Posts Tagged ‘routine in prison’

“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.
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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“Escape of Boys Will Be Probed,” Toronto Globe. September 12, 1933. Page 11.

Nine of Twenty-One Lands Still Missing From Mimico School

Hon. W. G. Martin, Minister of Welfare, announced yesterday that a full investigation would be held into the escape of twenty-one juveniles from the Victoria Industrial School, Mimico, over the week-end. According to Superintendent W. G. Green, every effort will be made not only to determine the causes of the wholesale runaway, but to find whether any dissatisfaction exists among the inmates. Declaring that to his own belief, relations between the boys and the staff had at all times been of the best, Captain Green was of the opinion that the lads who escaped had simply acted on a sudden impulse for a fling at freedom.

Speaking to The Globe at a late hour last night, he said that nine of the lads were still missing. As far as is known, unlike those who returned to the school, this group were attired in their everyday clothes. The others got away in their night attire and were apparently discouraged by the cold.

A thorough search of the immediate district has failed to reveal any trace of the nine, and it is surmised that they have reached points further afield, by riding the bumpers or securing lifts from motorists unaware of their identity.

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“Ten Boys In Night Clothing Caught After Score Escape; Mimico Industrial School Boys Flee,” Toronto Star. September 11, 1933. Page 11 & 25.

Superintendent Blames Staff as Much as Inmates for Outbreak


During the absence of the new superintendent of the Victoria Industrial school, W. G. Green, 23 boys made their escape from the institution within the last 24 hours.  Eleven of the boys have been returned to the school and the search is continuing for the remainder. Ten of the boys who escaped, those recaptured, were clad only in nightshirts. 

The first two to take French leave of the school left at 4 o’clock Sunday morning and were found during the day. One made a break at 5 p.m. but was recaptured by an officer of the school a few minutes later.  At 8 o’clock eleven more left via a fire escape and two have been returned. Again at 9 o’clock eight more made their escape, this time clad only in nightshirts, their clothing being locked in a separate room.  They used bedding for footwear and made their way to the storage yard of the Mimico plant of the National Sewer Pipe Co., where they were found hiding in sewer  pipes sheltering from the bitter wind.

Unseen by Residents
The piles of sewer pipe among which several of the escaped lads are said to have hidden during yesterday and last night, at the top of Burlington Ave., are a considerable distance from houses on that street, and residents stated to-day that they have seen no trace of the boys. Some were reported to have been found near the railroad tracks.

C.N.R. railway police did not hold any of the boys, the sergeant of the Mimico yards stated to-day. ‘One officer was on duty last night and the only note he has left me is that two boys were reported missing from the Victoria Industrial School. At the head office I am informed they have no report of railway police capturing any of the missing boys.’

The eleven who escaped were older boys, around 15 years of age. They made their getaway by going through the library in the cottage where they were housed, and breaking open an old door, which had led, several years ago, to a fire escape. The door had not been in use for several years. The eight boys, clad in night-shirts, were about 12 years of age, and made their escape by removing the pins from the door leading to the fire escape in another cottage, and descending to the ground.

Two of the three boys who got away had escaped on previous occasions.

Escape from the institution, where the boys are not guarded and iron bars are lacking, is a fairly simple task during the day when the boys at work in the fields and around the cottages can easily make a dash out to the road or across country. At night, when the boys retire at 9 o’clock, the younger ones a half-hour earlier, it is a more difficult matter. The clothes are locked up, the cottages are locked, and a night watchman visits each dormitory every 15 minutes.

Regarded as Prank
Yesterday’s outbreak was the largest which has struck the school in many years, officials having difficulty in remembering whether any larger break had taken place during the same period of time. Officials considered the escape as a boyish prank, done on the spur of the moment. It is not known whether there was a ringleader. According to one member of the staff, the boys who were captured could give no excuse for their actions other than they wanted to go home.

Municipal and railway police throughout the district and members of the school staff conducted a night-long search. The boys were captured as they sought shelter for the night, two of them as they were attempting to hitch-hike on the highway. One officer of the institution, with long experience, was of the opinion that most of the missing boys would be found shortly, more than likely hiding in box cars in the Mimico C.N.R. yards.

