Posts Tagged ‘youth in revolt’

How a band of youthful criminals launched forth on a career of
bloodshed, and for months waged a relentless war against society. Their
terrible doings caused a regular reign of terror in Chicago, but
finally, after a series of exciting episodes, the outlaws were run to

EARLY on the morning of August 30th, 1903, occurred
the sanguinary climax of as audacious and merciless a series of
outrages as ever blackened the records of the great city of Chicago.
Three boy outlaws, already steeped crime and murder, walked into the
car-barns of the Chicago City Railway Company at Sixty-first and State
Streets, and “held up” the office of the cashier for the night’s
earnings of the company. In so doing they murdered two men and wounded
two others, but for that they cared nothing, since they themselves
escaped temporarily without detection. The very boldness of the crime
committed in the heart of a city of two million population, and the
callous recklessness which produced such unnecessarily fatal results,
would of themselves have sufficed to strike horror into the citizens;
but when it is added to this that there had preceded it a series of
hold-ups extending over several months and involving several deaths, it
may be conceived that Chicago promptly woke up and demanded justice on
the perpetrators. The people wanted to know what the police were going
to do about it, and the police accordingly strained every nerve to find
the guilty bandits. They remembered that holdup after hold-up had
occurred in the past few months without anybody being punished. Nor did
the highwaymen leave any clue by which they might be traced. They
vanished into the night, and that was the last of them.

The story
of these hold-ups was always the same — some unsuspecting men at work or
taking their ease; the sudden appearance of three boyish desperadoes; a
shot or two to break the silence of the night; and another murder to be
added to the list of Chicago’s crimes. Within three months no fewer
than eight men had died to the sound of cracking revolvers in the hands
of these downy-faced youths, and at least half-a-dozen others carried
the scars of wounds. Otto Bauder, Adolph Johnson, and B. C. La Crosse
were murdered in different saloon hold-ups, and Peter Gorski was shot
down during an attack on his establishment. To vary the monotony, T. W.
Lathrop, agent for the Chicago and North-Western Railway, was wounded
during an attack on Clybourn Junction, the station at which he was
agent. In nearly every case the shooting’ was wanton, as it was quite
unnecessary to proceed so far to secure the booty. One curious feature
of the case is the very small amount obtained by the robbers. The death
of one saloon-keeper netted them only two dollars thirty-five cents. At
the next hold-up they did somewhat better, since they bagged two men and
got fourteen dollars from each of them. At this rate they could make
more money by honest labour, and they decided to go after something big.
The car-barn robbery followed.

It was in the small hours of the
night of August 30th that the dramatic finale to this series of outrages
was enacted. The employes in the cashier’s office of the railway
company were busy balancing the receipts of the night. The last
conductor had just turned over his money and left the barn. Suddenly
sinister shadows fell on the floor, and Frank Stewart, the assistant
clerk in the office, looked up in surprise. An instant later a revolver
cracked and Stewart fell, fatally wounded. Almost instantly Henry Biehl,
another clerk, dropped from his stool wounded in the head, and William
B. Edmond was struck in the thigh. In an inner room lay Motorman J. E.
Johnson, asleep. He was awakened by the sound of firing just in time to
meet his death. Then the bandits broke open the cashier’s desk with a
sledge-hammer and took from it two thousand two hundred and fifty
dollars in silver and bills. Thirty minutes later the youthful outlaws
were sitting in the under-brush of Jackson Park waiting for the day to
bring light enough to divide the plunder. Then they calmly boarded a
street-car and rode over to the West Side, reading in the early morning
newspapers the account of their exploit. For weeks not a car left the
barns that did not bear in big letters a notice offering a reward of
five thousand dollars for the capture of the murderers.

