROUGH THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION OF THE CITY
OF NEW YORK WITH THE STANDARDS SET UP IN THE CURRENT
LITERATURE OF CRIMINOLOGY
315
Introduction
315
Arrest and Temporary Detention
317
Court Procedure
322
The Court
XIII.
326
Probation
540
Institutional Treatment
545
Parole
377
Follow-up Work
385
Summary and Conclusions
388
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
391
Significant Variations
392
The Problem and Issues Involved
399
Recommendations
403
Arrest
403
viii
PAGE
Court Procedure
404
Probation
404
Institutionalization
405
Parole
407
Follow-up Work
407
The Community Approach and Prevention
408
The Need for Further Study
409
Conclusion in Toto
410
BIBLIOGRAPHY
411
APPENDIX A
ONE HUNDRED. INFORMAL INTERVIEWS WITH INMATES OF THE
HOUSE OF DETENTION FOR WOMEN IN NEW YORK CITY
APPENDIX B
FORM I.
424
498
Sample Face Sheet for Case Record
Magistrates' Courts Social Service Bureau
FORM II.
Complainant's History
FORM III.
Recommendation Slip to Magistrate
499
501
505
FORM IV. Application Form for Volunteers
504
List of Public and Private Agencies, Institutions and
Hospitals Cooperating with the Wayward Minor's Court
506
FORM V.
507
Intake Data Sheet - 7/ayward Minor's Court
Code of Criminal Procedure - 1935 - Respecting Wayward
Minors
511
FORM VI. Preliminary Investigation (Court of General
Sessions Probation Department)
513
FORM VII.
FORM VIII.
Relatives Waiver of Notice
Department of Hospitals,
Division of Psychiatry
Petition for the Commitment of the Mentally
Sick
FORM IX. Petition for the Commitment of Mentally Defective
ix
515
516
520
LIST OF TABLES
Page
Title
Table I
Table II
Table III
Table IV
CLASSIFICATION OF BAIL ACTION TAKEN
IN WOMEN'S CASES IN ALL CITY MAGISTRATES'
COURTS IN NEW YORK CITY IN 1938
82
CLASSIFICATION OF OFFENSES ON WHICH WOMEN
WERE CONVICTED IN WOMEN'S COURT IN NEW YORK
CITY IN 1938 ACCORDING TO BOROUGH OF ORIGIN
86
DISPOSITION OF CONVICTIONS FOR SUMMARY
OFFENSES IN ALL MAGISTRATES' COURTS IN
NEW YORK CITY: FEMALE
88
DISPOSITION OF CASES IN THE WAYWARD
MINOR'S COURT IN NEW YORK CITY FROM
MARCH 2, 1936, TO NOVEMBER 25, 1936
INCLUSIVE
x
106
PART
I
THE TREATMENT OF WOMEN OFFENDERS
PASSING THROUGH THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION
OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK IN 1938
CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION
THE PROBLEM AND RESEARCH PROCEDURE
Statement of the Problem
The aim of this thesis is an analytical and comparative study
of the treatment of women offenders passing through the Department of
Correction of the City of New York in 1958.
The study is three-fold:
First, to give a general picture of the present treatment of
women offenders through a description of the methods and procedures
employed by the Department of Correction of the City of New York from the
time a woman is arrested to her discharge.
The phases of treatment
considered are arrest, arraignment or hearing, temporary detention, trial,
conviction, probation or institutionalization, parole, and follow-up work
with discharged offenders.
Second, to compare the present treatment of women offenders passing
through the Department of Correction of the City of New York with the
treatment of women offenders in New York City in 1900.
This will include
a description of the treatment received by women offenders in the same
phases as in the study of the present treatment.
Third, to compare the present treatment of women offenders passing
through the Department of Correction of the City of New York with the
1
standards set up in the current literature of criminology.
1. The study originally included a plan to compare the treatment of women
offenders in New York City with that in London, England, but this phase
of the investigation had to be abandoned because of the war.
-z-
A secondary aim of this study will be an analysis and synthesis
of the above data with a view to ascertaining, 1) significant variations
between the treatment of women offenders for the two periods under
consideration and the standards set up in the current literature of
criminology; and, 2) the problems and issues involved in the treatment of
women offenders in New York City.
Need for the Study and its Significance
Adequate treatment of women offenders is important from the
standpoint of both the community and the individual offenders.
The large
majority of offenders return to the community after an average period of
from one to three years of Incarceration, or less, or, if placed on
probation they do not leave the community at all.
From arrest to release,
the offenders are public charges.
Actually, at any step after arrest, they
may be returned to the community.
It is important, therefore, to plan
adequate treatment for them that they may be equipped to take their places
as independent social and economic units upon their release.
Adequate
treatment of women offenders would seem to be an obligation which the
community owes to itself and to the women offenders as public charges.
It
is important, moreover, from the standpoint of crime prevention since the
adequacy of treatment of women offenders may in a measure determine whether
or not they will commit further offenses.
Said Governor Lehman in
1939, speaking of offenders in general:
They come out. They come back. . . . Shall we so cripple
them
that they will continue to be a drain on our resources, or shall
we make them into stronger and better citizens who can contribute
to our common welfare?
1. •P-nnnftftiHnfla 0f the First National Parole Conference, 1939, p. 17
-5 -
This study of the treatment of women offenders in New York City
should prove of significance in other ways.
It will provide data regard­
ing the treatment of women offenders which should be of service to the
Department of Correction of the City of New York.
It will, also, serve
as a point of departure for further research in this particular field.
And, lastly, it is hoped that the study will render a contribution which,
while not wholly original in any of its parts, will in the presentation of
the different phases of the problem and the interpretation of the problem
as a whole, be of value in the formulation of new concepts regarding the
treatment of women offenders.
The Nature of the Study
There is in existence an immense literature of criminology.
Countless books, pamphlets, periodicals, surveys, and studies are available
to the student of crime, criminals, and criminal justice.
In the current
literature of criminology there are books which attempt to deal with the
subject as a whole.
Edwin H. Sutherland, in Principles of Crtmtnnlofryr
starts with the following definition:
Criminology is the body of knowledge regarding crime as a social
phenomenon. It includes within its scope the processes of
making laws, and of reacting toward the breaking of laws. These
processes are three aspects of a somewhat unified sequence of
interactions. Certain acts which are regarded as undesirable
are defined by the political society as crimes. In spite of
this definition some people persist in the behavior and thus
commit crimes; the political society reacts by punishment or
other treatment, or by prevention. This sequence of inter­
actions is the object-matter of criminology.
"The objective of criminology," according to Sutherland, "is the
development of general and verified principles and of other types of knowledge
1. Edwin H. Sutherland, Principles of fVtnrinologv. p. 1
-4 -
regardlng this process of law, crime, and treatment or prevention.”1
It Is understandable that the main body of the literature of
criminology is centered on the male offender.
”It is generally known
that women delinquents form only a fraction of all offenders, whether
imprisonments, convictions, arrests, or crimes reported to the police
O
are used as an index of criminality.n
It is the purpose of this study, therefore, to deal only with
women offenders in an effort to augment the slight material available on
the subject.
The investigator has chosen to deal with the treatment of women
offenders passing through the Department of Correction of the City of
New York, and only with those offenders who are treated within the five
boroughs of the City.
The study is concerned first, with a general
description of the methods and procedures of the various agencies of the
Department of Correction in their contacts with women offenders for 1938.
Second, a similar description for 1900, and a comparison of the treatment
accorded women offenders in the two periods.
Third, from the current
literature of criminology, as represented by a selected bibliography, an
attempt is made to summarize the standards that have been set up by
leaders in the field, and to compare these standards with the present
treatment of women offenders.
Throughout the study, the emphasis is on
the relation of the treatment of women offenders to the possibility of their
rehabilitation.
1. Sutherland, op. cit.. p. 1
2. Sheldon and Eleanor T. dueck, Five Hundred DftHnrpiflrh Women, p. 3
-5 -
Belated Stm» ea
The Investigator has no knowledge of any similar study, bat
there are, however, several studies of women offenders.
The latest,
Sheldon and Eleanor T. Glueck's, Five Hundred Delinquent Women, published
in 1934, is a follow-up study of five hundred delinquent women who had
been released from the Massachusetts Reformatory for Women.
This is a
detailed study of the careers of the subjects from childhood through a
period beyond their release from the reformatory.
The emphasis of the
study is on the relationship of the characteristics of the subjects to
their ultimate rehabilitation or relapse.
On the basis of their findings,
the authors constructed prediction tables based on selected factors in the
careers of the subjects found to be related to subsequent delinquent
behavior, which judges might use in determining how any particular offender
is likely to respond to treatment.
Since predictive instruments have not
reached a degree of reliability or practicality sufficient for their
1
general use, they have not been considered in this study.
Another related study is A Study of Women DftHwqumrhg in
Hew York State. by Mabel R. Fernald, Mary H. S. Hayes, Almena Dawley,
and others, published in 1920.
This is a study of nearly six hundred
women serving sentence in correctional institutions in Hew York State to
discover what influence, if any, certain factors in their environment and
mental level had in relation to their delinquency.
1. See Glueck and Glueck, op. clt.. p. 297; Nathaniel F. Cantor, Crime and
Society, p. 531; and Edwin H. Sutherland, o p . cit.. p. 548
-6 -
A Study of Women in the County Jails of Pennsylvania. byFlorence L. SayviUe in 19343, describes the conditions under which four
hundred women offenders were found in county jails and makes a limited
study of the inmates on the basis of observation and interview.
This
study was made in the preparation of a bill for presentation to the
legislature of Pennsylvania for the replacement of county jails by
state-controlled regional industrial farms.
The report simply attempted
to present the situation in the county jails and to reveal some of its
inherent difficulties.
It offered no solution; "that must be the product
of more mature deliberation.
But, inevitably, as conditions unfold them­
selves. . . questions will arise that must be answered somehow, sometime,
©
in a community which calls itself civilized.”
T.iflritfttinnfl of the Study
This study is limited to a general description of the treatment
of women offenders in New York City.
The ground covered is too extensive
to admit of the individual study of the women themselves.
The study is
not concerned with the causes of delinquency, or with the prevention of
delinquency, as such, although certain aspects of both will be mentioned.
Nor is the study concerned with the statistics of delinquency or statistical
treatment of the data, although in describing certain phases of the
treatment, it has been found necessary to include figures to round out
the picture.
The aim of this study is a composite picture of women offenders in
New York City for the two periods studied and the treatment accorded them
in relation to the possibility of their rehabilitation.
1. Published as the regular quarterly issue of The Prison Journal by the
Pennsylvania Prison Society, 1934
2. Ibid.. p. 91
The Investigator in undertaking this study has assumed that
there is a relationship between the treatment accorded women offenders in
their contacts with the agencies of the law and the possibility of their
rehabilitation.
Put in another way, the investigator assmes that upon
the treatment accorded women offenders may depend to some degree the
chances of either their rehabilitation or relapse after release.
For the purpose of this study, no distinction is made on the
basis of kind or degree of offense committed, nor between first offenders
or recidivists.
A woman offender, as considered here, is any woman
arrested, arraigned, tried, convicted, placed on probation, or committed
or paroled, during the periods under observation.
The standards set up in the current literature of criminology
are recommendations and conclusions concerning the different phases of the
treatment of offenders in general to be found in publications by authorities
recognized in the field as being outstanding in scientific work in this field.
Method of Procedure
This study is connected with the investigator* s life-long interest
in those people who were always called "criminals" in her childhood.
An
abbreviated account of this interest is told here since it is responsible
in part for the method of procedure used.
The investigator spent her childhood in Russia.
A short distance
from her home was a prison and one of her earliest recollections is
seeing prisoners marched down the middle of the street, in fours, chained
hand and foot.
Sometimes these chained prisoners were women, often with
babies in their arms.
When she questioned her elders concerning these
-8 -
prisoners, she was told that she must not think about them.
interest, curiosity, and sympathy remained.
But her
As a young girl she visited
prisons with her father and later began making visits to prisons by herself
and worked among "lifers."
She became acquainted with the sight of convicts
who had been in solitary confinement for years, - prisoners who had
forgotten how to distinguish one color from another.
During Vorld War I
the investigator was a voluntary Red Cross worker with war prisoners in Russia,
Germany, Latvijfa., and Estonia, and upon coming to the United States took
up social work with offenders.
Thus the method of procedure used in this study moist inevitably
be connected with long observation and stoidy of offenders, with a wide
acquaintance with workers in the field, and with years of reading and
collecting literature on criminology.
In proceeding with this study, the
investigator has tried to rely more upon the data collected from reports
and people and the opinions of leaders in the field than upon her own
observation and knowledge of the situation in order to prevent, as far as
possible, the entrance of personal bias.
In order to study the treatment of women offenders in New York City,
it has been necessary to study the methods and procedures of the agencies
of the law under the Department of Correction in dealing with these women.
As a basis for the study of treatment, it has been necessary to describe
the organization of the system of dealing with women offenders in New York
City.
This system includes the police, stationhouses, district prisons,
courts, prisons, probation, and parole.
What happens to the woman offender
as she passes through this system? What was the organization of the system
-9 -
llke in 1900? What happened to the woman offender then, and what change8
have taken place between 1900 and 1938?
What recommendations have been
made for the treatment of offenders which might be socially beneficial?
The answers to these and many other questions indicate the types of data
required for this study.
The method of handling data has been to classify it according
to the different phases of the study for each period studied, and then
to compare the findings for one period with the other, and finally, with
the standards set up for the treatment of offenders in the current
literature of criminology.
It was decided that the data should be presented in the order
of routine followed by the women offenders, that is, a description of the
routine of arrest, arraignment, and if the suspect is held for trial,
the routine of the trial.
And so on through the separate phases of the
study.
Simultaneously, the agency figuring in each stage of the offenders*
progress has been described in its relation to the offenders.
Method of Collecting Data
The first source of data concerning the treatment of women
offenders passing through the Department of Correction of the City of
New York was the interview.
The following is a list of interviews held
with officials and workers of the Department:
1)
Four with the Commissioner of Correction
2)
Three with a Chief Parole Officer
-1 0 -
5
Eight with parole officers
4
Two with supervisors of parole
5
Two with a Chief Probation Officer
6
Six with probation officers
7
Three with the Superintendent of House of Detention for
Women
8
Twenty-four with correctional officers
9
Ten with social workers of the Department
10
Six with two psychologists of the Department
11
One with the Chief Magistrate of the City Magistrates' Courts
12
Three with a magistrate
13
Two with a prison librarian
14
Two with a prison teacher
15
Two with a teacher of the class of volunteer workers at
a Magistrates' Court
16)
Two with a prison physician
17)
Four with police officers
Eight interviews were held with representatives of the following
private organizations in the field:
The Prison Association of New York
The Women*8 Prison Association of New York
The Prison Association of Philadelphia
The Osborn Association
The Delehanty Institute
And, lastly, scores of informal interviews were held with dis­
charged offenders.
In order to get the point of view end the reaction of some
of the women offenders to the treatment received, the investigator
interviewed one hundred women serving a sentence at the House of De­
tention for Women of New York City, during July and August, 1938.
These interviews were conducted as follows:
The women interviewed were chosen at random from the active
prison files after the permission of the superintendent was received.
It was decided to choose at random twenty inmates from each of the
following prison classifications as to offense:
prostitution, petty
larceny, narcotic drug addiction, disorderly conduct, and miscellane­
ous offenses which included felonies.
The filed record cards of the
inmates chosen to be interviewed were read and basic information con­
cerning them was recorded.
The interviews were held in the psychologist's room on the
first floor of the House of Detention for Women.
The name of the in­
dividual woman to be interviewed was given to the correctional officer
in charge of the first floor.
She in turn telephoned to the correc­
tional officer in charge of the floor to which the woman had been
assigned.
This last correctional officer gave no explanation of the
call to the inmate other than to direct her to go to the psychologist's
room on the first floor.
When the Inmate entered the room, the investigator arose and
introduced herself and asked the inmate for her name.
The inmate was
invited to sit down at a table opposite the investigator. The latter
explained that she was interested in making a study of the treatment of
women who come in conflict with the law; that it was to be a private study
and not done under the auspices of the Department of Correction, or any
-1 2 -
other organization.
The investigator stressed the fact that she had had
close contact for a number of years with women who were in all kinds of
difficulties, and that she was particularly interested in the procedure
of arrest and court actions.
The inmate was told:
"This information will
be confidential, and if you do not care to give it to me, you do not need
to, since I want this information to be given voluntarily."
Out of one hundred inmates, only one asked to be excused.
She
did the cooking for the staff and claimed to have a cake in the oven in
danger of burning.
She later volunteered to see the investigator.
Only during the interview of the first inmate was it necessary for
the investigator to explain the purpose of the interview.
When the first
inmate returned to her floor, there happened to be there two women inmates
who had known the investigator when she was connected with the Women's
Prison Association of New York.
They spread the news among the inmates
that the investigator was "O.K.," that she was "square."
Thereafter, the
Investigator had no difficulty in gaining the confidence and cooperation of
the inmates.
It is not presumed that all the inmates interviewed told the
truth, but they told their stories.
During these .interviews, the investigator used no writing material
unless the permission of the inmate was asked and given, and each inter­
view was written up immediately after the inmate left the room.
Interviews
were conducted in an informal way; no direct questions were asked.
In
four instances, the investigator spoke with the inmates in their native
language, Russian or German, which increased the opportunity for creating
"rapport."
The attitude of most of the women interviewed was one of interest.
None of them trifed to appear "tough."
On the contrary, they seemed eager
-1 3 -
to cooperate and appeared pleased to get this extra attention.
The second source of data comprised annual and other reports of
the following agencies of the Department of Correction of the City of
New York:
1) The City Magistrates' Courts of the City of New York
2) The Women's Court (specialized City Magistrates' Court)
5) The Wayward Minor's Court (specialized)
4) The Domestic Relations Court of the City of New York
5) The Court of Special Sessions of the City of New York
6) The Court of General Sessions of the City of New York
7) The Probation Departments of the above courts
8) The Parole Commission of the City of New York
9)
The City Record, official journal of the City of New York
10)
The Prison Association of New York
11)
The Women's Prison Association of New York
A third source of data comprised visits to and observation of
the House of Detention for Women of New York City, the New York City
district prisons, and the City Hospitals, where the Investigator inter­
viewed matrons and officers at the places visited.
Concerning the treatment of women offenders in New York City in
1900, data were obtained from the following sources:
1)
Report of a Committee of the Prison Association of New York,
1895 (unpublished)
2)
Reports of the Department of Correction for the City of
New York for 1902 and 1903
3)
Annual Reports of the Board of City Magistrates, for the
First and Second Divisions, 1900
-1 4 -
4)
Annnftl Reports of the Prison Association of New York for 1895,
1900, 1901, and 1902
5)
Annual Report of the Women's Prison Association of New York,
1900
6)
New York and Its Institutions. 1607-1871. by Rev. J. F. Richmond
7)
Also, interviews with a matron, now employed at the House of
Detention for Women, who was one of the first women to take
the civil service examination for matrons, and who was
employed at the New York Workhouse in 1900.
The data on standards set up for the treatment of offenders were
obtained from the current literature of criminology as represented by the
following titles:'*’
Tribunes of the People, by Raymond Moley
Principles of
by Edwin H. Sutherland
Crime and Society, by Nathaniel F. Cantor
Five Hundred Delinquent Women, by Sheldon and Eleanor T. Glueck
Proceedings of the First National Parole Conference, 1959
Proceedings of the Annual Congress of the American Prison Association
for 1958-1959 and 1940
Correctional Education Today. First Yearbook of the Committee on
Education of the American Prison Association, 1959
Procedure for Dealing with Wayward Minors in New York City, a Report
of the Wayward Minor's Court, 1958
Nature of the Data
The data collected from all the above sources represent facts
as found in the sources given.
Moreover, the data collected represent only
such facts from the sources as related to the treatment of women offenders
in New York City.
As is usual in social studies of so wide a scope,
laboratory methods were not possible.
It was necessary, also, to deal only
1. Full bibliographical data on these titles are given in the bibliography,
pp. 411-425.
]
i
I
i
-1 5 -
with such facts as were obtainable In a situation which would seem to be
widely lacking in concrete and analytical reports of day-to-day activities.
A by-product of such an assembling of available data as represented by
this study may well be the recognition of the need for more and better
records and research upon which to build future studies.
As stated before, the investigator has tried to keep personal
bias from influencing the trend of this study.
Nevertheless, the
experience and observations of the investigator confirm to a great extent
the picture that has been drawn from the data.
The analysis of the data has taken the form of comparisons of
chronological periods, that is, 1900, 1938, and the future.
In other words,
the analysis is also a synthesis, out of which it would seem to be possible
to discern changing principles of procedure in the handling of women
offenders in New York City.
It should be added, perhaps, that those portions of the study
not documented have been verified for the most part through checking the
data obtained from one source with another source.
The nature of the
study and the close connection of many of the persons interviewed with
the situation under consideration has made it impractical to quote the
exact sources of much privately communicated data.
CHAPTER II
FORMAL PROCEDURES FROM ARREST TO
FIRST APPEARANCE IN COURT
It is proposed in this chapter to deal with the treatment of
women suspects in New York City during that time which elapses between
their arrest and their first appearance, or hearing,■*■before a judge or
magistrate in a court of law.
This period in the process of arrest and
conviction of women offenders is little understood by the layman and
has received scant attention in the literature on crime.
The period is
short, usually only a few hours, but in the life of the offender or sus­
pected offender it may be weighted with terror and suffering beyond the
demand for punishment by a just society.
Arresting Officers and Correctional Officers
in Contact with Women Offenders
During this period, the suspect in New York City is in charge
of police officers and detectives and, in detention cells, under the
supervision of female correctional
officers.
The function of the police is the enforcement of law and order
but, as Sutherland points out, "The American policeman is in an impossible
1.
A hearing in criminal law: The examination of a prisoner charged
with crime or misdemeanor, and of the witnesses for the accused.
Preliminary hearing in criminal law is synonymous with "preliminary
examination." State v. Rogers, 51 N.M. 485, 247, pp. 828, 833, 882.
Black*s Law Dictionary.
The hearing given a person accused of crime, by a magistrate or judge,
exercising the functions of a committing magistrate, to ascertain
whether there is evidence to warrant and require the committment
or holding to bail of the person accused. Bish, New Criminal Law,
p. 225. Black* s Law Dictionary.
-1 8 -
position in that he must use more power than the law permits if he is
to do his work efficiently.
He can safely exceed his legal authority
only when he deals with people who are helpless.""*- There is much to be
said for and against the present police system.
The police are
criticized for brutality, graft, illegal and unnecessary arrest, and
collusion with professional
criminals.
On the other hand, the police
say that the public is unwilling to assist in the maintenance of law
and order, and that the police are under the control of corrupt politicians
who are against enforcement.
The investigator takes the liberty of quoting once more from
Sutherland on the plain-clothes detective, "who is supposed to be a
specialist, with unusual ability.
As a matter of fact, these positions
are probably secured by purchase or political favoritism more frequently
O
than other positions because of the opportunities they offer for graft."
These criticisms cannot, in truth, relate to every police
officer and detective, but the prevalence of such criticism in the press
and in the literature on crime indicates the need for Improvement in the
police system.
In every station house, district and city prison, and courthouse
in Hew York City, where women are held after arrest, there is on duty a
matron, now called a "correctional officer."
The official title was
changed from matron to correctional officer in 1937.
In that year, the
eligible list for matrons bad been exhausted, and a civil service ex­
amination was given in this classification.
The candidates had to be
1. Edwin H. Sutherland, Principles of Qiartnnlnfry. p. 235 .
2. Ibid.. p. 251.
-1 9 -
graduates of senior high school, with credit for experience in a prison,
in probation, or in social case work.
The age limit for applicants was
set from twenty-four to thirty-six years.
Temporary positions in this
classification were replaced by permanent appointments from this list.
The correctional officers work eight hours in every twenty-four,
rotating monthly between three shifts of eight hours each.
they are entitled to one meal.
While on duty
They are allowed twenty-five working days
vacation, and since 1938, an allowance has been made for twelve days sick
leave.
The minimi® salary is $1800, and the maximum, $2399.
Many women are employed as correctional officers who were
appointed as matrons previous to 1937 when the requirements for successful
candidates in the civil service examination for this classification were
lower than now.
The difference in the treatment received by women offenders
at the hands of older female correctional officers and the younger and
more recently appointed officers, however, would seem to be in favor of the
older women in point of judgement and experience in handling offenders.
The
more detached and impersonal attitude of the younger correctional officers
appears to give the impression, particularly to older offenders, of lack of
interest.
But the difference between one correctional officer and another
in the handUng of women offenders under their charge would seem to be due
more to the differences in personality or temperament of the individual
worker rather than to training.
This would indicate that "personality"
should be one of the important qualifications for correctional officers.
Procedure of Arrest
The procedure of arrest is determined by law, and, as given below,
applies equally to both sexes.
Arrest may be made with or without a warrant.
-2 0 -
In arrest with a warrant, or written order of the court, the
complainant swears to the warrant before a magistrate, and the complainant
may be either a police officer or a private citizen.
Persons may be arrested without a warrant (a) by a police officer
witnessing an attempted or committed crime; (b) by a private citizen witness­
ing or having knowledge of a crime, in which case the guilty person must be
delivered to a police officer or magistrate immediately^; (c) by a magistrate
making himself known and ordering the arrest; or (d) by a police officer
witnessing a suspicious action, said action taking place after sundown.
Treatment of Women Offenders from Arrest to
First Appearance in Court
The arrested person is taken to a police station by private car,
police car, or is escorted there on foot.
If a number of persons are arrested
at the same time, the procedure is to call the police station for a patrol
wagon.
Upon arrival at the police station, the arrested woman is searched
by a female correctional officer, who searches the woman's possessions and
clothing, but may not touch the body.
The alleged offender is then brought
before the officer on desk duty, who asks if she has a record of previous
arrests or convictions.
As a result of her actions and answers, this
officer uses his discretion in dismissing or booking her.
If he decides to
book the woman, he enters the surest in the police record book, known as
the "blotter."
Women arrested in Hew York City on felony^ charges, or any of the
1. Hew York City Code of fl-rfm-twal Procedure. Sections 183 to 185
2. The word "felony" is a generic term, used to distinguish certain crimes,
as murder, robbery, and larceny^ from other minor offenses-known as
misdemeanors. State v. Celestin, 138 Ls. 407, 70 So. 242, 345.
Black* 8 Law Dictionary .
-2 1 -
six misdemeanors
specified in the Code of Criminal Procedure are then
taken to the precinct detectives' office.
This is done for the purpose
of identification, a procedure which includes questioning by police officers,
detectives, the District Attorney, his assistants, or any others concerned.
Various methods may be used in questioning the suspect and if
answers are readily given, the questioning takes a well-mannered course;
but where the questioners feel that the suspect is lying, or if she
refuses to answer, strenuous methods are used.
In the Annual Report, for
1935, of the Legal Aid Society of Mew York City, Voluntary Defenders
Committee, it is stated that only too frequently the arrested woman is
shouted at, pushed and even beaten until she is driven
to
admit the crime
whether guilty or not, and compelled to sign a so-called confession. The
suspect is frequently not only questioned about the crime for which she was
arrested, but any others the police have not been ableto solve.
If arrested for petty offense*-, if the courtis in session, the
woman will be taken to the Women's Court.
If the Women'8 Court is not
sitting, she will be taken to the House of Detention.for Women (See Chapter V I ),
until court opens the next morning.
Should she be booked at a police station
in the early morning hours, she may be kept there in a cell until court opens.
1. The six misdemeanors specified in Section 552 of the New York City Code of
Criminal Procedure are as follows:
1. Illegal carrying, possessing or using a pistol or other dangerous
weapon.
2. liaking or possessing burglar's tools.
3. Unlawful entry of a building.
4. Aiding escape from prison.
5. Jostling against a person, unnecessary crowding him or placing a
hand in proximity of a person's pocket, pocketbook or handbag.
6. The distributing or unlawful possession of a habit forming
narcotic drug.
* Simple assault, petty larceny, vagrancy, breach of the peace and disorderly
conduct, drunkenness, and so forth.
-2 2 -
If arrested on a charge of felony or narcotic drug addiction,
she mill be taken to Police Headquarters for identification*
Shoplifters
are frequently taken to Headquarters for appearance in the line-up, although
shoplifting may be a petty offense.
1. At Police HuadfiiyrtarH
Women suspects are taken to the Bureau of Identification at
Police Headquarters, Manhattan, Center Street, to be photographed.
The
photographs consist of a full view and a profile view; a card with the
suspect's number in large figures is placed across her chest marking her as
a criminal.
The woman is next taken to the police line-up, which is conducted
daily, except Sundays.
The purpose of the line-up is to familiarize the
police force with the individuals who are arrested for serious offenses.
Here, the arrested woman has to fall in step with the procession consisting
of those men and women who were arrested during the preceding twenty-four
hours on charges of felony, or one of the six misdemeanors listed on page
twenty-one.
When the woman's name is called out, she goes to a high platform
where she stands under glaring lights.
The audience is made up of a large
group of detectives, police officials, witnesses, and others.
Here the
woman is again asked all kinds of questions about the charge for which she
was arrested, this charge and also her past record, if any, being read aloud.
She must let the audience view her face, her figure in various poses as
ordered.
This experience is said to be sufficiently harrowing to frighten
and discourage all but the hardened criminal.
-2 5 -
2. Detention of Women Offenders Held for
First Appearance in Court
Since the opening of the New York City House of Detention for Women,
only a few of the station houses, district prisons and city prisons are
now used to detain women held for their first appearance in court.
Except
for arrests made late at night, such detention is usually for a few hours
during the day.
Women so detained Eire under the supervision of female
correctional officers.
The first duty of the correctional officer when a
woman enters is to search her possessions and clothing.
If the woman is in
need of narcotic drug, the correctional officer calls the ambulance doctor
to adminlater it. This is not needed if the woman came from the House of
Detention for Women, since she has already received treatment.
The
correctional officer then records her social history as a part of the
regular routine and keeps it in a record book.
Women are detained in a station house, city prison or district
prison between the hours of 9:00 A.M. until 6:00 P.M., and if detained on
Sunday, a female correctional officer must be on duty.
The women are held
in their cells until their names are called out hY the court clerk.
Those
women who have come from the House of Detention for Women are called for
at the end of the day in a closed van and accompanied by a female correctional
officer.
5.
Detention at the Station House
Women arrested late at night in Manhattan, Borough of New York City,
are sometimes detained at the First Precinct on Old Slip and South Street.
There are four cells set aside for women.
These cells are located in the
-2 4 -
basement, which has a narrow hall running through the center with a high
window through which the only light and air comes.
The cells have iron bars
on the side facing the hall; three remaining sides are walls.
and a toilet in each cell.
There is a cot
The only accommodation for the female correctional
officer is the first cell nearest the door leading to the staircase.
4.
Detention at District Prisons
The Third District Prison, at Second Avenue and Second Street,
Manhattan, has three cells for women.
toilet seats which are screened in.
are light and kept clean.
They have benches, running water, and
Although the building is old, the cells
Women detained during the lunch period receive
coffee and bologna sandwiches during the winter months; the coffee is prepared
by the female correctional officer and the sandwiches are sent from the
House of Detention for Women.
The Fourth District Prison, at 155 East 57th Street, Manhattan,
opens its detention place for women at 8:00 A.M.
first floor, with four barred windows.
without bedding are provided.
It is a large room on the
Running water, toilets, and three cots
On the second floor are several small cells
which are occasionally used for women waiting to be called into, the Fourth
Magistrates' Court.
Women who have been held at the House of Detention for
Women arrive by van at 8:50 A.M., and are taken from the large detention
room to the courtroom by a probation officer or the officer who has made the
arrest.
If they are held for further investigation or for sentence later on
in the day, they are returned to the detention room on the first floor until
all women being held are taken care of.
Detention for Women.
They are then taken to the House of
During the lunch hour, the detained women are served
bologna sandwiches and coffee.
-2 5 -
The Fifth District Prison, at 170 East 121 Street, Manhattan,
is in an old building known as the Harlem Prison.
!
]
There are three women's
detention cells on the second floor, furnished with a cot cowered with a
blanket.
Light and air come from the windows opposite the hall.
This hall
is used as a sitting room by the women and is furnished with a table and
two benches.
The correctional officer registers each woman in her book.
During the lunch period, a hot regular meal, which has been prepared for the
male prisoners, is served the women.
A prison van from the House of Detention for Women calls twice
daily to take women back.
The transportation takes place at one o'clock
in the afternoon and after the close of court, generally around five or
six o'clock.
This avoids the necessity of keeping women in the court
detention cells all day.
or later.
On Sundays, the court sits from 11:00 until noon,
Women who are committed to the House of the Good Shepherd in
Poughkeepsie are taken directly from the detention room to that institution
by a male driver in a Ford car without the supervision of a female
correctional officer.
i
The Seventh District Prison, at 317 West 53 Street, Manhattan,
is in an old building with thick walls.
The women are brought into a room
a little to the left of the entrance hall, where they wait under the care
of the female correctional officer.
The side of the room leading to the
hall is barred and the women waiting in the room are in full view of any
one passing through the halls.
benches.
The only furniture in the room is two
There is a toilet in a room.screened from the main room, but the
screen starts about a foot from the floor and does not afford complete
privacy.
j
-2 6 -
The adjoining Seventh Magistrates' Court is in 1938 the only
night court in Manhattan, and sits from 7:00 to 10:00 P.M.; in case a woman
is brought in while night court is still in session, she may request an
immediate hearing.
She is then taken from the detention room to the
night court by way of a steep narrow stone stairway.
At the top of the
stairs, a desk officer on duty there signs her name in his book and she is
led to a cell to await her turn.
men.
There is one cell for women and one for
They are large cells, barred on the side facing the hall.
leads directly to the courtroom.
The hall
Each cell has a toilet which is screened.
The same complaint is made about this screen as is made about the one in
the detention room on the first floor; the screen starts too high from the
floor to give complete privacy.
When the name of a woman is called out by the court clerk, the
female correctional officer takes her before the judge.
If the judge
decides that the woman is to be detained, the correctional officer telephones
for the police wagon, and under the care of a male or female correctional
officer, she is taken to the House of Detention for Women.
The Twelfth District Prison, at 151st Street and Amsterdam Avenue,
Manhattan, is in a new building which is imposing in contrast with the prison
last described.
The entrance leads through a narrow, dark courtyard.
the main floor are four cells set aside for women.
being along a narrow hall and without windows.
facing the hall are barred.
On
These cells are dark,
The sides of the cells
Frequently, the detained women are crowded
together, three or four sitting on a cot in each cell.
The ventilation is
very poor and there is no running water within reach, but each cell has a
-2 7 -
toilet.
For lunch the women are served bologna sandwiches, in winter
they are also given coffee.
The female correctional officer takes the
women upstairs to the court detention cell to wait until they are called
for.
As soon as court closes, the women are taken to the House of Detention
for Women.
The Sixth District Prison, at 161st Street and Brook Avenue, in
the Borough of the Bronx, is merely a detention prison for men and women
awaiting trial in the Felony and Traffic Courts in the adjoining building,
which houses the Sixth District Felony Court.
It has three detention cells
for women, each of which contains a shower, toilet and a cot with bedding.
5.
Detention at the City Prisons
The Brooklyn City Prison, known as the Raymond Street Jail, at
149 Ashland Place, Brooklyn, is a very old building.
The women's detention
room is a large wall-lighted room, with the entrance leading directly from
the courtyard.
This room is used as centralized detention quarters for
detained women who have to appear before the various courts of the Borough
of Brooklyn, New York.
Most of the women arrive around 9:00 A.M. from the
House of Detention for Women and remain in the detention room until they
are taken to the various courts in Brooklyn.
After the close of all courts,
they are returned to this room, and from there taken to the New York City
House of Detention for Women.
This room is quite homelike and is furnished with two cots, several
chairs and a table.
During the lunch hour, the women receive a hot meal.
If a woman is ill, the female correctional officer fixes a regular bed with
clean sheets and pillowcase, so that the woman may lie down.
The Queens City Prison, at 1 Court Square, Long Island City, Long
Island, Borough of Queens, has a well-lighted women1s cell with a toilet, on the
top floor of the prison.
As a rule, however, women are detained in the
female correctional officer's room on the ground floor.
If the women are
detained during the lunch hour they are given a hot meal.
In case an emergency should arise requiring medical aid, a bed is
made up with clean bedding and a doctor summoned from St. John's Hospital
which is nearby.
Women are detained only a few hours during the day.
City Court. Richmond County Branch, at 66 Lafayette Avenue, New Brighton,
Staten Island, is in a three story brick building in which two cells in the
basement are set aside for the detention of women.
The cells are light, with
the windows and doors heavily barred.
6.
Detention at Felony Courts
The Felony Court, at 120 Schermerhom Street, Brooklyn, is in a
new building, in which two cells on the main floor are set aside for women.
The cells are light and spacious, but the doors are heavy and the locks
old-fashioned.
upper half.
These doors are solid, with a glass in a special lid in the
This lid can be raised to look through, and there is a speaking
device in the middle.
Food can be served through a hole in the door, but no
provision has been made to supply food.
Women remain in these cells through­
out the court session, under the care of a female correctional officer.
The felony detention room at 62-16 Catalpa Avenue, Glendale, Long
Island, is in a new building.
The room is behind the Magistrates' Court.
is large and airy and has a large washroom with modern conveniences.
It
This
room is used for all women detained on felony charges in Queens, the Rockaways,
Jamaica, and Corona.
At lunchtime the women are serred the ubiquitous
bologna sandwiches, and In the winter months, coffee.
The women's detention room at 500 Mulberry Street, Manhattan,
serves the Homicide Court and the Wayward Minor’s Court.
third floor, has a wide window and a barred door.
furnishings consist of a long wooden bench.
This room, on the
It is large and the
Since there are no toilet
accommodations in the detention room, the female correctional officer
accompanies each woman to a public toilet in the hall.
At lunchtime, the
women are given bologna sandwiches, bub wayward minors are given a hot lunch
through the probation department.
A female correctional officer is on duty
whenever the Wayward Minor's Court is sitting, but otherwise she is on call
and comes when women are detained for appearance before the Homicide Court.
7.
Detention at Private Institutions
The following private agencies are sometimes used to detain young
women pending a hearing:
Florence Crittenton League, at 427 West 21st Street, Manhattan,
maintains a non-sectarian detention home for runaway girls awaiting a hearing
or trial at the Wayward Minor's Court or the Women's Court.
young women detained as witnesses for criminal courts.
It also admits
The institution is
supported by contributions.
The Bronx Catholic Big Sisters of the Archdiocese of New York,
1118 Grand Concourse, the Bronx, offers preventive and protective supervision
for children, girls and women from the Magistrates* Courts, Children's and
County Courts.
Isaak T. Hopper Home of 110 Second Avenue, Manhattan, is under the
auspices of the Women's Prison Association.
pending a hearing.
Temporary shelter is provided
-5 0 -
8*
Detention at City Hospitals
Should a woman at the time of her arrest be too sick to be taken
to a police station, she may be taken to a city hospital.
If she is suffer­
ing from a medical ailment, she is admitted to a general ward at Bellevue
Hospital in Manhattan, or at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, or the
Fordham Hospital in the Bronx.
During her entire stay in the hospital, a
female correctional officer is assigned to her.
The correctional officers
are on eight-hour shifts.
Women who come before the Women's Court and are in need of
venereal treatment are sent to the City Hospital or Kingston Avenue Hospital.
They are kept in special wards under the care of nurses.
general hallway is kept locked.
The door to the
These wards are always over-crowded, and
occasionally these women are sent to the House of Detention for Women for
treatment.
In case a woman at the time of her arrest is found to be in need
of psychiatric treatment, she is taken to the prison ward of the Psychiatric
Division at Bellevue Hospital, or to the prison ward at Kings County
Hospital, Psychiatric Division, in an open police van.
In Bellevue Hospital, a deputy warden is in charge of all prisoners
at the hospital.
Under his supervision are a captain, twenty-three male
correctional officers and three female correctional officers.
A female
correctional officer is assigned to each prison ward.
Women in the prison wards receive the same treatment as patients
in the regular wards, with the exception that their visitors must have a
pass from the deputy warden.
at any time.
In serious cases, visitors will be admitted
Otherwise, in police cases, the visiting hours are between
2:00 and 3:50 P.M. on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the medical and surgical
wards.
In the psychiatric ward for patients who are under observation, the
visiting hours are from 2:00 to 5:30 P.M. on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and
Saturdays, and between 2:00 and 3:00 P.M. on Sundays.
In this ward three
patients may have each one visitor at the same time, and are allowed fifteen
minutes.
The patient and the visitor are shut off from the rest of the
ward by a screen covered with a mesh net.
Material witnesses may have visitors at any time provided the
visitor receives a pass from the District Attorney.
A guard supervises
all visitations.
The female psychiatric ward at Bellevue Hospital is on the third
floor of the Psychiatric Building.
It is a wing divided by a corridor; to
the right of which is a bathroom, toilet, and a ward with eight beds; to
the left is the utility closet, a female correctional officer's office,
three single rooms and a day room, with good furniture and a radio.
A prisoner found insane, mentally sick, or mentally defective does
not need to be returned to court to be committed to an institution.
After the
medical authorities have diagnosed a case and advised commitment, the
commitment papers are filled out and the judge presiding at the Supreme Court,
to which the case belongs, comes to the hospital to sign them.
In case a
prisoner asks to see the judge, or if a relative asks to do so, the prisoner
or relative is taken before him at the hospital.
The committing document, a green blank for the insane or mentally
sick, a blue blank for the mentally defective (See Appendix B, pages 516-and) 520)
for copies of the blanks), is forwarded to the superintendent of the institution
to which the prisoner is committed.
The supervisor of nurses of the psychiatric
r
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department is sworn in as a commissioner of deeds and she signs the commit­
ment paper8 as a witness.
After a case has been referred for commitment to an institution
from Bellevue Hospital, Kings County Hospital, or the House of Detention for
Women, the patient may be referred to one of the following institutions*
The Albion State Training School admits mentally defective delinquent
women over sixteen years of age who are committed by the courts or by transfer
from other institutions on indeterminate sentence for crime, not including
first degree murder, committed in the State of Hew York.
The women must have
a chronological age oversixteen years and a mental age under eleven years;
they must have a criminal record and must not be psychotic or insane.
The Matteawan State Hospital, Beacon, Hew York, receives and holds
in custody and care persons declared insane while undergoing sentence of one
year or less, or undergoing sentence for misdemeanor at any of the state
penal institutions; also, all female convicts becoming insane while undergoing
sentence.
Reaction of Women Offenders to Methods of Arrest and
Detention Awaiting a Hearing
From one hundred informal interviews with inmates, chosen at random
from the House of Detention for Women, the following excerpts are given as
descriptive of methods of arrest and detention awaiting a hearing as described
by the offenders themselves.
It will be noted (See Appendix A, pages 424-97)
for full transcript of one hundred interviews) that the subjects apparently
felt more free to discuss this phase of their treatment than the treatment
concurrently being received at the House of Detention for Women.
Many of the subjects were fearful of expressing opinions regarding
the institution.
Of their arrest and detention awaiting a hearing in court,
however, they seemed to feel no apprehension that their comments might be used
against them.
It should also be remembered that in describing events upon which
the investigator had no means of checking their statements, the subjects may or
may not have been strictly truthful.
The excerpts given here are presented in
the belief that, as a whole, they represent the reaction of women offenders re­
lating to that phase of the present study which is treated in this chapter.*
Interview No. 2. Negro: age. 24: narcotic drug addiction.
At 11:00 P.M. when she walked into a hall in Harlem to see a friend, a
plain-clothes detective (Negro) snatched her pocketbook from her saying,
"The house is under arrest." When the detective searched her pocketbook,
he found ten marijuana cigarettes in it. He accused her of being a
seller. She said that she was using the cigarettes but never sold them.
She had not been arrested since 1956. Another Negro detective, who was
waiting in a car, took her to the police station where she was questioned
and fingerprinted, and she claims she was asked for money to "bqy herself
out." Since she did not have enough money her history was taken and she
was placed in a cell under the care of a matron. Without any breakfast,
she was taken to the Felony Court the next morning.
Interview No. 5. White: age. 24: narcotic drug addiction.
Went in late afternoon into an apartment house in Manhattan in a white
district. Two plain-clothes detectives broke in suddenly, stating that
the people in the house were complaining that there were always many visitors
in the apartment. They searched the apartment but found nothing. "We’ll
arrest you in order to see how your health is," said one of them. They
took her to the station house, put her in a cell in the care of a matron.
She was given no breakfast. She had eleven dollars with her and wanted to
send out for breakfast, but the boy who does the shopping for detained
women was not available. She also claimed that the matron took her pocketbook when she was brought in, and the next morning the pocketbook was
returned with only five dollars. She was taken to the Women's Court.
Interview No. 15. Negro: age. 27: narcotic drug addiction.
Was alone in a furnished room in Harlem, when suddenly about five o'clock
in the afternoon, she heard a terrific noise in the hall. Somebody broke
open her door. She was frightened when she saw four, white, plain-clothes
detectives making their way into her room. They searched and found no
drugs. She was taken to the police station and kept in an individual cell.
No ambulance came in the evening, although she asked for one, but one was
called in the morning. She "wanted to be fixed tip." Without any break­
fast, she was taken to the Court of Special Sessions. This was her first
arrest. She claims that she started to take heroin only a short time
before her arrest and she thinks that one of the girls at the supper club,
where she was a hat check girl, must have given the information to the
police.
* The interview number corresponds to the full interview to be found in Appendix A,
page 425.
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Interview Mo. 21. White: age. 52: prostitution.
At eleven in the evening she was standing in front of the Hotel New
Yorker talking to a girl friend. As she said goodby to the friend,
she noticed she had lost one of her gloves. She looked around for
it, and while she was bending down, some one grabbed her around the
waist. It was a detective and he told her that she was under arrest
on a charge of prostitution. He followed her into his private car
and took her to the police station, where she was left in charge of
a matron. The next morning she was not given any breakfast, and was
taken to the magistrates' court "somewhere on Sixth Avenue" where the
detective stated that she had accepted money from him for prostitution.
She denied this. She would not plead guilty and was taken to the
House of Detention for Women for examination.
Interview No. 25. Negro: age. 52: prostitution.
Walked from her home to a beer garden where she worked as a waitress
around noontime. The minute she entered the restaurant, a man whom
she had served previously came over to her. He was on the verge of
speaking to her when a plain-clothes detective grabbed her and said
she was under arrest for prostitution. Since she had had several
previous arrests on the same charge, she did not say a word but
walked with him to his police car and was taken to the police station.
She was booked, and in the same car, taken to the Women's Court where
she was brought before the judge. She did not have a chance to ex­
plain what had happened because the detective told the judge that
she was found soliciting on the street. She was sent to the House
of Detention for Women for examination.
Interview No. 25. Negro: age. 55: prostitution.
As she was returning-home from a party in Harlem, a white man offered
her a lift, which she accepted. When they came to a red light, another
car drove in front to stop them and two detectives arrested her. The
man who had given her a lift was a detective. She was taken to the
police station where she was booked and placed in a cell under the
care of a matron. The next morning, without breakfast, she was taken
to the Women's Court where she was advised by the detective to plead
guilty. She did so "in order to get it over with." She said she felt
that there was no need of arguing and that "the detective's word would
be better than mine."
Interview No. 50. White: age. 50: petty larnauvShe bought a coat worth $50.00 at Wanamaker's on her employer's charge
account, and for identification used the mail of her employer. Before
she was able to leave the store, the store detective, a man, asked her
to go with him to his office in the store. He said that if she had the
money to pay for the purchase, they would not press a charge against he?
bub as long as she did not have the money, he called for a detective and
she was taken to the police station for the night. She was kept in an
individual cell under the care of a matron. Without supper or breakfast,
she was taken to the Third District Magistrates1Court where she was kept
until three in the afternoon.
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Interview No. 55. Negro: age. 54. petty larceny.
At 9:00 P.M., she was taking her husband's suit to the tailor to
have It pressed when she noticed a white man watching her. He crossed
the street and asked her if she was working. She told him to stay
away and not bother her, but he continued talking to her until she
got to the front of her home, when he pulled out his wallet and tried
to give her some money. An officer who was on the corner saw this and
arrested her. The man told the officer she had stolen $5.00 from his
wallet, but the money was not found on her. The man insisted that be
was robbed, and since anything taken at night is grand larceny, she
was booked on that charge. She was taken to the police station in the
detective's car, where she was booked. While there, the detective and
the white man whispered together. It was found that she had a previous
record; she was fingerprinted, and more detectives came to question her.
Finally, she was taken to a station house for the night and left in the
care of a matron. Without any breakfast, she was taken to the Sixth
Avenue and Bergen Street Magistrates'Court, Brooklyn, because it was
Sunday and that court was open.
Interview No. 58. Negro: age. 25: petty larceny.
Was shopping in a Harlem store about four in the afternoon, when a
uniformed white police officer and a colored woman came up to her
complaining that she had taken money from the woman. They all walked
to the police station. During that walk, the officer held her by the
arm and consequently they were followed by a crowd of people. Here
she was booked, fingerprinted, and since she had a previous record,
was taken to the station house where she was kept overnight in an
individual cell under the care of a matron. No food was given her.
In the morning, a colored police officer in plain fclothes took her in
a car to the Seventh Magistrates1Court for a preliminary hearing.
Interview No. 61. White: age. 46: disorderly conduct.
She was intoxicated when she reached the apartment where she had a
furnished room. She rang the bell, but the landlord refused to open
the door. She would not leave, but told him through the door that she
had forgotten her key. He refused to open the door, whereupon she
broke a pane of glass in the door. He called for the police. A
uniformed officer came and when he saw her, telephoned for a police
car, in which she was taken to the Seventh Magistrates'Court.
Interview No. 64. Negro: age. 25: disorderly conduct.
Was visiting a girl friend in an apartment in Harlem about midnight,
where they had some beer. When she was preparing to leave, a white man
came to the apartment asking for information about a man with whom he
worked and who apparently lived in that building. Just as she was
leaving the apartment, another man appeared and pushed her back into
the apartment. He was a detective and another detective waited in his
car. She was arrested and, with the white man, was taken to the police
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station where she was kept waiting until 2:00 A.M. The white man
was allowed to go home, and she was taken to the station house where
she remained under the care of a matron until morning. In the morning,
without breakfast, she was taken to the Fifth District Magistrates'
Court in a patrol wagon.
Interview No. 71. White: age. 58: disorderly conduct.
Was walking along the street in Manhattan about 1:00 A.M. when she
noticed a plain-clothes detective following her. She turned around
and he said, "I'll run you in." Two other detectives in a car drove
up to the curb and took her to the police station, where they booked
her on a charge of disorderly conduct. She was put in an individual
cell under the care of a matron. The next morning she bought her own
breakfast, and was then taken tothe Women's Court*
Interview No. 85. Negro: age. 27: miscellaneous (assault).
Home Relief investigator called because she had made an application for
relief, and she claims that the investigator told her to live with her
boy friend instead of going on relief. She "beat up the investigator
good and proper" for giving her such immoral advice. She was especially
annoyed because she has an illegitimate child to take care of. She tore
the investigator's hair and beat her with her fistd, but the investigator
fought back so that both of themwere hurt. At last a policeman came
and she insisted on going to theHome Relief Office to make a complaint
against the investigator, but instead the policeman took her to the
Fifth District Magistrates' Court. She claims that he pushed her and
dragged her around until all her bones hurt.
Interview No. 85. White: age. 3fi« miscellaneous (forgery).
Lived with her sister in Brooklyn. One day in a desperate mood because
she had been rejected for home relief, a money-order came within her
reach. She was so tempted that she signed it and went to the Post Office
and cashed it. After she returned home she realized what she had done
and went back to the Post Office. She asked for the inspector, returned
the money and gave herself up. They told her to go home. She received
a notice to appear at the Federal Court at the Post Office Building in
Brooklyn.
Interview No. 95. White, age. 72: miscellaneous (unlawful practice nfn^np).
While she was in her Second Avenue apartment in Manhattan, a police woman
came to her and on the pretense of asking her advice as to an abortion,
asked if she would help her. She said she had nothing to do with such
things since the woman looked suspicious. She said, "Why don't you go to
the midwife who worked on you before?" The police woman said that she had
died. After a long conversation, she promised to go to the police woman's
home. Immediately after she arrived there, she was arrested. The police
woman took her to the police station and said she had been practicing
without a license as a midwife. She called a lawyer and was then taken to
court in a streetcar.
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SrnmnATv and Conclusions
In attempting to describe the method of arrest of women offenders
in New York City, It will be apparent that the investigator had only three
sources of information:
the official source, that is, the Code of Criminal
Procedure of Hew York City; information received from police officers and
correctional officers in charge of the detention places visited; and interviews
with women offenders.
The first source yields only the legal procedure of
arrest; the second source yields procedures in detention placeB; the third,
only the word of the convicted offender.
This study, of necessity, omits any
consideration of the great number of women arrested and released by the police
without appearance in court.
Despite these limitations, the present chapter would seem to point
to significant facts concerning the arrest of women in Hew York City.
1. Host women arrested in New York City are arrested without a
warrant and are taken immediately to a police station where
they are detained pending appearance before a judge or magis­
trate.
2. Few secure release on bail; the reason usually being lack of
financial means.
3. The majority of arrests of women are made by plain-clothes
detectives.
4. Approximately one-half of the women arrested had a record of
previous arrests or convictions.
It would seem from the above that women, particularly the financially
insecure, are liable to arrest and detention without the protection of their
constitutional rights; without means of availing themselves of the right of
release on bail pending trial; and without means of employing lawyers, or are
ignorant of the fact that they may obtain one through the Voluntary Defender's
Committee of the Legal Aid Society of Hew York.
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From the comments of offenders, it seems apparent that brutality
on the part of the arresting officer is frequent.
Sutherland1’says:
Violence which is not legally justified is unquestionably used
at the time of arrest or between arrest and the hearing. Inspector
Williams of the New York City police force stated, "There is more
law in the end of a policeman's night stick than in a decision of
the Supreme Court," and Captain Willemse has published a defense
of illegal violence.
Such violence is generally denied by
police officials in their public statements, as might be expected. . .
The detention of women offenders awaiting their first appearance in
court is described, at its best, in Chapter VII, which is devoted to the
House of Detention for Women.
The treatment of arrested women in police
stations, district and city prisons, and courts, presents a lack of uniformity
in manner and method.
were:
The main criticisms from the women offenders themselves
unhealthy, airless detention cells; over-crowding in some places, with
consequent fraternization of the innocent with the guilty; inadequate provision
for food; and lack of privacy for arrested persons.
When it is considered that until she has been proved guilty the
assumption of innocence should male the. treatment of suspects, the treatment
of women offenders during arrest and detention preceding trial would seem to
be based upon the opposite assumption.
Particularly in first arrest, under the
present treatment the suspected offender is likely to receive greater incentive
to anti-social behavior, rather than less, which might be the result of
different methods of handling.
1. Sutherland, op. cit.. p. 259
2. Cornelius W. Willemse,
the Green Lights. New York, 1951, as quoted by
Edwin H. Sutherland, loc. oit.
CHAPTER III
GENERAL ORGANIZATION OF NEW YORK CITY AND COUNTY COURTS
Before taking up court procedures in specific courts dealing with women offenders passing through the Department of Correction of New York City,
it would seem needful for clarity's sake and to provide a general perspective
for the chapters to cone
to give an outline of the general organization of the
New York City and County Courts; that is, an outline of the judicial system of
which these courts are a part.
The first contact between the arrested person and the judicial system
is in the courts of original jurisdiction—
the City Magistrates Courts.
These
courts are often called "lower" or "inferior" courts because of their limited
jurisdiction in comparison with the higher courts of the city and state.
The
organization and jurisdiction of the various courts which make up the judicial
system from the City Magistrates' Courts to the Court of Appeals, the highest
court in the City and State of New York, are given below.
City Magistrates* Courts
There are forty-eight magistrates and a Chief City Magistrate in the
City of New York.
They are appointed by the Mayor for a term of ten years.
The city is divided into forty Magistrates* Court Districts, and a magistrate
is assigned to sit in the Day Court in each District.
The boundaries of these
* For further information on this subject, and for confirmation of statements
of fact concerning the courts in this chapter, see Guide to Munimpal
Government. City of New York. 4th Edition, 1939-40, Eagle Library.
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districts are fixed by the Mayor, Police Commissioner and the Chief City
Magistrate.
The City Magistrates' Courts will be treated in detail in the
fourth chapter.
City Magistrates* Courts (Specialized)
Certain City Magistrates* Courts sit for special purposes, or have
branches for special purposes.
These special courts are established to
handle special crimes, such as the Felony Court; or for one sex only, such as
the Women's Court; or for special age groups, such as the Wayward Minor's
Court and the Adolescent Court.
below with
These special Magistrate^ Courts are listed
the organization and jurisdiction of each.
Women* s Court (Day)
This court is presided over by a City Magistrate, and its territorial
jurisdiction includes the entire City of New York.
The Wayward Minor's Court
is a branch of the Women's Court.
Both of these courts will be treated in detail in the fifth chapter.
Night Court for Men
This court is presided over by a City Magistrate, and only exists
in the Borough of Manhattan.
Its jurisdiction covers Manhattan and The Bronx.
It is for men only, except in cases involving a man and a woman, in which
event both are arraigned here.
Or a woman, arrested after the closing of the
Women's Court, may demand and receive an immediate hearing.
It is the duty of this court to try and finally dispose of minor
offenses, such as disorderly conduct, vagrancy, end,so forth, when arrest is
-4 1 -
made after the Day Courts have closed*
Also to hold examinations when the
accused is charged with a misdemeanor (never for felonies) and, If a
*
prlma f ad e case Is made out, to hold the accused for the Court of Special
Sessions.
Appeals
from convictions are taken to the Court of Special
Sessions.
Traffic Court
There is a branch of Traffic Court in each borough, and each is
presided over by a City Magistrate.
It is a special court for violations of
the traffic regulations of the Police Department and a Special Sessions Court
for misdemeanor violations of the Vehicle and Traffic Law, and Sanitary Code
as it affects smoking vehicles.
Appeals are taken to the Appellate Division
if the Magistrate is sitting as a Court of Special Sessions or to the Court
of Special Sessions if he sits as a City Magistrate.
Municipal Term Court
Presided over by a City Magistrate, this is a special court for
violations of various local laws not designated by law as misdemeanors, and a
Special Sessions Court for violations of various state statutes, rules of
both state and city departments, and of local laws of the grade of misdemeanors.
The main purpose of this court is to provide for prosecutions by the various city
departments (except the Police Department), or by or on behalf of the State
Labor Department.
Appeals are taken to the Appellate Division if the Magistrate
sits as a Court of Special Sessions, or to the Court of Special Sessions if he
sits as a Magistrate.
* i.e., based on prima facie evidence: evidence sufficient to raise a pre­
sumption of fact or to establish the fact in question unless rebutted.
** i.e., proceedings by which a case is brought to a superior court for
reexamination.
,3
\
I
A
-4 2 -
Homlcide Court
There Eire two Homicide Courts, one in Manhattan and one in The
Bronx, each presided over by a City Magistrate.
They have jurisdiction over
preliminary arraignment and examination of persons charged with homicide.
If there is evidence enough to sustain the charge (prlma facie case), the
accused is held for the Grand Jury.
If indicted, he is later tried in the
Court of General Sessions if in New lork County, or in the County Court if in
The Bronx.
In some instances, the accused is tried in the Supreme Court in
each of these counties.
Night Bail Court
In the Borough of Brooklyn, a City Magistrate is assigned to sit
nightly at a place designated by the Chief City Magistrate and at such hours
as he shall determine necessary, for bail purposes and for such other business
as may be legally transacted.
Felony Court
The Felony Court was established in 19S6, and is presided over
City Magistrate.
a
Its jurisdiction is the borough within which it is located,
and its practical advantages are the centralization of hearings in the court,
and the fact that it facilitates direct cooperation between the District Attorney
and the Police Department.
Persons charged with felonies (except homicide)
and the following serious misdemeanors—
buying or receiving stolen property,
aiding a person to escape, unlawful possession of dangerous weapons or burglar's
tools, or unlawful possession of habit-forming drugs, unlawful entry, or the
offense disorderly conduct (jostling), are arraigned in this court.
If there
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is sufficient evidence, a felony case is held for the Grand Jury; a
misdemeanor case for the Court of Special Sessions.
The jostling charge,
however, is disposed of by the sitting magistrate.
Adolescent Oourt
At present this branch of the City Magistrates Courts exists in
the Borough of Brooklyn only.
It is presided over by a City Magistrate.
The purpose of this branch is to provide a court for the arraignment* of
male youths between the ages of sixteen and eighteen years, inclusive, who
are charged with certain crimes.
The chief object is to keep them from coming
in contact with older and more experienced criminals.
Court of Special Sessions of the City of Hew York
Justices of the Court of Special Sessions are appointed by the
Mayor for a term of ten years.
jury).
Three Justices preside at each session (no
Two must concur to render a decision.
Sessions are held in each
borough within the city.
The Court of Special Sessions will be treated in more detail in the
fourth chapter.
Municipal Court of the City of Hew York
Each borough is divided into Municipal Court Districts.
Justices
are elected by the voters of the respective districts for terms of ten years.
Under the jurisdiction of this court come civil cases not to exceed
$1000, and dispossess cases, known as summary proceedings to dispossess. Appeals
are taken to the Appellate Term of the appropriate Judicial Department.
* Arraignment:
first hearing before a magistrate.
Black1s Law Dictionary.
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City Court of the City of Mew York
This court exists in each borough id.thin the city.
The Justices
are elected by the voters of their respective boroughs for a term of ten
years.
The court consists of special and trial terms.
Cases are tried
before one Justice, with or without a jury.
Under the jurisdiction of this court come civil cases not exceeding
$3,000.00 and interest.
Except in marine, breach of promise, and in judgment
upon counter claims, it has unlimited jurisdiction.
Appeals are taken to
the Appellate Term of the Supreme Court.
Appellate Term of the Supreme Court
This branch of the Supreme Court exists only in Manhattan and
Brooklyn.
It consists of not less than three and not more than five Supreme
Court Justices, designated for a month at a time by the Appellate Division
of the respective Department from among the Supreme Court Justices. Three
sit to hear an appeal; two must concur for a decision.
The jurisdiction of this court is the review of cases on appeal
from the City and Municipal Courts of the first and second Judicial Districts.
Appeals when allowed by the Appellate Term or by the Appellate Division on
questions of law or fact are reviewed by the Appellate Division of the appro­
priate Department.
Court of General Sessions of Mew York Countv
The Judges of this court are elected by the voters of New York
County for a term of fourteen years.
There are nine parts in this court, each
held by a judge who passes upon questions of law, and a petit jury of twelve
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men and women determines the facts.
The Court of General Sessions will be treated in more detail in
the fourth chapter.
County Court (All Counties except Mew York County)
The Judges are elected by the voters of their respective counties
for a tern of six years.
term is fourteen years.
In the counties within the City of Mew York, the
In the counties within the city (Kings, Queens,
Richmond, and Bronx) this court is restricted to criminal charges, and has
jurisdiction equivalent to the Court of General Sessions; that is, unlimited,
even where the death penalty is involved.
Appeals from this court are taken
to the Appellate Division of the appropriate department, except in case of
an appeal from the judgment of death which goes directly to the Court of
Appeals.
Domestic Relations Court
This court is composed of two divisions known as the "Children's
Court" and the "Family Court," respectively.
The presiding Associate Justices
are appointed by the Mayor for a term of ten years.
borough presided over by one Justice.
Parts are held in each
Appeals are taken to the Appellate
Division of the Supreme Court.
The Domestic Relations Court will be treated in more detail in
the fifth chapter.
Surrogates Court
Surrogates are chosen by the voters in their respective counties
for a term of six years, except in the counties of New York, Kings, Bronx,
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and Queens, where the term is fourteen years.
Under the jurisdiction of this court come will and inheritance
cases, probate proceedings with or without a jury, appointment of guardians
and public administrators, granting of adoptions.
Appeals from this court
are taken to the Appellate Division of the appropriate department.
The (brand Jury
The Grand Jury organization consists of twenty-three citizens,
usually selected for a term of one month.
One is designated by the court
as Foreman ; another as Assistant Foreman.
A secretary is selected by the body
itself.
Sixteen jurors constitute a quorum.
In order to secure an indictment*,
also known as a "true bill," twelve jurors must vote in favor of it.
If the
Grand Jury finds no cause for continuing the prosecution of a case, it returns
what is known as a "no bill."
The jurisdiction of the Grand Jury is to inquire into crime of the
grade of felony, criminal libel, or other misdemeanors as are referred by the
City Magistrates* Courts or presented by the District Attorney.
In certain
cases the District Attorney may initiate proceedings against the accused by
a statement which includes the offense and the time and place of its commission.
This obviates a Grand Jury hearing and is called initiating a case by
"information.” In cases where the accused has pleaded "not guilty" and has
been indicted in a lower court, he is entitled to and receives a Grand Jury
hearing.
* Indictment: An accusation in writing, found and presented by a Grand Jury
legally convoked, and sworn to the court in which it is impaneled, charging
that a person therein named has done some act, or been guilty of some omission,
which by law, is a public offense, punishable on indictment. From Black's
Law Dictionary.
-4 7 -
After indictment by the Grand Jury, a date is set for the trial in the
Court of General Sessions or one of the County Courts.*
The Grand Jury may also inquire into the condition and management
of public prisons, and into the wilful and corrupt conduct of public officers
in the county.
The Supreme Court
The State of New York is divided into nine Judicial Districts.
A number of Supreme Court Justices are elected by the voters of each Judicial
District.
The First Judicial District comprises New York and Bronx counties.
The 8econd Judicial District comprises Kings, Queens, Richmond, Suffolk and
Nassau counties.
This court has unlimited civil jurisdiction in criminal cases, even
where death penalty is involved.
In criminal cases, the Justice passes upon
questions of law, and a petit jury of twelve men determines the facts.
in civil cases the Justice may try the case with or without a jury.
However,
Appeals
are taken to the Appellate Division within the Department; except in cases
where the judgment is death, the appeal goes directly to the Court of Appeals.
Appellate Division of the Supreme Court.
First Department (Manhattan)
This Department of the Supreme Court covers the district known as the
First Judicial District, which includes New York and Bronx Counties.
Seven
Justices of the Supreme Court are designated by the Governor from the Supreme
Court Justices of the State.
The Presiding Justice is designated for the
balance of his term; the others for five years or the unexpired portions of
* The Court of General Sessions of New York City is the equivalent of the
County Courts in Kings, Queens, Richmond and Bronx counties.
-4 8 -
their terms if they have less than five years to serve.
A majority,
including the presiding Justice, must be residents of the Department in which
they serve.
Not more than five Justices sit to hear an appeal.
Four constitute
a quorum; three must concur for a decision.
The Appellate Court takes cases on appeal from the lower courts
and has original jurisdiction in a restricted field.
Appeals from the Appellate
Courts are taken to the Court of Appeals.
Court of Appeals
A Chief Judge and six Associate Judges are elected by the voters of
the State for a term of fourteen years.
Not more than seven Judges sit to
hear an appeal; five constitute a quorum; four must concur for a decision.
This court is restricted to reviewing questions of law, except where
the judgment is death, or where the Appellate Division makes findings of new
fact and enters judgment or orders thereon.
Appeals are beard from the
several and separate Departments of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court.
The Judicial System and frn minal Justice
The preceding pages describe in briefest outline the machinery for
handling the problem of the criminal offender in New York City.
It is not the
purpose of this investigator to treat of the general problem of criminal justice,
but only of the treatment of women offenders in their contacts with the legal
system in New York City.
It would seem to be in order, however, to submit from
the recent literature of criminology a few examples of critical comment treating
of criminal justice as a whole, but pertinent to New York City and for two
reasons: first, that these comments express the result of the investigator's
-4 9 -
own observation, experience and study; and second, that any review of the
legal system as it applies to offenders in the United States is equally
applicable to female offenders in New York City.
It must be remembered in considering the efficiency and efficacy
of the .American judicial system that, "the most effective part of the law is
the traditional element.
The significant precepts are chiefly traditional.
Even legislative precepts are largely traditional."^ The New York City
system is no exception to this rule.
Like American criminal justice in general, the New York City system
was in its origin an inheritance from England.
"English criminal procedure
was and is unique in that prosecutions are conducted by private persons or
by public officers acting theoretically in private capacities and with few
2
powers to differentiate them from private prosecutors."
Under the present American system, and of necessity in a metropolitan
city like New York, a public prosecuting authority has done away with the
system of private prosecutions, without changing the traditional methods of
arrest and prosecution.
According to Dean Pound, More than one bad feature of American criminal, justice of
today comes from want of accord between the law in the books
and the administration of law in action when an organized
police and organized bureau of public prosecutions function
under a system of legal tfules presupposing private arrest
and private prosecution.
g
Criminal procedure, as it stands in Blackstone's Commentaries
is the system with which we are familiar today. The rules as
to arrest are the same, although in the nineteenth century
1. Eoscoe Pound, Criminal Justice in America, p. 81
2. Ibid.. p. 107
3-, Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England.
Published in England in 1765. First published in New York, April 8, 1852.
-5 0 -
the institution of the police, and in the twentieth century
automatic pistols and motor vehicles, introduced radically
new situations of fact. The system of commitment and bail
is the same, variously modified in its details by statutory
tinkering in the several states. The system of beginning
prosecution by coroner's inquest, presentment or indictment,
or in certain cases by information, is generally the same
notwithstanding the radical change introduced by the system
of public prosecution.
Dean Pound further says that, . . . the system which grew up in nineteenth century America
was by no means ill-adapted to a rural, agricultural society.
On the whole, it still works well enough in communities of
the nineteenth century pattern. It is in the urban industrial
centers that it has become an intolerable anachronism.
In discussing the present method of imposing or suspending sentence,
Dean Pound says, In pioneer America, the accused was a neighbor. The judge
knew him or could easily learn what was to be known, and
needed no assistance. Today, on the other hand, there is
peculiar need of cooperation, and yet the course of judicial
action is as much at large as in pioneer times. He may
utilize the information and experience of police, adminis­
trative officers, and social agencies as he sees fit. More­
over, if he would use these things they are not always
available nor can he always compel them to be made available.
It frequently happens that while administrative officials
complain of the courts for ignorant action in imposing or
suspending sentence, the judges are complaining of those same
officials for keeping them in ignorance. In truth, when it is
no one's business to make these independent agencies work
together, nothing else may be expected.^
The New York City system would seem to justify Dean Pound's general
criticism of the law in action, particularly as this system functions in relation
to women offenders.
Not until the standards set up for the administration of
criminal justice by leaders in the field today are compared with present
practice is it apparent how anachronistic this system is in actual operation.
1. Pound, Op. cit.. pp. 108-9
2. Ibid.. p. 155
-5 1 -
Lay criticism of the American judicial system has in recent years
been severe to the point of condemnation.
One of its constructive critics
has been Edwin H. Sutherland, Professor of Sociology at Indiana University.
What Professor Sutherland has to say concerning the administration of
criminal law is peculiarly applicable, as will be shown in the course of
this study, to the administration of the law as it affects women offenders
in Mew York City.
The principal criticisms of the administration of the
criminal law are: it frequently produces injustice rather
than justice; it is corrupt; it is not organized on principles
of businesslike efficiency; it does not base its procedure on
available scientific knowledge; it does not maintain the
dignity which is necessary for respect. In general, the
criticism is that the criminal court is not an efficient
system for the administration of justice. The courts are
not efficiently organized either as a system of courts or
as a part of an integrated system of justice. Even within
a particular court the procedure does not result in justice,
for special privileges are given to those who can employ
clever lawyers or who have political backing, and in other
cases the decisions are based on snap judgments. From the
point of view of the guilty criminal who has money or
influence enough to secure special privileges, the criminal
court is an excellent institution. From the point of view
of the general public, these defects result in distrust of
the court, disrespect for law, great financial cost, failure
to convict many who are guilty, and great hardship upon all
persons who must be involved in court procedure either as
defendants, witnesses, or jurors.-*In discussing the office of District Attorney, Professor Sutherland,
in substantial agreement with the various lay commentators on the subject,
emphasizes the great responsibility of the office and the deterrants to
criminal justice inherent in the present method of conducting that office.
The prosecutor (District Attorney or an Assistant District
Attorney) is the most important person in the judicial system
under present conditions. . . .The prosecutor determines whether
a compromise shall be accepted, which generally means a plea of guilt
of lesser offense in return for a recommendation for mitigation of
a penalty. He is responsible for the organization and presentation
1. Edwin H. Sutherland, Principles of Criminology, p. 278
-5 2 -
of evidence before the court, and upon bis efficiency in
doing this the decision of the court depends, He is generally
very influential in regard to the disposition of cases, suggest­
ing to the judge or jury the appropriate penalty. In fact, he
is almost an absolute ruler of the whole judicial process.
At the same time this prosecutor is generally elected and,
as is true of other elected officers, he secures his position
primarily as a favor of the political machine. Explicitly or
implicitly this means subservience to the wishes of the
politicians, and it means also distraction of attention from
his official business for the sake of political activities.
He must be careful not to antagonize large organized groups.
Also, his record must show a large proportion of convictions
in cases which go to trial.
In the introduction to Crime and Society. Nathaniel Cantor has summarized
the problem of the criminal and criminal law in what would seem to be a simple
and inclusive thesis:
. . . What we are attempting to do today with crime, criminals,
and criminal justice, is the result of certain traditions which
we have inherited, plus certain ideas and practices which have
developed only recently and which in large measure are incon­
sistent with the traditional beliefs. Our basic ideas concerning
the criminal law and criminal procedure, crime, criminals, and
the treatment of prisoners which we have inherited, clash at
many points with the ideas about these things which science
compels us to accept. We want to have our cake and eat it too.
The attempt to put the traditional and scientific views together
result in confusion. If the inconsistencies are recognized, we
can stop doing certain things which are unsound; we can, if we
will, do things differently and, finally, we shall recognize the
limits of our attempts to control crime and not try to do that
which cannot be done.
1. Edwin H. Sutherland, Principles of C-rlm^nni <->py[
2. Cantor, Crime and Society, p. xiii
p. ggg
CHAPTER IT
COURT PROCEDURES
In order to provide a background for the chapter on specialized
courts for women offenders in New Tork City, it is deemed advisable to give a
formal account of current procedures in the three non-specialized courts of
the city.
These non-specialized courts are the City Magistrates’ Courts, the
Court of Special Sessions and the Court of General Sessions.
Those women
offenders who do not cone under the jurisdiction of one of the specialized
courts for women are tried in one of these courts.
Since there is no differ­
entiation of treatment of suspects on the basis of sex, it may be stated that
women passing through these courts receive the same treatment as men.
The City Magistrates’ Courts system has a specialized court for
dealing with certain classes of offenses committed by women which will be
described in the chapter on specialized courts.
The Court of Special Sessions
and the Court of General Sessions deal with women charged with serious mis­
demeanors and felonies without benefit of specialized branches for women.
Further, as a background for the comparison of present court treatmmt
of offenders with the standards set up in the current literature of criminology
to be presented in Part III, examples of critical comment on court procedures
today will be given from the sources from which the standards will be drawn.
The City Magistrates’ Courts
The City Magistrates’ Courts of the City of New York, while called the
"lower courts" because of their limited jurisdiction, are perhaps the most
-54-
important of all city courts, since it is in these courts that the great
bulk of offenders are handled.
The magistrates hold hearings involving felonies
and misdemeanors, but final jurisdiction in these cases belongs to a higher
'Court.
It is in the City Magistrate^ Courts, however, that the preliminary
hearing is held to determine whether or not the accused is to be legally detain­
ed to await action by a higher court.
Out of approximately a million hearings
a year, the City Magistrates’ Courts finally dispose of eighty-five per cent
of them by summary proceedings as coming under their jurisdiction.
Organization
Since 1910 the New York City Magistrates’ Courts have been headed by
a Chief City Magistrate who is assigned by the Mayor at a salary of $15,000
annually, with headquarters at 300 Mulberry Street, Manhattan.
He is the
administrative head of the lower courts held by City Magistrates.
He presides
and is entitled to one vote at all meetings of the Board of City Magistrates.
Attached to the office of the Chief City Magistrate are the Bureau
of Appeals, Statistics, Supplies, Probation, Fingerprint, and Accounts and
Records.
There are forty-eight City Magistrates in New York City, appointed
by the Mayor at a salary of $10,000 annually.
The necessary qualification for
the office is at least three years practice as an attorney in the State of
New York, and there is no constitutional age limit.
These magistrates may
be removed for cause by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court.
Vacancies
may be filled by the Mayor for an unexpired term.
The Chief City Magistrate assigns a magistrate to each of the forty
City Magistrates’ Courts.
No magistrate can be assigned to sit in any borough
* The trial and disposition of cases in a City Magistrates* Court is known as
"summary proceedings." The offenses which may be dealt with under this
summary jurisdiction are disorderly conduct or vagrancy and wayward minor
charges, as well as violation of certain civil ordinances.
-5 5 -
in which he does not reside, with two exceptions:
(l) to assist when an
emergency arises; and (2) a magistrate residing in Manhattan or the Bronx may
be assigned to either of these two boroughs.
The magistrates rotate* every
two weeks.
Personnel
The personnel of a non-specialized City Magistrate^ Court consists,
besides the magistrate, of the court clerk who is in charge of the following
workers:
the clerk*s assistant, the clerical staff, court attendants, finger­
print experts, and interpreters.
The court attendants are to be found among the constantly coming and
going people of the courtroom.
Their duty is to impose order and silence, to
see that the people rise when the magistrate enters and leaves the courtroom,
to see that the men take their hats off and that the people will not read
newspapers or remain standing.
One of the court attendants is known as the
bridgeman, whose duty is to stand before the bench and announce the magistrate's
appearance; he also calls out the names of those about to appear before the
magistrate and hands papers to the magistrate.
In addition to the above mentioned staff, there is the Probation
Department with its centralized office at 300 Mulberry Street, Manhattan.
A n idea of the vastness of the Magistrates' Court organization can be
gained from the following list of the total personnel of all forty City
Magistrates* Courts in New York City, together with the years budget for
1959-1940.
48
1
1
1
29
Chief City Magistrate
City Magistrates
Secretary to Chief Magistrate
Chief Clerk
Deputy Clerk
Court Clerks
* The system of rotation of City Magistrates in New York City reouires that a
City Magistrate sit two consecutive weeks in one court when hentransferred to
another court.
75
1
32
1
40
8
11
Assistant Court Clerks
Senior Accountant
Clerks
Telephone Operator
Court Stenographers
Stenographer and typists
Typewriting copyists
1 Chief Probation Officer
46 Probation Officers
21
198
5
1
18
3
2
Interpreters
Court Attendants
Messengers
Storekeeper
Fingerprint technicians
Photographers
Automobile enginemen *
The total departmental budget for the forty City Magistrates’ Courts
for the year 1939-1940, including salaries and supplies, telephone service, and
so forth, was $1,637,970.94.*
Jurisdiction
City Magistrates’ Courts are the courts of original jurisdiction for
all complaints of a criminal or semi-criminal nature.
classification, crimes are of three sorts:
and felonies.
According to legal
minor or petty offenses, misdemeanors,
The latter are the most serious and persons charged with felonies
are held by the magistrates for the Grand Jury.
If an indictment, or "true
bill" is returned by the Grand Jury, the accused person is given a jury trial
in County Court, the Court of General Sessions, or the Supreme Court.
When a person is arrested, the arraignment (except in Special Magis­
trates* Courts) must be in the district having territorial jurisdiction.
* From the City Record. Official Journal of the City of Hew lork, published
under authority of Section 87a-a of the Hew York City Charter, 1939, p. 78
-57-
City Magistrates may try and finally dispose of minor offenses
less than the grade of felony or misdemeanor.
In felony or misdemeanor cases,
City Magistrates hold an examination and, if a prima facie case is made out
against the accused, hold him for a higher court.
In certain misdemeanor cases,
however, a magistrate may, on consent of the defendant who signs a waiver, if
the District Attorney or other prosecuting officer does not object, sit as a
Court of Special Sessions.
In such cases, an appeal from a conviction goes to
the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court.
Where a defendant is arraigned charged with certain misdemeanors,
he may choose to have the case against him tried forthwith by the magistrate,
or if he prefer, he may choose to have the case sent to the Court of Special
Sessions for trial before a court of three judges.
The classes of misdemeanor where the defendant may make this selection
are enumerated in Section 130 of the Inferior Criminal Courts Act.
are violations of the Labor Law, the Multiple Dwelling Law,
Among them
the Workman's
Compensation Law, the Vehicle and Traffic Law, and any misdemeanor which is
punishable by a fine not exceeding one hundred dollars, or by imprisonment not
exceeding sixty days, or by both fine and imprisonment.
In 1958, there were 142,199 arraignments for misdemeanors in the
City Magistrates Courts, and of this total, 101,423 misdemeanors were of the
classes where the defendant might elect to be tided by a City Magistrate.
Of
these, 100,298 defendants availed themselves of this privilege and elected to
* "A Multiple Dwelling is a dwelling which is either rented, leased, let out
or hired out, to be occupied or is occupied as the abode, residence or home
of three or more families living independently of each other. A Multiple
Dwelling shall not be deemed to include a hospital, convent, monastery,
asylum, or a public institution, or a. . building used wholly for commercial
purposes, except for a janitor's apartment and a penthouse which is occupied
by not more than two families." From The Multiple Dwelling Law of the State
of New York, Section 1, paragraph 3-4, 1939.
"It shall be unlawful to use any multiple dwelling either of Class A or B or
any part thereof, or lot or premises thereof, for the purpose of prostitution."
Ibid.. p. 93, paragraph 2.
-5 8 -
f
stand trial in the City Magistrates Courts, whereas only 1,125 defendants
*
1
1
i
refused and ohose to have their cases transferred to the Court of Special
Sessions.*1
The Magistrates’ Courts, therefore, serve the double purpose of a
first hearing in felony and misdemeanor cases, and final disposition of all
minor cases, subject of course to appeal to a higher court.
In the event no case is made out, the magistrate has the power to
dismiss the complaint.
Appeals from conviction by a magistrate are taken to
the Court of Special Sessions.
Formal Process of Arraignment
The first appearance in court is known as the arraignment, and the
arrested person is called before the bar to answer to the charges against him
in a complaint.
Into the City Magistrates’ Courts are taken persons who have
been arrested with or without a warrant and those who have been served with a
summons on a complaint of citizens or police officers.
The person to be arraigned is first taken by the detective to the
Complaint Room where he gives basic data concerning himself, such as full name,
date of birth and, if he was born in another country, the date of arrival in
the United States.
He is asked to give his plea in writing, "guilty" or
"not guilty" of the allegedly committed crime.
a detention cell to await his turn.
for men and women.
The individual is then locked in
In all courts there are separate cells
Before the bridgeman calls the name of the defendant in
court, the detective or arresting officer has already gone to the detention cell
and escorted the defendant to the courtroom.
The arresting officer is responsible
for the defendant until the defendant is arraigned.
1.
Annual Report of the Magistrates Courts. 1938, p. 5
I
■)
i
When the bridgeman calls out the defendant's name, he and the officer
step forward and stand before the magistrate.
The complaint Is read and the
arrested person Is asked If he pleads guiltyor not
guilty.
The defendant Is
Informed of his legal rights, and that If he has no
money for an attorney, he
can avail himself of such services through the Voluntary Legal Aid Society.
The person charged with a felony is entitled to he confronted with the
witnesses against him.
And he must be told by the magistrate that any state­
ment he makes may be used against him in thetrial.
The arresting officer
is then required to swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth, "so help
me God."
During the arraignment it is the magistrate's concern to determines
First, whether there is enough evidence to warrant court action,
or to dismiss the complaint;
Second, whether the defendant’s case belongs under the jurisdiction
of the non-specialized Magistrate! Court, or should be referred
to one of the specialized Magistrate^ Courts, or a higher court.
In most cases the defendant who is not discharged by the committing
magistrate need not remain in jail to await further court action.
let out on bail if he can give bond for his return.
He may be
In certain cases the court
may temporarily release him, without requiring bail, in charge of his attorney
or on his own premise to return.^
Approximately one million persons are arraigned each year in the
City Magistrates’Courts.
were
During 1938, less than two per cent of these hearings
onfelony charges, - crimes of felonious assault, robbery, larceny, or
homicide.
About thirteen per cent were on misdemeanor charges, and the balance,
or about eighty-five percent, were on petty offense charges.
1. "One of the features of temporary release by bond is its unfair operation with
regard to poor defendants. They have no financial means of their own, nor can
they afford a bond fee. The innocent poor, therefore, remain in jail, along
with the guilty."
Cantor, op. cit., p. 78
-6 0 -
The actual number of arraignments on all charges during the year
1938 in the City Magistrates* Courts was as follows:^
Summary Offenses
Misdemeanors
Felonies
making a total of 1,074,191.
918,474
142,199
15,518
It will be evident, therefore, that each of the
forty-eight magistrates handled an average of 22,000 arraignments a year.
Of these 1,074,191 arraignments, 104,415 or approximately 9.9 per cent
were of women, including those women arraigned on charges of violation of
traffic or civil ordinances.
The Trial
If during the arraignment it is determined that the defendant's case
belongs under the jurisdiction of the Magistrates* Court, a date is set for the
trial.
Prosecution in misdemeanor and minor cases is customarily initiated
by complaint of a victim or witness of the offense.
Very frequently the police
officer who makes the arrest is the complaining witness.
Evidence in a tridl
may be furnished by witnesses for the two sides.
During the trial the magistrate acts as a referee ruling on various
points of law, and in the event of conviction, he acts as a sentencing judge.
The magistrate may dispose of a case in any one of the following ways:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
Dismissal of complaint
Definite sentence, from a few hours to three years
Indefinite sentence, not exceeding three years
A money fine
Probation
Refer the case to a higher court
1. Annual Report of the Magistrate^ Courts. 1938, p. 6
-6 1 -
If the magistrate wishes to have a defendant physcially or mentally
examined, he may refer her or him to the Criminal Medical Clinic at the
Criminal Court Building, Manhattan, the Observation Ward at Bellevue Hospital,
or Kings County Hospital, Brooklyn.^Each of these methods of disposition is self-explanatory, with the
exception of the fifth, probation, which will be treated in the sixth chapter.
The number of defendants of both sexes convicted in 1938 in all
forty City Magistrates* Courts in summary proceedings was 835,753.
number, 76,363, or approximately 9 per cent, were women.
Of this
These 76,363 -
convictions included those women convicted on violations of traffic and civil
ordinances.
In the fifth chapter, the investigator has shown the distribution
of cases according to offense and disposition.
Magistrates* Court Social Service Bureau
According to the Statement of Organization. Aims and Purposes, of
the Magistrates’ Court Social Service Bureau, 1939, "each of the forty-eight
magistrates hears an average of 12,000 cases a year. • . The pressure of his
daily calendar and the absence of adequate court facilities for social, psychiatric
or medical treatment render it impossible for M m to make the full investigation
G
and plan the course of social treatment each case requires."
The Social Service Bureau was organized as an experimental unit in
April, 1936, by Magistrate Aina M. Kross.
It is a private organization, supported
by philanthropy and subscriptions in the form of membership fees.
The Bureau
occupies three rooms at the Seventh District Court Building at 314 West 54th
Street, Manhattan.
There is a branch located at the Twelfth District Court
Building, at 455 West 151st Street, Bronx, known as the Harlem Division.
1. This service is made available under Section 931, Code of Criminal Procedure.
2. Statement of Organization. Aimar and Purposes. Magistrates* Courts Social
Service Bureau, 1939, pp. 2-3
-6 2 -
The staff consists of three full-time and one half-time workers,
as well as thirty-one volunteer workers.* Six National Youth Administration
workers** give clerical assistance.
Through the Social Service Bureau, a social worker is supplied to
each Magistrates' Court.
This worker is present in the Court during its
session and, while not connected with the legal routine, will study the
problems referred by the magistrate.
The Social Service Bureau exists to assist the magistrate in giving
individual attention to those problems which ordinarily would result in dis­
missal of the complaint for lack of evidence or in a suspended sentence.
The procedure of this agency in connection with the Magistrates*
Courts is described by the Bureau in its 1939 Statement:
Certain cases brought before the magistrate, appearing to be
clearly those of social maladjustment, are referred by him to
the social worker stationed at the court. The social worker is
expected to investigate and report to him before decision. The
social worker interviews the complainant and defendant at the
office of the Bureau or in the judge's chambers, or in the outer
room occupied by the clerks, as the case might be. After an
investigation of the facts according to the accepted standards
of social case work, a plan of treatment is recommended to the
magistrate. If further investigation is needed after a pre­
liminary interview, the worker recommends an adjournment pending
further investigation. During this period the case is cleared
with the Social Service Exchange and other social agencies are
contacted if need be. This often entails referrals to F a m i l y
Court, Board of Child Welfare, Institute of Family Service,
Catholic Charities, Juvenile Add Bureau, S. P. C. C., Urban
League, I. M. C. A., I. W. C. A., Salvation Army, and Jewish
Social Agencies.1
* The volunteer workers are selected after careful consideration through a
Committee on Volunteers which passes on all applications. (See Appendix B,
for copy of application form for volunteers) The volmteer workers are generally
placed on a probationary period of observation in the courts for six weeks, and
are also required to enroll in special training courses organized specifically
for their benefit. — Statement of Organization, Alms, and Purposes, 1939,
Op . Cit.. p. 11
** National Youth Administration, (NYA) is a Federal project to assist youths
to secure part-time work in order to enable them to oontinue their education
in schools and colleges.
1.
p . 13
-6 5 -
A copy of the face sheet used for the case record, the form used
for thecomplainant's history, and a copy of the "Recommendation
Slip to
Magistrate" will be found In the Appendix B, page.. 505.
The work of the Social Service Bureau differs from the treatment of
a case by the Probation Department, in that the Probation Department is a part
of the legal system, and is limited to work with offenders after conviction.
This is discussed in detail in the sixth chapter.
There is no agency within the legal or penal system "which concerns
itself primarily with a continuous program of social treatment for maladjusted
persons, who are. daily brought into the regular Magistrates Courts."'*' A large
number of arraignments result In dismissal of complaints.
The Report further
states that these dismissed persons leave the court totally bewildered and with­
out having received any needed assistance or direction.
In a great number of
these cases, the people really wanted, and came to the court seeking, an adjustment
of their difficulties and some form of help.
Such an adjustment is attempted
by the Social Service Bureau through an interview and a social plan following a
consultation with the presiding magistrate.
During 1958-1959, twenty-eight magistrates used the services of the
Bureau, and 1,094 active cases were carried; 657 of these cases were women,
and 457 were men.2 Despite serious handicaps In lack of personnel and funds,
there has been an Increased demand upon it by magistrates in the various district
courts.
In the Harlem Division of the Magistrates’ Court Social Service Bureau,
in addition to the regular work in the Magistrate^ Courts, an experiment is
being carried on cooperatively with the Board of Health and the Kingston Avenue
1. Statement of Organization, Aims and Purposes, o p . clt.. p. 7
2. Ibid.. p. 21
-6 4 -
Hospital.1
A panel of fifty outstanding physicians in Harlem offered their
services in the experiment.
The physician's panel agreed to provide the
necessary medical service free of charge and the Board of Health agreed to
provide the necessary medical supplies.
Through the Urban League the services
of volunteer social workers were obtained.
The object of the program is to
insure continued medical treatment for women released from the Kingston
Avenue Hospital in a non-infectious, but still diseased state.
The social
workers assume the responsibility of investigating and following tip these
cases in cooperation with the Board of Health.
They also assume the responsibility
for aiding in employment, home relief, clothing, and other essentials. They
t
keep in close touch with both the woman and the doctor and, in this way, a
better relationship is developed.
The Social Service Bureau believes that the
experiment is not only socially sound, but full of promise for social good of a
far-reaching nature.
A contribution of one thousand dollars annually from the
Mayor's Committee, Special Welfare Fund, is placed at the disposal of the
Bureau to be used at its discretion for direct aid to persons in need, in
addition to financing the Harlem project.
Critical Comment on the Magistrates* Courts
from the Current Literature of Crimlnnlogv
From the standpoint of the number of cases settled and the number of
persons affected, the Magistrates^ Courts, according to Sutherland2 "are the
'Supreme Courts'; they are inferior courts only with reference to the character
and training of the judges, the efficiency of the machinery, and the type of
justice which is secured."
1. Statement of Organization, Aims and Purposes, Op. cit., p. 12
2. Sutherland, Op . cit.. p. 279
-6 5 -
This would seem to be harsh criticism and cannot justly be applied
to all magistrates and all "types of justice" secured.
In the main, however,
the investigator has found this criticism frequently justified in the
handling of women offenders, and the three quotations from recent literature
on the subject given below would seem to agree with the above criticism from
three different angles.
If the defendant is unable to hire a lawyer, the court may assign
one... In practice, however, the person charged with a misdemeanor
seldom has an assigned counsel. A relatively capable attorney is
frequently assigned in capital cases, but in other cases the
assigned counsels are generally capable in a relatively small
number of places. The judge usually selects either a young lawyer
who is anxious to secure experience even though the fee be small,
or a "shyster" who waits in the courtroom for such business and
who uses the assignment as a means of extorting money from the
relatives and friends of the defendant.1
It is a by-word in the corridors of the Magistrates Courts of
the City of New York that the intervention of a friend in the
district political club is much more potent in the disposition
of cases than the merits of the cause or the services of the best
lawyer and, unfortunately, the truth of the statement alone
prevents it from being a slander upon the good name of the City.
. . . there is call for adequate provision for petty prosecutions.
It is here that the administration of criminal justice touches
immediately the greatest number of people. It is here that the
great mass of an urban population, whose experience of law is too
likely to have been only an experience of arbitrary discretion of
police officers and offhand action of magistrates, tempered by
political influence, might be taught the spirit of our insti­
tutions and made to feel that the law was a living force for
securing their interests. . . The bad physical surroundings,
the confusion, the want of decorum, the undignified offhand dis­
position of cases at high speed, the frequent suggestion of
something working behind the scenes, which characterize the petty
criminal court in almost all of our cities, create in the minds
of observers a general suspicion of the whole process of law
enforcement which, no matter how unfounded, gravely prejudices
the law.3
1. Sutherland, op. cit.. p. 288
2. New York Legislature, Report of the Joint Commit-tee on the Government
of the City of New York. Vol. II, p. 15. Quoted by Sutherland, p. 204.
This report is popularly called The Seabury Report.
3. Roscoe Pound, Criminal Justice in America, pp. 189-190
-66-
The Court of Special Sessions of New York City
The Court of Special Sessions is located in the Criminal Courts
Building at 32 Franklin Street, Manhattan, in an old red-brick building
which has been condemned.
A new Criminal Courts Building is in process of
building on Centre Street across the street from the old and will be completed
by 1942.
Organization
A Chief Justice appointed by the Mayor for a term of ten years, at
an annual salary of $13,000, is the chief administrator of the Court of
Special Sessions.
Fifteen associate justices, also appointed by the Mayor,
receive annual salaries of $10,000.
In 1938, the salary of associate justices
was $12,000.
The Chief Justice may be appointed from any borough, but at least
seven of the associate justices must be residents of Manhattan or the Bronx,
five of the Borough of Brooklyn, and one each from the Boroughs of Queens
and Richmond.
In addition to the exercise of all powers of an associate justice,
the Chief Justice has general supervision of all business of the court.
He
presides and is entitled to vote at all meetings of the justices which are
held once each month, with the exception of July and August.
He determines
the number of parts into which the court is divided and assigns associate
justices to duty in the several parts.
Sessions are held within each borough
of the city.
Each part of the court is held by three justices (no jury), at least
one of whom is a resident within the judicial department of the Supreme Court
in which said part is held, and any determination, order, or judgment of two
-6 7 -
of the justices is the determination, order, or judgment of the court.
In
other words, two justices must concur to render a decision.
