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REPORT OF THE PROBE COMMITTEE DEVOID OF SENSATIONS |
(Continued from P«gf One) d*r the earth, through the camps, have seen the prisoners fed, have watched them at labor, have observed them oil Sunday, have examined the members of the state boards, the wardens, convict guards, the chaplains, have talked with the convicts while under sentence, have had before us those who had served and completed their sentences. Every phase of convict life in Alabama has been con sidered. Endeavor has been made to leave nothing relating to it untouched or unnoticed. The laws of other states have been looked into and in some instances we have personally observed their operation. This subject was approached with an open mind. After consideration we have been forced to the conclusion that the convict lease system of Alabama is a relic of barbarism, a species of human j sfavery, a crime against humanity. ^ © do not advocate the pampering of pris oners. and are not seeking to prepare for them a bed of roses. They should he punished severely; they should be ' made to work; their fate should be an example to others. We have no legal or moral right after they are sentenced to add thereto •'cruel and unusual pun ishment.” A sentence to hard labor should not impliedly include a deprivation of nourishment, an absence of God s sun light, the breaking of bones, the maim ing of limbs, the disfigurement of per sons. the loss of life itself. Lessees should not have the authority after jury and judge have acted to add punishment which no court could in the first instance have imposed. Two boys were arrested for stealing ft ride on a train, tried, convicted and sentenced for a short time. The second day In the mine an explosion snuffed out their lives. Investigation ascertained that they were Kentucky youths of good repute and family, on a foolish escapade, too proud to give their true names. To put untrained, inexperienced, short-term convicts at extra hazardous work where life may pay the forfeit is almost judi cial murder. Farmers' sons, tillers of the soil, bred in the bone to the open life; mountaineers, lovers of nature, used to God's country, we found them in the bowels of the earth, going in hours be fore the sun rose and coming out hours after it set. The imposition of tasks from 10 to 14 tons of coal a day required, and from one to four tons added to guard against rock in the coal, the enforcement of these tasks by brutal treatment, so brutal that in some instances brought to the committee's attention, the skin was literally beaten from the back, caus ing scars that will be carried to the grave, ill prepared and insufficient food, their burial in roughly constructed boxes made from lumber taken from old houses at a cost not exceeding $2.50 a funeral, are all illustrations of man's inhuman ity to man. Il may be said that we mention ex ceptional cases. We found them of gen eral occurrence. We know these condi tions exist because we saw them and have had evidence of them. Instances could be multiplied except for lack of space In this report. Under normal conditions the convict would not perform average work, yet we find under this driving slavery sys tem, where the free miner mines two tons, the convict produces four. The con vict should not be allowed to choose his work, but without experience, knowl edge, aptitude or training he should not be forced to take his life in his hands by engaging in labor dangerous to even those who are trained and experienced in such work on account of falling rock, explosives unsupported roofs, gas and dust explosions. Our courts have decided that no one can contract against his own negligence and where the convict is working under control of Hie lessee the latter Is liable for injuries received through his negli gence or wantqn or wilful acts. We find that under the late leases of the state, they are so worded that the convict is under the control of the state and when ma'.med or injured has no remedy, how ■) ever great may be ihc negligence, or however wilful or wanton may be the act causing his injury. The state has. there fore, become not only a partner, but also £ protector of these iniquities. The condition of the convicts in the turpentine and lumber camps of the state is as bad, if not worse, than in the mines. They are made frequently to rise at A in the morning day in and day out. walk five or six miles to work, toil all day long, with insufficient water and food, in the heat of the sun. until darkneea comes, and then forced to walk into -amp for their supper. The system is wrong. It is indefensi ble. The more one studies it the greater his horror, but as dark as this phase of the picture is, it does not compare v. 1th the more dangerous feature of setting a prisoner to a task of this kind because of one mistake, and have him come out in after years with a bitter enmity and ha tred toward mankind. This is the class of man most dangerous to society. He cares for nothing now. He has under gone the most excruciating pain, the hard est toil, the deepest humiliation. He has been driven like the beasts of the Held by heartless task masters. Tnstead of society in the form of laws having pro tected herself from one considered an of fender. she has multiplied and turned loose upon her own head, the dangers she , is seeking to avoid. The Commercial Side It has been too much the policy of this statr to look upon the commercial side of convict life. Each successive admin istration has done all In its power to in crease the earnings of the convict de partment. The humanitarian side of the question has been entirely lost eight of. We believe, however, that the convict (» system now in vogue in Alabama has not been a success for the state, even from a commercial standpoint. The lost annual report of the board showed earnings of something over $300,000, but there are many items of expense which properly should be charged against the system which do not appear. The average life of a convict sentenced to work in the mines is seven years. The effect of the system is to make, by the process of death, long term convicts into short-term ones. It is unfair competition to the employ ers nf free labor, and to free labor. It has been brought to our attention that the state of Alabama under recent leases re ceives 65 cents a ton for coal delivered on the cars exclusive of all washer charges and of all rock. In other words. 