For a long
time the police found not the slightest clue to the identity of the
criminals. In the office exploded cartridges proved that automatic
revolvers had been used. The same kind of shells had been found at the
scene of several of the other hold-ups, and since this weapon was new to
the highwayman industry the police naturally concluded that the same
persons were responsible for all the crimes. Then out of the clear sky
came the thunder-bolt of discovery. A young man named Gustave Marx, who
had been drinking heavily of late, showed an automatic revolver and
boasted that the police could not take him alive. Chief of Police O’Neil
detailed Detectives Quinn and Blaul to arrest Marx. At a saloon which
he frequented they found this young man. He was quiet, self-contained,
and quite master of himself. Apparently he had nothing to conceal from
the world, but when the detectives stated their mission his true nature
flared out. There was a sudden gleam of steel, a flash, a report, and
Detective Quinn pitched forward in his tracks, dead. Blaul was saved
only by a hitch in the working of the weapon. Before Marx could right
the defect in the mechanism Blaul was grappling with him for dear life.
Assistance came to the detective, and he succeeded in securing his man.
In Marx the police felt confident they had secured one of the murderous
gang of bandits who had terrorized Chicago for many months.

It had
been understood among the band that if any member of the gang were
caught the rest were to dynamite the prison to secure his escape. Marx
waited for a few days, expecting his comrades to attempt to rescue him.
It appears that such a rescue was intended. According to Peter
Niedemier, the chief of the gang, the attempt was planned. When the
fewest men were known to be about the station the outlaws were to walk
in at the front door, kill the man at the desk and any other officers
who happened to be in the way, and then take the keys from the
gaol-keeper or blow off the lock with dynamite. But Marx did not know
about this. He grew moody and bitter because he alone had been captured,
and concluded that his accomplices had deserted him. Perhaps in pique,
perhaps in fear, he blurted out the full story of the car-barn robbery
and murder.

Meanwhile his comrades, Peter Niedemier, Harvey Van
Dine, and Emil Roeski, of whom the former was leader of the gang and the
latter a weak youth whom they had lately got to join them, had been
haunting the home of Detective Blaul, whom they had decided to kill in
revenge for the capture of their comrade. Fortunately for himself,
however, the officer happened to be out of town. The outlaws devised
several futile plans to rescue Marx, but, learning suddenly that he had
made a concession to the police, sought safety in flight. It shows the
desperate nature of these young ruffians, not one of whom was over
twenty-three, that they waited in Chicago for weeks, though they knew
that the entire police force was hunting high and low for them. Word
came to the authorities at last that Van Dine and Niedemier had been
seen at a grocery store at Clark, Indiana, where they had gone to buy
provisions. Immediately the officers were rushed to the scene, seven
policemen arriving at Clark from Chicago on a Friday morning. They were
met by H. F. Reichers, who had reported the clue, and who had tracked
the trio secretly to the “dug-out ” where they were hiding.

position of the besieged was an excellent one for defence. The country
was very rough, sandy, and broken, and dotted at intervals with
gravel-pits. Furthermore, the hut was on a hill-top, so that it
commanded the approach from the railroad embankment below. It was up
this incline that the police had to charge. The officers advanced in a
circle, guided by Reichers, and were allowed to get so near that they
thought the robbers had escaped. Driscoll, one of the detectives, picked
up a stick and flung it playfully at the hut. There came a flash, a
sharp report, and Driscoll fell forward. At the same instant Roeski
appeared at the door, and was ordered to surrender. He darted back into
the cave, and promptly the magazine guns of the bandits began to volley
at the officers. Concealing themselves behind trees and bushes as best
they could, the police returned the fire. Suddenly, through the smoke,
two men ran crouching; from the “dug-out.” One of them, Emil Roeski,
sped away in flight, but Harvey Van Dine, the second outlaw, was made of
different stuff. He had been a soldier in Cuba and seen service in the
Philippines. He retreated slowly, step by step, keeping up a withering
fire meanwhile.

A minute later Niedemier emerged from the hut and
fatally wounded Driscoll. The two young desperadoes were not in the
least excited by the firing, but backed away toward the tracks of the
Michigan Central Railway, the revolvers in each of their hands speaking
steadily. Detective Zimmer exposed himself slightly, and Van Dine shot
him through the arm. Before he fell to the ground another bullet from
Van Dine’s revolver had entered his head. With one dying man on their
hands and one very seriously wounded, the police were in no condition to
give immediate pursuit to the robbers. Van Dine and Niedemier had flung
themselves flat on the railroad track and were keeping up a steady
revolver fire, but presently they retreated with the honours of the day.
Roeski, unnerved and wounded, could hardly drag himself after his
leaders. He was oppressed by the fear that they would murder him in
order to get rid of him, and he took the first chance to slip away into a
cornfield by himself. From here he retreated toward Tolleston, Indiana,
to which point he was traced by five citizens. They found him in the
Wabash Station at Etna, lying unarmed and asleep, and without any
trouble captured him and sent him to Chicago.