Personnel
The personnel of the Court of Special Sessions, besides the Chief
Justice and fifteen associate justices, consists of the followings1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
7
5
5
20
6
15
5
1
1
1
Chief Clerk
Deputy Chief Clerk
Clerk of Court, Manhattan
Clerk of Court, Brooklyn
Clerk of Court, Queens
Clerk of Court, Bronx
Clerk of Court, Richmond
Deputy Clerk, Manhattan
Private Secretary to Chief Justice
Assistant Court Clerks
Court Stenographers
Interpreters
Court Attendants
Stenographer and Typists
Clerks
Typewriting Copyists
Telephone Operator
Messenger
Prison Matron (Correctional Officer)
1 Chief Probation Officer
21 Probation Officers
The total departmental budget for the Court of Special Sessions for
the year 1939-1940, including salaries and supplies, was $415,017.50.2
Jurisdiction
The Court of Special Sessions is exclusively a criminal court for
the trial of misdemeanors (except criminal libel) committed within the terri­
torial jurisdiction of the court, which are tried on information (similar to
indictment) filed by the District Attorney, and to hear and determine cases
1. The City Record, 1939,
2. Ibid.. p. 77
o p
.
cit.. p. 77
-68-
where the defendants have been held to answer by a city magistrate.
It also
has exclusive jurisdiction in the first instance to hear and determine actions
brought by mothers of children born out of wedlock to establish the paternity
of their children.
Appeals from convictions are taken to the Appellate
Division of the Supreme Court.
The Trial
Trials in the Court of Special Sessions are carried on in the same
manner as will be described for the Court of General Sessions, with the
exceptions that the Court of Special Sessions is represented by three justices,
instead of one as in General Sessions, and no jury is called.
According to the Annual Report of the Court of Special Sessions for
19S8,
26,956 convictions were obtained during the year, of which 1,745, or
approximately 6 per cent, were convictions of women offenders.
The following
list shows the offenses on which 1,754 of these women were convicted and
sentenced during 1938:
Alcoholic Beverage Control Law
Assault - Third Degree
Conspiracy
Disorderly House
Education Law
Election Law
False Weights and Measures
Gambling
Indecent Exposure
Labor Law
Petit Larceny (reduced felonies, mis­
demeanors, shoplifting)
Malicious Mischief
Minors - Failure to Providefor
Minors - Impairing Moralsof
Minors - Unclassified
Obscene Prints, etc.
Possessing Habit Forming Drugs
Possessing Hypodermic Needleor Syringe
Sanitary other than Drugs
94
82
7
7
5
11
3
719
3
1
494
12
1
2
3
2
110
22
2
-69-
Sales Tax Law
Secreting Mortgaged Property
Trade Mark Law
Unlawful Entry - Misdemeanors
Unlawfully Operating Coin Box
Unlawfully Possessing a Pistol or
Dangerous Weapon - Reduced Felonies
Unlawfully Possessing a Pistol or
Dangerous Weapon - Misdemeanors
Workingmen's Compensation Act
Other Misdemeanors - Unclassified
36
3
1
3
1
4
22
4
80
It is interesting to note that the majority, or all but 302, of
the above convictions were on three types of offenses: gambling, petit larceny,
and drug addiction.
The Probation Department of this court will be described in the
sixth chapter, which is a general chapter on Probation.
The Court of General Sessions of New York City
Organization
The Court of General Sessions consists of nine judges who are
elected by the voters of the county for fourteen year terms.
Five of the
judges receive an annual salary of f.25,000j three, $22,000.
Two judges are
elected for six months duty a year, one at $25,000, and one at $22,000.
The
ten judges elected, therefore, represent full time for nine.
This is a constitutional court of the County of New York (Manhattan)
and takes the place of what is called the County Court in the other counties
(Richmond, Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn).
The court is divided into nine parts, each part presided over by
one judge whopasses upon questions of law.
determines the facts.
A petit jury of twelve men
-70-
Personnel
•Aside from the judges, the personnel of the Court of General
Sessions is as follows:^"
9
1
15
1
11
3
9
3
1
1
1
5
9
7
65
Clerks to Judges
Chief Clerk
Deputy Clerks
Assistant Clerk
Assistant Deputy Clerks
Wardens - Grand Jury
Stenographers
Stenographer and typists
Librarian
Law Assistant
Crier
Interpreters
Chief Court Attendants
Court Attendants (with stenographic ability)
Attendants
Probation Bureau
1
2
1
4
40
2
22
8
1
3
1
1
1
1
Chief Probation Officer
Deputy Chief Probation Officers
Probation Officer (Assistant to Chief)
Probation Officers (Assistants to Deputy Chiefs)
Probation Officers
Secretary Stenographers
Stenographers
Typists
Chief Clerk
Record Clerks
Statistician
Bookkeeper
Information Clerk
Telephone Operator
The total departmental budget for the Court of General Sessions
for the year 1939-1940, including the Probation Bureau, was $1,001,205.2
1. The City Record, 1939, op. cit.. p. 84
2. Ibid.. p. 84
-7 1 -
Jurlsdlctlon
The Court of General Sessions has unlimited jurisdiction to try,
determine and punish all crimes of the grade of felony committed within
the County of New York (Manhattan) and criminal libel (misdemeanor). It
also hears caBes of misdemeanor ordered transferred to this court, and where
the Grand Jury has found an indictment.
Appeals are taken to the Appellate
Division, First Department, except from a judgment of death, in which case
appeal is taken directly to the Court of Appeals.
The Trial
In cases referred to the
Court of General Sessions by a City
Magistrates* Court, the prosecuting
attorney who presented the evidence
against the defendant in the inferior court
Grand Jury.
Complaining witnesses
must present the evidence to the
only are called by the Grand Jury.If the
Grand Jury finds insufficient evidence to indict, the case is dismissed.
If
the Grand Jury finds the evidence sufficient, the offender is indicted, and
the prosecutor then presents the evidence in arraignment proceedings in the
trial court.
guilty.
During the arraignment, the defendant may plead guilty or not
If he pleads guilty, the case is referred to the Probation Department
of the Court of General Sessions for investigation and report, and a date is
set for the sentence.
If the defendant pleads not guilty, a date is set for
the trial.
Where a complaint is made directly to the District Attorney's Office,
rather than in the inferior court, the District Attorney sends out his inves­
tigators.
The findings are presented by the prosecutor to the Grand Jury
(even before arrest).
If the Grand Jury indicts the defendant, a warrant is
-7 2 -
issued for his arrest.
The defendant is then arraigned before the court, when
he may plead guilty or not guilty, as above, with the same procedure as above
leading to dismissal of the case, or trial.
The trial in the Court of General Sessions is begun with the
impanelling of a jury, unless the defendant has waived his right to a jury
trial.
The prosecuting attorney and the defense counsel outline the case
for the jury.
The witnesses for both sides then present the evidence, under
examination of the prosecutor and the defense counsel.
The case is then
summed up for the jury by the respective attorneys, the charge is given to the
jury by the judge, and the jury retires for its deliberations.
guilty or a judgment of acquittal is returned.
A verdict of
The counsel for the defense
may make motions on various grounds to set aside the verdict.
If the motions
are denied, the sentence is passed.
The defendant has the right to waive a jury trial and be tried by
the court alone.
In this way, he "does not expose himself to jury prejudices
because of his economic, social or religious status.
The newspapers cannot
•try his case1. The prosecution, by agreeing to the waiver of jury trial,
saves the state expense, reduces the number of appeals and retrials, and hastens
the administration of criminal justice.
In 1938, 2330 men and 105 women were convicted in the Court of
General Sessions, either on plea of guilty or by verdict after trial.
The
convictions of women, therefore, accounted for approximately 4.5 per cent of the
total convictions.
The Probation Department of the Court of General Sessions will be
described in the general chapter on Probation, chapter six.
1. Nathaniel Cantor, Crime. Criminals and Criminal Justice, p. 221
-7 3 -
Crltical Comment on Court Procedures of Today from the
Current Literature of Criminology
Many authorities may be quoted to the effect that modern court
procedures are tradition ridden to the point of anachronism.
According to
Cantor,'*' "the traditional administration of criminal justice in adult courts
represents one of the most pronounced cultural lags in contemporary civilization."
The conflict in the courts between the defense counsel and the
state's representatives are described by Cantor as follows:
The purpose of a trial proceeding should be to determine whether,
as a matter of fact, the accused is guilty or innocent of the
crime charged. The discovery of the truth rests upon evidence.
Anyone familiar with criminal trial practices knows that the
proceedings are not conducted in the spirit of getting at the
facts no matter where they lead. The prosecution and defense
introduce evidence which bolsters their respective contention
and deliberately keep out of the court record any data likely to
injure their case. The attorneys are interested in gaining a
victory rather than in presenting all the evidence which may
lead to the truth. The modern criminal trial is a combat, not
an inquiry. Neither counsel nor witnesses are impartial. The
witnesses of the state are 'hostile" to the defense. The counsel
cross-examine the hostile witnesses to prove their testimony un­
reliable. The technical rules of evidence are often siezed upon
to prevent important facts from being introduced. By its very
nature the trial proceedings condemn themselves as procedure to
ascertain facts. The assumption is implicit that one side or
the other is seeking to establish its case rather than to arrive
at the facts. Both sides conceal from each other, until the
opening of the trial, the hypothesis sought to be established.^
In all recent literature on criminal trials, the trial jury has been
condemned as an extravagant method of obtaining justice, as well as inefficient
g
and outmoded.
Says Cantor,
"In a sense there is no problem (as to whether or
not jury trial should be retained) since the jury, in criminal proceedings, is
falling into disuse."
He states, however, that in spite of criticism against
jury trial -
1. Cantor, o p . cit., p. 101
2. Ibid., p. 98
3. Ibid., p. 92
-7 4 -
. . . the general political and economic situation in the world
today should caution us against surrendering trial by jury. We,
in the United States, experience isolated cases of "red-baiting"
and witch-burning prosecutions. But political prosecutions are
almost normal practice in the totalitarian countries. If for no
other reason, trial by jury should be retained as a form of
insurance against irrational political prosecutions of minorities.
In the meantime the compromise solution, which students tend to
support, of i'staining but permitting the defendant to waive jury
trial at his option seems wise.
The connection between politics and judicial office, according to the
same author, "does not require statistical proof. . . Some political groups
may demand more than others and certain judges, especially in the higher courts,
may yield less than others to such pressures."
How capable the trial judges are is another matter. Their task
is twofold. They act as referee at the trial, ruling on points
of law, and they pass sentence in cases of conviction. Both
functions are extremely important.-*In Principles of Criminology. Sutherland has this to say concerning
the ability of the judge in the function of imposing sentence:
. . . the judge is not able to perform in a satisfactory manner
the . . . function of imposing sentence. The evidence presented
in court is designed to show merely the fact of guilt or innocence;
that is entirely insufficient for the purpose of determining what
should be done with the individual who is proved guilty. It is
necessary to know the entire character of the offender, and the
possible effects of different methods that might be used in dealing
with him. The judge must fix penalties by guessing at the character
of the person on the basis of his appearance and of incidental in­
formation that has come out during the trial. No matter how wise
or honest the judge may be, he cannot determine treatment in a
satisfactory manner by means of the information which he has.^
Dean Pound, in RHm-innl Justice in America, states the case for the
common-law practitioner:
The lawyer's interest is in the machinery of prosecution and con­
viction and the machinery of mitigation. With what goes on before
the commission of an offense, with the conditions that generate
offenders and insure a steady grist to the mill of criminal justice,
the lawyer is not concerned. His part begins when the morning paper
1. Cantor, op. cit.. p. 92
2. Ibid.. p. 92
-75-
tells
of the committed crime. What goes on before and leads
up to the crime, often much more surely and inevitably that the
committed crime leads to conviction and the appointed penal treat­
ment, is outside of his domain. Very likely he will tell us that
his science has to do with what is, not with what ought to be.
The criminal law, he will say, is a body of precepts for the
repression of anti-social conduct. Until there is concrete anti­
social conduct, it does not come into play. If, within jealously
guarded traditional limits, something may be done through legal
agencies to reach the causes that lie behind concrete anti-social
action, he will say the science of legislation must be appealed to.
The science of law, as we had understood it until quite recently,
assumes legal precepts as already existent. It does not tell us
how to direct our creative energies to the devising of new precepts
or of new and improved machinery for making them effective.!
As was stated at the beginning of this chapter, women passing through
the three court systems described receive no special treatment.
Thus any
general criticism of these courts applies equally to their handling of men and
women.
It will be noted, however, that only six per cent of the convictions
in the Court of Special Sessions of the City of New York, and only four and
one-half per cent of convictions in the Court of General Sessions of the City
of New York, were of women.
of serious misdemeanors and
It would seem evident, therefore, that the commission
felonies among women offenders in 1938 isslight
when compared to the total of convictions for serious offenses.
The convictions of women in the City Magistrates' Courts, which amounted
to nine per cent of the total, will be discussed in the next chapter.
1. Pound, Op. cit.. p. 34
NEW YORK UNIVERSITY
SCHOOL OF EDUCATION
o
IIERARY
•
CHAPTER V
SPECIALIZED COURTS DEALING WITH WOMEN OFFENDERS
There are two courts, organized in recent years, which deal
exclusively with women offenders passing through the Department of Correction
of New York City.
Strictly speaking, they are one court, Bince the Wayward
Minor's Court is a branch of the Women's Court.
A third court, the Domestic
Relations Court of the City of New York, deals with women only in their
family relationships; it has two divisions, the Family Court and the Children'
Court.
These are all centralized courts; their territorial jurisdiction in­
cludes the five boroughs of the city.
Not all women offenders go through these courts.
They are merely
courts of original jurisdiction, each in its own field, as will be described
in this chapter. Women apprehended on charges not specified as coming solely
under the jurisdiction of the Women's Court are often taken to a non­
specialized Magistrates' Court.
Until 1909 there was no specialized court for women offenders in
the City of New York.
In 1907, to overcome certain evils of the system then
operating, among which, were the detention of women overnight in station
houses and jails and the practice of bondsmen in fleecing women seeking bail,
the Night Court was created for the purpose of immediate hearing and trial
of both men and women.
established.
In 1909 the specialized Women's Night Court was
It was a Magistrates' Court held in the old Jefferson Market
Court which is the Ninth District Court at 425 Sixth Avenue, Manhattan.
This Night Court for women handled only the offenses of intoxication and
prostitution.
Out of the Night Court grew the organization of the present
Women's Court, a day court only.
-7 7 -
There is no longer a night court for women.
Women arrested on
a petty offense charge after the close of the Women's Court are taken to
the House of Detention for Women to await the opening of the court in the
morning.
Women arrested during the night may’request an immediate hearing,
in which case they are taken to the Night Court for Men.
Women arrested in
the early morning hours may be detained in a station house or city or
district prison until the opening of the day courts.
The Women's Court
The Women's Court began to function during the day in 1919 in
the Jefferson Market Court Building, at 425 Sixth Avenue, Manhattan.
The
Ninth District Court is located on the first floor of the building and the
second floor is given over to the Women's Court.
The ceilings of the building are unusually high and vaulted;
the big windows are of stained glass.
In architecture the building resembles
a church but, instead of Bible characters usually depicted in church windows,
the stained glass windows of the court are patterned with butterflies—
unintentional but conventional symbols of the way of life of the majority of
women who are brought before the court.
The second floor of the building, once a large courtroom, has been
partitioned.
The section near the stairs, used as a waiting room is fur­
nished with benches.
Beyond
the main partition is a narrow corridor through
the center of the remaining space with a door on each side leading to the
two courtrooms used by the Women's Court.
The courtrooms are small and more like offices than courtrooms
in appearance.
Against the wall opposite the entrance in each room is the
-7 8 -
magistrate's bench, behind which stands the United States Flag.
At one
side of the bench is a small table for the female stenographer.
There are
two other desks in each courtroom, one for the female probation officer
and the other for the female interpreter.
Organization and Personnel
Since the Women's Court is a special Magistrates' Court, it is
presided over by a City Magistrate.
court are women.
All magistrates presiding over this
The magistrates rotate weekly and two magistrates sit
simultaneously in the two courtrooms.
The personnel of the court consists of the City Magistrate, a
chief clerk who is in charge of all court records, deputy clerks who prepare
affidavits and complaints, civilian court attendants, a fingerprint expert,
an interpreter, two official stenographers, and two probation officers.
A deputy assistant district attorney conducts the prosecution.
A woman doctor from the medical staff of the House of Detention
for Women is assigned to the Women's Court during sessions, and two workers
from the Magistrates' Court Social Service Bureau are on call.
Jurisdiction
The Women's Court hears all cases against women arising in any
of the five boroughs of the city for any of the following offensess
1)
Prostitution (Violations of Section 15 of the Tenement House
Law, and Section 887, subdivisions 5 and 4 or the
Code of Criminal Procedure.)
2) Vagrancy (Violations of Section 997, subdivision 4, of the Code
of Criminal Procedure.)
5)
Loitering and Soliciting in Public Places (Violations of Section
1458 of the Consolidated
Act.)
4)
Intoxication (Section 1466 of the Consolidated Act.)
5) Violations of Wayward Minor Act (wayward and Incorrigible girls)
6)
Keeping Disorderly House (Violations of Section 1146, the Penal
Law.)
7)
Shoplifting (Petit Larceny, where it has been committed in a
retail establishment.)
The magistrate of the Women's Court sits as a judge and jury and
has summary jurisdiction to try and to finally dispose of cases in the
first four of the above categories.
In the last two— keeping a disorderly
house and larceny as a misdemeanor—
only the arraignment is made in this
court and, if the examination yields sufficient evidence to justify it, the
case is referred to the Court of Special Sessions.
All felonies brought be­
fore this court are held for the Felony Court or the Court of General
Sessions if the evidence prove sufficient; likewise, all women charged with
one of the six misdemeanors specified in Section 552 of the New York Code of
Criminal Procedure are held for a higher court.
Girls who are arraigned on a wayward minor charge are heard at
the Women's Court, except on Wednesdays when the Wayward Minor's Court is in
session.
For the disposition of these cases, all minors are referred to their
special court.
Formal Process of Arraignment
The woman offender may arrive at the Women's Court in various
ways.
If she secured bail at the police station after her arrest, she comes
voluntarily to court.
If she has been arrested in the early morning hours
and has been detained in a station house, she is brought to court by the
arresting officer in a police van.
If she has been held at the House of
Detention for Women, she walks through the courtyard between the House of
-80-
Detention and the adjoining Jefferson Market Courthouse, escorted by a femails
correctional officer.
The defendant is taken immediately to the complaint room by the
arresting officer.
She is shown the complaint filed against her and is
told to fill out a plea— "guilty" or "not guilty."
name, her birth date, and nationality.
She must give her full
If bora in a foreign country, she
must give the date of her arrival in the United States.
Each case is called individually into the courtroom.
There the
defendant may sit or stand informally before the magistrate while her charge
is read by the court clerk.
The defendant swears to her statement previously
given and her formal plea is taken.
During the court procedure the room is quiet; there is no commotion,
there are no spectators.
proceedings.
The stenographer takes a full transcript of the
The arresting officer makes statements pertaining to her arrest.
Her legal rights are explained to her as follows:
1)
Defendant may ask for an immediate trial if shepleadedguilty.
Z)
Defendant may obtain bail.
3)
Defendant may ask for an adjournment oftwo days toenable her
to get in touch with relatives, friends, or to secure an attorney.
A great many women are influenced by the arresting officers to
plead guilty, on the assumption that thqy will receive a less severe sentence
and at the same time speed up the procedure, but usually the arresting officer
makes certain that the arrest was made on sufficient evidence so that he is
spared many embarrassing questions to justify the arrest.
If the defendant pleads guilty, she is detained at the House of
Detention for Women for two days, where she is fingerprinted, her social
-8 1 -
history taken, a medical examination given her, including an examination for
gonorrhea, by a medical officer of the Department of Health.
Not only women
charged with sex offenses are subjected to this examination bub all women
arraigned, on no matter what charge, before the Women's Court.
The magistrate sitting in Women's Court is not permitted a know­
ledge of the defendant's medical record until she is convicted, and no
Wasserman test for syphilis is given until after conviction.
The theory be­
hind this rule is that a magistrate knowing defendant was venereally diseased
might be prejudiced against her.
The magistrate, however, is in possession
of the medical record before passing sentence.
If the defendant pleads not guilty, her case is held over for trial
in a higher court in all but the four charges: prostitution, vagrancy,
loitering and soliciting, and intoxication.
In the case of these latter, the
trial is held in the Women's Court at a specified date.
There were 4,025 cases arraigned in the Women's Court during 1958.
Only forty arrests were made on warrants end 45 summons were issued the same
1
year.
Bail— Security for Appearance
The bail under which a woman is released after arrest is good
only until the arraignment before court.
Between arraignment and trial bail
must be furnished as security for appearance if the defendant wishes to avoid
detention.
Table I (p.82) shows that of the 9,981 women defendants whose
cases came under the summary jurisdiction of the Magistrates' Courts in 1958,
only 120 were released on bail.
Bail was not given in 5,859 cases, and 656
cases were committed for observation or investigation without bail.
1. Annual Report of City Magistrates' Courts, 1958, p. 17.
TABLE I
CLASSIFICATION OF BAIL ACTION TAKEN IN WOMEN'S
CASES IN ALL CITY MAGISTRATES' COURTS IN NEW YORK CITY IN 19381
Bail not
Given
Paroled
(a)
120
3,386
5,386
2,235
11
7
2,214
1,729
414
437
857
654
70
387
49
2,417
703
951
698
Held for Action of
Grand Jury
353
79
218
11
Material Witnesses
1
1,397
5,839
9,215
Classification
Total
Cases
Release
on Bail
For Summary Disposition
9,981
For Disposition at Court
of Special Sessions
Held by Magistrate
Misdemeanors Adjourned
Felonies Adjourned
Trial at Court of
Special Sessions held
by Magistrate
Hospital Commitments (c)
11
Suspended by
Indictment
19
Total
(a)
(b)
(c)
17,398
Includes paroled to pay fine
Includes commitments for investigation before sentence
Persons committed to hospitals in misdemeanor cases
1. From Annual Report of the Magistrates' Court of the City of New York. 1938.
Table 8, p. 14
Without Bail
_ C S ) _____
For Detention
For Observation
Indicted
636
1
21
148
65
45
U
19
916
1
11
19
-8 5 -
Of the 2,253 cases held for disposition by a Magistrates* Court
sitting as a Court of Special Sessions, eleven were released on bail.
Of
1,729 misdemeanor cases adjourned, 414 were released on bail, and so on.
Altogether, out of 17,398 convictions passing through the Magistrates'
Court for summary disposition, or held over or transferred to a higher court,
only 1,397 were admitted to bail.
The bail-bonding business has an unsavaoiy history.
The bondsman
furnishes the financial security needed by the defendant in the form of a bond
in whatever denomination called for by the court, and the defendant pays a
fee for this service.
This system has led to fee-splitting between police
and bondsmen, and between bondsmen and magistrates and court attendants.
Before 1922, there was no legal limitation on the fees which were charged for
such bonds.
Since 1922, bondsmen have been required to be licensed by the
Superintendent of Insurance of New York State.
In his Tribunes of the People. Raymond Moley stated that the bailbond business was one of the most profitable investments in New York City.
The Study of the Case
After the arraignment of a case at the Women's Court has established
the guilt of the defendant, the magistrate has two channels available for the
study of the case which may help to determined the underlying problems which
have contributed to the particular offense and point the way to the wisest
disposal of the case.
1) The magistrate may refer the case to one of the two probation
officers assigned to the Women's Court.
2) The magistrate may refer the case to a social worker from the
Magistrates' Court Social Service Bureau.
-84-
If the case is referred to a probation officer, such officer is
usually made responsible for the presentation of the medical reports on the
defendant within forty-eight hours.
The probation officer has a personal
interview with the woman, calls on her relatives and employer, checks up on
school records and church contacts, if such are available, to gain a better
understanding of the woman's difficulties.
The next procedure of the pro­
bation officer is to make suggestions as to a plan which would best meet the
individual defendant's problem and lead toward a better social adjustment.
If the case is referred to a social worker from the Social Service
Bureau, a somewhat similar type of service is rendered.
The main difference is
that the probation officer is an officer representing the law and has the
power to arrest, whereas the worker from the Social Service Bureau has no legal
authority and is therefore often able to gain more readily the defendant's
confidence.
The Trial
During the defendant's next appearance in the Women's Court, in
cases where the magistrate has summary
jurisdiction to try and finally dis­
pose of the case, the magistrate has a report from the probation officer or
the social worker.
On the basis of this information, and the statements made
by the defendant, the arresting officer, and the witnesses (if any), the
magistrate bases her disposition of the case.
The magistrate of the Women's Court may dispose of a case in any
one of the following ways:
1)
The case may be dismissed.
The magistrate may refer the woman
to the Social Service Bureau which may have contacted a private agency willing
to assist the woman in gaining a better social adjustment.
-8 5 -
2)
The defendant
in the case may be given a suspendedsentence.
The
defendant will then be put on probation in the hope that she will adjust
herself to society with
3)
The defendant
the help of the probation officer
may be given an indefinite sentence. The length of
indefinite commitments given in the Women's Court may not exceed three years.
An indefinite sentence is usually given to offenders who have two or more pre­
vious convictions for sex offenses.
4)
The defendant may be given a definite sentence, the commitment not
to exceed six months.
Women charged with sex offenses are treated as criminals although there
is no law of the State of New York which makes prostitution, per se, or
fornication, a crime.
First offenders, if not put on probation, are usually sentenced to
Westfield State Farms, previously known as Bedford Reformatory.
Women who
belong to the Catholic Church are committed to the House of the Good Shepherd
for three months to one year.
Recidivists may be sentenced to the workhouse
at the House of Detention for Women for from five days to six months.
Women who are found notguilty but suffering from a venereal disease
are referred to the Department of Health or the House of Detention for Women
for treatment, or are sent to one
of thevarious city hospitals.
Number and Distribution of Convictions
The Annual Report of the City Magistrates' Courts for 1958 gives
the number of cases brought before the Women's Court alone as 4,048.
In
Table II (p. 86) will be found the distribution of cases according to borough
and offense.
-86-
TABLE II
CLASSIFICATION OF OFFENSES ON WHICH WOMEN WERE
CONVICTED IN WOMEN'S COURT IN NEW YORK CITY IN 1938 ACCORDING TO BOROUGH OF ORIGI8
Borough of
Origin
Summary Offenses
Insanity
Manhattan
Cases
Bronx
Cases
Brooklyn
Cases
1
Prostitution
and Vagrancy,
M.D. Law
2
Prostitution
Wayward Dil
Col
and Vagrancy, Minors
Section 887-4
2,751
103
21
44
18
3
490
54
70
22
3,355
197
Queens
Cases
Richmond
Cases
Total
25
2
1. From Annual Report of the Magistrates' Court of the City of New York. 1938, p. ll
Misdemeanors
TOTAL
Disord.)
Conduct]
Disorderly
House
Shoplifting
235
3,094
71
157
128
676
30
122
There were 3,355 women arrested for prostitution during the year.
"But there is no formula by which arreBts can be translated into figures for
uncaught offenders, since arrests are in large part an index of police zeal."^
It is also common knowledge that through political influence, wealth,
or the manipulation of legal procedure, as well as through police protection
or organized groups interested in the maintenance of organized vice, a great
many of the more serious offenders escape punishment.
It will be evident that prostitution centers in Manhattan with its
2,751 convictions against 44 for The Bronx, 490 for Brooklyn, and 70 for Queens.
A better picture of the distribution of cases, according to offense,
as well as disposition of convictions, can be obtained from Table III (p. 88)
which lists all female cases coming under the summary jurisdiction of all forty
magistrates' Courts.
The total number of women offenders for 1958 is 76,565, but the
subtraction of 2,621 civil cases and 68,426 traffic cases, leaves 5,516 con­
victions for the offenses coming under this study.
It will be noted that all
civil and traffic cases, with the exception of four, were settled by the pay­
ment of a fine.
1. Vice in New York, Fortune. July 1959, p. 48.
This article continues: "After the Seabuxy investigation of 1950, which
brought police vice activity into public contempt by disclosing scandalous
frame-ups of women, arrests suddenly fell off by 50 per cent. Today, although
the arrest record has climbed back, the question of police diligence is far
from clear. On the one hand is Commissioner Valentine's stiff-backed policy
on law enforcement. On the other is the cop's loathing for vice-squad work—
a nine-year heritage of the Seabury investigation. Between the two it is hard
to judge whether arrests are high or low in relation to the amount of
detectable prostitution.
"Short of even an approximate census, however, there are some generalities
about prostitution in New York on which well-informed observers agree. One
is that it centers on Manhattan Island, that is is incalculably rife in
Harlem, and there is not much of it anywhere else in the city. Another is
that it seems to have leveled off in prevalence since the start of the
depression— counter to the notion that prostitution flourishes in depression."
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The remaining 5,516 convictions show the following distribution
according to offense:
Disorderly conduct
2,292
59
Degeneracy
Jostling (pickpockets)
256
1
Prostitution and vagrancy
(Tenement House Law)
Prostitution and vagrancy
2,179
(Section 887, Subdivision 4)
Drug addiction
55
Vagrancy, other than prostitution
92
Wayward minors
149
246
Others
Because of the technicalities resorted to in making criminal
charges, it is not always possible to distinguish the particular lawless act
which resulted in arrest.
For instance, a disorderly conduct charge usually
means sex irregularity; it may mean intoxication or any of several acts
violating the law.
It is significant of the methods of arrest that only 2,178 of the
5,555 women arrested for prostitution were convicted and only 1,150 of these
were sentenced to the workhouse or given a straight sentence.
Forty-four were
sent to reformatory institutions, 908 were given suspended sentences, and
172 were put on probation.
The disorderly conduct charge presents another interesting
comparison.
sentenced.
Out of a total of 2,292 defendants found guilty, only 542 were
A fine was paid by 457 defendants and 1,094 received suspended
sentences with 155 put on probation.
On the degeneracy charge, 22 of the 59 offenders were sentenced
to the House of Detention for Women.
On the intoxication charge, 52 were fined, 26 sentenced, and 187
given suspended sentence. Five were put on probation.
-90-
On the drug addiction charge, all 55 convictions resulted in
hospitalisation at the House of Detention for Women.
On the charge of vagrancy, other than prostitution, 51 out of 92
convictions resulted in sentence, with sentence suspended in 51 cases.
Reaction of Women Offenders
to Court Procedure
The following excerpts from one hundred informal interviews*
with inmates chosen at random from the House of Detention for Women are given
here as descriptive of the women's reactions to the procedural treatment of
women offenders from trial in court to commitment to a penal institution.
It is to be understood that not all women offenders in New York City pass
through the Women's Court.**
Interview No. 5. White: age. 24t narcotic drug addiction.
Was taken to the Women's Court where she pleaded not guilty. The
detective who had arrested her advised her to change her plea to
guilty and promised that she would get off easier. She also talked
with another detective who gave her the same advice. Four days later,
when the case came up for trial, she pleaded guilty and received six
months' commitment to the workhouse at the House of Detention for
Women on a charge of prostitution, since her smear came back positive.
She claims that she had not known that she was suffering from a venereal
disease and that, after a period of ten days treatment at the House of
Detention for Women, she was found to be negative. Had record of one
previous conviction when she served four months at the House of Detention
for Women on a different charge.
Interview No. 25. Negro: age. 55: prostitution.
Without breakfast she was taken to the Women's Court where she was
advised by the detective to plead guilty. She did so "in order to get
it over with." She felt that there was no need of arguing and that
"the detective's words would be better than mine." She was given six
months in the workhouse on a charge of prostitution.
* See Appendix A (pp.425-497) for full transcript of interviews.
**-The interview number of excerpt corresponds with number of complete
interview in Appendix A.
-9 1 -
Intervlew Ho. 28. Kegrot age. 50: prostitution.
Without breakfast she mis taken to the Women's Court. She was advised
by the detective who arrested her to plead guilty, which she did. She
was sent to the House of Detention for Women for investigation. The
Board of Health report was negative. She was sentenced to four months
in the workhouse.
The above interviews illustrate the practice among arresting officers
of telling suspects how to plead in court.
Interview No. 9. White? age. 47: narcotic drug addiction.
Was taken to the Women's Court where bail was refused. She pleaded
guilty, her fingerprints were taken, and she was sent to the House of
Detention for Women for investigation. Her medical report came back
negative. Seventeen days later she was sentenced to the House of
Detention for Women for from one to three years. She claims she re­
ceived such a severe sentence because of her previous arrest as a
narcotic drug addict and as a shoplifter.
Interview No. 22. Indian and Negro; age. 29: prostitution.
Was taken from police station to Women's Court in police wagon. The
detective who took her suggested that she plead guilty, which would
give the magistrate a chance to give her a suspended sentence. She fol­
lowed the detective's advice and was sent to the House of Detention for
Women for investigation. When she asked if bail could be arranged,
the magistrate placed it at $300. This she could not afford and so
she remained at the House of Detention for Women awaiting trial. Her
smear came back negative but the Wasserman was positive. She was taken
back to the Women's Court where she received a sentence of six months
in the workhouse. She had a prior record on the same charge. Said the
magistrate had given her such a long sentence because he was angry that
a white man could have relations with a woman of another race.
Interview No. 41. Whitei age. 28| petty larceny.
Was taken from the police station to the House of Detention where she
was fingerprinted. Later she was taken to the Women's Court. Her
bail was set at $1,500. The following day she was given another hear­
ing, and her case was transferred to the Court of Special Sessions.
She had a lawyer who got her case postponed four times during three
weeks. Four weeks after the arrest she was sentenced to from one to
three years. She had one previous conviction.
Interview Ho. 46. Whltet age. 58; petty larceny.
Was taken to the Women's Court and got in touch with a bondsman and
was released in $1,000 bail. When she was booked at the Court of Special
Sessions the bail was raised to $2,000, for which she had to pay the
bondsman $40 on each one thousand. Two weeks later her case came up
and she was given four months on a charge of petty larceny. She claims
that the judge was lenient because it was found that she had not been
committed during the twelve years since her first commitment for shop­
lifting.
-92-
Several aspects of the ball situation are illustrated in the
four preceding interviews: the refusal of bail on a narcotic drug addiction
charge (Interview No. 9); bail of three hundred dollars set for woman
defendant on a prostitution charge (Interview No. 22); and, in Interviews
No. 41 and 46, the difference in amount of bail set for the same charge.
Interview No. 21. White: age. 52: prostitution.
Without any breakfast she was taken to the Women's Court where the
arresting detective stated that she had accepted money from M m for
prostitution, which she denied. She would not plead guilty and was
taken to the House of Detention for Women for investigation. Four
days later the report from the Board of Health stated that she had'
gonorrhea-. She was again taken to the Women's Court and received a
sentence of 120 days in the workhouse. She did not have a lawyer or
anyone interested in her case. She says this was her first contact
with a court.
Interview No. 29. Negro: age. 23: prostitution.
Without breakfast she was taken by the arresting detective to the
Women's Court where he suggested that she plead guilty. She had no
lawyer and did not know that she could get one free of charge. She said
she was excited and frightened as it was her first contact with the court.
She was sent to the House of Detention for Women for investigation.
Her Board of Health report came back positive, and she was given a
four months' sentence to the workhouse. When the second Wasserman was
taken, the report came back negative.
The two preceding interviews are examples of the attitude of first
offenders toward their treatment in the Women's Court.
Like most of the
interviewees, they mentioned the fact that they had been taken to court with­
out breakfast.
Interview No. 21 is an example of denial of charge.
Inter­
view No. 29 illustrates the emotional reaction of a first offender to court
trial.
Both oases are examples of the four-month sentence to the workhouse
for first offenders on a charge of prostitution.
Interview No. 23. Negro: age. 32: prostitution.
As she had had several previous arrests on the same charge, she did not
say a word but walked with the detective to his police car and was taken
to the Poplar Street Police Station, Brooklyn, where she was booked. In
the same car she was taken directly to the Women's Court where she was
-9 3 -
brought before the magistrate. She did not have an opportunity to
explain what had happened because the detective told the magistrate that
she was found soliciting on the street. She was sent to the House of
Detention for investigation and, when she was found to have a venereal
disease, she was detained as a Board of Health case. Each time she was
taken to court she waB fingerprinted and then sent back to the House
of Detention for Women.
Interview Ho. 24. Negro: age. ?; prostitution.
Without breakfast she was taken to the Women's Court. She pleaded not
guilty. She was sent to the House of Detention for Women where it was
found that she had syphilis. She had had three previous convictions,
and she was given a sentence of six months in the workhouse. Her
attitude toward her court experience is one of bitterness and she
feels that her first arrest could be justified but that later ones
were frame-ups.
Interview Mo. 26. Negro: ace. 55: prostitution.
Without breakfast, was taken to the Women's Court where she pleaded
not guilty. She was sent to the House of Detention for Women for
investigation and, when her report from the Board of Health was returned
positive* she was given six months in the workhouse. She had three
previous convictions on the same charge, the first two in 1952, when
she received a six months' sentence. At that time the officer told the
judge that she had accepted $2 from him. During another trial she said
that the detective had beaten her "boy friend" to make him confess that
he had given her money which she had accepted. The man was so frightened
that he said "yes" to whatever questions he was asked during the trial.
She claims that at her first trial she had been justly punished, but that
ever since she had been "railroaded." She is very bitter toward the
police and says she would like to see an investigation of the"high
honored" detectives.
Interview Ho. 47. White: age. 58: petty lwjrcany.
Without breakfast she was taken from police station to Police Head­
quarters and, later, to the Women's Court where she secured the services
of a lawyer. She claims that all he did was to take money from her
children, but that he did not help her. She was taken to the House of
Detention for Women to await trial at the Court of Special Sessions.
The lawyer told her to plead guilty so that she could get a suspended
sentence. When she did so two weeks later, she was sentenced for from
two to three years to the House of Detention for Women. She claims
that her lawyer wanted to make more money so he made the case appear
more serious than it was. Said she had nothing to say, except that she
was railroaded. She had not stolen and she had not forged, she said.
There was no evidence and there were no witnesses.
The four interviews above are examples of inmates who felt that
they had been unjustly treated in court.
In the first instance (Interview No. 25)
-94-
inmate complained that she had had no opportunity to state her case in
court.
Interviews No. 24 and 26 are complaints of "railroading."
In
Interview No. 47 inmate claimed that she was innocent, in spite of having
pled guilty on the advice of her lawyer.
Regarding the cases among the women interviewed who claimed that
they were innocent, the Seabury Report furnishes many instances where this
was found to be true.
Holey says, in commenting on this situation, "No
one will ever know how many threats of arrest have resulted in the fleecing
of innocent women.
Enough information has been brought to light to prove
conclusively that this 'framing racket' was a smoothly working concern."^
Interview No. 42. White; age. 49; petty larceny.
After having been placed in the line-up at Police Headquarters, she
was taken to the House of Detention for Women, later to the Women's
Court for hearing. She pleaded guilty and was held over for the Court
of Special Sessions in Brooklyn. Three weeks later she was sentenced
to six months in the workhouse. Her reaction to this experience was
one of haughty indifference. The one thing she strongly objected to
was that those who waited their turn in the line-up at Police Headquarters
were allowed to hear the history of other offenders.
The above interview is an illustration of the attitude of an old
offender.
The petty larceny charge in this case meant shoplifting (see
Appendix A, pages 453-54).
None of the above excerpts include what most of the inmates
gave as "extenuating circumstances" or the story behind the conflict with the
law.
In most of the one hundred interviews given in full in Appendix A, it
will be noted, the interviewees related their difficulties to early environment.
1. Holey, op. cit., p. 126.
-95-
Snrnmwrr
floral lm-fanp
The Women's Court is the oldest of the specialised courts and
it still continues to be a problem.
It was established to check venereal
disease, to check prostitution, and to rehabilitate offenders.
According to
Magistrate Kross1s Confidential Report to the Mayor. 1939, it has failed.
Against the red light districts, parlor houses, and brothels of the 1900's,
there are few apartment houses today free of prostitution and the automobile
has added a new phase to the problem.
In New York City the police and the Women's Court are the two
public agencies charged with the enforcement of laws concerning prostitution.
Magistrate Kross says:
Laws which it (the Women's Court) seeks to enforce are unsound since
no law of the State or City of New York makes prostitution, per se,
or fornication, a crime. And the assumption that prostitution can
be abolished, repressed, or regulated by sumptuary laws is equally
unsound.
The magistrate has summary power to deprive another human being of
liberty upon evidence that is trivial and in many instances absurd;
to determine if the plain-clothes policeman or the defendant said
"hello" first. The necessity for obtaining evidence of sex
delinquency leads invariably to the degradation and corruption of
the police.
Despite the fact that the Women's Court is a comparatively new
departure in the treatment of women offenders, it is carried on in the same
tradition-ridden manner as the regular Magistrates' Courts.
"The picture
has not changed, the evils are still t h e r e . T h e main change from the pro­
cedure of the regular Magistrates' Courts is that the hearings are private,
no spectators are allowed.
1. Anna M. Kross, op. cit.
2. Ibid.
In the early days of the Women's Night Court and
I
-96-
the present Women* s Court, there was usually a procession of morbid sightseers
at all sessions.
Instead of accomplishing any of the objectives for which it was
designed, "it has brought only shame to the word woman." The Women's Court
is a breeding place of framing, trapping, stool pigeons, shyster lawyers,
bail bondsmen, and bribery (police).
Only the poorest are arrested.
The charges of vagrancy, intoxi­
cation, and shoplifting invariably indicate poverty in women who reach the
courts.
Sex offense charges— loitering and soliciting and prostitution—
bring only the poor and the lowest to court, "those who are unable to keep
a steady clientele; no jewels, furs, or elegant dwellings."^
Says Magistrate Kross, "When a masculine procurer, pimp, seducer
is arrested, he gets a suspended sentence; as in prohibition laws, the seller
and not the buyer is the guilty party."
The average woman defendant brought into the Magistrates' Court
has spent the night at the House of Detention for Women, where a physical
examination has been given her, regardless of the offense charged.
In court, the attendant rattles off the charge in a mumbling
voice:
"Xou are charged with violation of Section 887, subdivision 4, of
the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Do you plead guilty or not guilty?"
The defendant stares, uncomprehending.
"Hot guilty," she finally manages to anBwer.
Her legal rights are recited to her by the magistrate: immediate
trial, bail, counsel, or adjournment.
1. Ibid.
-97-
The arresting officer takes the stand and tells his version of
the case.
The defendant takes the stand, denying.
And so it goes.
The cut-and-dried procedure is incomprehensible,
particularly to the first offender.
She feels at a disadvantage in the un­
familiar and, to her, forbidding surroundings.
Showing nothing of court
procedure and often lacking the ability to understand her legal rights as
related to her, she fumbles through the arraignment and subsequent appearance,
or appearances, in court.
"One wonders how it can be expected that women of
any sensitivity who have been so degraded for an offense that was not a crime
can emerge from prison with any vestige of self-respect or with a friendlier,
more cooperative spirit toward society."'*'
About one-third of all women arrested are dismissed.
The only
agency for extending any help to these women is the Magistrates' Court Social
Service Bureau, a private agency.
Only one-half of the City Magistrates used
the Bureau in 1958, and of the active cases handled by the Bureau in that
year only 657 were women.
Women who are dismissed but found to be suffering from a venereal
disease are referred to the Department of Health for treatment, or are sent
to one of the various city hospitals.
But since there is no legal control
available to supervise these women to see that the magistrates' recommendations
are carried out, this practice has been a failure.
The city hospitals are
overcrowded, the free clinics do not avail themselves of the desired privacy,
and the over-burdened nurses and Interns frequently lack the tact and
Sympathetic understanding to encourage these women to continue the long
treatment; on the contrary, they are being discouraged.
-98-
At one of the city hospitals, the investigator saw shout fifteen
young and old women standing in line with their winter coats over their arms
and their skirts raised on one side to expose their thighs.
At the end of the
room two young male physicians were giving injections; the women were
directed hy a nervous high-strung nurse who ordered one after another to
step up*
Some of them stepped forward without showing any emotion, some
screamed, some giggled and tried to flirt with the physicians, others trembled*
One woman who was there for the first time stepped out of line; said she
could not go through with it.
Her place was gladly taken by a young,
attractive girl, who said that she was in a hurry to get back to work.
She was
an old-coraer and boasted of her experience of the week before when a needle
broke while one of the interns was giving her an injection.
She smilingly said,
"We all have to learn sometime."
Narcotic drug addiction and intoxication cases which reach the
courts are often connected with prostitution.
The prostitute commonly resorts
to one or the other to make her life more bearable.
Heroin, opium smoking,
and the smoking of reefers^ made from the marihauna plant, are the most
popular narcotics.
In 1937 Magistrate Kross wrote of the Women's Court as "that
prostitution cesspool ambiguously termed the Women's C o u r t . I t would seem
that a special court based on traditional court procedure is not the answer
to the problem of prostitution.
When it is considered that there is no law
in the State or City of New York making prostitution, of itself, a crime, it
1.
2.
Strictly speaking, the reefer is not a narcotic, bub police and federal
agents include it in the broad classification of dope. (Around Times
Square) the reefer smoking dens are thickest and many are the dives of
cheap Negro prostitutes, where patrons go for a smoke as well as an
assignation. — From Vice in New York, Fortune. July 1959, p. 48.
A. M. Kross, A New Approach to Adolescent Delinquency, £ Report of the
Experimental Wayward Minor's Part of the Women's Court of New York City.
1957. Forward.
-99—
appears that criminal procedure and criminal punishment do not "fit the
crime."
The Wayward Minor's Court
The Wayward Minor's Court of the City of New York is located at
500 Mulberry Street, Manhattan, and is a part of the Women's Court.
Since
March 2, 1956, all wayward minors have been referred to this court where
experimental procedures are being followed in an effort to establish a new
technique for handling such cases.
Before the establishment of this court, all wayward minor charges
were heard by the presiding magistrate in the Women's Court proper, or in
chambers.
The magistrate was empowered to dismiss or adjudicate a case.
As in adult cases, after a hearing, the defendant was automatically referred
for investigation to the Probation Department of the Women's Court of New York
City.
If the defendant was adjudged a wayward minor, the alternatives of
disposition were limited to probationary supervision or commitment to a
public or private institution.
If the case were dismissed, unless a private
agency became interested in a particular case, there were no facilities for
supervision or assistance.
While private agencies cooperated to some extent,
there were no procedures for referral and no concerted effort toward defining,
coordinating, or centralizing facilities of public or private agencies.
No
investigation was made of the environmental, social, mental, or physical back­
ground of the defendant.
The magistrate proceeded merely on the evidence
technically presented by complaining witnesses.
Since March 2, 1956, this procedure has been discontinued.
The
initiation of the present procedure in the Wayward Minor's Court in the
-1 0 0 -
City of New York was largely owing to the efforts of Magistrate Anna M. Kross,
and the newer technique involved is of great significance in its social im­
plications.
Organization and Personnel
When the Wayward Minor's Court of the City of New York began to
function, two rooms at 300 Mulberry Street, Manhattan, were assigned to it.
A large court room on the second floor is used as a waiting room and complaint
room; The Roosevelt Memorial Room on the third floor is used as the court
room.
The personnel consists of the presiding magistrate; two probation
officers, who are assigned to daily intake interviews; six probation
officers, who are assigned to making investigations; a court stenographer
who attends all sessions; and a court attendant from the Women's Court who
takes care of all clerical details, such as the drawing of summonses and
warrants.
The WPA furnishes a supervisor -who acts as liason officer between
the magistrate and the Probation Department.
This supervisor schedules the
cases for adjournment or for hearing, and contacts outside agencies in an
effort to gain the cooperation of the community in the rehabilitation of
defendants.
Jurisdiction
The Wayward Minor's Court- of the City of New York is in session
every Wednesday throughout the year and has summary jurisdiction in all
cases of girls between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one who are charged
with violations of the Wayward Minor's Act, Sections 915 A, B, C, and D.
In Appendix B (p.511-£)there is a copy of this section of the Code of
-1 0 1 -
Criminal Procedure respecting wayward minors.
Also, girls between the above
ages may be apprehended on a charge of prostitution under Section 887-4A, Code
«
of Criminal Procedure.
The Wayward Minor's Court is a centralised court
covering wayward minor cases for all five boroughs of New York City.
Study of Case Before Hea-Hng
When Defendant Cooperates with Court
All complaints on wayward minor charges are referred to the Intake
Bureau of the Probation Department, also located at 500 Mulberry Street,
Manhattan, regardless of the source of the complaint.
It may come from the
police station, from a Magistrates' Court, the Women's Court, the Juvenile
Aid Bureau, or a private or public agency.
At the Intake Bureau the complainant and defendant, if possible,
are interviewed, and the probation officers write a report for the magistrate
of the Wayward Minor’s Court on the Intake Data Sheet (see Appendix B, pp.507-10).
This report also includes the Social Service Exchange clearance reports of pre­
vious contacts with social agencies, a report describing a home visit, and
any other data obtained.
If the interview is held on a court day, that is,
Wednesday, the information is presented forthwith to the presiding magistrate.
If it is held between court sessions, all possible information is presented
to the magistrate at the next session.
On the basis of this first report from
the Intake Bureau, the magistrate determines whether a summons or warrant
shall be issued.
Under the present procedure, no summons is issued before an Intake
Bureau interview has been held or before a sworn complaint has been signed.
No warrant is issued unless the girl fails to appear voluntarily and refuses
to cooperate with the probation officers or the Juvenile Aid Bureau.
-1 0 2 -
The Hearing. When Defend"”*Cooperates with Court
A summary of all findings are in the hands of the magistrate of the
Wayward Minor's Court before the girl's first appearance in court.
This
summary includes not only a description of the girl's Immediate difficulties,
emphasized in the immediate complaint, but it also attempts to point out the
underlying causes which lead to the offense.
On the basis of this information
and the direct contact with the girl, the magistrate is in a position to
determine whether it would benefit the girl best to be returned to her home,
while further investigation is pending, or to detain her elsewhere while
provision is made for physical and mental examinations and tests.
The hearings
are private and only those Immediately concerned with a case are present.
During the girl's first contact with the magistrate, the complaint
is formally reed to her and she is advised as to her legal rights.
The
magistrate tells the girl that this formal procedure is one of the legal re­
quirements which has to be observed.
The magistrate sets an adjourned date
with an order to the Probation Department, the Juvenile Aid Bureau, or another
cooperating social agency, in regard to further investigation.
The maximum
period of adjournment is six months.
On the day set for the hearing, the probation officer on the case
hands over the complete report of all investigations made to the magistrate.
The report follows a definite outline* which includes a summary of the intake
interview, results of investigation of legal history of defendant and family,
peculiar and particular features of the case, family background, childhood
and adolescent life, work history, and facts pertaining to the immediate
complaint.
* See Appendix B, p. 507, for outline.
-1 0 5 -
When this report Is handed to the magistrate, the probation
officer remains with the magistrate to clarify, if necessary the details,
and to discuss plans for future treatment.
Agencies which have had contact
with the girl send representatives to join the discussion.
All pros and
cons are carefully considered and plans are made with great care so that the
value of therapeutic treatment already started will not be lost.
When the defendant is remanded to an institution or paroled to the
custody of her parents or an interested agency, during adjournment of her case,
the court requires reports which are to be submitted at least evexy three
months.
In consideration of these reports, the court may change the original
plans made for the treatment of the girl and modify them to meet the need of
the particular girl.
Due to this careful treatment, the Wayward Minor's
Court claims that a large percentage of the girls brought to their attention
become sufficiently "adjusted" to obviate adjudication.
In such instances,
the case can be dismissed upon a written request on the part of the pro­
bation officer and the agency interested in the welfare of the girl, and a
statement of their willingness to continue their contacts with her.
The
court maintains a personal contact in each case until rehabilitation is assured.
Hearing and Trial of Defendants
Who Refuse to Cooperate with Court
It is possible to apply the above court procedures only in case
the defendant is willing to cooperate.
Should the girl refuse such co­
operation, she is given a full hearing, is tried and, if found guilty, is
adjudged a wayward minor.
Under these circumstances, the informal probationary
supervision changes to a formal probationaxy supervision, or the girl is
-1 0 4 -
committed to an institution.
All the legal requirements obtaining in adult
cases are followed to the letter of the law.
A girl who proves to be uncooperative can be arrested on a sworn
complaint, after a warrant has been issued.
station to be booked.
If necessary, she
She is first taken to a police
can be detained in one of the
police stations overnight under the supervision of a female correctional officer,
or she may be taken to the House of Detention for Women.
The next morning
she is taken to the Wayward Minor's Court, where she has a first interview
with a probation officer.
She is arraigned before any available magistrate
in the Wayward Minor's Court.
The aim of this court is to avoid arrests.
Those police women or
officers who have first contact with a girl attempt to induce her to give her
consent to temporary shelter or detention at a suitable place.
Such moral
suasion is the keynote of the experiment being carried on in this court.
Only if that method fails is severe treatment applied.
In cases where adjudication has been found advisable or necessary
and the defendant has been committed to an institution or put on probation,
the court requires monthly reports on her progress.
is held responsible for these reports.
The probation officer
The magistrate also requires reports
of every new case, even those which did not go beyond the first intake inter­
view, and of the disposition of the case.
When a case is closed, whether or not adjudicated, the record is
filed apart from the active probation files.
Every six months a detailed
analysis of all cases is made by scientifically trained workers.
The results
are evaluated to allow constructive criticism so that a more efficient pro­
cedure in the handling of wayward minors may be developed.
-1 0 5 -
Medlcal Thr«m<nation. Psychometric and
Psychiatric Tests in Wayward Minor Cases
While the facilities for medical examination and psychometric and
psychiatric tests of wayward minor defendants are still inadequate, an
effort is made to provide them in every case.
It is still necessary to use
the Board of Health clinics for tests for evidence of venereal diseases.
When clinical treatments are indicated, the girls must mingle with the adult
women who are also treated at the clinic.
There is a distressing lack of
adequate facilities for any kind of medical care.
City Hospital, Bellevue
and Kings County Hospitals are used, but they are hardly ideal.*
Psychometric tests are handled through the Vocational Adjustment
Bureau, the Neurological Institute, or any other available public or private
clinic.
Diagnoses of psychometric tests must be obtained from City Hospitals
or other outside source in the absence of any provision for such work within
the court organization.
Psychological tests are obtained when possible
through outside sources and there is still no provision for therapeutic
psychiatric treatment.
Number and Disposition of Cases
The report‘d issued in 1958 by the Wayward Minor*s Court organization
gives the number of cases handled from March 2, 1956, to November 25, 1956,
inclusive (see Table17, p.106).
During this approximate eight-month period,
172 cases received court attention.
*
As in the Board of Health clinics, young offenders referred to city
hospitals are not segregated from older offenders. The mass treatment
of'venereal cases in these institutions, without regard to the sensi­
bilities of young and first offenders, often leads to loss of self­
esteem and to degradation.
1. Procedure for Dealing With Wayward Minors in New York City, Report of
the Wayward Minor's Court. 1958, Unpublished, pp. 9-12.
-106TABLE IV
DISPOSITION OF CASES IN THE WAYWARD MINOR'S
COURT IN NEW YORK CITY FROM MARCH 2, 1956 TO NOVEMBER 25, 1936 INCLUSIVE1
1. Adjudicated Wayward Minors
25
7
2
10
3
1
1
1
Official Probation
1 year
2 years
Probation Suspended
9
6
2
1
Suspended Sentence
5
Probation Violation
5
2. Pending Without Adjudication
Remanded to Institutions
Florence Crittenden League
House of Good Shepherd
City Hospital
Bellevue
Inwood House
Wayside Home
House of Detention
Paroled to Parents
65
25
3
8
5
6
1
1
1
29
Missing
3
Warrants Pending
8
3. Charges Dismissed
Summons Withdrawn
Failure to Appear
Complaint Withdrawn
Parents Request
Complaint Dismissed
Total
67
8
2
38
12
19
'
_
Committed to Institutions
Westfield State Farms
St. Mary's in the Field
House of Good Shepherd
Peekskill
Brooklyn
Wayside Home
Brooklyn Training School
Bellevue (Returned for Mis­
conduct)
40
172
1. From Report of Wayward Minor's Court, Procedure for Dealing with Wayward Minors
in New York City. 1938, p. 41
-107-
The charges were dismissed in 67 cases for any one of several
reasons: summons withdrawn; complaint withdrawn; request of outside agency;
parents' request; or, as in 19 cases, the complaint itself was dismissed be­
cause of insufficient evidence or the return of defendant to her home or
institution.
In only forty cases were the charges against the defendant ad­
judicated.
These were all cases in which, after due consideration of all
circumstances, a full hearing, trial, and commitment or official probation
seemed the best course.
Twenty-five of these defendants were committed to
institutions; nine were placed on official probation; three received sus­
pended sentences.
Probation was violated in three cases.
The remaining cases, totaling 65, were at the end of the period
of the report pending without adjudication.
The defendants in this
classification were accounted for as follows: 25 remanded to institutions
for either medical or psychiatric diagnosis* (sometimes both); 29 paroled
to parents; three missing; in eight cases warrants were pending.
Fifty public and private agencies, institutions, and hospitals
cooperated in one or more of the Wayward Minor cases reported above.**
*
The following, illuminating footnote appears on page 45 of the Report
previously cited: "It is interesting to note here that three of the
six girls shown as remanded to Bellevue for observation are to be
transferred directly to Wassaic as a result of Bellevue's findings re­
garding their mental level. This process of committing to Bellevue and
subsequent transferral to Wassaic (institution for feebleminded) is one
of the most outstanding features of this new development. Heretofore,
there was no such provision for suitable disposition. Feebleminded
girls were frequently committed to institutions where, because of their
mental deficiency, thqy presented problems in adjustment, discipline, and
control which nullified any good results which might have been obtained
had they been properly committed in the first place."
** A list of these agencies is to be found in Appendix B, p. 506.
The number of adjournments allowed during the progress of a
case through the Wayward Minor's Court is significant of the use of the
time factor in investigation and attempted adjustment which is a part of
the newer technique of handling wayward minors.
The total separate adjournments recorded for the 172 cases
listed in Table17 (p.106) numbered 791, making an average of 4.6 adjourn­
ments for each case.
The actual distribution of adjournments per case,
as given below, illustrates the elasticity of this technique in handling
wayward minors.^
17 casesi had
n
it
19
n
it
55
n
it
22
it
n
S3
i
t
r
15
R
n
17
I
t
R
10
n
R
4
•
R
5
tt
R
S
it
R
2
R
1 case
n
R
1
1 case made
1 adjournment
2 adjournments
R
5
R
4
n
5
R
6
R
7
R
8
R
9
n
10
R
11
R
12
R
15
R
14
no appearance and
Another interesting feature of the Report of the Wayward Minor's
Court is the data obtained on venereal disease.
At present it is the policy
of the court to obtain a Board of Health examination in most cases.
During
the period represented by the above report it was not always requested.
According to the Report,
The necessity for using the Public Board of Health Clinic (which
frequently has an undesirable psychological reaction on a young girl)
and the difficulty in getting some girls to consent to an examination
have been the reasons why the Board of Health examination was not
always obtained. In instances where a girl is given temporary shelter,
however, an examination is part of the routine.
1. Ibjd., p. 41.
-109-
The following are the results of 128 examinations, 105 of them
ty the Board of Health:
Hot infected
Infected
Hospitalisation
Ambulatory treatment
62
55
25
8
These figures would seem to indicate, if this sampling can be taken
as representing the normal trend in wayward minor cases, that approximately
one-half of the girls receiving attention at the Wayward Minor's Court were
infected with a venereal disease.
Obstacles Confronting w^ym^rd Minor's Court
As in most social experiments, the realisation of ideal operating
conditions for the experiment now in progress in the Wayward Minor's Court
of the City of Hew lork is faced with obstacles owing to lack of funds.
The physical surroundings of the court are poor.
It is in the
same building as the Traffic and Homicide Courts, and thewaiting room is
a
thoroughfare between the Probation Department andthe Traffic Court andother
parts of the building.
There is commotion and unavoidable disturbance due
to these surroundings in the waiting room and to the separation of waiting
room and court room which is on the floor above.
The quarters assigned to the two probation officers who act as
intake interviewers are hopelessly crowded and privacy, so essential in such
interviews, is impossible.
There is no official means of securing the supplies needed for the
keeping of records and compiling of reports.
court records and reports are at a minimum.
In the regular non-specialized
In the ease of an organization
-1 1 0 -
like the Wayward Minor's Court, these records and reports are of the essence
of it8 value to the community.
Stationery, forms, and other supplies have
been obtained in the most haphazard manner.*
The personnel attached to the Wayward Minor's Court has been in­
sufficient to meet the needs.
The six probation officers assigned to make
investigations all carry a heavy loan in addition to such investigations as
may be assigned to them from the Wayward Minor's Court.
Proper facilities for physical and mental examination and diagnosis
of wayward minors are still to be provided.
For those in need of hospitalization
for treatment of venereal disease, generally a period of from six weeks to
three months, there are no institutions for such treatment where young girls
will not be in contact with adult women receiving the same treatment.
The
result of such contacts are only too often inimical to rehabilitation of
youthful offenders.
The prevalence of venereal disease among the young women
offenders presents a problem which requires full cooperation between the
community and the Wayward Minor's Court.
Provision for follow-up psychiatric therapy in cases where clinical
treatment is indicated is inadequate.
Until funds are provided for a separate
institution for the mental and physical care of young delinquents, both male
and female, existing institutions must be relied upon with haphazard results.
There would also seem to be great need for provision of more adequate
institutions for girls sentenced to institutions.
According to the Report
of the Wayward Minor's Court previously mentioned, there is desperate need for
institutions for the rehabilitation of girls between the ages of 16 and 21,
since they are above the age limit established in most institutions for
juvenile delinquents.
*
Magistrate Anna M. Kross has personally supplied funds for some of these
materials.
-1 1 1 -
Rimmmrv nryj Conclusions
It would seem to be self-evident that alleged female delinquents
between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one should be treated as a social
problem, Insofar as It is possible under the present social and judicial
systems.
It was in response to this idea that the Wayward Minor's part of the
Women's Court of the City of New York was established in 1956.
This
specialized court is an experiment in the treatment of female offenders in
the above age group passing through the Department of Correction of the City
of New York, and its authority comes from the Code of Criminal Procedure,
Section 913-A, B, C, D, known as the Wayward Minor's Act.
In this Act, a
wayward minor is defined as one who
1)
is habitually addicted to the use of drugs or the intemperate
use of intoxicating liquors,
2)
habitually associated with dissolute persons,
5)
is found of her own free will and knowledge in a house of
prostitution or assignation or ill-fame,
4)
habitually associates with thieves, prostitutes, pimps or
procurers, or disorderly persons,
5)
is wilfully disobedient to the reasonable demands and lawful
commands of parent, guardian, or other custodian, and is
morally depraved or is in danger of becoming morally depraved.
A minor may also be taken on a charge of prostitution under the
same section of the Code of Criminal Procedure as applies to adults.
*1.1
youthful female offenders cure handled by the Wayward Minor's Court irrespective
of the law under which they were apprehended, and the jurisdiction of the
court covers all five boroughs of the City of New York.
The magistrate who presides is always a woman, and the hearings and
trial, if any, are private; only those concerned with a particular case are
present.
-1 1 2 -
In the General Summary of the Report of the Barnard Minor*a Court. 1958,
it is pointed out that its experimental procedure has established two out­
standing factors which contribute toward adolescent delinquency; namely,
1)
That there is a close correlation between maladjustment
which results in alleged delinquency and the low intelligence
level of many of the defendants.
2) That there is undoubtedly, to quote Daniel Webster, "a terrible
concatenation of circumstances11 which conspires to render poor
environmental circumstances worse. The inevitable result is
that the vocationally untrained fail to find employment; that
those who lack proper recreational facilities get into
mischief; and that their mental and emotional maladjustments
result in personality difficulties.
The feature that mainly distinguishes the Wayward Minor's Court
from the Women's Court, or
any non-specialized Magistrates' Court, is the
amount of time and effort spent to adjust offenders, through individual and
group cooperation, to a more normal social attitude, and to do this without
adjudication.
In carrying out its rehabilitation program, the Wayward Minor's Court
has been hampered for
lack
of proper space and equipment, lack of sufficient
personnel, lack of community cooperation in the-provision of clinics,
hospitals, and institutions prepared to deal with these youthful offenders.
According to the Committee of Fifteen^" who touched on this problem,
"Minors are the most dangerous and most pitiable element in the problem (of
social evil). They are the most active source of contagion." Again, quoting
from the same source, "Minors are notoriously debauched by contact with adult
offenders (in clinics, hospitals, and so forth)." This aspect of the problem
of the wayward minor is not being handled to the best advantage owing to the
1.
Edwin R. A. Seligman (editor), The Social Evil, Hew York City flnmnlttaw
Q f Fifteen. 1902, p. 176.
-115-
dearth of clinics or hospitals where young girls can be sent advisedly or
where they will go of their own free will for treatment.
The method of the Wayward Minor's Court in dealing with youthful
female offenders is one of investigation of the individual's problem from
every angle, cooperation with all public agencies that can be of help to
the offenders, and the avoidance of routine legal technique wherever possible.
Investigation is carried out ty probation officers assigned to the court by
the Probation Department.
Where it is not possible to gain the cooperation
of the defendant in the above procedure, and, if the defendant is found
guilty, she is sentenced or put on formal probation.
It might be well to quote here from the General Summary of the
Wayward Minor's Court's own report^- on the method of procedure;
. . . . emphasis has been laid on the implied consent of the defendant
in all steps taken prior to adjudication. This method of seeking the
cooperation of the defendants in effecting plans for their best good
implies a new approach in the treatment of adolescent delinquents.
Every effort is made to secure their cooperation and to make them realize
their responsibilities in facilitating their adjustment. The Court
enforces its power only as a last resort. Each case is treated from
an individual standpoint and each individual is considered in relation
to her environment when attempts are made to rehabilitate.
The full flowering of this theory, however, will become effective only
when the City and State have recognized the need for additional
facilities for vocational training, supervised recreation, adequate
employment facilities, and psychiatric therapeutic treatment.
While not germane to the subject of the treatment of offenders, it
seems, in this connection, of sufficient interest to quote here a passage
from Sutherland's Principles of r.r-lm-tnrflngy dealing with the social and
economic background of most of the young girls who eventually find themselves
face to face with the law:
1. Procedure for Dealing with Wayward Minors in Hew York City, Report of
the Warward Minor's Court. 1958, Unpublished.
-114-
Poverty, at any rate in the modern city, generally means segregation
in low-rent areas, where people are isolated from many of the cultural
influences and forced into contact with many of the degrading influences,
and, in this respect, is very different from poverty in a small town
or on the frontier. In the city poverty generally means a low social status,
with little to lose, little to respect, little to be proud of, little to
sustain the efforts at self-advancement. It means bad housing conditions,
lack of sanitation, and lack of attractive community institutions. It
may mean that both parents are away from home during most of the waking
period of the children, and are burdened with fatigue and irritation
while they are at home. It generally means that the child is withdrawn
from school at the earliest permitted age to enter mechanical and un­
skilled labor which is not interesting or remunerative and which offers
few opportunities for advancement. It is surprising, in view of these
conditions, that ary of the poor people remain law-abiding.1
There are, if one is to believe the many studies of the factors
leading to adolescent delinquency, many other factors besides poverty.
But,
in dealing with youthful offenders particularly, the background of the
individual is something still adhering to the person of the offender in the
form of habits, manners, and social attitudes; and it must be taken into
account.
Habits, manners, and social attitudes cannot be taught by rote in
a penal institution.
If they have become "anti-social" in a person under
twenty-one years of age, they can be changed only in the way in which they
were formed, that is, by contact with environment.
It must, of necessity,
be a changed environment and one of sufficient duration to bring about
changed attitudes.
The next specialized court to be considered is the Domestic
Relations Court which deals with women offenders in their family relationship.
The Domestic Relations Court
The Domestic Relations Court of the City of New York was organized
in 1955.
1.
A centralized court formed of a consolidation of the Children's
Edwin H. Sutherland, Principles of Criminology, p. 175.
-115-
Court which waB organized in 1902 and the Family Court, organized in 1919,
originally a branch of the Magistrates' Court, the Domestic Relations Court
comprises two parts; namely, the Children's Division and the Family Division.
The Court maintains branches in each of the five boroughs of the City, each
branch made up of the same two divisions and its share of the Court's
Probation Department.
During 1938 the building now housing the Domestic Relations Court
of the City of Hew York was under construction.
and 22nd Street, Manhattan.
Street, Manhattan.
It is at Lexington Avenue
The Children's Court is located at 137 East 22nd
In 1938, however, the Family Court was located at
153 East 57th Street, Manhattan.
Organization and Personnel
The judicial system of the Domestic Relations Court is composed of
a presiding justice and ten associate justices, all appointed by the mayor
for a term of ten years.
In 1938 the staff for general administration, in­
cluding probation department, physiological laboratory, and psychiatric clinic,
cumbered forty.
This administrative staff, aside from the eleven justices,
was made up as follows:
Administrative Assistant to Presiding Justice
1
Director of Administration
1
Deputy Directors of Administration
2
Senior Accountant
1
Chief Probation Officer
1
Assistant Chief Probation Officer
1
Probation Officers
2
Director of Physiological Laboratory
1
Director of Psychiatric Clinic (Psychiatrist)
1
Medical Examiners (Psychiatrists)
2
Psychologists
5
Clerical Staff (all departments)
15
I
-116-
According to the Annual Report of the Domestic Relations Court of
the City of New York for 1958, -the staff actually required for administration
was sixty-five; the greatest need for additional personnel was shown to be
in the physiological laboratory and the psychiatric clinic.^"
The total staff of the Domestic Relations Court, including
branches, was 524 court attaches, plus 174 WPA workers.
This staff was made
up of chief clerks, assistants, probation officers, and clerical staff.
The
estimated number needed, according to the Annual Report, was 550 court attaches.
2
The Manhattan Children's Court Division is made up of the general
staff, consisting of 15 workers, the Probation Department of 27 workers, and
the Adjustment Bureau of four workers.
In addition to the regular organization
as outlined above, there are two special departments in the Children's Court
Division in which the staff is paid by outside sources.
The paid workers
in the Special Psychiatric Treatment Clinic, for selected cases carried on
full treatment, received compensation from a private fund.
Its staff included
three psychiatrists, one psychologist, nine social workers, and two stenographers
and typists.
The Junior League of New York maintained the second department,
the Child Welfare Clinic, with a pediatrician, trained nurses, statistician,
and twelve clinic aides.
The Manhattan Family Court Division has a general staff of fourteen
workers, a Probation Department of twenty-nine workers, and the Support Bureau
which has fourteen workers.
Jurisdiction
In the Children's Division of the Domestic Relations Court of the
City of New York, the Court has exclusive original jurisdiction in cases
1.
2.
Domestic Relations Court of the City of New York Annual Report. 1958,
p. 56.
Ibid., p. 54*
-117-
involving the hearing, trial, parole, probation, remanding on commitment, of
children under sixteen years of age alleged to be delinquent, neglected,
mentally defective, or material witnesses, and physically handicapped persons
up to twenty-one years of age.
It also has authority to appoint guardians
and grant orders for adoption.
The Children's Division also treats with adults
to try offenses less than felonies committed by persons in parental relation­
ship when such relationship contributes to the delinquency of children.
In the Family Division the Court has jurisdiction over cases in­
volving the support of wife, children, or poor relatives.
Appeals from the two divisions are taken to the Appellate Division
of the Supreme Court.
Formal Process of Arraignment
While this investigation is not concerned with the treatment of
children passing through the Department of Correction of the City of New York,
the Children's Court was, in 1955, consolidated with the Family Court:
. . . . on the knowledge that delinquency and neglect over which the
Children's Court had jurisdiction arose largely out of broken homes
and economic stress, conditions closely associated with those family
cases which ultimately ended up in Family Court. Presumably the
Legislature believed that a Judge with jurisdiction in both branches,
ready to function as a Judge of either Court, irrespective of the Court
in which he happened to be presiding, would thereby be enabled to
deal quickly with the discovered situation whether it presented a
picture of non-support or of a neglected or a delinquent child.
Possibly, there was also the practical thought that a Judge should
be familiar with all the incidents peculiar to both conditions in
order to do an adequate job in either.
It, therefore, seems pertinent to give here in bare outline the
procedure followed in handling children's cases in New York City, with the
investigator's reservation that the procedure in this court offers in its
1.
p. 25
-118-
objective ideal something that might apply, in some part at least, to other
courts.
Children's,Court Procedure,
Two hearings are given before disposition can be made of a case
in the Children's Court.
The first, referred to in the Court as "the con­
ference," is for the purpose of establishing all the material and juris­
dictional facts.
In spite of the Court's objective that a children's court
should function with a minimum of formality, witnesses must be examined and
may be cross-examined.
The Court must determine whether petition allegations
have been sustained by competent testimony before the Court has the right to
proceed further on behalf of the child.
In a small community a child need
not be taken before a judge at the time of his surest but may be taken be­
fore a probation officer and permitted to go home and remain there during the
period required for the study of his case.
In a city the size of New York,
where the conduct involved may be of serious character and of important con­
cern from the standpoint of public safety, where the opportunity for running
away and hiding are beyond control, it is often necessary to detain a child
until his case has been investigated and his ailment diagnosed.
But such
detention is unlawful without a prompt hearing and, therefore, in New York
City the hearing is held at once.
The second hearing is held a week later, after a full investigation
by the Probation Bureau, and by the Psychiatric Clinic, if required.
This
second hearing is clinical in nature and is for the purpose of diagnosing and
formulating treatment.
The task of the judge is, with the aid of trained and professional
assistance, to ascertain the cause of the child's conduct, his attitude, his
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reasons— the story back of the situation.
The probation officer, who should
be able to ascertain and recognize disturbing factors, has made his report
and recommendation, assisted, if need be, by psychiatrist, psychologist, or
physician.
The Adjustment Bureau of the Children's Court, which has three
trained social workers, one from the Court, one from the Juvenile Aid Bureau
of the Police Department, and one from the Board of Education, handles those
cases which present only minor and first difficulties and where there is
parental cooperation.
The workers in this department are required to have a
sound knowledge of the causes of difficult behavior in children so as to be
able to determine fairly accurately thoses cases which obviously do not
require Court treatment.
In cases of doubt, their instructions are to lay
the situation from the point of view of the child's problems before the
Justice of the Court and to receive his instructions as to whether the
Adjustment Bureau of the Court is to treat the case.
The nerb requisite on the part of these Adjustment Bureau workers
is a knowledge of all community resources for treatment of the child and its
family, if need be.
On the basis of this knowledge, a proper referral for
treatment in a given case is then made to a private or public agency outside
the Court.
Every three months a report of progress on the case is sent back
to the Adjustment Bureau by the agency.
If progress is not satisfactory, the
case is reconsidered^ as at the beginning with Court handling of the case as
a possible resort.
There is another service performed by the Adjustment Bureau of
the Children's Court which can and does show far-reaching benefits in in­
dividual cases.
When a judge, after the investigation of a case, decides
-1 2 0 -
that it is a matter that can be handled outside court, he may refer it to the
Adjustment Bureau for acceptance.
Where the element of court authority, and
the possibility of the ultimate exercise of such authority, has therapeutic
value, the case is adjourned for a proper trial period.
When the case comes up at the end of the trial period, if it
develops that interim treatment by the Adjustment Bureau has been efficacious,
the Court will dismiss the petition and order the case stricken from the re­
cords as a court case.
As in the Wayward Minor's Court, the aim of the Domestic Relations
Court of the City of New York, in both Children's Divison and Family Division,
is adjustment outside of court where cooperation can be secured and where
successful treatment on such basis seems fairly well assured.
Family Court Procedure
The function of the Family Court Divison is to make and enforce
orders for the support of wives, children, and poor relatives by those
responsible for their support.
It has no power to grant divorces or separations.
The Family Court is the clearing house for the enforcement of the New York State
statute law, based on the common law, which requires a husband, when able, in­
stead of the public, to support his wife and child.
Court procedure starts with a -petition or application by a wife,
or on the part of wife or guardian for a child, for legal support. A petition
is filed, process issued when necessary, investigation made, and the case
tried before a Justice of the Domestic Relations Court of the City of New York.
The disposition of a case, after petition allegations have been sustained by
competent testimony before the Court, results in an Order for Support.
-1 2 1 -
Where children are Involved and where there Is an Order for Support,
the Court may make an Order of Protection, reasonable in terms, setting forth
conditions of behavior to be observed for a specified time and binding upon
husband or wife, or both.
Such orders may require either spouse to stay away
from home or from the other spouse or children.
They may provide for the
visitation of children, or they may direct that there be no offensive conduct
by one spouse against the other or against the children.
They may even order
a spouse, presumably a wife, to give proper attention to the care of the home.
In addition, the Family Court has the limited right to award the custody of
children to either father or mother, or to an appropriate relative within the
second degree for a period of not over six months.
The usual period of an
Order of Protection is six months, but it may be renewed upon application and
proper evidence that its continuation is required.
The Family Court is authorised to require a respondent who is
ordered to pay support to give security for the faithful performance of his
obligation during the specified period.
This requirement is imposed only
when the history of the case indicates strong probability of non-compliance
with the Order without such security.
The Order for Bond may specify a
limited time of imprisonment as a penalty for failure to post security.
An adjunct to the Family Court is the Support Bureau which collects
and pays out money and keeps books which at all times show the financial status
of a case.
This system within the Support Bureau makes it possible to know
immediately when a respondent has failed to pay and within twenty-four hours,
theoretically, a notice is sent directing him to make immediate payment.
On further refusal, the Court institutes its own process to enforce compliance
on behalf of the petitioner.
-1 2 2 -
Like the Children's Court Division, the Family Court Division
makes, through its Probation Department, every effort to settle as many cases
as possible without a court proceeding.
The Intake Bureau, staffed with up
to six probation officers, three acting as interviewers and two as "sifters,''
hears the story of every prospective petitioner and determines whether the
case is of such character or emergency as to require the filing of a
petition at once without any attempt at conciliation or extra-judicial adjust­
ment.
If so, the case goes at once to the Petition Clerk.
If it is a case
over which the Domestic Relations Court has no jurisdiction or is one for
home relief or for the attention of a private agency, proper referral is made.
If the case is within the jurisdiction of the Court and not too
emergent, where the possibilities of conciliation or agreement do not
appear hopeless, the case is referred by the "sifter" to one of the three
interviewers.
The interviewer then makes a real effort in the interest of
adjustment without a court proceeding.
Should the prospective petitioner re­
fuse to accept the probation officer's efforts for adjustment, he or she may
rest on the right to an immediate trial.
In 1957, as reported in the Court's
Annual Report for 1958, there were 25,506 prospective petitioners in the
Court.
There were only 11,210 petitions drawn.
The Report says, "It is a
very encouraging fact that there are comparatively few returns to mark the
failure of our adjustment efforts."
The problem of re-hearings constitutes one of the major difficulties
of the Family Court.
As a social service court, the Court'a interest or con­
cern in the welfare of a family does not end when an Order for Support has been
made.
One party to the Order may think that the support given is too small and
-125-
the other that it is too large.
There may he just cause for dissatisfaction.
A hundred different changes may occur in circumstances and conditions and
each one, real or imagined, has legal basis for renewed application by & party,
favorably or unfavorably affected.
The Court may not disregard such
applications, legally or socially.
The Study of the Case
The study of a case in the Domestic Relations Court of the City of
New York takes much the same course as has been described for the Wayward
Minor's Court above.
It is in the nature of a complete investigation of all
factors of the case and carried out by trained social workers and probation
officers.
The description given immediately above of the court procedure
in both the Children's Division and the Family Division of the Court includes
in its sequence the place of Investigation in the handling of cases before
the Court.
Tha T r W
Because the Domestic Relations Court is a socialised court, the
hearing and trial of defendants in this court, called respondents since they
appear in response to a petition filed by a complainant and not necessarily
as a result of arrest by a police officer, are of a clinical nature.
The court* s
attitude, as defined by statute,* should be one of socialized scientific
*
"Section 89. Construction of Act. This Act shall be construed to the end
that the care, custody, and discipline of the children brought before the
court shall approximate, as nearly as possible, that which they should re­
ceive from their parents, and that as far as practicable they shall be
treated not as criminals but as children in need of aid, encouragement,
and guidance.
"Section 116. Cooperation with Other Agencies. Where it appears tbiat other
social agencies, either public or private, have dealt with and have knowledge
of the family, it shall be the duty of the investigation section to confer
with such agencies, to request from them in summary form a statement of their
information of the case, and to report this in writing as part of the case
history. . . .
(Continuation of footnote on page 124.)
-124-
treatment, rather than the legalistic, punitive attitude traditional and
still obtaining in criminal courts.
The hearing is conducted only after a probation officer has
made a field investigation.
In the preparation of these case histories, the
Probation Department communicates with such other social agencies as may
have known the family and obtains a complete story of their knowledge of
the situation.
The statute under which the Court operates requires all
public officials and employees to render such assistance and cooperation to
the Court as may be required in order that, before the Court proceeds to
judgment, it may have all the information and facts available.
Banks and
employees are required by the same statute to inform the Court fully with
respect to all credits and earnings to which respondents in Court are
entitled.
The statute specifies that whenever an application for support
is made an effort shall be directed by the Probation Department to restore
harmonious relations between the petitioner and the respondent to the end
that adjustment, conciliation, and agreement may be secured.
The case which eventually comes to trial is heard by one of
the Justices, who has jurisdiction in both Divisions of the Court and,
therefore, has authority to deal with cases coming under both Divisions,
irrespective of the Division in which he happens to be presiding. The dis­
position of a case in the Family Court may result in either a dismissal
of the petition or in an Order for Support.
The Children's Court has the
"Section 118. Efforts at Conciliation. Except where the circumstances
indicate it to be undesirable, in all cases where the application for
support has been made, an effort shall be made by the investigation
section to restore harmonious relations between the petitioner and
respondent and to adjust the issues raised by the application through
conciliation and agreement. . . . "
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authority to try adults on offenses less than felonies committed by persons
in parental relationship where such relationship contributes to delinquency
of children.
The Annual Report of the Domestic Relations Court of the City of
New York for 1938 does not distinguish in the statistics given on the number
of cases handled between male and female respondents.
It is, therefore, not
possible for this investigator to determine the number of women respondents
coming before the Court.
In the main, women offenders are heard and tried on complaints of
neglect to care for, or provide for, children tinder sixteen years of age.
They also come in on complaints of contributing to the delinquency of children,
either by neglect, ill-treatment, or example.
Since the Domestic Relations
Court handles only those offenses which are legally less than felonies, mainly
disorderly conduct charges, there are no commitments to indefinite sentence
to-reformatory institutions. The heaviest sentence possible is a definite
workhouse sentence.
The alternative disposition of the cases of women
offenders is either dismissal of the case, suspended sentence, or probation.
Number of Cases
During the year 1938, the Domestic Relations Court of the City of
New York held a total of 107,681 hearings: in the Children's Court Division,
38,958; in the Family Court Division, 68,723.
Of these hearings, 8,909 re­
presented new children's cases; 11,210, new family cases.
The remaining
hearings represented re-hearings, 30,049 in children's cases and 57,513 in
family cases.
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New cases in the Children's Court Division were classified in
the Annual Report as follows:*
Delinquent
Neglect
Physically Handicapped
Mental Defectives
Material Witnesses
Applications for Consent to Marriage
License
Adults Arraigned in Children's Court
for Violations of Compulsory Educa­
tion Law
Adults Arraigned for Failure to Pro­
vide for Children Committed to In­
stitutions
*
4,996
2,500
337
57
233
78
563
145
"The law (Chapter 482, Laws of 1933) defines 'delinquent child' as follows:
The words 'delinquent child' shall mean a child over seven and under six­
teen years of age (a) who violates any law of the United States or of this
State or any ordinance of the City of New York, or who commits any act
which If committed by an adult would be an offense punishable other than
by death or life Imprisonment; (b) who is incorrigible, ungovernable or
habitually disobedient and beyond the control of his parent, guardian,
custodian, or other lawful authority; (c) who is habitually truant; (d) who,
without just cause and without consent of his parent, guardian or other
custodian, deserts his home or place of abode; (e) who engages in any
occupation which is a violation of the law; (f) who begs or solicits alms
or money in public places; (g) who associates with immoral or vicious persons;
(h) who frequents any place the maintenance of which is in violation of law;
(i) who habitually uses obscene or profane language; or (j) who so deports
himself as wilfully to injure or endanger the morals or health of himself
or others.
"The law (Chapter 482, Laws of 1935) also defines 'neglected child' as follows:
The words 'neglected child' shall mean a child under sixteen years of agfe
(a) who is without proper guardianship; (b) who has been abandoned or de­
serted by either or by both of its parents, or by any other person or persons
lawfully charged with its care and custody; (c) whose parent, guardian or
person with whom the child lives, by reason of cruelty, mental incapacity,
immorality or depravity is unfit properly to care for such child; (d) whose
parent or guardian has been sentenced to imprisonment for crime; (e) who is
under unlawful or improper supervision, care, custody or restraint by any
person; (f) who wanders about without lawful occupation or restraint, or who
is unlawfully kept out of school; (g) whose parent, guardian or custodian
neglects or refuses, when able to do so, to provide necessary medical, sur­
gical, institutional or hospital care for such child; (h) who is found in
any place the maintenance of which is in violation of law; (i) who is in such
condition of want or suffering or is under such improper guardianship or
control as to injure or endanger the morals or health of himself or others."
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Mew cases In the Family Court Division were classified in the
Annual Report as follows:
Petitions for Support
Petitions Alleging Disorderly
Conduct
11,156
54
The above cases for both Divisions of the Domestic Relations
Court represent cases in which legal arraignment took place. The Court's
Probation Bureau succeeded in adjusting, without recourse to legal hear­
ings, 4,419 cases in the Children's Court Division, and 12,915 cases in the
Family Court Division.
The
Annual Report of the Domestic Relations Court ofthe
New York for 1958 discusses
a proposalthat the Court takeover
City of
in part the
work cow being done by the Wayward Minor's Court of the City of Mew York
and the Adolescent Court, a branch of the Magistrates' Court which exists
in the Borough of Brooklyn only.
The question would seem to be of sufficient
interest to this investigation to warrant the quotation here of the Court's
view of the subject:
It may be that this Court in the future will be faced with the
task of caring for an older age group of children. This is a matter
for society to decide. The proposal comes from those who believe that
there are many in the age group between sixteen and twenty-one who can
be reclaimed and who propose to substitute the sympathetic and scien­
tific approach to the problem found in the Children's Court for the
harsher techniques found in the criminal courts. However, among this
older group there are fewer as readily reclaimable as among our pre­
sent group. In this more mature group there are more who are hardened
and experienced offenders.
We are opposed to ministering to this older group by merely extending
the jurisdictional age of the Children's Court law, thereby adding
them to our present numbers, without making certain necessary pro­
visions which will insure the continuation of our present efforts un­
impaired.
The older group should not be treated in the same buildings
rooms
with the younger group. To do so would change the complexion and
-128-
atmosphere of our present Children's Courts, bringing in certain
aspects which now surround our criminal courts. Handcuffs, bondsmen,
and swarms of police officers would certainly not fit in with the
bucolic placidity which generally prevails in our present hallways
and corridors.
In this Court there are two divisions. The Family Division and the
Children's Division. We would desire to accept the older group only
on the condition that they come to us for treatment in a separate
branch of the Court, an Adolescent Division.
Siimmory
Conclusions
The criticism of poor physical surroundings, which can so legiti­
mately be made of most of the criminal courts where women offenders are
heard and tried, can no longer be made of the Domestic Relations Court of the
City of Mew York.
The building under construction in 1958 is finished and
occupied by the Court, and it is a good example of the best in modem court­
houses.
Notwithstanding its modernity, however, it does have a prison cell
for men and one for women.
In its Annual Report for 1958, the Court outlines the qualifications
needed by a Justice of the Children's Court:
The position of the Justice in this "clinic," should be analogous
to that of a sympathetic juror whose responsibility it is to give
the necessary legal approval and sanction to the method of treat­
ment proposed. Necessarily before such approval he will bring to
bear on the problem all of the specialized common sense which he has
acquired as a result of his socialized inclinations and experience.
The proper Children's Court Judge should have a legal training, a
social understanding and a liking for the.work. He or she should be
a tolerant person of broad experience and penetrating understanding.
He should be able to appraise quickly and fairly the value of the
treatment recommended. He should be willing to leave the application
and refinements of treatment to the Probation Bureau provided it is
properly staffed and directed.
1.
Domestic Relations Court of the City of New York Awmwl Report. 1958, p. 51.
-129-
Under a subtitle, "The Best Therapy," the Annual Report goes on
to describe the ideal manner of conducting proceedings as follows:
Judicial efforts to direct methods and techniques of treatment, no
matter how well intentioned, can cause confusion. In a large,
cosmopolitan center, of necessity a number of Judges may at varying
times review the same case. Different instructions and directions
as to treatment, varying in proportion to the number of Judges con­
sidering the case, can cause confusion and defeat.
The best therapy is that treatment which commands respect and con­
fidence on the part of the client or patient. Delayed decisions,
frequent court appearances, conflicting and multiple requests and
directions from the Bench, all indicate to the patient indecision
and uncertainly on the part of the Court and destroy his confidence
in the doctor and the treatment. Equally destructive of this con­
fidence on the part of the client is disparagement of a Probation
Officer or social worker by a Judge in open Court.
And, finally, with respect to the relationship which should exist
between the judicial and probation departments:
Treatment methods should be in the hands of the Probation Bureau.
For good and sufficient reason the Probation Bureau should not be
allowed to do more than recommend the cessation of treatment.
The Judge should be the one who surveys the entire situation,
orders the removal of crutches and directs the return of the patient
to society under his own power. The same is true not only with
respect to termination of probation but with respect to a re­
diagnosis as well as commitment.*
In thus depicting what the Court itself considers ideal operating
conditions, it is pointing out conversely some of the criticisms that can be
made of the operation of both the Children's Court and the Family Court.
On the positive side, the Domestic Relations Court of the City of New York,
in its personnel, procedure, and its results, is so far superior to the
regular criminal courts as to make comparison absurd.
!•
2.
Ibid.. pp. 29-50.
Loc. cit.
-1 5 0 -
The treatment of women offenders in this Court, except where ad­
justment is accomplished by the Probation Department without court hearing,
is based on the same legalistic procedure as would obtain in any other court.
In other words, the treatment of women offenders, as well as male offenders,
is conditioned upon the attitude of the offender toward the Court. The
value of the Domestic Relations Court lies in its socialized approach— the
opportunity given the offender to cooperate with the trained workers pro­
vided in the effort to adjust the offender’s difficulties without adjudi­
cation.
The Domestic Relations Court also faces the same difficulty experi­
enced by other courts in the matter of insufficient personnel to carry out
the socialized practices which are a great part of its value to the community
and to society. This lack of personnel occurs mainly, as is true in other
courts, in the probation, social work, and extra-judicial departments such
as the psychiatric clinic.
CHAPTER VI
TREATMENT OF WOMEN OFFENDERS FOLLOWING CONVICTION:
PROBATION
Probation is a process of treatment prescribed by the court for per­
sons convicted of offense against the law where the person has received a sus­
pended or deferred sentence.* Probation is, in itself, a sentence and, for the
defendant who satisfactorily completes the period of probation as prescribed by
the court, it results in honorable discharge from all connection with, and re­
sponsibility to, the court.
Probation is also a privilege and, for good and
sufficient reason, may be revoked by the court.
When this happens, the pro­
bationer is brought into court on a warrant and the sentence which was suspended
or deferred at the time of the trial is then put in force and the person is
committed to serve that sentence.
The person on probation lives in the community and is free to regulate
his or her own life, with certain restrictions or conditions imposed by the
court, and is subject to supervision by a probation officer.
The difference between a prison sentence «nd a sentence to probation
is that the prison sentence seeks to rehabilitate by segregation and probation
seeks the same result by supervised freedom.
In the New York State Probation
Commission Report for 1905, it is stated that "the Courts in this State have
always possessed an inherent power to release convicted offenders under a sus­
pended sentence, and that power has been exercised from time immemorial but, until
very recently, without any provision for oversight or supervision of the persons
so released."^
*
A suspended or deferred sentence does not necessarily include a pro­
bationary sentence.
1. The New York State Probation Commission Report. 1906, p. 7.
-151-
-132-
Beglnnlpg pf Prp.fefliA.Ofl i£ fiSE IfiEk S£atg
The first general law in the State of New York pertaining to pro­
bation was not enacted until 1901.
Then, at the instance of the New York
Prison Association, the Code of Criminal Procedure was amended by the in­
sertion of Section 11-A which provided for the appointment of probation
officers by the courts of original jurisdiction in all cities of the State.
The Amendment also briefly outlined the duties of probation officers.
It
provided that officers might be chosen from among private citizens, male or
female, or clerks or assistants of the court or district attorney's office,
or police officers or constables, but that probation officers should not re­
ceive compensation for their services as such.
In 1904 a further Amendment
permitted the City of New York to pay salaries to women probation officers
not detailed from other branches of the public service.
The duties of probation officers, as outlined in the Amendment of
1901, were "to inquire into the previous history of the defendant when so
directed by the court; to make such reports upon persons placed under his
care as the court might direct; to furnish each person released on probation
under his care a written statement of the terms and conditions of his pro­
bation; and to report to the court any violation of such terms and conditions.
As prepared by the New York Prison Association, the Amendment was
applicable to both children and adults— the latter being all persons over
sixteen years of age— but, owing to the active opposition of the New York
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, it was amended to apply
only to persons over sixteen years of age.
Neither the original law providing
for a Children's Court in the City of New York nor the statute enacted in 1902,
1.
IiQC. cit.
-155-
under which the Children's Court was actually organised, contains any re­
ference to probation.
In 1905 the law under which the Juvenile Court of
Brooklyn was organised provided that the presiding justice of what was
then the Brooklyn Children's Court should have authority to appoint "not
more than three discreet persons of good character to serve as probation
officers during the pleasure of the Court.
By the time the report of the New York State Probation Commission
was published in 1906, two probation officers had been appointed in each of
the City Magistrates' Courts, on% a police officer for male offenders, and
a female probation officer for women.
Police probation officers were regular
members of the police force and were the personal choice of the individual
magistrate.
courts.
The probation officer accompanied the magistrate to the various
Female probation officers were originally selected by the magistrate
and were, as a rule, persons previously selected by charitable or religious
societies for missionary work in the police courts.
The duties of the female
probation officers were to report at court every morning at nine o'clock,
to visit the police courts and make inquiries as to the number of women held
over night, to question the women and report their histories to the
magistrate.
In the Court of Special Sessions in the Boroughs of Manhattan and
The Bronx, there were "two probation officers, a male and a female, but the
woman officer received a salary under a special statute from the City, and
g
the man's salary was paid by the Children's Aid Society."
1.
Ibid.. p. 11
-154-
In the Court of Special Sessions, Boroughs of Manhattan and the
Bronx, the general agent of the New York Prison Association acted as pro­
bation officer for such judges as used probation.
In the County Court of Kings County in Brooklyn and,-also, in the
Court of Special Sessions, Brooklyn, there had been "considerable use, both
before and since the enactment of the Probation Law of 1901, of suspended
sentence and, in effect, the probation system.
A county official under the
title of County Detective had been assigned to probation work, even before
the enactment of the law."^
The merits and defects of the probation system, as seen by the
New York State Probation Commission in 1906r were as follows:^
1)
2)
5)
4)
5)
6)
No system of identification
Police probation officers do not have proper qualifi­
cations for the work
There are no adequate court records of persons on
probation
Periods of probation are too short
The rotation of the male probation officer with
the
magistrate is undesirable
Opinion is that they (the probation officers) are
selected by reason of favoritism rather than any real
qualification for the work
An attempt was made to obviate the first criticism above by a
rule of the Probation Commission which took effect February 1, 1906, and
provided for a central system for the identification and record of pro­
bationers.
It
System of 1958
as follows:
1.
Ibid.. p. 20
is upon this comparatively recent framework that
is based.
theprobation
Sutherland defines the nature of probation, in part,
-155-
Probation represents a distinct break vith the classical theory
of criminal law, for it attempts to deal with offenders as in­
dividuals rather than as classes or concepts, to select certain
offenders who can be assisted while at liberty to form correct
habits and attitudes without a penalty, and to use a great
variety of methods for this purpose. It represents, also, a dis­
tinct break with the retributive theory of punishment. It does
not attempt to make the offender suffer; it attempts to prevent
him from suffering. Some suffering results from the status, to be.
sure, but it is not intentional and is avoided as far as possible.
