Posts Tagged ‘reformatory’

“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. 

Read Full Post »

“A Killer Winks at Gory Crime,” LIFE. August 16, 1948. Page 30.

Newsreel records a brutal tale

In the fortnight beginning July 10 two subnormal young men named Robert Daniels and John West murdered six people in the state of Ohio. West killed a Columbus saloonkeeper, a farmer and a truck driver. Daniels shot down the family of John C. Niebel, the farm superintendent of a reformatory where both Daniels and West had served sentences. When police finally intercepted the slayers, West was killed but Daniels surrended. A few days later Sheriff Roy Shaffer (left), who captured him, interviews Daniels for Movietone News. In the dramatic film sequence (below) Killer Daniels repeated his confession, and, winking at the audience, boasted that he got his ‘share’ of the victim.

Read Full Post »

“What is the meaning of the amazing statistics which we gather
from reformatories? Out of 336 boys, for instance, in the Lyman
School, 110 were former peddlers on the street; 160 had been newsboys;
72 had been bootblacks, and 56 had been messengers. 

In the Parental School, another Massachusetts reformatory,
out of 336 boys, 89 had been newsboys, 52 peddlers, 22 bootblacks,
and 9 messengers; a number in total larger than the number of the
boys in the reformatory, because some of the boys had engaged in
more than one of the occupations. 

Is it the actual work? Does work lead to the reformatory?
It cannot be that. Every true advocate of child labor reform praises
good, honest, hard, tiring work as roundly as he denounces the toil
of those nine-year-old children who climb up on their dangerous
playthings in the cotton factories. 

No, it is not the hard, tiring work of the children that any child
labor reformer can contend against. It is the conditions under which
the work is done, which accompany the work, giving chance for
mischievous boyish tendencies to sprout into vicious tendencies. 

In the night messenger service the boys feel themselves above
the law. That is probably the service in which the most independence
has been cultivated. A little messenger boy walking along the

houses of ill fame, and kitchen bar-rooms. We asked him if he
was not afraid of the police. He pulled his cap off and showed
us his badge, saying: “De cops can’t touch us when we got dis
badge on.” And so it is the independence which gives them a chance
in the moments when they are not actively at work to cultivate the
vicious tendencies which lead to the reformatory. 

This independence is peculiar to the street trades. The mills
do not directly send people to the reformatories. They repress the
children, repress all the mischief, or tire it out so that there is not
much chance in the idle moments, while the child is working eleven
hours a day in the mill, for him to get on the path to the reformatory.
Indirectly, however, in Massachusetts at least, we find that the mills
do lead to the reformatory by ruining many boys at an early age,
making doffers of them when they have no education, no industrial
training. Without ability to progress to more skillful work in the
mill, boys are thrown upon the streets at sixteen or seventeen when
they become too old to doff. In the city of Lawrence, large numbers
of these boys are thrown upon the streets and become part of the
street gang. 

It is not the work of selling the newspaper or of carrying the
telegram that does the harm. Many boys-probably the larger
number-in the newspaper service at any rate, are benefited by the
actual work. A boy whom I met recently is one of the justices of
the Newsboys’ Court in Boston, just established. The judges are
the newsboys themselves. They act under the direction of the Juvenile
Court and sentence the boys themselves: self-government.
And this bright, fifteen-year-old boy, has been cared for in good
home surroundings and the hard work has benefited him. He is a
keen, intelligent lad. He is doing all he can to keep the younger
boys and his friends from going into the night messenger service,
and to get them work under good conditions. His one ambition
is to be a forester, and to get away from the city. 

And so it seems to me that the point of attack is not to stop
the work, but to regulate it, to put it under good conditions; and
where good conditions cannot be had, as in the late hours of the
night messenger service or the late work of street trading, then, as
the final resort, prohibit the work. 

There is another phase of the question of street trades and

reformatories – the question whether the reformatory is the proper
cure or remedy for the wayward street trader. Of course, in the
most depraved cases in the night messenger service, the boy must
land in the reformatory or in jail, thanks to the sad condition of
society which has allowed these evils to go on. But for the minor
offences, for violation of the license regulations, failing to wear the
badge displayed, and all those things, it would be foolish to send
the minor offender into the reformatory with the older and more
depraved offender. In this connection, the Newsboys’ Court that
has been established in Boston offers a most admirable suggestion.
One of the justices is a lawyer who has always taken a great interest
in children. The other two are newsboys. They manage their
court in a rather informal manner; but they judge each case fairly
after hearing the arguments. They take time to consider the
merits of the boy’s case, and understand better than do a great
many judges the difficulties with which the boy has had to contend,
and can suggest the proper punishment.”