Directly the result
of the skirmish became known fifty policemen, armed with rifles, were
rushed to the front on a special train, and the man-hunt was renewed.
Van Dine and Niedemier had cut across country for a mile till they
reached the tracks of the Pennsylvania Railway. Here on the side-track
lay a switch-engine, with a train of cars attached to it.

fugitives, driven to extremity, decided to seize the train and escape.
They sprang boldly into the cab of the engine, where they found Fireman
Frank Coffey, the engineer being absent at the time. Brakeman Sovea
crawled over the tender in an attempt to warn Coffey before the outlaws
should reach him. He arrived just in time to confront Niedemier’s
revolver. The outlaw leader commanded him to throw the switch. The
daring brakeman refused to do so and grappled with him instead, trying
to wrest the pistol from his hand.

“The man doesn’t live who can take a gun from me,” said Niedemier, coolly, and killed Sovea instantly.

unfortunate man pitched head-first out of the cab with a bullet in his
brain, while the terrified Coffey uncoupled the engine from the train
and flung open the lever on a wild run for Liverpool. A few hundred
yards away in the woods were a number of armed farmers who had heard of
the escape and were out to cut off the fugitives. They reached Tolleston
about noon, just as the engine dashed past them. Some of them ran
across the plain to a curve of the road, which swings round at this
point, and reached a locked switch, just closed by telegraphic order to
stop the stolen engine. Here Fireman Coffey stopped the engine of
necessity, but the bandits, with ready resource, forced him to run it
back for a mile along the track which they had just traversed. There the
fugitives leaped to the ground and took to a swamp. But they could not
escape from their pursuers. Hundreds of men were now out after them, and
they were trapped like wild beasts. Even as they fled a band of
rabbit-hunters caught sight of them crossing a fence into a cornfield.
The sportsmen turned loose a volley of bird-shot upon the weary
refugees. It caught Niedemier full in the face, while Van Dine also
received his share in the hands, face, and throat. The country was
rough, and the outlaws were weary to the point of exhaustion. It was
easy for the officers and farmers to track them through the new-fallen

“The game’s up,” said the leader, and Van Dine nodded a
surly assent; but for some time they continued to exchange a rapid fire
with the enemy.

“There’s no use killing any more of those fellows. Let’s give up,” said Niedemier.

two emerged from the cornfield and surrendered. Chained wrist to wrist,
their hair matted with dried blood, their eyes haggard and their faces
pallid, these two beardless outlaws were put aboard a train for Chicago.
That night they sat before Mayor Harrison and Chief of Police O’Neil,
calmly confessing their share in the four months’ war which they had
just finished waging against society. Marx and Niedemier, posing as
desperadoes of the worst kind, even confessed to murders which they did
not commit. Yet it is probable that Niedemier, as a boy of fifteen, shot
a detective in Ontario for ordering him from the top of a freight

These curious criminal types offer a strange study. They
appear to have come by their lawlessness legitimately, so to speak, for
the father of Van Dine is a fugitive in Mexico and Marx’s father is in
prison. Entirely without moral instincts, these degenerates spoke of killing men as callously as other youths of their age speak of shooting rabbits.
Van Dine was an excellent engineer, while Marx was a painter by trade.
But the fascination of criminal life allured them. As Van Dine phrased
it, “I wanted something exciting; something with ‘ginger’ in it. That’s
all there is to it.” Their nerve stayed with them till the last. They
were tried, and the three leaders were condemned to be hanged, their
tool, Roeski, receiving a life sentence. A few days before the date set
for the execution Peter Niedemier made two deliberate attempts to commit
suicide. For weeks he had been borrowing and saving matches. He
swallowed the phosphorus of which the heads were made, and then
proceeded to sever an artery in his left wrist. He had boasted that he
would never die on the gallows, and he did his best to keep his word.
But in this he did not succeed. Too weak to walk, he was carried to the
scaffold in a chair. Gustave Marx, Harvey Van Dine, and Peter Niedemier
were executed on Friday, April 22nd, 1904. They left an appalling record
of bloodshed behind them. At their merciless hands Otto Bauder, Adolph
Johnson, Benjamin C. La Crosse, J. E. Johnson, Frank Stewart, John
Quinn, J. D. Driscoll, and John Sovea suffered death, and many others
were badly wounded. Including themselves eleven lives have been
sacrificed to pay the penalty of their wild attempt to disregard the
laws of society.