Development and Progress of Probation
For nearly fifty years before probation was authorized by statute,
volunteers had been assisting offenders who had received suspended sentences
from the court but were at large only on good behavior. These volunteers
sometimes acted as financial surety in cases where such guarantee was
demanded by the court.
The help given often consisted of admonition and
threats; at best, it was friendly guidance.
In the early years of legal probation there was no attempt to
evaluate the problem of the individual in terms of subjective and objective
factors.
With the advent of the Binet-Scale of intelligence in 1905, the
modern probationary study of the individual was on its wey.
In 1915 Dr.
William Healy published his study of individual delinquents and opened up the
study of delinquent social behavior.
In the short period between 1915 and
1925, changing ideas about crime and delinquency presented entirely new
bases upon which to prescribe probationaxy treatment.
In 1925 Cardinal Hayes of the Archdiocese of New York set
an
experimental probation bureau in the Court of General Sessions of the City
of New York.
The program lasted two years and cost $250,000.
The personnel
of the bureau was equipped by education and training to study the complex
1.
Edwin H. Sutherland, Principles of Criminology, p. 383
-1 5 6 -
problems facing the probation officer.
The staff was divided into In­
vestigation and Supervision Divisions so that each division might be given
an opportunity to specialize in its field.
At the end of this program in 1927, the Court of General Sessions
organized its present publicly maintained probation department.
It was not until 1928 that all probation departments in the City
of New York were placed under the jurisdiction of the State Department of
Correction.
Since yearly reports have not been made on probation, it is
impossible to ascertain the extent to which probation has been used in the
City of New York or what progress has been made, measured by the number of
offenders placed on probation each successive year.
Cantor reports that,
in the State of New York, 7,154 adults and juveniles were placed on pro­
bation in 1908, and 26,613 in 1932.^
Organization and Jurisdiction
There are four distinct probation systems in the City of New York,
that is, in the City Magistrates’ Courts, Court of Special Sessions, Court
of General Sessions, and the Domestic Relations Court of the City of New
York (which includes the Children's Court). All probation officers in the
New York City Courts are now appointed through the Civil Service Commission,
after thqy have qualified through competitive civil service examination.
The organization of the probation department in each of the court
probation systems is headed by a Chief Probation Officer, who is the
administrative head of the department.
This Chief Probation Officer is
subject to the direction of the presiding officer of the court.
1.
Nathaniel Cantor, Crime and Society, p. 111.
He is
-137-
asslsted by deputies and their assistants, an assistant to the Chief, and
a chief clerk and a small clerical staff.
The Division of Investigation and Supervision of the probation
department is staffed by probation officers, deputies, assistants, and what­
ever professional or technical personnel has been added to the probation
department of the particular court.
The jurisdiction of the probation department is limited to
offenders after conviction.
Probation investigation and probationary sentence
follow the same routine within the legal jurisdictional limitation of the
courts as the jurisdiction of the courts themselves.
In all cases placed on probation, a complaint has been entered
against the defendant, a trial has been held and a conviction has been
secured.
A probationary sentence is a "criminal record" within the meaning
of the law for purpose of sentence on second offense, civil service, and so
forth.*
The terms of probation are set jointly by the court and the pro­
bation department.
They generally include the observance of all laws, good
habits and good company, regular reports to the department, regular work or
school attendance.
A probationer must report a change of address, and can­
not leave the city without permission.
A probationer may not mariy without
the approval of the probation officer.
A probationer convicted on a charge
of shoplifting is warned not to enter a department store. The payment of
*
Section 483 of the Code of Criminal Procedure defines probation pro­
ceedings as follows: "After a plea of guilty or a verdict of guilty,
where the discretion is conferred upon the court as to the extent of
the punishment, and where there appear to be circumstances in miti­
gation of the punishment, the court shall have power in its discretion
to place the defendant on probation in the manner following: The court,
upon suspending sentence or suspending the execution of judgment, may
place such person on probation during such suspension under the charge
and supervision of a probation officer. . . . "
-158-
restitution or reparation is often a requirement where damage or theft has
resulted in loss to the community, and the payment of fines or costs may be
required.
If the probationer maintains the conditions imposed, discharge from
probation at the end of the probationary period is made ty the court in pro­
ceedings before a magistrate or other official having the power to pronounce
the original sentence.
Preliminary Investigation of the Case
The preliminary investigation or study of a case made by a probation
officer has been described in Chapter VI. The law making it compulsory to have
preliminary investigations made before placing defendants on probation be­
came effective July 1, 1928. The investigation is made after arraignment has
established the guilt of the defendant and before sentence is imposed.
The
report of the investigating probation officer to the court contains data of
the facts of character and social, economic, health, and educational status
of the offender; this report is used by the judge in deciding whether or not
probation is desirable or advisable.
Probationary Supervision of the Case
Probationers are required by the court to report at regular inter­
vals to the probation officer.
This contact takes place at the office of
the probation officer or at some other place he selects.
The New York
Probation Commission recommends that weekly reports be required in the first
part of the probation period, and that the frequency of the reports be de­
creased in the last period.
The probationers are often required to bring
-159-
wrltten reports from employer or school, or receipts for payment toward the
support of the family or for restitution or reparation. The conscientious
probation officer asks the probationer about his work, companions, re­
creations, and so forth, and gives advice where he thinks it will do good.
The New York Probation Commission has fixed one home visit every
two weeks as the standard; the same standard was accepted by the committee
appointed to formulate juvenile standards.
In practice, as will be seen
later in the section on the several court probation systems, home visits are
much less frequent than this.
The function of the probation officer should be one of adjustment—
the adjustment of the probationer to law-abiding society.
As has already
been suggested in connection with wayward minors, habits, manners, and
attitudes can be changed only by contact with a changed environment.
It is,
therefore, understandable that one of the main avenues of assistance to pro­
bationers is through employment, relief, or material assistance of some sort.
For younger probationers, supervised recreation is often supplied.
Unless
the probation officer has special training in psychology, psychiatry,
sociology, and social case work, material assistance remains the chief means
of help.
Further, as will be seen by the case load carried by the individual
probation officer in the City of New York, the recommendation of the New
York Probation Commission that fifty probationers be considered the normal
case load has not yet been realized.
Probation in the City of New York
There is considerable variation in method of operation and amount
of probationary work done within the four court probation systems in the
City of New York; there is consequent variation in accomplishment.
In view
-140-
of these differences, the systems will be treated separately with the ex­
ception of probation in the Domestic Relations Court of the City of New
York.
The probation system constitutes the main therapy of the Domestic
Relations Oourt and has already been described in the foregoing chapter.
Probation Department of the Magistrates1 Courts
The headquarters of the probation department of the Magistrates1
Courts of the City of New York is at 500 Mulberry Street, Manhattan, and
probation officers are assigned from here to each of the Magistrates1 Courts.
The personnel of the department consists of the Chief Probation
Officer and forty-two probation officers taken from the New York City Civil
Service list, as well as a clerical staff of fourteen— bookkeepers, steno­
graphers, and typists. Twenty-six of the forty-two probation officers are men;
sixteen are women.
The salary of the Chief Probation Officer is $4,400 a year.
The
salaries of probation officers range from $1,690 to $2,880 a year, with two
appointments at the lower extreme and one at the higher.
Fifteen probation
officers receive $2,880 a year.*
The Annual Report for 1958^gives the number of preliminary investi­
gations made and number of cases placed on probation for the year as follows:
Men
Total number of preliminary investigations 4,481
Total number of cases placed on probation 1,167
*
Women
1,485
561
All probation officers appointed subsequent to September 27, 1958, will begin
at $1,680 per annum and will arrive at $2,599 by animal increments of $120,
in a salary grading of positions as follows:
1. All receiving up to $2,599 — probation officers
2. All receiving from$2,400to $2,999 — senior probation officers
5. All receiving from$5,000to $5,599 — supervising probation officers
4. All receiving from$5,600to $4,199 — assistants to Chief Probation Officer
5. Receiving $4,200 and over — Chief Probation Officer
This grading was not an actuality by the end of 1958.
1. City Magistrates1 Courts of the City of New York Annual Report, 1938.
-141-
The distribution according to borough of the cases of women offenders
under the two classifications listed above is as follows:
Number of
Preliminary
Investigations
District Courts—
Manhattan
Bronx
Brooklyn
Queens
Richmond
Women's Court— Manhattan Cases
Women's Court— Brooklyn Cases
Wayward Minor's Court
488
52
75
82
10
451
87
280
1,485
Number of
Cases Placed
on Probation
151
5
10
22
6
155
17
217
561
When it is recalled that during 1958 a total of 1,074,191 hearings
were held on all charges for both sexes (Table I, p. 82) and that each of
the forty-eight magistrates hears an average of 22,000 cases a year, it would
seen clear that the proportion of defendants being handled by the probation
department to the total of defendants passing through the City Magistrates'
Courts during 1958 was very small#
In order to give a picture of the work of this probation department
that will not be too buliy for the scope of this study, It seems advisable
to limit the illustration to cases handled through the Women's Court#
The
illustration will be further limited to those, cases arising in Manhattan#*
The personnel of the probation department of the Women's Court
(for Manhattan cases alone) was made up of seven female probation officers
and one clerical worker, as follows:^
*
The figures in each instance have been taken from the Awwimi Report of
the Probation Bureau, City Magistrates' Court, New York City, for 1956,
a report prepared with the aid of the U. S. Works Progress Administration
for the City of New York# No later separate report for the Probation
Department of the City Magistrates' Courts has been issued#
1# Probation Bureau* City Magistrates' Court of New York Citv Awmml ReDort.
1956, Table X £ H
-142-
Court representative— stationedat the "Women1s Court
1
1
Assistant— stationed at the Women's Court
Supervising probation officers— stationed at
300 Mulberry Street
Investigating officer— stationed at
300 Mulberry Street
Stenographer and typist— stationed at
300 Mulberry Street
4
1
1
The volume of work for the year 1936, as measured ty the number of
cases under consideration, is indicated by the following classification:1
Total
Total
Total
Total
Total
number
number
number
number
number
of
of
of
of
of
cases pending— January 1,1936
cases received
cases under supervision
preliminary investigations
home visits
481
307
782
896
1,388
This juxtaposition of personnel and volume of work presents an
illuminating detail of the picture.
For one investigating officer the report
shows 896 preliminary investigations for the year.
For four supervising officers
the report shows 782 women probationers under supervision and 1,388 home visits*
It is not indicated in the report whether or not the home visits are a part
of preliminary investigation or supervision of probationers, or both.
In any
case, these figures for the year 1936 would seem to indicate that the case
load per probation officer was too heavy for intensive work with probationers
in the interest of their rehabilitation.
The following classification gives two interesting details: one,
that all new probation cases received were sentenced on sex charges; and two,
that more than three-fourths of the women offenders were within the ages of
twenty-one to thirty-four years of age:
p
Total Under .18-20 21-24 25-34 55-44 45-54
_____ 18
Sex Offenses
Wayward Minors
292
1
13
9
3
6
110
124
55
7
55 and
over
1
SOI
1.
2.
Ifeid., Table H V
Loc. clt.
/
-145-
The disposition of the 896 oases of women offenders In which pre­
liminary investigations were made at the direction of the court was shown
In the report to he as follows:^
Probation
Workhouse
Westfield State Farm
House of Good Shepherd
Sentence suspended
Warrant
Dismissed
Remaining in hospital
Bellevue Hospital
St. Mary's in the Field
Discharged
247
588
14
15
215
2
1
9
1
4
_2
896
of 896 cases investigated by probation officers, 247 were
considered fit for probation by the court.
The report has the following classification under the heading
"Results of Probation," for the Women's Court, Borough of Manhattan:
2
Total Improved No Improvement Committed Absconded
Sex Offenses
555
228
101
17
189
Wayward Minors
10
545
—
§
235
1
102
1
18
5
192
These figures show that out of 545 active probation cases for the Women's
Court in 1936 (Manhattan cases), only 233 showed improvement during the
year.
Out of this total, 192 probationers absconded or, in other words,
disappeared from the picture.
One hundred and two showed no improvement
and, if they continued to show no improvement, would eventually, presumably,
be committed to serve the sentence suspended at the time of trial; eighteen
were committed.
The same 1936 report, quoted above, gives three classifications of
women offenders under the District Courts of Manhattan and The Bronx, which
1.
2.
Ibid.. Table XXIX
Ibid.. Table XXVI
-144-
are not carried out for any other borough or for the Women’s Court.^
The
probation department made 421 preliminary investigations at the instance of
the Manhattan and The Bronx District Courts and these three classifications
were on citizenship, marital status, and occupation.
Since the distribution
of women offenders within these three classifications is probably representa­
tive for all district courts and the Women's Court, they are given here to
provide a partial picture of the women offenders themselves.
Citizenship
Citizen
Alien
First Papers
No Information
Out of town
Marital Status
574
12
1
5
51
421
Single
Harried
Common-law
Separated
Divorced
Widow
Information
refused
Annulled
Out of town
145
127
2
65
11
58
5
1
51
421
Occupation
Housewife
14
Professional
7
Unemployed
275
Occupational 91
Information
refused
5
Out of town
51
421
Here is a composite or average picture of the woman offender turned
over to the probation department of the City Magistrates' Courts of the City
of Hew York for investigation.
She is a citizen and unemployed, between the
ages of twenty-one and thirty-four.
Approximately one-third of these women
were single, a little less than one-third were married, and about one-sixth
divorced.
To complete the picture of the woman offender, a quotation, from
the 1956 report of the Probation Department of the Magistrates' Court is
given below, to present the probation officer' 8 view of the problem.
The problem, especially of the older offenders, is largely a medical
one. Younger defendants, not yet hardened in the way of vice, can be
helped while on probation and, as a matter of fact, are being con­
structively helped in many weys. Unfortunately, many of the older
1.
Ibid.. Table IV
-145-
offenders, especially, do not want to be helped and refuse to co­
operate with the Court or the Probation Department. It Is signifi­
cant that over a period of years about one-third of these defendants
are absconders. It might be stated offhand that more and better pro­
bation service would prevent so mazy absconders. This is not true
and, from ny experience of over 25 years, I do not hesitate to say
that most of these adult offenders are unattached, unemployed, un­
trained vocationally, in mazy instances unemployable, in the dull
but normal class, without funds or friezids, or without religious
training. This whole problem has been aggravated by the depression,
and the difficulty of securing employment for those who are willing
to work Is still a reality.
A large number of these women live in furnished rooms and might be
said to be constantly in transit. Thqr are not members of a family
uziit in the normal sense of the word and, without homes or friends
in New York City, they unfortunately cannot be classed as promising
probation material. . . . The policy, in general, of placing offenders
on probation because they do not deserve a suspended sentence and are
not bad enough to be committed to prison may be charitable but neither
sensible nor scientific.3The same report goes on to say that a member of the probation staff
visits Kingston Avenue Hospital regularly to interview those first offenders
who are undergoing treatment for venereal disease.
(The italics are the in­
vestigator's.)
The purpose of this practice is to offer a helping hand to those
who wish to be helped on their release from the institution. The
results, thus far, from this innovation have been quite promising
and satisfactory. A member of the staff also accompazxies all girls
after their release from the hospital to the Department of Health
Clinic so that they can be registered for future medical treatment.^
In fairness to the probation department of the Magistrates1 Court,
as a whole, it is pointed out that some of the limitations of the department
are acknowledged in the 1956 report quoted here.
The attitude of the personnel
of the department toward these limitations can best be shown by direct
quotations from the report.
A maximum of five days is permitted for (preliminary investigation)
in the Magistrates' Courts. Sometimes, because of particular cir­
cumstances, this period of time is not possible.
1.
2.
Ibid.
Ibid.
-146-
There are any number of cases in which the contribution made by
psychiatrists, physicians, and psychologists to the better under­
standing of human behavior should be recognized. In our scattered
geographic situation these facilities cannot always be used to the
fullest extent. In a centralized court system in any one of our five
boroughs, provision could be made for the fullest use of this
scientific machinery.
To those of us who have watched the development of probation during
the last quarter of a century, it seems quite certain that we have
made a considerable amount of progress. This progress, however,
has not been commensurate with the social and economic possibilities
of the probation system itself.
It is quite evident that if the probation system is to 'function in
dealing with the large number of social, economic, and moral pro­
blems with which it is confronted in the course of a single year,
its organization must be materially strengthened. The staff, both
male and female, should be so strengthened that it will be possible
to have a certain number of officers confine their undivided attention
to investigation prior to sentence and a selected group to exercise
constant constructive supervision over those placed on probation.
In addition, case supervisors are essential if the best results are
to be obtained from both investigating and supervising officers.3A final note on the progress of probation for women offenders passing
through the City Magistrates' Courts of Manhattan is dated 1959.
phlet entitled "Facts About Probation in
change
In a pam2
the City Magistrates' Courts," a
of policy in the Women's Court is recorded as follows:
The custom of placing a large number of women offenders on probation
in the Women's Court has been discontinued. By and large the
material was not suitable for probationazy treatment. First offenders,
however, receive the consideration to which they are entitled as far
as our limited resources permit it. The problem is largely a health
one, but not entirely. Reformation still comes from within and there
is still a spiritual force capable of guiding and protecting even
hardened offenders.
That the above policy has been put into effect, at least partially,
would seem to be evident when a comparison is made of the number of women
1. Annual Report of the Probation Bureau, oo. cit.. (not paged)
2. Jacob G. Sherman, Jr., Chief City Magistrate, and Patrick J.. Shelly, Chief
Probation Officer, p. 4
-147-
placed on probation in the Women's Court for 1956 and 1958.
In 1956, 507
women were placed on probation during the year in the Women's Court
(Manhattan cases); whereas in 1958, the number of women placed on pro­
bation in the same classification was reduced to 155 cases.
It would appear
to be questionable that the program of probationary treatment for women
offenders has had a fair trial in the City Magistrates' Courts in view of
the comparatively short length of time it has been tried and the admitted
shortage of trained personnel for the work.
Probation Department of the Court of Special Sessions
The probation department of the Court of Special Sessions of the
City of New York is on the second floor of the Municipal Building, Manhattan.
The personnel of the department consists of the Chief Probation Officer and
twenty-one probation officers taken from the New York Civil Service list.
The salary of the Chief Probation Officer is $5,500 a year, and the salaries
of the probation officers range from a low of $1,680 to $2,880 a year, as in
the City Magistrates' Courts.
According to the Annual Report of the Court of Special Sessions for
1958, 1,081 defendants, of whom 112 were females, were upon conviction placed
on probation.^ The total number on probation on January 1, 1959, was 1,590,
Including 149 women.
These 1,590 offenders on probation were distributed
among 21 probation officers.
The report comments on this situation as follows:
In my opinion 75 are too many to be properly handled by a single
officer. In fact it is generally agreed that from 40 to 50 cases
are sufficient to absorb all the time of one officer. It must
be kept in mind that all investigations as a preliminary to sen­
tence are conducted by the Probation Officer. Five thousand eight
hundred and fifty-six investigations in connection with sentences were
1. Court of Special Sessions of New York City Annual Report. 1958, p. 10.
-148-
inade by the Probation Officers. Out of the 5,865, there were
669 females. This indispensable work is done in addition to the
supervision of probationers. It is also exclusive of extensive
investigations in connection with paternity cases.
The number of paternity cases handled in 1958 by the Court of
Special Sessions was 2,808.
On January 1, 1959, there were 4,656 such cases
in which payments to mothers were supervised by the probation department.
The term of probation for male defendants in paternity cases normally lasts
until the child is sixteen years old.
During 1958 a total of $250,872.94
was paid by such defendants to the Commissioner of Welfare who is trustee of
the money for the mothers.
The Boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn furnished
eighty-six per cent of the paternity cases for the five boroughs.
In the Annual Report of the Court of Special Sessions for 1959,
there appears the following comment:
The burden of the Probation Department is clearly evident . . . .
It has struggled manfully to meet the demands placed upon it.
These demands, however, are far beyond the capacity of the present
staff, which must be materially increased.
Thus, lack of sufficient personnel and the low salaries paid pro­
bation officers in the Court of Special Sessions would seem to be sufficient
reason for the infrequent use of probation in place of sentence, and for
the admittedly low standard of probation work.
Probation Department of the Court of General Sessions
The probation department of the Court of General Sessions, as it
is todey, began to function on January 1, 1927, after the close of the
experimental program financed by the Catholic Church.
Aside from this ex­
perimental program, all the probation work of the court until 1927 had
been done by the social workers assigned by the Prison Association of New
-149-
York and the various charity associations of the City.
After the establishment of a staff classified in the civil service
by open competitive examinations, a standard method of investigation and
case work treatment was developed for the guidance of the staff.
The staff was divided into two groups under the direction of
the Deputy Chief Probation Officers.
Those workers who were considered best
qualified to conduct investigations into the personality and social mal­
adjustments which lead to anti-social conduct were assigned to the Division
of Investigation.
Those whose temperaments and specialized equipment
qualified them to give the intricate and detailed services which are a basic
part of probation treatment were assigned to the Division of Supervision.1
In ten years the staff increased from 54 to 86 employees.
When
the necessity arose for more executive control, the positions of case super­
visors (assistants to the Deputies) were created.
Irving W. Halpern, Chief Probation Officer for the Court of
General Sessions of the City of New York, in his report oh probation in the
Court of General Sessions gives an illustration of the progressive attitude
of this probation department:
The training given in universities and schools of social work was
found insufficient. To stimulate the staff to an awareness of the
problem and to keep them up-to-date, staff conferences and case
discussion sessions became a regular procedure in the Probation
Department. Outside speakers, experts in the field, addressed the
officers.*
In December 1951 the probation department, through the Judges of
the Court of General Sessions and a committee of public officials,
1.
2.
Irving W. Halpern, A Decade of Probation. 1927-56, p. 26.
Loc. cit.
-150-
psychiatrists, and social workers procured the establishment of the
Psychiatric Clinic.
This clinic is maintained by the Psychiatric Division
of the Department of Hospitals of the City of New York and conducts mental
and physical examinations of all offenders investigated by the Probation
Department of the Court of General Sessions.
Every person who is convicted of an offense in this Court is re­
ferred to the clinic for examination by the probation department.
mately 2,800 examinations are made each year.
Approxi­
Where psychiatric treatment
is indicated by these examinations and the offender is released on pro­
bation, the cases are referred back to the clinic for treatment.
In 1952 the Institute in Probation was established.
lecturers were invited.
Guest
The New York Acadeny of Medicine cooperated.
A library for the probation officers was established.
Staff members take
further training at the New York School of Social Work and at the Fordham
University School of Social Service.
Officers attend state and national
conferences on probation and social work.
The Probation Department of the Court of General Sessions occupies
almost the entire fourth floor of the Criminal Courts Building at 52 Franklin
Street, Manhattan, where the Court is located.
The personnel of the depart­
ment is made up of the Chief Probation Office^ at a salary of $8,500 a year,
two deputy probation officers, at salaries of $5,000 a year each, an
assistant to the Chief Probation Officer, at $5,400 a year, and forty-four
probation officers at salaries of from $5,000 to $5,600 a year.
The de­
partment has a clerical staff of thirty-eight— bookkeepers, stenographers,
and typists, and two detectives are permanently assigned by the Police De­
partment to act as warrant officers.
-151-
The Judges of the Court of General Sessions, unlike the presiding
officers In the Magistrates' Courts and the Court of Special Sessions, have
the power to fix the salaries of probation officers.
Probation officers for
this Court are chosen from the New York State Civil Service list.
State
examinations for probation officers are held every four years and the re­
quirements are raised each time the examinations are held.
ation in this class was held in October 1940.
The last examin­
The Chief Probation Officer
of the Court of General Sessions chose only those candidates holding a
university degree, a diploma from a school of social work, and three years
of field work experience in a recognized social work agency.
The probation department is divided into an Executive Division,
a Division of Investigation, a Division of Supervision, a Division of Accounts
and Finance, a Division of Research, and the clerical staff.
Chart I
gives a clear picture of the organization of this probation department.
Executive Division
The Executive Division, aside from the Chief Probation Officer,
consists of two deputies and their assistants, the assistant to the Chief,
a chief clerk, and the clerical staff. The standards which govern the work
of the members of the department are developed and maintained by the executive
officers, and conferences for this purpose are held daily.
The executive
officers also act as case consultants and direct the field activities of the
staff.
The Executive Division is the liason group between the Court, the
Department, and the several community agencies of the City of New York.
■Division .of Investigation
The Division of Investigation conducts an investigation of every
offender arraigned before this court preliminary to sentence; and its
-152I
j
Judges of the Court of General Sessions
Chief Probation Offioer
Bureau of Supervision
Deputy
Chief Probation Offioer
Bureau of Investigation
Deputy
Chief Probation Offioer
Administrative
Assistant
Departmental
Secretary
Secretary
Stenographer
Supervisors
Statistician
Clinic
Probation
Officers
Probation
Offioers
Chief Clerk
L Stenographers
Typists
Record Clerks
Booldceepers
Switohboard
Operator
Information
Clerk
Warrant Officers
N.Y. Police Department
Court of General Sessions, Probation Department
Halpern, I.W.
"A Deoade of Probation”
p. 12
i
i
-155-
inquiries, findings, and interpretation of legal, social, mental, and physical
factors are contained in reports which the judges have before them when im­
posing sentence.*
Sentences are adjourned from ten to fourteen days in order that a
searching inquiry may be made into the problems of the offenders.
During the interview with the offender, the probation officer exerts
every effort to induce the offender to give a detailed and truthful statement
of his life and the conditions under which his life developed.
Aside from the
usual inquiries concerning childhood, family, education, employment, and re­
creation, the probation officer questions the offender on leisure, religious
observances, ethical concepts, and the mental attitudes which lead to criminal
activities.
In Appendix B (p. 515) will be found a sample of the investigation
blank used ty the probation officer to record the interview.
Every offender is given psychiatric, psychological, and physical
examinations in the Psychiatric Clinic which is located in the same building.
The field investigation includes an analysis of the offense, and an
evaluation of the life of the offender and of the factors which converged to
*
The Deputy Chief Probation Officer of the Court of General Sessions
made the following statement during an interview with investigator in
January 1941, on a change in regulations regarding young defendants
made in the fall of 1940:
When a youth between 16 and 20 years of age is referred to this court
for indictment from a City Magistrates' Court, a probation officer makes
an investigation of the case before the defendant's plea is taken. The
Judge of the Court receives a report of this investigation and sees the
defendant in his chambers in the presence of the parents. The judge
may place the defendant on probation without a court hearing. Finger­
prints are taken during investigation, but defendant has the right to
the return of the fingerprints after release from probation. So far,
only boys between the ages of 16 and 18 have come under this regulation,
but if girls between 16 and 20 years were referred for indictment thqy
would be entitled to and would receive the same treatment.
When asked if any fingerprints had yet been returned, the Chief Deputy
Probation Officer said not but that the intention was to return them
off probation supervision. The effect of this new
regulation is that young men and women coming under it will be released
from probation without a criminal reeo'
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create the offender.
It Includes interviews with teachers, school nurses,
family, landlord, neighbors, friends, persons in social agencies, employers
and fellow employees, and a study of leisure time activities.
All information
is recorded and copies are furnished to the institution to which the offender
is committed, in cases where the offender is not placed on probation.
A copy
of the record is also furnished to the State Division of Parole and to the
New York City Parole Commission.
'Triplicate fingerprints of the offender are taken by the police
fingerprint expert assigned to the Court.
The probation officer assigned to
the Division of Investigation, for the purpose of checking criminal records,
compares the fingerprints with the records at Police Headquarters, the New
York City Department of Correction, the Parole Commissioner of the City of
New York, the Division of Parole of the State of New York, and the Magistrates'
Court.
In each case an original fingerprint record is forwarded to the
identification division of the United States Department of Justice in
Washington, D. C.
In addition to this research of the criminal records, the record
officer also visits nine other agencies to ascertain whether the offender, as
a juvenile, appeared in the Children's Court or was committed through the
Department of Public Welfare to an institution or by the Board of Education
as a truant.
Evexy case is cleared through the Social Service Exchange, and,
if the offender came to New York City from another city, the case is cleared
through the social exchange in that city.
Division of Supervision
The Division of Supervision is responsible for the supervision,
direction, and probation treatment of all persons placed in the custody of
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this department.
The department reports its analysis of individual treatment
programs, violations of probation, and all other communications to the Court
in writing on forms which have been developed for this purpose.
Verbal
communications and reports are not permitted.
The minimum standard for the work of the Division of Supervision
is social case work in accordance with the best practices in use in recognized
social service agencies.
The city is mapped into districts.
The officers are
assigned with regard to the religious and racial origin of the groups they
will supervise and, insofar as possible, all probationers are assigned to officers
of the same sex and religious faith.
Probationers are required to report to the probation officer weekly,
and the probation officer visits the home of the probationer twice a month.
The officer checks the employment of probationer monthly.
The office of the
probation officer is open every day until eight o'clock in the evening, except
Saturday when it is open until noon, and most probationers make their reports
between five and eight o'clock in the evening.
When the probationer fails to report, a home visit is made within
twenty-four hours to ascertain the reason for absence.
If the probation officer
finds no satisfactory reason within twenty-four hours, the officer clears the
probationer's fingerprints through Police Headquarters.
An effort is made to
trace absconders and, in most instances, successfully.
When an offender is placed on probation, he is escorted by a court
attendant to the probation department. He is interviewed by the Deputy Chief
Probation Officer and the rules of probation and general requirements are
explained in detail.
The probationer is then introduced to the probation
officer in charge of his case.
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The individual plan of treatment is developed about one month after
the probationer has been placed in the care of the department.
The plan is
revised and modified every three to five months.
The maximum probation period for felonies is the maximum term of
imprisonment which can be imposed under the law for the offense committed.
For a misdemeanor, the maximum period is three years.
Should it appear that
the probationer is in need of further rehabilitation measures, the Chief
Probation Officer submits a request for an extension of the probation period
to the sentencing judge, which is invariably granted.
Since 1934 a diary type of record has been kept of each case on
probation.
First, an initial, entry which marks the transition of the record
from the work of the Division of Investigation to the Division of Supervision.
Second, periodic monthly summary which is a narrative record providing for
flexibility and for the presentation of a coherent, integrated picture of fact
or event in logical sequence for an opportunity for interpretation and
diagnosis.
The purpose of this method of recording data on a case is two­
fold: first, it aids to improve the quality of the officer’s work and,
second, it provides efficient^ rapid, useful means to the executive to direct
and evaluate the work of the officer.
These records form the source material for research studies.
When
the probation period is about to terminate, a detailed report concerning the
probationer's conduct during the probation period and a recommendation for
his discharge is submitted to the judge who placed him on probation.
Division of Finances and Accounts
The Division of Finances and Accounts is concerned with the collec­
tion and disbursement of restitution, reparation, and family support on the
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account of probationers, and keeps account of the expenditure of funds appro­
priated by the City for maintenance of the department.
Division of Research
The Division of Research prepares the reports for presentation to
the sentencing judge and handles the detailed stenographic work necessary to
conduct the inquiries of the department.
The Annual Report of the Probation Department of the Court of
General Sessions for 1938^ gives the number of persons convicted in this Court
and, subsequently, investigated by the probation department as 2,330 male
and 105 female defendants.
Of the 105 female defendants investigated, 54 were
white and 51 were Negro.
Of the above total of 3,435 defendants investigated by the probation
department, 543 persons were placed on probation.
30 were women.
Of these 545 probation cases,
The proportion of women offenders placed on probation in 1958 in
the Court of General Sessions was considerably higher than that of men.
The
men placed on probation equaled only 19.87 per cent of all men investigated?
for women the proportion placed on probation was 28.57 per cent of all women
investigated.
For all women placed on probation in 1938, it was the first
time on probation.
Of the 50 women defendants placed on probation, 19 were white and
11 colored.
According to color and age group, the women probationers were
distributed as follows:
Total 16-20 21-25 26-50 51-35 56-40 41-45 46-50 Over 50
1.
White
19
3
Negro
11
50
2
2
2
7
1
4
4
1
1
3
Court of General Sessions, Report of the Probation Department for
the Year Ending December 31, 1958. p. 180.
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Thus, 24 of the 30 women offenders were below 36 years of age, with
eleven of these falling within the age group 26-50.
This grouping corresponds
substantially with that obtained in the probation department of the Magistrates1
Court of the City of New York for the Women's Court (Manhattan cases).
The offenses for which these women were sentenced to probation were
grand larceny, petit larceny, assault, conspiracy, arson, robbeiy, and unlaw­
ful entry.
Twelve of the women were convicted on charges of petit larceny,
eight on grand larceny, and six on assault charges.
During 1958 the probation department of the Court of General Sessions
in the work of investigation prior to sentence and in supervising those on
probation made 21,135 home visits and 5,085 employment visits.
The department
made 5,699 separate contacts with social agencies and 6,151 other contacts.
Probationers made 32,537 reports to probation officers in person, 2,026 reports
ly telephone, and 4,918 reports by mail.
The number of persons under probationary supervision in the Court of
General Sessions on January 1, 1938, was 1,459.
The 542 new cases for the year
brought the total to 1,170 cases handled during the year.
The Report?-for 1938
closes with an evaluation of the relative success or failure of its work as
follows:
Three hundred and forty-seven men and women, 17.34 per cent of all
under supervision in 1938, were discharged during the year. This in­
cluded 17 women and 330 men. The prognosis in regard to the future
social adjustment of 175 of them . . . . was 'Favorable.' With re­
spect to those 100 about whom we felt less optimistic, it was 'Fair.1
In 72 cases . . . . because of various and variously combined
natural qualities and environmental handicaps, there was no definite
assurance that the course of future conduct would be unmarred ty
further lapses from acceptable social standards of living, and these
72 persons were, therefore, discharged with a 'guarded' prognosis.
1. JEbid., P« 95
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In terms of the 'failure' or 'success' of probationary treatment,
we report 160 persons . . . . as having failed to make a proper
response. These men and women absconded, were committed to an
institution or to other authorities for supervision, or had bench
warrants lodged against them for some breach of regulations or laws.
•Partial success,' as indicated above, was achieved in 72 cases; and,
according to our customary evaluation, 1,738 cases under our super­
vision, 88.22 per cent of the total for the year, were marked ty
'success.' by that we mean that our supervision resulted not in
perfection but in a better physical, social, economic, mental, and
spiritual integration of the personality of a defendant than we
found when he or she was given into our charge.
The probation department of the Court of General Sessions presents
the best organization and method of probationaxy work to be found in the City
of New York.
The standard established and maintained for character, person­
ality, and training of probation officers of the department are high; and the
higher salary attached to a higher court appointment makes it possible to
obtain workers of better than average grade. While the case load of probation
officers in this court exceeds the recommended maximum of fifty probationers
per officer, the staff is larger in proportion to the number of defendants
passing through the Court than for any of the other court probation systems.
As a result of better organization and personnel, the treatment of
both men and women offenders placed under probation in the Court of General
Sessions is correspondingly better than in any other court.
Summary and Conclusions
The major portion of offenders, men and women, are handled in the
lower courts.
This means that the great proportion of crimes committed are
minor crimes.
It would seem that the most profitable field for probation would
be found in these courts— the Magistrates' Courts and the Court of Special
Sessions.
And yet, it is in the lower courts that probation has shown the
least development and expansion.
According to the Executive Director of the
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National Probation Association, the small percentage of minor adult offenders
placed on probation is not due to the fact that these offenders cannot be
dealt with even more satisfactorily ty probation than the more serious criminals,
but is due almost entirely to the fact that the lower courts have not as yet
equipped themselves with adequate probation staffs.*On the other hand, in the higher criminal court— the Court of
General Sessions— the probation department has shown steady improvement since
its establishment in 1927. The probation department of the Domestic Relations
Court has likewise improved and expanded until it is an integral part of the
entire court procedure.
This is not to say, in the opinion and experience of the investigator,
that probation in the higher courts has reached the peak of perfection.
There
is perhaps no such goal to be reached, since probation treatment in a given
case can be no better than the probation officer doing the work of investigation
and supervision.
The procedure in probation, like the procedure in court, is
subject to the human equation.
When the professional material is of a high
standard, the quality of work done will be high and more likely to show good
results in the rehabilitation of probationers placed in their charge.
For instance, the Court of Domestic Relations of the City of New
York requires a college education, two years of stucty- in a recognized school
of social work, and two years of field work with a recognized social agency,
as the minimum requirements.
In addition, "The probation officer should be
a person of proper personality, intelligence, and training.
2
such officers have, the better."
The more training
1.
Charles L. Chute, Editorial, Jail Association Journal (January—February,
2.
Domestic Relations Court of the City of New York Annual Report. 1938, p. 27.
1940), p. 5.
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But, according to the Report of the Domestic Relations Court for
1958,
The efficiency and value of Probation Officers will depend largely
on the type, quality, and ability of the Chief Probation Officer.
Not only should such officer have had all the training and experience
required of members of his staff, as well as qualities of leadership,
but he should be of character, personality, and acquaintance able to
secure cooperation between the court and all private agencies in the
community. He should be one thoroughly conversant with all the pro­
gressive steps and programs for improved case work and cooperative
effort, and he should be able to direct educational, self-educational
if necessary, programs for Probation Officers in order that they may
keep abreast of all important developments in their chosen field of
service.
There is one point of advantage possessed ty probation technique
and procedure as compared with court procedure and that is the absence of a
body of binding tradition.
Probation today is the result of a gradually
evolved, but increasingly competent, technique.
of backward looking.
It is forward looking instead
Training facilities are gradually being developed in
schools and -universities along social lines which will fit candidates of the
proper caliber for successful work in this field.
The outlook for the woman offender -under probation is not as good
as for the male offender.
According to the Chief -Probation Officer of the
City Magistrates' Court Probation Bureau, the women offenders passing through
the Women's Court are not suitable material for probationary treatment.
He
states, however, that first offenders receive the consideration to which they
are entitled as far as the limited resources of the department permit.
Lekkerkerer says that the assumption that younger offenders are less
hardened than older ones is not borne out ty statistics; "no class of offenders
is more difficult to reform than the prostitute barely twenty, with years of
experience in prostitution.
Some of the older inmates had first contact with
the law at an age well over twenty-five*n
1*
2*
Lekkerkerer also seys that the
Xbid«| p* 28•
Eugenia C. Lekkerkerer, Reformatories for Women in the United States«
p« 228*
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criminal record often used as a criterion is not helpful because some first
offenders were clever enough to avoid detection for a number of years.
Sex offenders constitute the great bulk of women offenders.
The
provisions under which a great number of acts of prostitution are tried are
vagrancy and disorderly conduct.
It may be that probation is not a workable
technique in rehabilitating sex offenders but, since most of such offenders
are disposed of in the lower courts, it cannot be said that probation treat­
ment has been given a fair trial.
The volume of work handled in the
Magistrates' Courts has increased in recent years but facilities have not
developed accordingly.
Petty crimes and misdemeanors are all too often
handled in a hurried fashion with no regard for individual rights
or the
social problems involved.
No intelligent social worker or probation officer would suggest
that women offenders, as women, be given better or special treatment.
What
might be suggested is that, on the basis of different emotional needs,
different economic needs, different reactions to outward environment— on the
basis, that is, of the difference between men and women— they be given
different treatment.
It may be that an entirely different technique will
eventually be employed in probationary work with women offenders.
It would
seem to be worth an effort.
Many reclaimable offenders are committed to prisons, to suffer
the degradation of a prison sentence, and to mingle with hardened criminals.
In the absence of social preventative action to forestall the increasing
criminal activity, both male and female,* probation offers the only means of
*
"The most recent report of the State Department of Correction announced,
■crimes in New York State during 1958 showed an increase of 8.5 per
cent over the 1957 total.*" Governor Lehman at the National Parole
Conference, Washington, D. C., April 17-18, 1959.
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keeping the reclaimable out of prison.
Probation is not merely "giving
another chance" to the offender; it is, theoretically, a method of guiding
and training the individual toward a better social adjustment.
CHAPTER VII
TREATMENT OF WOMEN OFFENDERS FOLLOWING CONVICTION:
INSTITUTIONAL TREATMENT
In the sixth chapter it was pointed out that the difference be­
tween a prison sentence and a sentence to probation is that a prison sen­
tence is an attempt to rehabilitate by segregation, while probation seeks
the same result by supervised freedom.
In the present chapter will be
found a description of the segregation of women offenders in New York City
in the method of treatment known as imprisonment or commitment to a penal
institution.
The House of Detention for Women
On March 26, 1952, the House of Detention for Women in New York
City was formally opened, and the first women offenders were received May
1 of that year.
The Department of Correction of the City of New York has
since confined its detention and imprisonment of women offenders to this
one centralized institution.
Women held for trial by magistrates at the Third, Fifth, Seventh,
Ninth (Women's Court), and Twelfth District Courts, and the Special Sessions
and General Sessions Courts of the Boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and
Queens, are sent to the House of Detention for Women for periods varying
from a few hours to several months.
Women committed to serve either a workhouse or a penitentiary
sentence are sent to this institution by the same class of courts from all
five boroughs of New York City.
The length of sentence varies from one
day to an indefinite tens, with a maximum of three years.
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In addition, the Federal Court of the New York District commits
women to the institution to he held for trial or when sentenced to a t e n of
less than one year and a day.
District attorneys of either the Federal or
County Courts commit material witnesses whenever the circumstances of the case
under consideration warrant custody.
1.
She Physical Plant
Located at 10 Greeraich Avenue in New York City, the House of Detention
for Women rises eleven stories and penthouse.
The structure occupies an irregu­
lar plot extending on Greenwich Avenue for 198 feet, on the rear line for 150
feet, on West Tenth Street for 89 feet, and on Sixth Avenue for 47 feet.
The building is modernistic in architectural design and of fireproof
construction over a steel skeleton.
The lower part of the first story is of
granite, the balance of the building in tapestry brick with ornamental metal
spandrale; ornamental lintels and sills are made of stone.
High above the
main entrance, a cartouche depicts the seal of the City of New York.
The main entrance to the building is on Greenwich Avenue and leads
directly into the big oval-shaped lobby on the first floor.
The lobby is en­
closed by the bars of a steel grille through which may be seen the corridors
to the offices and visiting roams surrounding it.
Hear the main entrance, at
each side of the lobby, are the doors leading to the east and west corridors
and from them to the north wing.
The door at the left leads to the superintendent's three-room office
on the west.
Beyond this office are a physical examination room, a nurses'
room, four dressing rooms, a waiting room, and eight shower baths.
In the
north wing is the receiving room, connecting with the north basement entrance
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through which all women offenders are admitted, and a room for storing
their civilian clothing.
known as the mail room.
Off the receiving room is a small room which is
All inmates1 mail, incoming and outgoing is
censored here, and in this room fingerprints and photographs are taken.
Also in the north wing are a restroom for female correctional officers,
a room for the psychologist, a room for the psychiatrist,
and a record
room; the social service department occupies four rooms and there are
three small rooms for the counselors.
The door at the right of the lobby, to the east, leads to the
visiting quarters.
There are two visiting rooms, each with twenty-six
booths on either side of a center partition of bullet-proof glass.
The
visitor stands on one side of the partition and the inmate on the other.
The acoustics of these visiting rooms were originally so harsh that it
was almost impossible to hear conversation, particularly when many spoke
at the same time in different languages.
A method was devised to subdue
the noise and speaking devices were installed in each booth.
There is a separate visiting room for long termers in which two
long table8 stretch across the room, a female correctional officer at the
head of one table and a male correctional officer at the head of the other.
Beneath the tables is a continuous wooden partition to separate visitors
from inmates, and along the center of the table tops are raised barriers
to prevent them from joining hands.
All movement in the room is visible,
and all conversation audible to the two officers at the heads of the tables.
Visitors are searched before entering the visiting rooms, and
for identification purposes every visitor must sign the visitors' book,
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givlng name, address and relationship to inmate.
Visitor's passes are
issued at the Department of Correction, 159 Centre Street, New York City.
On the second floor is the chapel.
The cylindrical rotating
altar is divided into three sections for the services of the Protestant,
Catholic and Hebrew denominations.
balcony with an organ loft.
At the rear of the chapel is a
The superintendent's living quarters are on
this floor; four rooms, a bathroom, a kitchen and a pantry.
On this floor
are small apartments for the other resident officials (the assistant
superintendent, three doctors and three nurses), and a large workroom for
inmates.
On the third floor are the laundry, two sewing rooms and the
sterilizing roam.
One of the sewing rooms is used for arts and crafts
where inmates learn to make pocketbooks, rugs, laces, and embroidery of
all kinds.
The inmates' commissary, also on the third floor, is a service
rendered the inmates by a committee which enables the inmates to bry cer­
tain articles and food stuff.
They are permitted to buy cigarettes, candies
jellies, peanut butter, and so forth, to the amount of three dollars per
week.
They may buy clothes, such as underwear, stockings, low-heeled
shoes, to the amount of three dollars per week.
On holidays, they are
permitted to buy five dollars worth of food stuffs.
The profits of the
commissary pay the salary of a part-time psychologist, and furnish the
institution with outfits of clothing for short termers, or dental plates,
glass eyes, eyeglasses, athletic equipment, and decorations for special
events.
During 1958, the commissary income amounted to $27,661.84.
The
committee employs two women, one who is in charge and an assistant and
two Inmate8 are assigned to help them.
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On the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth floors
are the prison cells.
cal clinic is located.
clinics.
In addition, on the seventh floor the general medi­
On the eighth and ninth floors are the venereal
With the exception of the fourth, all these floors are identical
in construction and layout.
The central corridor on each floor runs north
and south and divides the area into two separate units.
Cell corridors
running east and west in the north and south wings are separated into two
separate unite by the central control corridor.
separate cell units on each floor.
Thus, there are four
In the south wing are twenty-one cells
along Greenwich Avenue, and sixteen cells facing them across the corridor.
In the north wing, which is smaller, there are eleven and fourteen cells
respectively in each unit.
The plan of the fourth floor is slightly different.
It has
twenty-five cells along Greenwich Avenue, Instead of twenty-one, and in
a narrow corridor in the north wing are three disciplinary cells.
cells have been acoustically treated to make them sound-proof.
These
The walls
are furred with protective material to prevent injuries, and the windows
are protected with fine wire screen in box formation to prevent the in­
mate from touching the window.
Halfway between the north and south ends of the central control
corridor on each floor are the mess hall and the recreation room; the mess
hall on the left and the recreation room on the right of the corridor.
The
recreation rooms are comfortably furnished with armchairs, pianos and
radios.
Motion pictures are sometimes shown in the Chapel.
The dining
rooms are cheerful places, with small tables seating four to six.
The
food is served from steam tables really hot and the inmates are served a
-1 6 9 -
well-balanced diet.
one cents.
The allowance for food per day per innate is twenty-
The following is a typical weekday menu:
Breakfast:
Stewed fruit
Cereal and milk
Toast or bread and butter
Coffee
Dinner:
Soup made of vegetables
Boiled bam, cabbage and potatoes
Coffee and bread
Supper:
Macaroni and cheese
Tea and bread
Inmates are given butter once a day.
Many of them bqy butter from the
Inmates' Commissary and take it to the dining room.
Each cell is six feet wide by eleven feet long, and nine feet,
two inches high.
All cells have outside exposure, with a window three feet,
three inches by six feet.
The window panes are made of wire glass which
takes the place of steel bars or grilles.
In the center of the upper pane
is a section about 6" x 12" that operates on a pivoted socket and opens at
an angle, allowing a space about 4" at upper and lower openings for air.
The cell doors are of open grille work, so that whatever goes on within the
cell may be observed from the corridor.
All the cell doors of one unit
can be locked or unlocked simultaneously by a special device, or by an
adjustment a door can be locked and opened individually.
easily operated and open and shut facilely.
The locks are
The cells, as is true of the
rest of the building, have concrete floors with cement finish, and glass
tile walls.
Within each cell is a cot, with wire spring and a mattress, two
sheets, a pillow and pillowcase.
A white bedspread is furnished and in­
mates are at liberty to dye their bedspread, and many of them do.
Blue,
pink and yellow covers are in evidence and same of them are embroidered.
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The toilet seat has a metal cover, fastened to the wall, which swings
down to serve as a chair.
In front of the chair-toilet is a metal desk.
In each cell is a set bowl with running water.
A small metal mirror is
fastened to the wall, while the top of the clothes hanger serves as a
shelf.
The tenth floor contains the main kitchen, with the adjoining
refrigerator room and storerooms.
On the same floor are the commissary
for the hospital unit, the dentist's office, the library, and two units
of eighteen cells each.
The eleventh is the hospital floor, and will be described under
the medical program.
The twelfth floor is known as the penthouse and contains two
large recreation rooms, a school room, and four roofs completely enclosed
by wire mesh.
The upper part of the pent house holds the elevator machin -
ery, the ventilation equipment and the bulkheads.
In the basement of the building are the refrigerator roam, the
record room, the drug storage room, the repair shop, and the morgue.
The
offices of the storekeeper and the engineer are also here, as well as the
goods delivery entrance.
There is a sub-basement beneath a part of the
northwest corner of the basement which holds the boiler room, coal storage
and pump room.
Police vans
and detention house vans drive through West
Tenth Street and stop before the entrance which leads down a ramp into the
north side of the building to the receiving room.
2.
Capacity and Population
The population of the House of Detention for women is made up
of women held pending trial or remanded for treatment pending sentence;
-171women who have been sentenced; material witnesses; and those narcotic
drug addicts who commit themselves for treatment.
In September, 1957, a change in court policy was made with
regard to women in need of treatment for venereal disease.
Due to the
excessive population in Kingston Avenue Hospital in Brooklyn, an agree­
ment was made whereby women with venereal disease may waive the five-day
clause which requires them to be sentenced within five days of conviction;
instead they may be remanded on a voluntary basis to the House of Deten­
tion for treatment.
These women can now be received at the institution
on a formal commitment with a request that they be given treatment.
After
the completion of the treatment, the case is remanded to court for dis­
position which usually takes the form of probation or suspended sentence.
Should they wish to cancel their voluntary treatment at the institution,
they have the right to cancel their agreement with the court, and in such
cases they are returned to court for definite disposition.
During 1958, the total number of women admitted to the House of
Detention for Women was 8,736.^ Of this total, 2,141 were sentenced to
serve from two days to two years in the workhouse, and from a minimum of
a few months to three years in the penitentiary.
The remainder were de­
tained awaiting trial or they were remanded for medical treatment pending
their return to court.
There was an increase of 191 women committed and
560 sentenced over the previous year.
The lowest daily population for 1958 was 449 inmates, and the
highest daily count was 688 inmates.
The capacity of the House of Detention for Women is 400 Inmates,
1,
Annual Report of the House of Detention for Women for 1938. This is
in typed, unpaged, loose manusoript. All figures in this chapter re­
lating to inmate population were copied from this report.
-172-
but since the opening of the building the prison population has far exceeded
that nmber.
From the populatian records, it would seem that the institu­
tion is constantly over-crowded.
To accommodate excess population, it is
necessary to place two inmates in a cell intended for one.
This was
originally accomplished by hooking an additional cot to the cot already
in the cell.
At present, the second cot is made smaller than the cell
cot, and slips beneath the regular cot dining the day.
The age groupings have been more or less static.
In 1957, 6 per
cent of the total were twenty-one to twenty-five years of age, 56 per cent
were twenty-five to thirty years, 4 per cent were above thirty years.
Age
groupings for 1958 show a slight decrease in the number of those under
twenty years.
Of the total of 8,736 women admitted in 1958, 68 per cent were
committed on charges of vagrancy and disorderly conduct, which charges
usually mean sex irregularity.
Sixty-six per cent of the total committed
were sentenced on these two charges.
While 4,547 women were held on charges
of vagrancy, only 806 of them were sentenced to serve a prison term.
Of
the 1,585 women committed to await trial, only 628 were sentenced.
During 1958, seven women were transferred to Albion, hew York,
an institution for mentally defective female delinquents, and eight women
who were found psychotic were transferred to the Hospital for the Criminal
Insane at Hatteawer^ Hew lork.
A survey made in 1957^ by one of the psychologists attached to
the House of Detention for Women, to ascertain facts on recidivism, re­
vealed that 51 per cent of the women sentenced during that year to the work-
1.
Information privately communicated.
-175-
house, and 44 per cent of the women sentenced during that year to the peni­
tentiary, had been previously committed to a Hew York City penal institution.
5.
Staff Organisation and Salaries
The House of Detention for Women is under the jurisdiction of the
Department of Correction of the City of Hew York.
Below is a list, according
to function, of the working staff and their salaries:*
Administration
1 Superintendent of Womens' Prisons
2 Clerks
1 Clerk
1 Clerk (vacant)
1 Clerk
1 Stenographer and Typist
1 Telephone Operator
Custodial
5 Supervising Correctional Officers (female)
7 Correctional Officers (male)
$5500 plus maintenance
2220
1740
1520
840
2540
1560
2400 plus maintenance
Medical
1 Resident Physician
2 Resident Physicians
1 Dentist
1 Chief Hurse
2 Trained Horses
8 Trained Hurses
1 Bacteriological Laboratory Ass't.
1 Junior Psychologist (part time)
1 Hospital Attendant
2400
1560
1980
1680
1440
1520
1520
1560
1200
Specialized Service
1 Supervisor Social Investigator
1 Social Investigator
1 Social Investigator
5 Chaplains
2400
2040
1740
900
plus maintenance
plus maintenance
plus maintenance
plus maintenance
* Privately communicated through the Department of Correction of the
City of Hew York.
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Working Staff and their Salaries (Cont'd)
Maintenance
1 Store Keeper
1 Stock Assistant
2 Cooks
1 Butcher
1 Laundry Woman
5 Elevator Operators
1 Senior Station Engineer
2 Station Engineers
5 Licensed Firemen
$2460
1740
1200
1620
1200
1740
950
900
700
There are several -.fall or part-time workers on the staff who re­
ceive their salaries from other sources than the Department of Correction.
One part-time psychologist is paid from the profits of the Inmates'
Commissary, as previously noted.
One part-time psychiatrist and a part-time follow-up social worker
are paid by the Womens' Prison Association of Hew Tork.
One librarian, one recreation leader, and eight nurses are paid by
the Works Progress Administration.
Many medical specialists offer their services and give their time
free of charge.
Routine Institutional Treatment of Women Offenders*
It may be helpful to explain the relation of the above sub-title to
the remainder of this chapter.
In the routine hanriUng of women at the House
of Detention for Women, it must be remembered that certain rules and regulations
would hold equally for every inmate.
These rules and regulations will be
* Data concerning routine and treatment of women offenders of the House
of Detention for Women were privately communicated.
-1 7 5 -
covered here.
But each inmate, allowing for individual differences and
individual needs, will come in contact with and, presumably, he affected by one
or more of the services rendered in a modern prison.
These services— the
medical, the religions, social service, and the educational service will be
taken up separately in this chapter, and it will be understood that each
service as presented will be Inherently a continuation of the description of
the routine treatment of women offenders in the House of Detention.
1.
Deception at Institution
Women committed by the Women* s Court, a part of the Hinth District
Court which flanks the House of Detention for Women on the north, are escorted
through the courtyard between the buildings to the north entrance and into the
receiving room on the first floor.
Tans bringing women from other courts drive
into the courtyard from the West Tenth Street entrance and the women are ushered
through the same entrance into the receiving room.
This investigator, has
frequently seen the police vans depositing the arrested women on Tenth Street,
outside the entrance, in full view of the people on the street.
Women brought
in individually by police officers are sometimes escorted through the main
entrance on Greenwich Avenue and are taken directly to the receiving room.
The
admission hours to the receiving room are from 8:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M.
There are many benches in the receiving room and a desk for the
correctional officer in charge of the admission procedure.
This officer asks
the woman offender for the information required on a record from labeled
"Reception and Classification Data."
It lists the name, address, height, habits,
physical findings and medical recommendations.
in after tte physical examination is completed.
The last two items are filled
The record form also requires
the correctional officer’s observation as to the personal type of the woman
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admitted.
Another correctional officer takes the woman to one of the dress­
ing rooms, where she disrobes before the officer and is searched.
She is
given a receipt for her valuables.
Each woman on admittance is asked to take a shower.
Those await­
ing trial and material witnesses are allowed to retain their street clothing;
the others are given institutional clothing.
In cases where the clothing is
in a filthy state, it is not stored but destroyed with the written permission
of the owner.
Until recently, all inmates with venereal disease were given
brown cotton dresses and the others blue cotton dresses.
This discrimination
has been found undesirable and eventually all will wear the blue cotton
dresses.
After the shower, each woman undergoes a thorough pfayscial examina­
tion, although this is not compulsory.
The examination is carried out by a
female physician, a graduate nurse and an attendant, and Includes a pelvic
examination and a smear for gonorrhea.
The physical examination completed, the woman returns to the correc­
tional officer at the receiving desk who assigns her to a particular floor and
unit.
Each time a detention woman* is taken from the institution to court,
she receives smother physcial examination, including gynecological, when re­
turned to the House of Detention.
A woman held an a charge of drug addiction
is also given an enema to insure against the possibility of Internally con­
cealed narcotic drugs.
When a detention woman has been taken to court, found
* "Detention woman" is the term employed at the House of Detention for
a woman awaiting trial. It will be so used in this chapter. A woman
who has been sentenced is called a "sentenced woman".
-1 7 7 -
guilty and sentenced, she is finger-printed an her return to the Institution.
If the woman is sentenced on a felony charge of from one to three years'
penitentiary sentence or if given an indeterminate workhouse sentence of from
one to two years, she is also photographed.
2.
Classification and tbit Placement
The classification and unit placement of women offenders depends
upon the recommendation of the physician, the legal status of the woman, her
previous court record, her race and her age.
The offense or length of sen­
tence has little hearing on the major classification of the inmates; the
medical record is the most important factor.
Detention women classified as sex offenders in the misdemeanant
class are assigned to mits an the fourth floor, as are narcotic drug addicts
awaiting trial.
Material witnesses are assigned to this floor where there
are three cells and a dining room set aside for them.
They are separated
from the rest of the inmates.
Women held on charges of felony or misdemeanor are assigned to the
fifth floor, and one unit on this floor is set aside for women with no previous
record, another for wayward minors.
The sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth floors are used for
sentenced women.
On the fifth and sixth floors are housed women whose physical
condition was negative at the time of admittance or who have been cured while
serving a sentence.
Warcotic drug addicts who are receiving a reduction cure are
assigned to a unit on the eighth floor.
Addicts who are convalescing from a
reduction cure are an the same floor in a separate unit.
Women whoseWasserman
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reports have been returned marked doubtful or have not yet been returned are
assigned to two corridors on the eighth floor.
Women assigned to the ninth floor are all suffering from venereal
disease and are in an infectious state.
Those assigned to kitchen duty are
housed on the tenth floor, and those in need ofhospitalization
are assigned
to one of the two hospital wards on the eleventh floor.
5.
Daily Routine of
The day begins at 7s00 A.M. when the inmates rise. The first count
is takenbefore the cell doors are opened.
The inmates wash, dress, and go
to the dining room an their respective floors. All meals are taken in these
dining rooms. Breakfast is served between 7:30 and 8:00 A.M.
The second count is made at 4:00 P.M., at which time all Inmates
are again locked in their cells.
Sqpper is served between 4:00 and 4:45 P.M.
At 8:00 they are locked in their cells for the night, and at 9:00 the lights
are turned off.
The last count is made at midnight.
At least once a day the
superintendent makes a tour of inspection of the institution, accompanied on
eaoh floor by the correctional officer in charge.
Inmates who are ill are referred to the hospital wards and their dally
routine there is similar to that of any patient at a reputable hospital re­
ceiving good care and attention.
All inmates who care to attend the Sunday religious services held
in theChapel are welcome to do so, and all have ready access to the library.
Infractions of rules, when observed, are reported in writing by
a correctional officer.
The correctional officer has authority to place the
offender in her cell; the supervising correctional officer may direct placing
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the offender in her cell; the supervising correctional officer nay direct
placing the offender in a disciplinary cell pending hearing before the
superintendent.
Punishment after hearing may include the disciplinary cell where
correctional officers are on duty twenty-four hours a day.
makes daily visits.
While segregated, the inmates get bedding at night and
regular rations of food.
once a day.
The physician
They wear their regular clothing and get a shower
After the third day, they are allowed half an hour of exercise.
Smoking, visits and mail are suspended.
In the case of sentenced women, when
their infraction of rules is flagrant, the Parole Board may be requested to
impose loss of time, provided the inmate is subject to release by the Board.
Sentenced inmates are restricted to two letters a day, but others
may write as many letters as they care to although a stamp is furnished them
for the first letter only.
All letters are censored.
The Detention Woman
Detention women are not assigned any work.
floor spend the hour from 10:00 to 11:00 on the roof.
Those living on the fourth
They play such games
as tennis, shuffle-board, basket ball, or baseball, weather permitting.
When
unable to be outdoors, they spend their time in the two recreation roomB in the
penthouse.
From 11:00 until noon arts and crafts classes are held for those
caring to join.
Dinner is served at noon.
Visitors are not allowed to women detained on charges of prostitution,
disorderly conduct, or drug addiction.
If detained on other charges, they may
have daily visitors for half an hour, between 10:00 and 11:00 A.M.
take place in one of the visiting rooms on the first floor.
The visits
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These women are permitted to buy from the commissary twice dally.
The monotony of the day may be Interrupted by calls upon their
counselors In one of the little rooms on the first floor set aside for that
purpose.
The door remains open during the entire visit and about five feet
from the door a female correctional officer sits In the corridor watching.
Women receiving medical treatment spend some time at the clinic.
The Sentenced Woman
Directly after breakfast the sentenced women who are pbysolally
able to work report at the various stations to which they have been assigned.
Their working hours are from 8:00 to 11:00 A.U. and from 1:00 to 5:15 P.M.
When In good physical health, women may be assigned to work In the
kitchen, to table service, to assist in the hospital, or to work in the
sewing room.
Negro women suffering from venereal disease do most of the
laundry work.
All are excused from work whenever they have to attend the
clinic.
Dinner is served from 11:50 to 12:50 and each Inmate eats In the
dining room on the particular floor to which she is assigned to live.
dinner they are allowed to rest in their cells until 1:00.
cells they are allowed to smoke.
After
While in their
At 1:00 they report back to work.
At
5:45 they are all locked in their cells for the second count.
Women who are eager to attend classes may be excused from work
after 1:00 P.M.
Thirteen academic classes are offered and they may choose
which ones they wish to attend.
If they do not care to continue their
attendance they may drop out after a period of two weeks.
They also have
the privilege of attending a class of instruction in the general music depart-
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ment.
The only compulsory classes are those for illiterates.
The recreation period for those who have no work assignment is
from 2:00 to 5:00 P.M.
In good weather they spend it on the roof, in had
weather they use the recreation rooms in the penthouse.
The inmates who
work have their recreation period from 6:00 to 8:00 P.M.
consist of games and handicrafts.
Their activities
The races are separated during recre­
ation periods and physical exercises.
The Negro women dance an Tuesdays
from 6:00 until 8:00 P.M., and the white women dance on Thursdays at the
same time.
Passive games are offered for the older women.
Sentenced women have visiting hours every other week, the white
women and Negro women alternating each week.
All known narcotic drug
addicts and women serving a term of less than one hundred days see their
visitors in the visiting room an the first floor which contains the booths
in which both inmate and visitor stand.
Those sentenced for over one
hundred days see their visitors in the visiting room which contains two
long tables with chairs on either side.
The inmate sits on one side of
the tabLe and the visitor on the other.
The visiting period is between
1:00 and 2:00 and each inmate is allowed one-half hour.
Sentenced women are allowed to buy at the commissary once a
week not exceeding the amount of three dollars worth of goods.
4.
Discharge from Institution
At nine o'clock in the morning, the inmate about to be discharged
is taken to a first floor bathroom where she takes off her prison clothes
under tie supervision of a correctional officer.
The woman then puts on
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her own clothing which has been cleaned and repaired prior to discharge.
Short termers in need of clothing receive it through the social service
department.
For the women who have completed a penitentiary sentence or
an indeterminate workhouse sentence, the institution supplies a new outfit,
paid for by the Inmates' Commissary Fund.
For definite workhouse sentence
cases, no provision is madej they must get clothes from private sources.
If a woman has money when admitted to the institution, one dollar
of her money has been deposited to her account, and this is now given to her.
If penniless, she is given ten cents for which she has to sign.
Women who have served a definite workhouse sentence are discharged
earliest.
Those who have served an indeterminate sentence are discharged
about a half hour later.
Finally, women who have been placed on parole meet
the parole officer who given them their parole card and instructions regard­
ing their reports to the parole officer.
The Medical Service
The work of the medical department can be divided into four units:
the receiving room, the hospital, the venereal and the medical clinic, and
the treatment of narcotic drug addicts and alcoholics.
1.
Hospital and Staff
The center of the medical department of the House of Detention
is a well-equipped hospital situated on the eleventh floor.
two wards —
one medical, one surgical, —
It contains
two operating roomB, an X-ray
room, and a darkroom, a pathological laboratory, pharmacy, sterilizing room,
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anesthetizing room, doctor's rest room, and a nurses station.
tenth floor Is a fully equipped modem dental office.
On the
The venereal clinic
Is on the seventh floor, and the admittance clinic Is part of the receiving
unit on the first floor.
The staff consists of the following members, all women:
a chief
resident physician in charge of the medical department, three resident
physicians, a dentist, eleven graduate nurses, one of whom is the chief
nurse, a bacteriological laboratory assistant, one junior psychologist, and
a hospital attendant.
Also on the staff are the part-time workers paid hy other sources
than the Department of Correction (as discussed early in this chapter):
a
part-time psychiatrist, a part-time psychologist, two laboratory technicians
and three nurses.
2.
Types of Medical Services Rendered
Every woman admitted to the institution, no matter for how short
a period, is given a physical examination.
If a woman is found suffering
from a contagious disease, she is immediately isolated and the necessary
treatment begun.
If found in need of surgical treatment, she is admitted
to the hospital for observation and if her condition is acute and an
operation necessary, it is performed.
Department of Health is notified.
If infected with tuberculosis, the
In the case of a woman awaiting trial, the
detention superintendent takes the matter up with the court and, if deemed
advisable, the woman is referred to the care of the Department of Health.
In the case of a woman serving an indeterminate sentence, the Parole Board
-184-
is notified, and if the authorities deem it advisable, the woman is paroled
to a hospital for tuberculosis.
During 1938, seventy-three major surgical operations and one
hundred and twenty-six minor operations were performed at the institution
hospital.
An operation is performed only after written consent is given by
the patient.
The major activity of the medical staff is in the venereal clinic.
An average of approximately 500 venereal cases were treated daily during
the year under observation.
sentence.
The majority receiving treatment were serving
Detained women who are infected with venereal disease get treat­
ment only if they request it, or if it is requested by order of the court.
Reports for January and February, 1958, show that during those
two months over fifty women were detained on remand from the Women's Court
to receive treatment.
In each instance, they had waived the right to be
sentenced within five days and asked to be remanded for treatment to the
House of Detention for Women.
In a short time, however, many of them
protested the uncertainty of the period of detention.
Inasmuch as their
legal restraint was voluntary, they signed a waiver of that consent and returned
to court.
They were then given definite sentences.
The Department of Health
recommends a sentence of 120 days for that type of case.
Because of the increased demand for venereal treatment, the medical
staff has been greatly overtaxed.
It was found necessary to give gonorrhea
treatments five days a week, end each individual receives a weekly re-examination.
Bismuth and Salvarsan treatments are given weekly.
From the medical clinic,
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ambulatory treatment is given at an average of 125 oases per day.
The
tremendous strain of treating an average of 250 gonorrhea and 120 syphilitic
cases weekly is aggravated by the limitation of space for holding venereal
clinics.
An analysis has been made at the clinic of venereal cases treated
for one day, the 28th of February, 1938, as follows:
Total number of individuals for venereal treatment
Sentenced
Remanded
Detention
327
35
23
Total number treated for syphilis only
Sentenced
Remanded
Detention
143
105
21
17
Total number treated for endocervicltis and
trichomonas vaginalis
Sentenced
129
117
11
1
Total number treated for gonorrhea
Sentenced
Remanded
Detention
109
101
3
5
Total number treated for syphilis andgonorrhea
Sentenced
Remanded
Detention
385
4
4
The clinic held by the physicians sent from the Department of
Health gives the medical department of the House of Detention for Women
the benefit of its findings.
But regardless of this information,
the
Medical staff of the institution examines every incoming case and the
-186-
findings of the two clinics ore then compared.
Every woman who has received venereal treatment at the insti­
tution is reported to the Department of Health on her discharge and if
necessary is followed by that department.
In accordance with the procedure established in 1938, a physician
is assigned to the Women's Court daily and the head physician of the insti­
tution staff is always available for consultation in that court.
The
medical department of the institution submits medical reports as requested
to the various courts; magistrates', Wayward Minor's Court, Special Sessions
and General Sessions Courts.
Examination reports are submitted to the
Parole Commission on every penitentiary case and indeterminate workhouse
case.
During 1938, narcotic drug addicts admitted to the House of Deten­
tion for Women totaled 567 individuals.
Of these, 546 were women
sentenced to serve a term, and 61 committed themselves.
cure was taken by 470 women.
The reduction
The duration of the cure is eight days, and
another eight days are allowed for convalescent care.
The treatment
is given in the cells of the patients in their assigned corridorB.
Every woman admitted to the House of Detention for Women is given
a dental examination.
Temporary fillings and temporary bridgework is
done at the expense of the institution.
If the health of the offender is
impaired through lack of plates, arrangement can be made to furnish them
through the Inmates' Commissary Fund, with the approval of the second
Deputy Commissioner.
5. The Psychiatric Service
A psychiatrist paid by the Inmates' Commissary Fund spends
one day a week at the House of Detention for Women.
During 1958,
there were sixty-three new referrals; thirteen active cases were
carried over from the previous year.
The referrals came mainly
through the Institution1s social service department.
The cases were classified as to their diagnosis in the
Annual Report1 of the institution as follows:
Hormal
4
Intellectual deficiency
12
Moral delinquency (uncomplicated) 4
Chronic alcoholism
5
Drug addiction
5
Bnotlonal instability
5
Abnormal personality
8
Psychotic
11
Paranoid
4
Psychosis:
a. Paranoid state
2
b. Senile dementia
1
c.■Schizophrenia
1
Disposition of cases in 1958:
Suspended sentence
Discharged
Paroled
2
28
4
Transferred to other institutions:
Kingston Hospital
Albion
Bellevue Psychiatric
Hatteawan Hospital
1
7
3
1
In case an inmate has to be committed to a mental institution
the commitment papers must be signed by the psychologist, psychiatrist,
and the superintendent of the House of Detention.
1.
Once consent of
Annual Report of the House of Detention for Women for 1958, 0£. clt..
not paged.
admittance to an institution is received, a female correctional officer
takes the woman to that institution.
An outside psychiatrist sees the long termers before their
discharge from the institution, and continues to see those who care to
keep up the contact after their discharge.
The Women.1;* Prison Associa­
tion used to pay for these services, but at present the psychiatrist gives
her services free of charge!
4.
The Psychological Service
Two part-time psychologists, one paid by the Department of
Correction of the City of New Xork, the other by the Inmates' Commissary
Fund, make up the psychological department staff.
Two rooms on the first
floor are provided for them.
i
Inmates are referred to this department for examination and
observation to determine their general mental status, special abilities
and disabilities.
This information is obtained through informal conversa­
tion with individuals and by giving standardized tests to determine voca­
tional skills, personality traits, potentialities, educational achievements,
and interests.
Also referred to this department are inmates who present
behavior disorders, or are 'suspiciously eligible for transfer to a mental
institution, or any who present hopeful aspects for rehabilitation.
Besides the services rendered to inmates, a considerable service
is given the Magistrates' Courts upon their request for individual testing.
t
Occasionally, requests come, from the Federal and Special Sessions Courts.
The work of the psychological department can be divided into two
distinct types.
One of the psychologists is devoting her tine to giving
tests and to carrying on mild therapeutic treatment with a small group
for an extended period.
research*
The other psychologist is devoting her time to
In an emergency, she assists with the actual testing.
During the year 1938, 114 women were given psychological tests
and consulting services.
varied between 41 and 139.
The intelligence quotient of those tested
The results of thesetests wereclassified
in the Annual. Report as follows:
Superior (110 or above)
Hormal (90 to 109)
Dull Doxmal (80 to 89)
Borderline (70 to 79)
Feebleminded (69 or below)
21
34
18
18
23
The number of women sentenced on a charge of prostitution or
disorderly conduct exceeds that of all other categories combined; the
majority of these are Negroes.
According to the psychologist making the
tests, the old theory of mental inferiority of the Negro race does not
hold true, since mental tests which have been standardized upon the white
race bring about different results when administered to both races.
The
differences, in her opinion, probably depend largely upon differences in
environmental factors.
This psychologist stresses the difficulty of making constructive
recommendations for a large group of mostly younger women who fall into
the mental classifications of high-grade morons or borderline mentality.
Host of them are prostitutes with one or two venereal diseases.
them have been married, but deserted by their husbands.
Many of
Some are mothers
separated from their children and are not considered fit to rear them.
-190-
These nomen are usually untrained, without a home or any financial means*
The only work they might he ahle to secure after their release is house­
work,
but their diseased condition makes them
unfit for such work.
Owing to the fact that state institutions for the feeble­
minded have received a disproportionate quota of Negro women during the
last few years, they do not admit them at present.
This means that
Negro women who axe eligible for transfer to a state institution now re­
main throughout the length of their term at the House of Detention for
Women.
Religious Services
Religious services for inmates are held every Sunday in the
Gothic chapel on the second floor of the House of Detention.
All chapel
attendance is on a voluntary basis and all Inmates are welcome to attend.
A Protestant chaplain bolds regular service every Sunday morning
from 8:30 to 9:30.
He
makes weekly visits to
the two hospital wardsand
sees inmates who request an interview.
A Catholic chaplain calls every Saturday afternoon at 2:00 to
hear confessions.
On Sundays from 7:30 to 8:30 he serves Hass.
A Jewish chaplain holds regular services every Friday afternoon
from 1:00 to 2:00.
In his annual report for 1958, he states that 90 per
cent of the Jewish inmates attended his services.
He has learned through
personal contacts with the inmates of M s faith that the majority of them
have not attended religious services since childhood.
The three above mentioned chaplains are on the payroll of the
-191-
Department of Correction.
The representatives of the Christian Science
Church and the Salvation Army give their services.
The Christian Science representatives, two readers, a singer and
an organist, meet every Sunday morning from 9:SO to 10:50.
tracts and other religious literature.
They distribute
The Salvation Army holds one meet­
ing each month, and this meeting has by far the largest attendance of all
religious services.
Religious holidays are observed with appropriate ceremony and
music.
An inmate selected from among the inmates for the various services
plays the organ and a choir chosen from among the inmates sings during the
services.
The Social Service Program
The program of the Social Service Department is the establish­
ment of a casework relationship with the Individual woman following her
admission to the House of Detention for Women.
The staff of the department consists of three full-time workers
on civil service rating; a director, a field worker, and a clerk.
All
are paid by the Department of Correction of the City of Hew York.
Besides
the regular staff, a social worker is assigned to the institution by the
Works Progress Administration, and the Women's Prison Association of Hew
York supplies the services of a trained part-time social worker who devotes three
full days a week to follow-up work.
The Jewish Board of Guardians* and the
Women's Prison Association send their social workers weekly to interview
* A private organization interested in protective and correctional care
of Jewish children and adults.
-192-
inmates before their discharge from the institution.
The policy of the Social Service Department represents a three­
fold aim:
1.
To be used as a clearing house—
(a) to assist the administrative officers
(b) to adjust the individual innate to the
routine of the institution to the
best advantage of both
2. To offer casework assistance to women "who
need, desire, and are capable of be­
ing helped." *
5.
To help women after their release from prison
so as to change environment and help
toward rehabilitation.
The Social Service Department contacts the newly admitted woman
to allay hystericalfears and to take care of the immediate problems result­
ing
from her sudden removal from life in the community.
This mayinvolve,
among other things, provision for children or dependent relatives, or for
the care of personal property left unprotected at home.
of friendly, helpful aid.
Assurance is given
To help the inmate adjust herself to the new
environment, the rules and regulations of the institution are explained.
The woman awaiting trial is given advice regarding legal procedure
following arrest and, if without funds, she is advised of legal aid available.
If she desires to make use of this aid, the social worker refers her to the
Voluntary Defender's Committee of the Legal Aid Society.
A social worker interviews the members of the family visiting the
inmate and encourages them to stand by the member in trouble.
With women who have been sentenced, the preliminary study of the
* From Annual Report of House of Detention for Women for 1956.
Hot paged.
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individual inmate is continued in cooperation with the superintendent of
the institution; the medical, psychiatric, and educational departments
also aid the inmates to adjust to prison life and to prepare for their
return to society as better citizens.
The study of women who have been sentenced in the Court of General
Sessions and the Women* s Court is facilitated by the reports of the respec­
tive probation departments sent to the House of Detention with the inmate.
Ho reports are received from the Magistrates' Courts.
The main service rendered by the Social Service Department con­
sists in establishing contacts, through the Social Service Exchange,-* with
organizations with which the inmate has been in contact before arrest, and which
may give valuable information about the inmate and assist in making plans for
her after her discharge.
If the inmate is known to no organization which
might be helpful in planning for her future, contacts are made with organiza­
tions interested in discharged female prisoners.
A dose relationship has been developed with the Brooklyn Bureau
of Charities, the Catholic Charities, the Girl's Service League, the Community
Service Center, the Vocational Adjustment Bureau, and others.
It has been
found advisable to establish contact between an inmate and the new social
worker to whom the Inmate will be referred after her discharge, and to carry
the case cooperatively with the outside agency.
The Social Service Department is primarily interested in the woman
who serves a term, particularly the woman who receives an indefinite sentence
* The Social Service Exchange, under the Welfare Council of Hew York
City, is a central index of case records of families or individuals
known to social and health agencies in the five boroughs of Hew York
City registering with the Exchange.
-194-
to the workhouse or the penitentiary.
The Department gives her a pre-parole
Interview which is used as a basic information by the Parole Board in deciding
upon how long the innate is to serve before she is paroled.
The penitentiary interview sheet lists the following items:
1.
2.
5.
4.
5.
6.
The identifying history (recorded by correctional officer)
Previous correctional record
Family history (recorded by social service)
Medical history (recorded by chief physician)
Psychiatric history (recorded by psychiatrist)
Judge's recommendations
Before release of an inmate, definite provision is made for her im­
mediate subsistence.
If the inmate has no family or friends with whom she can
stay and needs a room and food pending work, this is provided for through the
Mayor's Welfare Fund into which $500 is deposited annually for the specific
needs of discharged prisoners.
When a woman about to be discharged is not
physically well enough to work, arrangements with the Home Relief Bureau of
the Department of Welfare are made in advance of release, so as to shorten the
period of investigation.
The room rent and board are paid from the Mayor's
Welfare Fund until the woman receives her first check from the Home Relief Bur­
eau.
The Social Service Department has definite arrangements with several
commercial employment agencies whereby the social worker gives the facts re­
garding the woman'8 commitment and guarantees the employment fee.
Young women who give promise of rehabilitation are invited after
their discharge to stay temporarily at the Hopper Home, which offers shelter,
food, physdal and mental care, as well as vocational adjustment service.
-195-
Hopper Home Is under the auspices of the Women's Prison Association of
Hew York.
Harcotic addicts and chronie alcoholics have in recent years
been excluded.
One of the incidental services rendered by the social service
workers occurs in the event of a death in the family of an innate.
The
death certificate is taken to the Commissioner of Correction who may grant
permission far the inmate to attend the funeral.
Harcotic drug addicts are
seldom given this permission.
The social service report for the year 1958 gives the number of
cases handled as follows:
Cases carried over from 1957
New cases — 1958
Reopened during 1958
Closed during 1958
Carried over to 1959
Major
74
80
98
252
Minor
104
454
22
580
Total
178
534
120
632
207
45
490
90
697
135
A new policy with regard to case load was adopted in 1938.
Cases
not actively in need of social service were closed even though the subject
was still within the institution.
In this way the case load of each worker
was reduced from 100 to 50 cases.
The Social Service Department keeps case records of the services
rendered inmates.
For major cases a standardized record is kept in a folder
with a face sheet and a chronological report of each contact pertaining to
the case.
For the minor cases a card record is used.
For incidental con­
tacts a card record has recently been started.
1.
Annual Beport of the House of Detention for Women for 1958, op. clt..
not paged.
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The Educational Program
The educational progran of the House of Detention for Women
comprises four branches: (l) academic subjects, (2) music, (5) vocational
training, and (4) creative recreation.
The aim of this program is to
bring to the inmate some practical knowledge which she may later utilize
in her everyday life.
1.
Academic Subjects
The training in academic subjects is carried out under the
leadership of a teacher who is a college graduate and who has passed the
civil service examination as a police woman.
She has an assistant, on the
payroll of the Works Progress Administration, who has a teacher's training
but is not licensed.
Thirteen courses, or classes, are offered, as listed below.
The attendance in each class varies between ten and fifteen members.
1.
Health and Hygiene
Bnphasis is put upon prevention and cure of disease.
The films distributed by the Board of Health are
shown once every two weeks, followed by a lecture by
a pbyscician or by the head teacher.
2.
History and Citizenship
S.
Social Studies, including current events
4.
Primary English
This class is for illiterates*
5.
Secondary HngLish
For those inmates who have completed at least six
grades of the elementary school, but have not com­
pleted the eighth grade.
6. Advanced English
For those inmates with high school and college
education, interested in literature.
7* English for Foreigners
Includes drill, phonetics, and citizenship.
8. Primary Arithmetic
Recently dfecontinued because of lack of demand.
9.
Higher Arithmetic
10.
Discussion and Debate
Includes such topics of personal interest as:
Universal Fingerprinting
It Can't Happen Here
Can Venereal Disease be Stamped Out?
Should the Feebleminded be Sterilized?
11.
Beading and Vocabulary
Recently discontinued.
12.
Poetry Appreciation
A study of American and British poets.
15.
Qregg Shorthand
For carefully selected women.
2. ImpAc
The woman in charge of the music program is paid by. the Works
Progress Administration.
1.
The following courses are offered:
The Choir: Average weekly attendance, thirty-two.
2. Voice Training: Average weekly attendance, thirty.
3.
Body Poise and Drama: Average weekly attendance, twenty-two.
4.
Music Appreciation: Average weekly attendance, thirty-two.
5.
Theory of Music: Average weekly attendance, eighteen.
6. Individual Piano Instruction: Average weekly attendance, eighteen.
7. The d e e Club: Average weekly attendance, seventy-five.
The superintendent of the institution states that no part of the
educational program adds so much to the general morale as does the training
in music.
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5.
Vocational Training
The vocational training is participated in by the head teacher
only in the class in shorthand.
All work assignments are carried out under
the supervision of a correctional officer and are treated as training in
a particular type of work.
F o r instance, women who work in the kitchen
learn to prepare food, to bake and to serve; women who work in the laundry
learn how to handle the various machines, to wash, starch, iron and fold.
Women assigned to the shops learn how to cut and sew by hand or by power
machine, and to press, fold and pack.
In the sewing room they are taught
to make dresses, gowns, panties, chemises, ticks, pillow cases, and so an,
and are instructed in mending.
They learn embroidery, weaving, lace making
and other fancy work. Those assigned to maintenance work learn to do general
housework in a well-organized fashion.
All the various work assignments are
designed to assist the inmates to establish working habits.
A statistical analysis made in 1958 of the occupational choice of
one hundred inmates, chosen at random, showed that the majority of the older
Negro women favored domestic service, whereas the younger Negro women favored
manicuring.
The majority of white women preferred nursing.
The highest per­
centage preferring a type of work characteristically chosen by men was found
among the narcotic drug users.
4.
Creative Becreation
A worker paid by the Works Progress Administration is in charge of
the recreational activities.
educational department.
three hours a week.
This department cooperates closely with the
They hold a joint class in Industrial Arts which meets
All recreational activities are designed to teach cooper­
ation, fair play, orderly behavior, physical coordination and the construc­
tive use of leisure tine.
The following is a summary of recreational activities during the
year 1958, secured from the Annual Report of that year.
t
Average Monthly
Activity
Baseball (summer and early fall)
Basketball
■
«
■
1•
Tennis
*
■
*
"
Ping Pong (from October)
Shuffleboard 11
"
Handicraft (from November 1st.)
Social Dance (white)
Social Dance (Negro)
Physical Exercises (white)
Physical Exercises (Negro)
Passive Games (older women)
Average Yearly
Attendance
500
200
100
80
95
55
200
260
160
170
50
1100
800
500
500
470
140
1600
2000
1280
1450
400
Recreational reading is considered indirectly educational.
The
library of the institution has attempted to use its influence as an educa­
tional channel. It is under the skilled supervision of a trained librarian
who is on the payroll of the Works Progress Administration.
The librarian has gone over the books at hand and, during 1958,
discarded 252 volmes as tmsuitable.
2111 volmes.
At present the library consists of
Standard methods of classifying and cataloging are used.
The
books are carefully chosen end attractively bound.
Pour tines a week the librarian visits all innatea with a truck
displaying carefully selected books and magazines from which they may choose.
i
Fiction forms the major part of the inmates' reading.
Philosophy is far in
the lead among the non-fiction books, with reservations in advance on travel
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bibliographies, and books on religion.
Those interested in music have
read such books as Parkhurst's Encyclopedia of Music and Musicians.
Current
magazines are eagerly read; preference being shown for the Readers' Digest,
Atlantic Monthly, and Harper's Magazine.
The Annual Report for 1938 shows that fifty-five per eent of
the total population made use of the library facilities.
average number read by an inmate.
ten hours weekly.
Five books is the
The average time spent in reading was
The inmates may obtain books from the public library,
through the institutional.librarian.
There is a library for the staff which is very popular; books on
penology are in great demand hy the correctional officers.
Reaction of Women Offenders to
Institutional Treatment
From one hundred Informal interviews* with inmates, chosen at
random from the total population of the House of Detention for Women, the
following excerpts are given as an indication of the personal reaction of
women offenders to the institution and to the treatment received there.
These comments were unsolicited by the interviewer.
Some of the subjects
seemed fearful of expressing opinions.
Interview No. 7. White; age. 54i narcotic drug addiction.
Claims that the House of Detention for Women is not a very bad
place to be in, but that the inmates are cranky and disagreeable
to associate with.
* See Appendix A, pages 425-497,
for full transcript of interviews.
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Interview Ho. 9. White: age. 47: narcotic drug addiction.
Likes to sew and would rather be assigned to the sewing room than
the kitchen, but "they have so few girls without venereal disease
that there is a shortage of workers for the kitchen."
Interview Ho. 10. White: age. 50I narcotic drug addiction.
Had great difficulty in adjusting to the routine of the institution.
Said it is the first time in her life that she has learned to obey.
Has come in contact at the institution with other drug addicts, and
is afraid that they may look her up after her release, since they
know that she has a good home and a car of her own.
Interview Ho. 11. White; age 42; narcotic drug addiction.
Complains of the constant noise of the heavy traffic and the
elevated trains.*
"I miss the grass and the trees."
Interview Ho. 14. Negro: age 50: narcotic drug addition.
Takes part in all recreational activities and the exercises on
the roof. Seems to enjoy the well-organized set-up of the
institution and getting her good meals daily.
Interview Mo. 15. Hegrot age 48: narcotic drug n,^ i,rt:|mTr
Joined the Glee Club and said that singing helps to relieve her
worries. On previous arrests, has been in the Workhouse on
Welfare Island. Said, "It is a better place there; there is
more air and it is healthier." She also liked the exercise in
the yard. "On certain days, the warden gave the inmates special
permission to stay up late, and they were not locked in their cells
in the early hours as they are at the Detention House. The food
is not the main thing, or the medical care. All that is wasted
unless you have fresh air. It is so close here. I can go to
roof for only a short while because I am kept too busy in the
laundry.M
Interview No. 16. White: age. 54: narcotic drug addiction.
"It is tough to be in jail for a long time, especially where the
routine is monotonous and there is no diversion of any kind."
Interview No. 17. Negro: age. 42: narcotic drug addiction.
Said she is very lonely and the only thing that satisfies her
while there is the time she can devote to reading.
Interview No. 21. White: age. 52: prostitution.
Claims that she is sleepless, lying in her cell awake through the
night. The constant noise of the elevated trains passing is very
annoying and at times she gets so irritable she "could scream."
* The Sixth Avenue elevated trains have since been removed.
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Misses the fresh air, some grounds to walk on, green grass and
trees. She always refers to the prison as the "bird cage."
Interview Ho. 25. Negroi age. 55: prostitution.
Works in the mess hall and says the three meals a day keep her
busy. Doesn't like to participate in the recreation program set
up by the institution. Said it is "silly" for her to play ball
games. Does like to sing; "it relieves one's soul.” Is neat
in her dress and said the only sign that cheered her was the
colorful handkerchief which was carefully arranged on her dress.
Interview Mo. 28. Negro: age 50: prostitution.
Blames the criminal system for the difficulties in which she
finds herself, because "the girls are given ten cents on the
day of discharge and when that money is spent for carfare to
go to see a friend, no money is left for food and shelter.
Before twenty-four hours are up, with no provision, she finds
herself looking for a manto get some money to live on."
Interview Mo. 57. Megro: age. 50: prostitution.
Has undergone an operation while at the institution and has
not been assigned any work. She complains that a girl cannot
be expected to go straight if she is given only ten cents when
discharged from prison. She also complains of the constant
noise from the elevated trains which keep her awake at night.
Interview Mo. 58. White: age. 27: prostitution.
Is mainly upset by the associates she has to live with and the
language of the other inmates seems to affect her. She would
like to associate with them in order not to appear snobbish,
but at the same time she says she suffers so much that she would
rather keep to herself.
Interview Mo. 41. White: age. 28; petty larceny.
During her first conviction she spent eighteen months at the
House of Detention for Women. At that time, she claims she
learned various methods of shop lifting from other inmates
and thought she was smart enough "to get away with it." To
her great disappointment she was caught again. She thinks she
has learned her lesson and would rather listen to the advice
of the matrons than talk to the other inmates.
Interview Ho. 42. White: age 40: petty larceny.
Said, "If you compare the House of Detention for Women with
Gray Court, Gray Court was far superior. There the women were
more wholesome. The matrons were not so irritable as at the
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House of Detention for Women, and they had large grounds on
which the girls walked and enjoyed exercises in the open air
every day. It is criminal of society to shut people up
for long terms in a place like the House of Detention, with­
out proper ventilation or outside facilities. The only place
for outside recreation is on the roof. During the winter,
the inmates get woolen sweaters to war over their thin
house dresses* Due to the fact that some of the girls are
receiving treatment for venereal disease, they are supposed
to keep their bodies warm, particularly the lower part of
their bodies. The sweaters only cover the upper part. They
are cold and do not stay on the roof.
In the hot weather, the
sun is too strong and they cannot stay there."
Interview No. 45. Hearo: ager 54: petty larceny.
Works in operating room in which she is much interested. Is
not attending any classes. Plays tennis, baseball and joined
Glee Club. Said her hobby is dancing and she is allowed to
join the dances on Wednesday for one hour a week.
Interview No. 44. White: age. 58; petty larceny.
Cooks for the matron and material witnesses, and spoke at
length of how demanding the witnesses are and that "they are
never satisfied by the first class meals they receive for which
the state pays."
Interview Ho. 48. Negro: age. 50; petty larceny.
In comparing the old County Jail with the House of Detention for
Women, she said: "The inmates got more individual consideration
at the County Jail than here. There were no grounds, but there
was music every day." If one was in difficulty, she could explain
to the warden and the matrons and the inmates felt that they were
listened to, and this attitude on the part of the officers "made
me be good. But here, nobody listens to us and that makes one
angry. The food was good at both places, but at the County Jail
there were plenty of windows. You could open them completely
and get more air which is good for you. At the County Jail they
never doubled in one cell which was built for one person as
they do here." Two days before she was discharged from the
Old County Jail, the new County Jail in the Bronx was opened
and she had a chance to be in the new building. "They had chairs
to sit on in their cells, not like here where you have to sit on
the floor. We have beds here, but they have to he in perfect
order, and if a matron finds us sitting or lying on our beds, we
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are punished, for it. The matrons at the County Jails were
never cranky about things and they would go out of their way
in order to make the inmates feel contented. If we asked for
more food, we got it. Here, we do not ask for it because we
will not get it. One inmate may have a bigger appetite than
another and it is necessary that she have more food. The
portions are all alike."
Interview Ho. 51. White; age. 50: petty larceny.
Has served a sentence at Gray Court. "Gray Court seems to
me heaven in comparison to the Detention House. The spirit
at Gray Court was happier. The fresh air and the outside
work are not known at the Detention House." She also stated
that life at Gray Court was easier on the inmates, insofar
as they did not run into disciplinary difficulties for petty
things as they do in the highly organized House of Detention
for Women.
Interview Ho. 52. White: age. 58: petty larceny.
Said she refused to eat the food set before her as she was
accustomed to Kosher food and cannot get used to the new
diet. Says she lives mostly on milk, which is allowed her,
potatoes and desserts.
Interview Ho. 55. Whitet age. 22: petty larceny.
Attends classes and is enthusiastic about physical exercises
on the roof. Joins in singing and attends mass every Sunday.
Complains of the terrific heat, bad ventilation and constant
noise which "work on her mind."
Interview Ho. 61. White: age..46: disorderly conduct.
Objects to having to associate with prostitutes and "dope
fiends." Suffers under the constant noise and lack of outdoor
exercise. Appreciates that the medical department has taken
good care of her physical ailments. Has had her teeth extracted
and hopes she will get a new set of teeth before her discharge.
Interview Ho. 71. White; age 58: disorderly conduct.
Her first arrest and she says she has learned more since her
incarceration than throughout her ten years of schooltraining.
Interview Ho. 75. Hegro: age S9: disorderly conduct.
Complains that the place is noiBy and that there is no space to
walk outside.
-205-
Intervlew No. 80.
Complains that the
crowded that there
person. "There is
The windows can be
Negro: age. 59: disorderly conduct.
bed is too narrow and that they are so over­
are two in one cell which was built for one
not enough air for two persons to breathe*
opened only two inches and the screens are thick."
Interview No. 82. Negro: age. 27: Miscellaneous.
Is enthusiastic about recreation hour, especially dancing and
singing. Spends one hour a day on roof.
interview No. 85. Negro: age. 27: Miscellaneous.
Does not care to attend classes. Spends time on roof.
recreation is a bother.
Thinks
Interview No. 84. White; age 20? Mjpetflaneous.
Suffers most from lack of exercise and fresh air. Likes to
walk, see green grass and trees.
Interview No. 90. White: age. 28: Miscellaneous.
Assigned to kitchen work and this keeps her busy. Is thankful
that work is provided while she is serving time.Claims that
everyone at the House of Detention is very kind to herand that
she had no difficulty in getting adjusted to the routine of the
institution.
Interview No. 91. White, age 25; Miscellaneous.
Is well read and has a clear insight into human needs which has
become stranger while at the House of Detention in close contact
with delinquent women* Does not take any classes, but is
interested in the roof activities which she joins. Complains
of the noise, the heat, and the bad ventilation.
Interview No. 96. White: age. 52: Miscellaneous.
Feels that the House of Detention is not a healthy place as there
is not enough air due to poor ventilation and the short time on the
roof is frequently hard to endure, especially in the winter when
it is too cold and in the summer when it is too hot.
Interview No. 99. Negro8 age. 58: Miscellaneous.
Rejects the strict routine life of the institution and complains of
the heat and the noise and the cranky matrons.
Summary
and Conclusions
In fulfilling the conventionally considered main function of a prison,
the confinement of offenders as a means of protecting society, the House of
Detention for Women is an example of the best in modern day imprisonment.
Opened in 1952, it is a modem institution, skyscraper model,
with the various classes of women offenders detailed to different floors.
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Of the twelve floors, six of them— the fourth to the ninth, Inclusive—
are given over entirely to cells.
Each cell floor is divided into units
by corridors, and each floor has its dining room, recreation room and
shower baths.
The basement and the remaining six floors, above and below
the cell floors, are occupied by the operating plant— offices, visiting rooms,
general recreation space, chapel, hospital, laundry, sewing room, storage,
commissary, and so on.
In general effect, the building is handsome without, and
efficiently utilitarian within.
The cells, on casual inspection, present
a cheerful, well-lighted appearance, the gay bedspreads adding a note of
color.