65 cents a ton for a "lock and key Job." It costs the employer of free labor, min ing coal under the same conditions, from 90 cents to $1.05 a ton. The result has been that at times of depression like the present the users of convict labor have been able to snap up the contracts for coal at a price less than the employers ot free labor can mine the same for. We therefore find the convict c al pines lib erating on full time, at full capacity, with the convict driven to the task of from !•> to 12 tons a day, while the mines of the free labor employers are operating at a loss only two or three days a week. It will probably be said that the siat cannot afford to lose the Income derived [from the lease system; that we should at tempt to remedy conditions, thereby r* - | taining this much needed revenue. It if [ not right to say that we cannot afford the | financial loss. This has been the curse of the system long enough. It is a can cer that should be cut out of Alabama's body politic. Recommendation The committee recommends that the convicts be removed from the lease sys tem, first, by the termination. January 1. 1918, of all contracts; second, by making it unlawful thereafter for any prisoner in Alabama to be leased or hired to any person, firm or corporation. The termination of the present system will make it necessary for some other dis position to be made of the convicts. In considering this question we have exam ined carefully conditions in other states. In many of them the most satisfactory j results have been obtained from working the convicts on the public roads, and on convict farms, and at other kinds of labor, not inherently dangerous. In the state of Georgia, where economic conditions are similar to those existing in this state, the working of the convicts on the roads ex ists. I'nder the system in operation there the convicts are distributed to the coun ties on a population basis. No county is forced to take convicts. Each county !a informed of its quota of convicts allowed’ and has the opportunity of working them on the roads, the county being linger the duty of furnishing housing, maintenance and medical attention, the direction and supervision being under the control of the state. We recommend a like system for Alabama. We realize that this is a great question. It involves such a change as Alabama has not experienced in a long while. It may be said that the counties may not care to work the convicts, that it will be too expensive. In the state of Geor gia, where they have twice the number of convicts we have, as well as twice the number of counties, every convict was taken in a few months after the system was placed in operation. Every' county in George except four, three of them be ing small, mountainous counties, are now working convicts with results undregmed of" by the most ardent supporters of this system. We have an example nearer home in our great county of Jefferson. Its convicts are being successfully worked upon its roads. Every one reports the conditions better. A close analysis recently made by experienced and honest accountant shows that the expense in Jefferson county of building roads with the convicts is ma terially less than building them under contract. The large benefit to the people of the state in the way of public roads, the great increase in property values, the cheapening of transportation, which f«»l* low's good roads, to say nothing of the humanitarian side of the question, Jus tifies the change in the present system. In order to better carry out these rec ommendations. and to better handle this great question, we further recommend tli^ abolition of the state board of convict inspectors and the creation of a prison commission consisting of three men, one a business man, one a physician and one an expert engineer and road builder, | to be elected for two, tour and six years, respectively, each member of said com mission to have equal responsibility and equal authority with the other, and to have complete authority in reference to all matters affecting the convict depart ment, and to devote thereto his entire time; that the department of prison and jail inspector be transferred to the prison commission; that the state highway com mission be abolished, and that its '’au thority and duties be conferred upon the prison commission; that the motor ve hicle department and the proceeds there from be transferred to the prison com mission. to be applied to the upkeep of the convicts. We submit herewith bills embodying these recommendations. The committee condemns certain trans actions which have occurred between R. L. Johnson, the warden at Wetumpka. and Ed DeBardeleben, a citizen of Elmore county. These transactions referred to are contracts negotiated by Johnson as a representative of the state and DeBarde leben, under the terms of which several hundred acres of land belonging to the latter were leased to the state for a period of four or five years with the under standing that the state was to clean up the land for the W'ood, and ditch it under the supervision and direction of Mr. De Bardeieben, who had