– M. W. Raime, “The Boy Bandits of Chicago.” The Wide World Magazine, October 1904.  pp. 79-83.

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“C’est à Binet, au début du XXème siècle, que nous devons une des premières formes modernes d’observation du corps des enfants instables, les retardés scolaires. Il propose de combiner les mesures anthropométriques et un regard attentif sur le corps de ces enfants, afin de pouvoir bien les distinguer et ainsi adapter un traitement destiné à leur venir en aide, ou tout au moins «éveiller l’attention du pédagogue». C’est ce qu’il appelle les idées modernes sur l’éducation. L’idée de combiner plusieurs types d’approches, dictée par l’état des connaissances anthropométriques de l’époque, ne permettait pas de conclure à l’existence de liens avec l’intelligence de l’écolier. Mais «sans doute des corrélations existent», pense-t-il. Après avoir examiné 600 enfants du primaire, il conclut «que les avancés-intellectuels, sont plus nombreux parmi les avancés-physiques que parmi les retardés-physiques». Cette règle ne se vérifie pas sur un petit groupe (il y a 21 % de chétifs parmi les avancés-intellectuels), mais plutôt dans les grands nombres, remarque-t-il.

Binet s’inscrit néanmoins dans le courant hygiéniste qui associe le corps des pauvres, des faibles et des délinquants à la mise en danger de la race. Il entend construire sur les enfants un savoir total. Il diffuse largement ses idées dans le système primaire, par les réunions qu’il anime, par son enseignement et par les revues auxquelles il collabore. Binet est, en France, le créateur de la psychologie et de l’orientation scolaires. Il a une position intellectuelle forte. Il est à l’origine de la constitution d’un savoir spécifique sur les élèves en difficulté scolaire. Ce savoir concerne l’intelligence, mais aussi le corps. A travers le développement physique, mesuré en partie par les données anthropométriques, «l’avenir de notre race et l’organisation de notre société» sont en jeu, dit-il. Il place ainsi l’étude du corps dans une perspective démographique et sociale, domaine bien plus large que les 600 élèves de son enquête, dans laquelle il postule des corrélations visibles entre le physique et l’intellectuel.

Le corps des élèves est un sujet d’inquiétude. Il faut apprendre à le regarder. Le regard est, pour Binet, un instrument de mesure sûr. Toutefois, il recommande de ne pas pratiquer les examens corporels avec un état d’esprit trop optimiste, qui fausserait l’acuité du regard. Lors de l’examen du corps, le regard doit se porter sur «l’attitude du corps, la coloration de la peau, du visage, la forme et l’expression des traits». Le corps des enfants instables, des retardés scolaires, se distingue clairement de celui des autres enfants, car il dégage «une impression indéfinissable de misère physiologique».

Les enfants de pauvres, qui constituent la majorité des enfants à problèmes, sont reconnaissables à leur corps moins développé, «chétif, maigre […] au système nerveux mal équilibré». Si le regard est attentif, on peut y voir «un tube digestif qui digère mal, un estomac dilaté, un sang qui n’est pas assez riche». L’examinateur verrait donc l’intérieur du corps. Binet octroie ainsi aux éducateurs un pouvoir redoutable sur le corps des enfants difficiles. En même temps, il contribue à déposséder ces enfants de leur propre corps, qui n’est défini qu’en termes négatifs au regard de la personne, de la race et de l’ordre social.