The recreation rooms are furnished with comfortable chairs and a
piano; the dining roans with small tables seating four to six, instead of
the usual long tables and benches.
Theoretically, the conditions of safety and health would seem to
be good; the building is fireproof and the plumbing is adequate.
Diseased
persons are segregated and the hospital unit is well equipped to take care
of them.
Since the House of Detention for Women is designed to hold all
women offenders passing through the Department of Correction of New York
City, it confines not only all women awaiting trial and material witnesses
detained as security for appearance in court, but all women sentenced to a
workhouse or penitentiary sentence, with a maximum sentence of three
years.
The word "detention" in the name of the institution is thus used
in a wider sense than is customary in criminology; that is, to define
the system of detaining persons charged with crime as security against
-207-
their appearance in court for trial. .The method of unit placement at the
House of Detention for Women obviates, however, the mixing of women
awaiting trial and women who have been sentenced by assigning the two
classes in different floors. Women awaiting trial are assigned to the
fourth and fifth floors, where wayward minors and material witnesses are
also held in separate units; the sentenced women are assigned to the four
remaining cell floors.
Thus the incarceration of women offenders in New York City would
seem to be carried out with a minimum of the traditional horrors of prison
life.
According to Sutherland,^
The criticism of city and county jails most frequently made are the follow­
ing: filth, vermin, fire hazard, inadequate food, inadequate plumbing, in­
adequate lighting and ventilation, lack of segregation of persons with
infectious diseases, universal idleness, supervision of women prisoners
by male attendants, lack of provision for rehabilitation (medical care,
education, religion), special privileges far favored prisoners..., and in­
adequate security against escape.
Nevertheless, considered alone from the angle of confinement of
offenders, the House of Detention for Women, as a modern institution, leaves
some things to be desired. From personal observation of the investigator, as
well as from the comments of Inmates as given in informal interviews, several
faults in the structure could well have been avoided without loss of function.
The location of the institution at one of the busiest traffic intexv
sections of the city, leads to one source of what might be termed "legitimate"
complaints.
Almost unanimously, the inmates claim that the traffic noise
keeps them awake.
1.
The Sixth Avenue elevated railroad has been removed within
Sutherland, Edwin H., Principles of Crtnrinnlnpv. p. 266.
208-
the year, but the traffic in consequence is greater than before.
Equally
prevalent are the complaints that the roofs are too hot in summer and too cold
in winter to afford the needed amount of outdoor exercise; that lack of grounds
around the building cuts the inmates off not only from outdoor exercise but
from a glimpse of grass and trees.
Within, the building lacks proper ventilation, the small porthole
window openings being too small to let in sufficient air for the purpose.
Consequently, the cells and corridors are what the inmates call "stuffy” and
"unhealthy.” The fact that the institution is crowded beyond capacity necessi­
tates the placing of an extra cot in a cell six feet by eleven feet.
In
simmer, particularly in view of the poor ventilation, this leads to hardship
among the inmates which was not anticipated by the builders and cannot there­
fore be considered as intended punishment.
Such overcrowding may mean, more­
over, the intimate fraternization of the two inmates placed in one cell, with
the consequent ill effects of either a clash of personality or improper influ­
ence of one inmate upon the other.
Of a total of 8,736 women admitted to the House of Detention for
Women in 1938, 2,141 received either a workhouse or penitentiary sentence.
The
balance, 6,595, were detained awaiting trial or were remanded for medical treat­
ment pending trial, were material witnesses, or were narcotic drug addicts who
had committed themselves for treatment.
Although 4,347 women were held on
vagrancy charges, only 806 of these were sentenced to serve a prison term.
Of the 1,583 women committed to await trial, only 628 were sentenced.
A
survey made in 1957 showed that approximately one half of the women sentenced
during that year had been previously committed to a New York penal institution.
809-
In commenting on a proportion of convictions to detentions awaiting
trial, Sutherland1 says:
"A rough estiaate may be made that at least half of
those detained in lockups awaiting trial are not convicted and that a third of
those detained in county jails awaiting trial Eire not convicted."
The figures for the House of Detention for Women seem to bear out
this estimate and appear to point to indiscriminate arrest and, on occasion,
to the arrest of innocent persons.
While the word of an inmate may not be
sufficient proof of the fact, many of them say that they were "framed" or
"railroaded." According to one of the inmates interviewed, "Once you are
known to the detectives, they pull you in whenever they need to make an
arrest."
The suggestion has been made that the hardships involved in arrest
and detention should not be reduced, for since a large proportion
of guilty persons escape conviction they should at least suffer this
amount of discomfort as a deterrent to others. The difficulty about
this is that the hardships are imposed upon innocent as well as
guilty persons, and no one has argued that people can be kept inno­
cent by punishing the innocent.*
From a purely economic standpoint, it would appear that the proportion
of persons held or detained for trial and not eventually sentenced is a drain
upon the state which is not compensated for by the amount of protection afforded
society by such detention.
Theoretically, the system of bail for minor offen­
ses, which would include the offenses of the major proportion of women held at
the House of Detention for Women, would preclude detention awaiting trial.
This system, however, is of small benefit to the poor, since they do not have
the financial means of paying bail fees.
1.
*
Sutherland, o jd . olt.. p. 864
Sutherland, 0£. clt.. pp. 864-865
-210-
The House of Detention for Women is staffed by sixty workers:
administration, 8; custodial, 12; medical, 18; specialized service, 7; and
maintenance, 15.
The combined salaries of this staff paid by the Department
of Correction amounts to just over |100,000 a year.
There are several addi­
tional workers paid by outside sources, mostly part-time workers, who give
specialized service.
It should be noted that seven of the twelve custodial
officers are male, despite the claim of the Department of Correction that
only female officers are used at the House of Detention for Women.
The routine reception of women at the institution makes no
distinction between women awaiting trial and those sentenced after convic­
tion.
ill are required to give the same kind and amount of information for
the record; all must diBrobe before, and be searched by, a female correctional
officer; all must take a showerbath and undergo a physical examination, in­
cluding a gynecological examination.
In the case of women awaiting trial,
they must submit to a physical re-examination upon their return to the
institution after each trip to court.
Once sentenced, they are re-examined,
fingerprinted and photographed.
The inmate1s day bigins at seven in the morning and ends at eight
o'clock in the evening when she is locked in her cell.
all cell lights are turned off.
At nine o'clock,
Women awaiting trial, which may be a period
of from a few hours to several months, are not given work but sentenced
women are assigned to work five and a quarter hours a day.
compensation.
They receive no
All have recreation periods which may be spent on the twelfth
floor in the recreation rooms or on the roof.
The life of the House of Detention inmate is a highly organized
-211-
routine.
Every hour of the day is scheduled, and her only period of privacy
is while taking her shower in the morning.
whether at work or in recreation.
The supervision is constant,
The cell doors are of open grille work
through which the inmate is at all times visible from the corridor.
The
only chair provided in the cells is the cover of the toilet seat, and during
daily rest periods the inmate is not allowed to use the cot which must be
kept well made during the day.
The food is good and served hot, each inmate receiving the same
amount of food.
Second helpings are not allowed.
Inmates who have money
may buy a certain amount of food, cigarettes and clothing from the Inmates'
Commissary; sentenced women may buy not to exceed three dollars worth a week;
women awaiting trial have more freedom in this respect.
The profits from the
commissary are used for the benefit of the inmates.
On discharge from the House of Detention for Women, if the inmate
is penniless, she is given ten cents for which she has to Bign.
Only those
who have completed an indeterminate workhouse or penitentiary sentence re­
ceive a new outfit of clothing.
The medical service provides medical examination of all inmates
and treatment when needed.
disease.
The major activity is the treatment of venereal
The reduction cure is administered to all narcotic drug addicts,
and dental service is given where the health of an inmate is impaired for
lack of it.
The staff of the medical department— eighteen workers supplied
by the Department of Correction and five toy outside sources— would seem to
be large by even modern prison standards; but, particularly in the treatment
of venereal disease, the amount of work involved is claimed by the staff to
be too heavy for the present personnel and the space allotted for such treat-
ment Inadequate.
The psychiatric service is supplied by one psychiatrist who spends
one day a week at the House of Detention for Women.
the Inmates' Commissary.
Her salary is paid hy
During 1938) sixty-three new cases and thirteen
active cases from the previous year were referred.
An outside psychiatrist
sees the long termers before their discharge and will see those who
care to come to her after their discharge.
She gives her services gratis.
The psychological service is carried on by two part-time psycholo­
gists) one paid hy the Department of Correction and the other by the Inmates'
Commissary Fund.
One devotes her time to giving tests and carrying on a
mild treatment with a small group of inmates.
During 1938, 114 inmates
were given psychological tests and consulting services.
The other worker
is engaged in making surveys of the prison population according to offense,
disease, recidivism, and so forth, and helps in an emergency with the
testing.
The Social Service Department, with three full-time workers on
the staff and two part-time workers supplied hy outside sources; handled
534 new cases in 1938, with 178 cases carried over from the previous year.
The program of this department outlined in this chapter would seem to be
excellent in its objectives, hut, considering the population of the insti­
tution and the turn-over in inmates, the amount of work which would be
required to service the inmates adequately would in all likelihood restrict
accomplishment of its objectives.
The educational program,, carried out by one teacher on the staff
and one assistant on the payroll of the Works Progress Administration, reaches
-215-
very few of the inmates.
Inmates are not required to attend classes.
music program iB apparently more favored and gets better attendance.
The
The
woman in charge of the music program is on the payroll of the Works Progress
Administration.
The one class in vocational education is in shorthand, given by
the education department teacher.
All work assignments are considered as
vocational training in the particular type of work assigned.
The worker in charge of recreational activities is on the payroll
of the Works Progress Administration, and another WPA worker is in charge
of the library which is available to all inmates.
Recreation periods of
two hours a day for all inmates are held on the twelfth floor in the
recreation room and the four roofs.
Women awaiting trial and sentenced
women are given different periods, and the races are segregated during
social dances.
Religious services once a week in the chapel are open to all.
Three chaplains, Catholic, Protestant and Jewish, are employed by the
Department of Correction for these services.
From the present account of the House of Detention for Women, it
would seem that in the confinement of women offenders the institution
accomplishes its purpose with a minimum of the inhumane practices traditionally
employed in criminal detention.
Toward the modern concepts of crime prevention and the rehabili­
tation of offenders, the institution would seem to offer only the superficial
framework upon which such reforms might be built.
Departments of education,
psychiatry, psychology, social service, and recreation are all in the
picture of modem reform movements in prisons, but in the absence of
trained personnel in sufficient numbers to accomplish even a trial of
recommended procedures, scientific research and treatment of offenders
must remain an ideal.
CHAPTER VIII
TREATMENT OF OFFENDERS FOLLOWING CONVICTION:
PAROLE
AND FOLLOW-UP WORE
Parole is the conditional release of an offender from work­
house, penitentiary or reformatory before the completion of the
offender's maximum prison term.
The person placed on parole is
under the supervision of the Parole Commission and is in the cus­
tody of the state or city department of correction, as the case may
be, until the term of parole is completed.
Parole is not, as popularly supposed, a shortening of the
term of imprisonment a e a reward for good behavior in prison.
The
theory of parole, like the theory of probation, is that the offender
will make a better readjustment to normal community life through super­
vised freedom in the community.
Estimates of prison authorities vary as to the proportion of
prison inmates who are eventually released from prison, but no estimate
is below ninety per cent of all offenders committed.
The argument in
favor of parole is that society gains in protection when the inmate is
released only conditionally, under supervision for a part of his sentence,
rather than when he is released unconditionally at the completion of his
sentence, with complete freedom and without aid, supervision or guidance.
A secondary argument is that the maintenance of parole supervision costs
the community only a fraction of what it costs to maintain the inmate
in an institution.
-2 1 5 -
-216of Parole in the City o£ Mew lork
The New lork City Parole Commission began to function in
December, 1915.
In 1914 the Commissioner of Correction and a group of
prominent citizens including judges of the Court of Special Sessions
and City Magistrates1 Court, and the Prison Association of New Xork met
and made a study of all available statistics relative to inmates in
various institutions tinder the Department of Correction of the City of
New York.
Their findings showed that most inmates upon their release
had neither home nor money and that there was no authoritative agency
existing to aid than.
"It was necessary for them to resort to crime
within twenty-four hours after their release in order to maintain them­
selves."^
Until the Parole Commission was instituted, defendants under
the jurisdiction of the Department of Correction of the City of New Zork
were given a definite sentence, not to exceed one year.
As soon as the
sentence was served, inmates were released without supervision or help
of any kind.
After thorough study of the question, a bill was introduced
in the Assembly to cope with the conditions found to exist.
On May 10, 1915, the State Legislature passed an Act giving to
cities of the first class the power of "extending and developing the
reformatory and correctional functions of workhouse, penitentiary and
reformatory under the jurisdiction of the departments of correction, pro­
viding for the sentence, commitment, parole, conditional discharge and
reapprehension of persons committed to such institutions and for the
establishment of a parole commission in such cities."
1. Report of the Parole Cor'"r*lp^'™ of the City of New Zork. 1957.
(Typewritten, 14 pp. plus 5 pp. of statistics.)
2. McKinney1s Consolidated Laws of Hew Zork. Annotated. Book 66, Criminal
Code. Brooklyn, N. Z. Edward Thompson Company. 1900 pp. As amended to
the Close of the Regular Session of the Legislature of 1958, p. 1754*
-217A workhouse commitment in the City of New Xork now carries
with it a maximum period of detention equal to two years.
Penitentiary
and reformatory commitments are for indeterminate terms with a maximum
period of three years.
A prisoner must serve a minimum sentence, usually
one-third of the maximum sentence, before eligible for parole.
Organization and Jurisdiction of Parole ComMipgtan
The Parole Commission of the City of New Xork is located at
139 Centre Street, Manhattan.
The Commission is composed of the Commis­
sioner of Correction and the Police Commissioner, ex-officio members, and
three members appointed by the Mayor.
The term of the three active
Commissioners is ten years and until a successor is appointed and has
qualified.
The Chairman of the Commission, one of the three active Com­
missioners, is designated by the Mayor.
Commissioners are removable by
the Mayor only on stated charges after a hearing.
by the Mayor for unexpired terms.
Vacancies are filled
The Commissioner of Correction is
president of the Parole Commission..
The salary of the Chairman of the Parole Commission is $8,000
a year.
The salary of the other two Commissioners, one of whom is a
woman, is $6,000 a year.
It is the duty of the Chairman to preside at
all meetings.
The Secretary of the Parole Commission keeps minutes of each
meeting and keeps a list of all inmates in penal institutions, under the
jurisdiction of the Department of Correction of the City of New York,
subject to parole and their records.
It is the duty of the Secretary to
notify the committing magistrate or judge of persons whose cases are to
came before the Parole Board for parole; such committing offieer is in­
vited to attend the Board meeting.
-218The Parole Board meets every Thursday at 10 A.U., except during
July and August.
A majority of the five members of the Commission consti­
tute a quorum for the transaction of the business of the Commission.
It is the business of the Parole Commission to vote on the
eligibility for parole of all inmates coming under their jurisdiction.
The Commission also fixes the period of confinement for inmates serving
a workhouse sentence.
In the case of penitentiary and reformatory in­
mates, the Commissioners allot the number of marks, or credits, to each
inmate which must be earned before parole can be granted.
The individual parole case comes before the Parole Board one
month preceding the date on which such marks are earned.
During its consideration of a case, the Board has before it
the pre-parole report of the parole officer, the reports of the superin­
tendent or warden, resident physician, psychiatrist, psychologist and
social worker of the institution where the inmate is confined.
Before voting on a parole decision, the Commission considers
all factors bearing on the eligibility of the inmate, including his
criminal record, the nature of the offense on which he was committed,
his physical condition, mental attitude, and his prison behavior.
The
Commission also considers the prospect of work and a suitable home for
parolee upon release.
gft-Mon of the Parole Department
The parole department of the Parole Commission is made up of
a Chief Parole Officer, four supervisors (one of whom is a woman), and
27 parole officers (two of whom are women).
The work of pre-parole investigation and parole supervision
is carried on by parole officers.
Parole officers are appointed from a certified list of candi­
dates submitted to tbe Parole Commission by the Dew York City Civil
Service Commission.
Candidates are selected on the basis of civil service
rating) that is, the candidate with the highest rating is chosen first,
without regard to personality, character or particular fitness for parole
work.
The civil service requirements for the examination for parole
officers last given in New York City were:
1. Graduation from a senior high school
2. Two years at an
accredited school of social sciences
or
One year full-time paid position as a social case
worker with an accredited social agency
or
One year of experience in education
Parole candidates serve six month's probation period before
they are sworn in as parole officers and given a permanent police badge.
The salary of the parole officer starts
salary can be increased with
at $1,680 a year, which
service to a maximum of
$2,400 ayear.The
case load per worker recommended by the parole law is not more than
seventy-five.
In addition to the supervisory case load, the parole officer
must make pre-parole investigations, also.
Pre-parole Investigation of the Case
Soon after commitment, the inmate is interviewed by one of the
active members of the Parole Commission.
This interview takes place in
a room reserved for this purpose at the institution where tbe inmate is
confined.
All mitigating and aggravating aspects, if there be any, are
-220obtained.
Bis home surroundings, associates, industrial history and
criminal record are discussed.
The gist of the conversation with the
inmate is recorded and attached to the case papers for future reference.
An effort is made to make the inmate feel mentally at ease, so that he
will talk freely and that a fairly accurate impression may be gained
as to his character, truthfulness, and personality.
After a day of interviewing, the Parole Commissioner returns
to his office, places the Interviewed cases in the hands of the
Secretary of the Commission, who, in turn, makes a proper assignment
of the case and the investigation of the inmate's past is begun.
The pre-parole investigation hy the parole officer is much
the same as that made by a probation officer for the court prior to the
imposing of sentence.
The parole officer investigates tbe home of the
Inmate to ascertain whether or not it is suitable.
He Interviews previous
employer to ask if he will re-employ the inmate if paroled.
If these two
sources fail, the parole officer contacts any social agency having pre­
vious contact with inmate to discover if such agency would be willing to
provide food and shelter while parolee is getting re-established in the
community.
A copy of the court record of the case is obtained, and in all
cases a report from the arresting officer is submitted.
The resident
physician of the institution submits a report an the inmate's physical
condition and, where mental defects exist, a psychiatric examination is
made and a report forwarded to the Parole Commission for its information
and guidance.
The recommendation for parole is brought before the Parole Board
which holds an executive session on Thursday of each week.
This recom­
mendation comes automatically when the inmate has served the minimum term.
-221-
After the various reports have been thoroughly reviewed and discussed
hy the members of the Parole Commission, a vote is taken and the recom­
mendation is either adopted or rejected.
If the report contains informa­
tion which in the judgment of the Commission requires further confinement,
release is withheld pending further investigation.
Ocassionally, when the case of an inmate of the House of
Detention for Women presents a particular problem, one of the Parole
Commissioners goes to the institution to Interview her.
Supervision of Parolees
On the day of release the inmate who now becomes a parolee is
brought to the office of the Commissioner and is again interviewed and
questioned regarding his future.
In the case of women Inmates of the
House of Detention for Women, the inmate is seen by the parole officer at
the institution.
The parolee is given a parole card and specific instructions
regarding parole obligations.
He is required to report in person at a
designated reporting place approximately twice a month.
are required to report weekly.
S e x offenders
The reporting offices are scattered
throughout the city and each location office is manned by & parole officer
covering that area.
The parolee is questioned at each meeting as to where he or
she is working, the amount earned per week, and what portion of earnings,
in the case of men, he is giving to his dependants, use in leisure, and
so forth.
During normal years, wilful and continued idleness is considered
a violation of parole, but during depression years, this point has not been
pressed.
Parole officers are required to verify employment in as discreet
-221-
a manner as possible so as not to endanger the parolee's job.
Monthly
visits are required made to parolee's home and constant contact is supposed
to be maintained with his family.
If a parolee makes an untrue statement, he is severely repri­
manded.
If a parolee deliberately misleads the parole officer as to his
place of employment or residence, he is immediately apprehended.
He is
brought before one of the Commissioners and, if after thorough inquiry,
the Commissioner feels that the parolee is making no effort to rehabilitate
himself, he is considered a violator of parole and returned to the
institution from which he was conditionally released.
Frequenting dance balls, poolrooms, associating with "bad com­
panions" or persons with criminal records, use of narcotic drugs, viola­
tion of city ordinances, neglecting treatment for venereal disease, are
each considered definite violation of parole, and if parolee does not
heed the warnings given, a warrant is Issued declaring him a delinquent
and he is returned as a violator.
If a parolee appears before a court or in the daily line-up
at Police Headquarters, the parole officer in charge immediately files
a warrant which is not bailable.
Even if parolee is discharged by the
court for lack of evidence on the new charge, the Commissioner often re­
turns him as a violator, "as the investigation made by the Parole Com­
mission indicates that although parolee has not been convicted of a new
crime, we believe he is guilty and, therefore, is considered a parole
violator."^
Parole in the City of Mew York
During 1938, the Parole Commission of the City of Hew York
voted on 2,794 oases for the allotment of marks.
1. Annual Report of the Parole
1938. (Mimeographed, 24 pp.)
The number of
0f the City of Hew York.
-222-
parole recommendations considered was 2,359.
According to the Report
of the Parole Commission for the year 1938} from which the above figures
are taken, the following actions were also taken by the Commission during
the yearx
No. of
Cases
Cases laid over for supplementary reports
or further investigation
150
Cases laid over for mental examinations
112
Cases reconsidered on presentation of
additional information
509
1,441
Warrants issued
Parolees ordered returned for violations
(January to November, inc.)
782
Warrant cases (Parolees arrested and after­
ward discharged in court)
125
Discharged from parole (Parolee died, or
jurisdiction expired)
1,209
Conditionally discharged from parole
(Deported, sentenced to other prison, etc.)
406
Warrants discharged
109
Conditionally released from reporting
99
During 1938, according to the same Report, the number of women
offenders handled by the Parole Commission was 174.
The Report gives
the following distribution of cases according to workhouse and penitentiary
commitment!
On hand January 1, 1938
Paroled in 1938
Re-paroled in 1938
Warrants discharged
!•
2 £ f g a a A a -Craflffwto
1938. (lBmeographea7 24 pp.)
Penitentiary
Workhouse
71
70
12
8
161
5
7
1
13
ifae. city si S§w York.
The disposition of these 174 cases was as follows:
Penitentiary
Workhouse
6
16
5
-
Conditional discharge
Three-year expiration
Two-year expiration
Deported
Died
Committed on old charge
Warrants Issued (disposition pending)
Returned for violation of parole
Sentenced to other prisons
Committed on new charge
On parole December 51, 1958
-
1
1
1
22
14
5
7
90
161
-
2
5
-
5
15
For the seventy-seven women offenders released on parole during
1958, the Report gives the length of time each was detained before parole.
There were seven women paroled from the workhouse: one after five months,
one after six months, one after seven months, two after ten months, and
one each after twelve and nineteen months, respectively.
For the seventy women paroled from the penitentiary, the
length of detention varied from two months to thirty months as follows:
2 months
H
4
6
7
8
9
10
12
15
15
20
26
27
50
R
R
R
H
R
R
fl
R
R
R
R
R
Number
1
2
5
5
7
5
18
6
2
7
15
1
1
1
The average time in months served on workhouse sentence was
9.89 months.
months.
The average time served on penitentiary sentence was 12.44
-224-
The causes listed in the Report for tbe return of women
parole violators during 1958 were disorderly conduct, failure to obey
instructions, failure to report, false reports, intoxication, grand
larceny, petit larceny, soliciting (prostitution), jostling, and
vagrancy*
As will be noted in the tabulation above, 17 women out of
the total of 174 were returned to institutions as parole violators;
14 were penitentiary and three workhouse parolees*
Seven parolees out
of tbe total were committed on a new charge, and one on an old charge.
It will be noted, also, that 24 warrants had been issued for women
parolees, disposition ponding.
Four workhouse parolees had absconded.
Twenty-seven had been discharged from parole and ninety remained on
parole at the end of tbe year.
Thus, out of a total of 174 parolees under supervision, 55
had violated their parole.
In 1958, there were three women parole officers: one Catholic,
one Jewish, and one Protestant.
The Protestant parole officer was a
colored woman and some white Protestant women parolees objected to be­
ing tinder her supervision.
One such case, under tbe observation of the investigator,
was a young white woman who was serving a term for the pos­
session of narcotic drugs. This young women oame from a
cultured and well-to-do family and had never earned her
living. She was now required to look for work. She had
had two years at a university, had traveled a great deal and
spoke several languages. She was offered a position as
companion to an elderly woman. The young woman refused to
accept this position because, as she said, "If the parole
officer tells my employer in what capacity she calls, I lose
my job. If the parole officer calls as a friend, I also
lose my job*" Later a white parole officer was assigned to
her case. After the young woman had successfully completed
her parole period, she told the investigator how much more
tactful and helpful the colored parole officer had been than
the white one.
-2 2 5 -
The relationship between parole officer and parolee should
be on a friendly basis, but frequently, to the parolee, it is a
"threat."
This reaction is illustrated in the request to the investi­
gator by a woman awaiting trial. "Please plead with the
District Attorney,” she said, "to see that I get a definite
sentence. I cannot stand the nervous strain of an indeter­
minate sentence. You never know when you will get out; and
the parole period is worse. I would rather have a longer
sentence and be free after my discharge than to have a
short sentence and live under the supervision of a parole
officer, with her suspicious attitude - always thinking the
worst and never trusting me.”
Margaret Reeves, in Training Schools for DftHnmn»nt Girls.
has the following to say about early parole methods and the newer
point of View:
Early methods of parole seem to have been patterned after
police practices. In the minds of many of these early
parole agents the chief obligation was to "watch" the person
paroled to see whether "he made good." It was largely
inspection rather than supervision or training, and often
on the slightest provocation the parolee was immediately
returned to the institution.
The newer point of view regarding parole is that it should
constitute a continuation of the re-education processes and
of the treatment which have been started in the institution.
Parole then ceases to have the earmarks of police activities,
and assumes to a large degree the aspect of friendly visiting
and supervision.1
Again in The TioHnnimp^. Girl, a monograph in Child Welfare
Series of the New York School of Social Work, the old and the new in
parole is compared:
Parole according to the old stereotyped idea, is watching
a person who has been bad in the community to see that he
is not bad again. Those who have the new vision of parole
see a field limited by the needs of the individual girl,
in which opportunity is to be offered her to work out her
1. Margaret Reeves, Training Schools for D»Hnmi«n+. Girls. Mew
lork. Russell Sage Foundation, 1929. 465 pp. P. 577.
-226own salvation In terms of self-development and service.
1
Since tbe work obtained by women on parole Is mainly In
domestic service, tbe position of both parolees and parole officer In
relation to employer Is difficult.
Tbe parole officer is required to
make one home call a month and for the parolees in domestic service,
this usually means calling at the home of the employer.
If the em­
ployer does not know that her employee is on parole and the parole
officer cooperates with the parolee to keep her status secret, the
parole officer goes into the home under all sorts of pretenses.
Some­
times, she goes as a friend, or she pretends that she is on an errand
from a different agency, or any other excuse which seems practical.
As one parole officer expressed it, "We became professional liars In
our work."
On the other hand, when the employer is told that employee
is an parole, there is frequent exploitation of that fact to obtain
cheap labor.
The first job of the parolee is often fictitious and is
frequently secured by friends or relatives of the parolee.
In the
City of Hew Tork the parole department works closely with the Home
Relief Agency where the parolee may get immediate help until employ­
ment is found, or until the parolee can be transferred to a WPA project.
Many women parolees are referred to an employment agency (a particular
agency) for domestic service jobs.
In this oase, the employment fee
can be paid from the first salary and not in advance.
Women parolees are instructed to report on Thursday to their
parole officer during day time office hours.
Ho arrangements are made
1. The Delinquent Girl. Studies in Social Work, Child Welfare Series,
Monograph Ho. 3, Hew lork School of Social Work, Hew ^ork, 1923, p. 16
-227-
for evening reports.
If the parolee cannot make the call on Thurs­
day, another day is set.
If her only "day off" is Sunday, she is per­
mitted to write instead of reporting in person.
In this way there may
be no other contact with parole offioer over a long period of time.
Follow-up Work with Parolees
The only social agency that works solely with delinquent
women and girls under the Department of Correction of the City of
Hew Zork is the Women's Prison Association of Hew lork with its home
for female delinquents - the Isaac T. Hopper Home at 110 Second Avenue,
Manhattan.
The Women's Prison Association carries on case work for the
preventive care and rehabilitation of delinquent women and girls with­
out regard to color, race or creed.
The Hopper Home cooperates with
the House of Detention for Women to provide temporary shelter for
certain younger women offenders upon their release from the institution
and for those on probation or parole, as the need arises.
The work of the staff of the Hopper Home is based upon a
voluntary relationship between the workers and the women and girls who
are referred to the HOme.
The staff includes a case work: supervisor,
trained social workers, a part-time medical advisor, and a part-time
psychiatrist.
During 1958, 660 cases were handled by the Home: 342 cases
were referred by prisons and reformatories; 201 by courts, police,
parole and probation departments; 14 by the Juvenile Aid Bureau; and
95 by other agencies and individuals.
The 650 cases were classified in the Associations's Report^
1. Hlnetv-Fourth Annual Report of the Women's Prison Association
of Hew York and the Isaac T. Hopper Hone. Oct. 1, 1957 - Sept 50,
1958.
-228-
as 405 white and 245 colored* 199 cases required minor services, 551 were
considered major cases, and 100 cases required Intensive case work.
The
status of the Intensive cases at the end of the year was described as
follows:
40
19
19
7
4
3
2
2
2
1
1
Self-supporting
Making own plans
Dependent on family or friends
On home relief
Under supervision of other agencies
In correctional institutions
Receiving training
Working In own household
In Institutions for feeble-minded
In hospital
Receiving convalescent care
The types of service given by the Isaac T. Hopper Home includes
such minor aids as an outfit of suitable clothing to a girl looking for a
job, carfare to a girl who wants to ngo back home," or temporary shelter
while a person is making her own plans or having them made for her by another
agency.
Major services include finding immediate employment, temporary
shelter, medical examination, and referrals to proper clinics, hospitals or
convalescent homes.
In Intensive treatment cases, the service of the Home is described
in the Report for 1958:
In this group it is the individual's personality itself which
is the major concern. Some of these individuals come to us from
the courts or agencies for young girls in danger of become delin­
quent. Others are seen weekly in prison for many months prior
to their release. After they are discharged or put on parole
much more work is done with them and this often means daily
interviews with our case workers for weeks or months.
Careful physical examinations are given, and necessary and some­
times prolonged follow-up work is carried out in clinics, hospitals
and convalescent homes. Psychometric and vocational tests are given,
and if training is indicated, efforts are made to put this through.
When the help of a psychiatrist is indicated and desired by
the client, arrangements are made for this service. This is
sometimes continued for many months with the patient being
seen for hourly treatment periods from one to three times a
week. The various personality difficulties are worked through
hy the psychiatrist, case worker, and client. Some of these
clients who finally succeed in making a reasonably satisfactory
adjustment have many failures during the process. During
these times they often come back to Hopper Home for a short
stay or are housed by us elsewhere. For people whose behavior
difficulties have been built up over a long time it is neces­
sary to offer a painstaking and patient service and to be
satisfied with seeing results come slowly. What appears per­
haps as a small accomplishment means much success to these
individuals.1
The Girls' Service League of .America, at 158 East 19th Street,
Manhattan, is interested in wayward minor cases and provides temporary
shelter for homeless girls.
The League, through its Girls' Guidance Bureau,
carries on vocational guidance and placement and gives home training courses.
The Jewish Board of Guardians, the Salvation Army, and the Catholic
and Protestant Big Sisters cooperate with the prison social workers in help­
ing discharged women.
Several other private organizations help to a smaller
extent; among them are the following:
The Brooklyn Welcome Home for Girls
159 Bainbridge Street, Brooklyn
Church Mission of Help in the Diocese of Long Island
125 De Kalb Avenue, Brooklyn
Church Mission of Help in the Diocese of Hew York
27 West 25th Street, Manhattan
Family Adjustment Society of the Borough of Queens, Inc.
157-55 Northern Boulevard, Flushing, N. I.
Inwood House
228 West 15th Street, Manhattan
Katy Ferguson Home
162 West 150th Street, Manhattan
Juvenile Aid Bureau, Police Department of the City of New York
Old Slip and South Street, Manhattan
1. Annual Report of The Women's Prison Association, op. cit. p. 11.
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St. Faith's House
55 South Broadway, Tarrytown, N. I.
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Hew Zork
477 Madison Avenue, Manhattan
Summary and Conclusions
Parole service in the City of New Zork has been hampered by the
lack of organization, research, and trained personnel.
This is another way
of saying that it has been hampered by lack of funds.
It has been said that
parole service costs the community much less than imprisonment.
to Sutherland,1
this is an unsound reason for the use of parole.
According
He says:
In fact, if the parole system is operated properly, it may
cost as much as the present prison methods. Efficient parole
work must be expensive. Expensive experts will be required
to determine fitness for parole and to supervise those on
parole. A great deal of intensive work must be done. The
value of the parole system, therefore, will not be in the
financial saving, but in the saving of personality.
Parole presents many problems and, as a comparatively recent method
of treating offenders, it is not always understood by the public, the of­
fender, or the officials charged with the treatment of offenders.
Who should be paroled?
When in the term of imprisonment is the
best time to release the offender on parole?
bring the best results?
These are only a few of the problems that have not
been answered satisfactorily.
the problems.
What kind of treatment would
Research might provide the answer to some of
Better training and selection of personnel would seem to be
necessary to provide supervision that would be profitable to both parolee
and the public.
Parole is supervision and in theory it is supposed to bridge the
gap between prison and the readjustment to normal living.
must deal with the misfit in society.
The parole system
It is more than likely that this misfit
1. Edwin H. Sutherland. Principles of Criminology, p. 45.
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ls the product of handicaps which hamper his or her adjustment to everyday
requirements of society*
The ordinary run of men and women have been able
to overcome perhaps the same handicaps without public help, but tbe parole
system deals with men and women who have been unable to conform to tbe
demands of ordinary society.
The work of the parole officer demands
special knowledge and skill, therefore, in a difficult task.
In the Proceeding? of the First National Parole Conference held
April 17-18, 1959, in Washington, D. C., the minimum qualifications recom­
mended for a parole officer were as follows:
1.
Training and experience - Academic training as represented
hy graduation from a college or university of recognized
standing with major work in the social sciences or closely
allied fields is desirable; at least two years successful
full-time experience in social case work with a recognized
social agency, with extra credit for work with delinquents,
or one year in a graduate school of social work and one
year's experience in a recognized social agency. This,
however, shall not preclude consideration of those persons
who have other attributes which may qualify them for the
position of parole officers; namely, those qualifications
as outlined in the following paragraphs. Provision must
be made for a continuous professional development and im­
provement.
2.
Knrmlftdpft - (a)
work principles,
knowledge of the
knowledge of the
cedure.
5.
Personal attributes - From a realistic standpoint of equal
importance with academic training is the interest and will­
ingness of the parole officer to sacrifice himself for
people in difficulty. He must possess that quality of
brotherly love that causes him never to lose hope for the
reclamation of the offender. He must possess that patience
and confidence in the ability of the individual with use of
spiritual and material resources at his disposal to return
himself to right living and orderly behavior. It is assumed,
of course, that the parole officer will be In good physical
condition, be of good character, possess better than aver­
age intelligence, emotional stability, tact, energy, mature
judgment, and zealous interest in the work.
Demonstrated knowledge of approved case
methods, and practices; (b) demonstrated
principles of criminology; (c) demonstrated
elements of criminal law and court pro­
-2 5 2 -
4.
Compensation - Salary should he consistent with the train­
ing, experience and personal qualifications demanded hy the
character of the parole officer's work. Training, experience,
and personal qualifications required for effective parole
work cannot he secured without adequate compensation, pro­
tection from political favoritism, and opportunity for
advancement on merit and efficiency.
A comparison of these recommended qualifications and the actual
civil service requirements for the Hew Zork City Civil Service examination
for parole officers will show the disparity between actual and ideal require­
ments for parole personnel.
The qualifications recommended hy the First
National Parole Conference call for more than double the amount of education
and training; they specify personal attributes of character, intelligence
and personality not considered in the present selection of parole officers;
and, lastly, it would seem evident that the present salary of parole officers
does not meet the standards recommended.
The test of a parole system must he in the number of parolees
who successfully complete their periods of parole and who do not thereafter
commit delinquent acts leading to re-imprisonment.
This test must apply to
parole commissions who are responsible for the release of offenders and to
parole officers who investigate before and supervise offenders after their
release.
The picture presented in this chapter of the work of the parole
system with women offenders in tbe City of Hew Zork would seem to show that
much remains to he done before parole as administered in Hew Zork City can
receive high commendation.
COMPARISON OF PRESENT TREATMENT OF WOMEN OFFENDERS
PASSING THROUGH THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION OF
THE CITY OF NEW YORK WITH THE TREATMENT IN 1900
0HAPTER IX
TREATMENT OF WOMEN OFFENDERS IN 1900
FROM ARREST TO CONVICTION
In describing the treatment of women offenders passing through
the Department of Correction of the City of New lork in 1900, it may be
unnecessary to point out that the conditions existing at this arbitrarily
chosen date had existed many years prior to 1900, and continued to exist
for some years thereafter,
Improvement in court procedures and treatment
of women offenders after conviction came about slowly in the first two de­
cades of this century, more rapidly in the next two decades.
The Women's Court (Day) was not established until 1919; the
Family Court was established the same year, and became the present Domestic
Relations Court when it was consolidated with the Children's Court in 1955;
the Wayward Minor's Court did not begin to function until 1956.
The first
change in court organization was in the establishment of the Women's Night
Court in 1909, which ten years later was discontinued when the present
Women's Court began to function.
The conditions prevailing in 1900 in the
court handling of women offenders can be said, therefore, to have continued
with little change until 1919.
In the treatment of women offenders in New l o r k City after con­
viction, the changes came about still later.
It is true that probation was
instituted in 1901, but it was not until 1928 that all court probation de­
partments came under the jurisdiction of the Department of Correction of
-2 5 5 -
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the City of Dew York.
Parole was not legalized until 1915.
The first
penal institution in New York City built exclusively for women offenders was
the House of Detention for Women opened in 1952.
Until 1895 public charity and correction were handled by one de­
partment - the Department of Charities and Correction.
The Act separating
the department of charities from that of correction provided that! "the ex­
isting department of Charities and Correction should be abolished after
December 51, 1895) that the Mayor, ten days before December 31, should ap­
point three Commissioners of Charity and one Commissioner of Correction to
take office on January 1) that the two departments should
henceforth be
distinct.1
This Act was supported by the Prison Association of New York and
the State Charities Aid Association and most other associations interested
in penal reform.
According to a report of a Committee of the Prison Associ­
ation of New York, dated 1895, this Act "was based upon one of the wisest
principles of correct penal legislation, that the treatment of the recipient
o
of public charity should be distinct and different from that of convicts."
In the same report, it is stated that, "Of the 17,050 persons committed to
the Workhouse, 600 were self-committed.
They have committed no crime; they
are simply recipients of charity."3
An interesting comment in the report on this aspect of Workhouse
policy was that, "The most serious objection to the administration of the
Workhouse lies in the neglect of those provisions of law which require that
paupers be kept and employed separate from hardened criminals."
1. Report of a
of the Prison Association of New York.
December;19, 1895, p. 56. (Unpublished)
2. Ibid., p. 36
3. Ibid.. p. 21
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Belov is an example, dated 1871, of the attitude of the public
toward offenders, particularly women offenders, which still prevailed in
large measure in 1900:
Next in the scale (of offenses) comes lewdness. Of six
thousand women committed to jail in one year, over threefourths were prostitutes, and nearly half of the men
prisoners interrogated confessed that they were frequenters
of brothels. Theatres are sources of great evil. Nearly
fifty per cent of all committed to prison have frequented
these places.
From the same source come the following quotations taken from a
description of the district prisons, of which there were four at that time
in the New York Metropolitan District:
Small as these prisons are, no less than 49,423 persons were,
detained in them during 1870. All classes are seen here,
from the ignorant imbrated bully to the expert and polished
villain. Some are abashed and sit weeping over their follyj
others are reticent and collected. The visitor is often
surprised to learn that that handsome female leaning over the
banister, clad in rich silks, with gold chain, pin, and
bracelets, is a prisoner arrested for disorderly conduct.
This prison (Jefferson Market Prison) is kept remarkably clean,
notwithstanding the masses of seething corruption huddled
together in it day and night throughout the year. The cells
are well warmed but not furnished with beds, as the prisoners
are usually detained but one night, and never but a few days.
Many of them are so filthy and so covered with vermin that
beds cannot be kept in proper condition.2
Arresting Officers in Contact with Women Offenders
In 1900, as now, the suspect was in charge of police officers and
plain-clothes men during the time which elapsed between arrest and hearing
before a judge or magistrate.
1. Rev. J. F. Richmond, New York and Its Institutions. 1609-1871.
New York: E. B. Treat, p. 512.
2. Ibid., p. 516.
-256-
The greatest number of arrests of women then, as now, were on
charges of disorderly conduct or vagrancy, which usually meant sex offenses.
The prostitute herself, "if her offense was that of street solicitation, was
charged with disorderly conduct," under the law^ which provided that "every
common prostitute loitering or being In any thoroughfare of public place for
the purpose of prostitution or solicitation, to the annoyance of the Inhabi­
tants or passersby," is guilty of disorderly conduct.
House Act
Under the Tenement
she was deemed a vagrant if she solicited "any man or boy to
enter a tenement house for the purpose of prostitution."
She was also guilty
of vagrancy if the court was satisfied that she was "a common prostitute who
has no lawful employment whereby to maintain herself."®
Prostitution, since it was not a criminal offense, came into con­
flict with the law only when it was associated with soliciting or the oper­
ation of a house of prostitution in such a way as to annoy inhabitants or
passersby.
Says Waterman, quoted above, "the test of the offense was the
fact of annoyance."4 The so-called "red light" districts still flourished
without police disturbance.
In vagrancy cases, according to Waterman, the court required
testimony of such definite and explicit nature that it was exceedingly dif­
ficult for the arresting officers to secure admissible evidence.
Accord­
ingly, most of the arrests on sex offenses were for disorderly conduct which
meant street soliciting.
During the year 1900, there were 10,706 females
arraigned for disorderly conduct and only 1,526 females arraigned on a
charge of vagrancy.®
1. Consolidated Act, Laws of 1882, Subdivision 2 of Section 1458.
2. Same as above, Section 150.
5. Willoughby C. Waterman, Prostitution and Its Repression in Hew York Cltv.
1900-1951. Hew York: Columbia University Press, 1952, p. 19.
4. IMcL.. p. 12.
5. Annual Report of tfae Board of City Magistratesi First Division. City of
Hew York. 1900. Hew Yorkt The J. W. Pratt Company, Printers, 1901. p. 68.
Again quoting Waterman on prostitution arrests:
The plain-clothee officer was required to establish by legal
evidence the fact of the commission of a crime and then obtain
a warrant before making an arrest. This was, of course, a
slow and cumbersome method. Moreover, it made it difficult
for the officer to secure the necessary evidence without him­
self become a guilty party to an overt act of prostitution.
Otherwise suspicion was quite liable to be aroused and by the
time a warrant was secured the guilty person would have become
alarmed and would have fled. One result of this situation
was that many of the better type of police officer avoided
this sort of detail, and vice work came to be assigned quite
generally to officers of lower personal standards who were
quite likely to be corruptible.
It was this condition which prompted the change in procedure which
permitted the arrest in prostitution cases without a warrant.
Waterman further says that for many years it was possible for
plain-clothes men to spend up to fifty dollars in securing evidence in a
prostitution case, always with the consent of the commanding officer.
O
Also,
"...it is clearly evident that during the early years of the century the
Hew lork police, far from protecting the city from vice, were rather actively
engaged in aiding and abetting the very conditions which they were obligated
to suppress."®
Prior to 1900 legal penalties were directed for the most part
against active participants and did not affect those who although they were
not active participants themselves were the promotors and exploiters of the
system.
In 1900 this was partially remedied by amendments to Section 887 of
the Code of Criminal Procedure, which provided that "every male person who
lives wholly or in part on the earnings of prostitution or in any public
place solicits for immoral purposes" was guilty of Vagrancy.
1. Waterman, op. cit.. p. 57.
2. Ibid.. p. 58.
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According to Waterman, these amendments to the penal law dealt
much more adequately with the problem of compulsory prostitution than did
the earlier vagrancy subdivision, but "Notwithstanding this fact, from the
very beginning they seem to have been rarely used."'1’
Further legislation enacted in 1915 and 1919 simplified the task
of police in securing evidence.
Instead of requiring evidence of any overt
act of prostitution, it now became necessary merely to establish the fact of
an offer to commit.
The result of the legislation was to standardize procedure
in prostitution arrests.
The law, however, still continues to discriminate
against the woman involved in prostitution.
"While the wording of the law
does not exempt the male customer, the decision of the Court in a test case
in 1923 was that a male who was merely a customer did not come within the
scope of the law and was therefore innocent of legal offense."^
After disorderly conduct, the charge of intoxication accounted
for the next largest group of females arrested.
4,610 females arraigned on this charge.
During 1900 there were
According to the annual report of
the Women's Prison Association of New York
for that year, the majority of
women sent to correctional institutions were so-called "rounders," women
who spent years alternating between prison and liquor saloons.
The Associ­
ation described this class of offenders as follows:
Probably not ten per cent of them are in normal condition
physically or mentally. They are Suffering from alcoholism
in its worst form, with the result that they are mental and
moral degenerates utterly incapable of caring for themselves,
of performing useful labor, or of withstanding the tempta­
tion of passing the side entrance of a liquor saloon. To
give such women short sentences means to keep them incessantly
fluctuating between the street and the District Prison and
1. Waterman, op. cit.. p. 16.
2. Ibid.. p. 21-22.
3. 56th Annual Report of the Women's Prison Association of New York and the
Isaac T. Hopper Home for 1900. New York: The Knickerbocker Press,
1900, pp. 20-21.
-259-
Workhouse, where they do not recover from the effects of
one spree before they are turned adrift to become the vic­
tims of another....Not infrequently, women discharged in
the morning are rearrested in time for the afternoon court.
Within a year, more than one case has come to my notice of
women who have been arrested three times within twenty-four
hours.
It would seem that many arrests in this category were merely for
the purpose of allowing the woman to sober up, when she would be discharged.
Since there was no record kept at that time of repeaters, it is impossible
to know how many individual offenders were represented by the 4,610 arrests
on a charge of intoxication.
Women suspects were taken by plain-clothes men or police officers
to a station-house for booking, and from station-house to court.
The "Black
Maria," a black truck-like, horse-drawn wagon, with a bench along each side,
was used to carry offenders from station-house to court and from court to
prison.
There were no windows in the wagon; only a little light came from
the open-top door.
Men and women were packed together in this patrol wagon.
Detention of Women Offenders Held for
First Appearance in Court
Women suspects arrested during the day were taken directly to
court after booking at the station-house.
If arrested after the closing of
the courts, they were kept in cells at the station-house, or at one of the
district prisons until the opening of the courts in the morning.
Then, as
now, the period of detention at the station-house or district prison was short,
usually for a few hours, seldom more than one day.
In most of the station-houses the cells were in the basement of the
building.
ing cells.
The sexes were placed on opposite sides of a corridor or in adjoin­
The floors of the cells were of flag stone, and the walls were
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whitewashed stone.
served as a bed.
A wooden board raised two or three feet from the floor
There was no bedding, not even a blanket.
In most cells
there was a water-closet which was flushed by turning a faucet.
same faucet drinking and washing water was obtained.
From this
No meals were served
in the station-houses, but the prisoners were served by the city at twentyfive cents a meal from the nearest restaurant.
she could send out for meals.
consideration.
If the prisoner had money,
A woman with money was treated with some
The poor woman could not obtain even a postcard.
In a few
newer station-houses the cells were built on the ground floor and conditions
were somewhat better.
There were no matrons at the station-houses, and no search of
arrested women.
'
There were seven district prisons in New Tork City in 1900.
They
were all used for the temporary detention of offenders, those awaiting trial
as well as those awaiting a hearing.
The First District Prison was the Tombs, or Halls of Justice, and
it was the city prison for Manhattan.
It was situated between Centre, Elm,
Leonard and Franklin Streets, and was completed in 1858.
In front of the
building on Centre Street were the rooms for the Court of Sessions and the
Police Court, which gave the building its name of Halls of Justice.
A
description of the Tombs from Mew York and Its Institutions runs as follows:
The prison stands on low, damp ground in the vicinity of a
poor and riotous neighborhood, is poorly ventilated, was
never calculated to well accomodate over two hundred prisoners,
yet, the annual average is nearly four hundred, and often
greatly exceeds that number. It has lately been condemned
by the grand jury of the county as a nuisance, and as the
Commissioners have repeatedly recommended the building of a
large and well-arranged prison in a more suitable locality it
is not likely that the frowning, dingy "Tombs" will long con­
tinue in the city.
1. Richmond, , op. cit.. p. 511
-241-
Thls was written in 1871, and the present Tombs was not begun
until 1899.
The section devoted to women in 1900, however, was an annex
built about 1885 to the old prison.
tiers.
It contained 55 cells arranged in five
Women awaiting trial occupied the lower tiers and Workhouse prisoners
the two upper tiers.
The cells which were made to hold one inmate usually
held two or more.
The Second District Prison was the Jefferson Market Prison, which
was demolished to make room for the House of Detention for Women.
The
Jefferson Market Prison was completed in 1875, and had 28 cells for men and
dormitories for about fifty more.
There were 60 cells for women in a cell
block of four tiers.
The Third District Prison was known as the Essex Market Prison or
the Ludlow Street Jail and was situated on the corner of Ludlow Street and
Essex Market Place, Manhattan.
It was smaller than the Jefferson Market
Prison and about ten years older.
It was used for federal and civil prisoners,
both male and female.
The Fourth District Prison, completed in 1865, was at 57th Street
and Lexington Avenue, Manhattan, and was known as the Yorkville Prison.
This
prison was a pit, oblong in shape, with three tiers of cells on the long side
and a large room on each of the shorter sides.
The floor of the pit was con­
crete, and a stove at each end constituted the heating system of the prison.
The women's quarters occupied one of the short sides of the building.
quarters were only a pen, since no women were kept over night.
These
This pen
had a concrete floor and was furnished with benches, table and chairs, an
enameled sinck with faucets and toilet.
There were cells to accomodate
forty-six male prisoners in addition to the pen for women.
The Fifth District Prison was the Harlem Prison at Sylvan Place
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and 121st Street, Manhattan.
It was built In 1885 and contained 16 cells
for women, 24 cells for men, besides a dormitory for fifty men.
The cells
were built on the cell block plan, and extended through five tiers.
The
cell windows began five feet from the floor.
The cell furnishings were an
iron bed and a washstand with running water.
The prison was heated by steam.
The Seventh District Prison, called the West Side Prison, was at
517 West 53rd Street, Manhattan, and was built in 1865.
Like the Harlem
prison the cells were in five tiers, the two lower tiers consisting of 16
cells which were used for women.
Cell floors were of concrete, and the cell,
8 ft. by 5 ft. 5 in., contained a toilet, washstand, bench, bunk and two
small ventilators.
There was no light in the cells; the corridors were
lighted by a gas jet at each end.
Prisoners ate in their cells.
The Brooklyn City Prison at 149 Raymond Street, Brooklyn, was
known as Kings County Jail, or more commonly called the Raymond Street Jail.
It was used for the detention of offenders awaiting hearing or trial, but
its main use was as a prison for sentenced offenders.
As such it will be
more fully described in the next chapter.
In each of the Boroughs of Richmond and Queens, in 1900, there was
a single penal institution, the jail.
These jails were not under the juris­
diction of the Department of Correction of the City of Hew York, but like
the Raymond Street Jail, were under a sheriff and run by the fee system.
They were used for temporary detention as well as for convicted offenders
serving terms of imprisonment.
The Queens City Prison. Long Island, was constructed in 1898 and
contained 158 cells for men and 71 for women.
The Richmond County Jail. Staten Island, had by 1900 been condemned
by the Prison Association of New York for a number of years as antiquated and
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unsanitary.
It had also been condemned by the State Commission of Prisons.
The laws of the State required that persons awaiting trial should
be separated from those under sentence.
The annual report of the Prison
Association of Mew York for 1902 reported that:
There is so little difference in the treatment of accused
persons and those under sentence (in district prisons) that
there is no exaggeration in saying that the punishment of
persons under arrest begins immediately upon their commit­
ment to jail....The quarters assigned to them do not differ
essentially from those assigned to sentenced prisoners...
the lot of the sentenced men in the penitentiary may be far
better than that of an innocent person in jail.1
There were matrons in attendance at the district prisons.
suspects were searched upon arrival.
tobacco, etc., to prisoners.
Women
Matrons were allowed to sell food,
According to the report of the Women's Prison
Association of Mew York for 1900,
This system has been in existence for many years. Its effect
upon both prisoners and officials is most derogatory. It is
a constant source of contention among the matrons, it detracts
from the dignity of the position, and instead of commanding
their respect, the matron is reduced to the position of a de­
pendant upon the prisoners for support, a position all too
readily taken advantage of.
In the chapter immediately following, a description of prison con­
ditions in 1900 and the treatment of women prisoners will be found.
The
treatment described therein, which relates to women offenders after convic­
tion, would seem to have been true as well for persons arrested and detained
awaiting hearing and trial.
As reported above by the Prison Association of
Mew York, there was little difference in the treatment of accused persons
and persons serving sentences after conviction.
City Magistrates' Courts of Mew York in 1900
The City Magistrates' Courts prior to 1910 were headed by a board
1. 58th Annual Report of the Prison Association of Mew York, for 1902.
Albany: The Argus Company, Printers, 1905, p. 15
2. 56th Annual Report of the Women's Prison Association of Mew York, for 1900.
Mew York: The Knickerbocker Press, 1900, p. 25.
composed of all city magistrates, with a president selected by the magis­
trates annually from among their number.
This was the Board of City
Uagistrates with offices at 118 West 48th Street, Manhattan.
The City
Magistrates' Courts of the First Division covered the Boroughs of Manhattan
and the Bronx.
The Second Division covered the Bouroughs of Brooklyn, Queens
and Richmond.
The City Magistrates were appointed by the Mayor for a term of
ten years, at an annual salary of $7,000.
There were twelve magistrates
appointed for the seven districts of the First Division and thirteen appointed
for the Second Division composed of eight districts of Brooklyn, three dis­
tricts of Queens, and two districts of Richmond.
The assignment of magistrates to a particular court covered a
period of about six months, which provided for the rotation of magistrates
from one district to another within each division.
The courts remained open
from 9 A.M. until 4 P.M., except Saturdays and holidays, when there was a
morning session only.
Court attendants, before 1910, were police officers and were there­
fore under the jurisdiction of the Police Commissioner.
Consequently, the
magistrates had no jurisdiction and little control over them.
Jurisdiction
The City Magistrates' Courts had power of summary proceedings in
such matters as disorderly conduct, intoxication, vagrancy, sabbath break­
ing, suspicious persons, and so forth.
In other words, then as now, the
magistrates could try and finally dispose of minor offenses less than the
grade of misdemeanor or felony.
All misdemeanor cases, if held for trial,
were sent to the Court of Special Sessions.
In felony chargee, if the de-
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fendant was held for trial by the Magistrates' Court, he or she was sent
to the Court of General Sessions by way of the Grand Jury.
The process of
arraignment was the same in 1900 as In 1958.
The law required that a statistical report be made yearly by City
Uagistrates, but examination showed that reports were apparently made up by
police clerks with limited statistical ability and with an apparent inten­
tion to give as little useful information as possible.'1'
The total ntimber of persons arraigned, both male and female, in
the First Division (Manhattan and the Bronx) for
the year 1900
was 95,389.
Of these, the number held for trial or summarily
2
Uagistrates' Courts was 68,769.
convictedby the City
The total number of persons arraigned in the Second Division
(Brooklyn, Queens and Richmond) for 1900 was 41,071.
Of these, 29,478 were
held for trial or summarily convicted.®
The Trial
In 1900 there were no special courts for women, and no difference
in treatment accorded male and female offenders.
Court trials were open
to the public and attracted crowds of idlers and sightseers.
Women were
brought to and removed from the court in the "Black Maria," or were escorted
by the arresting officer, and were compelled to walk through the crowd of
people who collected in the street about the entrance to the court.
Uan and women were put in separate detention pens which were un­
sanitary and dirty to await their turn.
These pens were frequently over-
j1. Marv R. Smith. The Social AsnectB of Mew York Police Courts.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1900, p. 145.
2. Annual Report of the Board of City Uagistrates of the City of Mew York.
First Division, for the Year ending December 51, 1900. Mew Yorkt
J. W. Pratt Company, Printer, 1901, p. 2.
5. Annual Report of the Board of City Uagistrates of the City of Hew York.
Second Division, for the Year ending December 51, 1900. Mew York:
J. W. Pratt Company, Printers, 1901, p. 4.
crowded during the court session and the sexes were herded together In the
corridors.
The trial procedure and the power of the magistrate to act as
referee ruling on various points of law and, in the event of conviction, to
act as sentencing judge, were the same as In the present day City Magistrates'
Court.
Legally, in all cases where the order of the magistrate might
deprive any person of his or her liberty or impose a fine, such person might
appear in open court and be heard in his or her defense, and producewit­
nesses or any competent testimony in his or her behalf.
It was theduty of
the magistrate to decide each case from the evidence produced before him in
court.
Actually, the trial of women offenders in City Magistrates' Courts
in New lork City was frequently held in the following manner:
The woman was brought into the crowded courtroom where she
was met by the officer who arrested her; he made the charge
against her. The offender stood before the judge, separated
from him try an iron railing. She was told what her crime was
and asked if she had anything to say. Before she had time
to answer, the sentence was pronounced and she was taken to
the district prison, from which she was transferred to the
Workhouse the following morning. No time was given to obtain
witnesses. The man whom the woman was supposed to have
solicited, if it was a case of prostitution, did not appear
against her. The officer's statement was sufficient to con­
vict the woman. No inquiry was made into her previous history
nor her character. No matter how upright her character and
life may have been, she received the same sentence in the same
manner as a professional prostitute.
The magistrate might dispose of a case by dismissal, suspended
sentence, fine, or imprisonment, or both fine and imprisonment, or release
on good behavior bond.
The indeterminate sentence, while legal in 1900
for reformatory and penitentiary cases, was not applicable to minor offense
1. Herta N. Genz, The Contribution of the Women* s Prison Association of
New lork to tte Care of Delinquent Women. 1936, p. 39. (Unpublished
M. A. Thesis.)
-247-
or misdemeanor cases.
All commitments delivered in the City Uagistrates*
Courts were for a definite term which varied from one day to six months.
Number and Distribution of Convictions (First Division)
The number of women arraigned during the year 1900 in the Boroughs
of Manhattan and the Bronx was 20,170.
the City Magistrates1 Courts.
Of these, 6,504 were discharged in
The number held for trial in a higher court
or summarily convicted in the City Magistrates1 Courts was 13,855.
There
were 16 cases pending on December 31, 1900.1
The following list shows the nature of all offenses charged
against women in the various districts of the City Magistrates' Courts of
the First Division (Manhattan and the Bronx) in 1900, and the number discharged or held by the courts.
Offenses
Abandoning Child
Abduction
Abortion
Arson
Assault (Felony)
Assault (Misdemeanor)
Attempted suicide
Bigamy
Burglary
Carrying burglar's tools
Crime against nature
Cruelty to children
Disorderly conduct
Disorderly House keeping
Disorderly person
Felonies not otherwise classified
Forgery
Fugitive from justice
Gambling
Gambling, Keeping house or
Homicide
Incest
Discharged Held Pending
7
7
7
3
39
188
160
7
8
8
2,691
46
18
4
1
4
1
1
4
1
3
1
7
2
55
74
12
1
9
1
2
8
8,115
51
22
5
1
4
18
1. Annual Report of the Board of City Magistrates, First Division,
op. cit., p. 26
2. Ibid.. p. 68.
3
2
1
4
-248-
Offenses (Continued)
Pibcharged Held PantHng
Insanity
Intoxication & disorderly conduct
Intoxication
Kidnapping
Larceny (Felony)
Larceny (Misdemeanor)
Maiming
Malicious mischief (Felony)
Misdemeanor not otherwise classified
Receiving stolen goods
Robbing
Sabbath breaking
Selling liquor to minors
Suspicious person
Truancy
Ungovernable child
Vagrancy
Violation,
Bottle Act
Corporation Ordinance
Dental Law
Excise Law
Factory Law
Hotel Law
Medical Law
Opium Law
Pool Law
Sanitary Law
Theatrical Law
Total
54
68
1,199
1
296
425
55
7
8
5
185
194
5,411
285
255
1
2
71
2
4
1
1
1
1
5
295
12
58
572
20
6
2
2
1
1
5
1
6,501
1
172
790
1
8
54
1
18
4
2
8
1
1
29
1
15,855
It is obvious from the above list of offenses that disorderly con­
duct, vagrancy, and intoxication constituted the bulk of criminal activity
among women offenders; the number under these three headings alone was 19,040
out of a total of 20,170 arraigned; in other words, approximately 95 per cent
of the total number arraigned.
On the charges of "insanity" and "ungovernable child," the a r m n n i
report of the Board of City Uagistrates had the following comment:^
Tnsanity. Those exhibiting a mild and harmless type of mental
aberration were discharged. There were committed temporarily for
proper medical examination 494 males and 185 females.
1. Ibid.. pp. 45-44
-249-
gngovernable child. The number of ungovernable children
arraigned was 745 - 534 males and 230 females. Many were
discharged into the custody of their parents or guardians
upon exhibition of penitence and promises of better behavior.
Those actually committed amounted to 574, of whom 402 were
males and 172 females.
Of the 13,853 women offenders held by the City Magistrates'
Courts, First Division, in 1900, the following list shows the disposition
made by the Courts for all cases.^
The term "for good behavior" means that
the defendant was required to post a bond for a period of time stated by the
Court as a guarantee of good behavior.
Number of Women ComnH-ht-nri in Default of Bail
Held for trial at General Sessions
Held for trial at Special Sessions
For good behavior
For default of payment of fine
331
293
1,550
6,302
Number of Women Released upon Bail
Held for trial at General Sessions
Held for trial at Special Sessions
For good behavior
To keep the peace
49
160
174
39
Released by payment of fine
3,650
Number of Women Commi t.’
hod
Committed as Vagrants
To Reformatory Institutions
To Commissions of Public Charities
To Commissions of Public Charities
As Fugitives from Justice
Remanded to Coronor
Bail forfeited
To City Prison
Total
as
as
412
659
Insane 182
Destitute28
4
18
1
1
13,853
This distribution of dispositions presents an Interesting picture
of the woman offender passing through the City Magistrates' Courts in 1900.
The fact that over eight thousand of the total were committed in default of
-250-
ball or payment of fine would seem to be an Indication of low economic
status*
The number of women committed in default of payment of fine was
6,502; the number released on payment of fine was 5,650.
Nearly twice as
many women, therefore, were sent to prison because they could not
fine as were released because they could.
pay a
A further Instance of the penni­
less going to prison is that 422 women were released on bail, but
2,174
women were sent to prison in default of bail.
Another significant aspect of the above list of dispositions is in
the distribution of sentences.
In 9,952 cases out of a total of 15,855,
the sentence was a fine, which was usually ten dollars.
412 were committed as vagrants.
sentence in 1,724 cases.
Of the total, only
Posting of a good behavior bond was the
An illustration of the proportion of more serious
offenses to minor offenses is given in the holding over of only 455 offenders
for trial in the Court of Special Sessions and 580 for trial in the Court of
General Sessions.
The following list shows the distribution of the 659 women offenders
committed to reformatory institutions according to institution and the
number committed to each*'*American Female Guardian Society
Colored Orphan Asylum
Dominican Convent Lady Rosary
Five Points House of Industry
House of Mercy
House of Good Shepherd
House of Refuge
Hebrew Orphan Asylum
Hebrew Sheltering Guardian Sooiety
Institute of llercy and St. Joseph's Home
Juvenile Asylum
Magdalen Asylum
Mission of the Immaculate Virgin
9
5
18
22
50
112
59
4
18
45
50
17
6
-251-
Orphan'8 Home - P. E. Church
Roman Catholic Protectory
St. Joseph's Asylum
St. Agnes' Home
Sisters of St. Francis
St. Agatha's Home
St. Elizabeth's Industrial Home
St. Michael's Home
St. James' Home
St. Ann's Home
Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children
Truant School
Total
1
85
67
1
47
49
1
2
2
15
16
2
659
Of the 15,855 women held for trial by the City Magistrates' Courts,
First Division, in 1900, 12,555 were white and 1,520 were colored.-*Another listing of the Board of City Magistrates, First Division,
2
for 1900 gives the ages of female offenders held for trial as follows:
Under 14 years
Between 14 to 20
Between 20 to 50
Between 50 to 40
Over 40 years
Total
499
years 700
years6,815
years5,071
2.768
15,855
The number of females held for trial showed a total of 1,199
under twenty years of age.
As in 1958, the age group 20 to 50years showed
the greatest incidence of triable offenses.
In the Second Division of the City Magistrates' Courts covering
the Boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens and Richmond, 6,605 womenwere arraigned.5
Of this number, 4,986 were held for summary disposition or for trial in a
higher court.
Since the distribution of offenses and the disposition of cases
approximated those of the First Division, it would be mainly repetition of
detail to include them here.
The conduct of the City Magistrates' Courts in this period finally
brought about sufficient public sentiment to cause the governor of the state
1.
2.
5.
Ibid.. p. 76
Ibid.. p. 76
Annual Report of the Board of City Magistrates. Second Division for 1900, p.8
252-
to appoint a commission in 1908, known as the Page Commission, to investi­
gate them.1
According to an appeal addressed to the Governor of New lork State
in 1907, to appoint a commission to investigate conditions in the City
Magistrates' Courts:
...no change in the existing situation could he accomplished
so long as the personnel of the magistrates and judges remained
as it was, and that it was hopeless to expect to secure such
legislation so long as^political parties had the roots of their
power in these courts.
Moley, who devoted a chapter to this Investigation in Tribunes of
the People, said that "conditions at the time of the Page inquiry were palpably
vicious. "3 He quotes at length from a magazine article appearing in 1907
entitled, "The Farce of Police Court Justice."
The subtitle of the article
was "Magistrates, Lawyers, Wardheelers, Professional Bondsmen, Clerks of the
Court, and Probation Officers Join to Make a Mockery of 'The Supreme Court'
of the Poor."
4
Among the abuses cited in the above article were confusion
and rush in the courts, indifference in handling cases,
with opportunity
for corrtqot policemen, crooked lawyers, and clerks to manipulate deals and
so draw up papers that the magistrate's hands were tied in the disposition of
cases, "and even an honest one cannot begin to know all that is going on
around him."
Ten years ago there were four or five lawyers in and around each
of the police courts making a fair living.... They were engaged
on the spot by prisoners who needed, or thought they needed, their
services. Now there are ten or a dozen at each court, some of
them making from $10,000 to $15,000 a year. These lawyers are
steered upon the prisoners by the police and other attendants who
1. Raymond Moley, Tribunes of the People, p. 21
2. See The Forgotten Army. Charity Organization Society of New York, Committee
of Criminal Courts, p. 15. Quoted by Moley, ibid.. p. 21.
5. Moley, joj). ci^., pp. 21—5S.
4. Franklin Mathews, Broadway Magazlnp. Vol. XVII (February, 1907) No. 5,
Quoted by Moley, 0£. cit., p. 21
-255-
share the fees. The rule is to frighten every prisoner who
can afford to pay.
One of the charges made in the above article concerned what was
called the Picl&e Trust.
Since this court "institution" was directed solely
at women offenders, it seems of sufficient value as an illustration of the
treatment accorded women and reported current at the time to warrant repeat*
ing this part of the article as quoted by Moley.1
In the trial of the police court lawjreras a matter of necessity
comes the professional bondsman. One of these with two lawyers
and a magistrate composed the famous Essex Market Pickle Trust.
A large batch of women would be gathered in by the police solely
for the soke of plunder. These women hate detention for even an
hour. By the payment of five dollars each to the station-house
bondsman, who divided his fees with the police, they would be
released at once to appear in court the next day. There the
Pickle Trust got bold of them. The magistrate would hold up
his hands in horror over the spectacle before him. He would de­
clare that he would clean the streets and make them respectable.
He would put the women under bonds for good behavior. The law
gives him the right to detain them until he is satisfied with a
bondsman. He would lock them up and then their satellites would
scurry around for a bondsman. One after another would be pro­
duced, and all rejected. Finally the mysterious tip would be
passed around that a certain man must be hired. His fee was ten
per cent of the bond, $20 for a $200 bond, and so on. Most of
the women would be put under $500 bonds. If there were twenty
of them the Trust would have $1,000 to divide - pretty good pick­
ing for a morning*s work. One of the magistrates was said to be
a member of that trust, and although exposure has checked its
work, it is still in existence in a covert form.
The safest investment, and one of the most profitable in New lork,
is going on ’bonds for good behavior’ in the police courts.
More than 11,000 have been issued in the last eleven years. Not
one has ever been forfeited. It is a 'sure thing.' A bondsman
may sign one of these obligations and no matter if the next day
the person under bond is brought into court again, no one will
attempt to disturb the sleep of the first or any other similar
bond in its repository in the criminal courts. They are an ab­
solute farce. They make a mockery of justice. The system exists
to enrich the professional bondsman.
The Page Commission was concerned with "the system, methods, and
procedure of the courts" rather than with "specific complaints against in1. Moley, op. cot., pp. 25-24.
-254-
dividual officers or employees."'1’ As such, while it confirmed the condi­
tions publicly charged as to the administration of the City Magistrates1
Courts, its object was to improve conditions through reorganization, and
the improvements suggested by the Commission resulted in the passage in
April 1910 of An Act Relating to the Inferior Criminal Courts of the City
of New York.
This Act was mainly a codification of the laws relating to the
City Magistrates1 Courts in New York City. The changes in organization and
practice in these courts as a result of the Page Commission investigation
were, according to Moley, important to the development of the courts, but
did not go deep enough.*
"Commendable as these changes were, they did not
cut out the cancer of political patronage, which had penetrated into the very
marrow of our inferior criminal court system."
o
The Court of Special Sessions in 1900
So far as the interest of this study is concerned, the jurisdiction,
organization and routine of the Court of Special Sessions of the City of New
York were substantially the same in 1900 as in 1958.
There was at that time
no annual report made of proceedings of the court, and the only information
available on the business of the court for 1900 is contained in the Record of
Complaints, on file in the Court, with its day by day record in the clerk’s
handwriting.
According to this record there were 5,491 cases handled in this
Court
d u r in g
the year, out of which 255 were cases of women offenders.
Since the record shows 52 acquittals, only 201 women were convicted during
* The establishment of the Women’s Night Court was one of these changes.
1. Moley, op. clt.. p. 26 (Quoted from Final Report of the Commission to
Inqulte into Courts of Inferior Criminal Jurisdiction in Cities of the
First Class, pp. 5-4.)
2. Moley, ibid.. p. 55
-255-
the year*
The chargee on which theae women were convicted ranged from
petit larceny to malicious mischief, as follows:
Petit larceny
104
Assault
27
Keeping Disorderly House
19
Disorderly Conduct
1
Public Nuisance
U
Malicious Mischief
5
Concerning birth of child
1
Breach of Recognition for
Good Behavior
1
Violation of civil ordi*
nances
34
201
By subtracting from the total of convictions the 24 violations of
civil ordinances, it is shown that only 167 convictions were had for 1900
on the offenses coming under this study.
The heaviest sentence imposed on
women offenders was one year in the penitentiary; the lightest, a ten dollar
fine or three days in prison.
The Court of General Sessions in 1900
As in the Court of Special Sessions, the Court of General Sessions
of the City of New York was substantially the same in 1900 as in 1958 in
jurisdiction, organization and routine procedure.
annual report of court proceedings.
Nor was there made an
The only information available for the
year 1900 is contained in the daily record (Book No. 9, Index to Convictions,
1897-1900, Inclusive), on file in the Court in the clerk's handwriting.
The number of convictions handed down by the Court of General
Sessions for 1900 was 1,194.
convictions.
Women offenders accounted for 104 of these
The charges on which these women were convicted ranged from
grand larceny to adulterating milk.
Forty-four were convicted an grand
larceny charges, and 59 on petit larceny charges, which two charges accounted
-256-
for 73 of the 104 convictions.
The remaining 31 convictions were on the
following charges: perjury, arson, burglary, forgery, assault, abortion, at­
tempted grand larceny, keeper of stolen goods, adulterating milk, and inde­
cent exposure.
The heaviest sentence was eight years in a state prison; the
lightest, two months in the penitentiary.
Rtimmfi/mr and Conclusions
It appears from the foregoing that,
1. There were many more arrests and convictions of women in pro­
portion to total population in New lork City in 1900 than in 1958, and that
approximately 95 per cent of all women offenders passing through the City
Magistrates' Courts were arrigned on one of three charges - disordedy con­
duct, vagrancy and intoxication.
2. While there are no records to substantiate the conclusion, it
would seem that the high percentage of arrests for 1900 in proportion to
the population may have been owing to the number of arrests per person.
As
noted by the Women's Prison Association of New lork in 1900, the majority of
women sent to correctional institutions were "rounders," the 1900 term for
recidivists.
3. There may also be a connection between the comq>t relationship
existing at the time between the police force, the City Magistrates' Courts,
and professional bondsmen, as revealed by the Page Commission, and the high
percentage of women arrested.
Another factor in this connection may have
been the practice of imposing light fines as sentences.
4. In any case,the picture presented in this chapter of the women
offender and her treatment at the hands of police offioers, magistrates, and
city prison officials, would seem to show that, to a great extent, her
-2 5 7 -
situation was exploited by all three agencies to their gain and the public
loss.
5. There is no evidence to show that police officers, magistrates
or judges of higher courts, had any other consideration in their treatment
of women than the traditional ones of punishment and the protection of
society.
6. It would seem obvious that the protection afforded society by
short sentences and small fines was negligible.
CHAPTER X
TREATMENT OF WOMEN OFFENDERS IN 1900
AFTER CONVICTION
The method of handling convicted offenders in the United States in
1900 was substantially the method employed by the early settlers.
Suspects
and convicted alike were caged together, mostly in idleness, for a few days
or a few months at community expense.
In New York City, with its population of approximately two million
persons, the problem of incarceration under an antiquated penal system re­
sulted in the congestion of offenders in jails often unfit for human occupancy.
As early as 1776 the Quakers through the Society of Friends had be­
gun to agitate for better prison conditions and better treatment of prisoners.
Theyheld the advanced view that
punishment.
the prevention of crime was the sole aim of
Their active interest and work has been remarkable through the
history of prison reform.
This group of philanthropists was responsible for
the founding of the Prison Association of New York in 1844.
The Eighth
Article of the Constitution adopted by the Association was as follows:
A Female Department shall be formed consisting of such females
as shall take an interest in the objects of the Society; who may select
their own Executive Committee and have particularly in their charge the
interest and welfare of prisoners of their sex.^
It was not always possible for the women members of the Prison
Association of New York to gain admittance to inspect prisons and, after an
appeal to the New York State Legislature, the following Bill was passed in 1846:
1.
Prison Association of New York First Annual Report. 1845.
-258-
-259-
The Executive Committee of the Prison Association shall have
power and it shall be their duty to visit, inspect, and examine
all the prisoners in the State and annually report to the Legis­
lature their state and condition.
In 1855 the Women's Prison Association of New York, which had been
incorporated in 1854 and which had grown out of the Prison Association, added
a prison visitor to its paid staff.
Her tasks were given as—
1) Visits to various correctional institutions in New York and
vicinity.
2)
Individual .interviews with female offenders.
5) Bringing, about better relationship between the prison officials
and the organization.
4)
Studying the prison conditions.
5) Reporting the undesirable conditions to the Legislature in the
annual report of the organization.
6)
Bringing about desirable changes in legislation regarding prison
conditions.
7)
Inviting to the Home (Isaac T. Hopper Home) women offenders who
seemed to be proper subjects for possible reformation.
It would seem that even with a paid prison visitor the Women's Prison
Association of New York was attempting an ambitious program.
It did carry on
with a program of agitation for reform and reports of conditions respecting the
treatment of women offenders which is invaluable to the student of the history
of such conditions.
The next privately initiated association for penal reform was the
American Prison Association, founded in 1870, and incorporated in 1871 under
the laws of the State of New York.
This association was an outgrowth of the
Prison Association of New York.
One of the most valuable features of the inspections by the Prison
1.
Herta N. Genz, The Contribution of the Women's Prison Association of
Hew York to the Care
of Delinquent Women. 1936, pp. 54-35.
-260-
Association of New York, which was never undertaken by the official state
inspectors, was the personal interview with each prisoner, a duly the Association
always exacted of its Committee of Examiners*
This task was difficult as the
examiners were not allowed to interfere with the discipline or labor of the
prisoners.
The custom that prevailed among the officers of the prisons was
that a prisoner's word must never be taken for anything.
The members of the
Association felt differently about it and the findings of these individual
interviewers revealed complaints about hunger and cruel treatment.
After years of agitation by the Women's Prison Association of New
York, a Bill, known as "Chapter 420 of the Laws of 1888," was passed which
provided that police matrons be placed in charge of females in station houses,
district prisons, and penitentiaries.
But the Police Board failed to ask for
an appropriation from the Board of Estimate and Apportionment.
were the provisions of the Bill partially carried out.
Not until 1892
Police matrons were
appointed but many had no room and no toilet accomodations in the institutions
to which they were assigned.
In 1896 the Women's Prison Association reported that many matrons
had become ill as a result of the long hours of duty.
The matrons were the only
members of the prison staffs who averaged eighty-four hours of duty a week.
It was not until 1914 that the hours of police matrons were reduced by the
appointment of a sufficient number of matrons to allow for three daily eighthour shifts, and their salaries were increased.
Through the long years
of
effort on the part of the Association, the legislation on police matrons, like
all legislation on penal reform, was a "football of politics."^
In 1902 Z. R. Brockway, who had long been superintendent of Elmira
Reformatory, inspected a number of jails and penitentiaries in New York State
-261-
and his report was Included In the annual report of the Prison Association
of New York for that year.
While his report was general for the State of
New York, his findings were applicable in particular to the institutions
in greater New York City, and a portion of the report is given below as the
report of an expert in the condition and management of correctional institu­
tions of that period."*"
The common jail system has not found a defender these last hundred
years and more. It is, as a system, a combination of evils known,
exploited, deplored. The entire jail system of the whole state and
county is iniquitous, and the jails themselves are but centres of
pollution deftly, if unintentionally, distributed. Civic wisdom has
thus far failed to find an effective remedy for the evils of the jail
system and the jails. The more modem and alleged improved jail
structures scarcely palliate the evils of jail imprisonments, and the
district penitentiaries which were established half a century ago with
good intention only mitigated the evil for a time and that more
apparently than really. These penitentiary hostelries for misdemean­
ants were always, practically, convict prisons managed mainly for
profit and, now by reason of prison labor legislation, have become
but jails where short term prisoners are confined without systematic
instruction either in labor or letters.
The three causes given by Brockway in the same report for the faulti­
ness of the jail Eystem, which are descriptive of the system, were as follows:
First, the association and unrestricted communication of prisoners
confined in the jails . . . .
Secondly, the use of common jails for imprisonment of prisoners on
final sentence instead of sending the prisoners to the penitentiaries
where, until recently, thqy were put at work for profit, were subjected
to less or more salutary discipline, and where actually or possibly
their association and communication could be somewhat restrained and
regulated. This retention of penitentiary prisoners in jails is ex­
plained by the terms of the contracts between the counties and the
penitentiaries, which were so phrased as to exclude from the peniten­
tiaries prisoners from outside counties sentenced for less than sixty
days, and ty the practice of magistrates of making sentences often
fifty-nine days or less and so sending prisoners to the jails instead
of the penitentiaries. Ety such means the income of the sheriff, under
the fee system, was increased, the prisoner and his friends were some­
times accommodated; and such short sentences to the jails served to
1.
Prison Association of New York Fifty-eighth Annual Report. 1902,
pp. 37-40.
-262-
satisfy a traditional vague estimation of justice or punishment . . . .
The presence of these sentenced jail prisoners Increases the diffi­
culties of jail management and, in truth, delivers the jail from its
only proper use, namely, for the temporary detention of prisoners
who are awaiting the action of the courts.
The third cause to be here mentioned is parsimony and indifference
on the part of the county authorities, the jail officials, and the
community as to jail administration. There is not a sufficient number
of employees to supervise the jail prisoners so as to prevent im­
proper communication among themselves and with objectionable acquain­
tances and visitors. The small expenditure required to instruct and
occupy the prisoners is withheld; and there is, generally, indifference
to and absence of effort for their recovery to logical and provident
behavior whether they are under sentence or awaiting trial . . . .
No doubt, petty partisan considerations play their part, one party
shifts the onus to another party back and forth year by year; but such
partisan practice could not continue except for apathy which is the
product of ignorance as to the real importance of this jail matter;
imperfect discernment of the influences that induce crimes, nescience
as to the springs of feeling and conduct, and a commonly crass notion
about moral freedom and consequent desert.
It was beginning to be recognized in 1900 that the tuberculous and
insane should not be committed to prison without treatment and special
quarters.
The state institutions had or were building quarters for them, but
in New York City they were still committed to serve full sentence as regular
prisoners.
They were not excused from work, unless too sick to stand.
special hospital accommodations were provided for them.
No
Babies were born
and kept in city prisons and penitentiaries with their mothers.
There were
as yet no provisions for the detection of the feebleminded or for their
segregation.
This was a period of great dissension among reformers and prison
officials on the one hand and private business on the other, as to prison
industry.
Originally prisons were fitted with shops and the manufacture of
articles for sale paid in part, and sometimes wholly, for the maintenance of
the prison.
Eventually, owing to pressure of private industry, the use of
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prison shops was restricted to the manufacture of articles for city and state
institutions— articles to be bought with public funds.
At the beginning of
the century, pressure was brought to bear against the use of prison labor in
the manufacture of any article which might be in competition with private in­
dustry.
Thus, in many institutions of the time, the only work done by the
prisoners was the necesBazy work around the institutions.
In district prisons
there was no provision for work, and the inmates sat in their cells idle.
Bad as labor conditions were in the days of prison contract labor, it was
deemed worse by the reformers and prison officials to keep prisoners in ab­
solute idleness.
The classification of prisoners was carried on to a certain extent
in penitentiaries on the basis of the number of convictions had.
There was
no classification according to type of offense or physical, mental, or in­
dustrial capacity.
According to the report to the Legislature of the Prison
Association of New York for 1900, a separation of convicts according to their
first, second, or third offense was insufficient.
The first offender might
have committed more than one crime before he was caught.
The Committee
thought "that he is convicted a second time may be owing in some measure to
the faults of the prison to which he was committed, for our prisons have often
been institutions for promoting crime instead of repressing it."'*’
In district or city prisons there were no means of keeping inmates
employed and, since by 1900 offenders were kept in these prisons for short
sentences only, nothing at all was attempted in the way of classification.
The majority of women offenders passing through the Department of
Correction of the City of New York in 1900 were committed to the New York
1.
Prison Association of New York Fifty-sixth Annual Report. 1900, p. 16.
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*
Workhouse on Blackwell's Island.
Few offenders sentenced for five days or more
were kept In the city prisons, with the exception noted by the Women's Prison
Association of New York in their report for the year as follows:
In all the District Prisons save the Jefferson Market the women
receiving five-day sentences are sent to the Workhouse, but at
Jefferson Market Prison there are always from ten to twenty rounders
serving short sentences. To such the courts become a laughing­
stock, and the prison a place to rest for a few days preparatoiy
to another prolonged spree. Under such conditions it has become
a serious question whether our Police Courts are of any real value
to the taxpayers or protection to the public.
The next largest number of women offenders were sent to the Women's
Prison section of the Raymond Street Jail in Brooklyn.
Women felons were sent
to one of the two penitentiaries: the New York County Penitentiary on Black­
well's Island and the Kings County Penitentiary in Queens.
A description of these four institutions as they were in 1900
follows.
A more detailed account of the New York Workhouse will be given
which will serve as a general description for all penal institutions of New
York City, since variations in conditions and treatment were mainly surface
differences.
The two illustrations from Richmond's New York and Its Institutions,
which are reproduced herein, present what is probably an idealized conception
of women offenders and their life in penal institutions before 1900.
The New York Workhouse
The original intention in the building of the New York Workhouse,
according to Richmond, was not wholly for a house of correction but as an in­
stitution in which the poor, unable to obtain employment, might be committed
and be "both to themselves and the authorities, profitably employed.
As an
Blackwell's Island is now known as Welfare Island and used solely for
non-penological purposes.
1. Women's Prison Association of New York ^nnu&l Report. 1900, p. 20.
*
I L L U S T R A T I O N S
■^Female Convicts,
Penitentiary, Blackwell's Island
**Preaching to the Fallen Women
in the Tombs
*J.F. Richmond, New York and Its Institutions, facing page 534
**Ibld.. Facing page 513
99999999999976
579
F j w a l b C o n v ic ts . P e n it e n t ia b t B l a c k w n l l ' s I s l a n d .
P b e a o h in o t o t b s F a l l e n W o m e n in t b s T om bs .
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industrial Institution for the virtuous poor, it has not succeeded and is
nov devoted entirely to the vagrant, dissipated, and disorderly classes, who
are committed by the courts for terms of service ranging from ten days to
six months e a c h . T h e institution was still in use for the latter purpose
in 1900.
The Physical Plant
The Workhouse on Blackwell's Island, opposite Seventieth and Seventyfirst Streets, Manhattan, was begun in 1850 and completed several years later.
It was constructed of hewn stone and rubble masonry, and stood between the
New York Almshouse and the New York Lunatic Asylum.
It was 680 feet long,
composed of northern and southern wings, three stories high, and a central
block four stories high.
A traverse section containing workshops extended
across the end of each wing.
The central block contained the kitchen, storerooms, private apart­
ments for the warden and others, and the library and chapel.
The long wings
consisted of a broad hall, or corridor, open for three stories, with three
tiers of cells, one above the other, along each side.
The cells were separated
by a brick wall and the side facing the corridor was of iron grating.
The
balconies serving the second and third rows of cells were about three feet wide.
Each cell had a large iron-barred window facing the river on either side of
the island, and in this feature the Workhouse was superior toother prisons of
the period.
There were twenty-five cells in each tier, making 150 cells for each
wing.
The southern wing was occupied by male prisoners and the northern by
female prisoners.
The cells, intended to be occupied by several inmates, were
1. J. A. Richmond, New York and Its Institutions, p. 118
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fourteen feet long by eight feet wide.
Each cell was furnished with four cots,
hinged to the wall one above the other, which were turned up against the wall
when not in use.
Frequently a fifth cot was placed in the middle of a cell.
Canvas was stretched over the iron frame of the cots; there were no mattresses,
and one blanket to a cot.
Only after 1898 were provisions made for sheets and
pillowslips and nightgowns.
or more inmates; no plumbing.
In each cell was one bucket for the use of four
In 1902 an electric light plant was installed
an an electric bulb placed in each cell, doing away with the oil lamps.^
At the end of the northern wing housing the women inmates was a large
bathroom with an iron sink and forty faucets.
There was a toilet here which
could be used by inmates during the day time.
There were also twelve shower
baths in a room adjoining the bathroom.
and drainage pipes.
The shower room had a cement floor
Through perforated pipes in the ceiling, warm water was
turned on which fell in a spray or rain, and the bath was known as a "rain
bath."
It was not until 1902 that bathing stalls were put in, "doing away
with the indecency of bathing twelve female persons in an open room at the
2
same time."
The dining room for inmates was on the second floor of each wing.
At the north end of the women1s wing on the second floor were the matron's
quarters.
Each matron's room was partitioned off and furnished with a bed,
bureau,and chair.
The matrons' quarters had one bathroom for all with running
hot and cold water.
There were five disciplinary cells on the first floor of the women's
wing which were dark; only a little light penetrated through the top of the
door in which was a barred opening.
1.
2.
Refractory inmates were kept in solitary
Department of Correction of New York City Report. 1902, p. 4.
Loc. cit.
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confinement on bread and water given them three times a day.
There were
also two disciplinary cells with a window each, protected by a screen.
In the
light cells the inmates received only two meals of bread and water a day.
A doctor saw the inmates in solitary confinement twice a day and, when he felt
the inmate was not in a fit condition to remain there longer, she was released
to her regular cell.
Capacity and Population
The capacity of the female wing of the Workhouse was 600 women in
the 150 cells, but frequently as many as 900 women at a time had to be
accommodated.
During such overcrowded periods the bathroom and every avail­
able space was filled with cots.
Staff Organization and Salaries
The administrative staff of the Workhouse consisted of the male
warden, who received an annual salary of $1,500, the use of an eight-room apart­
ment in the central section of the building, and maintenance; one deputy warden
and the head keeper, both male.
For the women inmates, there were two head
matrons at an annual salary of $500, and twenty matrons at an annual salary
of $480.
The civil service exmaination for matrons, which was first given in
1896, included grammar, arithmetic, and letter writing.
A physical examin­
ation was given and the weight and height of candidates had to be of average
proportions.
The matrons were on twelve-hour duty, from six to six.
Those
who had families preferred to be on night duty, since the salary was the same
for each shift, but there were only two matrons at a time on night duty.
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Routine Reception at the Institution*
From the district prisons women offenders were taken in the Black
Maria to the Twenty-sixth Street dock on the East Side of Manhattan.
A large
cabin on the boat to Blackwell's Island was assigned to the women and they were
locked in it.
When they reached the Island, a matron was waiting for them at the
landing pier.
In the patrol wagon and on the boat they were in charge of a
male prison keeper.
The keeper in charge gave the commitment papers to the
matron.
The newly admitted woman offender was taken to the north end of the
prison entrance and directly to the bathroom which served as a reception room.
Here the matron took such information from each offender as place of birth,
age, address, and occupation.
commitment papers.
A card with this information was attached to the
There were long benches in the bathroom on which the women
sat awaiting their turn to be registered.
They were asked for their money or
other valuables and were given receipts for them.
One by one the women were taken into the small adjoining room con­
taining the showers, where they were obliged to remove all clothing.
woman took a shower, the matron searched her clothing.
tional clothing was handed out.
canvas.
While the
After the bath institu­
The dress was of blue-and-white striped ticking
If the woman was assigned to general cleaning, shereceived an apron
of the same material made from an old dress.
After the women were dressed, the doctor came down to the bathroom
to question them about their general condition.
*
No blood tests or other tests
Many of the details in this account of thg New York Workhouse in 1900 were
privately communicated to the investigator by a matron who was one of the
first women to take the Civil Service examination for matrons and who was
employed at the Workhouse in 1900 and subsequently until the commitment of
women offenders to this institution was ended in 1932.
-269-
for venereal disease were given.
If the doctor found that a woman needed
medicine, a prescription was sent up to the medical ward and a nurse delivered
the medicine to the woman before she left the bathroom.
A few cells were kept
specifically for those women who had a "rash."
The women were assigned to their cells before supper time.
If they
arrived during the dinner hour, they were given a can of coffee and some bread
in the bathroom.
Their soiled clothing was sent to the laundry before storing.
Clothing which could not be washed was disinfected.
Classification
According to a report of the Prison Association of New York made in
1895, "there does not appear to be substantial distinction made in the peniten­
tiary or Workhouse, or in any of the prisons, between the case of a youth or a
hitherto respectable man (or woman! who has been convicted for a first offense
and a hardened, habitual criminal.There was, in fact, no classification of
inmates in the New York Workhouse except in work assignments.
In 1900 the female population of the Workhouse was made up mainly of
women forty years of age and older.
It was not until the opening of the Women's
Court of the City of New York that younger women were committed there.
There
was no provision for the transfer of the insane or the tuberculous prisoners to
another institution.
sentence.
segregated.
They had to remain in the prison until the end of
their
The known troublemakers with behavior difficulties were frequently
The head matron handled all internal administration problems but,
if she was not able to handle one of the insane inmates, she turned the problem
over to the deputy warden.
1.
Prison Association of New York Annual Report. 1895, p. 18.
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On the reception of women to the Workhouse, as part of the routine
questioning, the matron determined the kind of work each prisoner was capable
of doing and on this information the work assignments were based.^
Assignments
were made to the laundry, dining room (kitchen work was performed entirely by
men inmates), tier cleaning, hospital attendance, tailor shop where all the
men's prison clothes were made, and the sewing room where the women's prison
clothes were made as well as sheets and pillowslips for the city hospitals.
The women inmates also did the mending for the city institutions in a room
reserved for that purpose.
Many of the women inmates were transferred daily for work in the
following institutions* Bellevue, Metropolitan, and City Hospitals, and the
the district prisons in all five boroughs.
In their annual report for 1900, the Women's Prison Association had
the following to say regarding work assignments at the Workhouses
Of the 413 inmates at the time of ny last visit, probably not 50 were
physically able to do laundry work, not more than 50 were able to do
scrubbing, and the remainder were divided between the sewing room, the
hospital wards, and the cells for vagrants. There were nearly 40 old
and homeless women arrested for vagrancy, who were utterly incapable of
performing labor or even of caring for themselves. These women were in
charge of a nurse and practically in the condition of infants. There
seems no alternative under the present law to treat such women other­
wise than as criminals, and, while it is true that a large percentage
of them are women who have previously served sentences in the Workhouse
as misdemeanants, it is also true that many of them are simply homeless
women whose only crime is poverty.
1.
Section 399, Code of Criminal Procedure: Every person whose age and health
will permit shall be employed . . . . In case any convict or pauper shall
neglect or refuse to perform the work allotted to him or her by the per­
son in charge, it shall be the duty of the proper subordinate to punish
such convict or pauper by confinement, by being fed on bread and water
only, for such length of time as may be considered necessary; which re­
fusal or punishment shall first be reported to said board of
commissioners•
Section 400, Code of Criminal Procedure: The hours of labor shall not
exceed ten per day to each person subject to the discipline of each prison.
2. Women's Prison Association of Hew York Annual Report. 1900, pp. 23-24.
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Dailv Routine of Inmates
The night matron sounded a gong at 5:30 A. M. and, at 6:00 A. M.,
the day matron assigned to each tier unlocked the cells.
The matron assigned
to the bathroom sounded a gong for each tier to go to the bathroom, one tier
at a time.
The twenty-five or more women from one tier filed down to the
bathroom and all washed at the same time at the iron sink, without removing
their clothing.
no toothbrush.
On entering the bathroom each was given a towel and soap but
As soon as thqy were washed, they filed back to their cells
to make room for the next tier.
long hair.
Back in their cells, thqy had to comb their
Mo combs were provided by the institution.
The cells were again unlocked at 6:45 when the inmates were marched
to the dining room.
The food stood ready on narrow wooden tables.
sat on benches, eight to a table, all facing the same direction.
Inmates
Breakfast
consisted of oatmeal and molasses, a tin cup full of coffee with milk, and
bread (no butter or sugar).
After a half hour allowed for breakfast, the in­
mates were marched back to their cells and locked in while the matrons had
their meal.
Just before eight o'clock, the women inmates were released from
their cells to take up their work assignments, and the cells were left open.
The women who did the scrubbing and cleaning work in the institution had a
sitting room in the attic where they could rest after their work was done.
At 11:45 a gong was sounded in each workshop and the inmates marched
into the dining room.
Dinner consisted of soup, a large serving of meat and
potato, pickles, and water.
The inmates were never given knives and forks, only
spoons; the dishes were a tin soup bowl and cup.
Again, after dinner the in­
mates were locked in their cells while the matrons ate.
Then those inmates
assigned to scrubbing and cleaning and the workshops were taken into the yard
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for exercise which consisted of walking around the yard.
Inmates who worked
in the laundry were not included since they got fresh air while hanging
Clothes in the yard.
Those assigned to work in other institutions were not
taken to the yard for exercise at any time since they had an opportunity to be
in the fresh air while being transported from the Workhouse in the morning and
back at night.