– Richard K. Conant, “STREET TRADES AND REFORMATORIES.” The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 38, Issue 1, 1911.

Read Full Post »

“Sent to Industrial School.” Kingston Daily Standard. July 17, 1912. Page 08.
In juvenile court this morning a 16 year old lad was sent to the Industrial School. He was found guilty of having stolen a fare box from the Street Railway Company. Another boy who was implicated in the theft was remanded. There were five in the crowd, and warrants are out for the other three.

Read Full Post »

“City Items,” Montreal Daily Witness, July 12, 1871. Page 03.

Mary Ann Sullivan, a girl of only 10 years of age, who recently escaped from the Reformatory, was arrested yesterday by Constables Armor and Martel, and to-day was sent back to the Reformatory.

Escaped. – Yesterday a boy named Louis Vian, aged 15 years, was arrested by the detectives on suspicion of being concerned in the Gault outrage. The circumstantial evidence against him was very strong, and a handkerchief which belonged to Mr. Gault was also found in his possession. After his arrest, he was put in the cell along with other prisoners to await examination at the Police Court to-day. During the night, however, Master Louis Vian managed to effect his escape by, it is believed, crawling through the ventilator in the cell door. The aperture in question is less than nine inches square, and Vian must have been very dexterous in getting through and afterwards clearing off from the building without being noticed. Three or four persons previously arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the Gault outrage, were to-day shown to Mr. Gault, but the latter failed to recognize any of them, and they were sent to jail as vagrants.

Attempted Imposition By A Carter. – Until cabmen are peremptorily and severly dealt with, their daily tricks and impositions on the public will never be put down. Charles Lapointe, 21, carter, who resides in Craig street, was charged at the Recorder’s Coourt to-day with refusing hire. It appears that on Tuesday morning Mr. Treasurer Black came off the Quebec boat and prisoner was one of several cabmen who solicited hire. Mr. Black hired Lapointe, who on second thoughts wanted to know where he was going, and if to a fire, and finally, with an oath, refused to drive him. Chief Penton gave Lapointe anything but a good character, and His Honor said that this system of carters bullying people and levying black mail must be stopped; and every case proven would be severely punished. Lapointe was fined $8 or one month in jail.

Loafing Vagrants. – At present there seems to be an unusually large number of loafing vagrants about the city. Louis Deschamp, 35, alias Leon Richer, laborer, from St. Urbain street; Michel Dubois, 34, laborer, St. Dominique steet; Xavier Beauvais, 27, carter, carter, Papineau Road, and a disreputable woman named Adeline Lefebvre, 29, were arrested at 5 o’clock this morning by sub-Constables McCormicck and Depatie, who had watched the gang for some two hours previous, when they were in a field off Sherbrooke street. At the Recorder’s Court to-day, it was stated that the prisoners are strongly suspected of being concerned in some recent robberies, and His Honor committed them each for two months; also Joseph Dupont, 20, vagrant, from Campeau street, against whom the detectives are working up a case of burglary.

Sarah Alcock, 44, an old vagrant, Mary Ann Lanigan, 29, and Elizabeth Dunn, 29, both found loitering on Champs de Mars, were each committed for a month; also Mary Ann McDonnell, 45, and Ann Meaney, 23, who were found in a drunken disgraceful state on Logan’s Farm. His Honor said that a law would soon be in force, by which vagrants for second offence may be committed for two years.

Alphonese Labreque, 24, laborer, and who, the police stated, was the ‘fancy man’ of the keeper of a brothel, was arrested along with Joseph St. Jean, 27, stone-cutter, loitering with a prostitute, and they were each fined $2.50 or 15 days in jail.

POLICE COURT – WEDNESDAY. – A woman who was arrested on a charge of breaking a pane of glass in the door of E. Costello, was discharged for lack of evidence.

Edmund Fegan 62, a vagrant from Common street, was arrested for stealing coal on the wharf and was committed as a vagrant for two months,

Eliza O’Brien, wife of James Mourney, of Colborne Avenue, was charged with using insulting language to Catherine Mullins, wife of James Mourney, Jr., and was fined $10.75, including costs, or fifteen days in all.

Damase Piebe, shoemaker for assaulting Augustin Guibord, was fine $7 including costs or 15 days.

George Clarke, Fil, alias Williamson, alias Henderson, charged with stealing four billiard balls belonging to Mr. Chadwick, St. James street, was remanded for examination. The balls were found in his possession, but Clarke says he brought them with him from the United States early in June last.