Ce corps des enfants à problèmes, qui résulte d’une double misère, physiologique et sociale, produit des déclassés, des mécontents, des révolutionnaires. Ces résultats sont, dit-il, identiques à ceux obtenus dans d’autres pays, par de nombreux chercheurs.

Les chétifs, les malingres, les enfants dont le développement du corps est retardé sont issus de parents «de condition pauvre et même misérable». Dans ce type de raisonnement, le corps faible est celui du pauvre, et il doit changer car il est dangereux pour la société. De ce point de vue, quelle que soit la pensée de l’auteur, et Binet est sincèrement attaché à l’aide aux enfants en difficulté, ce lien qu’il établit entre le corporel et le danger pour la race produit, in fine, une pensée intolérante et discriminatoire. Parmi les auteurs ayant abouti aux mêmes conclusions que lui, Binet cite Niceforo.26 Ce dernier a étudié, en 1905, «la classe pauvre » en France. Il est un des auteurs favoris de l’anthropo-sociologue Vacher de Lapouge qui le cite abondamment. Niceforo définit, lui aussi, les enfants pauvres comme faibles de taille, de poids, de périmètre thoracique, de circonférence de tête, de hauteur de front.27 Il fait de cette faiblesse une infériorité, et de cette dernière, une dégénérescence. Il note que les classes pauvres sont fécondes en dégénérés.

Liant le tout, il en conclut que leur corps faible est la cause principale de leur état social: «L’état misérable est et sera toujours l’effet de leur infériorité physique et mentale. Appliquant son modèle à l’exode rural, il met en garde contre «les débiles de corps et d’esprit, les paresseux, les alcooliques, les demi-infirmes […] ce flot impur de dégénérés [qui] arrive en ville». Le corps des pauvres est devenu celui des dégénérés, en qui Vacher de Lapouge voit «des sauvages primitifs à mentalité trop rudimentaire ». Eugéniste, malthusien, il fait de ces corps chétifs et malingres, faibles, le danger inacceptable pour la régénération de la race. Il sont «les descendants non éliminés des inaptes à la vie civilisée », qui contrarient le renouvellement satisfaisant de l’espèce humaine, dont ils sont exclus. La régénération de la race ne peut passer par eux, lorsqu’on a comme projet la sélection de l’espèce par « l’aristocratie héréditaire » qu’appelle de ses vœux Carrel.

La dégénérescence du corps, visible par des malformations diverses, devient la caractéristique des délinquants, de tous ceux qui constituent, selon Van-Etten en 1937, l’adolescence coupable. Pour Dussenty, dans sa thèse de droit, «le nombre des dégénérés est très grand»; la dégradation du corps, associée «aux tares nerveuses», est la cause essentielle du vagabondage des mineurs. Il appelle à la création de centres de tri et d’observation de la jeunesse vagabonde, en difficulté sociale et personnelle.”


Francis Mendiague,
“Regards du corps et archaïsmes. L’ordonnancement des déviances par la rééducation du corps.”

Revue d’histoire de l’enfance «irrégulière».

Numéro 9 | 2007 : Violences et jeunesse, pp. 195-198.

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“Camps Urged For Jobless,” The Globe and Mail. October 22, 1938. Page 04.

Public Work in Centres Similar to C.C.C. Project in U.S. Suggested to Ottawa by Rev C. E. Silcox


To appeals on behalf of unemployed transients made to the Federal government by the Community Welfare Council of Ontario and the Welfare Council of Toronto, there was added yesterday a further appeal from the general secretary of the Social Service Council of Canada.

He suggested camps similar to the C.C.C. camps in the United States for younger men, and separate similar camps for the older.

The position of unemployed transients, of whom 110 are being temporarily housed in Holy Trinity Parish Hall, Toronto, was described by Rev. C. E. Silcox, General Secretary of the Council, in a letter to Hon. Norman Rogers, Minister of Labor, yesterday as ‘a peace emergency,’ and a responsibility of the Federal Government.

‘If we confronted a war emergency – and we came very close to it – the barriers would soon be removed,’ said Mr. Silcox in his message. ‘This is a peace emergency which confronts us and here, too, some solid thinking and co-operation will help mightily.’

