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Posts Tagged ‘juvenile detention’

“As soon as child poverty is problematized in this way [as the fault of the parent and the local society], it becomes possible to invoke the need for public intervention in a broader range of cases – not just for young offenders and abandoned children, but for children neglected by unfit parents. This is a remarkable, cascading development that sets the stage for the systematic implementation, throughout the West, of child welfare and correctional systems consisting of prisons and reformatories, farm or penitentiary colonies, reform and industrial schools, and so on. Foster placement went hand in hand with these 1840s developments, paralleled by the development of the penitentiary system. From the 1880s on, new child protection associations sprang up in an effort to systematize the offensive against ‘unfit’ or deficient families, a movement that would be supported, in countries such as France and Belgium, by legislation providing for the loss of parental rights in such cases.

In Quebec, this problem gained sporadic public attention starting in the 1830s. The debate around the implementation of public institutions truly got going, however, only after the Act of Union of 1840. This debate, where it touched on young offenders, pitted proponents of punishment against theorists of reform. In 1851, the reformers worn a resounding victory with the passage if a series of resolutions by the House of Assembly of United Canada [which created the legal framework for reform schools and tackling youth delinquency]. In 1858, Lower Canada got a ‘reformatory,’ or reform prison, at Ile-aux-Noix on the Richilieu River, built in a clumsy effort to imitate Mettray [in France]. The terrible condition of the facility and the frequent instances of children running away to the nearby United States led to its being moved to Saint-Vincent-de-Paul in 1862. Ile-aux-Noix housed youths sentenced for serious crimes. It was clear soon after its opening, however, that it would not suffice. It made no provision for the incarceration of the juvenile petty criminals who still languished in the jails, much less for the housing of street children or abandoned children. It was unclear what was to be done with these children.”

– Jean-Marie Fecteau, The Pauper’s Freedom. Translated by Peter Feldstein. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s Press, 2017. French edition 2004. pp.142-143.

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“In so far as education has proved successful, in repressing vagrancy, I would answer, (without intending disparagement of the benevolent intentions of the projectors of the
scheme, or the zeal of the officials employed in its administration) No! 

The children of the dissolute and careless remain, to a great extent, outside its influences; progressing to crime and vagrancy is expanding yearly into still more frightful
dimensions, presenting now too alarming an aspect not to call for prompt and grave consideration
in the proper quarter. 

In the neglect of the proffered advantages of education, the children are frequently
to blame; but the parents are more generally the guilty party. Had they the welfare of
their offspring at heart, they would compel their attendance at school, where the opportunities
were available; but, instead of doing so, they, too often, not only connive at their
truancy, but absolutely encourage it, and find for them, instead, occupations calculated to
make them idlers and rogues; the children thus growing up pests to society, shunning
alike industry and education. 

Those who have gardens within a city, know the aptitude of the vagrant boys to strip
them of everything worth carrying off; and the owners of’ house property are aware, to
their cost, of the sharp artillery practice of this class, when the destruction of the windowglass
of their untenanted houses has to be accomplished. 

The encouragement given to vice, through the random charity bestowed in the public
streets on the “please give me a copper” class of vagrants, is much greater than the
benevolent contributors are generally aware of. The quantity of poison, yelept whiskey;
bought in a week or month with the alms thus given, would make a frightful flood, if collected
in one reservoir. 

Not alone by the parents and their vile associates the baneful beverage thus obtained
is consumed. hie youthful mendicant through whose doleful whines it had been procured, is also a partaker of it, and the harrowing spectacle of the innocence of childhood degraded,
through the example of the parents, to the level of brutality, may be witnessed on walking
through the slums inhabited by this wretched class, in the vagrant of some seven or eight
summers, the tyro drunkard, proud of mimicking, in its little maudlin swagger and hiccup,
the daily action of the miserable parent. 

Should any imagine that the picture here is overdrawn, let them but refer to the police
authorities of our populous cities, and they will receive the saddening confirmation of it.
It is, perhaps, whilst his heart is filled with the courage inspired by the liquor, the
youthful beggar first attempts a higher part in the role of vagrant life. The fear of being
pounced on by some lynx-eyed police officer, is no longer before his fuddled vision.  In
strolling about lie comes across something which his infant intelligence tells him can be
turned into money; he sneaks off with it unseen, and reaches home with it, undetected, where, through the agency of a “receiver,” or the accommodating officers of the grogseller,
it is speedily converted into whiskey.