complete control of the working of the convicts. The evidence showed conclusively that the contract was entirely one-sided and to the advantage of Mr. DeBardeleben. Shortly following the execution of the contract DeBarde leben made a deed of gift of eight acres of land, of the value of $800, to Johnson s 12-year-old son. We condemn the practice heretofore ob taining of carrying convicts to the homes of the wardens, guards and the members of the convict board as servants. In this connection we note the recent executive order that all convicts must be returned to the penitentiary by the officers of the state who are using them, the order an nouncing that it is improper and inex cusable; but we find that this order has not been obeyed. A striking instance of thin practice is shown in the case of J. M. Kyser, a member of the convict board. Upon being appointed to office he took a convict to serve him at his home. 100 miles or more from the penitentiary. Mr. Kyser states that he based his action on the custom. Oui investigation discloses that the work of the convicts on the farms has not been efficient. Those in charge of this work seem to be lacking in experience and good results are not being obtained. Some of the appointees charged with the duty of superintending farm work have been taken from other avocations. If experi enced farmers were placed in charge of the convict farms, better results w’ould be secured and the maintenance bills here tofore paid by the state greatly reduced. In instances, contracts have been made with private Individuals near the state farm at Spelgner to have their farms am? crops worked out by convict labor for a small stipulated price, when the crops of the state were in grass and sadly in need of cultivation. Such practices can not be of benefit to the state. We condemn the acts of some of th© transfer agents purchasing mileage book! for transportation and charging the state with straight fare. We find no necessity for transfer agents, and suhmit here with a bill abolishing these offices and intrusting the duties to the sheriffs of the counties and wardens. We find that in some manner convicts have been able with little difficulty to ob tain cocaine and morphia. Proper care should prevent this. The committee has examined the tuber culosis hospital at Wetumpka. It is doing a great work. The premises are thorough ly modern and sanitary in every way. A severance of the management of the hos pital from the penitentiary will be of much benefit to the hospital and would not in any way harm the work of the peni tentiary. There is sufficient work at the hospital to engage the time of one phy sician and surgeon. Department of Agriculture In this department we have found evi dence of spoil, graft and corruption. The department of pure food and drugs dur ing the past four years, instead of being used for the purpose of protecting the pub lic from impure foods ana drugs, has served as a means for a systematic scheme of robbery and thievery. It was provided that stamps should be issued and paid for by the handlers and dispensers of food and drugs. The state purchased millions [ upon millions of ■tamps for this purpose. We find .how* ever, from the evidence that instead of selling the stamps purchased by the state • sales were made from stamps printed on the outside and the proceeds of these sales I converted to the personal use of the man- I ager of this department, and. as a eonst^ quence, tlie defalcation of Homer Billings ley stands as another link in the chain of fraud and corruption that has been re cently forged in Alabama. The defalca tion of Billingsley did not cease even after he went out of office. As evi dence of this we present herewith copies of two checks made payable to the com missioner of agriculture and industries which purport to have been indorsed by Mr. Billingsley after his retirement. War rants have "been issued for Mr. Billings ley, but at the present time he has noT ! been apprehended The evidence leads us to believe that the defalcation in this de partment is much larger than the exam iner has been able to ascertain. The man ner in which the books were kept pre cludes full discovery. Our investigation discloses other irregu larities and shortages in the department of agriculture and Industries. A con tingent fund of $500 a month has been I created by law to he used by th* enm ' missioner of agriculture and Industries I in defraying the expenses of the depart ment. this fund to include the salary of [ the chief clerk and assistant and the traveling expenses of the employes of the department. We find that this con tingent fund is withdrawn from the treas ury of the state in a lump sum on the first day of each month, and deposited in i a local bank to the credit of this de partment. Checks are drawn against such deposit and there is returned to the treas urer at the expiration of the month that portion of the fund unexpended. Such a method as this would not be tolerated by any business. It is an invitation for the contingent fund to be used in ways not authorized by law. It should be paid on vouchers regularly drawn from time to time as used against the treasury. The only safeguard or supervision of any kind thrown around the payment of moneys out of this contingent fund is a requirement that a monthly Itemised statement of accounts should be submit ted to and approved by the governor. We quote one of many instances to show that , this supervision is not sufficient. An ac count was made out in the name of one lohn C. Cheeseborough for $84, approved and paid. Captain Cheney, chief clerk of the department, who handled this ac counts. testified that Cheeseborough was a negro lecturer who had been doing farm institute work at $4 per day; that he came into his office