From 1:45 to 5:45 P. M. the inmates were back at their work.
fore supper they were taken tier by tier to the bathroom.
Be­
Supper consisted
of tea, bread, and butter, sometimes macaroni and cheese, sometimes coleslaw.
There was no change in the menu for any meal or for Sunday.
Those inmates assigned to outside work were searched by the matron
when they returned.
At 4:50 all were marched back into their cells and locked in for
the night.
At 9:00 P. M. the lights went out in all cells.
Visiting Hours
Once a month the Inmates were allowed visitors for half an hour.
A record of the visitor's name was kept.
entering the main hall of either wing.
the prisoners.
All visitors were searched before
Here they were allowed to sit beside
There was a matron in the hall but she could not hear the
conversation between inmate and visitor.
Inmates were allowed to send one letter a month, unless they had
special permission to write more frequently.
Discharge from the Institution
The day before her discharge, the inmate was taken to the laundry
where her street clothes were given her so that if she cared to press them
she might.
A special tub and ironing board were set aside for inmates about
to be discharged.
-2 7 5 -
On the day of discharge, the names of those to he released were
called out in the dining room during breakfast.
After breakfast they were
taken to the bathroom and their street clothes given them.
Since there was no
provision for money for discharged Workhouse inmates, the matrons sometimes
provided some in cases of urgent need from their own small means.
The matrons cooperated with the City and Metropolitan Hospitals
which were anxious to hire discharged inmates from the Workhouse as many of them
were good workers.
The hospitals sent lists to the matrons whenever they needed
cleaning women, laundresses, or attendants.
They claimed that these women were
especially kind to the sick.
The Medical Service
Hospital interns from Blackwell's Island hospitals took care of the
prisoners,
in 1901 a resident physician was appointed.^- Four practical nurses
were employed.
in 1900.
Drug addiction among women offenders had not become a problem
If the doctor detected syphilis, he prescribed medicine.
If a woman
was sick, she was allowed to rest in her cell during the day with the permission
of a doctor.
Surgical operations were performed in the operating room of the
institution.
If a woman complained of a toothache, the tooth was pulled.
There
were daily clinics in the hospital wards on the third floor, and a messenger was
sent to notify the inmates attending the clinic.
unaccompanied to the clinic.
Inmates were allowed to go
In the report of the Women's Prison Association
for 1900, it was stated that "The women's hospital wards at the Workhouse have
been fairly well filled throughout the year, the majority of cases being
©
operative or syphilis."
1.
2.
Department of Correction of New York City Report. 1905, p. 75.
Women's Prison Association of New York Annual Report. 1900, p. 24.
Religious Service
There were three chaplains at the Workhouse: Catholic, Protestant,
and Jewish.
Each one had a bedroom assigned to him.
was a Jesuit priest who had been recently ordained.
The Catholic chaplain
It was the policy of the
Catholic Church to assign a young priest to live for a time at the Workhouse
to gain experience with a group of people who were considered outcasts of
society.
The priests gave most of their time to the spiritual guidance of
the inmates.
The Protestant chaplain was an elderly Episcopalian minister who
also lived at the institution and devoted his time to the spiritual service
of the inmates.
The Rabbi lived outside the institution and used his room as
an office.
Every Sunday religious services were held in the chapel. The Jewish
service was held on Sunday afternoon.
The attendance of inmates was voluntary.
They wore their regular prison dress to services.
Social Service
A certain amount of social service work was done by the chaplains of
the Workhouse and by the women the chaplains sent from the local churches.
These women were volunteers who sometimes brought clothing and made arrangements
for shelter after discharge.
The Women's Prison Association invited certain of
the discharged inmates to stay at the Isaac T. Hopper Home while arrangements
were made for their return to the community as self-supporting persons.
There
were no civic or public institutions interested in the welfare of discharged
prisoners.
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Educational Service
There were no educational classes for inmates of the Workhouse in
1900.
The work in the shops— the tailor shop, sewing and mending rooms, and
the laundry— might he considered vocational training.
Concerning the subject of prison schools, the Women's Prison Asso­
ciation had the following to say:
The charter provides that schools may be established in our cor­
rectional institutions, but thus far this provision has not been
enforced. There seems no reason why a school should not be established
at the Workhouse. Undoubtedly, the effects would be excellent. At
present the women are locked in their cells at 6:00 P. M. to remain
until morning. The majority of them have not even the rudiments of
an education. They have nothing to occupy their minds save to exchange
experiences in crime. What wonder, then, that correctional institu­
tions become schools of crime?
The library in the central section of the building served both sexes.
If a woman inmate expressed a desire to read a book, a matron would take her
to the library where she could choose what she wanted.
The prison chaplains
provided many books directly to the inmates which were read more often than
the books in the library.
Inmates, who cared to, sang in a choir during the Sunday services
and practiced once a week under the direction of a male inmate, supervised by
a matron.
There was no recreation, unless the period of exercise in the yard
could be so called.
From a pamphlet published by the Women's Prison Association of New
York in 1915, entitled "The Modem Way," which was an appeal to the State
Legislature for an appropriation for opening and maintaining the cottages on
the State Farm for Women, the following interview with a typical Workhouse
inmate is taken.
1.
Loc. cit.
-276-
'Look at thisI' from the Matron. The door at the side had opened
and in filed a long line of human wrecks, bedraggled, dirty, hatless,
with blackened eyes, tousled hair, mud-besmeared, interspersed with
young, loudly dressed, and a few innocent-faced slips of girls. 'If
here isn't Susie, yes, and Minnie, back again, and such sights.
They only went out Saturday and here they are back again on Monday.
Come on in while we get their records.'
I followed the Matron into the long room. Along two rows of benches
by the wall the woe-begone women seated themselves.
'Well, Susie, come here,' said the Matron, seating herself at her
table. Shaking and quivering in every limb, Susie raised herself
with difficulty and leaned heavily on the table. 'What have you got
this time, Susie?'
'Oh, Matron, I don't know.
drops.'
Oh, for the love of God, give me some hot-
'The doctor will be here soon,' said the Matron, her voice softening,
and then again, 'So you couldn't stay out two days. What became of
your clothes?'
'I don't know. I left them in the liquor store, I guess.
Matron, won't you send for them?'
Please,
'Send for them,' said the Matron disgustedly, 'where do you think we
could find them? Just look at her. A missionary clothed her through­
out last Saturday in good, new clothes. What became of them? Did you
pawn them? You know you did, for you hadn't a penny when you went out.'
Susie hung her head. 'I felt a bit weak,' she said, 'and I had to
have a drop of whiskey to brace me up a bit.'
'What name are you under this time?'
'I dunno, I can't think.'
'Is it Mary Leary?'
'Yes, that's me.'
'Where do you live?'
Mary gave a number.
'That’s a lodging house,1 said the Matron, 'and you haven't been there
for three years because you have been here all that time. How old are
you?'
'Thirty-five.'
'Thirty-five— you are fifty if you are a day.'
'Well, put me down a hundred, I don't care.
hot-drops.'
Oh, Matron, give me some
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1What religion are you?'
'Catholic.'
'Are you married?'
'Widow.'
'Got any money?' After long fumbling sixteen cents were produced.
'The last of the pawn shop,' remarked the Matron. 'Where's the ticket?'
Susie passed it across the table. 'A dollar and a half for all those
clothes, and the delirium tremens thrown in. Well, I neverI Sit down,
Susi^ the doctor will be here soon.'
This same pamphlet goes on with a description of the cells— a
description which thirteen years after the period covered in Part II of this
study, serves just as well for 1900 as for 1915:
In the meantime the newly arrived prisoners having received their noon­
day meal were assigned to those cells in which there were vacancies,
regardless of age, offense, or physical condition, unless assigned to
the hospital. Into these cells, eight by twelve by ten feet, the prison­
ers are herded, the incoming occupying the cot of the outgoing, using
her discarded blanket, a single night pail being in common use for all
the inmates of a cell.
. . . . think of six women in all stages of disease or disorder, all
variations of offense, occupying for thirteen consecutive hours a cell
containing 840 cubic feet of air space and using a night pail in
common. let this condition has gone on for years, right here within
our city limits, within twenty minutes of Fifth Avenue, and these in­
mates are turned adrift on our streets to mingle freely with all of us.
The average sentence imposed at the present time is about ten days and
the inmates scarcely recover from their last periods of dissipation
and are properly cleansed when they are turned adrift again.
This is followed by a description of the medical service which con­
firms the conditions found in 1900.
The hospital accommodation for women at the Workhouse consists of two
wards having a total capacity of about thirty beds— one for operative
and the other for chronic cases. There is constant overflow of one
into the other and thqy are so limited in capacity that only the most
serious cases are received in them. In 1911 when 15,818 prisoners
' were received at the Workhouse, only 1,076 were treated in the
hospital wards. These wards are in the care of interns who are ap­
pointed by the Board of Visiting Surgeons. A clinic is held daily and
-278-
those who ask for treatment together with those whose ailments are
noticeable receive attention there, but hundreds of women enter and
are discharged without ever receiving medical care, nor can conditions
be otherwise until a proper system is adopted.
The Raymond Street Jail (King's County Prison)
The Raymond Street Jail served the Borough of Brooklyn in the same
wsy that the New York Workhouse Berved the Borough of Manhattan, as a jail for
short term offenders of both sexes.
In addition, the Raymond Street Jail was
used for the temporary detention of offenders awaiting court action.
This jail was still under the fee system in 1900, and it was run by
a sheriff who was elected to the office rather than by an appointed warden.
The sheriff was not a salaried officer, but received fees from the county*
seventy-five cents per capita for locking-up and unlocking prisoners, and
twenty-eight cents per capita per day for board.
He was required to pay all
jail expenses and salaries of assistants out of his earnings in fees... The
matron on duty used inmates as helpers.
The women's section was called the Women's Prison.
In 1900 it was
reported by the Prison Association of New York to be obsolete and defective
throughout.^
According to this report, the sheriff had expressed the opinion
that is was a perfect fire trap and that it would be impossible to get the
inmates out of the building should fire break out on the lower floor.
A
temporary bridge was being constructed connecting the Women's Prison with the
main jail, as a means of exit for the upper stories of the Women's Prison in
case of emergency.
The following is an extract from a report made in 1901 by the
women's committee of the Prison Association of New York to the President of the
Borough of Brooklyn:
1.
Prison Association of New York Annual Report. 1900, p. 45.
-279-
As to the structural conditions of Raymond Street Jail, a casual
observation of the part in present use for women shows it to be in­
adequate. Closer examination and inquiry into the best prison methods,
with plans to improve as well as to punish inmates, shows the jail to
be lamentably lacking . . . . Over sixty women were in the jail when
this inspection was made in the month of June, a number at times in­
creased to 100 or more.
(There were) no chairs; the beds in dormitories close together; eight
or ten in the larger rooms; bed coverings not up to the standards re­
quired at well regulated almshouses; benches in the hallway between
dormitories; no other places than the ones mentioned for eating and
sleeping; bathing facilities inadequate.1
There was no separation of prisoners; old and young, first offenders
and old offenders were allowed free communication.
No occupation was provided
other than scrubbing and laundry work about the prison.
at education of inmates and no recreation.
There was no attempt
In their report for 1900, the
7/omen* 6 Prison Association of New York described the clothing of women inmates.
As Kings County makeB no provision for clothing for inmates of the jail,
the majority of the women wear the clothes in which they were arrested,
which often means conditions which are indescribable . . . . The worst
cases are provided with clothing contributed by charitable persons,
but it is altogether insufficient for all, and it is due to the untiring
efforts of those in charge that comparative cleanliness is maintained.^
Boys under sixteen were held in the Women's Prison section under the
care of the matron.
The Prison Association of New York reported that a sub­
committee of the Association while visiting the jail "noticed a woman apparent­
ly in delirium tremens in a cell opening on a corridor in which were confined
boys about thirteen to fourteen years of age.
flow of profanity, obscenity, and abuse.
The woman kept up a continuous
The boys were separated from her
only by the iron bars of the cell door."®
The committee of the Prison Association of New York which inspected
the Kings County Penitentiary and the Raymond Street Jail in 1900 commented on
1.Prison Association of New York Annual Report. 1901, p. 45.
2.Women's Prison Association of New York Annual Report. 1900, p. 25.
3.Prison Association of New York Annual Report. 1900, p. 44
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the fact that the Kings County Penitentiary with better accommodations for
men and women than the Raymond Street Jail was found to be about half filled,
with many unoccupied cells in both male and female departments.
Legally, all
offenders serving terms of more than thirty days were to be confined in the
Penitentiary instead of the Jail.
This being the case the committee is at a loss to understand the
reasons which influence the magistrates and courts in continuing to
send prisoners to the Raymond Street Jail who could be quite as well
sentenced to the penitentiary, for the jail is very much overcrowded,
particularly in the women's department, and is in its management in
in many particulars very inferior to that of the penitentiary. (In
the jail) the prisoners, young and old, are permitted to associate
freely with each other in absolute idleness. The women's jail is
a very old structure; it is extremely unsanitary and is without the
proper means of escape in case of fire. Large numbers of women are
huddled together in idleness in this jail at the risk of both their
bodies and souls, while a large, airy cell room in the women's depart­
ment at the penitentiary, where there is certainly some employment
for them, remains half empty.
Perhaps one of the reasons for the practice of committing prisoners to the Jail
instead of the Penitentiary is covered by Brockway's report previously quoted.
g
At all events, the Women's Prison section of the Raymond Street Jail
was in 1900 an old wooden firetrap, obsolete in structure, equipment, and
management.
It was cot replaced by a new structure until 1912.
The New York County Penitentiary
The New York County Penitentiary, nearly opposite Fifty-fifth Street,
Manhattan, on Blackwell's Island was the first institution built on the island.
Begun in 1828, the first section was completed in 1852, and additional wings
were built in 1858 and 1897.
The dormitory wings were three stories high.
The
building, like the New York Workhouse, was constructed of hewn stone and
rubble masonry.
1.
2.
Ibid., p. 59.
Prison Association of New York Fifty-eighth Annual Report. 1902, pp. 37-40.
There were 1200 cells In the completed building, 120 cells in the
women's wing.
In the section first built the cells were 7 feet long hy 5^
feet wide and 6 feet ten inches high.
By the time the last wing was con­
structed in 1897, the cells were made 8 feet long by 4 feet wide and 7 feet
high.
The cell door openings with their iron grills were one foot seven inches
wide.
There was a ventilation opening in each cell near the ceiling.
In each of the four wings of the building were four double tiers of
cells.
The second tier was reached by stairs and served by a railed balcony.
Each cell had two beds, one above the other, each consisting of an iron frame
with a canvas cot attached to it.
The frames were fastened to the wall with
hinges and were turned up against the wall when not in use.
The committee appointed by the Prison Association of Hew York to in­
spect the penal institutions of the City of New York in 1895 reported over­
crowding, inadequate bathing facilities, no water in cells, the bucket system
being used instead.^
In their annual report for 1900, the Prison Association of New York
had the following to say about the New York County Penitentiary:
The old parts of the prison are in a bad condition, as they are badly
ventilated, badly lighted, and badly heated. The latest addition to
the prison . . . . is by no means in accordance with modern ideas of
prison structures. It Is fairly well ventilated and lighted, butthe
cells are entirely constructed of brick and are without plumbing of
any kind, in which respect it is no improvement upon the older portions
of the prison. The bathing facilities of the Penitentiary are good,
having recently been much improved. The kitchen is in very bad condition.
The convicts appear to be employed in the shops most of the time, in
manufacturing supplies for the Department of Charities and Correction,
but 15 or 20 prisoners who were interviewed stated most positively that
all the work that was performed there in a day couid be and was easily
done elsewhere in about two hours.
The prisoners are not classified; the officials testified that classi­
fication was not practical, as it would interfere with the industries of
the prison. . . .
1.
Prison Association of New York Annual Report. 1895, pp. 12-16.
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The hospital attached to the Penitentiary was destroyed by fire
several years ago but has never been rebuilt.- The plans for a new
one were found to be in excess of the sum appropriated . . . » and
the authorities, we are told, were waiting until an additional one
could be secured. This delay is most unfortunate as hospital accommo­
dations are very badly needed. At present the wing formerly used as
the boys' prison-is being used as a hospital, and a very wretched one
it surely makes.
Offenders convicted on felony charges in the courts of Manhattan and
the Bronx were sent here.
The usual term of confinement for most prisoners
was from one to six months; occasionally for as long as several years.
When
admitted, a record was made of the prisoner's name, age, weight, condition of
health,nationality, history, and the offense for which committed.
Until 1902,
when the fingerprint system was imported from Scotland, the Bertillon system of
criminal identification was used in the Penitentiary.
This work was in charge
of a man appointed by the Civil Service Commission, and the records were kept
on cards and filed in the office of the Penitentiary.
As in all prisons of the period, the limited quarters for women were
congested and there was no classification of prisoners.
All women inmates
were expected to perform some service, unless sick, when they were sent to the
hospital.
Some of the women were used to clean the prison, others worked as
seamstresses on prison bedding, and so forth, as in the New York Workhouse.
Most of the inmates worked during the day and, consequently, were not in their
cells.
There was no light furnished at night and no opportunity for reading
at any time.
Kings County Penitentiary
This penitentiary was built in 1852 and contained 650 cells.
a state prison for felons sentenced for terms ndb exceeding three years.
1.
Prison Association of New York Annual Report. 1900, pp. 41-42.
It was
It was,
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however, used largely for misdemeanants, both male and female.
When women
were no longer admitted to Sing Sing Prison in 1877, those inmates serving
sentences were transferred to the Kings County Penitentiary.'*'
The building was without plumbing or sanitary appliances of any
kind.
The bucket system was used here, as in all the older prisons.
The
conditions of this penitentiary were better than in the institutions on Black­
well’s Island.
It was situated on high ground and was, therefore, less damp
than the island prisons.
The corridors surrounding the cells were provided with
long windows which let in light and sunshine, but the cells were small, without
windows and ventilation.
According to the report of the Prison Association of New York for 1899,
there were in the Kings County Penitentiary at the time of their inspection,
"528 prisoners, out of whom 22 were women and two infants, one brought with the
mother, the other b o m in prison."
According to the annual report of the Prison Association of New York
for 1900, "The methods of dealing with the prisoners in the penitentiary are
far from satisfactory, but the inmates at least are kept at work most of the
time and are not allowed to have general intercourse."
The annual report for the year 1901 contained a report of one of
the Women's Committee members in regard to the women at the Penitentiary:
The penitentiary is admirable situated on high and healthy ground.
While the building and cells are not in size according to the most mod­
ern of such structures, the corridors are ample and the health of the
inmates is excellent.
As to the women, there were 62 at the date of visit, with cells for 150.
There were four matrons; clean conditions; certain privacy possible by
a fresh white curtain before the door of each cell, and Borne indivi­
duality displayed by the care and decoration of each by the inmates;
1. Clifford M. Young, Women1s Prisons. Past and Present, p. 16.
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bathing system by spraying, 40 bathing at a time. Women do the
laundry work of entire plant. Suggestions as to other work welcomed
and likely to be utilized.
As to sentences: the penitentiary receives prisoners from eight
different counties, some women being committed there for as short a
term as two months. Other women, committed by the same magistrates,
as careful inspection of records at both penitentiary and jail
(Raymond Street Jail) will show, are sent to the jail for the same
or longer terms.
The weeding out from the jail of longer term prisoners, say six months,
and their transfer to King's County Penitentiary ought naturally to
deplete the number at the jail. What then will be needed is simply
a house of detention for those wawaiting trial, or serving the short­
est sentence.
On February 6, 1907, the Kings County Penitentiary was abandoned^
Summary and Conclusions
The treatment of women offenders in correctional institutions in
New York City in 1900 would seem to have been designed to confirm any criminal
habits or tendencies possessed by the offenders at the time of their conviction.
The prisoners were herded together, unclassified, in gloomy, unsanitary fort­
resses for short periods— a few days to a year— and were then released, much
the worse for wear, without one step having been taken to readjust their illadjusted lives.
1.
Loc. clt.
CHAPTER XI
COMPARISON OF TREATMENT OF WOMEN OFFENDERS
IN 1900 AND 1958
The period between 1900 and 1958 brought about some changes in the
treatment of women offenders passing through the Department of Correction of
the City of New York.
The changes in the daily life of the average person
living in New York City have been greater, perhaps, than for any other like
period in its history.
The mass production of things— the telephone, the auto­
mobile, the airplane, the radio, the innumerable gadgets manufactured purported­
ly to make living easier— has changed the face of material living.
The mass
production of books, magazines, and movies has brought about a mass change in
the distribution of information.
Psychology, psychiatry, and sociology have,
since 1900, contributed basic changes to the study of human behavior.
Vast
improvements have been made in the treatment of both the physically and the
mentally ill.
period.
Changes too numerous to mention have taken place in this short
It will be the purpose of this chapter, however, to attempt to
catalogue only the changes that have taken place in the small world of the
woman offender.
In the period of American history referred to as the Gilded Age,
the late Sixties and Seventies, it would seem that even the prostitutes were
"gilded."
They were handsome women, lavishly dressed and decked out in gold
jewelry.
Occasionally they were arrested only to be released on the payment
of a fine.
On the other hand, the women who reached the station house or
jail were filthy and vermin-ridden.
But by 1900 this distinction had largely
disappeared and, from descriptions to be had of women offenders of that time,
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it would appear that thqjr were mainly the indigent and helpless— as they
are today*
Comparison of Formal Procedures of
Arrest and Temporary Detention
Aside from the change in procedure allowing the arrest of women in
prostitution cases without a warrant, there seems to have been little change
in method of arrest between 1900 and 1938.
While arrest without a warrant
deprives the woman of a constitutional right, it is a simpler method than that
employed before 1900, since it relieves the arresting officer of the necessity
to obtain evidence of an overt act on the part of the prostitute.
Instead of the horse-drawn Black Maria, the arrested woman now rideB
in a police car or patrol car.
At the station house or district prison, where
she will spend only a few hours, she will find quarters, sometimes the identical
quarters of 1900, not much improved, although she will find toilets and running
water, and a cleaner cell.
If she is detained at a station house or district
prison during the lunch hour, she will be given a sandwich and a cup of coffee.
In 1900, if the detained woman had no money to buy food, she went without.
One notable change will be the presence of a female correctional
officer.
The correctional officer will search her clothing.
of clothing was performed by a male officer.
In 1900 the search
The presence of the correctional
officer, however, is an immense improvement over the frequently brutal treat­
ment received by women in 1900 at the hands of male prison guards.
The follow­
ing is an excerpt from a sermon delivered in 1901 on prison methods, and the
same criticism of prison officials can be found in most of the literature on
penal institutions of the period:
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Prison officials are, too frequently, men by no means calculated to
elevate the moral and spiritual tone of the prisoner. They are with­
out special training, appointed too often for political reasons, and
think of the prisoner as simply a means of livelihood. The one thought
of such officials is their own ease and their own dignity. They have
absolute authority over the prisoner in their charge, and many a story
could be told of insult and outrage visited by some brutal keeper upon
some prisoner far less brutal than himself.
If the arrested woman is ill, she will be taken care of by the correctional
officer and, in case of necessity, a doctor will be called.
It is impossible to say how many women were arrested in 1900 since no
record has been preserved of the cases dismissed without court action.
same is true for 1958.
The
But from the annual reports for 1900 of the City
Magistrates' Courts for both divisions, it is found that 20,170 women were
arraigned for the Boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx, and 6,605 for the
Boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, and Richmond.
raigned for all five boroughs.
Thus there were 26,775 women ar­
The number of women arraigned in the City
Magistrates1 Courts of the City of New York for all five boroughs for 1938 was
104,415, inclusive of civil and traffic cases.
In 1900, out of a total of 134,460 arraignments, the total number of
males arraigned in the City Magistrates1 Courts, both divisions, was 107,675,
compared with 26,775 females.
In 1938, out of a total of 1,174,191 arraign­
ments, the total number of males arraigned in the City Magistrates' Courts for
all five boroughs was 969,778, compared with 104,413 females.
A comparison
of these totals in terms of proportion of females to males arraigned shows
that in 1900 approximately 19 per cent of all persons arraigned were women.
1.
2.
A sermon ty the Rev. Algernon S. Crepsey, reported in the Prison
Association Annual Report, 1901, p. 87.
"If a warrant is granted or a formal complaint taken it goes on record
and is included in the statistical report. The other cases are not
reported." From the Annual Report of the Board of City Magistrates
for 1900, First Division, p. 2.
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In 1958 the toted number of women arraigned had dropped to approximately 9.9
per cent of all persons arraigned.
contrast.
These compeirisons present an interesting
It would appear, however, as previously pointed out in Chapter IX,
that, whereas the majority of arrests of women in 1900 were on the charges of
disorderly conduct, vagrancy, and intoxication, comparatively few women were
arraigned on these charges in 1958.
The greatest number of women arraigned
in 1958 were on traffic offenses, which, considering the preponderance of
male drivers over female drivers, would tend to lower drastically the pro­
portion of female to male arraignments.
A comparison of the number of women
offenders summarily disposed of in the City Magistrates' Courts or held for
trial in a higher court in 1900 and 1958 will be given later in this chapter.
In 1900, as in 1958, there was no literature on the subject of
arrest and temporaiy detention of offenders, men or women, awaiting court action.
Some legal notice has been given to the arrest of prostitutes which was merely
incidental to an investigation of the City Magistrates' Courts of Manhattan
and the Bronx in 1950-1951.
In Waterman's Prostitution «nrl Its Repression in New York City. 19001951, are cited two instances of published criticism on this subject as follows:
In 1917 there appeared a series of articles in Pearson* s Magazine— in
which Frank Harris, the author, then editor of the periodical, attempted
to show that women accused of prostitution were inhumanly treated by the
police and convicted in court on scanty evidence. A more recently
published criticism was a series of two articles appearing in the Hew
Republic on June 25 and July 2, 1950, in which the author expressed
the opinion that many of the cases of prostitution presented in the
Women's Court might be those of innocent women "framed" by the police.
Occasionally also some public official has criticized investigation
methods . . . .
Waterman goes on to the City Magistrates' Court investigation of 1950
and 1951 mentioned above.
1. Waterman, Prostitution and Its Repression in Hew York Citv. p. 61
-289-
That such criticism has in the past been justified, at least as far
as some members of the police force are concerned, was established
by evidence presented at the investigation of the Magistrates1
Courts of Manhattan and the Bronx by a referee appointed by the
Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court in 1950 and
1931* The testimony presented at this investigation indicated the
existence of a corrupt arrangement between a former prosecutor in the
Women's Court, certain attorneys who specialized in defending women
accused of prostitution, bondsmen, and a group of police officers en­
gaged in vice work. In certain cases evidence presented at the
public hearings of the investigation was to the effect that through
the use of "stool pigeons" arrests were being made where the facts
did not justify such action. In order to escape conviction, the women
arrested were induced to make unduly large payments to attorneys and
bondsmen who thereupon persuaded the prosecution to handle the case so
indifferently as to result in acquittal. That dishonest officials
have found this practice profitable is one of the surprising results
of a prostitution repression movement which has in the past been
commendatory of heavy sentence for this -type of offense. Where the
penalty in case of conviction will probably be severe, the accused is
willing to pay well to escape such conviction. This is especially
time if the woman is actually of good moral character where a con­
viction in Women's Court would be ruinous to her reputation.
It would appear from what little information there is on record
regarding arrest and temporary detention of women offenders that what changes
have been made are superficial.
The method of arrest of necessity depends
upon the judgment and individual interpretation of legal authority by the
police officer.
There can be no question but that the police1officer of 1938
has more training for his job than did the police officer of 1900 but, lacking
investigation of methods of arrest, it is not possible to determine to what
extent the methods have changed.
In legal procedure of arrest, there is no
marked change; tradition holds.
In the treatment of women offenders from arrest to appearance in
court, the changes have been in the nature of improved conditions in station
houses and district prisons, the complete segregation of the sexes in these
places, and the presence of female correctional officers.
1.
Xbid*, PP* 62-65.
The period of time
covered is short but the consequences for the woman offender can be very long.
She is more humanely treated from a physical standpoint, but there would seem
to be no evidence that she is any better safeguarded against loss of selfrespect and a sense of degradation today than she was in 1900.
Comparison of Court Procedures in 1900 and 1958
Notable changes have taken place in the last thirty-eight years in
the court handling of women offenders.
Special courts have been set up to
try them and, while the formal procedure of the trial is the same as in 1900,
the approach to the trial and the types of disposition that may be made in
the individual case have been considerably changed.
The three specialized
courts for women— the Women's Court, the Wayward Minor's Court, and the Domestic
Relations Court of the City of New York— have done away with some of the worst
features that prevailed in 1900. These were the herding of men and women and
boys and girls in the corridors of the courts to await their turn; the crowds
of curious spectators at the trials, the indifferent and speedy manner of hold­
ing the trial, without allowance for the defense of the women either in their
own behalf or by legal counsel.
Today in all three specialized courts dealing with women offenders
the trial is closed to all bub the persons involved.
There is no trial
literally at the bar; the bar is a desk and the woman before the court can sit
in a chair before the desk.
Introduction of Probation
But the greatest change for the period is in the use of probation.
Probation was legalized in 1901 and, while it was slow in getting under way
and In the organization of staffs to cany it out, It has at the present time
come to be considered an important advance In the handling of offenders of all
grades.
It has made less progress as a method and in staff organization in
the City Magistrates' Courts and in the Court of Special Sessions than in
the Court of General Sessions, as was shown in Chapter VI.
All three special­
ized courts dealing with women are magistrates' courts and, therefore, pro­
bation cannot be said to have proved its value for these courts, although it
is recognized that in the Wayward Minor's Court and the Domestic Relations
Court the drawback is in the lack of sufficient personnel (in the Wayward
Minor's Court, a further lack of proper space) rather than a lack of recog­
nition of its value.
In the Women's Court both of these difficulties obtain, with the
added drawback of a conviction on the part of the presiding officers that pro­
bation is not as workable a method for handling older offenders, often recedivists, as it is for young and first offenders.
However that may be, without
a sufficient number of trained probation officers in the lower courts to give
it a fair trial, the value of probation for such offenders would seem still to
be determined.
But even in tie City Magistrates' Courts, and particularly in the
specialized courts for women, probation has been the means of the most import­
ant change in the handling of offenders.
The change works for improvement in
two ways: (l) it necessitates an investigation of the offender and the con­
ditions surrounding the commission of the offense, and (2) it makes possible
the treatment of offenders in freedom from prison confinement and all that
that implies.
The investigation of a case before trial means that the accused
is held pending investigation.
All such detention now takes place at the
House of Detention for Women.
In 1900 in case of adjournment the accused was
held in one of the district prisons.
The jurisdiction of the City Magistrates' Courts is approximately
the same today as in 1900, but the disposition of cases has undergone a change.
The use of the money fine is still legal but, in the case of women offenders
in the specialized courts, it is rarely used.
The suspended
sentence has to
a great degree been superceded by placement on probation. The indeterminate
sentence which was extended in 1915 in connection with the parole law to in­
clude all types of offense has necessitated two kinds of prison sentence:
(1) a definite sentence, from a few hours to three years, and (2) an indeter­
minate sentence, cot exceeding three years.
The magistrate may still dismiss
a case or refer it to a higher court where the evidence warrants such procedure.
A real advance in the treatment of cases in court is in the power
of the magistrate to have a defendant examined physically or mentally at the
Psychiatric Clinic of the Court of General Sessions located in the Criminal
Courts Building, generally called the Criminal Medical Clinic.
Another is in
the disposition of the obviously insane brought before the court.
These cases
are sent directly from the court to the prison ward of the psychiatric division
of a city hospital.
They need not be returned to court for trial but may be
committed directly to an institution for the insane.
Comparison of Number and Distribution
of Cases for 1900 and 1958
The number of women offenders summarily disposed of in the City
Magistrates' Courts of the City of New York for all five boroughs in 1900 was
12,915, exclusive of 107 civil cases. The number for 1958 was 5,516, exclusive
of 2,621 civil cases and 58,425 traffic cases.
This extreme disparity, consider-
ing the increase in population, in the number of cases of women offenders
■f
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disposed of in the City Magistrates1 Courts on other than civil and traffic
offenses for the two periods could be explained, perhaps, in several ways.
It would seem that women offenders, in the main, come in contact with the law
today by way of traffic offenses instead of intoxication, vagrancy, and dis­
orderly conduct.
A comparison of the number of women held by the City Magistrates'
Courts on the charges of vagrancy, disorderly conduct, and intoxication for the
two periods in all five boroughs offers a more limited field for comparison.
In 1900 there were 700 women held on vagrancy charges in Manhattan
and the Bronx alone.
In 1958 the number held on vagrancy charges for all
five boroughs was 2,274.
In 1900, 5,411 women were held on charges of intoxication in Manhattan
and the Bronx alone.
In 1958 the number held on the same charge for all five
boroughs was 256.
The increase in the number of women held on vagrancy charges would
seem to indicate that the number of offenders in this categozy had held fairly
constant with the increase in population.
It would seem in comparing the number
of women held on the charges of disorderly conduct and intoxication, in view
of the increase in population, that there has been a marked decrease in either
the commission of these offenses or in arrests for these offenses.
So many
factors would enter into any attempted analysis of the comparison of number and
distribution of offenses for the two periods under discussion that an extended
study would be required for this phase alone.
For instance, shoplifting which
accounted for 255 cases in 1958 is not listed as an offense in the 1900 annual
report for the City Magistrates' Courts.
Narcotic drug addition which ac­
counted for 55 cases in 1958 is not mentioned in the 1900 annual report.
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For the Court of Special Sessions of the City of New York, a
comparison of the number of convictions of‘women on misdemeanor charges for
1900 and 19S8 shows an appreciable increase in the total convictions of women.
’In 1900 there were 5,491 offenders arraigned in this court, of which
255 were women.
Only 167 of these women were convicted on other than civil
offenses.
In 1958 there were 26,956 offenders convicted, of which 1,745 were
women.
It thus appears that the rate of convictions on misdemeanor charges
for women had increased more than the population, since the number of convic­
tions for 1958 was nearly ten times as great as for 1900, compared with an in­
crease of three and one-half times in the population.
For the Court of General Sessions, a comparison of the number of
convictions on felony charges shows that the number of women convicted in this
court was approximately the same for the two periods.
In 1900, 1,194 offenders were convicted, of which 104 were women.
In 1958, 2,435 offenders were convicted, of which 105 were women.
Thus it
appears that in convictions on felony charges, the number of women offenders
showed no corresponding increase for the increase in population.
The general conclusion to be drawn from this comparison of women
offenders for all three courts is that misdemeanor charges accounted for the
only increase in women offenders over the thirty-eight year period, as re­
presented by the years 1900 and 1958.
On minor offense charges, except for vagrancy, the number of women
offenders showed a surprising decrease, in view of the increasein population.
The same is true for felony charges for the same period.
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Comparlson of Twfl-M+.irMnnfll Treatment
of Women Offenders for 1900 and 1958
It is In the institutional treatment of women offenders after con­
viction that the most obvious changes have taken place.
And the greatest
change would seem to be in physical plant of institutions.
There can be no
comparison between the New York Workhouse on Blackwell* s Island, for instance,
and the House of Detention for Women in New York City.
The difference of
approximately three-quarters of a cexrtuiy in the dates of construction would
account for many structural changes. That the House of Detention was built as
soon as it was is in large part due to the efforts of reform associations such
as the Prison Association of New York and the Women's Prison Association of
New York and of individuals who have carried on energetic campaigns in this cause
for more than three-quarters of a century.
It seems evident that the program of better institutional treatment
of offenders has been hampered rather than helped by the city and state
political organizations in charge of correctional institutions.
In the matter of physical comfort, the cell block has given way to
a room.
Plumbing has displaced the night bucket and individual shower baths
have taken the place of the "rain bath" where twelve women bathed at one time.
A dining room with small tables and chairs has taken the place of the
in
which long narrow wooden tables and narrow benches were placed to keep the
prisoners all facing in the same direction.
Instead of idling in cells and
corridors when free and off work assignment, these periods are spent in re­
creation rooms cheerfully furnished, with pianos and radios included in the
furnishing.
Instead of a parade in a yard by way of recreation, games are
played on the roofs which are fitted up for that purpose.
In these and many
other ways the new institution for women offenders in New York City is a far
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cry from the New York Workhouse, the Raymond Street Jail, the old penitentiaries,
and the district prisons.
To be sure, there are criticisms to be made of the new centralized
institution.
It was built in a crowded district of the city where the only
outdoor exercise for inmates is on a roof too hot in summer and too cold in
winter; the ventilation of the cells and cell corridors is inadequate.
the new institution is overcrowded.
Again,
It would seem to be a characteristic of
penal institutions that no sooner is a new one built than it becomes too small
for the population it was designed to serve.
The intention in building the
House of Detention for Women, however, was that only one person was to occupy
a cell.
The staff organization of an institution of 1900, with its warden
and deputy warden in charge of both men’s and women’s departments, and a group
of matrons who were only beginning at that time to be appointed through the Civil
Service Commission, compared with the staff organization of the House of
Detention for Women presents an amazing contrast.
The salary schedule of both
periods presents another interesting contrast, although the difference in the
value of money received in relation to the cost of living for both periods
may make the difference less than it appears.
The staff of the House of Detention for Women is in the main a
trained staff.
As far as the daily life of the inmates is concerned, the
correctional officer ranks high in importance.
An interesting feature of the
comparison of the correctional officer of 19S8 and the police matron of 1900
lies in the reaction of inmates to these officers for the two different periods.
There would seem to have been a different attitude in 1900 toward prison
authority from that of today which would account for a certain amount of
-297-
difference in this reaction*
The typical female prison inmate of 1900
accepted authority as part of the routine and was inclined to respect the
matron as symbolizing authority.
In 1938 the attitude of the typical in­
mate appears to be rebellion, at least in spirit, against authority, and
particularly against the authority represented by the correctional officer.
Then, too, the newer type of correctional officer is usually a
more efficient and better trained person than the early matrons generally,
and the social gap between the inmate and the correctional officer would
probably seem much greater to the typical inmate than it did in 1900.
From
interviews with inmates who had served terms in the New York Workhouse, as
well as in the House of Detention for Women, a picture of dissatisfaction with
the new order of officers appears.
The attitude of the older inmates seems
to be that the matrons in the earlier day were more approachable, less in­
clined to be "irritable" or "cranky." This reaction may be the result of
the more impersonal treatment received today at the hands of younger
correctional officers.
In the change in institutional treatment of women offenders be­
tween the two periods, the concern for the health of prison inmates would
seem to be of primary importance.
The food at the House of Detention for
Women is well balanced, of good quality, and sufficient in quantity.
addition, the inmates may buy food at the Inmates' Commissary.
In
The food
served prison inmates in 1900 may have been sufficient in quantity, but the
quality and manner of serving was beyond question disgusting and degrading.
The medical program at the House of Detention for Women, while de­
voted largely to the treatment of venereal disease and drug reduction cures,
is carried on in quarters that are the equivalent of any city hospital in
equipment. The tuberculous and insane are sent to institutions where they may
-298-
obtain medical and psychiatric care.
In fact, the prison inmate is quite
likely at the present time to be discharged in better physical condition than
when she was committed, which is the opposite of health conditions in 1900.
The reception of inmates at the House of Detention for Women is much
more of a routine than at the New York Workhouse.
After a shower and search of
her clothing, the woman is given a thorough physical examination by a female
physician, which includes tests for venereal disease.
After she has been
sentenced, the woman is fingerprinted and photographed.
It is quite possible
that the inmates of the women's wing in the New York Workhouse in 1900 would
have been willing to forego some of the creature comforts of the new in­
stitution rather than face the reception at the House of Detention for Women.
Instead of the lax methods of the New York Workhouse, where she was accepted
at face value, the woman offender now faces a rigid, complicated routine of
investigation.
The daily routine in the House of Detention for Women obviates many
of the criticisms made of the earlier institutions.
One element of the modern
routine results from the system of classification of inmates, of which there
was none in 1900.
gated.
This means that the sick and venereally diseased are segre­
The classification of inmates is based on physical condition, legal
status, previous record, race, and age.
Length of sentence or the type of
offense committed, which in 1900 were the only -types of classification attempted
at all, have little bearing on the classification of inmates as practiced at
the House of Detention for Women.
The day begins an hour later at the House of Detention for Women
than in the old institutions, and the inmates bath individually and privately.
They are locked in their cells at eight o'clock at night, instead of four or
six o'clock.
-299-
The working day for inmates on work assignments is five and a
quarter hours instead of a possible ten as was permitted by law in 1900.
The
work assigned to inmates had not changed in character; it is still cleaning,
sewing, laundry work, and hospital attendance, and so on.
The manner in which
the work must be done, however, in an institution outfitted with modem
machinery and appliances, does have a value as vocational training for many of
the inmates which could not be claimed for the work in the old institutions.
While there are disciplinary cells in the new institution, their use
is much more humane today.
The two classes of inmates, that is, those awaiting trial and
sentenced women are kept separate; the detained woman is not assigned any work.
There is an important difference in leisure time activities.
The in­
mates of the House of Detention for Women may now attend academic classes in
the educational department.
They may study a handicraft, or get music lessons.
They are allowed ample opportunity to read.
social dances.
They may participate in games and
All this activity would have seemed pretty hoity-toity to the
inmates of the New York Workhouse or the Raymond Street Jail in 1900.
And yet,
in 1938, according to the annual report of the House of Detention for Women for
that year, only fifty-five per cent of the total population made use of the
library facilities; only a small proportion of the inmates participated in
recreational activities, and even fewer in educational activities.
The music
program seems to have been the most appreciated by the inmates.
In the discharge of inmates there seems to be little change.
The
penitentiary inmate and the inmate serving an indeterminate sentence in the
House of Detention for Women receive a new outfit of clothes from the Inmates'
Commissary Fund.
Short termers in need of clothing get it through the social
-500-
service department.
In 1900, if the inmate being discharged got new clothes,
it was through some charitable person outside the institution.
The inmate
discharged in 1958 does receive a dime for carfare if she is penniless.
Potentially, the House of Detention for Women offers services to
inmates which had no counterpart in the institutions of 1900.
of course, is the educational service.
One of these,
Attendance at the classes, however, is
voluntary, and the teaching staff of one teacher provided by the Department of
Correction and an assistant provided through the Works' Progress Administration
would not seem adequate to provide an appreciable amount of work for even the
sentenced population of the institution.
Two other services not even thought of in 1900 are provided in the
psychological and psychiatric departments.
Here, again, the departments do
not appear to be staffed or equipped to do an amount of work which would make
any appreciable difference in the lives of the inmates as a whole.
The social service work carried on in 1900 to a small extent by the
Women's Prison Association of New York and volunteer workers, mostly through
church organizations, has been replaced in the House of Detention for Women
by a social service department.
This department serves as a Unlr between the
inmate and the outside world in family contacts, in cooperation with private
and public social service agencies, and sometimes with employment agencies.
There are many ways in which the social service department can and does aid in
the adjustment of difficulties in the lives of the inmates.
But here, too, the
staff would not seem to be large enough to handle the amount of work that could
be done.
In comparison, the religious services provided in the two periods
would seem to show little difference.
Regular Sunday chapel services were
provided in 1900 as they are today in the House of Detention for Women.
It
-501-
would seem from the records of both years that the chaplains of 1900 spent
more time In working with and for the Inmates than do the chaplains of to­
day, whose contact with the inmates is through the Sunday services.
On the whole, this comparison of the treatment of women offenders
passing through the Department of Correction of the City of New York for 1900
and 1958 does seem to show some constructive changes.
In the Wayward Minor's
Court and the Domestic Relations Court a beginning has been made in an attempt
to rehabilitate offenders through the investigation and supervision of
offenders under the probation law.
The changes in institutional treatment, mainly due to changes in
the way of living outside of penal institutions, have made little discernible
difference in the reaction of women- offenders to prison life.
Nor, as far as
can be determined from the meager information to be found regarding recidivism,
can it be supposed that there has been a change in the attitude of women
offenders to the conditions which led to their conviction.
"The ultimate and basic function of the reformatory or prison after
the demands of safety and security have been met is the rehabilitation and
socialization of those committed to its care."^ This statement is an up-tothe-minute wording of an aim that is a century old.
A comment on the progress
made in this direction, equally up-to-the-minute, follows:
It is an accepted principle that a term of imprisonment in the
average prison of today does little to elevate one's ambition and
initiative, in fact, many a prisoner expresses a desire to
"do his time" with as little effort on his part as possible. The
consequent routinized and stultifying existence is not training
for better things, nor is it acceptable character-building—
on the contrary, it is character-deterioration.
1.
Report to Governor Lehman by the Commission for the Study of Educational
Problems of Penal Institutions for Youth, Legislative Document No. 71,
quoted in Correctional Education Today, First Yearbook of the Committee
on Education. American Prison Association, 1939, p. 63.
2. Ibid.. p. 9.
-302-
There has been no intention in this study to deal with the statis­
tics of crime in any way for either 1900 or 1938.
In the first place, records
of arrests, dismissals, convictions, and sentences of women offenders are im­
possible to obtain with sufficient accuracy to make any comparison of value.
Secondly, even if they were obtainable, the increase in population, the changes
in laws, customs, and economic conditions would in all probability render any
comparison arrived at of no value to this study.
To quote from Sutherland's
Principles of Criminology. in a chapter on indexes of crime, "The statistics
of crime and criminals are known as the most unreliable and most difficult of
all statistics.The only purpose of the figures given is to round out the
picture of women offenders for the two periods.
In a general way, these figures
show the extent of criminal activity for the female population of New York City
which resulted in appearance in court for the two periods.
It would appear from the figures presented from court reports for
the two periods that female criminal activity resulting in felony charges
accounted for very few of the total number of women offenders. Misdemeanor
charges accounted for more than felony but, again, the number in proportion
to the total number of offenders is small.
The figures presented for the dis­
missal of charges in the courts of original jurisdiction would seem to show
that from one-third to one-half of all women arrested are dismissed without
court action.
The women convicted on minor offense charges form the bulk of nil
convictions of women offenders.
Most of the offenses committed in this
category, regardless of the charge under which the offenders were convicted,
would seem to be prostitution, intoxication, disorderly conduct, and vagrancy,
other than prostitution.
In other wordB, the crimes for which the bulk of
women offenders passing through the Department of Correction of the City of
1.
Edwin H. Sutherland, Principles qf CriminolagE, p. 29.
-SOS-
New York have been brought into contact with the law would seem to have been
more in the nature of behavior or conduct not condoned by society than
criminal behavior.
Here an investigator comes up against a blank wall.
What pro­
portion of women in the female population of the City of New York as a whole
are guilty of behavior not condoned by society but who, nevertheless, never
come into contact with the law? There would seem to be no way to answer this
question, but without this answer no cut-and-dried description of women offenders
would seem to be of much value in determining the moral standards of women
offenders in comparison with those of the general population*
The only comment
that can be hazarded relative to this unobtainable comparison is a general­
ization that has been made over and over again in criminal literatures the
women who reach the courts on minor offense charges are mostly from the poorest
class in society, economically, and have relatively little education.
For
this reason they are unable to protect themselves against arrest and are not
financially able to hire legal defense, as is the case of women offenders
having financial security.1
In A Study of Women Delinquents in New York State, a study covering
nearly 600 women convicted of offenses against the law in the courts of New York
State, the authors explain their use of the word "delinquent" instead of
"criminal" in the study.
Their reasons seem pertinent here.
Though any offense against the law is technically a crime, and any
person committing a crime may be called a criminal, we have pre­
ferred to refer to these women as "delinquent" or, using a more
1. Ibid., p. 69. "Much criminality is not prosecuted, and this lack of prose­
cution is biased in favor of the crimes of the well-to-do classes. This
is partly because the well-to-do classes are socially and politically
powerful and can protect themselves against prosecution, and partly be­
cause the mores have not become so definitely formed regarding the fraudu­
lent crimes of this class as against the more direct and immediate crimes
which have been in existence for centuries."
-504-
general term, as "offenders." The term "criminal" connotes to most
persons an individual guilty of one of the more serious offenses
and is approximately synonymous with the term "felon." Since the
major part of the group of women whom we are studying is not of this
type, we have preferred to avoid the term "criminal." It seems a far
cry to designate as criminal the girl of sixteen or seventeen who may
be convicted of "associating with vicious persons and being in danger
of becoming morally depraved," or the woman who is convicted, even
for the twentieth time, of intoxication, or, in fact, even the common
prostitute whose offense against the law is made possible only by the
participation of men, who are not even considered accomplices in a
criminal act in the eyes of the law. The very fact that there is
such extreme lack of uniformity between this and other countries, and
even between different sections of this country, as to whether these
acts constitute even legal offense, furnishes another reason for
hesitating to brand those committing them by the term "criminal."^It is significant to note that in the above study in comparing the
delinquent group under observation with the general population, the authors
found "relatively slight distinctions and much overlapping.
This fact may be
exaggerated, to some degree, by the inadequacy of our information regarding
the general population, as well as by the small numbers in the delinquent
groups.
The evidence available indicates very strongly, however, that even
with fuller data we should be dealing with very small differences."^ The in­
vestigator offers one more quotation from this study as follows:
Turning to the positive aspects of our investigation, we note two
lines of influence which seem to have a bearing on the problem of
delinquency among women, namely: (l) poor economic background with
few advantages or opportunities, including such conditions as poor
homes, very limited school opportunities, early age at starting work,
and meagre industrial trainingj and (2) a somewhat inferior mentality.®
In Five Hundred Delinquent Women, a more detailed study than the
above, the findings as to the economic background of the subjects were approx­
imately the same, but for other factors which seem to have a bearing on de­
linquency in women, the authors show a more definite deficiency in the so-called
average advantages.
1.
2.
5.
Feraald, Hayes, et. al., A Study of Women Delinquents in Mew York State, p. 15.
Ibldt, p. 523.
lb^[«| p. 525.
-305-
The women are themselves on the whole a sorry lot. Burdened with
feeblemindedness, psychopathic personality, and marked emotional
instability, a large proportion of them found it difficult to
survive by legitimate means. Many suffered from serious physical
ailments or 'iiand^cagg in childhood and adolescence, and the great
majority were venereally diseased before they were twenty-one years
old. In educational achievement they fell considerably below the
average, as to both length of schooling and competence as students.
Few had the advantage of vocational guidance or training. Too early
in life most of them were thrown into the industrial maelstrom to
sink or swim. Employed largely as factory hands or domestics, their
competency as workers ranged as a rule from only fair to poor; their
status was essentially that of irregular workers; their earnings were
miserably low.
Most of them left their homes at an early age, and many had undesir­
able or abnormal environmental experiences; over a fourth of them
had been in foster-homes, for example, and many had experienced com­
mitment to institutions, often for long periods. Throughout child­
hood and adolescence their leisure time was largely frittered away
or absorbed in harmful pursuits and endangered by companionships with
the vicious and criminal with whom they frequented unwholesome places
of recreation. During childhood half of our girls did not attend
church regularly, and during adolescence three fourths of them were
neglectful of their religious duties.^It would not seem necessary in a study of the treatment of women
offenders to furnish proof that convicted offenders— men or women
are merely
people who through some cause or causes, or, it may be a conjunction of events
over which they have no control, have failed to adjust their lives to normal
living.
Nevertheless, it appears that the treatment of offenders has been based
on the assumption that "criminals" are a race apart.
In Part III of this study,
the investigator will undertake to give some of the views expressed in the
current literature of criminology which are based on a different assumption.
Before going on to Part III, it is proposed to add to this chapter
two case stories, written by the subjects themselves at the request of the
investigator.
The writers had no reason to believe at the time of the re­
quest that their stories were to be used in any way, and though they have since
1.
Sheldon and Eleanor T. Gleuck, Five Hundred Delinquent Women, pp. 299-500.
This study is based on inmates in the Massachusetts Reformatory for
Women.
-506-
agreed to their use, for obvious reasons their names and any identifying
details have been omitted.
Case No. 1 is an illustration of the 1958 offender
(though not technically an offender) and her attitude toward her "offense" and
to institutional treatment.
offender.
Case No. 2 is a parallel illustration of the 1900
Both case stories are interesting in that the writers have conveyed
in each case the atmosphere of their day in the penal world.
Case Story No. 1
I had been a drug addict and prostitute for about five years. As to
morals, I hadn't any to speak of. So being an inmate of a house of
ill fame, I had to have some outlet, as I got so I couldn't take it,
as the slang expression goes. The result was drugs, thinking that may­
be now I could get some sleep. That's what I thought; how wrong I was
I soon discovered. Three shots of morphine and I was an addict. From
morphine to heroin, anyatol, barbitol, annol, veriol, vernol, luminol,
anything I could get depending on how high morphine and heroin were and
how much businessI did in the house where I was. This went on for years
in different cities and houses, and I got so that I was a nervous wreck.
All the time thinking some day I would stop or would take a cure. I'm
not trying to square myself. I am just stating facts.
For about three weeks I thought of killing myself. That scared me be­
cause I had thought of that before. So I went down to the Narcotic
Bureau and told them I wanted to take a cure. The judge who sent me
to the House Of Detention asked me if I knew what I was doing, as I
would be treated the same as the prisoners if he sent me for the cure.
I said, "0. K. Nothing could be any worse than what it was already."
The cure was for 45 days if Wasserman and smear were 0. K. If not, the
cure was for 100 days. I was sent tothe prison in the judge's car.
He talked to me in his chambers before I went and said, if I could stand
it, it was the best thing to do, that I was too intelligent to die an
addict. A city doctor came over to the judge's office and gave me a
shot of morphine and something else in it, hycine, I think; anyway, it
made me sick it was such terribly cheap stuff. I had about fifteen
luminol tablets in ny purse and took them all as I knew I would get in
trouble if they were found on me. I was surprised I was not searched
before I went, but I found out later I had got a break.
The door of the Detention House swings open, an electric door where
some one pushes a button and it swings open and buzzes shut— and my cure
started. It was then 2:00 P. M. I was taken to a big room or office.
-5 0 7 -
Five or six matrons were in it and everything was opened out on a
big table— coat,hat, purse, shoes, everything looked over to see that
nothing was concealed in them. One matron asked me questions while
this was going on. One bawled me out for talking so low she couldn't
heair. Another one hollered because I couldn't get my diamond ring
off quick enough to suit her. I had worn it so long that it was
tight. One matron said very insultingly: Oh, another self-committed—
dope must be hard to get or maybe I was broke. I got angry, as I have
a temper anyway, but I decided I would keep my mouth shut and see first
what happened. Then slips were made out, ny name, where I lived, was
I ever arrested, how long had I taken dope and how long I got. Then
I was given a receipt for the things in ny purse and ring and money,
and a slip for ny number. I still remember it but for reasons of ny
own will not reveal it here. Bftr powder, cream, cigarettes, matches,
compact, gum, lipstick, powder puff, were all thrown away. Lfly tweezer
and scissors were put in a box. I never saw them again, by the way.
There was a big cracker box full of things like these. They must
sell them in job lots.
Was I mad, and sick, too. I almost passed out of the picture and ran
for the washroom with the matron holding ny arm. I don't know if she
held it to help me or so I wouldn't poke her in the nose. She kept
saying it was a good thing I was sick because I was strongenough to
clean house. She thought I would start a riot, I suppose. I didn't
feel like a riot; I was sick. I told her some other time, maybe I would
oblige. Talk about hard, the matrons I had seen so far took the cake,
and I thought I was hard. I was a mere infant beside them.
While all this was taking place, my clothes were rolled up in a bundle,
and a card with a twine was tied around it with my commitment number and
name. The bundle was put in a corner of the hall with about 100 more,
or it looked to me then. I took a shower and washed ny hair. I had
had a finger wave, manicure, and shampoo the day before and told her so,
but it didn't make any difference. She said she was boss of the shower
and she meant "wash it." I laughed and said 0. K. The hot water made
me so faint she got a chair and I sat on it, washing ny hair under the
shower. She said to huriy up, the doctor was waiting. I was »n over
soap and kept rinsing it off. She got sore and said huriy up again, it
was clean and I was holding up the doctor. The doctor wasn'teven there
when I did go in. There were about thirty women sitting on benches with
nightgowns on waiting for the doctor. It was so funny, I laughed. Just
about that time I made a wise crack about the short nightgowns. The
doctor was in back of me talking to a nurse and made a wise crack right
back. She was so nice and friendly, I was relieved to find one kind
person in the whole place.
The doctor looked me over and right away asked me what kind of drug I
had been talcing. I told her and she told the nurse she would examine
me first as I was sick and should be in bed. I said I needed a shot.
She looked at ny eyes and told me I had enough dope in me to last ten
hours, which was true. The nurse made out the record. The doctor asked
-508-
me questions about ny past, present, future; she was lovely, young,
pretty and very wise. I. like educated people even though I am not so
bright myself. Later, the doctor proved to be a very good friend to me.
Anyway, I got finished, or rather they got finished with me, and a
nurse took me up to the eighth floor on the elevator. Oh, yes, we even
had elevator service. The matrons take turns running them. I was
checked in on the floor and taken to what they call the drug ward. You
see there are four corridors to each floor and each corridor is a cell
block. Every girl in my corridor was screaming in a different key,
kicking the habit, as they call it. It was then five o'clock. The
shots didn't come until nine o'clock. The girls were almost crazy, in­
cluding me, from the noise. I felt like hollering too. The cell doors
were open into the corridor, but the big outside door opening to the
hall was locked, such a big key you couldn't believe. It looked like
iron, six inches long and two inches wide.
The cell I was in had two bedB, one on
the wall, one a cot.
I gotthe
cot. The girl on the wall looked half
dead, and I found out
latershe
was only twenty-six; she looked forty. The wages of sin, you know. Well,
I got sick all over again. The matron
brought me peppermint
to settle
my stomach and gave me some cigarettes. The girls in the meantime in
the ward were screaming— and talk about filthy talk. The matron said
shut up that kind of talk or she would put them in the cooler— a punish­
ment cell is the cooler.
The matron was nice to me and hollered so to the other girls and I
couldn't make up my mind why she was so nice to me. She told me wiy
whoa I asked her. She said it was because the other girls were sentenced
for time and that I was taking a cure. It sounded like Greek to me then—
I didn't understand it like I do now. She said any one that vrould come
to a place like that to take a cure would always get help from her and
all the other matrons because this was supposed to be the toughest cure
in the city. Cold turkey, they call it. And that if I didn't mean to
stay off Of dope, I would not have committed myself here. The supper
came; nobody ate it. It was a well-balanced meal I noticed, too. They
may even have a dietician— some class. I drank a cup of tea and it
promptly came up. At nine o'clock everybody Is out in the corridor tell­
ing their life history and the elevator came up with the nurse with the
shots.
I told a lie when I went in. I said I never took shots in the vein, I
just took coal tar drugs to make me sleep. I did that because I wanted
to die, and I figured that was the best way to do it— not to get morphine.
Maybe I would pass out as I was very weak. So I got anyatol, just as
good as nothing, and the other girls got their shots. I was angry at
myself for lying then, but would not change my story. The nurse
looked at me and said I looked like I took shots, I denied it. I said
I just took lypnotics to sleep. She said, "Oh, yeah?" Well, the next
morning I awoke at 6:00 A.M. I never heard so much screaming and moaning
-509-
in ny life and I have heard plenty before* 1 had stayed up until
four looking out the window. The Jefferson Market clock is lit up
at night and it kept me company. About one o'clock, I was so sick
I thought I would pass out. I retched and retched and nothing came
up. Ihe night matron, a very sweet lady, called the head night matron
and she called the hospital and a nurse came down and gave me something,
I don't know what, but it made me feel better anyway. Later when the
matron made her rounds I had quite a long talk with her, and she put
me wise to some of the things I would encounter in the prison. I thanked
her and later she brought me a cup of tea, it must have been then about
4:00 A. M. Then I promised her I would lie down and try to sleep. I
had smoked ny last cigarette away and couldn't get any more from my
girl friend until we were unlocked in the morning.
Well, anyway, we were unlocked at 6:30 A. M. The drug ward is first.
I suppose the matron thought the noise wouldn't be so bad if we were
let out first, which is true, as drug addicts can't stand to be locked
up where they haven't any space in which to walk. Evexy girl looked like
the last rose of summer, nyself included. There was no mirror there.
They were taken away, I suppose, because of suicide complexes that we
all seemed to have from the talk I heard. I went in and took a shower
and fell down on the cement floor and cracked ny head. My girl friend
heard me, hollered and came in and turned off the water and threw some
on ny face. I finished the shower sitting on the floor, put on ny dress
and nothing else. I held ny girl friend up with one hand and washed her
with the other. We felt better then; our nerves were calmed down some­
what. The breakfast came in on trays. I drank three of the girls'coffee,
no food; the coffee was strong enough to walk. But that was 0. K. They
can't make it too strong for me*
Then the fun started from nine until ten. We had different kinds of tests,
everything you ever heard of. Thqy were certainly not missing any bets.
I know what I am talking about having worked in hospitals over a period
of years. Then the doctor made her visit, asked me 98 questions and
passed a number of sarcastic remarks and went on her merry way. I found
out she was always that way early in the morning. Maybe she didn't sleep,
either. She seemed to know her business and, later, after I knew her
longer and talked to her several times, I decided she was a wonderful
doctor. But her disposition was such that one time she would talk
nicely to you, and the next time you met her you would get only a few
choice sarcasms. I got so I would pass her and not speak unless she
spoke first. Then she said I was as bull-headed as she was. However,
I found her to be fair and square in her dealings with the inmates.
The shots came at 9:00 A. M., 1:00 P. M., and 9:00 P. M. The same
thing happened every day. More girls came in for the cure; others were
put in different wards after the cure. They were to stay in the drug
ward two weeks and then were assigned to work some place. The drug addicts
got light jobs they could do. They went to the roof twice a day for air
and got a cup of milk in the afternoon. On the whole, I thought the girls
were treated well from a medical standpoint. The cure was tough but it
seemed to bring them around all right.
-510-
By this time I had made a few enemies among the girls. Thqy noticed
the matron never bawled me out,
and I got to beknown as the pet.
Most of the girls were lazy and would not work. As I always worked on
the floor, I suppose thty felt I was cooperating. The filthy stories
and talk disgusted me, and as I have said before ittakes a lot to shock
me. Most of the matrons were churchgoing womenand if you were civil to
them they were the same.
I had a few friends and we played cards a lot of the time. There was a
library with quite a number of good books. We could get them once a week
on Friday, and the place was full of magazines and papers. The girls
passed and traded them around. All of the various drugs I had been
taking affected my eyes for a month. I could hardly see to read and, as
I love to read, it made the time seem very slow. As I got used to the
life on the floor, the days were not so bad but'— the nights. We were
locked in at 9:00 P. M. and then hell began until we were let out in the
morning for a shower, because we couldn't sleep. No drugs, no sleep.
These showers twice a day helped me regain my sanity. We addicts could
take them whenever we wanted to, it was the head doctor's orders. She
believed in water calming the nerves. It certainly does, too.
I got transferred to the hospital and stayed there one month. I was
going to have an operation, and then the doctor changed her mind. She
said I did not have time enough for that, so she tried something else
which worked, taking ten days for the cure. This was a drug, too, and
wonder of wonders it was so strong I slept about four hours a night.
This hospital is small, two wards, but veiy complete— graduate nurses
on duty day and night. Thqy were all very nice and treated all the
patients just as if they were in any hospital paying the bill. I can't
say more than that. The doctors were in night and day, depending on
how many operations and what the case was. The women doctors were resident
doctors and were called night and day. The food was wonderful, much better
than on the floors, but I couldn't eat very much. I drank more milk, fruit
juice, than anything else. I lost 55 pounds in 46 days. I had all sorts
of tests while in the hospital. It is on the top floor and very quiet.
The doctors decided I was losing weight too fast, and I hollered so much
about not sleeping, the night nurse reported I was up all night roaming
around, and I finally got an order for a hypnotic to sleep every night.
I slept two weeks and then the order was stopped. Was I burned up, but
I didn't say anything. I was a nervous wreck because the girls were not
supposed to smoke in the hospital. We got punished if we were reported.
We watched for each other smoking in the bathroom. I almost got caught
98 times. Our friends sneaked them up to us. I was sometimes searched,
but did not have any on me. I don't think I could have stood it without
the solace of the cigarettes.
In the hospital there were no bars or cells. A very clean, cheerful
place. I liked it fine after being locked up every night. In the hos­
pital if I couldn't sleep, I could walk around and nobody bawled me out.
I liked it very much and was sorry when I went back down stairs. But in
a few weeks, it was time for me to be released as cured.
-311-
Case Story No. g
I am seventy years old and was born in this country. I have never
known ny father, but ny mother was a very fine woman. She worked hard
for rich people, scrubbing, cleaning, washing, and taking care of their
children who were very naughty and frequently kicked ny mother. God
bless her soul. I had a dear sister, who was always a good girl, she
never got into any fights, she did not drink, nor smoke— she graduated
from elementary school and worked for the last thirty-five years in one
place as an office: worker until she passed away one year ago. I lost
my mother when I was fourteen years old, and my sister looked after me.
She was two years older than I was. She was the good one, and I—
Here comes ny story. I did not care to learn; the school which I at­
tended on the lower East Side of New York was a bore. Older girls seemed
to like me. They used me to make dates with their boy friends. I sneaked
out at night when mother had to mind other children and my sister was
sleeping. I did not care for boys, but I enjoyed being treated to a drink.
The older girls of my neighborhood used to take me to parties. I went
whenever I had a chance. School was so boresome and those parties were
gay and swell. This started before my thirteenth birthday. At about that
age I quit school and was sent to do some scrubbing in a store, later on
I had to wash bottles in a cellar. Men came in frequently to drink with
the boss. Whatever was left I tasted, and it was good stuff. After
mother passed away, I had to live with my sister who always worried about
me.
At that time I was arrested for the first time. The cop picked me up in
the street coming home intoxicated. He pushed me, I fought back. At
last he grabbed me and put me on a push cart with two other women and
pushed us to the station house. I wanted to go home, but they locked
me up in a cell at Jefferson Market Prison. The officers were treating
us women veiy rough, especially one man, who had to search us— he was a
mean beast.
I had to share a cell with six other women, one was shrieking all night.
I wanted to sleep, but she did not let us sleep— we had to listen to her
dirty talk. In the morning we were taken before the judge. I started to
argue with him and wanted to make him see that my sister was waiting for me
at home, but I did not have a chance. The cop, who made the arrest, told
something to the judge and I was told that they were taking me for ten
days to the Workhouse. They did not believe me, that this was my first
surest. At that time there were no fingerprints and somebody said I was
known to them before under another name. I was hanging around in a hall­
way of the Jefferson Market Court for many hours, until about fifteen
women were loaded into the Black Maria, which was drawn by a horse.
They took us to the East River ferry on Twenty-Third Street, and half
an hour later we arrived at Welfare Island. We walked to the Workhouse.
We were cold and hungry. I had no way to send word to ny poor sister
which worried me most.
-512-
At the entrance which was In the middle of a long, dark, gloony
building, with barred windows, I had to stand in line. I was very un­
happy and ashamed. I could not see that I had done anything bad. An
officer took down our names and asked us some questions. Then we had
to pick up a bundle with prison clothing, we took a shower, a physician
asked us some questions and we passed on. I saw ny clothing being rolled
into a bundle and labelled. We were given our numbers and the cell number.
Four to five women shares onecell. The matron who was on ny floor was
very nice to me because I was always a willing and good worker. All
the floors and stairs were of wood, and ny first assignment was to scrub
the floors on ny floor. This assignment was always given me in later
years during the sixty-nine terms I served in this prison. Thqy called
me a chronic alcoholic and the disorderly conduct charge hung over me
like my family name.
My first experience in prison stands out very vivid in ny memories.
I was scared of every matron who came in my sight. The days seemed long
and the nights were dragged out. We got up at 6:00 A. M. The first thing
we had to do was to empty thebucket as there were no toilets in the cells
at that time. At 7:00 A. M. one had to stand in line for breakfast. We
had ugly tin dishes and the only thing to eat with was a spoon. Our
breakfast was cereal, bread, and coffee. After breakfast we were assigned
to work. But only a few really worked; the majority of the women were too
lazy. They gossiped around and one could hear people arguing everywhere.
By 11:30 A. M. we had to stand in line for dinner; the food we got was
always cold. Dinner consisted of a soup and a pudding. Or instead of
soup, we got stew.
I learned maxy things from the other girls about the prison routine. The
girls knew ahead of time what would be served on every day of the week.
In the afternoon I joined a sewing class which was held by a very nice and
understanding woman. Here I learned for the first time about social
workers. In later' years I began to appreciate their efforts to assist
the prisoners, and to offer them shelter and food after their discharge
from prison.
At 4:00 P. M. we had to stand in line again to get our supper, for which
we got the same soup or stew we had for dinner and bread and tea. Be­
tween 5:00 and 6:00 P. M. we were locked into our cells. I forgot to
mention that we were given permission to walk along the lawn for an hour
daily. This was the only comfort of the day. It was the only time I
could breathe freely and feel like a human being again and not like an
animal in a cage or like a slave. As I mentioned before, the matrons
liked me because I was a good worker, but the girls disliked me because
they thought I was a stool pigeon. Whoever is liked by the matrons can­
not be liked ty the inmates— this was another thing I learned during
ny first ten days in prison.
I was allowed to write a letter, which I sent to ny dear sister. She
came to the Island heartbroken. She said, "Now you have followed the
-515-
path our father has gone before. He has served many terms on this
Island; he was a drunkard and deserted mother and made her life verymiserable. "
My sister could not stay away from her work on the day of my discharge.
I was ashamed to go home and went to some friends first. They wanted
to cheer me up and gave me some drinks. I got home late that night in
a good mood. I found ny poor sister crying. She was kind and had
waited with a hot meal ever since she had returned from work. She had
my favorite dish— but I did not know how to appreciate it at that time.
All I heard were her complaints that made me mad and I wanted to get
away from them. The next day I looked for work in a household. I
worked for a month, until I got my first pay and then I got drunk, spent
all my money and did not go back to work.
There has been a certain rhythm in my life— work, spree, recuperation;
work, spree, arrest; work, spree, and so on. The judges do not seem to
have any set rules as to how long a term a woman is to get on a charge
of disorderly conduct for intoxication. I did not prostitute and did
not steal; ny charge was always the same, and still my length of sentence
always varied. Not that the sentences grew longer and longer. No, in­
deed not. Often they were ten days, six months, three months, six months,
ten days, and so on. Only once I have had to serve one year and one day
because Graycourt did not take short termers. It was veiy nice up
there, plenty of fresh air, large farms, good food, and a veiy kind and
understanding superintendent. We all liked her and worked to please her.
The last term I served was soon after the House of Detention for Women
was opened. Ohl what a pity to build a new prison in the middle of the
city with no grounds to walk on. We frequently felt we were suffocating.
The windows can only be opened a few inches. In the summer the roof they
rave about is too hot during the hour I was allowed to be there, and
during the winter we were given sweaters to wear above the cotton house
dress and I was freezing.
The food at the House of Detention was very good and the working assign­
ments were easy, but I don't like to work if I feel that I am only doing
it to keep busy and not to scrub because it is dirty. All the food,
kind treatment, amusements, such as movies, radio, are unimportant if
a person has no privacy, not even when she uses the toilet, and no grounds
to walk on. Flowers grow for the rich, but grass grows for the poor and
the women are eyen deprived of this privilege— to see the beauty of the
green grass and to walk on it.
There was constant friction at the new prison between the old matrons
and the young ones. .They are as different as day and night. The old
ones are afraid to lose their jobs because they do not have such training
as the Correctional Department requires today, and the young ones are
afraid the old ones will report them if thqy fail to carry out every rule
and regulation up to the minute. They hate each other and we girls feel
it too.
-314-
About eight years ago I was sitting on a park bench with four men
whom I met at the place where I bought ny drinks. I had started out
with a month's salary and left the place penniless. I sat in Stpyvesant
Park; it was cold and damp in the late afternoon. Suddenly a social
worker, who was always very kind came up to me and said, "Come, dear,
let us go home." The men thought she was a policewoman and started to
beat it, but I told them to stay. I told them, "This woman will do
us no harm." I was so drunk I could hardly stand on ny feet. She
helped me into a taxi. Right then and there, I made up ny mind never
to drink again. A few days later I was admitted to the Old Age Home
on Welfare Island. I helped with the cleaning and had a few birds who
knew me. I fed than daily. Last year my good sister passed away.
I inherited some money from her, and since that time I have had a fur­
nished room in Manhattan and do ny own cooking. I have plenty of time to
think. If I had been a prostitute, I would not have had to serve so
many sentences, because I could have afforded a shyster laiyer and
bondsman. But as I always was a decent woman, I worked hard and ny
monthly salary was less than a prostitute could make in one night.
Although I was arrested about seventy times, I have never committed a
crime. Ifly only pleasure in life was a drink and that was certainly no
sin. But it was considered a crime by some because I was a poor woman.
For the rich it is considered "smart to be drinking."
In these two case stories, the authors unconsciously portray sig­
nificant changes over the period represented, in attitude toward the offense
committed, in the treatment received, in the institutional routine, and in
reaction to both routine and prison personnel.
PIET
III
COMPARISON OF THE PRESENT TREATMENT OF WOMEN
OFFENDERS PASSING THROUGH THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION OF
THE CITY OF NEW YORK WITH THE STANDARDS SET UP IN THE CUR­
RENT LITERATURE OF CRIMINOLOGY
CHAPTER XII
COMPARISON
PASSING
THE C
UP IN
OF THE PRESENT TREATMENT OF WOMEN OFFENDERS
THROUGH THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION OF
m OF NEW YORK WITH THE STANDARDS SET
THE CURRENT LITERATURE OF CRIMINOLOGY *
Part One of this study has dealt with the treatment of women
offenders passing through the Department of Correction of the City of New
York in 1958.
Part Two has been concerned with the same subject for 1900
and a comparison of treatment as found in the two separate periods.
This
section, Part Three, will be an attempt to summarize* for this study the
standards set up in the current literature of criminology and compare them
with the present treatment of women offenders in the New York City system.
It has seemed best to limit the sources consulted for this pur­
pose to four books'1- by leaders in the field of criminology and three collections of articles and speeches* published by organizations dealing with
offenders.
Only one of the books5 is based on the locale of this study.
* It is possible in such a summary, in condensing or abstracting recom­
mendations or conclusions, with the necessary exclusion of details
leading 19 to these recommendations or conclusions, that implications
may be drawn by the reader or the investigator which will not be
acceptable to the authors themselves. The method used would seem to
be open to such error and the investigator begs the indulgence of the
authors quoted when such error occurs.
1. Raymond Moley, Tribunes of the People: Sheldon and Eleanor T. Glueck,
Five Hundred Delinquent Women: Nathaniel F. Cantor, Crime and Society:
Edwin H. Sutherland, Principles of CTHm^nolftcry.
g. ProtMwdin^a of the Annual Congress of the American Prison Association,
1958, 1959, and 1940; Pffloeedingp of the First National Parole Confer­
ence, 1959; Correctional Education Today. First Yearbook of the
Committee in Education of the American Prison Association, 1959.
5. Raymond Moley, Tribunes of the People.
-315-
-516-
Only one of the books^- is based on a study of women offenders; the other
two, Cantor* s Crime and Society, and Sutherland* s Principles of Crimin^lopy.
were selected as texts for the purpose indicated because of the fact that the
authors are the two leading criminologists in this country and recognized as
sound in the field of criminology; also, that their books cover the whole
field rather than special phases of criminology.
Therefore, there is no
differentiation in standards set up on the basis of sex.
It seemB, however,
that agreement within these sources as to standards would be ample grounds
upon which to formulate a standard of treatment of women offenders which
might be applicable to the problem presented in the first chapter.
The inclusion of the published collections of articles and speeches
by people who deal directly or indirectly with offenders is intended to pro­
vide what might be called the "practical" idea of standards along with what
might, with equal inaccuracy, be called the "theoretical" idea of standards.
As the only available source of standards set up for the treatment
of wayward minors, the report of the Wayward Minor* s Court for 1938 will be
used.2
It is proposed in this chapter to follow the continuity established
in Parts One and Two in taking up the different phases of the problem.
Thus
all sources will be consulted on one particular phase at one time in the
following orderi
(1)
Arrest and Temporary Detention
(2)
Court Procedure
(3)
Probation
(4)
Institutional Treatment
1. Gluack and Glueck. Five Hundred Delinquent“Women.
2. Report of the Wayward Minor's Court, Procedure for Dealing with Wayward
iMnnra in Hew York City. 1938.
-317-
(5) Parole
(6 ) Follow-up Work
(1)
Arrest and Temporary Detention
It has seemed to the investigator throughout this study that the
first contact of offenders with the "law" is a neglected phase of the study
of criminology.
Why this should be so is difficult to understand.
As has
been shown In Parts One and Two of this study, one-third to one-half of all
women arrested are dismissed without trial.
It would be helpful to the
study of police methods to know bow and why this happens.
On the other hand,
according to Sutherland:
...Crime is much more pervasive than the ordinary statistics
of crime indicate, and an entirely incorrect impression regard­
ing criminality is formed if conclusions are limited to these
statistics. Many types of offenses are widespread but seldom
result in prosecution. Some of these offenses are crimes in
the strictly legal sense, but there is no prosecution of the
parties concerned, because of the apparent triviality of the
crime, because of the difficulty of securing evidence sufficient
for conviction, or for other reasons.^
Sutherland further states that it is probable that arrests for
serious crimes are less than 10 per cent of the serious crimes actually com­
mitted in large cities.^ As the record stands today, this phase of law en­
forcement goes, and has gone, without the attention of students of criminology.
Concerning the part played by the police in our system of criminal
justice, it would seem that the police do exercise judicial functions, and
as Sutherland points out, they settle more cases than they take to court.
It would seem, therefore, that aside from physical strength and courage, the
policeman would need special training for his task.
Sutherland has summarized
the various plans for improvement of the police system as follows:
1. Sutherland, og. elt., pp.56-7.
2. Ibid.. p. 24.
-518-
Plans for the improvement of the police system have been developed
by various persons and agencies. This program includes freedom
from corrupt politics, stability of organization, larger territorial
organization, improvements of personnel, systems of assignment,
equipment of preventive police work, cordial relations between
police and public, end the general development of police morale
and of police work as a profession.^*
Concerning the personnel of a police system, Sutherland says that
the efficiency of such a system depends upon a careful selection of police­
men and adequate training, discipline, and remuneration.2 The police of New
Tork do receive a certain amount of training, said by Cantor to be more than
that received by police anywhere else in the country, but it remains a
question as to how much and what kind of training would constitute a standard.
Police morale, according to Sutherland, "must be created or developed.
The police have had a certain morale for a generation or more, but it has
been a pride in physical courage.
It must come to be a pride in police work
as a useful profession contributing to social welfare."5
As to professional training for policemen, Cantor has the following
to Bay:
The development of police work as a profession, with professional
standards in qualification, preparation, and achievement is not
utopian. Other allied professions such as social case work, pro­
bation and parole, have made remarkable progress and have already
attained this status. A police force composed of college-trained
individuals will probably have greater pride in its work, and
will more articulately protest against obstacles hampering their
work than the present personnel composed of former taxicab and
truck drivers or Illiterate unskilled laborers.
In discussing the relation of the police to the problem of female
offenders, the SLuecks give some of the difficulties encountered:
Because of the prevailing view that the problem of female offenders
is essentially one of repressing commercialized vice, the role of
the police in such cases assumes great prominence and "undoubtedly
the most troublesome task of the police is the enforcement of
1.
2.
S.
4.
Sutherland, pp. cit., p. 245.
Ibid.. p. 249.
Xh|^* $ P* 256.
Cantor, pp. cit.. p. 75.
-319-
regulations which fall within the realm of vice or public
morals." Law enforcement in such cases faces numerous
difficulties not encountered in ordinary police work,
among which may be mentioned conflicting public attitudes
toward immorality, political interference, the investment
of vast sums in enterprises of commercialized vice or
near-vice, the ready way in which the police can be cor­
rupted, the difficulty of securing proper evidence, and
like considerations. Host of these difficulties reflect
fundamental flaws in the attitudes and practices of modern
society; and while they may be minimized by merely making
changes in the organization of police departments, they
cannot thereby be entirely circumvented. But much can be
done in orienting the attitude of police administrators so
that they will view their problems from preventive and re­
habilitative as well as merely repressive angles. At best,
aggressive police repression is treatment on a symptomatic
rather than etiologic level.1
The duecks go on to suggest three avenues for improvement of
police practices:
...police departments ought first to evolve more fundamental
tests of good police work than the obvious one of the number
of arrests and convictions. Secondly, they must be even more
ruthless in suppressing corruption among police officers than
they sometimes are in repressing prostitution. This includes
the correction of present practices in many cities, where
arrests are selective on the basis of the friends and money
the prostitutes and her allies have, instead of being uniformly
applied to all offenders. Thirdly, police departments should
place their emphasis on arresting the frequently undisclosed
exploiters of commercialized vice - the white-slavers, the
"protectors," the owners of brothels and other places used for
immoral purposes - rather than devote most of their efforts to
bringing in prostitutes of long standing, for whom little can
be done.
As a part of the offenders first contact with the law stands the
temporary detention of suspects awaiting a hearing in court.
the treatment of offenders has received little consideration.
This phase of
Since the
opening of the Bouse of Detention for Women in Hew York City, the conditions
of temporary detention of women are perhaps ahead of practice in most of
the country.
Sutherland suggests that while many of the suspects arrested
1. Glueck and Glueck, 0£. cit.. pp.515-6.
2. Ibid.. p. 516.
-520-
will not be found guilty, even if they are actually guilty It is probably
good policy to treat them, so far as practicable, on the presumption of
Innocence:
Furthermore, especially for first offenders, the arrested
person is in a very impressionable condition and sympathetic
treatment and understanding will have great effect at this
point, just as unnecessary and unwarranted hardships will be
very damaging. In general, therefore, those who are detained
awaiting trial should be treated decently and honorably, at
least as well as those drafted for army purposes.
The Report of the Wayward Minor's Court for 1958 makes the follow­
ing suggestions for temporary detention quarters for young delinquents:
...girls waiting for arraignment, hearing or further adjustment
should be detained in quiet, restful, surroundings, and there
should be no opportunity for mingling with hardened criminals
or undesirable persons. These temporary detention quarters are
visualized as:
1. Simply but attractively laid out dormitories accomodating
at least twenty girls, Including sanitary isolation for dis­
eased girls.
2 . Lavatory facilities, (general and isolated).
5. A recreation or social room providing reading material and
such, where the girls can profitably spend their time while
awaiting hearing.^
The investigator would suggest here that even such detention quarters
as those recommended by the above Report would not obviate the danger in
segregating young delinquents in quarters permitting close association.
It
would seem, in view of the often protracted period of detention of young
delinquents, that placement in selected foster homes would better serve the
need for a complete break with the conditions and circumstances which had con­
tributed to delinquent behavior.
As a means of obviating temporary detention of suspects, Cantor
suggests that the use of summons to the accused to appear in court might be
1. Sutherland, op. cit.. pp. 264-5.
2. Report of the Wayward Minor's Court, op. cit.. p. 50.
employed more often than is the case:
From the point of view of treatment it would not be the
nature of the offense so much as the dangerousness of the
offender which would determine whether or not the method
of arrest or summons should be employed. It is unlikely
that the majority of misdemeanants are dangerous characters.
If there is little doubt as to their appearance in court in
answer to a summons the latter would do away with jail ex­
periences which follow arrest.
Should a woman defendant desire to obtain release from temporary
detention pending arraignment or trial, such release is usually on bail
with security, although she may be released on her own recognizance, with­
out security, if the court considers the defendant responsible.
Aside from
the fact that bail bonding has been shown to be in large measure dishonestly
carried on, very few women who appear in the courts in New York City have
sufficient financial means to obtain a bond, either prior to arraignment or
awaiting trial.
Holey, in discussing the recommendations of the Seabury Report as
to the bail situation states that Judge Seabury pointed out that there was
no reason why more persons should not be released on their own recognizance,
without security, after a quick investigation, probably by the probation
department, as to their likelihood to abscond.
Judge Seabury also recom­
mended that in case of dangerous criminals and those charged with very serious
offenses, bail should be extremely high.
Thus the number of bondsmen needed
in these cases would necessarily be small, and presumably could be easily
regulated and controlled.
In all but serious cases, it was recommended that
bail be radically reduced - in minor offense cases to range between five and
ten dollars.
Finally, Judge Seabury pointed out that if this idea were
associated with the recommendations for a centralized court its practical
1. Cantor, op. d t .. P. 291
2. Holey, og. d t . . pp.108-9.
-322-
workings might be made extremely effective.
A central bail-bond bureau In the
centralized court could keep detailed records as to the status of all the
bondsmen who did business In the court....
Says Moley, "....the substance of
these recommendations is that the way to eliminate the evils of ball Is to
eliminate the bondsmen, so far as this is possible.
Moreover, if, even after careful selection, a prisoner released
on Ion ball escapes, the net loss to the community would probably
not be great. When we consider the number of guilty people who
are turned loose because of lack of evidence and the number of
persons who commit crimes and are never apprehended, the small
additional number who might occasionally abscond is not Important.
Of far greater importance is the compensating factor - the elimin­
ation of a vicious source of corruption and of the exploitation
of the poor and unfortunate.
Sutherland agrees that the practice of releasing defendants on
their own recognizance, without financial security, could be extended to
advantage if methods of appraising character and responsibility were
devised.5
(2)
Court Procedure
A most important part of court procedure rests in the defense
and prosecution of a case.
As has been pointed out, many of the women who
reach the courts in Mew York City are without financial means to employ
competent counsel.
Even when they have the means, they are "too pressed for
time, too helpless, to shop around and compare abilities, reputations, and
A
fees,"
of competing defense attorneys.
The state makes provision for the
assignment of counsel for the defense in felony and misdemeanor cases.
In
actual practice, professional defense of persons accused of misdemeanor is
not generally provided.
1.
2.
5.
4.
The Voluntary Defender's Committee, the criminal
Moley, o£. cit.. pp. 108-9.
Ibid.. p. 110.
Sutherland, op. cit., p. 265.
Moley, o£. cit.. p. 175.
-325-
branch of the New York Legal Aid Society, devotes its entire time to the
defense of the poor in the Court of General Sessions.1
This is a privately
endowed society, and while it has done useful and valuable work, it is un­
able because of its limited funds and facilities to include the City Magis­
trates' Courts within its activities.
The woman defendant in the City Magistrates' Courts in New York
City is at the mercy of the lawyers who hang around the courts and offer
their services at exhorbitant prices, or at the mercy of counsel assigned by
the court.
According to Moley, writing of conditions at the time of the
Seabury investigation, in the various practices which have prevailed in the
magistrates' courts,
....there can be no doubt that the attorneys practicing in these
courts ranked next to the bondsmen in the evil influence which
they exerted. This is especially true with respect to the
attorneys who clustered around the Women's Court and those who
composed the West Tenth Street Bar.^
The basis of the Seabury proposal to remedy this situation was that
attorneys who practice in the City Magistrates’ Courts should be subject to
certain regulations which would safeguard the persons who seek his services.
He (Seabury) recommended that all attorneys who appeared in the
magistrates’ courts should be required to file written affidavits
containing statements of the exact amount of compensation they
are to receive directly or indirectly, of the names of any other
persons whose aid they know the defendants have enlisted, to­
gether with the considerations paid or promised to such other
persons. Such affidavits should be supplemented by any additional
Information which comes to the attention of the attorney between
the times the affidavit is filed and the date of the hearing.
These retainers should be subject to the approval of the chief
magistrate and it should be his responsibility to eliminate any
abuses which might be reasonably evident from the information
contained in the retainers or affidavits. In addition, the
attorneys should be required to keep accounts, which the chief
magistrate might examine, of all their income from all sources'
for at least five years. Finally, "the chief magistrate should
have the power to investigate the conduct of any attorney with
1. Moley. ibid.. p. 110.
2. Holey, ibid.. p. 174.
-324-
respect to any case in which he appeared in the magistrates'
courts, and the power to£ subpoena of witnesses and documents in
furtherance* of such investigation." Any unethical act dis­
covered in the course of such an investigation should be
brought to the attention of the Appelate Division by the chief
magistrate.1
Even if the exclusion of unscrupulous lawyers who resort to im­
proper practices were effected, says Moley, it was pointed out by Judge
Seabury that there was further need for the provision of lawyers of
character and ability for defendants who bad no lawyers.
The most commonly proposed remedy for the situation in New
York looks to the creation of the office of public defender
to represent those who are accused of crime and who are unable
to pay for legal services....
A public defender's office does more than make it possible for
the unfortunate defendants to have enlisted in the solution of
their complex problems the enthusiasm and Intelligence of young,
well-trained professional men. Seen from another angle, it
provides for the young lawyer an interesting and instructive
internship at the beginning of his career. It may be that the
greatest value of the system is just this linking up of young
professional ability with the realities of criminal-law admin­
istration. 5
While agreeing with the observations of the Seabury Report as to
the relation of criminal lawyers to the problem of defense counsel, Suther­
land makes no specific recommendations toward a remedy of conditions except
to state that the public defender system is superior to the present system of
assigned counsel.
Of the office of public defender, Sutherland says,
Delays are reduced, technical motions are seldom made, and the
expense to the state is reduced. At the same time they (public
defenders) provide more efficient protection to the accused
than do the assigned counsels. Because of their specialization
they can help develop public opinion and criminal procedure as
assigned counsels cannot.4
According to Cantors
"...on the whole the public defender system has generally proven
more effective than the system of assigned counsel. A larger
1. Moley, ibid., pp. 176-7.
2. This system, financed by the state, is at the present time actually in
operation in several states.
3. Moley, 0£. cit.. pp. 179-80.
4. Sutherland, op. cit.. p. 288.
percentage of the accused defended by the public defender were
acquitted and fewer cases went to trial than under the system
of assigned counsel or of private defense. There are fewer
delays, better preparation of cases, and less expense to the
state under the public defender system than under the practice
of assigned counsel.1
Thus it would seem that the public defender system of defense
counsel, along with more rigorous supervision of private counsel by the
courts, are recommended as methods of doing away with the unsatisfactory
and inefficient present methods.
"The prosecuting attorney," says Cantor, "is the keystone of the
prosecution."
...He is given the widest latitude and bears the least respon­
sibility of all officers in the administration of criminal
justice. Among his powers are the issuance of warrants of
arrest, dismissal of case or refusal to prosecute without
giving reasons, recommendations to the grand jury with regard
to indictments, "bargaining" with the defendant as to the charge to
which he will plead guilty, and offering "suggestions" to the court
as to the sentence.2
Quoting the Seabury Report, Holey states, "that so far as the
administration of justice is concerned in the courts (City Hagis'brates*
Courts) the district attorney might just as well have been nonexistent.”^
The remedy for this situation, according to Holey, is to abolish
the services (of district attorney) entirely in the Magistrates1 Courts,
except in the Homicide Court and the Felony Court as proposed by Judge
Seabury.
...The district attorney's budget should be reduced accordingly.
With the money thus saved a legal bureau should be established
in the police department. Such a legal bureau should be headed
by a deputy police commissioner who is a lawyer. The staff
should be subject to civil-service restrictions and to the
general direction of the police commissioner. Every attempt should
be made to keep the staff free from political intervention to an
extent at least equal to the freedom enjoyed by police officers....
1. Cantor, oj>. cit.. p. 88 .
2 . 3!bid., p. 82.
5. Holey, oj>. cit.. p. 189; quoting Seabury Report, p. 79.
-526-
The function of this staff should be to assist the police
officers in preparing their cases and in the interrogation
of witnesses, to advise police officers on legal matters,
and to arrange with them the order in which they present
their cases.
According to Holey, the result of the adoption of this plan might
be that considerably less political influence would be exercised in the
appointment of this staff than is now the case in the district attorney's
office.
Also, that the establishment of such a group of legal advisers in
the police department would centralize responsibility for presenting cases
in the City Magistrates' Courts from the standpoint of the state.
Finally,
placing the responsibility for prosecution in the police department would
be a realistic recognition of the fact that if we cannot have prosecution
of the enlightened type...we can, at least, expect competent and carefully
prepared presentation of the People's Case.^
Regarding the office of prosecuting attorney, Cantor suggests
that:
...pending the development of basic changes in the administrative
machinery, the codes of criminal procedure could, in the mean­
time, grant the prosecutor the power or compel him to enlist the
aid of other public agencies, such as the state departments of
mental hygiene, social welfare, education, and-probation, in
the relevant areas of diagnosis and treatment.
On the same topic, Sutherland states that:
The suggestion has been made that the prosecutor should be
removed from control by the political machine by providing
for his appointment by the governor from a list nominated by
the judicial council, but otherwise remaining in office for
life. The prosecutors in this case would be assistants of the
attorney general of the state.4
The Court
The conclusions and recommendations to be found in all but one of
the sources consulted here would seem to point to centralization or inte­
1.
2.
5.
4.
Moley, ibid.. p. 190.
Ibid.,pp. 191—2.
Cantor, 0£. cit.. p. 294.
Sutherland, o£. cit.. p. 280.
-527-
gration of the machinery of criminal justice in Mew fork City.
On the
other hand, the one dissenting opinion, while agreeing on the problem of the
courts as now organized, casts doubt on reliance on structural or organiza­
tional changes and suggests that the major difficulty is in another direction:
There is no clear evidence that structural changes in court
organization has "improved'1 the system of justice. In the
first place, relatively few cities have undertaken structural
reforms. In the second place, it may be questioned whether
the chief trouble is in court organization. It has been main­
tained that court work is a big business and the various units
should be co-ordinated and organized along similar lines of
"efficiency." The co-ordinations of big business may be
efficient from the point of view of profits and highly inef­
ficient from the point of view of the consumer (i.e. monopoly).
The major difficulty may lie in the direction of personnel rather
than structure.'*'
It would seem, however, that the consensus is that there should be
structural change as well as improvement in methods of appointing personnel.
Sutherland says that the suggestion has been made that all work of criminal
justice should be integrated:
...The police, the courts, the prisons, and probation and parole
boards, and perhaps other related agencies would, according to
this plan, be brought together under one director. At present
they are distinct units, in accordance with the theory that
judicial and executive branches should be separate, and consequently
they are frequently working at cross purposes.^
This conventional system, says Sutherland, is distinctly lacking
in unity.
The only apparent solution of the difficulty (securing expert
services in large numbers of agencies...each of which is
specialized) is to abolish the outworn distinction between mis­
demeanors and felonies and deal with all offenders in one set
of courts and one set of penal or reformatory institutions, all
of which should be under the control of the state rather than
of the local community. The demands for such unification of
the courts are numerous and some progress in that direction has
already been made....
1. Cantor, op. cit., p. 90-1.
2. Sutherland, o£. cit.. p. 279.
-328-
A second evidence of the need of unity Is furnished by the
fact that policies at present are not consistent* Each
court makes decisions based on its own preconceptions and
impressions; each probation department differs in its
policies and from other probation departments and courts.
An offender is dealt with by one court in a particular man­
ner, while another offender with similar traits is dealt
with very differently by another court. The same offender
is dealt with successively with no consistent plan....
This inconsistency can be eliminated only by some agency
that will secure a scientific comprehension of the charac­
teristics of offenders, and on the basis of this compre­
hension control all the policies of all courts, all proba­
tion departments, all prisons, all parole boards within the
state.
Moley points out that a former Chief Magistrate of the City of
New York was one of the early crusaders in the movement for a centralized
court.
The plan as suggested would bring together into a centrally located
building the district and special courts of the City.
A central detention
prison, bureau of criminal identification, bail bureau, and central pro2
bation department should be housed in the same building.
Further,
The plan received Judge Seabury1s hearty approval. He pointed out
that centralization would make possible a more immediate super­
vision of the work of the courts by the chief city magistrate and
by the chief officers of the various administrative branches. A
considerable increase in efficiency might be expected. Cases
could be distributed so that fewer magistrates and fewer employees
would be needed. This would be especially true of certain
functions of the court, such as stenographic service, interpre­
tations, probation, and prosecution, which "are used in a more
or less casual way," and which "could be immediately available
to all the courts operating in one building without the expense
and delay now incident to bringing them from one court house to
another." Further, the detention of prisoners in one place would
make possible the elimination of a number of court attendants.
"It is probable," Judge Seabury said, "that the economies thus
effected would run into very large figures, probably enough to
pay the interest on a capital outlay much larger than is necessary
to build a new centralized court building." Moreover, part of
the difficult bail problem could be solved by the centralized
supervision of the fixing, taking, and custody of bill, and a
Sutherland, op. cit.. pp. 609-10.