RECORDER’S COURT – Wednesday – This morning the sheet contained fifty cases, and nearly one-third of those were persons arrested in connection with a house of ill-fame in St. Elizabeth street, where the police made a raid last night. With such a programme before the Court it was no wonder that the place was thronged by those peculiar and miscellaneous personages, the largest proportion of whom are of a vicious character, who watch the rise and fall of the criminal barometer with an interest that is whetted and increasing in proportion as the details are disgusting.

Frederic Lafontaine, 32, agent, or manager of the Toronto House and Edward Rheaume, 24, shoemaker, who got quarrelling and attempted to fight at the door of the above tavern, were each fined $2.50 or 15 days in jail.

Fabien Beaudouin, 22, carter, drunk in Notre Dame street; Daniel Murphy, 40, agent from Quebec, drunk in St. Paul street; François Ganthier, 48, blacksmith, drunk in Panet street; Michael MccGeary, 36, laborer, drunk, in Commissioner street; J. Bte. Deslauriers, 52, laborer, drunk in St Paul street; J. Bte. Braurmter, 58, laborer, drunk in Perthius street; Jos. Power, 19, laborer, drunk in Manufacturer street, and Daniel Gibson, 34, a respectably dressed man, drunk in Cahboulez Square Fire Station, also a woman, were each fined in small sums for being drunk; while Richard McDonnell, 27, baker, drunk in the city cars, was fine $2 or 15 days.

George McNeil, 32, shoemaker, and George McNulty, 55, laborer, both drunk in Lacroi street, and insulting people, were each fined $2.50 or 15 days.

Joseph Howie, 26, shoemaker, was fined $5 or 30 days, for loitering in Campean street with a prostitute, named Adeline Lefebvre, 39, who was committed for a month.

Thomas Cleary, 29, mechanic, residing in Dorchester street, got drunk last night, and was smashing the furniture and threatened to throw his wife out of the window. As the wife failed to appear, Cleary was let off with a fine of $2.50 or 15 days in jail.

Read Full Post »

“Police Pick Up Two Lads; Notify Industrial School,” Toronto Globe. July 12, 1933. Page 02.

(Special Despatch to The Globe.)
Welland, July 11. – Welland police today were in communication with the authorities of the Mimico Industrial School relative to two lads picked up here late Monday. Rushing to Cook’s Mills after receiving a call from Mrs. Hall at that place. Police Chief Davies and Sergeant Anderson of the Welland force picked up William JOnes, aged 17, who hails from Thorold, and William McClelland, 17, Peterboro’.

The lads had called at Mrs. Hall’s home on Douglas Street asking for food, and thinking one of them might be the missing boys, immediately informed Welland police. On questioning the lads, police learned that McClelland had escaped from Mimico Industrial School on Saturday, and that Jones, who was formerly at Mimico, had made a getaway from his place of parole.

Read Full Post »

“City and District,” Montreal Gazette. June 30, 1911. Page 03.

Newsies Celebrate President Pete Murphy’s Birthday With Drive Through City.


Young Incendiaries Sharply Dealt With by Judge Lanctot – Stiff Fine for Gamblers.

Yesterday was the fifty-seventh birthday of Pete Murphy, Montreal’s veteran newsboy, who has been selling papers in this city for over half a century, having commenced to sell copies of The Gazette in St. James street when he was six years of age. The Montreal Newsboys Protective Association, of which ‘Pete’ is president, celebrated the veteran’s birthday in a becoming manner. They enjoyed a drive around the city last night in two big busses, each drawn by four horses, with the president perched high on the front seat of the leading ‘bus, wearing his silk hat and the cane Sir Wilfred Laurier brought him from Ireland. The sides of the ‘busses were bulging out like watermelons with their loads of boisterous youngsters, each of whom carried a horn and tooted from the time the drive started early in the evening until the end came shortly before midnight. The newspaper offices were visited, and each was cheered in turn, but when The Gazette Office was reached at 11 o’clock, President Murphy made a speech, in the course of which he told the youngsters of having sold The Gazette in St. James street, 51 years ago, when the largest building on the thoroughfare was the Ottawa Hotel, which still stands on the south side of the street just east of McGill. At The Gazette building the veteran presented a bouquet to the editor.