‘There would be no necessity for us to make the mistakes which were made in the previous experiment in such camps in this country,’ he wrote. ‘In camps for both the younger and the middle-aged, a certain amount of military training and discipline, together with suitable educational facilities would be wholesome. If these camps could be located where some useful public work is being put through, it would be all to the good. The men might even be employed in the laying out of new and important air fields.

‘In view of the international situation, I strongly believe Canada should not allow any of her human resources to rot and that economic sense, a decent respect for the principles of humanity and even prudential considerations involving a potential military situation, combine to make government action imperative.’

Mr. Silcox pointed to the work camps in Germany and remarked: ‘Much as I dislike most of the things for which Mr. Hitler stands, I cannot fail to recognize that there are certain obvious responsibilities of government that seem to be understood better by dictatorships than by democracies.’

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“Racine s’était évadé du
Palais de Justice avec
un otage: 4 ans de bagne ,” La Presse. October 1, 1980. Page H-12.

Denis «Poker»
Racine, le jeune
homme de 21 ans qui
avait réussi à s’évader du Palais de justice,
le 21 mars dernier,
alors qu’il plaidait lui même sa cause devant
la Cour d’appel,
et en séquestrant
momentanément une
femme greffier en la
menaçant d’un couteau,
a écopé d’une
peinte totale de quatre années de pénitencier,
hier, devant le
juge Guy Guerin.

En prononçant cette
peine, le magistrat
avait souligné qu’il
fallait comprendre,
sans qu’il soit excusable,
l’esprit de revolte
de ce jeune homme
qui avait quitté le
domicile familial à
l’âge de 12 ans, pour
ensuite être «trimballe»
d’institution en
institution, et finalement
aboutir à Pinel,
au moment de sa

«Très certainement
que la Société a lt
droit de demander
protection aux tribunaux
dans des cas de
ce genre, de dire le
juge, mais on doit
également convenir
qu’elle récolte les
fruits amers qu’elle a
semés, l’accusé ayant
le droit, lui aussi, de
poser la question:
«Qu’avez-vous fait
pour moi. alors que
j’avais douze et quinze

Avant que le tribunal
ne se prononce
définitivement sur
son cas. Racine avait  voulu lui-même rappeler que sa situation
avait dramatiquement changé il y a
une dizaine de jours à
peine. Et pour le
mieux, cette fois.

Alors qu’il purgeait
une peine de prison à
vie pour meurtre au
premier degré (celui
d’un adolescent à qui
on avait voulu voler
son veston de cuir, à
la Place des Nations),
la Cour d’appel avait
modifié le verdict,
pour meurtre au second
degré, et sans
quant à la période de
détention minimale
qu’il devra purger.

«Je considérais la
première peine comme
inhumaine, dit-il.
Je ne serais sorti du
bagne qu’ à 16 ans.
Mais, aujourd’hui, je
puis envisager d’être
libéré dans environ
six ans. Ce n’est plus
la même chose, j’ai
repris espoir, et j’espère aussi que vous
n’ajouterez pas vous même
à ce châtiment
déjà lourd.»

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“When the police feel they are reduced to the status of sub-humans, they themselves go into a kind of revolt against the young people in order to affirm a humanity which is denied to them, and in so doing they are therefore not simply playing the part of killing/ repression machines. Secondly, every riot cop and every other kind of cop is still a person. Each one is a person with a definite role like everyone else. It is dangerous to delegate all inhumanity to one part of the social whole, and all humanity to another.”

– Jacques Camatte, “Against Domestication.”  In French in Invariance Année VI, Série II, no. 3, 1973. This translation Falling Sky Books, Kitchener, Canada in 1981.

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“Bread, Water Is Diet of 310 Guelph Rioters Held In Auditorium,” Toronto Star. July 14, 1948. Page 03.

Special to The Star
Guelph, July 14 – More than one-third of the inmates at the Ontario reformatory are still undergoing dietary punishment today although officials relented somewhat last evening and allowed them to spend the night in the assembly hall, Col. Hedley Basher, superintendent, said today. Monday night the 310 men who refused to work were locked out in an exercise yard without blankets.