2. Moley, op. cit.. p. 61.
closer watch could be kept over the members of the bar who
practice in the courts. It Is clear that public opinion
could fall with a much more Intensive light upon the work­
ings of a centralized court than upon the operations of
district courts. Finally, the cost of the erection of a
centralized court could be defrayed largely by the proceeds
of the sale of city-owned property now used as court build­
ings and detention prisons.1
Moley continues that there seems to be no reason to believe that
the creation of a central court would eliminate all the evils that are now
prevalent in the Magistrates' Courts.
There are many factors that would
not be cared for by such centralization.
It is clear, however, that physical
centralization of the courts has tremendous advantages and would make a
properly constituted court a much more effective working unit.2
There are still some who object to the centralized court because
of what may be called the parochial nature of much of the work
in the district court. A vast number of cases involve the
atmosphere of the neighborhood. A proper settlement of these
difficulties can best be made on the basis of a consideration
of the local situation. In this respect, an ideal district
court could function more effectively. The fact is, however,
that we have no ideal district courts. The advantage of local
atmosphere is almost completely dissipated by the isolation in
which these courts carry on their work. Moreover, it is essen­
tial that police be cognizant of the neighborhood problems in­
volved, and with the police operating effectively in these
various districts, it would seem to be unnecessary to maintain
a second branch of government to attempt to study and solve
neighborhood problems. While there is general agreement as to
the advantages of a new centralized building, the financial
condition of the city will probably delay its consumation for
some time. Meanwhile, no inconsiderable efforts are being made
by some of the magistrates to improve the conditions of the
courts by minor physical improvements.8
The task of the trial judge is;twofold: he acts as referee, rul­
ing on points of law, and he imposes the sentence in case of conviction.
There seems to be agreement among authorities consulted that these two
separate functions should not be performed by one and the same individual.
-5 5 0 -
Says Sutherland:
...The judge Is well qualified, In general, to perform the
first duty, and his influence In this field should be con­
siderably Increased. With his training and ability he should
have much more complete control of the trial than he has at
present. He should really be in control of an investigation
to determine guilt. In approach to the Continental system,
in which the judge actually directs the trial, would appear
to be desirable. This method has been well developed in the
juvenile courts and is being constantly extended in the courts
for adults, particularly in the specialized courts.
But the judge is not able to perform in a satisfactory manner
the other function of imposing sentences. The evidence pre­
sented in court is designed to show merely the fact of guilt
or innocence: that is entirely insufficient for the purpose
of determining what should be done with the individual who is
proved guilty. It is necessary to know the entire character
of the offender, and the possible effects of different methods
that might be used in dealing with him. The judge must fix
penalties by guessing at the character of the person on the
basis of his appearance and of incidental information that has
come out during the course of the trial. Ho matter how wise
or how honest the judge may be, he cannot determine treatment
in a satisfactory manner by means of the information which he
has.... Because judges have no good basis for determining
treatment, they vary immensely in their policies.
Cantor, who agrees substantially with the foregoing, suggests a
dispositional tribunal to handle the treatment of offenders after convic­
tion in the matter of the disposition of cases; in other words, in Imposing
sentences.
Says Cantor:
The personnel of such a tribunal should consist of lawyers and
non-lawyers. A judge should be a member. His function would
consist of directing the procedure in accordance with the
statute defining the power and function of the tribunal. A
second member might be the trial judge. His opinion and im­
pressions of the defendant and evidence would be valuable. He,
too, gains insight over a period of years on the bench. The
other three members (or other two, if the tribunal be limited
to three) should represent the fields of psychology, psychiatry,
social work, and criminology.2
It would seem that the field of sociology should also be represented
in such a tribunal.
1. Sutherland, og. clt.. p. 285.
2. Cantor, og. cit.. p. 259.
-351-
The task of this tribunal would be to:
"diagnose" the entire situation, to examine the personality
of the offender, his backgrounds, his relative danger to
social interests, the possibilities of his reform, and to
determine the method of treatment. Its decisions and reasons
therefore should be formulated in writing.
Provision would have to be made for periodic reports of the
progress of the offender and for his re-examination. At once
the need for co-operation with the probation, parole, and
prison administration is recognized. The disposition.tribunal would be represented in every treatment agency.
Cantor says that the statute conferring jurisdiction on such a
tribunal would have to be drawn carefully, to guard against the danger of
abuse.
"It would have to be broad enough to confer discretion without at
the same time placing the offender at the complete mercy of erring human
beings." He suggests that this might be accomplished by defining general
categories which would apply to the various classes of criminals, such as
"accidental" offenders, professional criminals, sex offenders, alcoholics,
feeble-minded, and so on.
The classification of types of offenders is not simple. The
"degree of social dangerousness" might be the criterion used.
The record of the dispositional tribunal after a period of
years can be compared with results. The treatment recom­
mended and the later careers of the offenders subjected to
them will indicate the effect of the various forms of treat­
ment on different inmates. Mistakes will be observed and
corrected. In time the sentencing of offenders will be based
upon what has been learned from the past record of recom­
mendations and results. Such a tribunal seriously concerned
with individualizing treatment would Indirectly effect changes
in the criminal law. There would no longer be any point in
maintaining distinctions between the degrees of an offense,
attempts to commit crimes, and the actual crimes, or provid­
ing in advance specific punishnents for specific crimes.
1. Cantor, ibid.. p. 261.
2. Ibid.. p. 261.
-352-
The SLuecka, in treating of the courts particularly as they relate
to female offenders,agree that a fundamental re-organization of the court
system is needed.
In considering court organization and function as related to
a more effective coping with delinquency and criminality we
are faced with the alternative of a superficial patching of
the existing structure or its fundamental redesign. Thus far,
specialized courts dealing with female offenders have taken the
form of "morals courts" or women's courts. Their creation was
due largely to the fact that sexual offenses, and particularly
prostitution, are the ones that receive the most emphasis in
the administration of criminal justice as it effedts women.
By centralizing the hearing of such cases....it was hoped "to
reduce commercialized prostitution by a concentration of all
prostitution and allied cases in one court, which would demon­
strate the tremendous volume of the business of prostitution,
and therely result in arousing the public conscience; to check
upon the workings of the police in this particular field; to
avoid waste of judicial power, save time, promote efficiency of
administration, and lastly to deal more wisely with offenders
and to marshal the social agencies organized for the assistance
of such cases." These are desirable ends and can be attained
through a fundamental reorganization of court systems that
promises, in addition, to yield even more valuable results. To
stress the "morals" feature as a basis for specializing courts
is, as the evidence of the make-up and background of offenders
indicates, to run the danger of taking too superficial a view
of the intricate issues involved. Courts must be redesigned to
improve not only the trial practices, but, perhaps more important,
sentencing practices.1
The Gluecks suggest, in addition to the separation of function and
personnel of the trial procedure and the sentencing procedure, the "estab­
lishment of one or more clearing houses or remand stations" in each state,
to which convicted offenders would as a matter of course be committed for a
period sufficient to permit of the thorough examination and study, the workingout of recommendations for sentence, and an individual plan of treatment.
As to the first suggestion, it is urged that one or more
sentencing bodies, staffed by trained and experienced psychia­
trists, psychologists, sociologists, and educators, as well as
1. Glueok and HLueck, oj>. clt.. p. 517.
-535-
lawyers, should be set up in each state as "treatment tri­
bunals. n The second suggestion is an indispensible adjunct
to the proposed division of judicial labor. Hasty judgments
regarding the forces and situations involved in criminality
of the prisoner at the bar and the kind of sentence most
likely to bring desired results do not usually afford a sound
basis of peno-correctional treatment. This is one reason why
so many of the wrong type of prisoners are sent to institu­
tions and so many others are erroneously disposed of by pro­
bation, suspended sentence, or fine. The casual impression of
many criminal courts of today ought to give way to a more
thoroughgoing procedure. Adequate study of each offender at
a scientifically staffed and well-equipped clearing-house and
remand station should greatly improve the work of original
classification and distribution of offenders by the courts. In
addition, courts would thereby be in a position to contribute
to the fund of knowledge of the social and psychologic condi­
tions making for delinquency, and to experiment with new forms
of correctional treatment. A venereal cliaiC and educational
and vocational services attached to the clearing-house and re­
mand station might serve not only a place of many-sided treat­
ment of probationers but as an Important research laboratory.1
It will be noted that in both the "dispositional tribunal" recom­
mended by Cantor and the "clearing-house" or "remand station" recommended
by the Gluecks, the research possibilities in such a set-up are stressed.
Holey, in considering plans for reorganization of the court system
in the matter of sentence and treatment of convicted offenders voices a
warning that the court set-up and the judge as final arbitrator may still be
necessary adjuncts to any future tribunal of technicians.
His exposition
of this idea is as follows:
A few reformers, recognizing that the many issues brought before
both civil and criminal courts are involved in the disciplines
of science rather than of law, would scrap the scheme of things
entirely and substitute scientists for judges. The most concise
form of this demand is for juries or tribunals of technicians.
The answer is two-fold: First, science, particularly in human
relations, is less exact than it seems. It is, in fact, an art
trying to become a science. The other side of the answer is that
most judicial determinations, even when they deal with the most
modern materials, are dependent upon a variety, a combination, of
many techniques. Somewhere still there needs to be a wisdom of
application, of integration, and the court and the judge must
1. Glueck and GLueck, ibid.. pp. 520-21.
-354-
provide this. Common sense must, It would seem, lie at the
heart of things.
This common sense must be chiefly embodied in a judge aware
of, although not expert In, a rich variety of knowledge such a diversity as is enforded by the conditions of a highly
specialized scientific age - a judge of knowledge and of
scientific expertness as well as a judge of law, possessed,
withal, of such Initiative, taste, sensitiveness, and sympathy
as may in the application of law to fact give meaning and
reality to knowledge. This must be what Plato meant when he
concluded that virtue and wisdom make justice.1
In summing up the arguments for a dispositional tribunal of experts
or technicians, it should be pointed out that the complexity of the problem
of reorganization of court systems is recognized by those who advocate it.
Cantor lists some of the difficulties In the way and suggests future standards.
One such change, says Cantor, would be In the establishment of behavior
2
clinics as an auxiliary to the criminal court.
The probation department of
the Court of General Sessions of the City of Dew lork as it now operates in
the examination and investigation of every person appearing before the court
is an illustration of such a clinic.
In discussing these clinics in general,
Cantor says:
These clinics represent a definite step in the direction of the
establishment of a disposition tribunal. As presently constituted
the chief function of the clinic is to diagnose and recommend dis­
position of the cases to the court. The next step is for the
clinics to be enlarged to include court representation and to be
given the function of determining the disposition and to super­
vise the treatment of offenders. A further break in tradition
would be to place probation and parole administration and Insti­
tutional treatment programs under the centralized administration
of the dispositional tribunal. The records of the offender, from
the time of conviction to final discharge, would be centralized,
thus avoiding the duplication of effort which now exists.**
However, says Cantor, if the criminal law were radically modified
in the light of theory of treatment, a new set of procedural rules would have
to be formulated and the relations between the dispositional tribunal and
1. Holey, o£. cit., pp. 254-5.
2. Cantor, 0£. cit.. p. 298.
5. Ibid.. ,'p. 298.
-335-
the courts would have to be defined and regulated.
Further,
A dilemma Is Implicit in this discussion of treatment and
criminal procedure. The rules of procedure are concerned
with ascertaining guilt or innocence with respect to the
commission of a crime. Treatment is concerned with dis­
covering the personality defects of an individual in order
to correct them, if possible. It is therefore confusing to
alter rules intended to discover the facts of a crime in
the direction of discovering the character of the offender.
Nevertheless, until the function of ascertaining guilt is
separated from the function of disposing of the offender...,
the attempt should be made to alter the rules to cover both
functions whenever possible.^
A plan for treatment through such a dispositional tribunal as that
projected above was proposed by the .American Law Institute on June 22, 1940.
This plan is embodied in a Model Act creating a Touth Correction Authority
to deal with "convicted persons under twenty-one years of age at the time
of their apprehension." The Act is not meant to effect the jurisdiction or
authority of existing juvenile courts, but to take up where the juvenile court
leaves off, and is designed to carry out such treatment of youthful wrongdoers
as is calculated to increase the probability that they will refrain from crime
thereafter.
To these ends the Act creates a central state commission...
which is invested with carefully limited and safeguarded
powers to set up appropriate agencies and to determine the
proper treatment for each youth committed to it by the courts.
The membership of this commission and the details of its
powers are discussed in connection with the various sections
of the Act. Judges are left with a wide discretion as to whether
they will sentence convicted youths to the custody and control
of this commission or not. But no youth can merely be committed
to prison. The judge of any court, except a juvenile court,
before whom a youth is convicted, unless he discharges the youth
or sentences him to payment of a fine only, must commit him to
the Correction Authority to be dealt with by it as the statute
authorizes. The Authority is given power to decide what treat­
ment he (or she) shall be subjected to. And to the end that
the treatment shall be most effective and most economically
administered the Authority is authorized, within limits, to use,
1. Cantor, ibid.. pp.299-500.
-3 5 6 -
and thereby to bring into co-operative activity, all the
facilities of the state. This is one of the most interesting
features of the Act. It provides for a unified program of
correctional treatment in contrast with the prevailing practice
of having a variety of agencies - probation departments, parole
departments, county jails and state institutions - concerned
at different times in unco-ordinated effort to deal with an
offender.^The louth Correction Authority, it is explained, is a plan that
should be successful with older offenders, but in view of practical require­
ments of the processes set up by the proposed Act, "the wisdom of building
slowly will be apparent as the Act is studied," and the Act, as a beginning
in the treatment of offenders is generally confined in its application to
youth.
The operation of the Youth Correction Authority as a "treatment
tribunal" would include most of the suggestions found in the authorities already
quoted, with what would seem to be appropriate safeguards in the interest of
the persons treated.
Itfe operation would, of course, depend upon state
authorization of funds, and while it is proposed that use of all existing
agencies for treatment, both public and private, be utilized, the very nature
of the treatment proposed would call for the creation of new set-ups as the
funds became available.
An Interesting feature of the Act is the proposal that
all pre-conviction detention of the persons coming under the age limit covered
be under the jurisdiction of the Youth Correction Authority.
The proposed Act
is the first attempt at a plan which is complete in its suggestions for the
administration and operation of such a tribunal.
Sutherland asks, "Why should not the methodB now used in juvenile
courts be extended to adults?"
As a basis for presenting conclusions and
1. The American Law Institute, Official draft, Youth Correction Authority
Act. June 22, 1940, pp. H?-XV.
-337-
recommendations bearing on this question to be found in the sources consulted
here, the following comparison of the conventional criminal court and the
ideal juvenile court procedure is quoted from Sutherland.^*
Criminal Court
Juvenile Court
1. Trial characterized by con­
tentiousness; two partisan
groups in conflict.
1. Hearing characterized by
scientific methods of investi­
gation.
2. Purpose of trial to determine
whether defendant committed
the crime with which he is
charged.
2. Purpose of hearing to determine
the general condition and
character of the child.
S. No machinery for securing in­
formation regarding the char­
acter of the accused.
3. Elaborate machinery for securing
information regarding the char­
acter of the child.
4. Such information, if secured,
may not be introduced as a
part of the evidence.
4. Such information is the basis on
which a decision is made.
5. Punishment if convicted.
5. Protection and guardianship of
the state if the existing con­
ditions show the need.
6. Treatment in a specific case de­
6. Treatment in a specific case
determined not by the needs of
termined by the needs of the
particular individual without
the particular individual but
reference to other actual or
by the legislature, in advance,
potential delinquents.
for all who violate the law in
in question, with reference
primarily to other actual or
potential delinquents.
Sutherland comments on this comparison that the juvenile court in
many respects is significantly different from this description, and the
criminal court in some respects has approached rather closely (in the use
of probation) to the description of the juvenile court.
"Nevertheless, there
is, characteristically, a significant difference between them.
The ideal of
the juvenile court is that they are not looking outwardly at the act, but
1. Sutherland, op. cit.. pp. 504-5.
scrutinizing it as a symptom, are looking forward to what the child is to
become."^
Sutherland further says that If the essential elements in the juvenile court are considered,
all of them seem to be applicable to the criminal court and
would probably improve very greatly the work of that organiza­
tion: definite social investigations, use of summons, reforma­
tion as the ideal of treatment, Informal procedure, and secret
sessions. Of course the two items of separate hearings of
children's oases and detention separate from adults would not
apply.
According to Cantor, "By contrast (with juvenile courts) the tradi­
tional administration of criminal justice in adult courts represents one of
the most pronounced cultural lags in contemporary civilization."5
In this connection, the Gluecks say that:
When a realistic view is taken of the etiology of misconduct,
the arguments behind the constitutionality of juvenile pro­
cedure seem equally applicable to adult offenders. To be sure,
they hinge on the point that in juvenile courts it is a child
that is involved. But if one turns from the legal conception
of a "child” to that held by the psychologist, psychiatrist,
and social worker and reviews the evidence of irresponsibility
of women of the type described in this work (Five Hundred
Delinquent Women), one must conclude that they need just as
much protection and "salvation" as children; that many of them
are, in fact, psychologically children in their capacity for
assuming social responsibility.
But the juvenile court informality introduced into the procedure
of criminal courts for adults is not without danger of abuse.
Adult offenders are more likely to be in jeopardy of arbitrary
treatment by courts which have informal procedure, few or no
rules of evidence, no jury trial, than are juvenile delinquents
whose youth in a measure protects them. Therefore, without
ignoring the need of improving the trial aspect of adult court
procedure, the wisdom of extending juvenile court practices to
adult tribunals so far as the method of determining guilt is con­
cerned is still open to question. This does not mean, however,
that adult criminal courts cannot be radically redesigned to
effectuate desirable aims and yet retain constitutional safe­
guards.4
The report of the Wayward lUnor* s Court of the City of Hew Xork for
1. Sutherland.' pip, olt.. p. fe6S.
2 . ibid.. pp. sst-gr—
5. Cantor, oj>. cit.. p. 101.
4. Qlueck and Glueck, o£. cit.. pp. 517,8.
-359-
the year 1958 suggests a separate building for this court and special treat­
ment, as follows:
...there should be established in one separate building, housing
all physical set-up, and Intake Bureau hawing a full staff of
trained workers capable of conducting Intake Interviews and/or
Investigations. Official notice will then be issued that all
Wayward Minor Complaints will be taken only at this Intake Bureau.
If and when this procedure is extended to cover all oases of
alleged adolescent delinquents between the ages of 16 and 21,
irrespective of sex, it is anticipated that, regardless of the
original charge, all offenses, wherever possible, will be re­
duced to that of Wayward Minor, and arraignments and hearings
will be held in this court.
First offenders particularly, and others not yet hardened in
the ways of crime, will then be transferred to this special
tribunal to be treated initially as a social problem.
The standards set up for the Wayward Minor's Court would approximate
the standards set up for the juvenile court and the methods and procedure
recommended for handling delinquents up to and including the twenty-one-year
olds would provide for the treatment of each alleged female delinquent as an
individual and not as a part of the fluctuating stream of what the Report of
the Wayward Minor's Court calls "the Women's Court habitues."
According to the proponents of the Youth Correction Authority Act,
the Informality of procedure of the juvenile court is wholly unsuited to the
trial of older youths accused of serious crime.
...Moreover, there are undeniable physical differences between
the children, the "juveniles," with whom juvenile courts are
designed to deal, and the "youths" between juvenile court age
and twenty-one.... Treatments which are sufficient when applied
to children of fourteen or fifteen might be woefully inadequate
for hardened young men of nineteen or twenty. Yet it would be
utterly impractical to expect any juvenile court judge to ad­
minister, or even to select, treatments needed by the older
youths as he selects them for children.... Hence, though juvenile
court procedure and the proposed Act rest upon the same funda­
mental theories, each has its own appropriate place and the two
should not be combined.^
x. fleport of the wavwara Minor1s Court, o p . cit.. pp. 5-4.
2. The American Law Institute, Official Draft of Youth Correction An+.tvyM+.y
Aot. op. cit., pp. XV-XVI.
-540-
Thus, while there seems to be conflict of opinions as to the use
of juvenile court procedure in courts dealing with adults, the conflict is
not in the aims of the different proposals, or in the recognized need for
a change of procedure in the conduct of courts dealing with adults, but only
in the method of carrying out the proposed changes.
The similarity of in­
terest in the proposals of the Wayward Minor1s Court and the Youth Correction
Authority Act will be readily apparent.
(5)
Probation
Probation as a method of treatment after conviction has not been
tried sufficiently long or sufficiently well to prove its efficacy to the
general public.
vails.
The idea of punishment rather than rehabilitation still pre­
According to Cantor:
It may be argued that the question of the success or failure of
probation should not be raised until the standards of the organ­
ization, administration, personnel, and procedure are raised and
made uniform. The theory cannot be evaluated until it is carried
over into practice. In most communities, what passes for proba­
tion is a distortion of the theory. Hence, present practice is
no valid criterion of the theory. The possibilities of wellorganized probation are now beginning to be realized by the
courts and legislatures. The public, generally, fails to under­
stand this method of treatment although it looks with favor upon
its use in the juvenile courts.
The maintaining of four distinct probation systems in Hew York City
is, in the consequent duplication of work a wasteful procedure, according to
Moley.
He recommends that,
Probation should not be regarded as the function of individual courts,
but as the social function of the entire administration of criminal
justice. It could be administered more efficiently by a single
large department with specialized branches and a health clinic,
handling the entire probation service of the criminal courts of Hew
York.
Holey suggests the complete separation of investigation and super­
vision of probationers and the incorporation of these functions into a
1. Cantor, op. cit.. p. 122.
2. Holey, op. cit.. p. 122.
-341-
"social clinic." Hie suggestions carry forward the idea of centralization
of functions ae advocated by him for the court syeteme of Hew York City.
As a plan for complete reorganization of the probation system it seems of
sufficient interest to quote it in full.
The "social clinic" would be divided into six departments!
investigation, probation, health, vocational guidance, social
work research bureau, and research library. The bureau of
investigation would perform the investigation work now carried
on by the probation department. The probation bureau would
confine itself to the highly specialized work of supervision.
The social work research bureau would take care of those cases
which are in immediate need of assistance and are not proba~
tion material. This bureau would be supervised by & member of
the staff of the social clinic; but the cases referred to it
would be cared for by the agencies. Social agencies do help
in such cases at the present time; but there is no room for
them in the court and their relation to the probation work,
which is the responsibility of the court, is not well defined.
By making them a part of the social clinic and designating to
them definite cooperative tasks, there would be no overlapping
of work. The vocational guidance bureau would assist, in its
specialized field, both the probation and the social research
staffs. Effective social adjustment to a large extent rests on
proper vocational adjustment. The health clinic, with its
medical and psychiatric departments, would absorb the present
Criminal Uedical Clinic. The research library would keep
workers in touch with progressive thought not only by the
medium of books but by arranging lectures and by cooperating
with universities and the Hew York School of Social Work to
secure educational advantages for staff members.
The selection of the chief administrative officer and his ex­
ecutive staff is too vital to be left to political chance. It
is therefore suggested that the newly created social clinic be
placed in the hands of the Appellate Division and that they
appoint a man of real business ability and social point of view
to act as chief, and an executive assistant and department
heads of corresponding capability. Other officers should be
appointed from the civil service list with the approval of the
Appellate Division. 1
It will be noted that many of the features in the above suggestion
are already a part of the Probation Department of the Court of General Ses­
sions of the City of New York.
1. Holey, ibid.. pp. 166-7.
-542-
In discussing probation organizations, Sutherland says, "In the
long run, it would appear to be preferable to place complete control over
the probation work of the state in the hands of a state department*"1
In an article, "Problems and Possibilities in the Probation Field,"
Francis H. lUller, Field Director of the National Probation Association, says
that probation will be more and more recognized as having aspects of state
and even national concern.2
The development is a logical one. The penal code is enacted
by the state, the state pays for the penitentiary, the
people of the whole state are concerned with the treatment
of crime in every part of it, and local resources in parts
of all states are inadequate for the maintenance of good
machinery and standards...it seems reasonable that the es­
tablishment of good probation service should also be deemed
to be a concern of the state and to deserve the financial
participation of the state when necessary.'
"The treatment of an individual by the probation officer," says
Cantor, "involves more or less established techniques, plus insight, sensi­
tivity, and imagination which is peculiarly his own."
He continues!
...The investigation of a "case" requires a general understand­
ing of the social sciences and particular familiarity with the
elements of psychology, criminology, and mental hygiene. Such
training is requisite but not sufficient. There are no established
rules by which a probation officer can secure the co-operation of
the probationer and his family. Techniques for the modification
of attitudes cannot be taught or learned except in a vague, formal
and mechanical sense. The probation officer may have learned that
"he must gain the confidence and friendship of the probationer."
How to accomplish this in any particular case cannot be taught
through courses or volumes. To establish effective social re­
lations one must oneself have lived through, and be able to
relive the kinds of experiences which present themselves for
evaluation and direction.
It does not follow that maturity, wisdom, and poetic apprecia­
tion in themselves fit one for the art of probation service.
There are professional standards which must be learned. Pro­
fessional competence does not depend merely upon growing old.
1. Sutherland, oj>. cit.. p.
2. In Proceedings of the 68th Annual Congress of the American Prison
Association, 1958, p. 107.
5. Ibid.. p. 115.
-545-
One must learn what social case work is about - difficult
though it be. Some knowledge of chromosomes, post-ganglionic
fibers, and the adrenalin glands will at least save one the
effort that would otherwise be expended in seeking a devil
upon whom responsibility for the delinquent behavior is to
be fastened. Some realistic acquaintance with the economic
foundations of society, technological unemployment, and inter­
national exchange and markets, will make the workers hesitate
before naively labeling the probationer "lazyf Familiarity
with mental hygiene records and concepts will perhaps lessen
the number of gratuitous sermons delivered by probation of­
ficers - and may, in some cases, even startle the probation
officer into recognizing defects in himself which account
for his facile evangelism. Without professional skill, the
work of the most earnest and sensitive worker with "practical
experience in the school-pf-hard-knocks" leads to blundering
confusion in many cases.
The selection of probation officers and what training they should
have are the two most important problems confronting probation practices,
according to Cantor.
He also suggests that successfully passing even a
qualifying civil service examination does not necessarily guarantee capable
probation officers.
The "personality” qualifications are not easily tested by
written examinations. The qualifying board of committee should
have the evaluation of the candidate by the faculty of the
training school, especially those who have supervised his
training. The candidates' ability to develop emotionally,
through his own experience, would be one of the most important
criteria in selecting candidates for probation work - or any
field of social case work. Professional training and appoint­
ment by merit should go hand in hand with security of tenure,
graded salary increases, promotion, and provision for retire­
ment allowances. In short, probation work should be profes­
sionalized and removed from party politics.
This cannot be accomplished without state-wide control in admin­
istering, co-ordinating, and financing probation activities of
the entire state.
Moley also suggests that personality qualifications are most Important
in the selection of probation officers.
1. Cantor, oj). cit.. pp. 112-5.
2. Ibid.. p. 114.
He says:
-344-
...It goes without saying that such work should be done by
officers who possess not only a reasonable amount of education
but a good deal of common sense, patience, and sympathy with
the human problems involved.... The successful prosecution of
probation work requires qualities of a very high order. To
teach a person the ways of right living, to bring back selfrespect, to temper the embitterment that has led to crime, to
fire with new ambition, to win the confidence of the suspicious
and warped mind - these are difficult. To do them will require
the devotion and capacity of men and women possessed of both
intelligence and spiritual integrity of a high order.
In an article entitled, "Developing Professional Standards in
Probation," Theodor W. Broecker, Chief Field Agent, Allegheny County Court of
Quarter Sessions in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, stated that:
The range of the candidate’s knowledge should include a
thorough understanding of the biological equipment with which
man comes into the world, and the interrelationship between
that and the forces of the environment within which man lives.
He should be able to conceive of man as a reacting mechanism
and to have a clear conception of the psychological basis of
behavior. The candidate should have a comprehension of the
social and economic forces playing upon the persons assigned to
him as cases....
The candidate should have enough true intellectual sophistica­
tion to be able to discern the limitations of our scientific
knowledge... Let our prospective correctional worker firBt of
all be objective enough to refrain f r o m moralizing with those
under his care. He must realize that his appointment as a
correctional worker does not give him the right to impose his
own conventions and concepts of morality upon those who must
look to him for guidance.
Beside all these items of knowledge with which the correctional
worker should be equipped, he should also bring to correctional
work a large quota of courage. He needs nerve not only to face
the physical dangers which often attend the work, but also a
quiet determination to put up a strong battle for decency and
fair play on the many occasions when he will see those essential
virtues threatened with oblivion.
On the number of probationers that should be assigned to one officer,
all sources consulted in this chapter consider that fifty is now generally re1. Moley, 0£. cit.. pp. 159-60.
2. In Pi-onnadinpra of the 68th Annual. Congress of the American Prison
Association, 1958, p. 118.
-545-
'J
garded as the maximum number for one officer, provided he has a densely
populated territory and can give his entire time to supervision.
Says
Sutherlands
...In practice many probation officers have several times that
number of probationers under supervision. Intensive super­
vision then becomes impossible. If offenders do not need
supervision they should not be placedon probation; if they do
need supervision, the number under the care of one officer
should be restricted so that supervision sill mean something.1
The centralization of probation departments, preferably under state
control, would appear to be one of the highly considered means of meeting many
of the objections to the separate court probation departments as they now ex­
ist in New York City.
Added to centralization, the use of trained personnel
and the separation of investigation and supervision of probationers might
lead to a technique of probation treatment.
There appears to be very little
in the way of standards set up for such a technique at present, except the
time-honored learning by experience;
(4)
Institutional Treatment
"Imprisonment," says Cantor, n is the modem major method of dis­
posing of serious offenders."
...Many are inclined to believe that in the prison system a
more rational technique of treating offenders has been de­
veloped. But the prison system which we have inherited from
the nineteenth century may be as irrational as the inquisitorial
tortures of the Middle Ages. We are seeking to redefine punish­
ment in light of the increasing understanding of human nature
and conduct. We are trying to fit into the +-r«di
prison
system, which rested upon a false psychology of human nature,
rational programs which rest tgx>n a different set of ideas.
We are faced with the problem of adapting traditional institu­
tions to new programs without realizing that such attempts may
require new types of institutions.2
In the face of known facts on recidivism, both for male and female
offenders, it cannot be said that prison treatment has been a successful
l'. Sutherland, op. cit.. p. &9l
2. Cantor, 0£. cit.. p. 377.
-346-
deterrent of crime.
Nor ia imprisonment a perfect method of protecting society
from the offender since, as has been pointed out, 90 to 95 per cent of the
offenders committed are released at the expiration of an average sentence of
from two to three years.
Hence, it would seem that imprisonment, in the
long run, fulfills only one of its traditional uses, and that is the satis­
faction of the desire of society for vengeanee. There can be no doubt that
imprisonment is punishment.
It is probable that certain crimes will always bring out the desire
for vengeanee, on the part of the victims if not society.
But Sutherland
points out that punishment of approximately 75 per cent of the offenders does
not give satisfaction to any witness.
...For such offenses as drunkenness, prostitution...and vagrancy,
the complaint is made by a public officer and the testimony
furnished by the same officer and other subpoenaed to appear in
court.
Since in New fork City a great proportion of the women offenders are
committed on minor offense charges, among which prostitution and vagrancy are
in the majority, it would seem that the vengeance motive for imprisonment must
be very slight.
Thus it appears that for women offenders no one of the three con­
ventional reasons for imprisonment - deterrence, incapacitation or vengeance seems rational, even on traditional grounds.
There is small likilihood,
however, that a substitute for imprisonment will be found for some time to
come.
The present recognition of the need for change in the treatment of
prison inmates, both male and female, is a starting point.
"To be realistic,*
says Cantor, "we must accept what we have and try to change it."^
1. Sutherland, og. cit.. p. 220.
2. Cantor, og>. cit.. p. 241.
-347-
"When it comes to prison construction," says Austin H. MadCormick,
"the puhlic is inclined to be a little profligate in its spending and,
like most free spenders, to throw a good deal of itB money away."
...Look over the financial reports of the last two or three
decades and you will find that public fortunes have been
sunk in prisons that are needlessly secure, while funds for
the personnel with which to man institutions have been dealt
out as grudgingly as though each penny were the last in the
public till.1
Huge prisons housing thousands of inmates have been looked upon
for some years as a mistake.
Says Austin H. HacCormick in the article quoted
above:
When such organizations as The American Prison Association, the
U. S. Bureau of Prisons, The Osborne Association and others
that are qualified to know, think that the size of prisons
should be limited, it is quite discouraging to see huge build­
ings constructed for institutions from time to time when it is
known from experience that these monstrosities are so unsatis­
factory in too many ways. It is recognized that every state
needs a certain amount of quarters for maximum security units,
but there should be more units of medium and minimum security
type. Far too much money in the past has been foolishly spent
in the erection of maximum security bastile type prisons. ^
The Gluecks suggest that given an antiquated institution "with its
typical long and gloomy corridors, stone cells, and barred windows, even the
most enlightened and inventive of prison administrations will find it dif­
ficult to avoid a routinized, lock-step regime."5 But there has been
improvement in the structure of new prisons and the House of Detention for
Women of the City of New York is an example.
Yet, according to James V.
Bennett of the Federal Department of Correction, Washington, D. C., even the
best of modem prisons represent only a trend toward the institution of the
future.
He says:
1. Austin H. HacCormick, "The Four Horsemen of Penology." In Procaariinga of
the 69th Annual Congress of the American Prison Association, 1959. p. 15.
2. Ibid., p. 7.
5. Gluecks and Gluecks, o£. cit.. p. 322.
-348-
The trend toward diversification of prison facilities and
the specilization of institutions, which is finding expression
in a number of places, will be characteristic of the new day.
The problem of overcrowding, which has thwarted and frustrated
the rehabilitation of prisoners for years, is not being met
by merely enlarging and duplicating existing facilities. Smaller
prisons for particular types of inmates are being erected. Some
are for those of the reformatory type, some are for the mentally
defective, and some are correctional institutions to hold short­
term offenders over a wide area. Varying types of housing are
being provided within the same institution instead of treating
every man as if he were a wild beast who needed a cage. Dormi­
tories, outside rooms, cubicles, school rooms, libraries, drill
halls, and receiving units are being constructed to facilitate
the development of programs meeting the needs of the individual
prisoner. These axe being built, incidentally, at less cost per
inmate than the old bastiles loaded with tool-proof steel and
elaborate gadgets and locking devices.1
Cantor in discussing techniques in penal institutions, says:
The physical surroundings, whether of the maximum or minimum type
of security, are a constant reminder to the inmate that his
liberty is restricted. Every normal person resents restriction
of movement, the interference with spontaneous activity, the
demand that he conform with rules not of his own making. These
situations are aggravated in the case of inmates. The restric­
tive environments of penal institutions are inconsistent with
the spirit of trust and confidence so essential in educational
development.
The industrial farm is in the trend of specialization of institu­
tions.
Sutherland writes of these institutions as follows:
...These prisons are used principally for offenders who are
least likely to escape. The location of the institution on a
farm makes possible a life of relative freedom which would be
impossible in a city prison. The problem of prison labor is
solved more easily there than in a city prison where prison
labor must be confined to factory work, which arouses the
antagonism of trade unions and employers. The cost of con­
struction of the institution is low, because the land is cheap,
expensive walls are unnecessary, and most of the work of con­
struction can be done by the prisoners. Since the danger of
escape is reduced, the guard can devote most of his time to
constructive social policies.5
The Gluecks suggest the need for cottages in many correctional
establishments tbrought the country. ^
1. James v. benneit, "Tnese Towers We Luard." In Pronaftdintra of the 70th
Annual Congress of the American Prison Association, 1940, p. 6.
2. Cantor, op. cit.. p. 308.
3. Sutherland, op. cit.. p. 428.
4. Glueck and Glueok, op. cit.. p. 326.
It can be said that standards are in the making for new types of
structures to house offenders.
It seems evident, however, that at the
present time physical plant is subordinate in the writings of criminologists
to plans for the treatment of offenders.
Said Austin H. MacCormick in 1939,
"Some day the remark that I have so often made, that I will guarantee to
run a good prison in an old red b a m if you will give me the proper personnel,
will be taken literally.... But I honestly mean it, and believe that what we
are trying to do is doomed to defeat from the start because those who control
the purse strings pinch the pennies when it comes to personnel, whether or
not they loosen their heartstrings when buildings of the monumental type are
contemplated."^ And according to the Gluecks, "Structures are of course less
p
important than what goes on within them."
What goes on within prisons is largely governed by the adminis­
trative officers and personnel.
Says Sutherland, "The prisons, like the
police departments and the courts, have frequently been extremely corrupt."
Positions in many institutions are filled on the principle of
political patronage, and this almost inevitably means a corrupt
and inefficient personnel.... Even if an institution secures
well-trained personnel the overload of work and the inadequate
facilities and equipment generally restrict accomplishments.
Both the inefficient personnel and the inadequate facilities
are due to the apathy of the public."
One way of securing a more efficient personnel, according to
Sutherland, might be found in the centralization of prison administration.
England has placed all her penal institutions in one department, but ...A similar development in the United States is impeded by
the division of authority between the federal government and
the states. Within the state, however, the tendency toward
centralization may be seen in three respects. First, a few
states have assisted control of a part of the penal treatment
of misdemeanants. Second, all of the state penal and eorreo1. HacCormick, op. cit.. p. 14.
2. GtLueck and Glueck, op. cit.. p. 326.
3. Sutherland, op. cit., pp. 441-2.
-350-
tional Institutions in several states have been placed under
the control of a central department of correction, whereas
previously each institution had its own board of control....
A third tendency toward centralization is found in the in­
creased power of the state to regulate the county and
municipal institutions. This power is generally confined
to inspection and publicity, but in some states the inspect­
ing board also has authority to close institutions which do
not measure up to the standards.*
According to Cantor, theorizing about what prisons ought to do
will have no practical significance unless the laws which define their
administration are altered.
...Politics in prison administration leads to indifference in
standards, it prevents continuity of policy, it makes it un­
likely that competent men will enter prison service, or that
the present staff will place confidence in their superiors.
The undisciplined hail-fellow-well-met politician is not
likely to look with sympathy upon professional and scientific
trends in penal development.
Prison guards...are not carefully chosen, they are not trained,
they work many hours and are not adequately paid. They too
soon become routinized, disillusion sets in, and a possible
increase in wages and decrease in hours become their chief
concern. Even in the more progressive institutions the guards
conceal, and sometimes privately show, their scornful contempt
for the prison psychiatrist, psychologist, and social case
worker. They lack any genuine insight into the problem of
inmate rehabilitation.2
Cantor continues:
The only answer to such a parlous state of affairs, it seems
to those who have studied the problem of prison service, is
qualification on the basis of the merit system.... The addi­
tion of trained psychologists, psychiatrists, teachers, and
social workers to a few prison staffs during the past ten
years 1b sufficient proof that prison personnel can be pro­
fessionalized. 3
For years, Cantor states, there has been tiresome talk about the
need for training and almost nothing had been done about it, until the New
Xork State Guard School was started in 1936.
1. Sutherland, ibid.. p. 427.
2. Cantor, oj>. cit.. p. 152.
5. Ibid.. loc. cit.
Eventually, all guards will be
-3 5 1 -
assigned to this school for training.
In Cantor's opinion, this Is one of
the most Important developments In the field of penal treatment.
The effectiveness of any treatment program for offenders de­
pends primarily upon the type of correctional personnel.
Whatever can be accomplished in adjusting maladjusted offenders
will in the final analysis be accomplished through human beings
in relation to each other.1
Under the title, "Realism in Prison Administration,” Richard A.
McGee, of the Department of Correction of the City of New York, expresses the
opinion that we may as well give up many of the ideas of reform andimprove­
ment held by criminologists until there is a change in the public attitude
toward the problems of the offenders and, specifically, until there is a
reorganization of official agencies working with offenders.
He says, "...in
the past and present our emphasis has been on the idea of public education,
and success has not been ours.
It is time we tried placing more emphasis on
the reorganization of our methods and governmental devices for dealing with
delinquents.” As a recommendation dealing with the whole problem of admin­
istration and personnel, it seems worth quoting at length from the above
article.
I am a believer in democratic fozms of government. I believe
in local government as a safeguard against tyranny. But in
the face of centuries of failure it is sheer naivete or plain
dishonesty to advocate local control of agencies such as
courts, prosecuting attorneys, police, prisons and parole
boards as a safeguard against corruption, inefficiency and
ineffectiveness. For this reason it seems to me that where
the statutes or constitutions of states do not permit it, the
law should be changed in such a way as to make the official
duty of dealing directly with delinquents a state function
rather than a local function. Public school education has long
been recognized as a state function subject to state regulations,
state inspection and partial state support. Small local com­
munities have accepted the idea of consolidated schools for
economy and improved efficiency. The federal government in turn
has through a series of acts provided subsidies to the states
for the encouragement of desirable activities and good standards.
1. Cantor, ibid.. loc. cit.
-352-
The schools have set the precedent but we have failed to follow
their logical lead. I am not prepared to say just what forms
the reorganization of our criminal codes should take but the
principle is clear. Control of the official agencies working
in the sphere of delinquency control must be taken out of the
hands of local government, and made proof against improper
political interference.
Specifically, what does this mean? It means a sound state
civil service in every state. It means the elimination of
county jails and the substitution of fewer reginal jails under
state control. It means that the commissions or boards respon­
sible for setting policies in the administration of jails,
prisons, probation and parole should be so constructed as to
make it impossible for any one political party to control them.
It means administration by the states and inspection by the
Federal Government. It means the establishment of officer
training centers by the Federal Government in cooperation with
the states. It means a realignment of our laws to provide for
probation under enlightened leadership, parole that can be
justified in practice as well as in principle, and institu­
tions which have specific purposes, ranging from maximum
security bastiles to farms and industrial colonies for men
who having been released from prison require further assistance.^
The Gluecks conclude their suggestions for improving institutions
with the following:
Suffice it to say that the firBt requisite is proper personnel.
Given that, the constructive ingenuity, the scientific attitude,
and the love of humanity that must be blended in order to
evolve a helpful correctional regime have a chance to develop;
without it, the best buildings, theories, and programs will
accomplish little.
The beginning of treatment of offenders in penal institutions would
seem to be in the placing of the individual in the right institution.
This
beginning, of necessity, goes back to the courts and the sentencing procedure,
for it is here that the decision as to institution is made.
existence of a dispositional tribunal or
Assuming the
clearing-house to which convicted
offenders would as a matter of course be committed for a period sufficient
to permit of their thorough examination and study, the determination of
1. In Proceedings of the 68th Annual Congress of the American Prison
Association, 1938, p. 52.
2. Glueck and Glueck, 0£. cit.. p. 529.
-355-
length of sentence and type of Institution would be based, theoretically
at least, on the needs of the offender*
In the absence of such a tribunal
or clinic, the classification of offenders as to their needs and the pos­
sibilities of rehabilitation must be carried out in the institution.
Says Frank Loveland, Supervisor of Classification, U. S. Bureau of
Prisons:
...Classification is not of itself a program of rehabilitation.
It is rather the organization of personnel and procedure through
which rehabilitative facilities of the institution may be
directed most effectively toward the solution of the problems
presented by the individual. This it does by four steps: first,
by analyzing available technique, i.e., through social investi­
gation, medical, psychiatric and psychological examinations,
educational and vocational studies, and the analysis of re­
ligious and recreational factors. Second, by deciding upon a
program of treatment and training based upon these searching
analyses. Third, by assuring that the program decided upon is
placed into operation; and fourth, by observing the progress of .
the inmate under this program and by changing it when indicated.
Cantor states that in practice the classification clinic in most
institutions has been dealing with external symptoms.
They have not attempted to get at the dynamics of the inmatefe
personality. Thus far case work procedure has been primarily
an aid to prison management and not a device for individualizing
treatment.
...The fact is that the diagnostic or classification unit is
not integrated with institutional activities. The recommen­
dations of the clinic tend to become perfunctory or, if they
are carefully made in the light of the individual case, they
are not acted upon. The diagnosis may be individual, but
mass treatment follows in most institutions.5
Individualization of treatment appears to have been accepted by
most students of criminology as the basis for rehabilitation of offenders,
but the necessity of working with mass grouping of offenders means that a
1. Frank Loveland, "Classification in Relation to Individual Rehabilitation."
In Proceedings of the 68th Annual Congress of the American Prison
Association, 1958, p. <307.
2. Cantor, 0£. cit.. p. 145.
3. IkLd. , p. 315.
-354-
technique of reform must be developed consonant with the conditions under
which treatment must be carried on.
Individualization need not mean, accord­
ing to Sutherland, an entirely different policy for each individual, any
more than scientific treatment of diseases means an entirely different
policyfor each patient.
While admitting that knowledge of the technique
of reform is very scanty, Sutherland says that some of the fundamental
principles are fairly certain and the details are being filled in.
He lists
nine principles as fundamental, as follows:
1. Reformation can be produced in two general ways: first,
by suppressing tendencies toward delinquency either by
not furnishing the stimulations that will draw out the
opposite tendencies; second, by sublimation of the ten­
dencies, which consist in directing them so that they
produce desirable instead of undesirable results. The
loyalty of a criminal to his fellows is frequently
instrumental in producing crime; that loyalty may be
suppressed, leaving the criminal without loyalty to any
group, or it may be transferred to a larger group, and
thus sublimated. Both methods have values, but sublima­
tion is the more useful because it conserves the tendency.
2. Both processes really consist in the modification of
habits.... The offender cannot change these habits merely
by making up his mind, for unless the situation changes
he does not make up his mind in a different way. It is
not even necessary for him to feel remorse and repent
and resolve to do right. So far as the processes are con­
cerned, there is no essential difference between abandoning
crime and backsliding in church. Without prior determina­
tion to bring about the change, the behavior is modified
by changes in objective conditions. This change is some­
times very rapid, sometimes gradual; the old notion that
a modification of habit must be very slow is now known to
be incorrect.
3. The offender is generally assisted in reformation by under­
standing the situation. This understanding includes both
the psychological and social mechanisms involved in the
conduct and the reasons for the prohibitions. Especially
in the mental conflicts which produce some of the extremely
difficult problems of delinquency it is valuable for the
offender to understand the situation. An understanding of
the conflict may get rid of it entirely and as a result the
behavior may be altered....
-555-
4. The technique of suppression or sublimation of tendencies
consists in the direction of wishes. The social worker
dealing with offenders must learn to appeal to the wishes
with as much skill as the salesman uses in appealing to
customers, and to produce an effect that will be much more
permanent than that produced by the salesman.*..
5. The offender needs to develop a different conception of
himself, and he may do this by the methods previously des­
cribed and also by other methods.*
6. The policy should be adjusted to the attitudes of the offender
and should change, therefore, as these attitudes change. It
may well happen that one policy should be used one month and
the opposite policy the next month. The method should be
constantly controlled with reference to this adaptation to
the offender as he is at that particular time.
7. Material services are of value in changing the attitude of
offenders and in assisting offenders to secure conditions of
life which are conducive to reformation. This procedure is
quite in conflict with the old penology which attempted to
compel submission and to secure co-operation by doing injury
to the offender.... Unquestionably the rendering of material
services has a place in the method of reformation.
8. The court officials, probation officer, prison officers, or
other official guardians or assistants need not do all the
work of reformation. They cannot do all the thinking or lay
out the program in an arbitrary way. To some extent, to be
sure, they can modify objective conditions without bringing
the offender into the conference at all, but the undertaking
must be essentially co-operative. The offender must subse­
quently participate in overcoming his difficulties, and it
is preferable that he should be given as large a share of
the control in the present crisis as possible.
9. It may be taken as a matter of course that the whole policy
of reformation should be based on a physical examination and
the correction of physical defects whenever possible.... It
is also still more important to make a complete examination
from the standpoint of psychopathology, and to make such
corrections for defects of pathological conditions as are
possible.1
* Sutherland gives some of these methods as follows: An appeal to the offender
that crime does not pay; the wish for new experience, especially in dealing
with juvenile delinquents; the wish for response from intimate associates;
the wish for recognition or status. Also, "Marriage has frequently proved
to be the means of reformation of the woman of damaged reputation, and
this is based principally on the security which results."
1. Sutherland, og. cit.. pp. 600-1.
-356-
It will be apparent that the technique of reform leans heavily on
the case work technique.
Cantor, asks, what is wrong with the offender?
He answers this question b7 saying that what is radically wrong is the
emotional "set" of the offender.
"Common sense and the protection of the
public would indicate that effort should therefore be made to resolve
these emotional conflicts."
This can be done, Cantor thinks, by social
case work in prisons, and be defines this, in part, as follows:
The alpha and omega of case work is a living human being
trying to express his conflicts to a sensitive, psychiatrically
well-informed worker whose function it is to serve as an
"assistant-ego" for the client. The technique employed by
the social worker in this dynamic relationship is, because of
its very nature, difficult to express verbally. It varies
with the particular personality and problems of the inmate.
The worker, if competent, will have developed "feelers."
Out of scores of interviews with many varied personalities he
or she will have assimilated intellectually and amofrt«n«n y
a deep appreciation of particular psychological conflicts.
In some such way, the mechanisms of which are, as yet, not
understood, insight into another's problems is gained. The
sensitive social worker in the very process of the interview
or relationship, from the moment the client averts his eyes
upon entering for the first interview to the shrug of the
shoulders as the last act of the final interview, will be
constantly interpreting Ahd evaluating the gestures, the rise
and fall of the pitch of the voice, the how and the what of
the interview.
Above all, the social worker must rid himself of any moralistic
attitude, especially, when the clients are offenders. His task
is to help the inmate bring to conscious expression the under­
lying emotional conflicts and thus rid these deep-seated un­
known drives of their tension. The client must be helped to
understand his own difficulties. The moral decisions of the
inmate must be his own and not those of the worker.1
Cantor warns that social case work in prison faces difficulties
not presented on the "outside."
1. Cantor, oj>. cit.. p. 516.
-357-
The chief function of most penal institutions is the safe
custody of prisoners. The spirit of "you1ve-got-what'scommin'-to-you" prevails in most prisons and reformatories.
The inmates have been through the not too kindly policejail-court-reformatory-prison mill one or more times. Anyone
on the prison staff represents the authority toward which
the venom of the inmate is' overtly or subvertly directed.
Yet social case work is premised upon the voluntary and
trusting relationship of client to worker....^
The elements of authority and restriction are present. They
should be recognized and utilized. As a matter of technique
these apparently limiting elements can be used to good
advantage. It is not authority or restriction which we resent
but the manner in which they are exercised. Every one of us
is dally subjected to restrictions. If we understand their
need we accept them.2
A point of view which stresses the total social and cultural situa­
tion to which the individual offender reacts in terms of group identifica­
tions and loyalties is expressed in an article, "Modern Society and the
Woman Offender."5
Says the author, classification needs to be based, not
primarily on the traits and characteristics of the individual, but upon an
analysis of group identifications and loyalties that are involved.
The emphasis...is simply that in this selective process we
keep in the foreground the fundamental fact of the diverse
and conflicting groups in modern society to which individuals
belong and to which they are loyal. That we seek to under­
stand these group loyalties, and classify our inmates accordingly
with respect to possible rehabilitation rather than the custo­
mary blind analysis in terms of physiological or psychological
factors that may be of no material significance in determining
the inmate's loyalties and her possible rehabilitation. True
rehabilitation involves the realignment of values and ideals
much more than it does the superficial items of health, educa­
tion, jobs, or training in polite manners. If we can bring
about the one, the others will follow - if we fail in this
essential condition, the transformation of loyalties, we have
accomplished nothing.4
1.Cantor, Ibid.. p. 318.
2.Ibid.. p. 320.
3.George B. Told, in Prn^afld<ngg of the 68th Annual Congress of the American
Prison Association, 1938, p. 348.
4.Told, oj>. cit., p. 348.
-558-
This point is well taken, and it is true that when the offender
returns to the community, environment, including group identification and
loyalties may well, of necessity, be taken up where he or she left off, but
it would seem that where it is possible to change the attitude of an offender
toward the "conflict" which resulted in delinquency, a change would take
place in group identifications and loyalties.
This phase of rehabilitation,
however, needs full consideration, since, as the author says:
...most women who enter prisons and reformatories come from
groups or classes in our society which do not hold the tradi­
tional Sunday School virtues in high regard, it is clear that
confinement and compulsion will not magically transform them
so that they will come to identify themselves with the "model"
way of life prescribed for them. Many of them obviously con­
tinue to identify themselves with that part of the world which
views with amused tolerance, if not with outright contempt, the
values and virtues stressed in the prison training program.
As long as the inmates identification is with this non-sympathetic and alien world, rehabilitation will not and cannot
take place.^
The Gluecks stress the role of experimentation in treatment methods.
A dynamic approach should now be insisted upon in correctional
institutions, both for therapeutic purposes and for making
possible contributions to the psychology of offenders and the
etiology of delinquency. When it is remembered how important
it is for a reformatory to teach its inmates the wholesome
management of the sex impulse, to protect some of the more
naive young Inmates against the dangers that will beset them
on their return to free life, to devote a good deal of time
and thought to the more intimate personal problems of inmates,
and to understand the psychologic implications of temper out­
bursts and of disciplinary problems in general, the need of
the best psychiatric aid is apparent. Indeed, the entire
environment of a peno-correctional institution is such as to
call for placing the greatest possible emphasis upon a mental
hygiene program.
It is therefore suggested that various educational devices,
psychoanalytic techniques, and other methods of personality
study and of the control of human conduct be systematically
1. Void, ibid.. p. 547.
-359-
experimented with in correctional institutions and that the
results be recorded and made generally available. For this
purpose the employment of experts with training in pertinent
fields, constructive imagination, a love of human beings,
and good judgment is indispensible.
The majority of prisoners at the present time are kept in idleness.
Discussing this situation, Cantor says:
Undirected activity is harmful for emotional balance. A
possible solution might be found in shifting emphasis from
the manufacture of goods to the formation of better adjusted
personalities. A well-integrated educational program,
vocational, social, recreational, and cultural, could easily
occupy the entire day. Wherever work is available inmates
should be productively employed. If they are semi-skilled
their ability should be improved through the educational
program. If they are unskilled they can be given the op­
portunity to learn a trade which might be followed upon
release from the institution.
There are difficulties, however, in the way of productive employ­
ment of prison inmates.
As has been pointed out, such labor in penal
institutions is restricted through legislation by private interests.
Prison
industries are operated primarily to cut down the expenses of running the
institution.
Says Cantor, "An industrial program based on developing
vocational aptitudes and individual leisure time interests will add to the
mounting costs of prison administration."
Nevertheless, the readjustment of the prisoner cannot be
attained by manufacturing automobile plates. In the long
run, the costs to society of reported crimes are probably
much higher than the additional expense involved in educat­
ing prisoners....
The industrial program of an institution, says the duecks, iC of
course conditioned in large measure by the capacities of its inmates.
When a better system of original classification and dis­
tribution of offenders is established, the vocational
1. dueck and dueck, op. cit.. pp. 527-8.
2. Cantor, op. cit.. p. 505.
3. Ibid., loc. cit.
-560-
guidance and labor facilities of each institution can be
made more effective* In the meantime, the training in various
domestic duties given many women both in reformatories and
on indenture is unquestionably of value. So also is farm work.-*A word should be said about indenture of prisoners.
"No description
of the Massachusetts Reformatory of Women," say the Gluecks in Five Hundred
Delinquent Women, "would be complete without mention of the indenture system
introduced (or rediscovered) by Mrs. Hodder."*
One of the most interesting experiments in correctional work
undertaken anywhere was begun by Mrs. Hodder in October 1918.
Under an old law which permits the prison authorities, with
the consent of the woman serving a sentence, to "contract to
have her employed in domestic service for such term, not ex­
ceeding her term Of imprisonment, and upon such conditions as
they consider proper with reference to her welfare and reforma­
tion." Mrs. Hodder experimented with allowing certain Reforma­
tory inmate3 to work at a nearby hospital. . . .The wages of
indentured women are held in a bank at interest under trustee­
ship. All but one or two of the (fifty-or so) women thus
working independently outside of the institution carried out
their side of the bargain without running away.^
Quoting further from Five Hundred Delinquent Women, the following
paragraph concerning prison labor would seem to have particular value in the
suggestion for use of time.
A practice in the Massachusetts Reformatory to be especially
commended is that of devoting only half the day to industry, and
at a speed and standard required of free labor. This releases
the rest of the day for concern with health and educational and
recreational activities. In many institutions an insufficient
work load is spread over the entire day, the inmates thereby
not only lapsing into habits of laziness and inefficiency, but
wasting much time that might be used for constructive purposes.
The more general adoption in correctional institutions of the
Massachusetts Reformatory1s division of the daily program of
activities should produce desirable results.5
An argument likewise in favor of prison labor geared to the tempo
and rhythm of outside industry is found in an article by Sam A. Lewisohn,
1.
*
2.
5«
Glueck
Former
Ibid..
Ibid^,
and dueck, op. cit. pp. 188-139
Superintendent of Massachusetts Reformatory of Women
p. 529
p. 529
-561-
nA Business Man's Viev of Prison Labor," as follows:
We very properly insist that recreation and education are
important items in a healthy prison program. . . . And, yet,
despite the tact and skill of those who direct the atmosphere
of such recreational and educational activities, there is
necessarily in them some of the flavor of going back to school. .
. . A proper program of prison labor has the great merit of provid­
ing a rhythm of work similar to the rhythm of employment in the
daily life of men outside of prison. . . . A daily program of
work in the prison shops in which the inmate earns even a meagre
wage should eliminate some of the daze that confronts the prisoner
when he is released from prison gates.^
In an article on classification of inmates for education,** it
is stated that a good system is one which has as its goal a re-educated or
rehabilitated offender.
The educational program must be well planned, adequate­
ly staffed, properly supervised, and well integrated.
The article continue*
It is primarily a case work technique applied to this phase of
human problems. As is true in all types of case work, it
utilizes the services of specialists who can, by reason of
their background and training, help in the understanding of
the individual. In the development of the classification
system, modern penology has made a very real contribution
which offers the means for a frontal attack upon the problem
of the offender. The classification system provides the
prison administrator and his entire staff with a composite
picture of the offender which identifies him as an individual
with a history and background and a set of characteristics which
are almost as individual as are his finger prints. These fit
no other person. The study of the assets and the liabilities
of the offender and the machinery to capitalize on the assets
and to supply the deficiencies are basic to education in penal
institutions, as it is seen today.
This study of the individual can be divided into four general
sections: a) custody; b) special treatment; c) training; d) re­
lease. All of these are of distinct importance in relation to
the development and maintenance of the educational program within
the institution. Though the fields of study may appear to be
quite separate, they are in reality very much interrelated and
it is this interrelationship on which it is possible to capitalize
in the individual study.
1. Proceedings of the 69th Annual Congress of the American Prison Association,
1939, p. 346
2. Lloyd N. Tepsen, Classification of Inmates for Education, Correctional
Education Today. First Yearbook of the Committee on Education of the
American "Prison Association, 1939, p. 58
-362-
The proper organization and administration of a program for
prison education would seem to be a prerequisite to a successful accomplish­
ment of rehabilitation.
According to the author of the article quoted below: ^
A basic principle in educational administration in a
correctional institution is that the educational staff
must work smoothly and harmoniously with all other de­
partments of the institution. Without such a working
relationship, the effectiveness of the educational program
is almost nullified. The educational director must display
considerable tact, common sense, and ingenuity in building
these relationships. The educational staff must employ the
following procedures if the educational program is to have
a sound foundation: Demonstrate the value of the education­
al program try the quality of work done in it and the effect
it has upon inmates of the institution; organize and administer
the program efficiently; show a willingness to cooperate with
other institutional officials; demonstrate an understanding of
the problems of other departments.
This integration of the educational program with the prison program
.
as a whole is further itemized in this same article as follows*
the educational director should be a member of the
classification board. This position offers many opportunities
to build up proper relationships with various members of the
staff. Situations can be found where, although very good psy­
chiatric and psychological testing is done, the educational
department never receives the results of such tests. Such a
situation usually indicates lack of planning or poor personal
relationships and much of the responsibility rests upon the
director of education. A working relationship must be established
with the parole department if inmate educational programs are to
be planned so that they will function most effectively when the
inmate is released........ It is highly important that the
educational department secure the respect and good will of the
guards whose close contact with inmates puts them in the position
to boost or "knock" the school to inmates under their supervision
....... Uost important of all, of course, is the establishment
of proper relationships with the chief administrative officer of
the institution.2
This article continues with a list of other agencies which can be
used in institutions in the education program.
Among these are the radio,
1. C. K. Horse, Organization and Administration of Education, Correctional
Education Today, o p . cit.. p. 50
2. Ibid.. p. 50
-363-
motion pictures, and library facilities.
. . . . Making available radio programs of sports events
and nevs broadcasting, including some of the more popular
regular commercial and international programs on nation-wide
hook-ups, gives the prisoner a mental parole into outside
activities — a necessary educational step to keep him abreast
with what the outside world is doing.1
. . . . The selection of films for both instruction and enter­
tainment should be an additional obligation of the direct6r
of education. Their purpose should be to afford the integration
of the moving drama of life and outside interests with that of
inmates temporarily confined and denied freedom. Industrial
and commercial films offer an opportunity for enriching the
understanding not only of institutional duties and industries,
but also outside industries. ^
Few are the prisons that do not have prison libraries. These
libraries in many cases are neither adjacent to nor under the
supervision of education. The management of a worthwhile prison
library. . . is sufficiently complicated to call for a trained
librarian. The librarian and library should, however, be a part
of the prison education plant. . . . It is highly important that
students in the prison school should learn how to find materials
in libraries, which skill they can utilize on the outside.3
Referring again to the article quoted above, the author suggests that
classification for. education gives purpose and direction to the entire institu­
tional program.
One of the strange results of classification is the effect it has
upon the institution itself. It seems to have the effect of keying
up the entire personnel to the point where they look upon each
prisoner as an individual. Furthermore, it has the tendency to
enable the institution to break with tradition and to try things
out in an experimental way. If education in penal institutions is
to make any progress, it must be the education of the whole individual
by the whole group. When, through the recognition of individual
differences and individual variabilities, the prisoner is given a
chance to develop himself, bis period of incarceration can become
an important period of his life, for it will have given him the
opportunity of finding himself.*
1. Loc. cit;.
2. Ibid. p. 51
3. Ibid.. pp. 50-51
-564-
Sutherland looks upon prison education as a program in socializa­
tion; that is, a modification of the general attitude, and a sublimation of
special interests and attitudes.
Be explains his view as follows:
...The modification of the general attitude means a conversion,
a transference of allegiance from one group to another. To
produce this conversion it is essential that the prisoners be
put in contact with ideals, sentiments, and traditions of
ordinary society. This meanB not merely an intellectual com­
prehension of these traditions, though that is an important
part of education, but such contacts with them as those who
have assimilated the traditions have had. Little specific
knowledge has been acquired regarding the exact technique of
producing this conversion, this identification of self with
the normal group. But a few steps at least are certain.
They must be immersed in these traditions. Probably the best
way to accomplish this would be by frequent and intimate con­
tacts with the people who have the traditions; this is
limited, from the point of view of practicality. Reading
and writing assist in producing the contacts, but contacts can
be produced also by picture shows, lectures, classroom
instructions, sermons. This conversion, however, need not
be cataclysmic or abrupt. It may be and generally is gradual
and unnoticed. It consists principally in enlarging the in­
terests of the group to which the prisoner belongs until he
feels himself identified with the larger group. Consequently,
it is undesirable to start by attacking the group to which
the prisoner belongs, for this generally results in rallying
the members of the group to its support and increasing their
loyalty.
Furthermore, the process of socialization consists in building
up concrete attitudes and interests. In fact, the general
attitude discussed above will be modified largely, if not
entirely, as the result of modification of concrete attitudes.
The process of building up these attitudes is essentially a
process of sublimation. This means redirecting the tendencies
from paths that have proved to be in conflict with the laws to
paths that are in accordance with the laws.... The problem is
to assist the prisoner to secure excitement and new experience
without violating laws. Crime is certainly not the only
interesting activity. The number of objects that can be made
interesting and exciting is almost unlimited.... Doubtless
many prisoners have attitudes so fixed or limited that no
substitutes can be found, but the procedure at any rate is
fairly certain.1
Vacational training, says Sutherland, is an essential part of
this process of socialization.
1. Sutherland,
0£.
He also considers that correspondence
cit.. pp. 491-2.
-365-
courses can be of great value to inmates, and that they make possible
much more individualization in training and many more advanced courses than
are available in the average institution.
In discussing the bands, orchestras,
choirs and choruses found in most institutions, Sutherland thinks that these
activities are decidedly beneficial from the standpoint of development of
morale and socialization.
As to vocational training, the GLuecks suggest that as a basis
for the program, the correctional authorities must ascertain the capacities
of new inmates.2
In an article entitled, "Prison Education - Vocational and
Academic," Ralph H. Rosenberg lists the following needs:
1.
The education offered must be on an adult level.
2.
Courses must be designed to enable an inmate to enroll at
any time.
3.
Elementary courses must be provided for inmates who can
profit from this level of study.
4.
Secondary courses must be provided to meet needs in this
field.
5.
Correspondence courses, both group and individual, must be
provided on the college level.
6. Special courses for illiterates or for those too low in
academic achievement to benefit from regular elementary
courses must be provided.
7. Life adjustment courses
ability to successfully
vocational work. These
ship, physical hygiene,
work attitudes, etc.
for those too low in mental
achieve in regular academic or
courses should include citizen­
job finding, job application,
8. Vocational training to meet the occupational needs of the
majority of inmates.
1. Ibid.. p. 502.
2. dueck and dueck, 0£. cit.. p. 329.
-366-
9.
Cultural courses to meet leisure time needs and afford
emotional outlets.
10. Courses in physical education which provide training
needs in health, sportsmanship, leadership, personality
and general social goals.^
In most of the current literature of criminology, the recommenda­
tions regarding prison education emphasize the importance of social education
rather than mere academic education.
In other words, the trends in education
are shifting the emphasis from facts and skills to concepts and attitudes.
O
According to an article in Correctional Education Today:**
Social activities should start in the classroom hy introducing
group activities such as committee work and socialized
recitations. In this way, a beginning can be made in a con­
trolled situation in giving opportunities for initiative and
for group and individual responsibility. Many situations
arise in recreation and physical education through which
individual and group responsibility can be developed. Dis­
cussion groups also offer opportunities for the free expres­
sion of opinion. Following such beginnings, a committee or
board can be organized to assist in planning and developing
some phase of the educational program such as recreation and
athletics, or inmate publications. Finally, an advisory
council can be organized to assist in developing the entire
educational program. In general, it may be said that it is
better to approach the development of social activities in a
gradual way such as has been described above than to try to
start with an inmate council having large responsibilities.
Institutional classes in personality development should be
based on actual life situations. Describing the nervous
system in great detail, learning the names of the various
brain areas, and discussing highly theoretical psychological
problems have no place in such classes. Too much educational
psychology has been sterile for the reason that it has
dealt with such topics. What inmates need to learn is what
to do when the foreman "bawls you out," whether one is
justified in getting angry, how to conduct oneself when look­
ing for a job, how to deal with fear of failure.
1. In Proceedings of the 68th Annual Congress of the American Prison
Association, 1938, pp. 263-4
2. J. Cayce Morrison, and Qlenn M. Kendall, "Social Education." In
Correctional Education Today, p. 168
-367-
Definite improvement in the social program will accrue by
achieving the best organization of classes possible and the
best selection and organization of teaching materials.
Experience has proved this. It is also true, however, that
the best type of organization possible and excellent
materials will have little effect without the type of teacher
who will make efficient use of the organization, physical
facilities, and teaching materials.
"The inmate," according to an article on vocational education, in
Correctional Education Today, "must either be equipped to become a producing
social asset, or, inevitably, he will become a social liability."
The
article continues:
In prescribing a program for an individual inmate we must
take into consideration the vocational placement opportunities
of the locality into which he is to be paroled. Agriculture
would be a questionable course for an inmate who is to be
returned to the lower east side of New York City. Again,
his previous vocational experiences will influence the nature
of the training made available to him. The nature of his
crime is of necessity a limiting factor in deciding the type
of employment which he can reasonably hope to secure.
The above article ends on the following note:
...a program of vocational training within any correctional
institution is feasible, possible, and desirable. Its scope
will depend upon the funds available and the initiative and
ingenuity of the staff. It should be developed with caution,
care, and judgment. Once started, like the proverbial snow­
ball, it will gradually grow, and that which at first seemed
impossible becomes a reality. Finally, it must always be
remembered that the inmate group has an uncanny knack of dis­
tinguishing between window dressing and the real thing. Give
them a banafide program and they will respond to it.^
In an article entitled, "Physical Education and Recreation," the
general aims of this phase of prison education are given, in part, as
follows:
Physical education establishes a means of participation
in activities that promote health, muscular skills and
beneficial attitudes. It develops proper habits of
1. Howard L. Briggs, William E. Grody, and Oakley Fumey, "Vocational
Education." In Correctional Education Today, op. cit.. p. 203.
2. Ibid.. p. 221.
-368-
piysieal and mental alertness and response, awareness of
body functions and purposes, and an interest in general
well-being. Physical education provides an outlet for
energies that suppression would turn into undesirable
channels.
Nature has created the human being with certain faculties
as well as means for making use of them. But she has made
no special provision for the curtailment of these faculties
when a man is serving a term in prison. Thqy cannot be
pigeon-holed along with his personal possessions by the
receiving clerk to be returned to him upon his release from the
institution. If the exercise of normal physical functions is
reduced wholly or in part, prison inmates are bound to return
to society unfit for community life. One of the aims of
physical education in the institution is the maintenance
of normal functions. It has still greater significance when
used as correctional treatment for men who, on the whole, have
given little time or thought to their physical welfare.
In general, the recreation program may serve to teach and
encourage the development of proper social habits and the
right use of leisure timq. Many valuable lessons in co­
operation, respect for authority, and regard for the rights
of others can be an outcome of proper recreational activities.
They can bring out and develop latent qualities of courage and
sportsmanship and contribute to the subordination of personal
interests to those of the group.
The above article contains a classified list of activities in
physical education and recreation in which will be found something for
every type of inmate, even the non-participants, who, because of age or
other conditions, cannot take an active part in the program.
With certain
changes, particularly in the field of sports, this list* gives a compre­
hensive summary of the component parts of a workable program applicable to
women as well as men.
The article goes on to the following suggestions for
fitting this program into the prison routine*
Free time or free play activities are carried on after the
shops are closed, during the evening hours and on week-ends.
1.
*
John Law, L. W. Davis, and Gerald Curtin, in Correctional Education
Today, pp. 223-4.
(See Appendix B, page 506, for this list.)
In almbst every Institution shop and school, work is shut
down over the week-end period. It is during this time
with its let-down from daily routine of work that the
inmates chafe most at the restrictive forces around them.
Often the men are locked up or allowed to mill aimlessly
around the yard. Idleness breeds discontent and trouble.
Certainly there is nothing in its favor as an administra­
tive policy or rehabilitative treatment. The physical
education and recreation program can utilize these
leisure periods as punctuation marks for its weekly essays
on the theory of building better men from within as well
as without. They afford an opportunity to climax the
daily instruction and training with the stimulating punch
of competition. A good program can take advantage of every
moment of the week-end holiday.1
"The practical value of the prison library," says Mildred Methven
in an article, "The Library as an Educational Agency," "must, for the
present, be taken at the word of a small group of positive and firm be­
lievers in the great assistance which a properly administered library can
render in every field of prison activity."
The author suggests that the
prison librarian should be a member of the classification committee, along
with the school director, psychiatrist, psychologist and other members,
and should contribute his findings as to the prisoner1s library and reading
practices and habits to that fund of combined information, which will help
to present a true picture of the prisoner when his place in the prison
education program is to be decided.
re­
She also believes that a library
reading room where inmates may go to choose their books or consult with
the librarian is feasible and practical.
Where it is impossible to provide
such a reading room, the cell delivery system can be successfully used
until such time as a more completely equipped library is available.^
Special types of education are needed in correctional institutions
for certain deviates from the usual inmate group:
1. Ibid.. p. 232.
2. In Correctional Education Today, p. 257.
the emotionally unstable
-370-
or psychopathic group; the educationally handicapped or Illiterate group;
the mentally deficient and physically handicapped,
in article by Russell
A. Bostian,^ Director of Education at Elmira Reformatory, deals with the
technique for educational treatment of these groups.
The most extreme oases
of inmates with psychopathic personality, says the author, need special
education.
These Individuals are often markedly emotionally unstable and
subject to emotional outbursts, and special education must be
directed at this focal point. In Elmira a special cell block
is set aside for this purpose and in it a complete educational
system functions. The person in charge of the education of the
emotionally unstable should have special training in psycho­
therapy and occupational therapy. Perhaps even more important,
he must be emotionally stable himself and possessed of those
qualities which will make him an inspiring leader and guide of
disturbed personalities. The core of this program is predomin­
antly activity. The activities are varied, including handicrafts
and hobbies, as well as work from the field of general education.
Each individual’s program is predicted upon previous successful
experiences and amplified in accordance with his ability.
Participation in playgroups is emphasized rather than develop­
ment of athletic excellence which might nullify the desired
objective. Personal care of the body is stressed. As the
individual progresses, the activities are stepped up to a
higher degree of attainment until ultimately the individual can
be placed in the general population.
For the illiterate and backward inmates, the Negro, individuals from
low type, poorly assimilated, foreign parents with the concomitant sub­
cultural patterns, and many other under privileged types, the article recommends
a special educational environment.
To put them in situations where they would compete with others
of greater mental endowments or accomplishments would be confront­
ing them with the same frustrating conditions which they had
previously encountered. It is imperative that they be made to
feel confidence in themselves. While this group should be taught
in a special class, great care should be taken to see that no
stigma is attached to such a class, and provision should be made
lT
Russell A. Bostian, "Special Types of Education," Correctional Education
Today, op. cit.. pp. 241-250
-371-
for transfer from illiterate to higher classes whenever an
individual will benefit thereby. Discerning selection of
instructional material must be made since the inmate is an
adult and devices which recall to him his work in early
grades are taboo. As always, the emphasis is on the indiv­
idual and his engaging in, participating in, or cooperation
with, and not on learning or studying.1
In special education for the mentally defective, it is recommended
that all courses be geared to the limited capacities and abilities and should
consist primarily of repetitive operations.
to the inmates' ability.
Dr.Edgar A. Doll to the
Occupations must also be geared
This article quotes at length from an address by
American Association on Mental Deficiency, from
which the following excerpts are taken:
. . . Among the many of the high-grade feeble-minded the
difference between just floating and just sinking in the social
stream may well be just a small though critical difference that
it can be overcome by substituting good social habits for
limited adaptive capacity. We may think of many of the highgrade feeble-minded as capable of social survival with a fair
degree of success, if they are given such social assistance
as will make their permanent institutional care unnecessary.
. . . The traditional goal of education has been to produce
more talent rather than to exploit existing talent. If we
could ever learn to teach the feeble-minded what they can
master and will make use of, and if we could accept them as
they are rather than trying to make them over into what we
would like them to be, we could probably take critical steps
toward a new day in the training of the feeble-minded.
. . . Can we not anticipate the day when attendants will be
replaced by teachers, and every phase of institutional living
will be capitalized for its inherent training value?
1. Correctional Education Today. Op. cit.. p. 250
-372-
The small number of Inmates coming under the head of physically
handicapped makes it impossible for an institution to employ a special
teacher for the deaf, the crippled, or for any other type of physical handi­
cap.
Nevertheless, the above article points out, such special handicap may
actually be important factors in the delinquency of the individual.
It is
suggested that the crippled inmate may be referred to the teacher of arts
and crafts, and this teacher or the occupational therapist should be able
to find some typs of training which will enable the cripple to earn a liveli­
hood.
The deaf inmate can be referred to a teacher, preferably the English
teacher.
Either this teacher or the director of education in the institution
can secure courses in lip reading for the deaf inmate.
Parallel treatment
for the inmate with speech defects can be followed.
A health program is taken for granted today in penal institutions.
It has been taken for granted in all the recommendations of this chapter
for an integrated, individualized treatment of offenders looking toward their
rehabilitation.
According to an article, "A Health Program for Prisons,"
by Dr. Justin K. Fuller, the fundamental objectives of such a program are
two, which create two equally definite functions:
one, primarily medical
in nature, the other primarily socio-medical and concerned with research into
the causes and prevention of crime.
. . . To be adequate, a medical staff must be composed of a
group of specialists whose activities are inspired and correlated
by a competent Chief Medical Officer. Such a staff must be
large enough to make detailed physical and mental studies of
every inmate, to carry out all indicated rehabilitation measures,
to participate in the endless medical detail associated with the
commonly recognized procedures of classification, periodical
follow-up, parole, discharge, and so forth.1
1. Proceedings of the 68th Annual Congress of the American Prison Association,
1958, p. 311
-373-
It is estimated in Dr. Fuller's article that hospital in-patients'
beds should approximate between eight and ten per cent of the institution's
population, and that at least ten per cent of the institution's population
will visit the out-patient department of the hospital daily.
For an insti­
tution of approximately five hundred inmates, it is estimated that a basic
medical staff should consist of:
One full time Chief Medical Officer
One full time Psychiatrist, Assistant Medical Officer
One full time Dental Officer
One full time Psychologist
Three full time Medical Technical Assistants
Four part-time Consultants, one each in surgery; eye, ear, nose and
throat; urology, and X-ray.1
The above article continues with the duties of the staff, in put,
as follows:
The Chief Medical Officer should interview and participate in
the physical examination of every newly admitted inmate. He
should participate in all follow-up or periodic re-examinations
and special examinations such as those that precede Parole Board
hearings, release at the expiration of minimum or maximum sentence,
and so on. He should dominate the out-patient department, especially the
"Sick Line" and take an intimate interest in hospital in-patient rounds,
and perform as many other medical duties as possible. He should direct
the sanitary and safety practices of the institution and should request
the Warden to accompany him on regular weekly inspection rounds.
He should participate in the educational program for inmates and the
instruction school for guards, both to instruct inmates in fundamental
and necessary matters, and to help the guards to become "medical
minded.” . . .
The psychiatrist should assist the Chief Medical Officer in the
out-patient department, especially with the "Sick Line," and at
all examinations, ward rounds, and so forth. He should interview
every newly admitted prisoner and give periodic follow-up psychiatric
examinations and treatments to those who most need such attention.
Since it is quite impossible for him to treat personally more than
a few of the Inmate patients who might profit by psychotherapy, he
could gather together for "group therapy" certain inmates who have
similar types of mental disorders, and who are hence amenable to
1. Proceedings of the 68 Annual Congress of the American Prison Association,
1958, p. 512
-374-
tbe same therapeutic talks, topics or lectures; he can thus,
in a measure, magnify himself many times and reach scores where
he otherwise could but hope to reach isolated cases. He should
be an active member of the Classification and Disciplinary Boards
and should submit reports to the parole and other authorities on
all release cases.
The psychologist should perform.the majority of his psychometric
tests by group, rather than by individual methods. Group tests
are satisfactory for all practical purposes, and by their utiliza­
tion the psychologist will be spared enough time to assist the
psychiatrist with his treatments. Most psychological treatment
methods will have to follow group methods: a fruitful field for
psychological teaching is found in subjects allied to habit formation,
since most prisoners are afflicted with bad habits and the moral
influence of intereating them in such problems might lead to something
decidedly worth while.
A not inconsiderable part of the duties of the above three officers
should consist in the keeping of adequate statistical and other
records of everything they do. The analysis of large collections
of properly kept records may reveal surprisingly informative data.1
Narcotic drug addiction is a problem requiring a special technique,
but it is at the same time mainly a medical problem.
The plight of the female
addict, according to an article, "Drug Addiction among Women," is worse than
that of the male:
. . . A prison sentence means much more to a woman than it does to
a man. The effect of prison confinement on her morale and character
is more harmful, and the social consequences of addiction are more
serious for her, yet she sometimes has to plead guilty to a crime
in order to get treatment in prison because there is no other means
by which she can secure it. The Superintendent of the House of
Detention for Women in New lork City reports that in 1936 sixty-three
women were committed to that institution at their own request, to be
cured of addiction. This is a very bad solution of a problem that
has in a sense been created by governments.
If it is proper to suppress the non-medical use of narcotics, as
we believe it is, the program of suppression should include provisions
for the adequate treatment of addicts in institutions that would build
up instead of break down the patients that are caught in the web
of suppressive measures. In prison, addicts are contaminated by
1. Proceedings, op. cit.. pp. 312-314
-375-
criminals, who in turn are contaminated by them, causing a
two-fold evilj separation is therefore essential. It is quite
true that many female addicts are prostitutes, and it is un­
fortunate that some who do not deserve it are given credit for
sex immorality merely because they take drugs. Addiction pro­
duces prostitution by creating a necessity for drugs, the
money for which cannot be secured in any other way. Adequate
handling of the problem of addiction among females would,
therefore, lessen prostitution and one of its very serious
consequences, venereal disease.1
The religious services in penal institutions are conducted by
resident or visiting chaplains.
Cantor describes the place of the chaplain
in the prison education program as follows:
Almost every large penal institution has one or more resident
or visiting chaplains. They conduct religious services for
the inmates. One may safely conclude that some of the inmates
profit from such experience. It is also undoubtedly true that
a few exceptional chaplains are able to reach a few inmates by
reason of their sympathetic understanding of them. Generally,
. however, it is doubtful whether formal religious services in
the prison are any more influential in directing specific day
by day behavior than religious affiliation outside of the prison.
There is indeed a tendency on the part of prison chaplains to
pay less attention to theology and liturgy and more attention
to ethical and social relationships. But giving advice is
psychologically unsound whether the giver is a school teacher,
warden or chaplain. One learns by doing, not by listening, and
usually one acts in terms of previous activities. Advice,
talking, lecturing is meaningful only if the listener is already
prepared and willing to heed the spoken word. The significance
of the potential role of the chaplain must not be underestimated.
If the chaplain in some way were able to obtain training and
experience in mental hygiene and social case work technique his
effectiveness would probably be greatly increased.
In an article entitled, "The Inmate's Attitude Toward Religion and
the Chaplain," the problem of the chaplain is described in part as follows:
We, as chaplains, know very well that only about 25 per cent
of the prisoners attend our Chapel Service with any real
sincerity. We know, too, that of those who do attend, religion
may or may not be the inducing factor. Many men attend merely
to get out of their cells, some go to hear the music, quite
1. Laurence Kolb, M.D., "Drug Addiction Among Women." In Procaa<Hnp;n of
the 68th Annual Congress of the American Prison Association, 1958, pp.356-7.
2. Cantor, 0£. cit.. pp. 155-6.
-376-
a few feel that Chapel attendance may influence the Parole
Board in their favor. Others go because relatives and
friends urge them to. With many, attendance is nothing more
than a superstitious habit with no comprehension of the real
significance of religion. Only those interested in religion
accept our sermon in the spirit in which it is given.
Thinkers are critical, opposing or disapproving, according
to their convictions. The dull are indifferent; the in-be­
tweens respond, perhaps, when we illustrate our point with a
funny story. This sounds discouraging indeed; but until
religion becomes not only an ideal, but a practical applica­
tion in every day life, "a streak of ingratiating commonness,"
it will not influence our prisoners. Religion can and does
elevate the minds of men into a discipline that is not one
of the compulsions, but of free will, and involves a change
of habits and produces a consoling and an uplifting force that
cannot but help raise the individual morale in the most
calloused prisoner. Religion cannot be forced upon prison
inmates. To be accepted, it must be presented by a broad­
minded chaplain, one who is tolerant yet thoroughly familiar
with the schemes of designing men, an official of the prison,
prepared and backed up with authority to intercede for his
charges whenever in his opinion they are misunderstood or un­
justly disciplined. Such a chaplain by demonstrating practical
Christianity is able to get into the heart of the prisoner.
By kindness and help in the time of need he opens a way to the
mind and soul and creates a field in which religious truths will be
sympathetically received. Only by such means can we hope to win
over the 75 per cent who ordinarily will not accept religious
instruction, the 75 per cent who most need restoration and re­
habilitation .
In another article, "The Ideal Chaplain and His Qualifications,"
the qualifications are summed up in these words:
...the ideal chaplain, in my opinion, will be a man who can
convey more of the idea of righteousness and right living
and stimulate a strong desire for these by what he is, by
his bearing and conduct among the men whom he would help,
than by any thing he can say in sermon, or attempt to express
through the rites and ceremonies of stated religious offices
and services. In other words he is a man who can say more
effectively in his own life, character and conduct, the truth
he would proclaim, than any words can possibly express.^
In this summarizing of standards of institutional treatment set up
in the current literature of criminology, there is of necessity considerable
over-lapping of recommended services from one quoted source to another. The
1. Rev. FranciB J. Miller, "The Inmate's Attitude Toward Religion and the
Chaplain." In Prooaadingp of the 68th Annual Congress of the American
Prison Association, 1938, pp. 432-3.
2. Rev. E. S. Belden, "The Ideal Chaplain and His Qualifications," Prooaad-lnga.
o p . cit.. pp. 440-441
377-
total picture involved, however, is one of individual treatment for the
offender with rehabilitation the end in view.
(5)
Parole
"The antagonism toward parole," says Sutherland, "is probably greater
than toward any other penal policy."
He continues:
This is surprising, for there is no well-known student of
penology who is not wholeheartedly in favor of the principle
of parole, and who does not insist that parole in practice is
better than any available alternative in practice. These
students insist, first, that parole should be evaluated not
as an abstract principle but in comparison with the only
available alternative, which is the determination in court
at the time of the trial of the definite date of release, and
the complete release at that time without subsequent super­
vision.1
When the court merely imposes minimum and maximum limits of the
penalty, rather than a definite time limit, and the time of release from
prison is determined by the Parole Board, the sentence is known as an inde­
terminate sentence.
Strictly speaking, the sentence is not indeterminate
if the court fixes the minimum and maximum limits.
There is considerable
argument in the sources consulted in this chapter for a completely indeter­
minate sentence.
The Gluecks suggest the "desirability of either a completely
indeterminate sentence or one allowing an adequate zone of discretion to
institutional and parole authorities in deciding when to return prisoners
to the community.They are aware, however, as are the other sources quoted
in this chapter, that there is one serious objection to a wholly indeterminate
sentence, and that is the danger of arbitrariness in keeping imprisoned those
no longer requiring incarceration.
A periodic review of each prisoner1s
1. Sutherland, op. cit.. pp. 551-2.
2. (Hueck and Glueck, op. cit.. pp. 521-2.
-378-
record by the treatment tribunal, as a standard practice, they agree, should
eliminate the possibility of any inmate being forgotten or dealt with unfairly.
The Gluecks explain their view of the need for the wholly indeterminate
sentence, in part, as follows:
It may be argued that offenders should not be subjected to the
risk of protracted incarceration, perhaps lifelong imprisonment,
for 11 a mere sex offense." Such a view ignores the true sig­
nificance of the facts. We have seen that far more is involved
in the careers of most of our women than an occasional lapse
from moral conventions. We are dealing not only with a compli­
cated network of biologic and socio-economic deficiencies, but
with such socially dangerous consequences as the spread of
venereal infection, the unrestricted birth of illegitimate,
underprivileged children, and like tangible ill effects of tinrestrained sexual indulgence. In effect, the majority of our
women may truly be regarded as irresponsible members of society,
requiring, in many cases, continuous control if not lifelong
quarantine. Society has been forced to commit the mentally ill
and feeble-minded to special institutions for wholly indefinite
terms and to keep many of them under restraint throughout their
lives.... From time to time numbers of the insane, feeble-minded,
and defective delinquent are released from hospitals or other
special institutions under conditions similar to parole. When
shown to be dangerous to themselves or others, they are returned
to the institutions without the expense of new trials. Persons
who have violated criminal laws and who require long-time or con­
tinuous oversight ought sensibly to be dealt with likewise.'1*
In this connection, the Gluecks say, two basic principles need to
be borne in mind.
(a) "No one should ever be cast into (or restrained within)
prison so long as it is safe for himself and society that
he be free."
(b) "There is no rational excuse for the discharge of a
criminal whom the State has at great expense once detected,
arrested, tried, and convicted, so long as he continues a
criminal in disposition and character, and may be expected
to compel the State to incur the same expense again."2
An argument in favor of a definite sentence, says Cantor, is that
an inmate is spared the turmoil of not knowing when he is to be released.
1. Glueck and Glueck, ojj. cit.. p. 322.
2. Quoted by the Gluecks from H. M. Boies: The Science of Penology, the
Defense of Society against Crime, p. 154. o£. cit.. p. 322.
-579-
...Many prisoners sentenced to indefinite terms have described
the disintegrating uncertainty of awaiting action on their
cases by the parole board. This is a strong argument by itself
but it is heavily overweighted by other considerations.^
The development of the minimum-maximum sentence, it is pointed out
by Cantor, occurred before the recent reform tendencies in penology crystalized, before psychology and psychiatry made their contribution to our under­
standing of behavior.
It is difficult to estimate the number of inmates who might
have been rehabilitated but for the confused and unfair ap­
plication of the minimum-maximum sentences. The discrepencies
in the duration of sentences for the same offense are one of
the most significant factors in turning inmates against
society and its legal agents.
Cantor, assuming the existence of a dispositional tribunal, presents
three reasons why in his opinion a completely indeterminate sentence would be
justified:
1.
A dispositional tribunal would be interested in protecting
society by reforming types of individuals who appear reformable, and in incapacitating those who appeared incor­
rigible. In the absence of knowledge diagnoses may be
unsound and society unprotected. Hence the safeguard of
an absolute indeterminate sentence. Society must not be
asked to assume the risks involved in the judgment of
"behavior experts," but at the same time their opinions as
to incorrigibility must not remove the possibilities of
reform. The judgment of the dispositional tribunal would
be an hypothesis, a wise guess, a guess more soundly in­
formed than the irresponsible conclusions of the courts,
the uninformed opinions of district attorneys, and the
arbitrary punishment provisions of the criminal codes.
.. The tentative disposition of cases by the tribunal would be
subjected to the test of experience. What in fact, so
fax as the facts are ascertainable, happens to the inmate?
If the judgment of the tribunal should be unsound, it could
be modified.
2.
Furthermore, inmates may learn to understand that their own
behavior and not the type of crime is the primary factor
1. Cantor, og. cit.. p. 269.
-380-
determining the disposition of their case or the length
of their stay. There will no longer b e an average sentence
for a specific offense, so much "time" for this and so
much "time11 for that crime. The suspicion of graft and
the resentment against politics underlying the disparity
in terms of inmates will possibly be removed - if the
dispositional tribunal personnel is unimpeachable in
character and scrupulous in their work. Such understanding
will have a salutary effect on inmate morale and prison
discipline.
3.
Parole boards would function under authority delegated to .
them by the dispositional tribunal and their recommendations
would be subject to the approval of the tribunal. The
parole boards would also have the precommitment data of the
individual gathered by the tribunal authorities. It is
reasonable to suppose that the parole board as an agent of
the dispositional tribunal and answerable to it would be
more careful in its analysis and less arbitrary in its
judgment. The net result would probably be greater respect
for its function on the part of the inmate and improved
methods in and standards for determining release.
Cantor suggests that valid objections to the completely indeter­
minate sentence may be applied, as well, to the minimum-maximum sentence.
nIt must be emphasized," he says, "that the absolute indeterminate sentence
would be worthless, and might even become more dangerous than present
practice, without a most carefully chosen personnel for the dispositional
tribunal and its allied parole board and parole officers as well as for
prison guards and officials."
The First National Parole Conference held in Washington, D. C., in
April, 1939, set forth the following objectives for the conference: (1) To
present the facts about parole; (2) To reach an agreement as to desirable
standards and procedures in its administration; and (3) To point the way
to closer cooperation between the Federal Government and the governments of
the several states.
o
1. Cantor, oj>. clt., pp. 272-3.
2. Proceedings of the First National Parole Conference, 1959. Forward
-381-
In the organization of a parole board, it is recommended that the
members should be selected on the basis of their integrity and competence,
without reference to political affiliations; that the terms of office be
long and so staggered that the majority of members at any time will be ex­
perienced in their duties; and that the salaries of members should be on the
same basis as that paid to members of the governor1s cabinet.1
Among the conditions recommended in fixing eligibility for parole
consideration are the following:
1.
Consideration for parole should be given routinely
and should not depend upon an application by a prisoner
or upon the initiative or relatives or friends.
2.
The achievement of eligibility should call for active
participation and self-improvement on the part of the
prisoner.
3.
Consideration should be given early in the course of the
sentence.
4.
The requirements for eligibility should be clearly and
definitely formulated in terms which can be understood
by all prisoners.
5.
A definite procedure for periodic reconsideration of
those denied parole.2
"Boards of parole should welcome information," continues the recom­
mendations, "from every source which throws light on the personality and
character of the prospective parolee and the likelihood of his making a
satisfactory readjustment."
But when the time comes for analysis and
evaluating the board should be free from the influence and distraction of
relatives, witnesses, lawyers, reporters and spectators.
Before determining
1. Proceedings of the First National Parole Conference, o£. cit., p. 113.
2. Ibid.. p. 114.
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whether the prisoner is to be petroled, the parole board should require the
following information:
1.
A complete criminal history.
2.
A complete socieil history, including developments during
the period of incarceration.
3.
A medical history and the results of recent medical
examinations.
4.
A report of recent psychological and psychiatric examin­
ations.
5.
Reports of institutional progress covering treatment,
training, and discipline during the period of incarcer­
ation.
6.
A verified report on the prisoner's parole plan including
where he is to live, where and for whom he is to work,
and what resources are available to meet his other needs
as a normal, independent member of society.
These recommendations of the First National Parole Conference regard
the actual release of the parolee as "but one step in a continuous, integrated
process of correctional treatment."
The following are given as essential
in the transfer of a prisoner from institution to parole supervision: a
suitable outfit of clothing and accessories, including work clothes, and
that such an outfit should not be of a style or quality to mark him as an
ex-prisoner; enough money to take him to his destination and provide for a
reasonable time pending employment; and, immediate contact of parolee and
his parole supervisor.2
The practice of publishing the names of those released in news­
papers or in public places is deplored.
The effect, it is suggested, is
to stigmatize the parolee and make his problems of adjustment more difficult.
1. Proceeding^ of the First National Parole Conference, op. cit., p. 115.
2. Ibid.. p. 116.
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Parole supervision implies that the state should provide adequate
means and organized procedures for ascertaining whether the parolee con­
scientiously lives up to his end of the bargain.
Also, it implies that the
attitudes, skills, and disciplines developed by the institution be continued
during the parole period, and that the measures taken to improve and prepare
the community and the family for the inmate's return be continued and
developed by those in charge of him after he leaves the institution. Accord­
ing to the recommendations,
Rehabilitation cannot be left to chance, for too often the
same factors which conspired to bring About the first de­
linquency may come into play again and cause another con­
flict with the law unless they are modified and eliminated.
Common sense demands that the supervision of the released
offender shall be of such character as will remold his
attitudes and reshape his habit patterns.1
This same report contains standards on minimum qualifications for
parole officers which have already been quoted.
The standards set forth by the National Parole Conference are
naturally based on state parole boards.
The Parole Commission of New fork
City is a city board, but there would seem to be no single item of the
standards set up by the Conference that would not apply to a city parole
board and its functioning.
In an article, "Supervision of Parolees," by Frederick A. Moran,
it is asserted that in comparison to the stress which has been placed upon
selection for release, parole supervision appears to be of minor importance.
"There is need," says the author, "for constant insistence on the part
of administrators that supervision is at least of equal importance to the
1. Proceedings of the First National Parole Conference, op. cit.. p. 117.
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selection of individuals who are to be given their conditional liberty."1
The Gluecks see a need for better coordination or integration
between the courts, penal institutions, and parole.
"In fact," they say,
"there is little that is systematic about the process considered as a whole;
for each institution, beginning with the police and ending with the parole
board, is inclined to move in its own narrow orbit with little regard for
what others are doing."