The existence of a gang of juvenile incendiaries in the neighborhood of Point St. Charles around the Grand Trunk yards was the subject of severe comment by Judge Lanctot yesterday when hearing proceedings against three youths named John Collins, James Mailloy and Raymond Banford, charged with having set fire to piles of lumber, the property of Shearer, Brown & Wills, on the 22nd and 25th of May. Two other youth youths, Thos. Mitchell and John Currie, who are in the reformatory awaiting sentence on a similar charge, were brought out to give evidence against their supposed allies. Their testimony did not incriminate the trio, but rather showed that although Collins, Malloy and Banford had been present when the firing arrangements were made, they withdrew from the actual participation. The chief testimony against the lads was that of William Betts, of the Betts Detective Agency, who alleged certain admissions by the boys, but Mr. R. O. McMurtry, for the defence, argued that the boys had not been duly warned before making any statement.

Bail was refused when asked for in Banford’s case, the Judge ordering that the boys be sent to the reformatory until Tuesday next, on which date the two lads, Mitcchell and Currie, will come up for sentence. It was, said Judge Lanctot, a serious case, and the boys knew perfectly well what they were doing.

Respect to the court must be not only in attitude but in garb; so ruled Mr. Recorder Weir yesterday when two men, J. Bunnin and K. Lucas, were charged with violating traffic laws. The men appeared clad in blue overalls and with their hatbands well garnished with cigarette specimens of art. Ascertaining that these men had been out on bail, and that, therefore, they had chosen to appear in this way, the Recorder remanded the case for a day and informed them that they must reappear decently dressed. A friendly constable came to their aid, however, and in a few minutes they stepped into the court in normal coats and paid their small fine on the spot.

While hackmen must be over 18 years of age, a carter, said Mr. Recorder Weir yesterday, is not affected by this by-law. The result is that boys between ten and fifteen years drive vehicles through the city, and recently, added the Recorder, there had been brought before him quite a number of youths charged with infractions of traffic by-laws. Such boys not only were dangerous to citizens through their inexperience, but were in a school which was improper for a boy, as many carters were not fit associates for youth lads.

Forty dollars and costs was the sentence of Judge Choquet upon the two men, Omer Dufresne and Damase Daigneault, who pleaded guilty in the Court of Sessions yesterday to a charge of keeping a common gambling house on East Notre Dame street, opposite Dominion Park. At first the men had pleaded not guilty in the lower court, but when they appeared before Judge Lanctot yesterday they changed their minds and revised their plea. Thereupon they were sent up to the Court of Sessions for sentence with the result mentioned.

Eli Aubin, alias Eli Robillard, who was arrested in Ottawa last Saturday on charge of carrying a concealed weapons, is wanted here to answer to charges of burglary and forgery. Aubin is only 21 years of age, but Detective-Sergeant Charpentier, who went up to Ottawa to bring him back here, said yesterday he was one of the most daring young fellows the police have had to deal with. Four years ago he was sentenced to five years in the penitentiary for burglary, but after having served a couple of years was allowed out on ticket-of-leave.

Read Full Post »

“Boy Convicts In Penitentiary,” Kingston Whig Standard. June 25, 1912. Page 02.

Department of Justice is Investigating.

If They Are Removed They Will Probably be Placed in Reformatory – Detention Legal.

Upon the suggestion of Rev. J. C. McConachie, Children’s Aid official, the Department of Justice is making an investigation into the case of Convicts Cooper and Preuss, aged 16 years, in the Portsmouth Penitentiary on the charge of burglary. They were sentenced at St. Thomas six months ago for five and eight years respectively.

Cooper, it is said, was only five days over sixteen years at the time of being sentenced. Neither of the two boys, it is further stated, was in a position to realize the serious nature of their offence. It is held that the 16-year-old boys are at too suspectible an age to be in the penitentiary. Mr. McConachie took up the matter with the result that the Minister has promised to investigate.

The boys, if removed, from the pen will probably be placed in a reformatory.

Speaking with The Standard in regard to the matter an official of the penitentiary stated that he thought the detention of the two boys was quite legal and in a certain sense justified. Although they had given no trouble since being brought to the penitentiary, and their conduct has been for the most part satisfactory, yet there was no doubt that they knew what they had done. There had been deliberate shooting in connection with the burglary, and there is strong reason to think that they are older than they look or are represented to be. At present they are being kept isolated from the other men as far as possible, a special guard is detailed to watch over them to see that they are given every possible advantage and opportunity to learn something useful.

According to the penitentiary book Preuss is seventeen years old.

Read Full Post »

“Served Sentence – Asks Judge for Job,” Montreal Gazette. April 3, 1914. Page 03.

Boy Came From Reformatory to Juvenile Court Promising to Make Good

Has Learned A Trade

Reformed Youth Was Great Contrast to Incorrigible Youngster Who Wanted to Be a Cowboy.