Closer Watch Kept
A little closer watch is being kept over the 175 boys at the school today until the excitement is over. The school is run more on an honor system than by close supervision. In this respect it is unlike penal institutions. It is regarded more in the light of a home and school for the boys committed to its care, many of whom did not get proper training from their parents. The lads are given a regular education and vocational training during the day, and in the evenings they indulge in sports both in the gymnasium and swimming pool and out of doors during the summer.

Blames Staff
Capt. Green suggested to The Star that the cause of the boys escaping lay with the staff as much as it did with the boys themselves. ‘You see,’ he said, ‘I took over here last July and of course I have made a number of changes. Some of the staff have been here for a number of years and they resent any change. Their resentment of course communicates itself to the boys.

‘The boys themselves are well treated. In fact they have everything they want – except freedom. I suppose it is only natural for them to be very anxious for that. The meals they get are good, they go to school, have sports and recreation. We even teach them trades. You see there isn’t much more we could do with them except give them freedom, and of course that won’t do.’

Strap is Used
‘Every effort is made to keep any jail-like appearances away from the place,’ the superintendent stated. There are no bars on the windows, no walls about the buildings, no uniformed guards patrolling the grounds. The boys themselves are not required to wear uniforms.

Capt. Green was unable to say just how the boys who escaped would be punished.

‘Each case will be considered on its merits,’ he declared. ‘I will take each boy who escaped and talk with him. I will study the past history of the case to see just what I have to deal with. I may say that a great many of them will only be punished by having privileges taken from them. The privileges consist in motion picture shows, swims at the beach and other things; when boys misbehave, we just cut those things off.’

‘Might you whip the boys?’ The Star inquired.

‘We do not use the strap, but very infrequently. Only in special cases, and then I am the only one to strap them. I wouldn’t let any one else do it for fear they might be too severe.’

‘What about solitary confinement?’ ‘Yes, we have a place to keep them in confinement, but it isn’t used very often. They aren’t kept there very long, only a day or so. I think four days is the longest any boy has been kept there since I’ve been there. I go to see them every day.’

‘Will some of these boys be put in solitary confinement?’

‘Capt. Green replied that he could not say. ‘That will depend on what I find when I examine the boys,’ he said. Each case will get the punishment it deserves. However, I may say that I regard every boy as a mental case. Not that they are insane, but just that they got the wrong start in life, and have a distorted outlook on life. I never lose sight of this when I am dealing with them.’

Very Well Fed
‘Last night looks bad,’ Deputy Superintendent W. Pettinger told The Star, ‘but it is just a case of the boys going. The little fellows saw the others go from their windows and just went. As a rule the boys get homesick and want to see their mothers. It is all done on the spur of the moment. There is really no excuse. They are treated just as if they were at home. There is an atmosphere of freedom about the whole institution and they are very well fed – better than in any other place of its type we know of.’

Boys Used in Hunt
Asked if boys at the school were used to search for those who escaped, Mr. Pettinger stated that as a rule ‘a couple of boys’ were taken with the officers of the institution when they went out to hunt for those missing.

‘I have never heard of them catching anyone. They regard it as a picnic,’ he said. ‘Yesterday, all the boys attended church. There was a good spirit among them. I watched carefully when they lined up, but there was no disturbance or restlessness following the escape of the two earlier in the morning. Sunday usually is a bad day, because there is no activity to occupy the boys and they are inclined to become a little restless. I took 35 boys to church service at The Salvation Army by myself. There was not the slightest sign of trouble.’

Superintendent Away
Of the actual ‘break,’ Capt. Green would say little. ‘I was away over the week-end. When I came back late last night, I found what had happened. The boys are gradually being rounded up. We will have them all in a day or so. They will all come to me and admit that they did something foolish. You see, they don’t reason: they just act on emotion and that is part of their trouble. I haven’t seen any of them yet, and until I do, I can’t say what the punishment will be.’

The superintendent states he does not there there was a ringleader in the escape. 

‘I think the chance to break away came and they just took it,’ he said.

The boys escaped in groups, but the moment they are out they separated, Capt. Green says.

Then each boy, almost invariably, makes for his particular home. If it be in Toronto, he starts for the city: if it is to the west or north, he usually goes to the highway and tries to get a ride.