‘There was some noise during the night, but things were reasonably quiet,’ Col. Basher said. He could not state when disciplinary measures would be eased. The men are receiving only bread and water.

When spokesmen for the rowdy prisoners sought an audience with reformatory officials late Tuesday they asked to be taken back into the buildings.

Instead of being returned to their dormitories, as some had hoped, the inmates were ordered into the large assembly hall immediately behind the administration offices. Col. Basher spoke to the group and warned them they would be kept on reduced rations, until the last evidence of their hold-out had disappeared.

The superintendent’s statement that all was not perfectly quiet indicated it was likely some hotheads were still trying to buck authority.

‘Youngsters’ Among Leaders
An inmate said the ringleaders were either ‘youngsters’ who acted spontaneously or in a few instances ‘old timers’ who were ‘little more than bums.’

Again today only a few inmates are working. For the most part, they are trustees who are permitted to wander with only loose supervision as they go about the park-like grounds of the institution. Some are clipping hedges. Others are cutting grass and weeding the many flower gardens. Another inmate and an electrician are finishing their task of repairing a lamp standard near the superintendent’s house some 100 yards north of the main buildings.

Those who spent the night in the assembly hall did ‘some singing and shouting,’ it was learned. Again today they were offered only bread for food and water to drink but officials declined to state whether any or all had accepted this diet.

Although the complete day staff of guards was kept on duty throughout Monday night following the disturbance which started at noon that day, a large percentage were permitted to return to their homes last night. All said they were under strict orders not to divulge information concerning condition in the institution.

Won’t Discuss Outbreak
Storekeepers in the area of the reformatory proved equally close-lipped since they did not want to cast suspicion on their customers, among whom are many guards.

Hon. George Dunbar, minister of reform institutions said, ‘Many persons forget that the type of person we get in the institutions does not take kindly to discipline. We intend to maintain that discipline by such as are necessary. We are not going to have the inmates trying to run the institutions.’

About one year ago the inmates at Burwash farm took over the administration of the reformatory and held possession for several days. Last month women inmates at Mercer Reformatory in Toronto staged one of the worst riots in years when they smashed furniture and beat up policemen and guards who tried to control them.’

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“Constructive Action Required,” Globe and Mail Editorial, July 14, 1948. Page 06.

The second riot at Burwash Industrial Farm in less than a year, following a violent disturbance in the Andrew Mercer Reformatory for Women, and now the trouble at Guelph Reformatory, all strongly emphasize the difficulties of administering this type of institution. Obviously, nobody likes being in jail, and there could seldom be noted a general spirit of contentment among the inmates. Nevertheless, experience has shown that conditions in a penal institution are generally poor before mischief-making leadership is able to create trouble. The climax of the outbreak ordinarily comes after a long period of increasing frustration, and represents a degree of desperation. By then, consequences have become insignificant in comparison with the conditions being endured.

The administration of a system of jails and reformatories, therefore, requires a particular sort of person with a high degree of competition. He should be a man who is able to lay down a clear and practical policy, and be certain that it is being carried out. He should be at once stern and kindly; wise in his understanding of human nature, and discerning in his judgement. Above all, he should know his job, and the complex problems of running institutions which are both punitive and reformative, to the end that those who have broken the law will be aware of the penalty, and at the same time desirous of leading a more constructive life upon release.

Despite the disturbances which have taken place recently, we have confidence in the officials of the Department of Reform Institutions, and in their capacity to deal with the situation. Their reputation and experience is substantial, and they are held in respect even by those who have had just cause to be critical of the Ontario prison and reformatory system. Numerous innovations and improvements have been put into effect in many aspects of the system, and the Ontario Plan for reformative institutions has been widely studied.

It is evident, however, that further reforms of a sweeping nature are overdue. Too little attention has been paid to salaries which will attract the right type of person into this important work. There has been an indication that personnel policies are erratic and even unjust. The discipline among prisoners cannot be maintained if morale is not present in the staff. These problems are basically administrative and the public expects the Government to take constructive action before further trouble develops. It is essential that the department’s officials be able to justify the progressive policies they have fostered through their consistent application in all parts of the system.

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