The before and after treatment of effects of the Juvenile Court system in Montreal were strikingly illustrated yesterday when, after Judge Choquet had disposed of a number of refractory cases of youngsters who would not obey their parents, and court had adjourned, a youth of about seventeen, though small for his age, walked into the court room with a bright smile upon his face and extended his hand to the judge and Mr. Owen Dawson, clerk of the court.

‘Why, don’t you remember me?’ asked the youngster, noting the puzzled expression of the clerk and the judge. ‘You sent me to the reformatory two years ago for stealing, Judge,’ he continued, ‘and I’m out now, and I want to make good. Can you help me get a job?’

Judge Choquet did remember then, when the boy had told his name. He also remembered that the youngster had seemed one of the most incorrigible of all the refractory youths that had come before him up to that time, and that he had no alternative but to send the boy to the Montreal Reform School for two years, the apparent change in the boy’s character was therefore gratifying.

Checking up the boy’s story, Judge Choquet found that his conduct had been admirable at the reform school, and that he had learned the trade of a tinsmith. Both the judge and Mr. Dawson are now on the lookout for a job for him.

Somewhat in contrast to this boy’s desire to become a respectable citizen was the case of another youngster, about fifteen years old, whose inclinations ran towards living as a wild Indian, or a cowboy at least. With a large leather belt that he had obtained in a machine shop where he formerly worked, he had fitted up a regular arsenal of cartridge pockets, knife sheath, and revolver holster, an each of these effects, with the exception of the revolver, when his father took him to the Juvenile Court yesterday morning.

The father complained that the boy wouldn’t work or wouldn’t stay at home, and had threatened to stab and shoot his parents when they attempted to correct him. Questioned by Judge Choquet, the boy said he had seen cowboys and Indians performing in the moving pictures, and he was determined that he would go west and become a cow puncher. He wouldn’t promised to do anything unless the judge would help him to get a job out west. The youngster was remanded for eight days to give him time for reflection and if he is still recalcitrant at the end of that time Judge Choquet will try to get work for him on some nearby farm. The belt, cartridges and a dangerous looking sheath knife were appropriated by Mr. Dawson and placed with the selection of weapons he has been making for some time past. The youth was said to have had a revolver which he had hidden.

Another boy charged with stealing […] from an uptown store, was sentenced to four years in the reformatory when he refused to promise amendment.

Read Full Post »

“The Routine – The New Arrivals,” from Fred Allen, The Hand Book of the New York Reformatory at Elmira. The Summary Press, 1916. 

“He came, with eight others, on the afternoon train from  New York. Shabbily dressed, not very clean, his appearance​ ​advertised him for what he was, an “East Sider.” His sullen​ ​​eyes noted little of his surroundings; his listless air evidenced​ ​slight concern for his present condition, or hope for the future.​ ​Not much had there been in his life of sixteen years to incite to​ ​honest​ ​​living or elevated ideals of conduct. He had small​ ​​knowledge of books, and little desire or ability for sustained​ ​effort of any description. Orphaned, nearly five years since,​ ​his reception in his aunt’s family was not over cordial; hence,​ ​left in large measure to shift for himself, he easily drifted into​ ​bad company. In a moment of temptation, he took that which​ ​was not his, and as a consequence​ ​of his wrong doing was now​ ​on his way to the reformatory.

Upon the coat of the athletic young man who had charge of​ ​the group, appeared the badge of a transfer officer of the New​ ​York State Reformatory at Elmira. Standing upon the platform of the station with his prisoners, he was first to note the​ ​approach of a team of blacks, attached to a light, three-seated​ ​spring wagon, and driven by a blue coated official.

“All right, boys, there’s our hack; tumble in!” said the​ ​transfer officer.

The team steadily jogged homeward and was presently​ ​climbing the hill leading to the southern gate of the reformatory.​ ​The stern appearing prison structure with its massive, turretted,​ e​nclosure walls, by its very nearness, forced the boy’s attention​ ​and he glanced up at it.

Although habited to environments the reverse of favorable​ ​to honest and virtuous living, he had still to fulfil his first​ ​sentence as a convicted criminal, and he instinctively recoiled as​ ​he looked at the institution, high and gloomy in the fading light​ ​of the short, November afternoon.

The van arrived at the gateway. The transfer officer​ ​exchanged cheerful greetings with the wall guard, as the latter​ ​operated the mechanism of the gate. The boy, listening, envied​ ​these two, over whom hovered not the dark cloud which seemed​ ​to him to be approaching more closely with each revolution of​ ​the cogged, gate wheel. One, two hours would elapse; then​ ​these men would be stepping briskly homeward through the​ ​lighted streets, free and happy, while he— but the great valves​ ​of the gate opened, the driver chirruped to his team and the​ ​van moved leisurely into the prison enclosure.