‘I think one of the chief causes of boys escaping is homesickness. They always make straight for home when they escape.’

‘The boys here are now treated as they would be at a boarding school,’ Superintendent Green told The Star, ‘with the sole exception that they have not their freedom to go and come as they want. And this, of course, is probably what they want more than anything else. In a way I can understand this overwhelming desire to break free, for even a few hours’ freedom. You know how you or I would feel under the circumstances, and as can be seen, there are no bars or wall to confine the boys.’

Mr. Green stated that he had instituted a number of changes in the routine of the reformatory for the betterment of the boys. ‘I have a very definite ideal towards which I am working,’ he said, ‘but of course it cannot be realized all at once or even in a year or two years. The boys now probably have more freedom than they have had for the past two years. We go to a show occasionally, and last week all were taken to the Exhibition, where they had a great time. The boys have swimming parties down at the beach, and split up in groups for this. The youngest are the ‘tadpoles,’ and we have other groups for the older boys.

‘Every afternoon there are organized sports, baseball and cricket, and they are building a running track. We even possess a stop watch, so that the boys can strive to break their own records, even if they cannot approach other records. I do not mind, for instance, if they take 15 seconds to run the 100 yards. If they can do it next week in 14, it is a great incentive.’

Before taking charge of the Victoria Industrial School on July 1, Mr. Green had had considerable experience with boys’ work in Hamilton. He started, at the request of the board of education, a class for backward boys. This class grew to a large attendance, and later the courts asked permission to send ‘problem boys’ there.

‘I believe that the boys themselves are often not directly to blame for their troubles. In 95 per cent, of the cases unfortunate family life has been the cause,’ he said.

Not Enough Staff
‘Not enough sleep and not enough play for the boys, not enough attendants, too much work for the attendants, resulting in anything but a character-building atmosphere,’ summarizes the trouble at Victoria Industrial School, according to Charles F. Walling, Frenchman’s Bay, former carpentry instructor and cottage officer at the Mimico institution.

In an interview published in The Star Friday, Mr. Walling denounced the use of solitary confinement as a means of punishing the boys.

‘The thing that I put the boys running away down to is that there is not sufficient staff to look after them,’ Mr. Walling said. ‘There are only nine men to look after  about 200 boys. There are also about 21 women, averaging in age about 60 years, although are a few young women on the staff, and there should be no women at all.

‘There should be a man all night in each cottage instead of only two night-watchmen for the entire institution after 8:30 pm. Each of these escapes, it has been estimated, costs an average of $25 per boy. There should be two officers for every cottage instead of one. There are five cottages with about 25 boys to each.

‘On Sundays there is nothing for the boys to do but sit down and look at one another,’ Mr. Walling said. ‘On Sundays there are only two men to look after 200 boys. Idle hands will find mischief. They should be allowed to play baseball, to go swimming and have gymnastics. There is no proper recreational provision for Sunday.’

Food is Good
‘The boys are always planning to escape,’ Mr. Walling said. ‘It is all bosh that talk of a real home – you can hardly make an industrial school a real home. I think the way to build character among boys of that kind is through athletics, but the athletic field out there is like a plowed field.

‘Also there is no proper supervision of their play, and no proper recreational instruction. The only time the boys have for play is an hour and a half at night, weather permitting, and Saturday afternoons.

‘The food at the school is all right,’ Mr. Walling said. ‘There is a rule that no boy, even if under punishment, ever goes without a meal. The boys work half the day and go to school half the day. The work is carpentry, shoemaking, printing, tailoring, laundering, baking.

Attendants Over-worked
‘Attendants are over-worked and are not in fit condition to handle the boys to the best advantage,’ Mr. Walling said. ‘Attendants get up at 6 a.m. and work until 9 p.m. – 15 hours a day, seven days a week less one-half day off. One hundred hours a week is a fairly short week for them. A man can’t take any great interest in the boys – he is half-asleep, he is dormant.

‘The boy’s day is: Rise, 6:30; breakfast 7; school 9 to 12 (or alternatively in afternoon); dinner 12:30; work 1.30 to 5.00; supper 5.30; bed 8.30 (or 9 in the summer). The boy doesn’t get enough sleep and he doesn’t get enough play.

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