From thus picking up small waifs on the wharves and market places, carrying home
“stray ” sticks of cordwood, taking off keys carelessly left in doors and such small beginnings,
the vagrant acquires confidence by success, creeping up into the bigher walks of
pickpocket, burglar, counterfeiter, in short everything which an adept in his profession
may aspire to until filling a cell in the Penitentiary…or a felon’s grave. 

The end so shocking, what was the beginning? Too generally, Vagrancy!


If the vagrant is to be reclaimed and the public spared the injury and cost of his misdeeds, some organized agency for the purpose is requisite.

This must necessarily be a state institution. The support desirable from private
beneficence is to uncertain to base on it the maintenance of a permanent undertaking. 

While simply pointing out the necessity that exists for some salutary measure, I do
not intend to enter upon the details of its organization, these would necessarily follow on
the adoption of the principle. 

The plans devised in those older countries, where vagrancy has been a subject of
state legislation, would supply the best information that made valuable by experience. 

That mode of treatment would best succeed, which would be gentle and compassionate.
The proceedings of the tribunal before which the vagrant should be brought for
examination, should be different from those pursued towards adult prisoners, and divested
of the exposure consequent on actual crime. 

The detectives employed (men tender and considerate) should be a body distinct from
the civic police, not alone in the duties discharged, but in the externals of dress. 

The vagrant, when taken up, should not be confined in an apartment used by the
criminals or disorderly classes, nor examined at the same time, or at the same place, with
them. Every harsh and repulsive feature should be put aside, that could give the appearance
of criminal prosecution to this first movement of benevolence in behalf of the vagrant.
The case should be enquired into in the presence of the parents, if the vagrant have
any, and they could be found; and every information possible should be obtained, in the
meantime, touching their reputation and habits. 

As, with every other scheme proposed for public consideration, objection may be made
to this one, on the ground of its expense, there need be but little room for this objection,
I imagine. 

Thus officers, one of them holding rank over the others, and competent to keep the
records of the department, and an office in which to keep these, which would also answer
for the Court, would constitute the bulk oi the expense, and this simple arrangement
would, at least for the present, embrace the necessary machinery for working the system. 

There are benevolent institutions at present in operation in Toronto which, under
suitable arrangements, would be found adequate to give the experiment a trial, and at
very small cost, I would suppose.
In the “ Boys’ Home,” an institution founded by some benevolent ladies of that city, and which has already done much to check the evil which is the subject of these remarks, would probably be found at least for some time a refuge for those vagrants of the Protestant
faith, and in the Reformatory Farm School, established by His Lordship the Catholic
Bishop of Toronto, would, I have no doubt, be received, those belonging to the Catholic
body. 

The establishment of such a tribunal and its machinery would, I have little doubt, be
hailed by many a sorrow-stricken parent as a blessing.
For the refractory youth-so often spoiled by blind indulgence, who does truant shuns from school and the parental roof, and associates with none but the worst of companions, and over when the parents have lost all influence, yet whom they cannot bring themselves to place in a prisoner’s dock; this tribunal and its-sentence of committal to a
strange but benevolent home, would be a merciful recourse, and, in all probability, restore
many a repentant prodigal to welcoming parents.”

– Inspector Terence O’Neil, “SEPARATE REPORT FOR THE YEAR 1864,” Annual Report of the Board of Inspectors of Asylums, Prisons &c for the year 1864. Sessional Papers of the Province of Canada, Sessional Papers No. 14, 29 Victoria, A. 1865. pp. 79-82

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“I have again to express my opinion that, there is no sure prospect of these institutions being attended with the success they are capable of producing, so long as the courts continue
to send the boys to them for short periods. It neither holds to reason or to-experience,
that evil habits are to be eradicated of a sudden. If the evil lessons of the streets required
time for their acquisition and for their development, surely the lessons of the school-room
require still more. The lad who has seen by example, nothing but iniquity and has heard
no Ianguage but that of vice, has much to unlearn before the precepts of religion; and
morality can have room in his mind, and much to get rid of before they will influence his conduct. If the heathen adage “Nemo est repenti turpissismus,” strike one, as true
when enunciated, the truth of the converse of it must strike the mind with still greater
force. I hold that when the natural guardians of a boy have renounced the proper care
of him which they are bound by every obligation to take, and have abandoned him to be
a prey upon society, as evidenced by his condemnation in a court of justice, society has not only the right, but it is a duty forced upon it  to assume the obligations of the guardians and act as it sees best for the benefit of the boy.