The boy’s senses were now alert and he glanced quickly​ ​and anxiously at his surroundings. Iron gates, brick walls,​ ​everywhere. The gate through which the team had just passed,​ ​creaked as it was being closed; he looked back apprehensively​ ​and was not reassured as he saw it steadily decreasing his​ ​perspective of the outside world and freedom. Then it was​ ​closed, and he felt indeed in evil case. Again he noted the​ ​inexorable brick walls. Five years in this enclosure of brick​ ​and stone and iron! To a lad of sixteen, five years seem an​ ​interminable period of time. Would he ever live through them?

Another sinister looking gate, a combination of iron rods​ ​and bars, opened and closed upon them, and, as the van moved​ under the great, gloomy central arch forming the entrance to​ that portion of the enclosure known as the parade ground, the​ lad felt that he could scarcely hope ever to step forth to freedom​ again.

An open door, and beside it, a pleasant faced, blue​ uniformed officer, who glanced comprehendingly at the party,​ indicated that the travellers were expected.

“Only nine?— pretty slim for Saturday and coming on cold​ weather, too,” he remarked casually to the transfer officer.

“All there was,” briefly responded that official. “Lads,​ this is where you lodge tonight. Climb out!”

“There, there, Luckey, don’t look so blue!” he continued. encouragingly patting the lad on the shoulder as the group of​ prisoners, one by one, jumped from the wagon. “Elmira isn’t​ so bad if you look sharp and mind the regulations. Come​ along, boys!"​”

– from “THE


of  PETER LUCKEY,” pp. 74-76. 

Read Full Post »

“Six Guelph Convicts Strapped After Vain Attempt to Break,” Globe and Mail. August 17, 1939. Page 02.

Guards Halt Rush to Escape with Drawn Guns; Believe General Uprising Prevented by Action

Guelph, Aug. 16 – (Special).- Six Ontario Reformatory inmates today nursed the stings of a strapping as punishment for a brief uprising, which was quickly quelled when guards drew their guns on the belligerent group to thwart an attempted escape.

Members of the ‘bull gang,’ working on one of the outside projects, the six prisoners became unruly and made a determined effort to break a line of seven guards. Quickly sensing the seriousness of the situation and realizing that a collective break had been planned, the officers stood with guns ready and subdued the gang without difficulty. The offending prisoners were marched back to the reformatory buildings, where they were placed in close confinement. 

Describing by Provincial Secretary Harry Nixon as a ‘much better deterrent than parading them in court where they might have an opportunity of making heroes of themselves,’ strappings were applied as disciplinary measures in such cases at the Guelph institution.

The six who made the attempted break were all long-term prisoners. They were: James Wellington, Simcoe, serving 12 months definite and 6 months indefinite; Geprge Thompson, Orillia and Barrie, 26 months; Wilfrid D’Amour, Ottawa, 24 months; Clifford Davidson, Orillia and Barrie, 26 months; William Shaw, Port Hope, 12 months; and Joseph Cleary, Peterborough, 18 months.

Read Full Post »

“The Reformatory,” from  A. B. De Guerville, New Egypt. E.P. Dutton & Company, New York, 1906. p. 162.  Source.  

Read Full Post »

“Despite the attractiveness of a proposal by which boys were
to be provided with a prison at one-seventh of the capital cost of the new one
then being constructed at Millwall, nothing came of the plan. The treatment of
the juvenile offender remained virtually the same as that of a man. The only
concessions were the setting aside of a hulk from 1823 to 1844, and the
building of Parkhurst Prison on the Isle of Wight in 1837. Boys found fit
enough to withstand the rigours of convict life in Australia came here for two
years before setting out on the next stage of their sentence. It was not until
1847 that the Juvenile Offenders Act offered the first possibility of a
differential treatment of juveniles. Limited to those under the age of 14, it
allowed magistrates to try offenders for simple larceny summarily instead of
having to remand them in prison for trial at some later date at assize or
quarter sessions. As alternatives to imprisonment, magistrates could order a
fine, not exceeding £3, or a whipping.

A growing awareness of, or increasing intolerance of,
disorderly behaviour amongst the young can be traced back to at least the last
quarter of the eighteenth century. However, Robert Raikes’ rule ‘clean faces,
clean hands, and hair combed’ must have excluded the very children he hoped to
influence. Similarly the New Poor Law, limited to succouring the children of
outdoor and indoor paupers together with those who were either orphaned or
deserted, failed to reach many of the destitute living by their wits. Although
the Ragged Schools, refuges, and industrial schools set up by voluntary effort
in the 1840s supplemented the work of the Poor Law Guardians, there remained a
large enough indeterminate number of children, living near-criminal lives, to
cause considerable concern.