. . . As between the courts and institutions, the establishment
of one or more treatment tribunals and clearing houses should in
itself bring about increased consistency of aim and method. In
addition it may be necessary for the tribunals to have inspect!ve
power over the correctional institutions. As between these latter
and the releasing authorities we have come to the conclusion that,
since, scientifically considered, the entire process ought to be
continuous, it would seem wise to turn over the work of parole
boards (or parole committees of institutions) to the proposed treat­
ment tribunals. Thereby the same experts who originally studied
the offender and determined upon the best disposition of her (or
his) case would keep in touch with her progress in the institution
(or while under probation or some other form of treatment) and
would review her case at stated periods to determine how the treatment
program originally planned should be modified in the light of the
offender's response. Release of a prisoner from a correctional insti­
tution on parole is just as much a modification of the treatment
originally prescribed by the court as is commitment of a probationer
to an institution when he fails to respond to oversight, yet for
historical reasons the first is under direction of a separate parole
board while the second remains under authority of the court which
originally sentenced the offender. This disconnectedness of what
ought to be a unified system is partially responsible for so much
of the inefficient and contradictory treatment reflected in the case
histories of offenders. Tf the recommended treatment tribunal were
charged not only with making the original disposition of cases, but
with following the progress of offenders and determining when and
under what conditions they could be released, the entire procedure
would become more effective. Not only would a good deal of working
at cross purposes thereby be eliminated, but offenders and their
families might learn to regard correctional treatment as a continuous
process which, from beginning to end, is, and for successful results
needs to be, under single auspices and guidance.£
1. Proceedings of the 69th Annual Congress of the American Prison Association,
1939, p. 388
2. Glueck and Glueck, op. cit.. pp. 325-324
-385-
In such a system of integrated treatment and control as proposed
by the Gluecks, as well as other authorities cited, it is pointed out that
much duplication of effort in examining offenders, determining their social
background, and supervising their conduct which is carried on more or less
separately in at least three different places— the court, the institution,
and the parole board— would thereby be avoided.
It should also be remembered in this entire connection that many
offenders. . . would under the new system be properly disposed of
through probation, and would not require a later commitment to
some peno-correctional institution, to be followed by oversight
on parole. Women merely unconventional in their sex life, who do
not present other problems requiring treatment and are not danger­
ous as spreaders of venereal diseases or irresponsible breeders of ille­
gitimate children, might be summarily disposed of without any
officially prescribed special control, or, at most, with only refer­
ence of their cases to appropriate social agencies for treatment of
special problems. On the other hand, professional prostitutes of
long standing might be placed under more or less continuous control
or be entirely segregated from the community. All this would mean
far fewer trials for new offenses committed by old offenders, and
should in the long run be more economical than the existing practices.1
It would seem to be unnecessary to point out again that the final
value of parole must lie in the number of parolees who make a satisfactory
social adjustment.
Throughout this summary of standards as set up in the
current literature of criminology, the trend of thought would seem to be toward
a technique of treatment of offenders in which parole would be the final phase
in re-education for normal living.
(6 ) Follow-up Work
The offender always comes back into the community.
probation, he does not leave it at all.
If placed on
It would seem, therefore, that the
individualistic treatment of offenders must be incorporated into a larger
program.
“Such persons can respond to a program of social treatment to the
1. Glueck and Glueck, pp. cit.. p. 324
-3 8 6 -
extent that the program addresses itself to and embraces the whole social
world in which the individual is immersed.”1
A community program for continuing the treatment toward rehabilita­
tion should be a part of the sociological approach to the community problem
of crime prevention.
In an article entitled, "The Chicago Area Project," it
is suggested that,
. . . Social control of the problem of crime is tenable only
if our treatment and preventive programs are predicated, as a
first step, upon a sound and thorough analysis of the forces
which produce such behavior, and secondly, by direct manipula­
tion of those forces.^
For example, if there are lax conditions in the community and if
prostitution is generally tolerated, the community approach to the problem
would include some treatment of the conditions which favor prostitution, as
well as of the individual who is the result of such a system.
The licensing
and control of taverns, road houses, taxi-dancehalls, and other institutions
of commercialized recreation which contribute to the delinquency of women
would constitute one angle of community approach.
"The outstanding need in the field of crime prevention," says
Frederic M. Thrasher, in "Reaching Crime Causes by Coordinated Action,"
. . . is for community reorganization in the direction of an
integration of all preventive forces into a well planned, coordina­
ted community program. Many different types of institutions must
be relied upon to perform important functions in connection with
prevention. The home, the school, the church, the welfare agency,
the recreational program, the police, the guidance clinic, the
juvenile court, the correctional institution, and the research
agency are all vitally involved. Not one of these institutions
working alone, however, can carry out a successful preventive
program. The pursuance of institutional aims and programs,
moreover, without reference to their meaning for the community
1. E. W. Burgess, J. D. Lohman, and C. R. Shaw, The Chicago Area Project.
Community Cooperation for Social Welfare, pamphlet, reprinted from Coping
With Crime, Yearbook of the National Probation Association, 1937, p. 16
2. Ibid.. p. 21
-387-
plan, Is more than likely to result In duplication of effort
and working at cross purposes, even where identical goals are
being pursued.-1An example of such a program is the Chicago Area Project described
in Community Cooperation for Social Welfare. Some idea of the philosophy
and procedure of this program may be gained from the following:
. . . In the first place, the Area Project emphasizes the
development of a program for the neighborhood as a whole, as
against a circumscribed institutional setup; 2) The Area Project
stresses the autonomy of the actual residents of the neighbor­
hood in planning and operating the program as contrasted with
the traditional organizations in which control is vested in
lay and professional persons who reside in or represent the
interests of the more privileged communities; 3) The Area
Project places great emphasis upon the training and utiliza­
tion of neighborhood leaders as contrasted with the general
practice in which dependence is largely placed upon the pro­
fessionally trained leaders recruited from sources outside
the local neighborhood; 4) The Area Project seeks to utilize
to the maximum established neighborhood institutions, particu­
larly such natural social groupings as churches, societies, and
clubs, rather than to create new institutions which embody the
morale and sentiments of the more conventional communities;
5) the activities program in the Area Project is regarded primarily
as a device for enlisting the active participation of local residents
in a constructive community enterprise and creating and crystalizing
neighborhood sentiment with regard to the task of promoting the
welfare of children and the social and physical improvement of
the community as a whole; 6) and, finally, an essential aspect of
the Area Project is the emphasis which it places upon the task of
evaluating the effectiveness of its procedure in constructively
modifying the pattern of community life and thus effecting a
reduction in delinquency and other related problems.2
Such community programs for crime prevention as have been and are
being experimented with have been aimed, for the most part, at children and
young people.
These should be, of course, the primary concern of such
efforts, but a complete community program for dealing with crime, as well as
1.
2.
The Community Approach to TWHnmiBnny Prevention, a pamphlet, reprinted
from the Yearbook of the National Probation Association, 1936, p. 16
Burgess, Lohman, and Shaw, op. d t . . p. 10
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the prevention of crime, must, it would seem, include a concern for the
rehabilitation of offenders on probation, parole, and sifter discharge.
Summary and Conclusions
It should be remembered in any consideration of the standards
set up for the treatment of offenders that in consequence of the preponder­
ance of male over female offenders, who pass through the various departments
of correction of the country, the recommended program will be centered and
based upon the male offender.
A further circumstance to be remembered in
this connection is that, in general, the sentences given women offenders
allow a shorter period of supervision or incarceration, as the case may be,
owing to the so-called minor nature of their offenses when considered as a
whole.
It would seem that so far as the needs of women offenders are concerned
however, the treatment set forth in male-centered programs would apply as well
to female offenders, since the standards set up in the current literature of
criminology, as indicated in this chapter, are based on the principle of
rehabilitation of maladjusted human beings.
With these reservations in the background, a comparison of the
treatment of women offenders passing through the Department of Correction of
the City of New fork, as described in Part One of this study,and the standards
set up for the treatment of offenders of both sexes, as described in the
present chapter, can now be drawn.
It has been shown that the arrest of female offenders in New York
City at present is mainly based on the principle of repression of vice as
-388-
represented by prostitution.
The ramifications of the regulations concerned
with "morals" charges result in the majority of the arrests of women.
It
would seem that narcotic drug addiction is to a large extent tied up with
prostitution.
The methods of arrest and temporary detention under the
present system would appear to be based on the punishment motive, for both
the innocent and the guilty, rather than on the protection of society or
the rehabilitation of the offender.
Court procedure in Hew York City in the trial of women offenders
in a regular City Magistrates' Court, the Women's Court, or the Court of
Special Sessions is still based in large part on the evidence produced in
court by the arresting officer, without benefit of competent counsel for
the accused, and with a minimum of investigation of the circumstances which
lead to, or the causes behind, the offense.
Sentences are pronounced by the
trial judge, often arbitrarily as to severity, and without full knowledge
on the part of the judge of the individual needs and problems of the offender.
Court procedure in New York City in the Court of Domestic Relations of the
City of New York, the Wayward Minor's Court, and in the Court of General
Sessions is less tradition-ridden than in the courts mentioned above.
The
advance in trial procedure in these courts would seem to be owing to a more
individualized approach through a more thorough investigation of the individual
case.
The present stage of probation for women offenders follows the two
court groupings as given above.
In the first group of courts, probation
has apparently not been given an opportunity to show what could be done by
this method of treatment.
In contrast, the second group, consisting of the
Court of Domestic Relations, Wayward Minor's Court, and Court of General
-389-
Sessions, have probation departments and staffs, which, while admittedly
short of personnel, are sufficiently large and well enough organized to
make a showing of improvement, not only in probation as a method of treatment,
but in the assistance rendered the respective courts in pre-sentence investi­
gations of cases.
In the present institutional treatment of women offenders in
New York City, from the standpoint of rehabilitation of offenders, the
charge would again seem justified that incapacitation of offenders rather
than rehabilitation is uppermost.
The contrast between the present institu­
tional treatment of women offenders in New York City and that accorded them
in 1900 would seem to show tremendous gains.
So far as housing, food, and
medical treatment go, the House of Detention for Women of the City of
New York appears to be in the trend of recommended standards.
In many phases
of treatment looking toward the rehabilitation of the individual, however,
the House of Detention for Women falls far short.
Parole supervision in New York City for women offenders is not a
quantity problem because of the small number of women parolled each year.
It is a quality problem, however, owing to the case load per parole officer
and the lack of trained personnel to carry on the work.
It must be noted that throughout the procedure from arrest to
release or parole, the offender has passed through many sets of hands and
situations without a guide line leading through them to integrate and
coordinate the different and separate stages of the journey.
Given the type
of woman who finds herself in the position of having to make this journey,
or the type of man for that matter, it would seem impossible to expect at the
end a re-adjusted person ready to take his or her place in society in any
better manner than before the journey began.
-390-
In the standards set up in the recent literature of criminology
summarized in this chapter, an entirely different result of the period of
treatment is envisaged.
Through the training of workers for the task,
through the centralization and reorganization of the courts,* through
different types of correctional institutions from the present ones, through
a technique of reform based upon a re-education of the individual, it is
thought possible to reclaim for society some of the human material which is
not only wasted at present, but acts as a threat to the stability of society
itself.
*
Since this chapter was written, the new Criminal Courts Building of New York
City (discussed in the fourth chapter) has been opened. It was dedicated on
June 50, 1941. It is a seventeen-story building, containing the Court of
General Sessions, the Supreme Court, the Court of Special Sessions, six City
Magistrates’ Court rooms, the District Attorney’s offices, the Department of
Correction, and the Parole Commission. It also contains grand jury rooms,
probation department offices, and rooms for semi-public agencies, such as the
Legal Aid Society. Connected with the main structure by two bridges spanning a
narrow yard is the new twelve-story jail, which has 835 regular cells and
additional facilities for workhouse prisoners and others. While this building
will centralize the location of all the various units contained within it, it
does not in any sense mean a centralized court as recommended by the sources
quoted in this chapter. It does represent a vast improvement in physical slant
for courts and other agencies which it.houses, as well as for offenders passing
through them or incarcerated in the new jail.
CHAPTER XIII
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
As a pioneer study in the treatment of women offenders in New
York City this study lacks the aid which similar studies might have rendered,
not only for purposes of comparison but, primarily, In the challenge and
stimulation to be obtained from previous research In a chosen field.
More­
over, In the attempt to cover so wide a territory as the treatment of women
offenders passing through the Department of Correction of New York City for
two specified periods, it has been necessary to confine this study to the
merest outline of the essential situations connected with the problem.
In
spite of these limitations, it is hoped that the study has Indicated the
need for certain changes in the method of handling women offenders In New
York City In relation to their possible rehabilitation.
From whatever angle the problem is viewed, the described treatment
of women offenders in New York City would appear to be unsatisfactory as a
means of accomplishing the desired goal of reform or rehabilitation.
From
the point of view of the Department of Correction of the City of New York,
the treatment of women offenders does not seem to have acted as an effective
deterrent to delinquent behavior, and in the face of the known facts on
recidivism it does not seem to have resulted in the rehabilitation of the
majority of offenders.
From the point of view of the women offenders them­
selves, the treatment received at the hands of the agencies of the Department
of Correction would seem to have provided small help, guidance, or incentive
-391-
-392-
to reform, but rather to have resulted in bitterness against the authority
represented.
From the point of view of the public, or the community, the
treatment given women offenders would seem to have resulted In only temporary
protection and very little lasting benefit In return for the money expended
on treatment.
Significant Variations
A comparison of the methods of treatment of women offenders in
New York City for 1900 and 1938 would seem to have shown that no significant
advance has been made In treatment looking to the rehabilitation of offenders.
Certain material Improvements have been made, although it is difficult to
determine to what extent these Improvements are due to changing customs In
the city at large and to what extent they are due to a change of attitude on
the part of the Department of Correction of the City of New York.
It would
seem obvious, however, that the physical treatment of women offenders from
arrest to release is more humane in 1938 than it was in 1900.
Since the
present treatment of women offenders has been found inadequate as an effective
means of rehabilitation, it would seem that more than improved physical
treatment is needed to readjust the lives of women in conflict with the laws
of the community.
A brief summary of some of the variations between the present
treatment and the standards set up in the current literature of criminology
may serve to point out the direction in which students of criminology think
changes should be made.
1.
Careful selection of police personnel on merit, special train­
ing for the work, freedom from political influence, the building up of a
higher morale, and professional status, are recommended for the police system
-395-
as compared with the present system of political domination of the police
department and the selection of personnel mainly on the basis of physical
strength without regard to qualifications and training for the task of handling
people in conflict with the law.
The fact that the decision for or against
arrest and the method of treating offenders during arrest lies within the
discretion of the individual police officer makes him an important factor in
the procedure of arrest of women offenders.
A police system aimed at pre­
vention and rehabilitation as well as repression would seem to be the sub­
stance of the recommended changes.
2.
Instead of holding women offenders in district prisons or
police stations overnight, as is often the case of suspects arrested after
the close of the courts, or their detention awaiting arraignment or trial
at the same institution used for sentenced offenders, it is recommended that,
so far as practicable, and especially for first offenders, they should be
treated on the presumption of innocence until proved guilty.
This would
mean the establishment of a place or places in the city where suspects could
be held, if necessary, in more normal surroundings than a prison affords.
The detention of offenders could be considerably reduced by the suggested
increased use of summons to the accused to appear in court for a hearing.
This procedure, it has been shown, is seldom used.
A suggestion for relieving
the problem of temporary detention of offenders pending arraignment or trial
is in the release of suspects on their own recognisance to appear when called,
or on a bail fee within the reach of the offender.
This is the opposite of
present practice in determining bail fees which are usually beyond the ability
of women offenders to pay.
5.
The standards set up for court procedure include: (l) The pro­
vision of defense counsel for all offenders who cannot afford to pay for
-394-
legal services under a public defender’s office, and more rigid supervision
by the courts of private counsel.
(2) The end of the system of defense prose­
cution as now organized under a district attorney* s office and the substitu­
tion of a public prosecutor removed from political control by appointment by
the governor to a long term of office, where the prosecutor would be con­
nected with the office of the attorney general of the state.
Another sug­
gestion is to abolish the office of public prosecutor and substitute a legal
bureau in the police department to assist police officers in presenting their
cases.
A further suggestion is that the public prosecutor be given the
power or be compelled to enlist the aid of such public agencies as the state
departments of mental hygiene, social welfare, education, and so forth, for
the purpose of diagnosis and treatment of individual offenders.
(3) The
centralization or integration of the machinery of justice in Hew York City the centralization of all courts in one building - to facilitate and reduce
the cost of court procedure is recommended on the assumption that this
would make for more speedy and uniform treatment of offenders than now
obtained.
(4) The separation of the two functions of the trial judge, leav­
ing the conduct of the trial and the determination of guilt to the judge, but
placing the disposition of cases in the hands of a tribunal, remand station,
or clinic, established solely for that purpose and manned with a personnel
for that purpose.
The substance of this recommendation would seem to be
that the disposition of offenders calls for more than the services of legal
talent, and that the fields of psychology, psychiatry, sociology, social
work, and criminology should be represented.^ In this way a study of the
entire situation and personality of the offender would determine the treat1. See Official Draft of Youth Correction Au^hor^y Act, June 22, 1940,
proposed by the American Law Institute.
-595-
ment.
A secondary advantage of such a tribunal or clinic would be the
possibility of integrated research in the total problem of the treatment
of offenders.
(5) In the trial procedure, it is recommended that the
methods used in the juvenile courts could be extended to adults under the
assumption that these methods would look to the rehabilitation of offenders
rather than to conviction, segregation, and punishment.
These recommended court procedures differ from the present court
procedures in that all center around the rehabilitation of the offender
rather than around the apprehension and conviction of the offender as a
public enemy.
They also represent an attempt to show how justice might
be carried out honestly, free from graft and political control.
4.
The recommendations set up for probation call for centrali­
zation of separate court probation departments in one department for the
city, with clinical facilities for the diagnosis of individual offendersj
a high standard of training, personality and character for probation
officers, and salary commensuarate with such standards.
It is also recom­
mended that the investigation of cases preliminary to sentence and the
supervision of probationers be separate functions carried on by different
probation officers.
The first of these functions, the thorough investigation
of the background of the offender, can be capably performed by most trained
social workers.
But only a few have the skill, patience, tact and other
qualifications necessary for the successful performance of the second, the
supervision of probationers, and the latter, therefore, should receive a
higher remuneration.
It is recommended that the case load be materially
reduced from the present admittedly heavy case load per officer.
The present
standards for selection of probation officers in New York City are low when
compared with those recommended, and the salary is too low to command the
-596-
services of the type of personnel recommended.
5.
It is in the institutionalization of offenders that the
greatest variation between practice and recommended procedures occurs, and
this remains the major method of treatment of women offenders.
New types
of institutions are recommended where the segregation of different types of
offenders may make possible treatment according to their needs.
It is sug­
gested that the maximum-security type of prison is needed only for a small
proportion of offenders, who might be dangerous to the community, that the
need is for more minimum-security institutions where the treatment of of­
fenders in the interest of rehabilitation may be carried on in more normal
and effective surroundings than those afforded by the bastile type of prison
which still prevails.
Again, it is on personnel that the greatest emphasis is placed,
since, it is suggested, even in an ideal physical set-up, a program for
rehabilitation will be a failure without personnel trained and competent
to carry out the program.
The recommendations are for freedom from political
influence and appointment of personnel as against the present system of
political domination and partisan party control.
It is suggested that
prison personnel be selected on the basis of training, personality, and
character, coupled with the ability and the inclination to carry out a pro­
gram of treatment designed to fit prison inmates for their return to the
community as law-abiding citizens.
It is not sufficient that personnel pass
successfully a civil service examination.
The Department of Correction that
engages a probation or parole officer should have in writing a report from
the field work supervisor of the professional Bchool of social work in which
the candidate has received his training.
This report together with a personal
-597-
interview will assist the Department to evaluate more accurately the
candidate's qualifications.
Further, the Department will then be in a
position to select only those candidates who will most likely develop a
dynamic relationship with the probationer or parolee.
This, after all,
is the pivotal factor in modifying the behavior of the offender.
Aside
from the superintendent or warden and guards, it is suggested that personnel
of penal institutions should include psychologists, psychiatrists, teachers,
sociologically trained social workers, and sociologists in sufficient number
to carry on the recommended program.
Given a competent prison organization and staff, it is recommended
that the classification of inmates be on the basis of individual problems and
needs rather than on the type of offense, sentence, or physical condition
as at present.
Individualization of treatment appears to have been accepted
by most students of criminology as the basis for rehabilitation of offenders.
This program would provide education geared to the capacity and needs of the
inmates, productive labor, and training for the unskilled in socially and
economically useful trades, mental hygiene, recreation, entertainment, and
good library service.
An adequate medical department and hospitalization
for the sick is taken for granted in the recommended program.
The extension
of the religious service to include social work training for chaplains is
suggested in order that they may coordinate their work with that of the
rest of the personnel of the organization.
The whole program of individ­
ualization of treatment, it would seem evident, is based on case work tech­
nique and would attempt to understand the inner life of the offender and
would have therapeutic value.
The emphasis in institutional treatment is on
the socialization of the individual rather than on segregation of offenders
as protection for society - and punishment.
-398-
6.
The recommendations for parole are substantially the same as
for probation in standards of training, personality, and character of parole
officers, commensurate salary, and case load.
Freedom from political or
other influence for the paroling authority in the selection of parolees,
and a high standard of integrity and competence in the appointments to the
parole board are recommended.
In connection with the effective handling of
parole, it is suggested that a completely indeterminate sentence, with no
minimum or maximum term specified by the court, would allow the institution
and the parole board authority to deal with each case according to the
individual situation.
With this discretion lodged in the institution and
the paroling authority, it is suggested that periodic review of each
prisoner's record would eliminate the possibility of an inmate being dealt
with unfairly.
As in the standards set up for probation, these recommenda­
tions represent considerable variation from present practice.
7.. The community problem of offenders on probation, parole, or
after discharge, is closely related to the problem of crime prevention.
A
well-organized community program would seem to be needed not only in the
prevention of the development of future delinquent careers, but such a pro­
gram would make it easier to incorporate the offender into the normal life
of the community.^ This approach calls upon the organized social resources
of the community in some form of community council, coordinating council, or
crime prevention unit with the power to assume definite responsibility for,
and the coordination and integration of, the work of all preventitive groups
and institutions.
It would seem to be important that this complete community
1. One such program in process ia The Division of Delinquency Prevention
of the State of Illinois. This unit is incorporated in the Department
of Public Welfare of the State. (See Statement prepared by Samuel R.
Ryerson, Superintendent, to Members of the Advisory Board, April 25,
1941. Mimeographed, pp. 4-5.)
-399-
program be integrated with the treatment of the individual, both for the
prevention of initial delinquent behavior and for continuing the prooess of
rehabilitation already begun by individualized treatment of convicted of­
fenders.
The Problem and Issues Involved
The data presented in this study of women offenders passing through
the Department of Correction of the City of New York in 1938 appear to reveal
that the problem is not quantitatively great.
As evidence of this, two
aspects of the data, incidental to the description of the treatment of women
offenders in New York City, are cited.
First, that the number of women
arraigned in all courts of original jurisdiction - the City Magistrates’
Courts - was approximately 9.9 per cent of total arraignments.
The number
of women convicted in the City Magistrates’ Courts was approximately 9 per
cent of the total convicted.
In the Court of Special Sessions of the City
of New York, the number of women convicted on serious misdemeanor charges
was approximately 7 per cent of the total convicted.
In the Court of
General Sessions of the City of New York, the number of women convicted on
felony charges was approximately 4.5 per cent of the total.
Out of this first aspect stems the second, which is that thepro­
portion of convictions of women offenders decreases with the seriousness of
the offense; that is, from 9 per cent of total convictions in the City
Magistrates' Courts to 4.5 per cent of the total convictions in the Court of
General Sessions.
These percentages represent a total of 78,213 women and 865,039 men
convicted in all three criminal court systems during 1938, including con­
victions for violations of civil ordinances and traffic regulations.
For
-400-
the purpose of this study, violations of civil ordinances and traffic
violations, which account for approximately 90 per cent of the total con­
victions of women, have been excluded, which leaves approximately 7,200
women offenders convicted in the three court systems considered above on
all other offenses.
The Wayward Minor's Court and the Domestic Relations Court of the
City of New York are specialized courts dealing in the first named court
with girls of the ages of sixteen to twenty, inclusive, and in the second
named court, with women in family relationships only.
When this study
was made, the number of convictions in the Wayward Minor's Court for 1938
was not available, but the latest figures available in the report issued in
1938 gave 40 convictions in this court for an eight-month period in 1936.
Thus, in the aggregate the number of convictions of women offenders would
presumably not be greatly increased by the number of convictions in this
court for 1938.
In the report of the Domestic Relations Court for 1938,
there is no distinction made on the basis of sex of parent convicted on dis­
orderly conduct charges in connection with complaints of contribution to the
delinquency of children, either by neglect, ill-treatment, or example. These
offenses are the only ones coming under the jurisdiction of this court lead­
ing to a sentence.
As is the case for the wayward Minor's Court, the
Domestic Relations does not contribute quantitatively to the problem of the
treatment of women offenders in New York City, and therein, as has been
pointed out in the description of these courts, lies their contribution to
a solution of the problem of the treatment of women offenders in New York
City.
It would seem apparent, therefore, that the problem, quantitatively
speaking, revolves around the approximate number of 7,200 women convicted in
-4 0 1 -
the three criminal courts.
The data presented have indicated only in a general way the dis­
position of these women offenders as to sentence.
The majority, as has been
indicated, were sentenced to the House of Detention for Women in New York
City.
A small proportion were sentenced to the Reformatory and State Prison
for Women at Westfield State Farm, Bedford Hills, New York.
A few were sent
to the city hospitals, or tuberculosis hospitals, or institutions for the
feeble-minded or insane, or to some private institutions such as the House of
the Good Shepherd, Peekskill, New York, St. Faith Home, Tarrytown, New York,
Inwood House, New York City, and so forth.
The main concern of this study
has been, therefore, with those women who were sentenced to the House of
Detention for Women or were placed on probation or parole.
No attempt has been made in this study to ascertain the degree of
recidivism represented in the number of women convicted in New York City in
1938.
Privately communicated information, however, of a survey made at the
House of Detention for Women in 1937 was that 51 per cent of the women
sentenced to the workhouse and 44 per cent of the women sentenced to the
penitentiary in that year had been previously committed to a New York Citypenal institution.
If these figures are representative for 1938, which might
safely be assumed, then by comparison approximately one-half of the women
sentenced to the House of Detention during the year were first offenders.
For 1900 there is available only the general estimate of the Women's Prison
Association of New York that "rounders" or recidivists constituted a majority
of all women sentenced.
It would seen, therefore, taking these rough es­
timates as representative of the situation as a whole, that the problem of
recidivism in relation to the rehabilitation of women offenders has not.
-402-
changed greatly during the intervening period.
This study, however, has been
concerned with an analysis of the data presented on the treatment of women
offenders in New York City, without regard to the degree of recidivism which
might be found.
The main issue involved, therefore, is whether or not the treatment
described for 1938 is of a quality to render the best possible service to
the community as a whole and to the individual woman offender as a public
charge.
It is not necessary to point out community responsibility for the
incidence of delinquent behavior, nor the lack of public interest in crime
prevention and the rehabilitation of offenders.
The issue is too complex for
consideration here - the economic structure of society itself, public educa­
tion, public welfare, the system of criminal justice - these and many other
phases of community life enter into the picture.
But it might be relevant
to suggest that the findings of related studies, as has been pointed out,
as well as the personal stories obtained from informal interviews with one
hundred inmates of the House of Detention for Women, appear to indicate that
the majority of women offenders comes from what is called the underprivileged
section of the community.
Granted this condition as a fact, it would seem
that the community is responsible for adequate treatment of women offenders
in New York City.
It has been concluded in summing up each phase of the
treatment presented in this study that the present treatment would seem in­
adequate when viewed in the light of its effect upon women offenders in
relation to their possible rehabilitation.
The question then arises as to what method and procedures might be
applied to the treatment of women offenders in New York City which would be
in the direction of adequate treatment.
It may be gathered from a review
-405-
of the preceding chapter that the standards set tip by students of criminology
are often in the nature of suggested experiments.
The sources quoted are
rich in the faith that these experiments or programs if carried out would
result in the reclamation of much human material and be a profitable invest­
ment for society.
It has been pointed out that a beginning has been made
in the direction of more adequate treatment of women offenders in New York
City.
The comparison of data on 1900 and 1938 would seem to be evidence of
a change for the better, either as a result of changing times or changes of
principle on the part of the Department of Correction of the City of New
York.
The investigator is inclined to believe that the change is a result
of both factors.
On the basis of data presented, as well as on personal
observation of the situations described, the investigator will now attempt
to make certain recommendations which might work toward the rehabilitation
of women offenders in New York City.
These suggestions are put forth as
practical measures which seem to the investigator to be within the realm of
possible attainment in the near future.
Recommendations
The following recommendations are listed in the order in which
the different phases of treatment of women offenders in New York City are
handled in this study.
Arrest
1.
That police and plain-clothes arresting officers be more care­
fully selected on the basis of merit in training, personality, and fitness
for the work.
2. That young offenders should not be taken to the "Rogues Gallery"
-4 0 4 -
at Police Headquarters.
3.
That all "third degree" tactics be abolished.
Court Procedure
1.
That the procedure used in the Wayward Minor's Court be
employed forall women arrested and tried in Hew York City.
S.
That sex delinquents no longer be sentenced, as such, to the
House of Detention for Women since they are not classified per se as criminals
in the laws of the city or the state; that those infected with venereal dis­
ease be placed in city hospitals for treatment.
3.
That narcotic drug addicts should not be sentenced to the House
of Detention for Women, butsent to a city hospital where cures for addicts
should be established.
4.
That habitual offenders, those whose prognosis for improvement
is very poor, be given indefinite or indeterminate sentences so that they may
be incarcerated as long as seems necessary to the institution and the parole
board for the protection of the community and themselves.
5.
That all mentally defective delinquents be sent to institutions
equipped to care for them.
6. That capital punishment be abolished.
Brobation
1.
That more adequate academic and training standards be established
for probation officers in the City Magistrates' Courts and the Court of
Special Sessions of the City of Hew York.
2.
That probation officers who qualified under the early civil
service examination be removed from the service as not having the qualifica-
-405-
tions necessary for probation work.
3.
That case load of probation officers be limited to forty cases
for supervision.
That it would be advisable that the probation officers be
of the same race and religion as the probationers placed under them for
supervision.
Institutionalisation
1.
the House of
That, after removal of sex delinquents and narcotic drug addicts,
Detention for Women in New York City be used for
a. temporary detention of women awaiting trial, and
b. offenders (other than first offenders) serving short terms
up to three months.
2.
That the superintendent of the House of Detention for Women hold
weekly conferences, not only with social workers, but with all workers with
inmates; i.e., the academic, vocational and music teachers, the physician in
charge of the medical service, the psychologist, and the correctionalofficers
in charge of
all cell units.
These workers are in a position to contribute
to the better understanding of inmates and such conferences, weekly, or even
monthly, would also work toward the coordination of all services in the
interest of rehabilitation of inmates.
3. That women offenders sentenced to longer than three months be
removed to an institution which could furnish adequate outdoor as well as
indoor recreation and productive work of several kinds; i.e., farm ing, dairy
work, chicken raising, and so forth, as well as a program of socialization
through education.
4.
That all women committed to an institution, whether short-termers
or long-termers who are able and interested, be taught a trade which has a
market value; i.e., short-termers could be taught, for instance, to work as
-406-
punch operators, snitch board operators; long-termers, as ward maids, and so
forth,
5.
That in whatever institution women offenders are incarcerated
there be resident social workers on duty in the evening after the day staff
is gone; that inmates be free to ask for interviews when the inmate is ready
to talk rather than when the social worker calls inmate to her office**
6. That first offenders given short term sentences should be
placed immediately by the courts in small "homes" established by the city.
That such homes be staffed by a social worker and an assistant, a dietician,
and a clerical worker.
That a staff composed of psychologist and psychiatrist
be assigned to rotate between these homes for a definite period each week.
That the inmates be allowed to go out of the homes to work and a part of
their earnings be paid to the home toward their maintenance, the remainder
to be kept by inmates.
(This i somewhat the method used in England, known
as the Borstal System, with the exception that the homes are not staffed
with professional workers.)
That other such homes be made available for
women on probation and parole where the need is shown.
That the name of
homes be such that no stigma is attached to them and that the women assigned
to them be allowed to pursue their work in the community undisturbed.
That
the program of such homes be so flexible that the program for each inmate
will meet her individual needs.
That records be kept for each inmate and
summaries be sent to the court which assigned inmate, with recommendations
as to length of time needed for rehabilitation and for discharge.
That
an accumulative record of the history and progress of each inmate be kept
from the first investigation made in court onward for use in subsequent
* What the investigator considers the most effective service she has
rendered was in an institution for delinquent girls where inmates were
allowed at any time to talk over their problems with the social worker.
Host of the requests for such talks came in the evening when inmates
become restless or worried about their fixture or their families.
-407-
treatment if needed.
7. That free cures for narcotic drug addicts be established in
city hospitals.
mended.*
The use of sudden withdrawal of narcotic drug is recom­
That the cures be undertaken under medical supervision with the
aim of building up the health of addicts after sudden withdrawal of nar­
cotic drug.
That convalescent homes be established, staffed with resident
professionally trained social workers, psychiatrist, psychologist, and
field social workers whose duty it would be to find employment for, and
do -follow-up work with women when they were released.
8. That for first offenders and wayward minors, where the cir­
cumstances appear to be favorable, placement in selected foster homes be
made.
Parole
1.
The same recommendations as given under Probation.
Follow-up Work
1.
That homes such as described under Institutional!zation.
Paragraph 5, be made available for women who have served a sentence where
they may live and be aided and encouraged in finding and keeping employment.
2.
That young women and wayward minors who have served a
sentence in an institution be recommended to selected foster homes.
It is recognized that these recommendations would if adopted
mean increased appropriations for personnel and the establishment of homes,
* The leading prison for women, the Federal industrial institution for
7/omen at Alderson, Virginia, considers the sudden withdrawal of
narcotic drug a superior method to the reduction cure as practiced
at the House of Detention for Women in Hew York City.
This recommendation is made because many women who are not able
to secure narcotic drugs commit themselves to the House of Detention
for Women to receive the narcotic drugsfree of charge.
-408-
but in the long view it seems likely that the net result would be economy
in money and the means of restoring permanently to normal living many women
who now present a continuous problem to the community.
A further complica­
tion, in connection with changes in rules governing the sentencing of women,
would be certain necessary changes in the laws governing the situation.
This difficulty does not seem insurmountable in view of the attitude of
progressive professional workers in the field as represented in the published
Proceedings of such gatherings as the Annual Congress of the American Prison
Association and the National Parole Conference.
The Community Approach and Prevention
The best efforts that can be expended in the treatment of the
women offender passing through the Department of Correction of the City of
New York will leave the work of rehabilitation unfinished if there is no
integration of pre-discharge treatment with treatment after discharge.
The
remedial work of probation, institutionalization, and parole needs to be
continued to include the environment of the woman offender returned to the
community.
Her environment, as has been shown, is partly responsible for the
inception of the woman's delinquency.
It would appear, therefore, that a
sociological program of community improvement must go hand in hand with the
program of individualized rehabilitation, as well as individualized work
in the field of prevention.
Social work through separate, independent organizations, public
or semi-public, is not enough.
A community program for the improvement of
environment must represent the whole community with power behind it to carry
out the program.
Such a program would employ all existing preventive groups
and institutions,and coordinate all agencies in the field under one authority
-409-
capable of assuming definite responsibility for it.
The subject of this study has been the treatment of women offenders
passing through the Department of Correction of the City.of New York, but
it appears from the findings of the study that a community organization is
needed to take up the problem of delinquency before the Department of Correc­
tion is called upon to act and after the delinquent has been discharged from
all responsibility to the Department.
The Need for Further Study
The meagemess of available data regarding women offenders in
New York City would seem to point to the need of study and research in all
phases of the problem before new concepts, theories, or laws be formulated.
One phase which would appear to be a fertile field is in the laws governing
the method and the procedure of arrest and temporary detention of women
in New York City and the relationship between these and the recidivism of
women offenders.
The fields of probation and parole would seem to need
intensive study in relation to the kind of supervision received by probationers
and parolees and its effect as measured by the number of violations of
probation and parole, the number of absconders, and the number who complete
their sentence with good prognosis.
Further study would seem to be indicated
in the relation of different kinds of institutional treatment to the result
of the treatment as measured by the rehabilitation or relapse of women of­
fenders.
In connection with the law and its application to women offenders
in New York City ty the representatives of the law, the field would seem to
be open to research from several directions.
-4 1 0 -
Conclusion in Toto
While this study has been limited, as strictly as possible, to
the treatment of women offenders in New York City in relation to the
possible rehabilitation of such offenders, the conclusion seems to be ines­
capable that the problem of female delinquency begins long before the first
contact with the agencies of the law.
The pattern of delinquent behavior
is implicit in the individual problem before any program for rehabilitation
can begin to function.
The program only too often consists of locking the
barn door after the horse has been stolen.
The current literature of criminology stresses the cultural lag
in the working of the judicial system, but it does not neglect to point out
the relationship between this and the cultural lag in social organization as
a whole.
It becomes necessary, therefore, to base the program for rehabilita­
tion on the deep-seated maladjustment of individuals in conflict with a
social system ill-adapted to the capacity of that portion of the population
which is unable to conform.
In other words, the program for rehabilitation
must be designed, first, to offset the sociological handicap of the individ­
ual, and secondly, to treat the psychological and physiological handicaps
of the individual resulting from the conflict.
Thus, the basis of treatment would be remedial, and upon this
foundation,' it would seem possible to build the essentials of treatment for
rehabilitation through re-education and re-orientation of the individual.
Society’s misfits is a term often applied to offenders.
From the
point of view of the offender, it must not be forgotten that it is often
society which seems to be the "misfit.11
-4 1 1 -
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APPENDIX A
ONE HUNDRED INFORMAL INTERVIEWS WITH INMATES OF
THE HOUSE OF DETENTION FOR WOMEN IN NEW YORK CITY
APPENDIX A
ONE HUNDRED INFORMAL INTERVIEWS WITH INMATES OF
THE HOUSE OF DETENTION FOR WOMEN IN NEW YORK CITY
Interview No. 1.
Negro; age. 55: narcotic drug addiction*
A.
visited a friend one afternoon and as she was leaving a man
pushed her back into the apartment. He was a plain-clothes officer who
charged her with possession of narcotic drugs. She haul had one previous
arrest and was, therefore, as she said, "carefully watched." A. was
taken to the 123rd Street Police Station in a private car, was finger­
printed and later transferred to Police Headquarters where her picture
was taken. She was then taken to the 30th Street Police Station where
she was kept in an individual cell over night. An ambulance doctor gave
her two injections, one in the evening and the other in the morning. She
claims that she did not need the injections since she was not taking drugs
at all, but that she cried and was nervous because she felt she had been
unjustly arrested and the correctional officer interpreted her actions as
a craving for narcotic drugs. She bought her own breakfast in the morning
and was taken to Felony Court, ahere she was transferred to the Court of
Special Sessions on the same day, was booked there and kept waiting in
the "bull pen" until taken to the House of Detention for Women for exam­
ination. As soon as she reached the House of Detention for Women they
started to give her the reduction cure. Ten days later she was taken
bade to the Court of Special Sessions where she was found guilty and sen­
tenced to the penitentiary for from one to three years on a charge of
possession of narcotic drugs. After she had served five months, the Par­
ole Board decided to "give" her 24 months before she could be discharged
on parole.
A.
was b o m in Mississippi, the eldest of nine children.
mother died when she was eight years old. The children were divided armong friends and relatives until the father re-married. A. was taken
home and reared by her step-mother until she was seventeen. She was then
sent to college and later on to the State University where she graduated.
Since that time she had held good positions in Chicago and through one of
the firms for which she worked was referred to a position in New York City.
She had been in New York City only a short time when she was arrested and
was working when arrested. A. is a nice looking girl with light skin and
looks like a white person. Her features are not negroid. She is very
sensible and said that "it is no fund to be in jail." She has kept all
information secret which would enable the Court to contact her family,
so that no one will know of her experience. She is greatly concerned as
to what explanation to give her former employer and how to be re-employed.
-425-
Her
-426-
Interview Mo. 2.
Negro: age. 24: narcotic drug addiction.
At 11100 P.M., alien J. walked into a hall in Harlem to see a
friend a plaln-clothes officer (Negro) snatched her pocketbook from her
saying, "The house is under arrest." When the detective searched her
pocketbook he found ten marijuana cigarettes in it. He accused her of
being a seller. She said she was using the cigarettes but never sold
them. She had not been arrested since 1956. Another Negro detective,
who was waiting in a car, took her to the 125rd Street Police Station
where she was questioned and fingerprinted, and she claims she was asked
for money to "buy herself out.” Since she did not have enough money,
her history was taken and she was placed in a cell, under the care of a
correctional officer. Without any breakfast, she was taken to Felony
Court the next morning. Later kshe was taken to the House of Detention
for Women where they started a reduction cure the day of her admission.
A week later she was taken to the Court of Special Sessions where the
case was postponed through the assistance of her lawyer. A week later
she was sentenced. She pleaded not guilty as a user. She received a
penitentiary sentence of from one to three years on a charge of unlawful
possession of drugs. Lately she has received her marks from the Parole
Board which require 24 months at the prison.
J. is a good-looking Negro girl, tall and slender, very dark
skin. She is neat and dainty in appearance. She has a scar on her left
cheek which she claims she got in an accident when a child. She was bora
in New York City, the youngest of three children. Her mother, now dead,
kept her until she was fifteen. Her parents were separated. Her father
is in South Carolina. J. was graduated from high school and went to
business school for six months, but her hobby was always dancing. She
did not use her business education but tried dancing in a night club.
She said, "Dancing is my calling." She claims her mother did not let
her dance as a child, and that if she had not suppressed her desire to
dance she would be better off today. No one of her family knows of her
difficulties, except an aunt who is her only visitor. J. belongs to the
Methodist Episcopal Church and attended Sunday School as a child. She
claims that she started to smoke marijuana cigarettes while at school, but
so long as she used them moderately, she did not think they affected her
badly. She claims, in fact, that she always rated highly in her academic
work and that the cigarettes did not interfere with the various positions
she had held. After her discharge, J. expects to go back to her aunt with
whom she was staying in New York City. The interviewer inquired if the
habit was not very expensive, and J. replied that she paid twenty-five
cents for two cigarettes. They crave them as others crave whiskey; "if
you take one you don't need the other." Before leaving, J. said she had
enjoyed the visit and was thankful for a chance to speak to some one who
did not belong to the institution.
Interview Ho. 8.
fhite: age. 24. narcotic drug addiction.
B.
went in late afternoon into an apartment house in Manhattan
in a white district. Two plain-dothes detectives broke in suddenly,
stating that the people in the house were complaining that there were
-427-
always many visitors in the apartment. They searched the apartment
bat found nothing. "We'll arrest you In order to see how your health
is," said one of them. They took her to the station house, put her in
a cell in the care of a correctional officer. She was given no break­
fast. She had eleven dollars with her and wanted to send out for break­
fast, but the boy who did the shopping for detained women was not avail­
able. She also claimed that the correctional officer took her pocketbook when she was brought in, and the next morning it was returned with
only five dollars. She was taken to the Women's Court, where she pleaded
not guilty. The detective who arrested her advised her to change her plea
to guilty, and promised that she would get off easier. She also talked
with another detective who gave her the same advice. Four days later,
when the case came up for trial, she pleaded guilty
and received six
months' commitment to the workhouse at the House of Detention for Women
on a charge of prostitution since her smear came back positive. She
claims she had not known she was suffering from a venereal disease and
that, after a period of tendays' treatment at the House of Detention
for Women she was found to be negative. B. had a record of one previous
conviction when she served four months at the House of Detention for
Women on a different charge.
B. was bora in New York City, the youngest of two children.
Her mother died when she was an Infant and she was reared by her father.
She is a short, plump girl with blue eyes, very pale, She is charming
in manner and it is obvious that she was well brought up. She graduated
from high school and went to a business school from which she graduated.
She continued her education at Cooper Union where she studied art, which
she said was her hobby, but she worked as a stenographer, is a child she
attended Catholic Sunday School. Said she was deeply religious and attend­
ed Hass and went to confession, although the otheb girls were making fun '
of her. She did not want to discuss her previous commitment to the House
of Detention for Women.
Interview No. 4.
Negro: age. SO: narcotic drug addiction.
R. was alone on the street at midnight in Harlem when a plain­
clothes detective stopped his car and asked her where she was going. She
said to a beer tavern where she worked as a waitress. He said, "Okay,
get in, I'll give you a lift." When they were two blocks away from the
tavern she asked him to let her out, but he said he had to stop for gaso­
line. When they stopped, he picked up a detective and they took her to
the 13Sth Street Police Station where she was kept overnight in an indiv­
idual cell. She bought her own breakfast before she was taken to the
Bronx Court. She pleaded not guilty but was found guilty and was held
for investigation at the House of Detention for Women. Four days later
when her blood was found positive, she was given four months' sentence
to the workhouse at the House of Detention for Women on a charge of unlawful possession of drugs. This was her first offense where she had re­
ceived time. She had had a previous sentence which was suspended. She
feels that injustice was done her because she had been previously known
to the police.
-428-
R. was born in Tennessee and is next to the youngest of four
children.
She was reared by her parents and went to school until she
reached the eighth grade. She attended the Baptist Sunday School. A
year ago she came to New York City where she lived with her married
sister and worked as a waitress making $16.00 a week. While at the
House of Detention for Women she works in thelaundry. R. is a plump,
heavily built, dark Negro girl, homely but very lively in her talk.
interview No.5.
White: age. 19: narcotic drug addiction.
L. was at home in her apartment at 4iQ0 P.M., with her baby,
when four plain-clothes officers came into her apartment and asked where
her husband was. She told them he had gone out to get headache powders
for her. They sat down and waited a while. They then searched the apart­
ment but did not find any narcotic drugs.
They were aware of the fact
that she had been committed in 1936 for a 105-day reduction cure. While
they waited a friend came in with needles, eye drops and cotton. The de­
tectives found the instruments and arrested the woman. At six o'clock,
L.'s husband returned with 1/16 ounce of narcotic drug and instruments,
but when he heard men's voices in the apartment, he dropped the parcel in
the mailbox. He stepped into the apartment, was searched, but no drugs
were found. They found the mailbox key in his pocket and upon looking into
the box found the package, which they knew belonged to him. L. at first
refused to go to the jtolice station, but when they threatened to take
her child away she went to plead guilty as a user since there was nothing
else to do, and the husband did the same. They were taken in a private
car to the 104th Street Police Station where they were fingerprinted and
then to Police Headquarters where their pictures were taken. They were
then sent to the Clinton Street Police Station for the night. L. was
given an individual cell. At onev o'clock that night and at eight in
the morning the ambulance doctor gave her injections.
Then the detective
took her to the Court of Special Sessions where she pleaded guilty. She
was taken to the House of Detention for Women where a reduction cure was
started. Two days later, she was returned to the Court of Special Sessions
and was held for another week for investigation, when she was sentenced to
four months in the workhouse at the House of Detention for Women.
L. was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the youngest of seven chil­
dren, five of whom are alive. She had two years of industrial high school
training in New York City. After leaving school, she married a man ten
years her senior. She did not know he was a narcotic drug addict. Through
him she developed the habit. She said she felt that his life was lost so
■why should I keep mine?" She was seventeen when she started using nar­
cotic drugs. She confessed this to her priest to whom she went for advice.
She said, "It seems as if the priest advised me not to stay with my hus­
band any more and to lead my o m life as I would always be in difficulties
with him. He will not be able to break this habit." She then contradict­
ed herself by saying that after all her husband had not given it to her
but she took it of her own accord. L. is an attractive girl and looks
younger than her age. She likes to dance and sing but is not allowed to
dance because of a weak heart. She claims her blood was found negative,
but smear doubtful. She has been receiving venereal treatment. She claims
that her child is being well taken care of by her paternal grandparents.
-429-
Interview Ho. 6.
Bhlte: age. 51: narcotic drag addiction*
M. was in her furnished room at 6 P.M., when two plain-dothes
detectives walked in and found narcotic drugs. Having a previous record,
she was taken willingly to the 68th Street Police Station and finger­
printed. She was then taken to the 30th Street Police Station and kept
over night in an individual cell under the care of a correctional officer.
She received two injections ffeam an ambulance doctor, one in the evening
and one in the morning. After buying her own breakfast, she was taken
to Felony Court, later to the House of Detention for Women where a reduc­
tion cure was started. A week later she was taken to the Court of Spec­
ial Sessions where she pleaded guilty as a user of narcotic drugs. A
week later she was sentenced to six months in the workhouse at the House
of Detention for Women on a charge of unlawful possession of narcotic
drugs.
U. was boro in Hew York City, the third youngest of seven chil­
dren. She was nearly sixteen when her mother died. She married then and
had one child which died in Infancy. Her husband died, a few years later.
Since that time she has been very lonely and she claims that after the
loss of her husband she was so depressed that she started taking drugs.
M. is an old looking woman, very tall and slender. She talked as if life
did not have anything more in store for her. She said that she had had
one previous arrest a ydar ago, but before the end of the interview she
admitted that she had had many arrests on the same charge.
Interview No. 7.
Whites age. 54: narcotic drug addiction.
At noon time as D. walked along Amsterdam Avenue to a store, a
detective drove up to her and said, "If you have drugs you had better
cone with me to the station house." Since she had drugs on her person,
she went with him, first to one station and then to another when she was
kept overnight.
While there she received two treatments from an ambulance
doctor. The next day she was taken to the Court of Special Sessions where
she was fingerprinted, and sent to the House of Detention for Women and a
reduction cure was started. Ten days later she was returned to the Court
of Special Sessions and sentenced to four months in the Workhouse for un­
lawful possession of narcotic drugs.
D.
was boro in Hew York City. Her parents were divorced.
her father died. She and her three sisters were brought up entirely by
her mother. In her teens her mother put her in a Catholic convent in
Pennsylvania. When she left the convent She became a model and worked
on the stage. She married. Her husband had ulcers of the stomach and
later on tuberculosis. She said he was very good to her and knew that
she had been taking narcotic drugs since she was fourteen when another
young girl gave her drugs regularly. Until her husband's illness he could
afford to buy drugs for her, but recently they had sold all their furni­
ture, piece by piece, in order to get money for the drug (heroin). She
is very upset at being separated from her husband while he is so sick,
«nd feels that he may die before she gets back to him. She claims that
the House of Detention for Woman is not a very bad place to be in, but
that inmates are cranky and disagreeable to associate with. She keeps
to herself a great deal. Friends provide her with money so that she can
buy cigarettes.
Later
-430-
Intervlew Ho. 8.
Heero: age. 28: narcotic drug addiction.
H.
lived in a rooming bouse in Harlem and one night about mid­
night she answered a knock on her door and there were four plain-dothes
officers who said they were looking for a prostitute. Since H. was alone
and fully dressed, they searched her room and found narcotic drugs. She
was arrested and fingerprinted at the l£5rd Street Police Station which
revealed the fact that she had been previously arrested. She was taken
to the 30th Street Police Station for the night, and was treated twice by
an ambulance doctor. In the morning she was taken to Police Headquarters
and photographed, then to Felony Court. From there she was sent to the
House of Detention for Women where a reduction cure was started immediate­
ly. Four days later she was taken to the Court of Special Sessions and
her case was postponed. A week later she was sentenced in the Court of
Special Sessions on a charge of unlawful possession of narcotic drugs.
She was sent to the penitentiary at the House of Detention for Women for
an indefinite term. The Court held that she must have been a seller as
the amount of drug (a little less than an ounce) was too much for a user
only. H. said that she was not working at the time of her arrest, and
that she had started taking drugs two years previously when she was in
bad company and could not resist the habit any more.
N. was born in Georgia, one of four children. She was the
youngest. Her parents died when she was of kindergarten age and she was
brought up by her grandmother. H. reached the eighth grade, and then had
to quit school to go to work. When fifteen she helped support her grand­
mother and sisters and brothers. She planned to come to Hew lork City
where she could earn more money and did come in 1937. She has since felt
this was her biggest mistake. She never made enough money to send any
home because the drug habit took all she earned. Before she came to the
city, she said, she had been a hard-working woman with no time for recrea­
tion.
Since in the city she spent her free time in the streets and was
subjected to "all kinds of vices." D. belongs to the Protestant Church,
went to Sundpy School as a child, but has not had any contact with church
in Hew lork City. She is a light-colored girl, very short and thin, ner­
vous and fidgety while talking. Has a slight lisp in her speech. She
was friendly and polite during the interview.
Interview Ho. 9.
White; age. 471 narcotic drug addiction.
M. was working as a chambermaid at the Hotel McAlpin for ten
dollars a week. She says that the one meal she was entitled to get there
was so bad that she spent her money buying food and did not have enough
money left to buy clothes. She was caught taking a dress in a department
store. The store detective took her to the manager's office, she returned
the dress, and was taken to the 82nd Street Poli.de Station where she had
to share a cell with another woman. There was no bed; nothing but a hard
board to sleep on. She bought her own supper and breakfast. In the morn­
ing she was taken to Police Headquarters, stood in the line-up and was
photographed. While at Headquarters she wanted to go to the toilet but
there was no correctional officer around (it was Good Friday) and no one
would take her. She was then taken to the Women's Court where bail was
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refused. She pleaded guilty, her fingerprints were taken, and she was
sent to the House of Detention for Women. Her medical report cane back
negative. Seventeen days later she was sentenced to the penitentiary
at the House of Detention for Women for from one to three years. She
claims she got such a severe sentence because of previous arrests as a
drug addict and shoplifter.
H. was an only child. She was bora in Pennsylvania. She lost
her parents when a child. She went through two years of high school.
Harried very young, her husband died when they had been married fourteen
years. Since then she has been taking things from stores and has developed
the drug habit. M. was brought up in the Episcopal Church but has had no
contact with the church for many years. She is a tall, slender gin, has
sharp features and small, narrow piercing eyes. She was dressed as a cook
since she works in the kitchen. Said she likes to sew and would rather
be assigned to the sewing room than the kitchen, but "they have so few
girls without venereal disease that there is a shortage of workers for
the kitchen."
Interview Ho. 10. Whites age. 50s narcotic drug addiction.
C. went alone to a drug store in Brooklyn about 11:00 A.M., and
tried to buy a narcotic drug. The pharmacist telephoned the police and
she wasarrested on a charge of unlawfully trying to obtain drugs from a
druggist. She drove the two plain-dothes officers to her home where she
and her husband were searched. Then, still in her car, she drove the de­
tectives to a police station in Brooklyn where she was fingerprinted. She
claims she had had one previous arrest on the same charge. She was then
taken to Sheepahead Bay Precinct where she was again fingerprinted and
kept in an individual cell over night. She complained that the correc­
tional officer had called for an ambulance at 5 P1M. and at U P.M., but
she had difficulty in getting a treatment in the morning. The correction­
al officer gave her food from her own breakfast. She was then taken to
Coney Island Magistrate1s Court where she waited arraignment, was then
taken to Raymond Street Jail where she was placed under the supervision
of a correctional officer in a large waiting room. In the afternoon she
was taken to the House of Detention for Women. Two days later she was
released on $200 bail. The sentence had to be postponed for seven weeks
because she became very ill. Her doctor had gone before the court and
stated that she was in no condition to appear. The detective suggested
to her husband that she plead guilty in the hope that the sentence would
be suspended, and said that the services of a lawyer were unnecessary.
She went to the Court of Special Sessions in Brooklyn and changed her
plea to guilty. Her doctor was with her, but she said the probation
officer who had interviewed her a week before told the judge that the
doctor had said C. had been under his care for five months and that at
the beginning of his treatment she had been full of drugs. The judge,
therefore, would not allow the doctor to testify and gave her a sentence
of six months in the workhouse at the House of Detention for Women.
C.
was b o m in Hew fork
ents. She went to high school while living
Right after graduation she married and went
who died in infancy. Her husband died soon
City, the only child of Protestant par­
at home with her parents.
to Chicago. She had one child
after. She re-married and
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lived In North Carolina for some time before returning to New York
City. She said her husband holds a good position and they have no
economic needs, but he was taken up with his business and she was lone­
ly in New York and could not find the type of friends she wanted. This
loneliness had driven her to take drugs. C. is middle-sized and younger
looking than her age. She is out-spoken in her viewpoints, is very up­
set over the arrest, and had great difficulty in getting adjusted to
the routine of the institution. She said it is the firmt time in her
life she has learned to obey. She knows that if she gets into diffi­
culties with the correctional officers she might be there longer, so
she tries to be obedient. She has come in contact with other narcotic
drug addicts at the House of Detention for Women and she is afraid they
may look her up after her release, since they know that she has a good
home and a car of her own.
Interview No. 11.
White; age. 42; narcotic drug addiction.
A. was alone in the street, uptown Uanhattan, about 6:00 P.M.,
when three plain-dothes detectives grabbed her pocketbook and found heroin
and a needle. She said she had a good record and had not been arrested
for thirteen years. They took her to the West 100 Street Police Station
where she was booked. The same evening about 10:00 she was taken to
Police Headquarters where she was photographed and fingerprinted. She
was then taken downtown to the Clinton Street Prison where she was placed
in an individual cell in the care of a correctional officer. An ambulance
was called at night and again in the morning and she was given treatment.
Without breakfast, she was taken to the Court of Special Sessions where
she pleaded guilty, and was sent to the House of Detention for Women for
investigation. Her reduction cure was started. A week later, she was re­
turned to the Court of Special Sessions where she was sentenced to four
months in the workhouse for unlawful possession of narcotic drugs.
A. was bora in Massachusetts, the youngest of seven children.
She graduated from grammar school and was living with one of her married
sisters in Massachusetts. This sister is the only member of her family
who knows about her commitment. She married many years ago and her hus­
band died while she was serving a sentence. A. is a tall woman, with bent
and rounded back. She has dark brown hair which she wears in a long bob.
Her face is carefully made up and she claims that she has always taken
good care of her person. After talking a while, she said she had had two
previous sentences, one she served at the Workhouse on Welfare Island and
one at Gray Court. She referred to these places as bad places. She com­
plained of the constant noises of the heavy traffic and the elevated trains.
"I miss the grass and the trees,* she said.
Interview No. 12.
White: age. 29: narcotic drug addiction.
K. had gone out because she had had a telephone call to come
down and get the drugs she had ordered. She saw a man standing alone
near a building and when she reached him, he handed her a package. As
soon as she had taken it, she was encircled by four men. She dropped the
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package, but she then realised that she had been "framed" by the police.
She had had a previous arrest and conviction and she realised that she
would gain nothing by getting a lawyer. The detectives first took her
to her own room which they searched thoroughly but found no drugs. She
was then taken to the 123rd Street Police Station where she was booked,
and later to Police Headquarters where she was photographed and finger­
printed. From there she was taken to a downtown police station and put
in an individual cell. The correctional offioer telephoned for an ambu­
lance. The doctor came that night and again the next morning, but each
time refused to give her treatment. She was very sick throughout the
night. The matron got coffee for her and bought her cigarettes. In
the morning she was taken to Felony Court in a police van. She vomited
constantly. She hardly remembers what happened at Court or until she
reached the House of Detention for Women and received her first treat­
ment in connection with the reduction cure. A week later she was still
very sick. She was taken to the Court of Special Sessions where she
pleaded guilty as a user of narcotic drugs. She was detained at the
House of Detention for Women for investigation and twenty-four days
after her arrest was sentenced, as a user and seller of narcotic drugs,
to the penitentiary at the House of Detention for Women. She said she
was glad tihen the sentence was pronounced because she was frightened
of being kept in the bull pen at the Court of Special Sessions if the
case was not settled.
K. was b o m in New York City, an only child. Her mother died
when she was three years old. Her father married again, a woman who
had children of her own. After that she felt unhappy at home since the
blame for everything that went wrong was put upon her. She graduated
from grammar school and then ran away from home and worked as an assis­
tant waitress. When she was sixteen she had a regular job. She never
went back to her people and they do not know where she is. She refused
to give information concerning her family to the court investigator as
she did not want them to know of her difficulty. At the House of Deten­
tion for Women she is assigned to cleaning and mopping corridors. She
joins in the recreation offered and plays basketball. She takes piano
lessons but at present the teacher is on vacation and no provision has
been made for someone to take her place. K. is a stout, heavily built
woman with brown hair and dark brown eyes. She is nervous, pale and up­
set. She said she had sympathy for all who suffer, and had found the
treatment of the ambulance doctor too cruel for words.
Interview No. 15.
Negro: age. 27: narcotic drug addiction.
R. was alone in a furnished room in Harlem about 5:00 P.M.,
when she heard a terrifio noise in the hall. Her door was broken open,
and four white plain-elothes officers came into her room. They searched
and found narcotic drugs. She was taken to the 123rd Street Police
Station and kept in an Individual cell overnight. No ambulance came in
the evening, although she asked for one, but one came in the morning.
She wanted to be "fixed up." Without breakfast, she was taken to the
Court of Special Sessions, where she pleaded not guilty. This was her
first arrest. She was then taken to the House of Detention for Women
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for investigation, her photograph was taken, and a reduction cure
started. Two weeks later she was sentenced to the penitentiary. She
has been given her time by the Parole Board which will be two years.
R. was bora in Florida, an only child. When she was six
months old her mother died. Her grandparents took her until she was
seven. Then she was sent to friends in New York City where she graduated
from high school. She was married but is separated from her husband.
She was working as a hat check girl in a night d u b at the time of her
arrest. She is a very good-looking girl with fine posture and figure.
She is intelligent in her talk and sdf-possessed. She said all her
friends but one had left her since her difficulty. She claims she start­
ed to take heroin only a short while before her arrest and she thinks one
of the girls where she worked must have passed this information on to the
police. She is assigned to the tenth floor where she deans and hdps
on the recreation roof.
Interview Ho. 14.
Negro: age. 30: narcotic drug addiction.
Six white plain-dothes officers broke into E. *s apartment
about 7:00 A.M., and found E. with a white man and arrested her for pros­
titution. She had been arrested on the same charge previoudy. They took
her to the 125rd Street Police Station where she was fingerprinted, and
then to the Women’s Court. She pleaded guilty and was taken to the House
of Detention for Women. Four days later her report from the Board of
Health came back negative and she was given a sentence of ninety days on
a charge of prostitution.
E. was bora in South Dakota, the younger of two children. Her
parents separated when she was three and she was reared by her grandparents.
She attended school through the fifth grade and was then sent to work in a
factory. In 1930 E. came to New York City where she could earn more money.
She did housework, but had no work at the time of her arrest, and therefore
had applied for home relief. She said she had given up her steady work
because she had developed the habit of taking narcotic drugs which she
began while in bad company. She said that many girls are being introduced
to that habit by people who invite them out and then teach them the habit.
She said she had relations with white men because "white men are crazy
about us and I needed money to buy drugs." She said this was the only
way in which she could secure money to satisfy the craving. E. said she
was quite satisfied to be arrested. Since she has stopped taking the drug
she has gained and feels stronger. She is assigned to the sewing room.
She takes in all such recreation as tennis, baseball and the exercises on
the roof. She seems to enjoy the well-organized set-up of the institution
and her good meals daily. She said She could never feed herself on the
money she received from home relief without extra income. E. was brought
up in the Baptist Church and attended Sunday School as a child, but has
not kept up any church contacts since she came to New York City. She has
a nice way of talking in a very low voice. She was friendly and coopera­
tive.
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Interview Mo. 15.
Negro: age. 48: narcotic drag addiction.
M. met a seller of narcotic drugs in Harlem about 7:00 P.M.,
but before she had a chance to get the drug, three white plain-dothes
men surrounded them. Since she had had a previous sentence on the same
charge, she gave up and followed the detectives into a police car. She
was taken to the 125rd Street Police Station where she was booked and
fingerprinted. About 11:00 P.M., she was taken to Police Headquarters
and photographed, and then to the 30th Street Police Station where she
was kept in an individual cell overnight under the care of a correction­
al officer. She was twice given treatment by an ambulance doctor. She
was taken in the morning to Felony Court and booked for a hearing and
from there to the House of Detention for Women where photographs and
tests were taken. The Board of Health Report was positive. She was
taken to the Court of Special Sessions a week later and sentenced to the
penitentiary at the House of Detention for Women for from one to three
years on a charge of unlawful possession of narcotic drugs. She has
been given her time by the Parole Board which is fifteen months. Her
reduction cure started as soon as she reached the House of Detention for
Women. She was greatly worried at having lost a good job which she held
at the time of her arrest as the superintendent of a large building where
she made enough money to live comfortably and to pay the expense connect­
ed with her drug habit.
M. was born in New York State, the youngest of sixteen children,
five of whom are living. Her parents are dead. She went to ^gchool through
the fourth grade and then worked nursing babies. She worked** ward maid in
hospitals and as a lady's maid in well-to-do hoses. M. had had several
previous arrests as a narcotic drug addict and for prostitution. She claims
the prostitution was only to make money to satisfy her craving for narcotic
drugs. H. works in the laundry at the institution, and has joined the glee
club. She said singing helped to relieve her worries. On previous arrests
she had been sentenced to the Workhouse on Welfare Island. She said it is
a better place than the House of Detention for Women, and that there was
more air and it was healthier. She also liked the exercise in the yard at
the Workhouse. On certain days the warden there gave them special permis­
sion to stay up late and they were not locked in their cells in the early
hours as they were here. II. is a friendly woman, considerably overweight.
She is eager to get out. She said the food and the medical care are not
the main things. "All that is wanted unless you have fresh air. It is
so close here. I can go to the roof for only a short while because I am
kept too busy in the laundry."
Interview No. 16.
White, age. 54: narcotic drug addiction.
R. lived in an apartment in uptown Manhattan with her husband.
One morning, not feeling well, she was in bed asleep when about 11:00
A.M. three plain-clothes detectives came into her room through the fireescape window with drawn guns. They said they came to search for drugs.
She claims her apartment was shared with four other tenants and they all
used the one bathroom. In the bathroom narcotic drugs were found. Al­
though there was no proof that the drugs belonged to her, she was taken
to Police Headquarters where she was photographed and fingerprinted. She
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was kept at Headquarters until 7:00 P.M. without getting treatment.
Then a doctor from Gouveneur Hospital was called and gave her an injec­
tion. She thought this cruel since she was very sick by the time he
came. She was then taken to the Clinton Street Police Station for the
night. She did not get any meal in the evening, nor in the morning, but
another ambulance doctor gave her morphine at 11 P.M. In the morning
she was taken to Felony Court. Before leaving for court an ambulance
doctor was called for her but he did not come. By 2:30 in the afternoon
she arrived at the House of Detention for Women. The doctor examined
her but she did not get any morphine until 8:30 in the evening when the
reduction cure was started. B. pleaded not guilty five days later in
the Court of Special Sessions. She was very sick at the time of the
trial. She was held for State record. Within a week's time she was
sentenced to the penitentiary at the House of Detention for Women on a
charge of unlawful possession of narcotic drugs. Her time has been
given her by the Parole Board; it is two years. She had had three pre­
vious convictions on disorderly conduct. She is allowed to write one
letter a month to her husband, rwho was sentenced to three years in the
penitentiary on Biker's Island.
R. was b o m in New York City, one of two children. Mother died
when she was an infant and she was taken by an aunt. She went to high
school one year. She left her aunt because she was very unhappy and then
drifted around, never having more than odd jobs until she was married when
she was twenty-three. She has no children. Since adolescence she has had
sinus trouble. She was operated on at the Roosevelt Hospital, where she
claims she received treatment for a long time, and that since her dis­
charge from the hospital she cannot get along without the injections.
Six weeks after leaving the hospital she says she realized that she had
become a drug addict. She now hopes her health will improve as she was
in very poor condition at the time of her arrest. R. is a tall girl with
blond hair. She says she is aggravated with everybody, Is discontented
with her past life and when she looks in a mirror she sees all the marks
of her unwholesome way of living. She said, "It is tough to be in jail
for a long time, especially where it is hot and the routine is monotonous
And there is no diversion of any kind."
Interview No. 17.
Negro: age. 42: narcotic drug addiction.
B.
was at home in her flat in Manhattan when at 3:00 P.M. two
plain-dothes detectives broke in and arrested her. She was taken in a
private car to the 68th Street Police Station where she was booked. Later
she was taken to the 50th Street Police Station for the night where she
was under the care of a correctional officer. She bought her supper and
breakfast. The correctional officer got an ambulance doctor for her twice.
In the morning she was taken to Police Headquarters where she was finger­
printed and photographed. Later in the day she was taken to the Court of
General Sessions where she pleaded guilty. She was kept quite some time
in the "bull pen" which frightened her. She got soup at lunch time while
she waited to be taken to the House of Detention for Women. A reduction
cure was started. In 19 days she was taken to the Court of Special Ses­
sions but sentence was postponed. She insisted on seeing a probation of­
-457-
ficer, but she was taken again to Court to be sentenced without hawing
seen a probation officer or social worker. She was given a penitentiary
sentence. She had no lawyer and did not know that she could ask for one.
B.
was bora in New Tork City, and said she came of a large fam­
ily. They always went to the Baptist Church. She had very little school­
ing. She married in later years but did not get along with her husband
and so they separated. There were no children. She said she was very
lonesome and the only thing which satisfied her while in prison was the
time she could devote to reading. She was interested in serious novel
writers such as Galsworthy. B. is tall and thin, and her hair was done
up in little curls.
Interview No. 18.
Negro: age. 28: narcotic drug addiction.
A. was at home in her furnished room in Harlem when, in the
evening, two white plain-clothes officers came in. One man said he was
selling dresses. Two other men came in and said they were house inspec­
tors and wanted to see what kind of repairs the place needed. They looked
at the walls and measured things, spoke about painting to each other. A.
asked them to come back when the superintendent was at home and he could
show them around. They then said they had a warrant to search her place.
The landlady was not at home and one of the doors was locked. One of the
detectives asked A. to unlock the door but she did not have the key. They
broke open the door which led to the landlady's bedroom where they found
narcotic drugs. One detective said, "I have to take you down to the 123rd
Street Police Station." A. could not see why she had to suffer since the
drugs were found in the landlady's room, and asked the detectives to wait,
but they did not listen to her. At the 125rd Street Station it was de­
cided that she could be released on $200 bail. Since she did not have
that amount, she was taken to another police station where she was kept
overnight. She bought her own food. The next morning her father helped
her with the bail fee and she went home. The landlady who was a show-girl
was told by sane of the roomers what had happened and when A. got home
she had gone and has not been heard from since. Three months after her
arrest, A. was given a hearing at the Court of Special Sessions where she
pleaded not guilty. No fingerprints were taken. She had a lawyer who
told her to plead guilty. She changed her plea and was sent to the House
of Detention for Women where she was fingerprinted. She was sentenced to
the penitentiary for from one to three years. Since coming to the House
of Detention for Women she has not received any treatment for drug addic­
tion. She has been assigned to cleaning the corridors. She takes the
physical exercises and likes to play baseball.. She cannot take the Eng­
lish classes as she would like to because of poor eyesight.
A.
was born in Florida, the youngest of eight children.
mother's father was a preacher in the Mother Zion Church. She went as
far as the fifth grade. When five years old, she was brought to New York
City, and a few years later was sent out to earn money helping to take
care of babies. When sixteen, she married a man who was twenty-six. She
had one baby that died in infancy. In 1925 she and her husband separated.
Her
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A. worked at the time of her arrest as a domestic. She is & tall, goodlooking girl, with nice features. She said she did not know what it is
like to take drugs; she has never taken any. She feels that she was
wrongfully arrested and is very bitter toward the treatment she received
at the hands of the police.
Interview No. 19.
Negro: age. 51: narcotic drug addiction.
R. went out to buy heroin and when she returned to her furnished
room in Harlem during the day, two plain-clothes men came in and found
one-sixteenth ounce of heroin in her hands. She was taken in a private
car to the 123rd Street Police Station where she was booked and finger­
printed, and then taken to Police Headquarters for the line-up where her
picture was taken. She had to stand on the platform while her previous
record was read aloud. She said she did not mind so much the crowd sitting
in the courtroom, but that the other arrested women with whoa she would
have to associate later on would know all the intimate facts of her life.
She was then taken to the 50th Street Police Station and kept overnight
in an individual cell. The ambulance doctor came at 8:00 P.M. and mid­
night, and again in the morning to give her treatment. Without food for
twenty-four hours, she was taken to Felony Court where she pleaded guilty.
She was taken to the House of Detention for Women where a reduction cure
was started. She claims she was in need of narcotic drug during the hear­
ing and consequently was very miserable. When she was sentenced the of­
ficer said she was not only a user but a seller of narcotic drugs which
she claimed was untrue. She had no lawyer and no money and did not know
that she could secure one free of charge.
She has been working since ad­
mittance in the laundry.
R. was born In Massachusetts, one of two children and was reared
by her parents. She graduated from grammar school. In 1925 she came to
New York City in the hope of finding better paid employment. In 1933 she
was arrested for the first time, and again in 1936, both times on the
same charge. In 1936 she broke parole. She said she was obliged to take
drugs because she could not sleep and that had made her a drug addict.
Her sleep has improved since she has been at the House of Detention for
Women. She said the whole thing (meaning arrest and trial) is disgrace­
ful and disagreeable. "It frightens you, especially if you cure hungry.
Nobody wants to be arrested. The judge would not give me a chance to
speak up. I could have explained." At times R. is very depressed and
does not see any use in continuing life in the way she has been living.
She is a tall girl, with a dahk skin and plain features. She is slow in
her speech.
Interview No.20.
Negro: age. 25: narcotic drug addiction.
At 6:00 P.M. in Harlem,D. was visiting a cousin in an apartment
house when the bell rang. She opened the door. A white plain-clothes
man came in and grabbed her. He said he was there to make an arrest. He
took a package from the dresser and asked if she knew about it, which she
denied. There were narcotic drugs and instruments in the package. She
was taken to the 135th Street Police Station where she was booked and
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fingerprinted, later to Police Headquarters where her picture was taken,
and from there to the Delaney Street Police Station where she remained
for the night under the care of a correctional officer. She had no food
in the evening or in the morning. No ambulance doctor was called because
she claimed she never used drugs. In the morning she was taken to Felony
Court, pleaded not guilty. She bad a lawyer but he did not show up in
time. She was sent to the House of Detention for Women, and three months
later was given a sentence of six months in the workhouse. At the time of
her arrest she had a part-time job as a domestic and was living with her
own family.
D. was born in New York City, the youngest of two children.
She had elementary schooling. She is short, neat in appearance; looks
weak and anemic, and has a decided tremor in her hands. She was suspici­
ous throughout the interview. She was afraid that the information she
revealed might be used against her and she might have to serve a longer
term in consequence. She said she was receiving treatment for gonorrhea,
D. was decidedly bitter against the detective who "railroaded" her. Al­
though she spoke freely of that experience which she called outrageous,
she remained throughout the interview courteous but emotional and seemed
nervous. D. belongs to the Protestant Church, but has had no church con­
tacts and has never been to Sunday School. She has broken with her fam­
ily and they do not know about her difficulties, but she claims to have a
few good friends who are standing by and one of them comes to see her reg­
ularly during visiting hours.
Interview Mo. 21.
White: age. 52: prostitution.
At 11:00 P.M., R. was standing in front of the Hotel New Yorker
talking to a girl friend. As she said goodby to her friend she noticed
that she had lost one of her gloves. She looked around and while she was
bending down she felt someone grab her. A plain-doth.es detective told
her she was under arrest on a charge of prostitution. In his private car
he took her to the 50th Street Police Station where she was taken care of
for the rest of the night by a correctional officer. She was not given
any breakfast in the morning. She was taken to a City Magistrates' Court
"somewhere on Sixth Avenue," where the detective stated that she had ac­
cepted money from him for prostitution which R. denied.
She would not
plead guilty and was taken to the House of Detention for Women for inves­
tigation. Poor days later the report came back from the Board of Health
that she had gonorrhea. She was taken to the Women's Court and was given
a sentence of 120 days in the workhouse at the House of Detention for
Women. She had no lawyer nor anyone interested in her case. R. states
that this is her first contaot with the Court. She was working at the
time of her arrest as a saleslady and was living with her mother who is
very sick. Her mother thinks she is in a hospital. She has never been
in economic need and has been self-supporting since she was graduated from
high school.
R. lost her father when she was very young, that she came of a
nice family, and her main difficulty would be to face her eleven nieces
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and nephews who* she has helped to rear. B. is Jewish, and very emo­
tional. She cried throughout the interview and said that the court ex­
perience had upset her so much she was surprised she had not had a ner­
vous breakdown. She claims she is sleepless throughout the night in her
cell. The constant noise of the elevated train is very annoying and at
times she gets so irritable that she wants to scream. She misses the
fresh air, some ground to walk on, green grass and trees. She refers to
the prison always as the "bird cage."
Interview Ho.
22.
Hegro and Indian: age. 29: prostitution.
At midnight a white
man visited E. in her
apartment in Brooklyn.
During the visit, a white plain-clothes detective smashed the door to her
apartment and arrested her and her girl friend who lived in the next apart­
ment. He took them in a police car to the Poplar Street Police Station
where they were both locked in one cell and had to sleep on a board. The
next morning the correctional officer gave than coffee and rolls in their
cell. They were then taken in a police wagon to the Women's Court in Man­
hattan. The detective who accompanied them suggested that they plead guilty
and that would give the judge a chance to givethem
suspended sentences.
They followed the detective's advice, and were sent to the House of Deten­
tion for Women for investigation. They asked if bail could be arranged for
them and the judge set the bail at $500. This they could not afford, so
they were returned to the House of Detention for Women. E.'s smear came
back negative but the Wassexman test was positive. She was taken to the
Women's Court where she was sentenced to the workhouse for six months. She
had a prior record on the same charge.
E. was b o m in Virginia, but as a little girl, with her twin sis­
ter, was taken to Philadelphia by her parents. She lost her mother, who
was a Negress, tfien she was young. Her father, an Indian? had a medicine
store in Philadelphia, and is still making a good business of it. E. grad­
uated from the eighth grade. At the time of her arrest she was working as
a waitress, living with her married brother.
She has been assigned to
the sewing room making rugs at which she spends six hours a day. E. is a
very good-looking woman, slow in talking, well-mannered and does not care
to speak of her difficulties. She said the judge gave her a long sentence
because he was angry that a white man could have relations with a woman of
her race. The white man was allowed to go heme, although she claimed he
was known to have a venereal disease. She had known him for some time,
and said he was thirty, and holds a good business position. Last April,
E. was taken to court on the same charge but received a suspended sentence .
She has never been on probation and never served a term in prison before.
She was greatly bewildered as to the methods of the detectives and referred
to them as "bulls." After her discharge she plans to return to her father
in Philadelphia who is unaware of her difficulties.
Interview Ho. 25.
Negro: age. 52: prostitution.
B.
walked from her home to a beer garden in which she worked as
a waitress around noon time. The moment she entered the beer garden a man
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walked out idiom she had served previously. He was on the verge of speak­
ing to her, when a plain-clothes officer grabbed her and said she was
under arrest for prostitution. As she had had several previous arrests
on the same charge she said nothing but walked with the officer to his
police car and was taken to the Poplar Street Police Station in Brooklyn,
where she was booked. In the same car she was taken to the Women's Court
in Manhattan. She did not have a chance to explain what happened because
the detective told the judge she was found soliciting on the street. She
was sent to the House of Detention for Women for examination, and since
she was found to have a venereal disease she was detained as a Board of
Health case. Each time she was taken to court she was fingerprinted. She
has been assigned to work in the laundry.
B.
was born in Virginia. After her parents died, she was taken
to Saratoga Springs, New York, where she went to school until the finished
the eighth grade. She was taken to court for the first time when she was
fifteen. Soon after that she married. Her husband is dead, as well as
her only child. Later in the interview, she contradicted herself and
stated that her daughter is being brought up by a foster mother. The
child is now fourteen years of age. At the time of her arrest, B. had
been working and made about fifty dollars a month. After her discharge
she plans to go to Virginia to be near her daughter, and said she has
saved about $500. B. is a stockily built woman, with a happy-go-lucky
disposition. She got rid of her hair by shaving it off because it was
too warm. She has made up her mind to settle down in the South and take
life easy and forget her experience in New York City. She said she was
a Methodist and had attended Sunday School. She has written to the child* s
foster mother to be sure to send the child to Sunday School and to see that
she participates in all church activities.
Interview No. 24.
Negro; age.
?t prostitution.
While C. was returning from a party in Harlem about 2x00 A.M.
alone, a white plain-clothes officer walked along beside her. She felt a
little uneasy about it, but made believe she did not notice him. Finally,
he said she was under arrest. At that moment a police car drove up to the
sidewalk. She refused at first to step into the car, but to avoid a fight
she obeyed orders and was taken to the 125rd Street Police Station where
she was booked and kept overnight in a cell under the care of a correction­
al officer. In the morning, without breakfast, she was taken to the Wo­
men's Court, where she pleaded not guilty. She was then taken to the House
of Detention for Women where it was found that she had syphilis and that
she had had three previous convictions on the same charge. She received a
sentence of six months to the workhouse. At the time of her arrest, she
was doing housework and was receiving treatment for her condition in a
city hospital.
C.
was born in Virginia, one of five children. Her father died
when she was seven. Soon after, the mother came with all the children to
New York City hoping to earn more money. C. as the eldest was not allowed
to continue her education after she reached the sixth grade. She had to
go to work. She first took care of babies, and later did .'domestic work
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in living-in positions. C. belongs to the Methodist Church and says she
was practically raised in Sunday School. She claims that none of her
family has been on home relief and that they were always hard working
and self-supporting. She took a certain pride in telling of their great
economic need and how they had still managed on their own. C. is a large,
dark-skinned Negress, with thick lips and curly hair, apparently of low
grade mentality. Her only ambition is to get out of her present situa­
tion. She is interested in working and eager to find employment as soon
as she is discharged. She claims her brothers and sisters had a better
education than she because she had had to work. She never liked New York
City and wonders if arrangements could be made so that she could return
to Virginia. "Life is so much cleaner there.” Her attitude toward her
court experience is one of bitterness and she feels that her first arrest
was justified but that later ones were frame-ups.
Interview No. 25.
Negro: age. 55: prostitution.
As A. came home from a party in Harlem, a white man offered her
a lift. She accepted. When they came to a red light, another car drove
in front to stop them and two detectives arrested her. The man who had
offered the lift was a detective. She was taken to the 50th Street Police
Station where she was booked and placed in an Individual cell and under
the care of a correctional officer. The next morning, without breakfast,
she was taken to the Women's Court idlere she was advised by the detective
to plead guilty. She did so "in order to get it over with.” She felt
that there was no need of arguing and that "the detective's words would
be better than mine." She was given a sentence of six months on a charge
of prostitution.
A.'s parents lived in Washington, D. C. Her mother died when
she was an infant and she has never known her father. Several aunts took
care of her. In 1954 she left Washington for New York City to get away
from her aunts idiom she claims hated and got tired of her. Said she had
not finished grammar school. She attended the Episcopal Church and Sunday
School. At the time of her arrest she worked in a restaurant part-time.
Although she at first claimed to be single, she stated later in the inter­
view that she had had two husbands both of whom were dead. She never had
any children. At the House of Detention for Women she is working in the
dining room and says the three medls a day keep her busy. She does not
like to participate in the recreational program set up by the institution.
She said it is "silly* for her to play ball games. She does like to sing,
and said, "it relieves one's soul." A. is neat in her dress and said the
only thing that cheered her was the colorful handkerchief which was care­
fully arranged on her dress.
Interview No. 26.
Negro: age. 55: prostitution.
R. went to an apartment where a man was selling whiskey. Sev­
eral girls were drinking. Whoa they opened the door to leave, several
detectives pushed them back into the apartment. The detectives searched
the apartment and arrested the girls. They were taken to a car parked
outside and driven to the 79th Piecinct Station in Brooklyn. This hap-
-443-
pened at 5:00 A.M. R. was questioned, booked, and told that she was
under arrest on a charge of prostitution. She was put in a cell where
she had to share a cot with another girl idiom she did not know. The
next morning, without breakfast, R. was taken to the Women's Court. She
pleaded not guilty, and was sent to the House of Detention for Women for
investigation. When her Board of Health report came back positive, she
was given a workhouse sentence of six months.
R. had had three previous convictions on the same charge, the
first two in 1952, when she received six months' sentence each time. At
her first trial, the arresting officer told the judge that she had accepted
two dollars from him.
another trial, after the detective had beaten
up her boy friend to make him say that he had given R. money which she had
accepted, the boy was so frightened that he had said "yes" to whatever
questions were put to him. R. said that her first arrest had been justi­
fied but that ever since she had been railroaded.
R. is a tall girl, heavily built, with a dark skin and pretty
features. She belongs to the Baptist Church and attended Sunday School
throughout her childhood. She now plans to return to Virginia to get away
from the trouble which seems to have followed her while in New York City.
Said Virginia is a safe place and she is homesick for it. She is alert
in her talk and observations and out-spoken.
Interview No. 27:
Negro: age. 42: prostitution.
E. was arrested in her home at 4:00 A.m . while intoxicated. She
claims that a policeman spoke to her in the street on her way home and fol­
lowed her to her room. He threw some money on the dresser. Soon three de­
tectives came in, saw the money on the dresser, and said she was under ar­
rest on a charge of prostitution and accepting money. She claims she never
touched the money. She was first taken in a police wagon to the 125rd Street
Police Station, and then to a downtown police station, the address of which
she did not know. She was kept in a cell for the remainder of the night
and, without breakfast, was taken to the Women's Court. She pleaded not
guilty and was sent to the House of Detention for Women for investigation.
When her report from the Board of Health was found to be positive, she was
given a workhouse sentence of four months. This is her third arrest. She
has been to Bedford Reformatory and once before to the House of Detention
for Women.
E.'s parents lived in South Carolina where she was born, the
elder of two children. After the death of her parents she was taken to
Cleveland, Ohio, and was taken care of by relatives. She attended school
until the eighth grade. She said the only reason for going into prostitu­
tion was economical. She assured interviewer that prostitution is not
easy and, "you have to make up your mind to do it and force yourself into
it when you know the rent is due and there is no chance to find work. In
her condition, she said, "you couldn't do housework, the only job available
for a colored woman." E. hopes to get off early on good behavior. She
has no difficulty in meeting other people and getting adjusted even to a
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prison routine. She is very bitter towgrd the police and would like to
see an investigation of the work of "the high honored detectives." She
is an old-looking woman with a hollow chest and somewhat round-shoulders.
Her arms are under-developed and look like those of a child of twelve.
She has a kind smile and fine teeth.
Interview Ho. 28.
Negro: age. 50: prostitution.
Around lit00 P.M. in Harlem, G. was standing in a hallway by
herself when a plain-clothes white detective approached her and told
her he would have to arrest her on a charge of soliciting on the street.
She had been out only three weeks from a six month1s sentence on the same
charge. A car with five detectives drove up and she was forced into that
car and was taken to the 104th Street Police Station where she was booked
and was then taken to the 123rd Street Police Station where she was kept
overnight in an individual cell under a female correctional officer. With­
out breakfast, she was taken to the Women's Court. She was advised by the
detective to plead guilty, which she did. She was then taken to the House
of Detention for Women for investigation. Her blood test was found nega­
tive and she was given a workhouse sentence of four months.
G.
is a tall, slender girl with a long face, very dark skin, and
cross-eyes. She claims to have been a Sunday School teacher in the Bap­
tist Church. She was b o m in New Jersey. Her father died when she was
eleven and her mother went to Connecticut soon after. Her mother had
twelve children — six of them died. G. is the oldest living child. The
mother re-married and G. felt that her step-father was against her. She
said he was not a good husband, drank, and was mainly supported by the
work her mother did. After he married her mother, the family lived in a
state of misery. He ill-treated the children, including G., until the
neighbors threatened to take him to court. G. blames the "criminal system"
for her difficulties because, "the girls are given ten cents on the day of
discharge and when that money is spent for carfare to a friend's house, no
money is left for food and shelter." Before twenty-four hours are up,"she
is looking for a man to get some money to live on." She claims she had
never been lasy or choosy about work. She had her first job when she was
nine years old. Said she was backward at school because she was not wanted
at home, although she attended through the eighth grade. The money she
earned was taken by her step-father. She is worried about what to do and
how to find work in October when she is discharged.
Interview Ho. 29.
Negro: age. 25: prostitution.
M. lived in Harlem. She had attended a prayer meeting of Father
Devine's and was on her way home when a white man walked behind her and,
as she was crossing the street, a car drove up and blocked her way. A de­
tective got out and the man behind her said that she had invited him to
her room. The detective in the car arrested her, forced her into his car
and took her to the 123rd Street Police Station where she was kept over­
night. In the morning she was given no breakfast. The same detective who
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arrested her called for her and took her to the Women' 8 Court, where
he suggested that she plead guilty on a charge of prostitution. She had
no lawyer and did not know that she could get one free of charge. She
said she was excited and frightened as it was her first contact with a
court.
She was sent to the House of Detention for Women for investiga­
tion. Her blood test was found positive and she was given a workhouse
sentence of four months, but when the second Wasserman was taken the re­
port came back negative.
U. was b o m in Virginia. She never knew her father, but was
reared by a step-father who was very cruel to her. Her mother had two
children and the step-father, three. Although She was allowed to attend
school until her second year in high school, she was forced to work after
school, taking care of children or housework. She said she spent a very
unhappy childhood and was never allowed to play with other children.
Her step-father was very strict and came home frequently Intoxicated.
Five months prior to her arrest she came to Hew lork City to look for
work and got a position as a domestic at twenty-five dollars a month.
She was working at the time of her arrest. On her day off she was allowed
twenty-four hours from her place of work. li. attended a Baptist Church
when a child. She said She had liked to go to church in former years but
since she came to New York she had been badly influenced by undesirable
companions and failed to continue her church contacts. M. claims she was
badly in need of money until she received her first salary in New York.
At that time she went out with men and had apparently contracted a venere­
al disease. M. is a short woman, broad-shouldered, with a round face and
expanding nostrils, large round eyes which are very piercing. After her
discharge She is eager to return to Virginia.
Interview No. 30.
Negro: age. 25s prostitution.
N. could not sleep at 1:30 one night and decided to go to the
corner to get a glass of beer. A plain-clothes officer crossed the street
and followed her to the tavern. Before she reached the tavern, he grabbed
her by the aim and said, "I am an officer of the law. You are under ar­
rest." Another man in a car drove up, forced her into the car and took
her to the 79th Precinct Stationjhouse in Brooklyn, where she was kept over­
night in an individual cell under i/the care of a correctional officer. Te
The following morning she was taken without breakfast to a Magistrate's
Court, the address of which she did not know.
She pleaded mot guilty and
was sent to the House of Detention for Women for investigation. She was
found to have syphilis and was given four months in the workhouse as a
Board of Health case. This was N.'s first arrest. She felt very bitter
toward it and said that "if the detectives need to make an arrest to get
some extra money, they pick on the first girl they meet on the street."
Her attitude was one of indifference. "I am not ashamed because I have
done nothing and who cares about me anyway."
N. is a short, thin girl, under-developed physically. Her coarse
black hair stands up on her head and die has a very large mouth. She is
wild-looking and unattractive. She showed strong emotion while talking
-446—
and seamed to try to hide her real feelings. She had a fatalistic
attitude which showed through the interview. She said that she was
never sent to a regular church but that neighbors who helped her father
to bring up the children made her attend the prayer meetings of a sect
known as "The Shurch of God."
Interview So. 51.
Hegro: age. 45: prostitution.
G.
visited at a friend's home in Harlem until 3:30 A.M.
she was leaving, three detectives walked in and put the whole company
under arrest. At first, G. said she did not know why, but later on she
voluntarily offered the information that the officer found her with a
white man in bed. Four girls were brought to a police station which
she thought was on 104th Street. She said they had to wait some time
before they were taken because the officer called for a police wagon.
They had raided the whole house and found ten homeless colored men who
had been given shelter by a man who lived in the basement. These men
slept on the floor and in this way were spared the experience of accept­
ing city shelter. From the Police Station she was taken to the 30th
Street Police Station where she was kept over-night in an individual
cell under the care of a correctional officer. G. had some money with
her and bought her own breakfast. From here G. was taken to the Women's
Court and then sent to the House of Detention for Women for investigation.
She was found to have syphilis, but was not in an infectious stage. Ac­
cording to her, she had suffered from it since birth. She was given 120
days in the workhouse on a charge of prostitution. At the time of her
arrest G. was desperately in need of work. She had applied for home re­
lief but her application had been rejected, for a cause not known to her.
As
G.
was bora in White Plains, Hew York. She comes of a large
family, is one of the eldest, and took care of the younger sisters and
brothers. In 1925 she married a man much older than herself. She has
given birth to three children who are 13, 12 and 8, respectively. Her
husband lift her in 1929. He went out to look for work and never re­
turned. Her children are at present in the care of her sister who is
married and lives in New Jersey. Before her arrest, G. had contacted
two unions in order to get assistance in finding work — the C.I.O.,
and a local colored union — but as she was unable to pay the membership
dues she was not accepted. G. went to public school in Hew York as far
as grade 7B. She was then put in a store to clean bottles. She comes
of a Catholic family, and is well known to Father Flynn. She claims she
sent her three children every Sunday to church, but so long as she could
not get a decent salary to support her family she did not see any con­
nection between her immoral life and church contacts. In fact, she said,
"Everything at its own time." G. served her first term on the same
charge in 1931. She said that once you are known to the detectives
"they pull you in whenever they need to make an arrest." G. is very
dark-skinned, with refined features and broad white teeth.
Interview Ho. 52.
White: age. 25: prostitution.
E. said she was intoxicated at 3:00 P.M., when she was arrested
by a plain-clothes man who came into her room. He had thrown some money
-447-
on her dresser and when another detective came into the room he claimed
she had accepted the money. She denies this. E. was taken by the two
detectives to the 47th Street Police Station where she was booked and
then taken to the 30th Street Station and was put in an individual cell
under the care of a correctional officer. In the morning she bought her
own breakfast, was then taken to the Women's Court, and later to the
House of Detention for Women for investigation. Although she pleaded
not guilty, she was found guilty and sentenced for 120 days in the work­
house.
E. was born in New York City, the sixth of eleven children.
She had to work as a child to help her parents but she was always inter­
ested in continuing her education, and attended Washington Irving High
School. Later, she took vocational training courses, and was especially
interested in financing. Her ambition was to dance, and so she left her
business training to go on a show-boat where she worked for some years,
until she developed a tumor and had to undergo an operation. She said
her father was a soldier and had always traveled. She had a wanderlust
like her father. He influenced her never to remain too long in one place,
but to see the world. Coming home from a trip to the West she met a man
forty-five years of age, whom she married, but lived with only a few
months. E. is a short girl with dyed reddish hair, large brown eyes
and fine features. She takes life as it comes. She said that the judge
wanted to send her to Bedford, but when she lied about her age saying she
was twenty-eight, he changed his mind and sentenced her to the House of
Detention for Women. E. is a great talker, very lively, and likes to dis­
cuss her problems at length. She said, "they all like me here," and re­
ferred to several correctional officers who would confirm her statement.
Interview No. 55.
White: age. 52; prostitution.
M. was at home one evening in her three-room apartment and was
waiting for a man to come about a living-room set he had to sell. When
the bell rang and she opened the door, two plain-clothes detectives came
in. They said they had a complaint against the whole house and that they
were going to take the occupants to the 30th Street Police Station. U.
was very much excited but they did not give her a chance to talk before
she was in a private car on her way to the 47th Street Police Station
where she was questioned for one and one-quarter hours. She was returned
to the 30th Street Police Station and kept overnight in an individual cell.
She was given no breakfast before she was taken to the Women's Court.
She was allowed to call her sister who sent a lawyer and he made arrange­
ments to get her released on $300 bail. When her Board of Health report
was returned, she was sentenced to 120 days in the workhouse at the House
of Detention for Women.
At the time of M.'s arrest, she was working a3 a waitress in a
restaurant. She says her father died when she was an infant and her
mother when M. was thirteen. She was the elder of two children. M. is
a good-looking woman, with curly brown hair and brown eyes. She is plump
and has a very charming maimer. She claims she lived an immoral life be­
cause it always made her "sore" to see how much her girl friends made in
one night, while she had to work a montfc for the same money. She said she
-448-
had great success with her men friends and that many men were anxious
to marry her.