With a boy of tender age, the consideration of punishment for the offence which brings him before the courts, ought not to enter into the sentence as an ingredient, so
much as a humane and enlightened consideration of the most effectual means of preventing a repetition of it in all time to come. ln weighing this, the Judge could do well not only to foresee, it strikes me, what is to be done with the little culprit  before him, when the sentence is about to be pronounced, but what he is to do with himself once his sentence expires, seeing that he has no protector to shield and guard him. There is now a boy of ten years of age undergoing a sentence of three years in the Reformatory;
he will, consequently, be thirteen years old when he is turned out into the highway again,
from the Reformatory gates. What is that boy to do at that age? In, three years he will
not have acquired sufficient knowledge of his trade to be master of it; and if he does, how
is he to search and struggle for an engagement? He has no experience of the world, or,
at any rate, the little he had, previous to his sentence, was all bad; and employers are not
likely to take a child of his age, on is own application, off the streets, with the further
recommendation; that he is just discharged from a Reformatory prison. We look for
steadiness of conduct in a man of mature judgment, who can reason on the right and the wrong of a course of conduct, and who can take into the effects on his after position of an
action he is to do in the.present. But is all that to be expected of a child of thirteen?

The fact is to be expected that the boy alluded to, unless a proper place, by some
happy accident, is found for him, must be driven by necessity to old companions, who will
not refuse to receive him, and to old haunts which will still be open for his shelter. ln
a short time, he will be, again face to face before the same judge, who probably will lecture
him on his hardened disposition, and send him for another three years to the Reformatory
again, or perhaps to the Penitentiary as an incorrigible, nor will it ever probably occur to
the judge that he is himself the man to blame for the boy’s backsliding. Had he placed the
child in the Reformatory for the period, at once, that he will most likely spend there under
any circumstances the boy would have had some chance of departing from it a young man of
good habits and principles, or, at all events, with judgment sufficiently matured to choose
his course. Had the court sent him, when then years of age, for five years (the limit permitted
by law, or better for eight if the law allowed it) to the Reformatory at first, it
would have dealt with the purest feeling of mercy to the child, and perhaps rescued from
perdition a good member of society. But by discharging him at thirteen, to throw him
back once more upon the streets, where all the good he may have imbibed at the Reformatory
is sure to be speedily taken out of him, and then, when again sufficiently depraved, to
order him to undergo a renewed course of discipline, with a diminished chance of profiting
by it, is to profit the boy nothing; it is rather to condemn him to a lie of crime And then
there is an outcry against Reformatory establishments, and such a case as the once alluded
to will be commented upon as the strongest evidence of the uselessness of the attempt to
reform vicious youth, and of the folly of wasting money upon it.

The fact, in place of being an argument against the reformatory, its system, and I
state it ‘with all becoming respect, or its efficiency, is the strongest argument against the
wisdom of the judge. If a boy of ten years of age is brought before a court, the judge knows that in three years more the child will be only still a child; and that, if it be necessary
to keep him off the streets or out of dens of infamy at ten, it is no less so at
thirteen. The judge keeps his own boy of ten years not only at school, until he
is thirteen, but at school and college until he is twenty, nor does he permit him, in an
that time, ta be from under his own careful eye. The Almighty has established naturally
no difference between the boys; but his Honor on the Bench intends his son, by
an appropriate education and training, to occupy the position of his father; the boy in question should be intended, by appropriate education and training, to earn his bread
by the cunning of his hands. But nature requires for each – time.  Let each have
the time, and there is every reason to expect that an equal result will be arrived at.
The judge’s son at 18 or 20 will be ready to enter on a course that will do honor to
his parent; the reformatory tradesman, on one that will do credit to society. 

There may seem to be a harshness in condemning a child of ten years of age to a reformatory
for eight years for stealing a dollar’s worth of stuff, but the real harshness is
in condemning him to less. If he steals at ten, he will steal more at thirteen, and more at
sixteen, less the desire to steal becomes eradicated. The question to look at is, whether
’tis more likely to become eradicated on; the streets of a large city, where he seeks a
opportunity for indulgence and finds it, or on the farm of a reformatory, where there
is no-opportunity, and if there ‘were, it cannot be taken advantage off. It really resolves
itself into this: shall a boy culprit receive one sentence at once, between the date of his appearance in the dock and the day that he is eighteen or twenty years old, or shall he receive two or three? If he receives the one, I think there is hope for his reformation;
if the two or three, I see none.