Sheer numbers provide part of the explanation. The
under-twenty cohort had grown from 6,981,068 in 1821 to 14,422,801 thirty years
later and had become increasingly concentrated in an urbanizing society. At the
same time those who wished to confirm their general impression of growing
lawlessness among the young could do so by turning to the statistical evidence
of the commital returns available from 1834 onwards. The publication of details
of the age, sex, and degree of instruction of offenders made possible the
‘discovery’ of the juvenile offender as a social problem. Thus contemporaries
found ‘juveniles “aged 15 and under 20”, form not quite one-tenth of
the population, but are guilty of nearly one-fourth of its crime’. At the same
time criminal statistics showed an apparent rise in crime from under 5000
indictable commitals to trial a year in the quinquennium 1806-10, to 20,000 and
over by the 1840s.10 Legislation passed in 1829,1835,1839 and 1856 established
police forces over much of the country. During the same period the repeal of
more than 190 acts imposing capital punishment for a variety of offences,
together with administrative reforms made prosecution easier, less expensive,
and less serious in its consequences for the defendant. Such considerations,
together with a growing realization that the police were the allies of the
propertied classes, and not agents of political repression, encouraged the
public to report offences and hand over malefactors to the state judicial
process rather than take the law into their own hands. With the publication of
studies of urban conditions such as those of J. P. Kay and W. B. Neale on
Manchester, the hereditary criminal and juvenile delinquent, destined to become
a lifelong offender, jostled with the hereditary pauper as the bogey of the
middle classes, a climate of opinion that Charles Dickens exploited in Oliver Twist (1838).

The practice of imprisoning children was attacked both for
its inhumanity and its ineffectiveness. Unreformed prisons corrupted the young
by bringing them into association with older offenders who taught them the ways
of the criminal world. Reorganized prisons, where children could spend long
periods in solitary confinement, were attacked for their inhumanity. Common to
both these charges was the belief that with committal to prison a young person
lost his fear of incarceration and that it, with the workhouse, would become
his way of life. The high cost of imprisonment provided a further incentive for
seeking a cheaper alternative. One estimate put the total cost to the country
of a juvenile prisoner at £63. Os. Od. a year, if one allowed for the upkeep of
the judiciary and constabulary. Residence at Parkhurst cost £43.10s. 5d. a year
alone. In contrast a boy could be accommodated at Mettrai for £42 a year, at
Stretton for £31, while a mere £18 sufficed for his upkeep in an industrial
school. The total cost of supporting the pauper, his near brothers the vagrants
and thieves through the poor rate, charitable funds, together with the
maintenance of the necessary judicial apparatus, was put by one essayist at
£20,000,000 a year, nearly 5% of the estimated national income.

Thus the reformatory held out the lure of being cheaper and
more cost-effective than the prison. It also attracted the support of those who
saw the young offender as the victim of circumstance rather than as someone who
was inherently vicious:

There is no vicious child, as experience daily proves, who
is prematurely wicked, that might not, under a well directed and religiously
conducted system, still grow up an honest and industrious citizen. He was not
born a vagrant; he was not born a thief. Our neglect made him a delinquent; our
pernicious interference hardened him for the gallows, the hulk, or Botany Bay.

Such a view was essentially optimistic, for it implied that
if only the right kind of education and environment could be found, such
children would become useful citizens. However, the fact remained that some
children had committed either petty or major criminal acts. Hence the
Reformatory Schools Act, more correctly known as the Juvenile Offenders Act,
compromised between those who saw the child as the victim of circumstance and
society’s neglect and those who saw him as part of the ‘scum of the populace,
fit only to be swept as vermin from the face of the earth’. So the offender had
to spend a preliminary period in prison prior to admission to a reformatory.
Imprisonment did not cease to be a mandatory preliminary to detention in a
reformatory until 1893; six years later it was abolished altogether. Much of
the opposition to these changes came from the value school managers put on the
preliminary period of imprisonment, usually mainly in solitary confinement, as
a means of breaking the will of their future charges. Imprisonment provided
them with subdued and easily malleable charges who found their new place of
detention preferable to their old. It also gave the police time to find
reformatories prepared to take the offender. If, because all reformatories were
private institutions, they failed in this there was no alternative but to let
the child go.