She did marry six years ago, but soon separated from her
husband because he was jealous of her. U. has German and Irish blood,
and thinks this mixture has had something to do with her way of living.
She attended the Baptist Sunday School when a child, but has had no
church contacts since her wedding day.
Interview No. 54. Negro; age. 25i prostitution.
R. lived in a furnished room and one night after she had re­
turned from visiting some friends, someone knocked on her door. A white
man came in and asked, "Who are you?" Two other men followed him. No
man was found in her apartment, but she was placed under arrest on a
charge of prostitution. This she claims was because she had had a.pre­
vious arrest. She was forced into a private car and was taken to the
28th Street Police Station. She kept quiet, would not answer questions,
and was taken to the 30th Street Police Station where she was put in a
cell under the care of a correctional officer. Without any breakfast,
she was taken to the Women's Court the following morning. She did not
plead guilty and was sent to the House of Detention for Women for inves­
tigation. Her blood was found to be negative, but her smear was posi­
tive, and the judge found her guilty and she was given a sentence of
four months in the workhouse. At the time of her arrest, R. worked in
a factory as a piece-worker on silk wear. She always made enough money
to support herself.
R. was b o m in South Carolina on a farm. There were seven
children in the family. Two of her sisters came to New York City. R.
joined them later on and continued school in New York City until she
reached the eighth grade. She said she had a very hard childhood due
to her mother's death when she was seven. Her father re-married and
she could not get along with her step-mother who had three children of
her own and always gave the best to her children. R. is a tall heavily
built woman, very dark-skinned, with a narrow forehead. She had been
doing housework before she found employment in a factory, which she pre­
ferred. Her mentality seems low. She belongs to the Methodist Church,
has gone to Sunday School, and continued her church contacts in Harlem.
She has one prayer which she repeats every morning and evening, "that
the time may pass as quickly as possible so that I can return to South
Carolina."
Interview Nol 55.
Negro: age. 28: prostitution.
On her way home from Father Devine's at 3:00 A.M., J. entered
the building where she lives in the basement. A man followed her and
asked her how to find a girl who used to live in that basement before she
moved in. While she answered him, two other men followed, and said she
was under arrest for accepting one dollar from the first man, which she
vaid was not true. Using force, they compelled her to enter a private
car and took her to the 123rd Street Police Station where she was booked
and kept in a cell under the care of a correctional officer. Without
-449-
breakfast she was taken to the Women's Court in a police wagon. She
did not plead guilty and was sent to the House of Detention for Women
for investigation. When she was returned to court for sentence, the
judge told her her smear had been found doubtful and she was sentenced
to four months to the workhouse, but since the day of sentence she has
received treatment for syphilis.
J. was born in Pennsylvania in a small town. She lost her
parents while young. She was an only child and remained with relatives
who took turns taking care of her. When she was fourteen she came to
New York City and got a position as a domestic. She continued to go to
school evenings and was graduated from high school. J. is a Catholic
and said that she takes her religion seriously. She attends all the
services offered at the House of Detention for Women. She said she
had gone to Father Devine's prayer meetings only out of curiosity. J.
is a good-looking woman with gray eyes and curly black hair. She seems
regretful over her experience and feels that it will stand in her way
in making something out of her life later on. She wondered if she would
have to speak of her court experience when applying for a position, or
if it would be honest not to mention it.
Interview No. 56.
Negro; age. 28: prostitution.
M. came home alone at night in Harlem from a dance hall. A
man followed her and she found two men in her hall when she entered.
She was arrested and taken to the 123rd Street Police Station, where
she was kept overnight in an individual cell in the care of a correction­
al officer. Without breakfast in the morning she was taken to the Women's
Court. She pleaded not guilty, and was sent to the House of Detention for
Women for investigation. It was found that she had a positive smear and
was given 120 days in the workhouse. At the time of her arrest, she was
taking a course in beauty culture for which she had paid down $60.00 for
tuition.
M. was b o m in Alabama. Her father died when she was three,
leaving five small children, three girls and two boys. Both the latter
died in infancy. M. attended school until she reached the sixth grade
and was sent to the Methodist Sunday School regularly. She is a tall,
good-looking girl, well mannered, and with a pleasing personality. She
had a previous record and said she was guilty the first time, but that
she was completely innocent and unjustly arrested the second time. She
has no friends or relatives in New York City. She realizes that with two
arrests now, she will not be able to make good if she remains here. She
would like, therefore, to ask the social service to make arrangements
for her to be sent back to Alabama. M. is very easy to talk to. She
was willing to discuss her problems, and has a keen sense of humor, which
has helped her to overcome the lonesomeness from which she suffers in
prison. She keeps to herself to avoid arguments with matrons as well as
inmates.
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Interview No. 57.
Negro: age. 50: prostitution.
While A. was standing outside her home about 11:00 P.M.,
waiting for her boy friend, a colored man passed her several times
and a white man came from across the street and asked if she would
like to have a good time. She had no job, no money, and the rent was
due, and she said yes. He gave her the key to an apartment on Third
Avenue in which there was a mixed population of Spanish and Negro. She
opened the apartment and while she looked around, the man put $1.25 on
the dresser and at the same time took out a revolver. He tried to pull
off her dress. She struggled with him and while they were struggling
three plain-clothes officers entered the apartment and she was pushed
downstairs and into a police wagon. She was taken to a police station
where she was booked on a charge of prostitution. She was then taken
to the 50th Street Police Station and kept overnight in an individual
cell. Without breakfast in the morning, she was taken to the Women's
Court. The detective accompanying her told her to plead guilty. She
did as she was told but felt "sore" because she had not taken the $1.25.
She was taken to the House of Detention for Women, and was later sentenced
to four months in the workhouse. A. had had four previous arrests. Her
first sentence was for 100 days when she was twehty-two years old. At
that time she was sent to the Workhouse on Welfare Island, which she pre­
fers to the House of Detention for Women on account of the fresh air and
the large grounds around the former. Her second sentence was four months
for using drugs. The third was for selling drugs and she was sent to the
penitentiary on an indefinite sentence.
A.
was b o m in North Carolina. Her parents died when she was
a child, leaving seven children. She was sent regularly to the Baptist
Church Sunday School, but she hopes to turn to the Catholic Church in the
future as she has had a rather disappointing experience with her own
church. A. came to New York City in 1921 and worked as a domestic. Be­
tween the last two arrests she was very sick; she fractured her shoulder
and had several operations on her back. A. is an unattractive woman with
broken teeth. She is very talkative and eager to discuss her difficulties.
She hopes to get on home relief after her discharge since she will not be
able to work for some time. She has undergone an operation on her stomach
while at the House of Detention' for Women and has not been assigned any
work. She complains that a girl cannot be expected to go straight if she
is given only ten cents when discharged from prison. She also complained
of the constant noise of the Sixth Avenue elevated trains, which keep her
awake at night.
Interview No.
58.
White: age. 27; prostitution.
J. had jumped bail and was being sought by the police. One
night an officer who had known her presented her with a warrant. She
was taken by him and another detective to a station house. This happened
in Brooklyn and she believes she was then taken to the Poplar Street Pol­
ice Station, and from there to the House of Detention for Women. Her first
arrest was on a charge of using drugs, but when she jumped bail she made
up her mind to "go straight." She moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn and
thought she would not be caught again. She did not stay out evenings
after dark because of her previous record, until she met the detective
and he brought about her arrest.
J. was born in Brooklyn. Her parents died when she was an
infant and an aunt reared her. When she was sixteen she ran away and
has been on her own since. She graduated from high school and took up
nursing training. Her license to nurse was taken away from her after
her first arrest. J. is a good-looking woman, very bright and alert,
and seems to suffer under a strain. She is much upset by the associates
she has to put up with for a long time and the language used by other
inmates seems to affect her. She would like to associate with them in
order not to appear snobbish, but at the same time she said she suffered
so much that she would rather keep to herself. She did not know before
her arrest that she had gonorrhea and the fact that she is receiving
treatment at present is the only thing which justifies her imprisonment
to her. J. is of Irish and Italian descent. She is a cultured girl and
well read. Since she could not continue to nurse, she had taken up work
as a seamstress and has been able to support herself in that way.
Interview Ho. 59.
Meeroi age. 25: prostitution.
B.
was in a house on East 67th Street, Manhattan, which was
raided during the night. All occupants were taken to a station house
in a police wagon. B. was kept with a strange woman in one cell. With­
out breakfast in the morning she was taken to the Women's Court. She
was sent to the House of Detention for Women for investigation and was
found to have syphilis. She was charged with being in a house of illfame, although she claims she did not know it was such a house. She was
fingerprinted and sentenced to a four-month term in the workhouse.
B.
was bora in Virginia. Her parents died when she was five,
leaving six children. When B. was twelve, she left home with a woman
who took her to Hew York City. She attended school until she reached
the sixth grade, but from then on went to night school and worked during
the day. In this way she studied until she was in the second year of
high school. Recently, she worked part-time as a domestic, from n i n e to
six every day, for which she received three dollars a week. Her first
court experience was when she was arrested on a charge of disorderly con­
duct for being out late at night. B. was very hesitant in giving informa­
tion, slow in speaking, and very much concerned about a job after her dis­
charge. She has no friends to idiom she can go for shelter or help in any
way* She belongs to the Baptist Church, but has never received any kind
of religious training.
Interview Ho. 40.
White: age. 54: prostitution.
N. went into the Hotel Hew Yorker about 9:30 P.M., and was wait­
ing there in the lobby when a man approached her and asked her to join
him for a cocktail. She said she wouldn't mind, and he suggested that
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the cocktails be served in his room. He said he was a steel man from
Pittsburgh. When they reached the room he said he had an appointment
with a friend in the lobby. As he opened the door to go the telephone
rang and he told her that another business man from out-of-town wanted
to see him. On the telephone he had only said, "yes, yes, yes," three
times. He left $5.00 on the dresser and as he was opening the door sev­
eral detectives were outside. Seeing the money on the dresser she real­
ized that it was a frame-up. The man told the detectives that bhe had
solicited him. They all went to the 50th Street Police Station where
she was booked and kept in an individual cell overnight. She had no
breakfast before she was taken to the Women's Court. She pleaded not
guilty. She was sent to the House of Detention for Women for investiga­
tion. She claimed she had been in the hotel room not more than three
minutes and when found both were fully dressed and there was no sign of
any delinquency. Five days later when her report was returned doubtful,
she was pronounced guilty, was fingerprinted and sentenced to 100 days
in the workhouse. She had no lawyer and did not know she could have one
free of charge. She had had one previous sentence of 100 days a year
before, and had pleaded guilty at that time because she was guilty. She
got fifteen days off for good behavior. At the prison, she has been
working in the doctor's office which she finds educational and interest­
ing. At the time of her arrest she was without employment and badly in
need of money to pay her rent.
N. was born in New York City.
An only child, her mother died
when she was an infant. She graduated from high school and was sent to
business college. She always had good positions as a secretary. She had
several proposals of marriage, but she preferred to stay single as the
men were all below her in intelligence. She has a great many friends
and said she had managed to keep the first arrest secret and she hopes
that the second will not be revealed to her friends. N. is a tall, goodlooking girl, with a fine figure. She has a pleasing personality and it
is apparent that she came of a good family. The only thing that spoils
her appearance is poor front teeth.
Interview No. 41.
White: age. 28: petty larceny.
J.,a Spanish girl, went into a store where she was planning to
get a dress for Christmas. She had about three dollars with her and the
dress she wanted was priced $6.50. She put the dress on her arm and her
coat over it, but before she was able to leave the store she was confronted
by two women detectives. She was taken into the manager's office and then
to the nearest police station to be searched by a police woman. Nothing
was found on her because she had dropped the dress on the way. She was
taken to a police station near South Ferry and kept in an individual cell
overnight. She bought her own breakfast before she was taken to the House
of Detention for Women where she was fingerprinted for the first time.
Later in the morning she was taken to the Women's Court. Her bail was
set at $1500. The following day she had another hearing at the Women's
Court and her case was transferred to the Court of Special Sessions. J *
had a lawyer who postponed the hearing at the Court of Special Sessions
four times during three weeks. Four weeks after arrest, J • was sentenced
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to from one to three years in the penitentiary at the House of Deten­
tion for Women. She had one previous conviction on the same charge.
J. was bora in New York City. She was the only child of her
parents who died when she was a little girl. She was then sent to a
Catholic convent where she remained until she was fourteen. She was very
unhappy there and tried to run away several times. She is a short girl,
with dark brown curly hair and fiery brown eyes. She said she will do
her best to forget this experience.
At the time of her arrest she was
without employment. Her boy friend had invited her for the first time
to meet his family and that was why she was so anxious for a new dress.
During her first sentence she had spent 18 months at the House of Deten­
tion for Women. At that time, she claims she learned various methods of
shoplifting from other inmates and thought she was smart enough "to get
away with it." To her great disappointment she was caught again. She
thinks she has learned her lesson and would rather listen to the advice
of the correctional officer than the talk of the other inmates. J. said
that she had been handicapped in early childhood because her parents
spoke to her only in Spanish, and when she went to the convent she had
a difficult time getting adjusted. The other children made fun of her
because she did not speak English.
Interview No. 42.
White: age. 49: petty larceny.
H. had a double room near the French Hospital in a rooming house.
She claimed that most of the buildings on West 28th and 30th Streets in
that neighborhood are houses of ill-fame. Only a month prior to her pres­
ent sentence, she had been discharged from the House of Detention for Wo­
men with no money and no place to go. She had to find some way to raise
money for rent and food. Not being able to find employment, she fell back
to her old habit of shoplifting. She went into a store and took a coat,
put it on, and walked to the subway station adjacent to the store where
she checked the coat in a 24-hour service box. She went back into the
store to take something else. When she entered, a detective followed her
and asked her for the coat, and knowing that he had seen her check the
coat, she handed him the key. She was taken to the detective's office in
the store. A police woman was called for and she was taken to the Poplar
Street Police Station in Brooklyn, fingerprinted, and placed in an indiv­
idual cell under the care of a correctional officer. No breakfast was
given her in the morning before she was taken to Police Headquarters.
She was again fingerprinted and placed in the line-up. She was asked
various questions which she had to answer through a microphone. Her rec­
ord was read aloud to a crowd of men and women. Her photograph was taken,
She was sent to the House of Detention for Women, and later to the Women's
Court where she pleaded guilty and was held over for the Court of Special
Sessions. She was sentenced three weeks later to six months in the work­
house. H.'s reaction to this experience is one of indifference. The only
thing to which she strongly objected was that those who wait their turn
in the line-up at Police Headquarters should be allowed to hear the his­
tory of other offenders.
H. was bora in Philadelphia, one of six children. She did not
like to go to school and when she was fifteen she ran away from home. She
-454-
went to school until she finished the fourth grade and was then put to
work in a factory making sugar hags. The money she earned was handed
over to her mother. Soon after she ran away from home she gave birth
to an illegitimate baby which died three months later. She went to live
with the parents of the man with whom she had had the baby. They helped
her and she stayed there while the baby lived. She says she would not
have gone wrong if her baby had lived. She claims she has never been
helped by a social agency and had managed her own affairs since she was
fourteen. After the death of the baby, the father began to drink and
she felt that she was no longer welcome in the family. Soon afterward
she married but had lived with the man only five months when he left to
join the Navy and she has not heard from him since. She* has been doing
housework and between times has had periods of returning to shoplifting.
In the middle of the interview, H. asked to be excused and
when she came back added the following to her story. She had been in the
House of the Good Shepherd in Philadelphia after she ran away from home,
and later she was sent to the House of Correction in Philadelphia. In
1924, she met a man who used to take cocaine and morphine. He committed
suicide and H. came to stay in New York to forget her experiences, but
through this man she had developed the habit of taking heroin.
H. said, "If you compare the House of Detention with Gray Court,
Gray Court is far superior. There the women were more wholesome. The
matrons were not so irritable as at the House of Detention and there were
large grounds on which the girls walked and enjoyed exercises in the open
air every day. It is criminal of society to send people up for long terms
in a place like the House of Detention, without proper ventilation or out­
side facilities. The only place for outside recreation is on the roof.
During the winter, the inmates get woolen sweaters to wear over their thin
house dresses. Due to the fact that some of the girls are receiving treat­
ment for venereal disease, they are supposed to keep their bodies warm,
particularly the lower part. The sweaters only cover the upper part. They
are cold and do not stay on the roof. In the hot weather the sun is too
strong and they cannot stay there."
H.
is a tall, good-looking girl, with a long bob and gray eyes.
She is well-mannered and very tense when she talks. She claims she has
never had a venereal disease but that she has "spells" of some sort. The
other day she fell out of bed and hit her arm and her eyes. She said the
doctors would not tell her what the "spells" were, and she wonders if they
are epileptic. She said that her mother was too religious and too strict.
Her father was a veterinarian surgeon. He made good until he took to
drink, and then was unable to keep up with his profession.
Interview No. 45.
Negro: age. 54: petty larceny.
E. visited Gimbels one day and was taking a dress, but realizing
that this would bring her into difficulty, returned the dress to the rack
from which she had taken it, but did not replace the hanger because she
feared she might be seen. While returning the dress, she was asked by two
store detectives to go to the detective's office. She was searched by a
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woman detective but nothing was found on her except the hanger. She
was taken to the 50th Street Police Station, booked and fingerprinted,
and refused bail, was kept overnight with another woman in a very dirty
cell, so that she had to sit up throughout the night. She was given
no supper and no breakfast. In the morning she was taken to the Women's
Court where she pleaded not guilty. After the hearing, she was sent to
the House of Detention for Women. Three days later she was released on
$500 bail. She had secured a lawyer. Over two months later, her case was
tried in the Court of Special Sessions and she was sentenced to the peni­
tentiary for from one to three years. She had no previous record. Her
report from the Board of Health came back negative.
E. was b o m in New York City, an only'child, and was reared
by her parents. She went through the first year of high school, but says
she never liked school. It was dull and uninteresting. When she left
school she went to live with her grandmother in Virginia. She married
there at the age of fifteen. She has a grandson ten months old. The
grandson is now being taken care of by her mother who works for a Cath­
olic.. institution. E. and her husband are divorced. They both belonged
to the Baptist Church. E. is a heavily built woman, with a bright smile,
very free in her manner but rather hesitant in her statements and a little
suspicious as to the use of the information she gave. She works in the
operating room and is much interested in the work. She plays tennis, base­
ball and joined the glee club. Said her hobby is dancing and she is al­
lowed to join the dances on Wednesday at the institution. At the time of
her arrest she was working in a beauty parlor.
Interview No. 44.
White: age. 58; petty larceny.
One afternoon M. went to Macy's where she shoplifted. She was
confronted by a male detective and without commotion was taken to the 25rd
Street Police Station where she was fingerprinted, and then taken to the
50th Street Station for the night. She knew that she could insist upon
a night hearing and at 8:00 P.M», when she demanded it, the detective said
he would make arrangements for it and gave her $2.00 as a loan for supper
money. She was then taken to the Madison Square City Magistrates' Court
where her case was remanded to the Court of Special Sessions. She was
kept until late at night waiting for a correctional officer from the House
of Detention for Women to accompany her there. After eight days at the
House of Detention for Women, she was taken to the Court of Special Ses­
sions, kept for some time in the "bull pen" downstairs, and at the trial
was sentenced to six months in the workhouse. She had a record of one
arrest four years previously, on the same charge, but sentence had been
suspended.
M.1s ffcther was a Doctor of Law. She graduated from college,
was married, and has two children. She separated from her husband and
since that time has supported herself by writing articles on psychology.
While at the House of Detention for Women she cooks for the correctional
officers and material witnesses, and she spoke at length of how demanding
the witnesses are and that "they are never satisfied by the first-class
meals they receive for which the state pays." M. is a tall girl, well-
-456-
built, with beautiful blond hair. She is very attractive. She claims
she could not live with her husband because he was inherently lazy and
she had to support the whole family, including her husband, children
and herself. The children are now nine and fifteen. They are not aware
of their mother's difficulties and think she is in a hospital. M. says
she has correspondence with Macmillan Company, Publishers, and the Red
Book. Both companies have accepted her writings. At present she is
finishing a novel which will be published shortly. The pseudonym under
which she writes is S— .
Interview No. 45.
White: age. 58; petty larceny.
E.
came from Russia twenty-two years ago. She was married for
twenty-five years to a butcher who had his own store. She has two sons
and a daughter. Her husband died a few years ago leaving her not only
the store but $50,000 in cash. E. has never learned how to read and write;
she speaks a broken English. She lost money on poor investments. Her
sons were courting two very nice girls whom they wanted to marry. E. had
suggested that they move into a larger apartment to make a home for all
of them. One day when she was cleaning out the home and getting rid of
old furniture and things she did not want to move to the new apartment;
she sold to a candy store proprietor all kinds of tools she had found in
the attic. Coming home from that store, she was stopped by a detective
who told her she was under arrest for selling burglar's tools which had
been found among the articles sold. She was taken to a police station
completely bewildered as she did not know what burglar's tools were.
She was fingerprinted and was allowed to call a nephew. He was so ex­
cited and upset about the arrest that he could not control his emotions
and talked badk to the judge. Without any food since morning, she was
kept in a cell until the following morning. She was not able to find
rest throughout the night and paced the floor. She says she was like a
dead person, nervous, upset and not aware of her offense. She was not a
person who would remember where she was taken, sentenced, or what happened.
She was not informed what the charge was nor how long she will have to re­
main at the House of Detention for Women.
E.
is the daughter of a Rabbi. She said when she was young in
Russia the girls were made to work in the house and to wait for husbands;
only the sons were given the privilege of education. Her parents had six
children; when they died E. was fourteen. She married a man who was to
leave for America and whom she followed and served faithfully until he
died. During the court hearing, she asked the judge "to cut off a finger
and let me go instead of staying in jail." She weighs 200 pounds and
says she felt she would lose the ability to move during the trial, and was
surprised that she could walk, eat and sleep after having gone through
such an ordeal. She also wondered why she should wear a brown dress, and
was told by the inmates that that signified she had a venereal disease.
She said she had not received any treatment and was not known to have any
disease. One of her sons visits her every week and he, also, did not seem
to be able to find out how long she would have to remain at the institution.
-457-
Intervlew No. 46.
White; age. 58: petty larceny.
During the day L. went to a store where she shoplifted. The
store detective caught her in the act and she was taken to a police
station where she was booked, fingerprinted, and then taken to another
police station and put in an individual cell. She had money and sent
out for her supper and breakfast. In the morning she was taken to Police
Headquarters for the line-up where she was again fingerprinted and her
picture taken. She objected to the line-up, since her record was read
aloud and she had a previous record on the same charge. She was taken
to the Women's Court and got in touch with a bondsman, and was released
on f1,000 ball. When she was booked at the Court of Special Sessions
her bail was raised to $2,000, for which she had to pay a fee to the
bondsman of $40.00 on each one thousand dollars. Two weeks later her
trial came up and she was given a sentence of four months. She claims
the judge was lenient with her because she had not been committed during
the last twelve years after her first commitment for shoplifting.
E.
was b o m in New York City. She is Jewish, very intelligent.
During the interview she admitted that before her arrest twelve years ago
she had had nine previous arrests on the same charge. E. is good-looking,
has brown eyes, curly hair, good figure and very straight posture. She
has supported herself as a dancer. She could not speak of her parents
and background as a child because she had not known her parents. She has
always been alone, never befriended by anyone she could trust. She is a
Catholic but does not attend services at the institution nor been in con­
tact with her church. A former neighbor.visits her.
Interview No. 47.
White; age. 58: petty larceny.
S., a Jewish woman, was opening the door of her home when three
plain-clothes detectives came to tell her that she was under arrest on a
charge of petty larceny. Realizing that there was a mistake she went to
the police station and was put in a cell for the night. Without breakfast
the next morning, she was taken to Police Headquarters where she was finger­
printed and her picture taken. From there she was taken to a City Magis­
trate's Court where she secured a lawyer. She claims that all the lawyer
did was to take money away from her children but did not help her. She
was taken to the House of Detention for Women toawait trial. Her lawyer
told her to plead guilty so that she might get a suspended sentence, but
when she did two weeks later, she was sent to the penitentiary for from
two to three years. She says that her lawyer wanted to make more money
so he made her case look more serious. She said she had nothing to say
except that she was "railroaded." She had not stolen and she had not
forged. There was no evidence and there were no witnesses.
S. comes from a large family in Russia. She had elementary
education. She was always self-supporting, is married, has a good hus­
band and children who have had college educations. S. is a heavy woman
with a round face, gray hair and blue eyes. She is simple in her state­
ments, but not very outspoken as to her offense.
She could not see what
she was in for.
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Interview Ho. 48.
Negro: age. 50: petty larceny.
A. lived in Harlem in a two-room light-housekeeping apartment
which, she shared with a young cousin with whom she had been brought up
in the South. He paid the rent and she did the housework and cooking
for him besides going out on a part-time job. She made $1.50 a day.
When her employer told her she could not pay her salary any more but
would be gLad to give her clothes in exchange for her services, A. tried
it out. The employer gave her a coat and several other things. A. then
felt it would not be worthwhile to continue under those conditions and
she started looking for another place to work. Her employer got "sore"
about her quitting and she came to A.'s apartment one day with a detec­
tive to find the coat she had given her. The employer claimed A. had
stolen it. The coat was found in the closet. The detective took A. to
a police station where she was fingerprinted and, in the detective's car,
was taken to another police station where she was left under the care of
a correctional officer in a single cell. She had no money to buy break­
fast and the matron gave her some money that was left over in her expense
account. She was then taken to Police Headquarters where she was put on
the platform, fingerprinted and her picture taken. She was asked to an­
swer all questions through the microphone, but said she was so dumbfounded
and scared she could not say a word. At her trial in the Bronx Magistrates'
Court where she was taken because her former employer lived there, she
pleaded not guilty, but was under the impression that nobody was interes­
ted in listening to her. The judge advised her to get a lawyer, but she
did not know that she could secure a lawyer free of charge. She was per­
mitted to telephone her brother and her cousin who got a lawyer for her.
She was then taken to the Old County Jail House where she was put in an
individual cell.
A. said that at the County Jail she felt the inmates got more
individual consideration than at the House of Detention for Women. There
was no yard and they were not allowed to take showers more frequently than
once a week, but there was music every day. If one was in difficulty she
could explain to the warden and the matrons, and the inmates felt that
they were listened to, and this attitude on the part of the officers "made
me be good. But here, nobody listens to us and that makes one angry.
The food was good at both places, but at the County Jail there were plenty
of windows. You could open them completely and get more air which is good
for you. At the County Jail they never doubled in one cell which was
built for one person as they do here." Two days before she was discharged
from the Old County Jail, the new County Jail in the Bronx was opened and
she had a chance to be in the new building. "They had chairs to sit on
in the cells, not like here where you have to sit on the floor. We have
beds here, but they have to be in perfect order, and if a matron finds
us sitting or lying on our beds, we sire punished for it. The matrons at
the County Jail were never cranky about things and they would go out of
their way in order to make the inmates feel contented. If we asked for
more food, we got it. Here, we do not ask for it because we will not get
it. One inmate may have a bigger appetite than another and it is necessary
that she have more food. The portions are all alike."
A month and five days after she was taken to the County Jail,
A. was asked by the district attorney for the name and address of her law-
yer. The case was transferred to be held for the Grand Jury. Her case
was postponed from week to week. The lawyer suggested that she change
her plea from guilty to not guilty so that the state could save the ex­
pense of a Grand Jury trial. A. was eager to fight the case because she
knew she was Innocent, but at last her lawyer succeeded In Influencing
her to change her plea and she pleaded guilty of misdemeanor. A week
later the judge sentenced her to the penitentiary for from one to three
years on a charge of petty larceny and she was sent to the House of De­
tention for Women.
A. was bora In Virginia, one of two children. Her parents
separated right after A. was born. An aunt took care of her until she
was thirteen and then sent her to New York City to earn her living. She
said she had never known her mother. She was placed in a private home
to do housework, but soon ran away and looked for work on her own. People
who took her were afraid to keep her because she was too young. On her
days off she took walks to do window shopping. One day she saw a man fall
down and hurt himself. She asked a man who had followed her to assist the
man who was lying on the ground. But suddenly she was frightened and ran
away. The man she had spoken to was a detective. He followed her and
arrested her. She was taken to the Children's Detention Home and the
Children's Court and was committed to Bedford Reformatory for one year.
She was placed with a family to do housework until she finished her par­
ole. Later she married a man who was always intoxicated and was rude to
her. She has no children and is separated from her husband. She has had
several serious operations and has not been assigned to any special work
on account of her poor health.
Interview No. 49.
White: age. 55: petty larceny.
H.
worked during the day in a restaurant in Brooklyn and sup­
ported her little girl of seven years of age. She recently lost the twin
of her daughter. After leaving the restaurant she called for her child
and went into a department store where she bought a few dresses for the
child. When leaving the store she was stopped by four plain-dothes men
on the charge of shoplifting and was taken to the Poplar Street Police
Station. The child was taken to the Detention House for Children. She
was heart-broken about this and very much concerned as to the well-being
of her child. She said she fought with the men because she did not want
her child taken away. When she came before a Magistrates' Court, the ad­
dress of which is not known to her, she begged that the court place her
on probation and not give her a term, because she wanted to take care of
her child. While at the Poplar Street Station she had given a detective
a one-hundred dollar ring which she wore. He promised to see that she
would get a suspended sentence. H. was sent to the House of Detention
for Women since her case was held over for the Court of Special Sessions.
She was then sent to the Observation Ward in Kings County Hospital. The
report from the Board of Health was negative. After ten days she was
taken to the Court of Special Sessions where she was sentenced to six
months in the workhouse on a charge of petty larceny. She said she had
a lawyer who pleaded for the mercy of the court. He was not able to change
the judge's decision with regard to her case. She feels that she was
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"licked" by the district attorney who told her to plead guilty which
might enable her to get on probation, but it turned out differently, and
she will have to spend five months at the House of Detention for Women.
At the end of the interview, H. admitted that she had eight previous
arrests on the some charge.
H.
was born in Brooklyn, the youngest of seven children.
lost her father, a brother, a sister, and a child, all suffering of tu­
berculosis. She went to school until the fourth grade. When seven years
old she was sent to a neighbor to do housework. On Sunday she was sent
to Catholic Sunday School. When seventeen, H. married and was being
supported by her husband, but when one of the twins died they had a dis­
pute over the care given the child. Since her arrest, her child is being
taken care of by a sister. She is not certain that her husband will live
with her after her discharge and he has threatened many times to take the
child away from her sister in order to protect the child from the unde­
sirable influence of her mother. At the House of Detention for Women,
spots have been discovered on her lungs. She has not been assigned work
and the doctor has prescribed two cups of milk additional to her other
food. Hi. is a heavy woman, with blond hair and blue eyes. She is out­
spoken in conversation and bitter toward society and suffers under men­
tal strain because of the separation from her daughter.
Interview No. 50. White: age. 50: petty larceny.
M. went to Wanamaker's one day and bought a coat worth $50.00,
on her employer's charge account. Before she was able to leave the store,
the store detective, a man, asked her to go with him tohis office. The
detective said that if she had the money to pay for thepurchase, they
would not press a charge against her, but since she did not have it, he
called for a police officer and she was taken to a police station where
she was fingerprinted, and then taken to the 30th Street Police Station
for the night. She was kept in an individual cell under the care of a
correctional officer. Without supper or breakfast, shewas taken to a City
Magistrates' Court the following morning where she was keptuntil 3:00 P.M.
She did not have a lawyer, and pleaded not guilty, but was found guilty
and sent to the House of Detention for Women, to await trial at the Court
of Special Sessions. Bail was sent at $5,000 which she could not pay for
and consequently was kept at the House of Detention for Women. At the
Court of Special Sessions she was given a penitentiary sentence of from
one to three years. She has been given her marks from the Parole Board
and she will have to stay at the House of Detention for Women eighteen
months. She commented, "Why, not even Whitney got such a punishment."
M. admitted that she had had an arrest on the same charge five years pre­
viously, but at that time the sentence had been suspended.
M. was bom in Michigan. Her mother died when she was a little
girl and she was taken care of by various relatives. She is very emotion­
al, and wept throughout the interview. She is good-looking, well educa­
ted, and feels superior to the other inmates. She was a little suspici­
ous at the beginning of the interview and would not speak of her previous
life. She said she had an unfavorable interview with one of the probation
officers who claimed she was shielding someone else's misconduct. But,
She
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she says, the statement the probation officer gave the judge was en­
tirely false. M. said the probation officers do not help one but do
harm to anyone they come In contact with and "this bums me up." M.
Is under the Impression that she is being insulted by a great many
people. She said she is deeply religious and has always followed the
teachings of the Catholic Church, but "when I want to go to confession
and communion, the other girls call me a rat," and due to this U. has
been staying away from the services at the institution since she is
afraid of the maltreatment and remarks of the other inmates. She-claims
that one is given a chance only if they have money in referring to the
detective who said they would not press a charge if she had money to
pay for the article she had taken. She commented that "girls who kill
someone are acquitted nowadays, but other girls are brought to prison
for a long period in order to make criminals out of them." She says
she reads the Sew York Times regularly and receives a great deal of ed­
ucation that way.
Interview No. 51. White: age. 50: petty larceny.
C. went into a store and three plain-clothes men of the pick­
pocket squad followed her. She left the store and went about half a
block and then suddenly decided to go back into the store. She was
taken by the detectives to the manager's office. They searched her
and found a dress on her which she had stolen.The dress was worth
$7.80. She was taken to the Poplar Street Police Station
in a private
car and placed in an individual cell. The correctional officer brought
her supper and breakfast. In the morning she was taken to the Women's
Court in a police wagon, and she pleaded guilty. She was taken to the
House of Detention for Women and photographed and fingerprinted. Two
weeks later her case was called at the Court of Special Sessions. She
was found guilty and sentenced to the penitentiary for from one to three
years. She met only committed this crime but had violated parole on a
previous sentence.
C. was b om in New York City and was an only child. Her parents
never wanted her and had given her to the care of an aunt
whosent her to
school until she finished the sixth grade. Later she worked as a waitress.
She met a man and after a long courtship they were married and she was liv­
ing with her husband at the time of her arrest. He supports her and works
steadily. They have no children. M. has served a term at Gray Court.
"Gray Court seems to me heaven in comparison to the House of Detention for
Women. The spirit in Gray Court was happier. The fresh air and outside
work are not known at the House of Detention."
She also stated that the
life at Gray Court was easier on the inmates, insofar as they did not run
into disciplinary difficulties for petty things as they do in the highly
organized House of Detention for Women. M. is old-looking and is without
teeth. She has bleached blond hair and is rather unattractive. She was
in a hurry as she said lunch time was near and she was working in the mess
hall and had to be upstairs.
Interview No. 52. White: age. 38: petty larceny.
A plain-clothes man came to E.'s room and charged her with tak­
ing money and garments from people for whom she had worked. She admitted
f
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she had taken a handbag, so the detective took her in a taxi to a Long
Island Police Station. He called the complainant to identify E. as the
thief. Her former employer came, identified her, and refused to with­
draw her complaint as the detective suggested. E. was then taken to a
City Magistrates' Court where she was fingerprinted and sent to the House
of Detention for Women. Later she was taken to the Court of Special
Sessions. The judge did not want to try her without a lawyer, so a law­
yer from the Legal Aid Bureau was secured. She was taken back and forth
between the House of Detention for Women and the Court of Special Ses­
sions four times over a period of six months, until she was sentenced to
six months in the workhouse. She claims this was her second arrest on
the same charge, the first, a year ago.
E. was bora in New York City, the youngest of five children.
She graduated from grammar school and married when sixteen to a boy of
seventeen. She had lost her mother when an infant and her step-mother
suggested that she should marry and leave the house. She gave birth to
a daughter when nineteen. Five years later she divorced her husband and,
she said, ever since that time she has felt so insecure that she started
to steal. E. is Jewish; she looks neat and has a pleasing appearance.
She claims that although she has been divorced for quite some time, her
husband took a great interest in her when he learned of her first trouble
with the police. In fact, he gave her money for a room after her dis­
charge from prison. She says her daughter is now with the father. He
told her a year ago that if she got into trouble again, he would not
allow her to see the daughter. This time she has kept it a secret and
consequently hopes not to lose contact with her child. E. is a great
talker and enjoyed discussing her troubles with an outsider. She claims
she is ashamed of her experience, but has a plausible explanation which
evidently she gained through her contact with her psychiatrist idiom she
claims to have seen several times. Her health is not good and she claims
to be getting "table" treatments but does not know exactly what for. She
was told by the medical department that she is in need of an operation but
refused to have it done at present. She also refused to eat the food set
before her as she was accustomed to Kosher food and cannot get used to
the new type of diet. She lives mainly on milk, which is allowed her,
potatoes and dessert. She is assigned to the tenth floor which she has
to keep in order.
Interview No. 55. Negro; age. 54: petty larceny.
At 9:00 P.M. in Brooklyn, M. took her husband's suit to the
tailors and she noticed that a white man looked at her and then crossed
the street and asked her if she was working. She told him to stay away
and not bother her, but he continued talking to her until M. got to the
front of her home. He pulled out his wallet and wanted to give her some
money. An officer who was on the corner saw this and arrested her. The
man told the officer that she had stolen five dollars from his wallet, but
the money was not found on her. The man insisted he had been robbed and
since stealing at night is grand larceny, and not petty larceny, she was
booked on a charge of grand larceny at the police station. While there
the detective and the white man whispered together. It was found that
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she had a previous record. She was fingerprinted, more detectives
came to question her, and at last she was taken to the Gates Avenue
Police Station in Brooklyn for the night, and kept in an individual
cell. Without breakfast, she was taken to a Brooklyn City Magistrates'
Court which was the only court in session since it was Sunday. Later,
she was taken to Felony Court and the judge put the bail at $1,000.
She was bailed out by her husband and got a lawyer. About two weeks
later she had to report at Felony Court. The lawyer said the complain­
ant was not ready, and the case was adjourned. Two weeks later, the
case was adjourned once more. At that time, another detective swore
he was the only officer who had been present during the act. But, ac­
cording to M.'s statement, the first time he had seen her was at the
police station. The complainant appeared, but he admitted that he had
been drinking. Therefore, M.'s lawyer asked for a motion to dismiss the
case since there was not enough evidence. The judge denied the motion
because the arresting officer said he had seen the pocketbook in her
hands. The Grand Jury met three weeks later and she was indicted on a
charge of first degree grand larceny as a pickpocket. She pleaded not
guilty. The bail was continued. On the day set for the trial, she was
delayed by traffic and came ten minutes late for her trial. Her case
had been called out and she was not present. The judge was angry about
this and when she appeared her bail was remanded. She was taken to the
"bull pen" where she cried so much her bail was reinstated. A week later
her trial was ag&in adjourned, but the jury was picked. She was taken
again to the "bull pen" which had a harrowing effect on her. At last,
she pleaded guilty on a petty larceny charge and wa3 sent to the House
of Detention for Women on a sentence of one year in the penitentiary.
M. was born in Virginia, the youngest of fliws girls. The par­
ents died when M. was eight years old. At that time she was sent to New
York City to some distant relatives. She has worked as a cook and is
known to several physicians for whom she worked in private homes. At the
time of her arrest M. did part-time work for a doctor who was willing to
testify as to her character, but his offer was not accepted. M. is liked
by the other inmates and known to the correctional officers as an excel­
lent worker.
Interview No. 54. Negro; age. 28: petty larceny.
H. was in her apartment at 4:00 P.M. in Washington Heights,
when two plain-clothes officers presented her with a warrant for her
arrest. They showed her their badges and then walked her to the 152nd
Street Police Station where she was fingerprinted and questioned. She
was left there overnight in an individual cell. Without supper or break­
fast, she was taken in the morning to Police Headquarters where she had
to stand in the line-up on the platform while her record was read aloud.
She was asked questions which she had to answer through the microphone of
which she was afraid, and she said she was so weakened that she did not
understand what they were asking her. Her photograph and social history
were taken, and fingerprints. She was then taken to a City Magistrates'
Court where she pleaded not guilty. She secured the services of a law­
yer who asked to have her case adjourned. She was then sent to the new
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Bronx County Jail for detention. A week later she was let out on
bail of $1,500. About two months later she was tried and was told by
her lawyer to change her plea to guilty and to change second degree
larceny to petty larceny. She did so. After the trial she was sent
back to the Bronx County Jail. Three days later she was sentenced to
two years in the penitentiary at the House of Detention for Women.
H. was born in Maryland, the youngest of three children. She
was six when her mother died and twelve when her father died. She went
through junior high school. When she was thirteen she gave birth to a
baby. Her sweetheart left her when she was in trouble. She claims she
is not known to any social agency and has managed to take care of this
additional burden herself. She has been self-supporting ever since she
left school, doing domestic work for which she was well paid, but during
the depression has had to work for less money. Hi. is very attractive
and neat in appearance. She is taking piano lessons twice a week while
at the institution, and has received permission to practice. She said,
"if they did not let me have some music here they would drive me nuts."
H. cleans on the main floor and enjoys seeing outsiders which makes con­
finement much easier.
Interview Ho. 55. White: age. 22: petty larceny.
R. went with her sister to Wanamaker1s to shop and while there
they looked at various dresses. There was a sale on $6.00 dresses. R.
took one of the dresses into another room, not yet decided if she would
walk off with it. She thought, "No, I had better return it." She did go
back and return it to the counter from which she had taken it. While
standing there the woman detective of the store caught her. Also she did
not see R. put the dress back on the counter. An outside detective was
called. He did not come, so after waiting some time, the store detective
took R. to the police station. The sister was allowed to go along. Her
sister telephoned her mother and her mother came with a bondsman. R. was
allowed to leave the police station on $500 bail for which the bondsman
charged $25.00. When she appeared in the Women's Court next day, she was
detained as it was found that she had a previous arrest in 1935, sentence
suspended. The bail was raised to $1,000. A lawyer was secured and the
case adjourned. The probation officer called at the mother's house. R.
was living with her mother and the child was being taken care of by the
grandmother. R. was not at home when the officer called and not believ­
ing the mother that R. was staying with her, reported that R. had given
false information. One month later, the case came up for trial in the
Women's Court and R. was sentenced to the workhouse on a charge of shop­
lifting for a period of 60 days. R. was very angry when she learned of the
probation officer's report and said that probation officers only bring
girls into more difficulties instead of helping them to make good. At the
time of her arrest she was working as an operator on men's pants.
R. was b o m in Italy and was the fifth child of her parents.
When one month old she was brought to New Tork. When she was fourteen,
her mother wanted her to marry a man seventeen
years her senior, and al­
though she did not love him, she was married. Her mother was not well
and wanted to see her daughter taken care of. Two years later the mother
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dled. Soon after, R. gave birth to a baby, and shortly after her
husband became interested in other women. They separated. The hus­
band never supported his son, nor her. R. regretted many times that
she had married so early instead of continuing school, which she left
at the fifth grade. She is attending classes at the House of Detention
for Women. She is enthusiastic about the physical exercises on the roof.
She joins the singing clubs and attends mass every Sunday. R. is great­
ly worried about her child since she has had a letter recently from rela­
tives who said that her husband has taken the child from them and will
bring up the child to avoid further contact with the mother. F. is a
good-looking woman, with a long brom bob, brown eyes and long eyelashes.
She is very emotional. She cried and laughed alternately and used rather
strong expressions when talking about courts and policemen. She said,
"Because a person wears a badge he is no better than anyone else."
Interview Mo. 56. Negro: age. 16: petty larceny.
E. had a part-time job as a domestic and was living in her room
in Harlem. One day while she was dusting the employer's dresser she picked
up two diamond rings to dust beneath them. Her employer had watched her
take the rings in her hands. She called the police. Ten uniformed men
and five plain-clothes detectives arrived. Nothing was found on her and
she had not taken the rings out of the room. After questioning and listen­
ing to employer's complaint, E. was taken to the Bronx Shelter of the Chil­
dren's Court. There was a hearing and the case was postponed for two weeks.
Then the case was postponed another week in order to give ample timeto get
in touch with E.'s parents who live in Columbus, Ohio. During this time,
the workers in the Shelter felt that E. must be older than 16 because she
did not play around with the other children, kept to herself and was ma­
ture for that age. Therefore, she was transferred to the Bronx County
Jail where she was kept from March 21 to June 10th. In the meantime, she
was taken to a City Magistrates' Court, and was fingerprinted, on April
2nd. Again on June 2nd, she was taken to court. Back to court again on
June 10th for sentence. The judge sentenced her to Bedford Reformatory
for an indefinite period, but her lawyer asked the judge to re-sentence
her to the House of Detention for Women instead, as she might be badly in­
fluenced by the young delinquents in the Reformatory whereas the older wo­
men at the House of Detention would not likely have as bad an influence on
her. The judge changed the sentence to an indefinite workhouse sentence
at the House of Detention for Women. While there, she works as a waitress
in the correctional officer's dining room and in this way is more under
the eyes of the officers.
E. claims to have been bom September 11, 1921, in North Caro­
lina. Her parents had two children. Her father died when she was nine
months old. Her mother remarried soon after. Her step-father was not kind
to her but let her go to school until her first year in high school. E.
is much interested in taking up shorthand but as the teacher has gone on
vacation, no shorthand classes are being given. She does take English and
participates in the recreational activities. She is a Catholic and goes
to mass regularly. E. compared the life in the County Jail with that of
-4 6 6 -
the House of Detention. She felt that the former was more fair in the
treatment of inmates. They were given more privileges and the activi­
ties were more wholesome. Here, she said, it is very easy to get into
trouble. There is more routine, more organized work, than at the County
Jail. E. is a very darSr-skinned, nice looking girl, is too mature for
her age, is well behaved.
Interview Ho. 57. Negro: age. 52: petty larceny.
C. was living in Harlem and when she went in the late evening
to get the morning paper, she was approached by a plain-clothes man who
left his car in a position to prevent her from going further, said that
she had robbed money from him to the amount of two dollars a week before
and now he had at last traced her. Another man stepped out of the car,
arrested her and took her to the 123rd Street Police Station for over­
night where she was kept in a cell with four other women. There were two
boards for them to sleep on, she said, and no bedding. No food was offered
in the morning before she was taken to Police Headquarters where she was
fingerprinted and her picture taken. Questions were asked which she had
to answer through a microphone, an instrument unfamiliar to her, and she
was so frightened when she heard the unnatural tone it gave her voice that
she did not make another attempt but refused to answer. This was her first
arrest. She was then taken to Felony Court and kept in the bull pen up­
stairs. This also frightened her greatly as she felt caged. There she re­
ceived the first nourishment since noon the previous day. She pleaded not
guilty. A lawyer from the Volunteer Defense Committee was assigned her,
but the lawyer, C. felt, did not show any interest in her case. He did
not take time to listen to her story. After the hearing, she was taken
to the House of Detention. Within the next two months, she was taken six
times to court until she was sentenced on a charge of petty larceny for
six months to the workhouse. At the time of her arrest, C. was living with
her husband and two babies, the youngest of which was two months. She
begged the judge to let her go home to her baby, but he paid no attention
to her request.
C. was born in Michigan, the youngest of nine children. She was
graduated from high school and soon after married a man who is very fond
of her and she of him. In 1932 they came to New York City in the hope of
finding better paid employment, but as this did not materialize they had
to go on home relief for a while, until her husband got work on the WPA
where he is working at present. C. and her family belong to the Baptist
Church. She attended Sunday School as a child, but since coming to New
York City, has not made any church contacts and is slack in attendance.
While she is imprisoned, an aunt is taking care of her child. C. is a
good-looking, tall girl, with a light skin. She claims that her sister
is a teacher and has received a fellowship to go to Prague, Czechoslovakia,
for further studies. She will return this month and C. is worried as to
how she will take her unfortunate court experience and imprisonment, and
whether or not she will come to see her. She has secured a special pass
for her sister but does not know if sister will be willing to go through
the ordeal of a visit. She claims her sister is very artistic and is an
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art teacher who has made a great contribution to her school. At pres­
ent, C. is working in the linen room. When she heard that music lessons
were given inmates, she was very eager to take them since she had been
deprived of them in childhood, but to her disappointment, she was told
that only penitentiary inmates are allowed to study music, not workhouse
inmates. She takes physical exercises on the roof but does not care for
the type of recreation offered at the institution. Apparently she has
suffered under great nervous strain and has had great difficulty in
getting adjusted to the fact of her prison record. She complained of
the terrific heat, bad ventilation and constant noise which work on
her mind.
Interview No. 58. Negro: age. 25: petty larceny.
J. went to a Harlem store at 4:00 P.M. when a uniformed white
officer and a colored woman came up to her complaining that she had taken
money from the woman. They all walked to the 135th Street Police Station.
During the walk, the officer held her by the arm and consequently they
were followed by a crowd of people until they entered the police station.
Here she was booked, fingerprinted, and since she had a previous record,
she was taken to the 123rd Street Police Station for the night where she
was kept in an individual cell. No food was given her. In the morning,
a colored plain-clothes officer took her in a car to the 54th Street City
Magistrates' Court where there was a preliminary hearing. She pleaded not
guilty. Her husband got a lawyer for her. She was taken to the House of
Detention for Women. During the next fifteen days she appeared three
times at the Court of Special Sessions, until at the last time, she was
sentenced to the penitentiary on a charge of petty larceny for from one
to three years.
J. was bora in Mississippi. She was the youngest of three chil­
dren. She was graduated from high school. In 1933 she married the man
with whom she has since lived. Prior to her marriage she taught in a
hospital as a substitute for a doctor in the teaching of child welfare.
After her marriage, she first lived in Chicago where her husband worked.
After that they went to Maryland and there she was sentenced for several
months on a petty larceny charge. In order to gorget this experience
they moved to New York City only a month previous to her arrest. J. is
eager to know why she is developing such delinquent behavior and hopes
to get help from the psychologist to straighten out her difficulties..
She is glad that she has no children. Her husband visits her regularly.
He is working as a waiter. J. and her husband belong to the Baptist
Church, but have not established any definite contact in New York. They
are well known to their minister in Mississippi. J. is a tall, thin girl,
very dark skinned. She is slow in talking, intelligent, and gives thought
before she speaks. She was frank in stating her difficulties and appar­
ently willing to cooperate. She said she had been in conflict ever since
her first arrest and does not know where the trouble lies. She said her
husband is very understanding and discusses her problems with her but
does not have the proper training to assist in her adjustment. She claims
that she has the superior intelligence of the two.
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Intervlew No. 59.
Negro: age. 45: petty larceny.
On her way home from work,
E. was arrested bytwo plain-clothes
men who took her to the 155th Street Police Station where they filed a
complaint that she was receiving money from people for securing work with­
out a license. She claims that she used to work for a man, the owner of
a hotel, who while she was with him always let her hire the help. Since
she left him, he still asked her to hire the help for his hotel which
she did, but claimed she never charged for that work except once when
she took one dollar and that was not directly for the positions she se­
cured, but to buy some fruit and to entertain the person who got the
position. E. claims that nineteen years ago, she had one sentence on a
charge of petty larceny. Since that time her record has been clear, but
she has been constantly in danger of arrest becausethe detectives were
always after her. Now they bring up the one dollar
forfruit, as they
cannot find any other cause for re-arrest. She was taken to the 155th
Street Police Station for the night and kept in an individual cell. She
bought her own breakfast in the morning before she was taken to Harlem
Magistrates' Court, where she pleaded not guilty. She engaged the ser­
vices of a lawyer. The case was transferred to the "Tombs." She claims
that the lawyer misused her confidential information as to her previous
arrest, and that is why the case was not dismissed. She was booked at the
Court of Special Sessions. Each time she pleaded not guilty, although
her lawyer insisted that she change her plea to guilty. She was detained
at the House of Detention for Women prior to sentence, until she changed
her plea to guilty. She was then sentenced to six months in the work­
house.
E. was bom in Petersburg, Virginia, the youngest of three
children. The two other children died. E. has black hair done into small
braids, standing straight on her head. She was never sent to school in
her life. She has never known her father and was partly taken care of
by her mother. She was sent to work in a factory when she was ten. When
eighteen, she married a man who was suffering of a cardiac condition, and
who died soon after their marriage. Before her arrest, she was on home
relief. She was not able to work. She had hurt her left leg while work­
ing in a household for which she did not receive compensation and did not
know about compensation. E. is very emotional, crying most of the time,
but she talked incessantly. Claims she has not been feeling well since
her arrest. E. was childish in her statements, and is apparently men­
tally dull.
Interview No. 60.
White: age. 58:oetty larceny.
C. went at 11:00 A.M. to Riker's Island Penitentiary to visit
her husband who is serving a sentence for possession of a gun. While
she was waiting to see him, she was called into another room and told
that drugs had been found in the bus bringing visitors from the ferry
and since she was known as a user, they suspected her. She was searched
by a woman who stripped her, but nothing was found on her. They kept
her for hours and wanted her to admit that she had left the narcotic
drug in the bus. She was questioned until 6:00 P.M., but would not admit
to being the owner. She was then taken by a plain-clothes officer to a-.
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Bronx police station where she was again questioned, where she was
promised that if she admitted ownership of the drug, no time would be
given her. Otherwise, they said, she would be given five years. She
disclaimed ownership of the narcotic drugs found, but admitted she was
a user. The detectives threatened to arrest her father and her son if
she did not plead guilty. She was kept overnight in an individual cell
without any food, but she was badly in need of an injection and an am­
bulance doctor was called by the matron who gave her one shot in the
evening and another in the morning before she was taken to a City Magis­
trates1 Court in the Bronx. Here the detective filed two charges against
her; one of possession and the other of using narcotic drugs, turning to
her saying, "It is just your hard luck." She was then taken to Bellevue
Hospital for one and one-half weeks' reduction cure. After that she was
taken to the new Bronx County Jail to be detained for the Court of Spec­
ial Sessions. There she did not plead guilty, but was found guilty and
sent to the penitentiary on an indefinite sentence. This was her second
arrest. She claims she got a suspended sentence for possession, and the
penitentiary for using drugs.
C. was bora in New Jersey, the youngest of three children.
Her mother died when she was a baby and she was brought up by her father,
who did not remarry. She went to primary school and left because she was
placed to work in various families as a domestic. When sixteen she mar­
ried and has lived since with her husband. They have a son who is now
twenty-one and who visits her regularly. C. complains that she is not
allowed to communicate with her husband and has to send him messages
through her son. He will be discharged in December and she realizes
how unhappy he will be not to find her at home. C. is a good-looking
woman, but with a poor complexion and bad teeth. She works in the dining
room and said it keeps her busy and her mind occupied. She offered the
explanation of how she became an addict. Said she is a cardiac case and
during a sickness about ten years ago, she was given morphine for a long
period. After that she could never fall asleep without some sedative, but
when they ceased to have an effect, she started to buy heroin. Her hus­
band knew of her difficulties and as long as he had been able to afford
this expensive habit, things went along all right with them. She said
she did not know of his having that gun, and that he had never been
arrested before. It was such a shock to her that she has had to fall
back on larger quantities of narcotic drug to quiet her.
Interview No. 61. White; age. 46: disorderly conduct.
M. came intoxicated one afternoon to her furnished room in up­
town Manhattan. When she rang the bell the landlord refused to open the
door. She would not leave but told him through the door that she had
forgotten her key. He again refused to open the door, whereupon she
broke the pane of glass in the door. He called for the police. A uni­
formed officer came and when he saw her called for a police car in which
she was taken to the 121st Street City Magistrates' Court. She was held
for night court under the supervision of a correctional officer until
12:00 P.M. She was then taken to the City Magistrates' Court at S14
West 54th Street. The landlord who was present at the hearing pressed
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charges against her. He said she had used bad language and should
be punished. She pleaded guilty and asked to be released on bail.
Bail was set for $25.00 which she could not pay. She was held for the
rest of the night at the 121st Street Police Station and the follow­
ing morning was taken to the House of Detention for investigation.
Her Board of Health report came back positive. About a week later she
was sentenced to four months in the workhouse on a charge of disorderly
conduct.
M. was b o m in New York City. Both of her parents died within
a short period when she was six. She was reared in a Catholic institu­
tion where she remained until she was sixteen. She wasgraduatedfrom
elementary school. After she left the institution, she worked in a store
and later as a model and a salesgirl. She is a tall good-looking woman
with dark blond hair. She says she is very high-strung and nervous and
bbjects strongly to having to associate with prostitutes and "dope fiends."
She suffers under the constant noisA and lack of out-door exercise. She
appreciates that at the House of Detention for Women her physical
ailments
have been treated. She has had all her teeth extracted and hopes she will
get a new set of teeth before her discharge. M.'s attitude toward her
court experience is bitter. She feels that injustice has been done her.
At the time of her arrest she was working as a seamstress and has always
made enough money to support herself, but she felt so lonely and depressed
at times that she took to drink in order to overcome her despondency.
Interview No. 62. Negro; age. 56: disorderly conduct.
A. was outside her house at 8:30 P.M., on East 99th Street,
New York City, with two other girls when a white man passed and started
talking to them. A few minutes later two plain-clothes men came up and
said to the girls, "You are under arrest on a charge of disorderly con­
duct. The white man said that the girls had solicited him. A. claims
that the white man had asked the girls for a cigarette. The detective
knew A. through a previous record on the same charge. He took her in a
taxi to the 121st Street City Magistrates' Court where she was booked,
and then to the West 123rd Street Police Station for the night. She was
kept in an individual cell. The next morning, without breakfast, she was
taken back to court. She pleaded not guilty and was sent to the House
of Detention for Women for investigation. A week later her blood test
was found to be positive and she was sentenced to six months in the work­
house. At present her blood is negative and she works in the laundry.
A. was born in Virginia, and lost her parents in early infancy.
She was reared by an aunt. She went to school until she reached the
fifth grade. She married very young and has a son fourteen years of age.
She is separated from her husband, but shares the responsibility with
him of bringing up the son. The child is with the father at present.
A. is very much on the defensive, at times moody and sulky, and then
good-natured and eager to help other women when she sees them suffering.
She belongs to the Baptist Church and has kept up her church contacts
since childhood when she went to Sunday School. A. is a heavily built
woman, with clear cut features, easy to talk to, but she did not discuss
her marital difficulties.
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Interview No. 65.
Negro: age. 25: disorderly conduct.
While 0. and two girl friends were chatting outside her house,
a "bull" drove up and said, "Why are you standing here?" She answered,
"Can't I stand in the day time in front of my house?" The detective
arrested the three girls and took them in his car to the 123rd Street
City Magistrates' Court, where he told the judge that the girls were
standing talking with boys and were in bad company. 0. had no previous
record. She did not plead guilty. She had no lawyer and did not know
that she could secure one free of charge. She was sent to the House of
Detention for Women for investigation. She was found to have a venereal
disease, and after three days was taken back to court and sentenced to
five months in the workhouse on a charge of disorderly conduct.
0.
was bom in the West Indies. Her parents had twelve chil­
dren of which she was the second youngest. When eight years old, she
was brought to New York City where she continued to go to school until
she reached the seventh grade. She was then placed in a domestic posi­
tion and since then has been self-supporting. 0. is a short, very thin
girl. She has learned to observe carefully her surroundings and knows
how to criticize what she thinks is wrong. She is lively, a great talker ,
and neat in her appearance. Throughout the interview she chewed gum,
constantly drawing the gum in and out of her mouth. At the House of
Detention for Women she works in the X-ray room where she cleans and
helps the technicians. She is not interested in recreation since she
does not get any enjoymdnt out of it. She said, "I would rather be
locked up in my cage and would be glad not to see anybody here." She
feels that injustice was done her and suggested that the activities of
detectives are in dire need of investigation.
Interview No. 64. Negro; age. 23; disorderly conduct.
S. was visiting a girl friend in an apartment in Harlem about
12:30 P.M., where they had beer. When she was leaving the house, a white
man came asking them for information concerning a man whom he worked with
and who he said lived in that building. Just as they were leaving the
house, another man appeared and pushed both of them back into the house.
This man was a detective. Another detective waited in his car. S. was
taken with the white man to the East 104th Street Police Station where
she was kept waiting until 2:00 A.M. The white man was allowed to go
home and she was taken to a police station where she remained under the
care of a correctional officer overnight. In the morning, she was taken
without breakfast to the 121st Street City Magistrates' Court in a patrol
wagon. She pleaded not guilty. This was her first arrest, and she had
no lawyer. She was sent to the House of Detention for Women for inves­
tigation. She was taken back to court three days later and sentenced to
four months in the workhouse.
S. was bom in South Carolina. Her parents had three children.
She was the only girl. She went through the seventh grade. She came to
New York City three years ago and has always supported herself by domes­
tic work. She said she is very religious and attends every service held
at the House of Detention for Women. She does not take any of the offered
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classes. The only type of recreation she feels is worthwhile is
singing, which she joins. During the day she works in the laundry.
S. is a tall, husky girl, very dark skinned, with a cheerful smile
and kind manner. She said she is trying hard to be obedient and to
observe all the rules of the institution. She feels that she was un­
justly treated, since she has heard of so many girls who got a "break"
as first offenders. She said she hates white men and would never have
any dealings with them. She believes in "purity of race."
Interview No. 65. Negro: age. 27: disorderly conduct.
V. was at home in downtown Brooklyn, when about 7*00 P.M.,
one of her girl friends across the street was arrested. Before this
girl left for the police station she sent someone to get her coat from
V., which she had left there on her last visit. V. very obligingly
took the coat over to her when a uniformed police officer arrested her
on a charge of interference. In a patrol wagon, they were taken to the
Poplar Police Station where they were kept overnight under the care of
a correctional officer. They had money with them and bought breakfast
before they were taken to a City Magistrates' Court in Brooklyn. V.
Claims that the detective advised her to plead guilty, which she did.
She cannot understand now why she did. She was so nervous and upset
that she could hardly understand what the judge was asking her. She
was tried and sentenced right away and was given six months in the
workhouse on a charge ofdisorderly conduct.
V. was b o m inVirginia, the elder of two children. After the
death of her mother, an uncle took care of her. She has never known her
father. She came to NewYork City when she was fifteen and was taken
care of by an aunt. The aunt in New York City had made arrangements
through an employment agency to get her a job here. The fare was paid
by her employer, but soon after she was placed, she ran away because she
did not get any pay and had to work first for the payment of her fare,
and then her employers would give her something very little in salary.
Since then she has been on her own and claims she has been self-support­
ing. As a child V. regularly attended Sunday School at the Baptist
Church, but since coming to New York City she has not kept up her church
activities. She said that at present she has lost all ambition. She is
not interested in attending classes. At first she did not join in any
recreation at the institution, but lately has been playing tennis and she
likes to sing. V. claims that a family for whom she worked three years
ago are willing to take her back after her discharge, and have promised
to pay her $30 a month. She said she has had an opportunity to get mar­
ried but "she cannot be bothered with a husband and children." V. is
medium-sized, very thin and undeveloped. She is friendly to inmates
and obedient to the officers. She is out-spoken and cannot forget the
injustice that has been done her.
-472.
Interview Mo. 66.
Negro: age. 55: disorderly conduct.
11. was walking along the street in Harlem about 8:30 P.M.,
when she met several girl friends and they chatted together. They were
aware that some white men were following them. One of them passed by
and M. thought she had known him. She said, "hello." A detective
grabbed them and took the white man's name and address, and where he
worked, and let him go. But the girls were taken to the 123rd Street
Police Station in a private car, and from there to the City Magistrates'
Court. When they came before the judge, he stated that there was not
enough evidence to find them guilty. He insisted that the white man
be called. The white man did not want to come to court because he was
afraid he might lose his job if he stayed away from work. So the judge
ordered a summons for him. While all this was done, M. was kept in the
"bull pen." In the late afternoon she was given some lunch. When the
white man appeared he had nothing to say except that he had had no con­
versation with the girl since he was not able to answer her before she
was arrested. But the district attorney, after having spoken with the
detective, found her guilty. She was fingerprinted and taken to the
House of Detention for Women for investigation. After five days, she
was sentenced to the workhouse for 120- days on a charge of disorderly
conduct.
M. was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the second of three chil­
dren. Her parents died when she was small and she was brought up by a
grandmother and an aunt.
She went to school until she reached the
sixth grade. Three years ago, she came to New York City. She has been
self-supporting doing factory and domestic work. She attended the Meth­
odist Sunday School as a child, but has not kept up any church activities
since she came to New York City. M. is a tall, slender girl, with a very
dark skin. Her hair stands straight on her head. She is slow in her
talk and apparently dull mentally. She said her sister wants her to
return to St. Louis, but she thinks that New York City is much more in­
teresting. She has some connections on which she can fall back upon her
discharge. She is indignant over the fact that a white man should asso­
ciate intimately with a colored woman. She said she would not think of
it; the white man is not emotional enough for her.
Interview No. 67. Negro: age. 28: disorderly conduct.
N. was in a store in Long Island when she happened to meet a
girl acquaintance. She started to argue with her in such a loud tone that
a policeman arrested both girls and took them to a Queens City Magistrates'
Court. They were booked and sent to the House of Detention for Women for
three days. They were returned to court, when their blood test was re­
turned positive, and were given sentences of four months in the workhouse
on a charge of disorderly conduct. N. had had one previous arrest but
her case had been dismissed and she had never served time. N. was born
in Georgia. She is the only living one of five children. When she was
almost sixteen, her aunt in New York City sent for her and she was placed
in a domestic position. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son.
During that time she was taken care of by her grandmother who is keeping
the child. M. is a tall, heavily built woman, with a coarse manner, very
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high strung. She apparently depends entirely upon the help of her
family. Although she claims she had a part-time job as a domestic
at the time of her arrest, she now looks:: for assistance from her
grandmother and her aunt. She had very little education and has lived
constantly under economic stress. She asked that she and the inter­
viewer see the co-offender who lived in the next cell in order to veri­
fy her statements.
Interview Ho. 68. Negro: age. 25; disorderly conduct.
A. met a girl friend and they were on their way to work in
Far Rockaway when a policeman stopped and arrested them. He "slapped"
them. She had had a drink before she left her home for work. They
were taken to the Harmon Magistrates1 Court, where the judge sent them
to the House of Detention for Women for investigation. Four days later
she was returned to court, after her health examination showed her to
be suffering of a venereal disease. She was sentenced to four months
in the workhouse on a charge of disorderly conduct. Only then was she
fingerprinted.
A. was bora in South Carolina. Her father died when she was
small, leaving four children. She went to school until she reached the
eighth grade. When eighteen, she came to New York City where she got
her first position in White Plains. At present she is working in the
mess hall at the institution. A. is a tall, dark girl, with short curly
hair, very bony, apparently not very bright. She feels that this exper­
ience has been a good lesson to her and that she will be more careful
from now on. She is taking up English and spelling for an hour a day,
and enjoys the baseball games. She goes to the roof every day from 2*00
to 2:50. Although she is a Baptist, she attends the Christian Science
services and is interested in the literature which the lecturer distri­
butes.
Interview No. 69. Negro: age. 45: disorderly conduct.
One evening J. was sitting on the steps of the elevated station
on the lower East Side all by herself when a policeman came along in a
patrol wagon and picked her up. He took her to a court the address of
which she did not know. She was fingerprinted and sent to the House of
Detention for Women. She was taken back to court, pleaded not guilty,
but the detective said she was intoxicated. Because of a previous
offense, she was given 90 days in the workhouse. She had no work at
the time of her arrest.
J. was born in South Carolina, an onlychild. Her parents
died and she married when very young* She livedcomfortably with her
husband. They had no children. In 1922, when they were both visiting
in Massachusetts, her husband left her. She was arrested later for the
first time and was sentenced to Framingham Reformatory for 20 months.
She would rather have gone there now than to be in the House of Deten­
tion for Women where there is no outdoor walking and the noise is un­
bearable. She said she had once gone to the roof but no more, because
she could not stand the noise. Since her husband left her, she has
developed the habit of taking alcohol periodically. J. is a darkskinned woman, heavily built, with a large mouth, broken teeth, broad
nose. She said she was hot tempered, especially after the "bulls tried
to put one over on me." She has a broad smile and said her life is not
over yet. She will go back to South Carolina; the life in New York
City is too "tough" for her. She is friendly, out-spoken, and seemed
to enjoy outside contact with interviewer. She said she was not getting
along well with the correctional officer in charge and was once punished
by being transferred from the sixth floor to the fourth floor for a petty
matter.
Interview No. 70.
Negro; age.
24: disorderlyconduct.
M. was walking in Harlem about 9:00 P.M. when she met two other
girls. While they were standing talking, a plain-clothes man who had
watchedthem from across the street approached and said he had seen the
girls soliciting. He arrested all three of them. They were taken in a
taxi to 123rd Street Police Station where they were booked on a charge
of disorderly conduct. They were kept there overnight under the care of
a correctional officer. Without breakfast next morning, they were taken
in a patrol wagon to the 121st Street Police Station and later to a City
Magistrates' Court. She was sent to the House of Detention for investi­
gation. She had not pleaded guilty and had no lawyer. Her blood test
was returned marked positive, and she was sentenced to six months in the
workhouse. She claims she has had two previous convictions on the same
charge, but each time sentence was suspended. She was working part-time
when arrested as a domestic.
M. was born in Virginia. Her father died before she was bom.
Her mother was left with four little children and she reared them in
poverty. M. being the youngest was left in the care of the oldest sister.
She attended school until she reached the seventh grade. She was sent
regularly to the Methodist Sunday School. She left home when she was
seventeen and came to New York City to find employment which would pay
more than she would receive in Virginia so that she could contribute
toward her mother's support. Her mother is sickly and unable to work.
M. had great difficulty in getting adjusted to the complex life of the
city, and soon found herself under the influence of undesirable individ­
uals. She never contacted the church while in New York. She claims that
the constant worry of finding employment has given her a sense of inse­
curity. She was very lonesome. The attitude of mistrust which her
various employers have shown toward her has made her bitter against the
white race in general. She said that in this institution she had had
close contact for the first time with white people. She does not attend
church services or attend any classes. Her work assignment is in the
sewing room where she has been taught to make rugs. M. is short, under­
weight, has a very narrow chest. Her skin is light. She is phlegmatic
and slow in describing her experiences and was frequently confused in
her statements. She worries as to what to do after her discharge and
ha3 not yet made Up her mind whether or not to return to Virginia. She
has heard from the other inmates that it is almost impossible for a girl
with a record to stay out of difficulties.
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Interview No. 71.
White: age. 38} disorderly conduct.
J. was walking along the street about Is00 A.M. in Manhattan
when she noticed that a plain-clothes man was following her. She turned
around and he said, "I'll run you in.” Two other detectives in a car
drove up to the curb and took her to a police station where she was
booked on a charge of disorderly conduct. She was kept in an individ­
ual cell under the care of a correctional officer. The next morning
she bought her own breakfast, and was then taken to the Women1s Court
where she secured the services of a lawyer. She pleaded not guilty
and was sent to the House of Detention for Women for investigation.
Three days later her trial came up at the 57th Street City Magistrates'
Court. Her fingerprints were taken. She was found guilty and sentenced
to 120 days in the workhouse. She said her blood report was negative,
but she had been known previously to the police as a drug addict. She
claims she has not taken any drugs recently.
J. was b om in Texas. Her parents were divorced soon after
she was bom. Her mother died and left four children. J. married when
she was very young and has a daughter, but her husband never helped to
care for the child, and after a separation of several years they were
divorced. J. taught school for five years. Only three weeks before
her arrest she came to New York City where she had been offered news­
paper work. She is completely bewildered that a person can be rail­
roaded in such a way and convicted without any other evidence than the
word of the detective. J. said she talked too much to the judge, inter­
rupting him when he made false statements, and that is why the judge
got impatient and gave her 120 days. J. is a Methodist and is sending
her little girl of eleven years of age to Sunday School regularly. J.
works in the kitchen at the institution. J. is a tall, husky woman,
with nice features. She seems good-natured, is very intelligent, well
read, and frank in criticizing her court experience. This is her first
experience in an institution of the kind and she said that she had
learned more since her arrest than throughout her ten years' school
training.
Interview No. 72. Negro: age. 50: disorderly conduct.
G.
was at a beer garden about 2:00 A.M. in Long Island with
two other women. When the beer garden was about to be closed and they
were leaving, an officer told her not to speak so loudly, but to go home.
She said she knew what she was doing and he pushed her. He was in uni­
form. She pushed him back, and he called a patrol wagon. Instead of
proceeding to the police station, he shoved her into the patrol wagon
and gave her a merciless beating. She showed a mark on her chin which
she said was a bruise she received from him. He was in the back of
the patrol car with her on the way to the police station, which is not
permitted. There are separate compartments for men and women. At the
police station, she was put in an individual cell under the care of a
correctional officer. She received no breakfast. She was taken to
court in the same building, the address of which she did not know.
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She pleaded not guilty, was taken to the House of Detention for Women
where she was released on $100 bail secured by her husband. A week
later she was tried, and as her blood test was marked positive, she
was given a sentence of 100 days in the workhouse.
G.
was bora in Savannah, Georgia. Her father died when she
was nine, leaving five children. She went through grammar school. She
married when she was seventeen, and since that time has kept her own
house. She had one child which died of malnutrition when three weeks
old. G. and her husband are happily married and have a nice apartment.
Her husband works steadily.
They attend the Baptist Church to which
they belong. G. is tall, good-natured, very friendly, and has had no
difficulty in getting adjusted to the routine of the institution. She
said her husband visits her regularly and knows how to cheer her up and
tells her not to mind this experience as he will always love her. G.
stated that while she went to the beer garden, her husband went to bed,
and that he did not seem to mind her going out by herself after midnight.
Interview Ho. 75. Negro; age. 40; disorderly conduct.
§
E. was at 5s50 P.M. in a Brooklyn store when a woman detective
followed her and said, "You look suspicious.” The detective knew that
she had a record for shoplifting. She was taken to the police station
for overnight, and later on to Police Headquarters, and then back to
Brooklyn for trial at a City Magistrates' Court. Here she was finger­
printed. The judge would have been lenient, she said, but the detective
had looked up her whole record and told the judge of all her previous
offenses. She pleaded not guilty, but was found guilty and sent to the
House of Detention for Women for further investigation. A week later
she was sentenced to the workhouse for six months on a charge of dis­
orderly conduct.
E. was bora in South Carolina. When a little girl, her parents
moved to Pennsylvania where she went to school to the fourth grade. She
has one sister. Her parents are still living but are sickly. E. married
when she was sixteen, but her husband died soon after. Since then she
has been doing domestic work, mostly in living-in positions. At the time
of her arrest she had a part-time job. At the House of Detention for
Women, E. works in the sewing room. She does not participate in recrea­
tional activities and does not take any class work. She is not feeling
well and had been to the doctor a week before. The doctor diagnosed
her trouble as gall stones. She said that arrangements for an operation
can be made, but she is not willing to have it performed at present.
She claims she has a great many friends in New York City who will back
her after her discharge. E. is a short woman, very thin. She is cheer­
ful, but always feels sick. She is friendly and refined in her manner.
She seems to be of low mentality, but eager to cooperate. She was frank,
but avoided discussing her first offense.
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Interview No. 74.
Negro; age. 41: disorderly conduct.
T. was sitting on the front step of the apartment house where
she shared an apartment with another girl, when a car drove up with two
men in it. One of the men said commandingly, "Get into the car." One
of the detectives knew that T. had a previous record on a charge of
prostitution. The detective took her and the three other girls to the
104th Street Police Station, from there to the 121st Street Police
Station where she was fingerprinted. Later on, she was taken to another
police station for the night. The following day, at the House of Deten­
tion for Women, her medical examination showed that she was suffering
of gonorrhea. When brought before the judge, she pleaded guilty because
a detective told her to do so. She was sentenced to six months in the
workhouse on a charge of disorderly conduct. She did not have a lawyer
and did not know that she could have such a service free of charge. She
is very regretful that she followed the advice of the detective. She
said if she had stuck to the truth, which was "not guilty" she would
not have received such a long term.
T. was b o m in New Jersey. Her mother died when she was ten
years old. T. is the only living child of seven. She went to school up
to the seventh grade. When she was eight, she was sent out in the even­
ings to take care of babies. When sixteen, she married but her husband
soon deserted her, leaving her with two infants. Both of them died in
infancy. Because she was so depressed over their loss, she looked for
comfort and understanding and started going out with various men, until
she finally got arrested on a charge of prostitution. She assured the
interviewer that to prostitute is not an easy occupation as one has to
have much nerve and will-power to go through such an unpleasant exper­
ience, "You have to put up with the whims and desires of different types
of men." T.'s right arm was fractured when a child and remained un­
developed. Her skin is very dark. She is a great talker, very lively
and emotional. She is apparently low mentally. She said the only occu­
pation she cares for is laundry work, but has been unable to secure it,
and was forced to do domestic work. She plans to live in a new neigh­
borhood after her discharge where she has some friends who do not know
of her present difficulty.
Interview No. 75. Negro: age. 59: disorderly conduct.
M. was in an apartment with some friends in Harlem at 2:00
A.M. talking to a colored man, when a plain-clothes detective broke
in, breaking the door, and arrested everyone in the room. The detective
walked the group to the 125rd Street Police Station where M. was booked,
and then taken to the 30th Street Police Station for the rest of the
night. She asked for a lawyer, but no lawyer could be found, when she
pleaded not guilty in a City Magistrates' Court. She was sent to the
House of Detention for Women, and six days later when the report from
the Board of Health stated that she was suffering of gonorrhea, she was
sentenced to four months in the workhouse on a charge ofdisorderly con­
duct. She claims she had one previous conviction on a charge of pros­
titution when she was given fifteen days.
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U. was bora in Maryland. Her parents had five children.
She was the oldest and practically brought up the younger ones. She
went through the seventh grade. She quit in order to take a job
in a laundry. She married a man who was twice her age, but he died.
They had no children. His sudden death had a detrimental effect upon
her, and at times she got very depressed and felt lonely. She got
suspicious and would doubt people when they told her anything. She was
self-supporting and working until the day of her arrest. M. was on the
defensive in the beginning of the interview, but later on good rapport
was established. She complained that the institution was noisy and
that there was no space to walk outside. She felt that injustice had
been done her, and while the first arrest was justified, the second was
not. M. belonged to the Baptist Church and attended Sunday School when
a child, but has never contacted the church since she came to New York.
Interview No. 76. TShite; age. 58: disorderly conduct.
During the day time E. was arrested in a store, according to
her statement, for no good reason. She was taken to the 50th Street
Police Station where she remained overnight. She was taken to the
House of Detention for Women in the morning. She claimed that her blood
test was negative, but she wore a brown dress, which signified that she
was being treated for venereal disease. She said she had not received •
any treatment. She was sentenced in a City Magistrates' Court to thirty
days in the workhouse on a charge of disorderly conduct.
E. was born in New York City, the only child, and reared as
a good Catholic, "practically in church," she said. Her parents are still
alive. She has many friends who will take care of her after her discharge.
She was uneasy about the interview as she is looking forward to being dis­
charged in the near future, and she feared that the interview might pro­
long her stay. She remained suspicious throughout, repeating constantly,
"It is so nice up here." She said, "I am high strung but get along with
everybody in this place. It is nice here." E. is a short woman, with
bleached blond hair, very nervous, quick in her movements, and not able
to think logically, but jumped from one subject to another. She moved
in her chair constantly and kept running her hands through her hair.
She claimed to have been innocent and not aware of any cause for her
arrest.
Interview Noi 77. White: age. 55: disorderly conduct.
H. was walking along Avenue
when a boy who was playing ball hit
went to complain to an officer, when
her to the 22nd Street Police Station
him bad names.
Her last arrest was
fact the judge was lenient with her
the workhouse.
A at 11:00 A.M., in New York City,
herin the eye with the ball. She
"this black Turkey officer" took
and complained that she had called
tenyears ago, and because of this
andgave her only fifteen days in
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H. was bom in Ireland where she was reared partly in a
Catholic institution and partly at home. When ten years old, she came
to the United States. She was married young and had one child, but her
husband died, and since then she has been self-supporting doing canvass­
ing or cooking. H*. said she is deeply religious and very anxious to go
straight. She has lost track of her daughter which worries her very much.
H. is a tall woman, with good posture, gray hair, and appears to be a
chronic alcoholic type. She can be very sweet one moment, and use vile
language the next. She was very well behaved during the interview, and
apparently enjoyed having an outsider to talk to. She is doing cleaning
while serving her sentence and praised her work highly.
Interview Mo. 78.
White: age. 58; disorderly conduct.
J. went to a girl friend's apartment at midnight on West 17th
Street. She claims she had not been drinking. She had trouble finding
the right apartment and went into an apartment on the floor below. The
landlady had her arrested by a uniformed officer who took her to the West
68th Street Police Station in a radio car. She was booked and then taken
to the 30th Street Police Station for the night, where she was kept in an
individual cell. Without breakfast, she was taken in the morning to the
54th Street City Magistrates' Court where she was fingerprinted. She
pleaded guilty and received a sentence of ten days in the workhouse.
J. was bom in North Carolina, an only child. Her mother died
during her birth and an aunt reared her. She was graduated from high
school and married when fifteen. She has a daughter, twenty years of
age, who is also married and has recently given birth to a baby. J. is
a stout, plump young woman, with bleached blond hair and blue eyes. She
was eager to talk about her difficulties. She admitted she had had a pre­
vious arrest some time ago, but said that the last one was entirely un­
justified. J. does not care to participate in any activities while at
the institution. She says she prefers to sit around talking.
Interview No. 79.
White: age. 38. disorderly conduct.
M. was walking along 16th Street near Stuyvesant Park while in­
toxicated. She asked a man fora cigarette. He said, "All right, I'll give
you one if you come along with me." He was a detective and took her to the
Women's Court where she pleaded guilty, was fingerprinted, and given a sen­
tence of thirty days in the workhouse. She had served previous terms on
the same charge. She claims she has never had a venereal disease.
M. was bom in Ireland, the youngest of six children. She came
to New York twenty years ago, following her four older brothers. She says
that recently her father died in Ireland and left a few hundred dollars for
each child. On the day of her arrest, she was on the way to the Surrogates'
Court to claim the money. She had to write to get the hearing postponed
since all the children were to be present at the same time in order to make
the claim. She said it was embarrassing to tell them why she could not be
present, but she plans to celebrate after her discharge. M. has a good
sense of humor. She spoke at length of her Catholic faith which has always
helped her to go straight, and she has asked to be allowed to work in the
Chapel while in the institution.
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M. was married, but separated from her husband after seven
years. She has two children of whom she speaks very highly. The boy,
eleven, will be prepared for an agricultural school, and the girl, nine,
is staying at present with her sister-in-law. The other children died
in infancy and she claims that since the death of these children she
started to drink. M. is a short woman, with dark straight h&ir, gray
eyes. She looks much older than her age. Her three front teeth are
missing. She hopes that they will be replaced at the House of Deten­
tion for Women. She contradicted her statement as to her husband's
death and said that he was in Bellevue Hospital suffering of neuritis.
After his release and her arrest, he took the children away from her
sister-in-law, and she said she will fight for them when she gets out.
Interview No. 80. Negro; age. 59: disorderly conduct.
H. lived in a five-room railroad apartment which she shared
with two other couples, paying $18.00 a month rent. One day when she
was alone in the apartment about 4:00 P.M., four plain-clothes detectives
came into her apartment through the fire escape, front door, back door
and window. They searched the apartment and found in the kitchen of one
of her roomers signs of making whiskey. H. claims that she did not know
about it. She was arrested and taken to the 100th Street Police Station,
later to the 30th Street Police Station, where she was kept overnight in
an individual cell. She was very hungry but did not receive supper or
breakfast. She had only a check with her which she had received from
her son in a CCC camp for $28.00. In the morning she asked for a lawyer.
A Legal Aid lawyer was assigned to her case, but without a chance to
explain the circumstances to him, she was found guilty. "The lawyer
stood right up and talked without knowing the particulars of the case."
H. was sent to the House of Detention for Women and the case was trans­
ferred to the 54th Street City Magistrates' Court. Three days later,
the case was transferred to the Court of Special Sessions for hearing.
H. did not plead guilty, but was sentenced to sixty days.
H.
was b o m in Salem, Massachusetts, the younger of two chil­
dren and was reared in a charity institution from four to fourteen years
of age, and she remained under the supervision of this institution until
she was eighteen. When fourteen, she was boarded out in a family where
she had to do housework and heavy washing, and she remained there until
she was eighteen. She ran away then and soon afterward married a man
she had known while he was working in the institution where she lived.
She has a son of nineteen and a daughter sixteen. She is separated from
her husband who never helped in the support of the children. H. worked
as a cook, making thirty-five dollars a week; also as a factory worker
on a pressing machine. The fact that her husband, of whom she was veryfond, deserted her, made her look for the affection of other men. In
1931 she was arrested on a charge of prostitution, and in 1933 again on
the same charge and put on probation. On this, her third conviction,
she is serving a sentence. H. feels that the officers are not telling
the truth when they speak to the judges. She claims the officer knew
she was not living in that part of her apartment, and instead of waiting
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for the man who lived there, he was in a hurry to make an arrest and
arrested her* He did not present the whole case thoroughly. She said,
"If officers did tell the truth there would not be so many convictions."
H.
is a tall, physically strong woman, with black curly hair
and a kind smile* She complained that the bed at the House of Detention
for Women is too narrow and that they are so overcrowded that there are
two inmates in one cell which was built for one. She said there was not
enough air for two persons to breathe. The windows can be raised only
two inches and the screens are heavy (thick). She passes her time clean­
ing corridors. She does not care for any recreation.
Interview Ho. 81.
White: age. 40s miscellaneous.
M. was at home in her apartment on the west side of Manhattan,
recuperating from the grippe. Her husband was working. Around noon she
answered her doorbell, and two plain-clothes men walked into her apart­
ment. They did not identify themselves as officers, but said they had a
complaint against her and that she was under arrest. M. was excited,
said she had eaten nothing that day, and asked the men to wait until she
could dress. Grudgingly, they waited a few minutes. She was taken to the
100th Street Police Station where she was booked and then to Police Head­
quarters, where she was fingerprinted and her picture taken. She was then
taken to the 30th Street station for the night. She was put in an indiv­
idual cell under the care of a correctional officer. She had been with­
out food since noon, and asked for a cup of coffee which she was allowed
to buy. The next morning she was taken to a City Magistrates' Court
without breakfast. At the court, she met her husband and a lawyer, who
bought some coffee for her. The judge set her bail at $1,000. For six
days she was detained at the House of Detention for Women, after which
time she was released on bail. After this experience she suffered a ner­
vous breakdown from which she did not recover for six months. She was
then sentenced to the penitentiary for from one to three years on a
charge of confession of performing an abortion. So far, she has not
been considered strong enough for a work assignment.
M. was bom in Danzig. She was the oldest of three children.
M. was graduated from high school and took up training as a nurse. In
1920, she married an American engineer and they settled in New lork City.
She has a son who is now fourteen. She is a Lutheran, and her son is
at present in a Lutheran camp. He thinks his mother is in a sanitarium.
M. is a tall, thin woman, with brown straight hair and gray eyes.
She
is good-looking and refined in manner. She is very depressed and unhappy.
Two things stand out in her mind: the bull pen at the Court of Special
Sessions where she was very frightened, and the taking of her picture
with the large figures across her chest, which means to her that she has
been set apart as a criminal. This was her first contact with the law.
The stories she has heard from other inmates at the institution are so
disgusting to her that she avoids every unnecessary contact and keeps
entirely to herself.
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Interview Mo. 82.
Negro: age. 27: miscellaneous.
N. went to visit friends in a rooming house in Brooklyn and
stayed with them until early morning. There were three girls and some
boys. They had been drinking quite a bit. Suddenly, four plain-clothes
men opened the door and said they were raiding the rooming house and
decided to take the whole company to the police station. The police
wagon was outside and they were taken to the Poplar Street Police Station
and put in separate cells. Without breakfast in the morning, they were
taken to a City Magistrates1 Court in Brooklyn, where they were finger­
printed. N. pleaded not guilty at the hearing, but as she did not have
a regular address to give, she was sent for investigation to the House
of Detention for Women. Her health report was returned with blood marked
positive, and she was sentenced to 120 days in the workhouse on a charge
of vagrancy. In 1930, she was arrested for the first time on a charge
of prostitution. At that time, she was given two months and ten days
in the workhouse on Welfare Island.
N. was bom in North Carolina. She is the only living child of
three. She went to school through the fifth grade. When she was seven­
teen, she came to New York City and worked in various households as a
domestic, or at heavy laundry work or scrubbing. She was forced to wash
windows in high apartments. At the time of her arrest, N. had a parttime job, on which she received ten dollars a week. In 1935, N. married
but was soon separated from her husband. They had no children, but her
husband supported her until a year ago. The marriage, she said, was not
based on mutual affection, but was a business proposition. She said the
man was older and had a steady income. She had had her own home and felt
economically secure. "It is much better to have a husband, although you
don't live with him. He cares for you much better. My husband comes to
see me." She does not plan to live with him after her discharge. N. is
a good-looking girl, with big dark eyes and long hair which she wears in
a braid around her head. She does not seem very bright, but is goodnatured and friendly. She belongs to the Baptist Church and went to
Sunday School as a child, not voluntarily but only because her mother
urged her to attend. She works in the laundry at the institution. Said
she would have taken classes, but they sire not for girls on short terms.
She is enthusiastic about the recreation hour, especially dancing and
singing. She spends one hour a day on the roof.
Interview No. 85.
White: age. 27: miscellaneous.
The Home Relief investigator called on £. because she had applied
for relief, and £. claims the investigator told her to live with her boy
friend instead of going on relief. E. started to fight and "beat up" the
investigator "good and proper" for giving her such immoral advice. E. was
especially annoyed because she has an illegitimate child to care for.
First she tore her hair and then beat her with her fists, but the inves­
tigator beat back so that they were both hurt. At last a policeman came
and E. insisted on going to the Home Relief Bureau to make a complaint
against the investigator, instead the police officer took her to the
123rd Street Police Station. She claims he pushed and dragged her until
all her bones hurt. At the police station she was questioned for four
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hours, and was finally released on bail which her friend paid for her.
She got a lawyer, and when the case came up for trial at the City Mag­
istrates' Court, he asked that the case be adjourned for one week. A
week later, at the same court, the supervisor of Home Relief with two
lawyers, the investigator and her husband, and the Commissioner of
Welfare appeared against E. E. claims that the investigator for relief
told a different story, and without giving E. or her lawyer a chance to
speak, the case was referred to the Court of Special Sessions. E. was
found guilty and fingerprinted. No picture was taken. A week later,
she was sentenced to 60 days in the workhouse on a charge of assault.
This was her first arrest* She was taken to the House of Detention for
Women in a police wagon. E. works as a machine operator in the sewing
room at the institution.
E.
was bo m in Puerto Rico. She cannot remember her own mother.
Her father re-married and her step-mother took care of her until she was
twelve. Said the step-mother treated her fairly well and was a nice
woman, but that they were very poor and therefore when E. was twelve
she was sent to New York City to earn her living. She worked first as
a domestic and later on as a finisher for large concerns since she is
very skillful with a needle. She had no schooling or training beyond
the 9th grade which she had reached in Puerto Rico. E. is a short, thin
girl, with a dark skin. She is attractive and has a little lisp in her
speech. She is very emotional and cried at various times during the
interview. First she would not speak of the man with whom she had had
the child, but later on said she had lived with him as a common-law wife.
The child is ten years old now and the father is taking care of her since
the mother's arrest. E. belongs to the Spanish Catholic Church which
she attends regularly. She does not care to attend any classes, but
spends some time on the roof. She thinks recreation is a bother. She
prays daily to "get out of this place as soon as possible."
Interview No. 84.
White: age. 29; miscellaneous.
P. went to a night club in a white district where she waited
for a girl friend. A plain-clothes officer snatched her pocketbook,
looked in it, found nothing incriminating, but nevertheless arrested her.
He took her to the 121st Street Police Station in a private car- where
she was fingerprinted and kept in an individual cell overnight. The
next morning without breakfast, she was taken to a City Magistrates'
Court, but since it was a holiday, she was taken to the House of Deten­
tion for Women. The next day she was taken to the Court of Special Ses­
sions where she was released on bail of $1,000. At the time of her ar­
rest she was working as a domestic, and her employer paid her bail fee.
She had a lawyer who suggested that she should plead .guilty to second
degree assault because there was enough evidence that she had beaten a
woman. She followed the lawyer's advice and three months later, she
was sentenced to the penitentiary for from one to three years. While
in the institution, she works in the kitchen carrying food to hospital
patients.
-485-
P. was born in Puerto Rico, the youngest of ten children.
Four of them are dead. Her mother died when P. was three years of
age. The father died two years later. Various relatives took care
of the children in turns, which meant transfer from one school to
another at short intervals. When she was fourteen, she came to New
York City, where she married a man who deserted her five years ago.
She has no children. She has learned that her husband is in Detroit
with another woman. She claims he changes women frequently. P. said
that she suffers mostly from lack of exercise and fresh air. She likes
to walk, see green grass and trees. She feels that she is handicapped
in the institution, especially that the inmates make fun of her and
tease her. She is Catholic and went to the priest about her difficul­
ties, but the only thing she was advised was not to mind what the in­
mates said or did. She was disappointed because she expected him to
side with her and hoped that he would speak to the inmates about this.
P. is a stout, short woman with bleached hair, tweezed eyebrows. She
is quick tempered, high strung and emotional, and always poses very
artistically.
Interview No. 85.
White: age. 56: miscellaneous.
L. was in a desperate mood when she was rejected for hone re­
lief. She lived with her sister in Brooklyn. A money order for $12.50,
made out to someone else, was within her reach. She was so tempted that
she took it to the Post Office and cashed it. After she returned home,
she realized what she had done and went back to the Post Office, asked
for the inspector and returned the $12.50 and gave herself up. They
told her to go home. A court officer came to see her and she received
a notice to appear at the Federal Court at the Post Office Building in
Brooklyn. She was fingerprinted and released on $500 bail. Three weeks
later, during the trial, she pleaded guilty of forgery, and was given
90 days without any reduction for good behavior.
L. was born in Italy and was two years of age when her family
consisting of father, mother and fourteen children came to New York City.
L. finished the eighth grade and took a practical nursing course and
worked at the Welfare Island Metropolitan Hospital. She has taken out
her second citizenship papers. She was supporting herself and helping
her family. Her salary was $65.00 a month and maintenance. Her physi­
cal health was never strong. She had bronchitis which caused frequent
leaves of absence and interfered with her work. L. married a Catholic
but soon divorced him, since they were not married in church. She had
a son whom she lost when he was a month old. At times physicians thought
L. was suffering of tuberculosis, and she was sent to a sanitarium for
ten months, at another time for twentyseven months, but each time she
was told that it was bronchitis and not tuberculosis which caused her
condition. She has received special attention from the medical depart­
ment at the House of Detention for Women. She is allowed to be on the
roof three times a day and is given extra milk on doctor's orders.
This is L.'8 first conflict with the Law and it has upset her
greatly as she has always felt that although she comes of a poor family,
she has made a good living through her own efforts and had a good name
-486-
which is now being destroyed. She wonders if she can have her license
as a practical nurse renewed since she has been classified as a crim­
inal on a federal offense. L. is out-spoken in her opinions and talka­
tive. She said she was willing to cooperate with the interviewer because
she felt the need of more research in the field of correction. She said
that she is being backed by her sisters and brothers, but "they will
break my bones if I get into trouble again." L. gives the impression
of having kept herself in good personal condition. She has a bright
smile which she uses to cover her emotions when talking about her court
experiences.
Interview No. 86.
White; age. 55: miscellaneous.
J. was walking in Brooklyn in the evening by herself when a
uniformed officer spoke to her. She did not have an address or people
who knew her, so she was taken to a police station, the address of which
she did not know, was put in an individual cell under the care of a cor­
rectional officer. She was given breakfast in the morning and taken to
a City Magistrates' Court where she pleaded guilty, was fingerprinted,
and sent to the House of Detention for Women for 90 days on a charge of
vagrancy and "no home." When asked if there was anything else to this
arrest, she admitted she did take to drink, which cheers her up, and she
had had one too many.
J. was bora in Cork, Ireland. She was the youngest of ten
children. She had very little schooling, after which she was made to
work at home on the farm. When she was twenty, she came to New York
City to find domestic work, but soon after her arrival she was arrested
on a charge of intoxication. She claims women can take drinks withou