The system of short sentences and that of a juvenile Reformatory, are positively antagonistic.
The principle of a reformatory – a place where juveniles are to be reformed – cannot
be carried out, so long as boy human nature is what it is, unless with time extend unless that time extend beyond the boy period. It is of no consequence what age the
culprit may be when brought before the Court, so far as reformation is to be provided for;
the real age to be regarded is that at which the sentence is to expire. If a boy of sixteen
is sentenced to four years in the Reformatory, there is a prospect of god for him;if a boy
of twelve is sentenced for no more, there is much less.”

–  Inspector James Moir Ferres, “GENERAL REMARKS ON THE REFORMATORIES – 

SEPARATE REPORT for the year 1862,” from Annual Report of the Board of Inspectors of Asylums, Prisons &c for the year 1862. Sessional Papers of the Province of Canada, Sessional Papers No. 66, 26 Victoria, A. 1863. 

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“The liberal logic of regulation effected an increasingly strict separation in the penal order between the necessity of punishment and the desirability of reform. In so doing, it made it possible to reconcile the principle of individual culpability with a modicum of respect for physical and mental integrity. The legitimacy of the penal order came to revolve around punishment of the deliberate act, which was to be governed by strict rules of due process and proportionate sentencing.

These principles of regulation entailed two important operational constraints. The first was that punishment was unequivocally predicated on the offender’s free will, so that persons defined as lacking this capacity – the insane, or children under a certain age, for example – were not subject to it. The second was that the principle of proportionality implied a gradation of punishment corresponding, at least in part, to the gravity of the offence. The worse the offence, the greater the legal power of detention (and hence the possibility of prolonged treatment). This led to a fundamental paradox: the conditions for the effectiveness of punishment (and the prisoner reform expected to flow from it) were in stark contradiction with the dictates of prevention. The latter, after all, necessitated prior intervention, before the irremediable occurred. Moreover, prevention is unable by definition to react ex post facto to tangible acts; its whole logic of operation consists of a focus on certain factors that define a social or human condition rather than a particular act. 

This demarcation between the right to punish and the need to prevent – blurred in the case of adults by the waning enthusiasm for the ideals of criminal reform – came fully into play in the case of children. Here, hopes of reform had remained alive and had indeed begun to take priority over the imperatives of punishment. The discourse of the development of child reform institutions depicts reform as inextricably linked to the notion of prevention.

The work is not cleanse the polluted stream after it has flowed on in its pestilential course, but to purify the fountain whence it draws its unfailing supply. What we have to do is devise and carry out such measures as shall take possession of all juveniles who may be placed in such circumstances as to be evidently precarious for a life of crime, or who may already have entered upon it, and keep hold of them until they have been trained in the knowledge of the right way and fairly started in a course of well-doing.

Where children were concerned, the liberal legal order was regarded as a constraint that need not be obeyed with any great strictness – in the words of Toqueville, “the children brought into into it without being convicted, were not the victims of persecution, but merely deprived of a fatal liberty.”

As it happened, the fraught relationship between the penal and the charitable developed, in the case of children, in two stages. In the first, continuing until the mid-19th century, the distinction between young offenders and abandoned children because increasingly clear, with the penal law applicable to the first giving the state the legal means to justify incarceration, while the tendency was for abandoned children to be entrusted to the care of private initiatives, subject to the rules governing parental responsibility and custody. In the second, the fate of children, runaways in particular, was to inspire state measures to provide for their welfare. There ensued a gradual enlargement of compulsory powers beyond the domain of criminal law. In this process, the power to remove children from their homes was extended to cases beyond the bounds of classical penal law. Thus, runaways and abandoned children who kept company with criminals, or whose parents were in prison, could be legally confined.”

– Jean-Marie Fecteau, The Pauper’s Freedom. Translated by Peter Feldstein. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s Press, 2017. French edition 2004. pp.146-47.

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“Bad Boy Makes Escape,” Kingston Daily Standard. July 11, 1912. Page 02.

A boy under twelve years old, who was convicted in the children’s court of theft and forgery and sentenced to two years in the Industrial school escaped when being taken to the railway station.

“Rained In Portsmouth,” Kingston Daily Standard. July 11, 1912. Page 02.

A remarkable phenomenon was witnessed on Tuesday in connection with the rain which fell in the surrounding district. Rain fell heavily in parts of Portsmouth, but while the Penitentiary received a copious drenching, not a drop fell on this side of it. It also rained heavily at Kingston Mills.

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“Wish for Freedom Explanation Given For Boy’s Escape,” Toronto Globe. September 30, 1933. Page 11.