In contrast to the reformatory child who, after
imprisonment, had a criminal record, the vagrant child brought before a
magistrate under the Industrial Schools’ Act, 1857, did not become a criminal,
although vagrancy was an offence for which an adult could receive six months’
imprisonment on his third conviction. Yet a child of seven could be confined to
an industrial school until the age of fifteen. This, it was urged, was an act
of kindness for it rescued him from the street, that preparatory school of the
criminal, and gave him shelter and education. In 1861 the Newcastle Report
found the Act too limited in scope and in danger of becoming a dead letter for
no more than 171 children, 100 from the city of Newcastle alone, had been sent
to industrial schools the previous year. It endorsed the view of Sydney Turner,
the inspector of reformatories, that there were hundreds of children whom
compulsory powers of detention and compulsory attendance at a ragged or
industrial school would save from sinking into the criminal classes thereby
qualifying for admission into the more costly reformatory.

Legislation of the next two decades gave the industrial
schools a considerably enlarged clientele that encompassed social problems
ranging from the child guilty of some minor offence to one guilty of none but
deemed to be in need of care and protection. Thus a two- or three-year-old
could find himself in the same institution as, and at the mercy of, much older
children sent by their parents or workhouse officials as uncontrollable, or
those picked up as beggars or as destitute. Others were there because they
consorted with thieves or prostitutes, “or had mothers serving a second
prison sentence. Yet another group had been sent there for truancy.

Yet the regime for all these children corresponded closely
to that of a reformatory school, despite the earlier wish of some that the
industrial school should be a less rigorous alternative. In common with the
workhouse child, inmates underwent a disciplined and oppressive routine of hard
work, severe punishment, austere living conditions, and a spartan diet to eradicate
the alleged defects of their characters, the evil influence of their previous
environment, and the sins of their fathers. Within the constraints of the
institution the child conformed, if only to come to terms with authority.
Outward conformity, it was hoped, bred inward a conversion which would guide
the inmate’s way of life on release. In practice so attenuated was
officialdom’s faith in this principle that the great aim of all concerned,
except that of the children and their families, was to ensure that discharged
persons were sent well away from their old haunts and friends, preferably to
another hierarchically-structured environment; the Army, Royal Navy or Merchant
Navy for boys; a household for girls who went as domestic servants.

The initial missionary zeal, expressed by such propagandists
as Mary Carpenter and Matthew Davenport Hill, never infused the movement as a
whole. There can be little doubt that the motives of some management committees
were far from altruistic. The landowner, who provided land and buildings for a
school on his land, despite his advocacy of agricultural labour as a
character-cleansing therapy, was also providing the home farm and the fields of
his tenants with cheap, if not free, labour.17 The shipping line director, who started
a school in a superannuated vessel, was guaranteeing himself a supply of hands.
As a whole, management committees were more concerned with the economical
running of their schools than the rehabilitation of the offender. In the eyes
of most, young delinquents were the pariahs of the nation, society’s forgotten
children, the offspring of the undeserving poor remembered only when news of
some scandal erupted.”

– John Hurt, “Reformatory and industrial schools before 1933.” HISTORY OF EDUCATION, 1984, VOL. 13, NO. 1. pp. 46-49.

Read Full Post »

“Inmates Who Attack Reformatory Employee And Escape, Captured,” Globe and Mail. March 16, 1939. Page 07.

Two Beat Abattoir Manager With Hammer, but Fail to Obtain Auto Keys; Are Found in Farmer’s Barn

Sentenced in Toronto

Guelph, March 15 (Special). – Two Ontario Reformatory prisoners, who attacked an employee with a hammer before making their escape from the institution late this afternoon, were back in custody tonight after enjoying less than three hours’ freedom.

The pair, Clifford Smith, 18, and Robert Stanley, 19, both of Toronto, were captured by Reformatory guards on a farm near Arkell village, where they sought refuge after eluding posses of guards in a five-mile stretch between the institution and the village. Both fugitives surrendered without opposition when surrounded by officers.

Gordon W. Morrison, manager of the reformatory abattoir, victim of the assault by the two men, is in the Guelph General Hospital suffering from head lacerations and shock. His condition is not regarded as serious, and he was reported resting comfortably tonight.

The two prisoners who pounced on the abattoir manager just before making the break from the institution rounds, are believed to have committed the attack in an effort to obtain Morrison’s car keys. They failed to get the keys and were forced to dash away on foot when they were disturbed during the assault.

Smith was serving a term of one year definite and three months indeterminate for shopbreaking and theft. Stanley had a term of twenty-four months for auto theft, robbery, and shopbreaking.

Read Full Post »