No Cause for Discontent at Mimico Industrial School, Is Report

An explanation of the esape of more than a score of boys from the Mimico Industrial School recently was given to the Board of the Industrial Schools Association when it met in City Hall yesterday. The explanation was provided in a written report by Superintendent W. G. Green.

‘In view of the recent newspaper publicity concerned escapes, a few words of explanation should be givem.’ said Mr. Green. ‘A careful examination of the returned boys revealed no general or specific cause for discontent beyond the usual psychological yearning for freedom which is natural to boys held under the necessary restraint.

‘Perhaps the new atmosphere tending more and more to the honor system is a contributory cause, especially in the case of boys whose outlook in life is as yet still in the wrong direction. The fact that discipline is being tightened in the striving toward self-discipline has led boys who have particularly suffered from lack of home discipline to break away.’

Superintendent Green’s report was accepted without comment by the board, after which it adjourned its meeting. The Superintendent reported that in thirty-eight recent committals to the Victoria Industrial School three boys were found to possess superior intelligence and twenty boys were classified as having normal intelligence. 

In her report on the Alexandra School for Girls, Miss K. W. Brooking, Superintendent, stated that eleven girls had been placed in employment and had been returned during the three-month period. Five girls did not measure up to requirements of employers, two had been returned because conditions were unsatisfactory, and four were forced back to the institution because the people had taken them could not pay wages.

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“Fugitive’s Loneliness For Foster Parents Lands Four in Toils,” Toronto Star. September 16, 1933. Page 17.

Youths From Mimico Industrial School Are Recaptured Near Chatham

Special to The Star
Chatham, Ont., September 16. – While four youths who had taken part the wholesale escape by 21 inmates from the Victoria Industrial School last Sunday waited to-day in the cells of the Chatham police station for officials to take them back to Mimico, following their capture in a hobo jungle here yesterday, police were of the opinion that the home-sickness of one of the quartet brought them to Kent county.

The home-sick lad is 15 years old. He was commited to the Industrial School March 15 and his present bid for freedom is his second within two months. Police say loneliness for his foster mother and father, who live in Dover township, was the only reason he gave for his first escape and they suspect that it may have been a factor again.

This boy and three others were captured without a struggle yesterday afternoon during an elaborate search by provincial and city police along the Thames river, about a mile upstream from Chatham. The police organized for the hunt on a tip that three boys had been seen for a couple of days haunting the area where itinerants have constructed rude shelters.

Besides the juvenile, the three who were captured are George Partridge, 17, Hamilton; John Fountain, 16, Smithís Falls, and Robert Sims, 21, Hamilton. Questioned by Chief of Police Findlay Low, who directed the hunt, the juvenile and Partridge admitted that they were fugitives from the industrial school, and Fountain and Sims denied it. First definite identification of Fountain was made when The Star relayed the news of the capture and the names of the boys to school officials.

The jungle where the hunt occurred is where the C.P.R. crosses the river.

Police divided into two groups and approached on both sides of the river. As they closed in from all directions, Constables Steve Currie and Jack Harrington spotted the three younger boys walking along the railway track on the south side of the river. At first it appeared as if they were going to cross the bridge into the jungle, but they turned down a ravine into the screening willows.

When the two officers came quietly up to them they found them sitting at the waterís edge with Sims, who had not been previously observed. No attempt at escape was made and only the two younger lads showed fear at being taken into custody.
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Four Held in Hamilton
Hamilton, Sept. 16. –  Alleged to have escaped from Mimico Industrial school last week, Gordon Manella, 17, this city; Donald Anstey, 16, Hespeler; Lynn Brown, 17, Peterboro, and richard Haywood, 16, Gonderham, were arrested by Deputy Chief Constable David Green and Detective Ernest Barrett late yesterday on charges of car theft. They will appear before County Magistrate Vance to-day.

The boys’ arrest climaxed a dramatic attempt to take the car of Jim Gray, Carlisle, police say. Gray drove the car to his farm, eleventh concession, East Flamboro, and parked it beside the road while he went back field to pick stones. A few minutes later he saw four youths climb into the machine and depart.

‘Before they got a quarter of a mile along the road the lads lost control of the car and crashed it over a ditch, wrecking it against a fence post,’ police stated. When Deputy Chief Green arrived and found the wreck, he looked further and found the boys’ tracks crossing the field. Driving to the tenth concession, he arrived there just as the fugitives emerged from the bush.

The lads offered no resistance, but related a tale of a journey from eastern Saskatchewan, which police stopped short when they recognized the clothing worn by Mimico inmates.

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