and on the state ment of the negro that he had lectured to negro farmers for 21 days the account was made out, although Captain Cheney admitted that he had never seen the ne gro before the account was approved or since. The account purported to have been signed and sworn to by John C. Cheeseborough before a notary. This notary, being called as a witness, testi fied that the acknowledgment was made by Captain Cheney, his name was sub scribed to the affidavit and that the ne gro Cheeseborough never appeared be fore the notary. The stub in Captain Cheney’s bank hook shows that a check was Issued to John C. Cheeseborough cov ering this account. Captain Cheney has refunded this money to the state. The files in the department disclose that fertilizer inspectors devoted far more of their rime in campaigning for votes than they did in inspecting fertilizers. Wo find that they wore used as a political bureau for the purpose of furthering the political aims and aspirations, not only of those in this particular department who sought political preferment. but branching out in the aid of other candi dates whore friendship was desired by this department. Those fertilizer inspec tors instead of making reports on the condition of fertilizer devotcrl much of their daily reports to a summary of their work as political agents for certain candi dates. The traveling expense** and sal aries of these men were paid by the state. We also find that the expense accounts of these inspectors were in many instances padded. Mr Craig has reported discrepancies in this department, amounting t<» not les:* than $6000. Our investigation leads us to believe that the amount is much larger than this sum. There have been in this department two sources of fraud, and on account of the lack of any business system or checking, it is practically im possible to estimate the amount of money which has been lost to the state It has been an open sesame for graft ami cor ruption. We refer to the purchase, sale and exchange of fertilizer tars These tags have been sold in enormous quanti ties without any method bein'; pro\ - led for a check covering the sale. In many instances the books show no reports of sales. In other instances sales of tags not Issued by the department have been made and proceeds therefrom appro priated. The office system of this department j and the methods of accounts and book keeping are antiquated, loose and utterly out of accord with the demands of mod ern appliances. The corruption, embez zlement and graft herein disclosed wh! h has run through this department like a scarlet thread is a tragi' evidence of the defflciency of our business system Immigration Department Within the past four years $42,000 of the people’s money has been expended. We have not been able to find that the state of Alabama ever realized one cent on this investment. Not only was this amount a total loss of the taxpayers’ money: but, in addition, the office has been used as a means for embezzlement. The profligacy and waste of the public funds through this department can be denominated nothing less than criminal. Absolutely no books are kept We quote the following from the examination of the commission of immigration, before this committee: Q. Did you keep a caph book?” A. No, sir: T had a little memorandum book when T was In the Bell building a few years ago. Q. Did you keep a cash hook? A. I didn't have any receipts and dis bursements. Q. Did you keep a book for that? A. T had those entries in front of :\ little memorandum book when I was in the Bell building. Q. Where Is that book? A. 1 don’t know, sir. Mr. J. T. Gorman, an examiner of pub lic accounts, whs questioned in reference to bis report on the books of this de partment. He testified that he had not made an investigation of the books of this department because there were no books: that he had called to the atten tion of the commissioner of immigrnti’on the fact that he kept no books and had warned him that his failure in this re gard would probably result in serious trouble to the commissioner. Wo risked Major Gorman why. if lie found no books kept by this department, he had reported under oath that he had examined the I hooks, accounts and vouchers of this, department In answer to this this ques- i tion he testified that be had mereh signe t and sworn to one of the blank printed forms used for the purpose. Major Gorman also approved the books of the convict department, of the depart ment of agriculture and Industries and the pure food and drug department, in all of which large defalcations have been reported These facts disclose either that the examination of these books hv Major Gorman was not thorough or that he was not competent. Major Gorman has been reappointed ns examiner since our investigation disclosed the discrepancies ' in the books of these several departments ; which he had passed as being correct. ) As a legacy from this d pa l merit, there are a large number of unpaid lulls. Included among these hills is one for $1009 for 25,000 modaiions. These medallions were purchased for the pur pose of being sold and the proceeds of the sale were to have beep used in pre paring the way for an Alabama exhibit at the fcsin Francisco exposition. The governor of the state issued a procla mation calling upon the people as a j patriotic duty to buy these medallions. Evidence before us discloses •that a number of them were sold. It also dis closes that no part of the proceeds of the sab s has ever reached the trea.*iur> of tile state. Another legacy left by this depart ment for which the state has paid Is something like 6000 copies of a pamph let book entitled “Alabama's New Era. This publication, printed once a > ea», was edited by Mr. Will T. Sheehan one J year, and lie drew for ills services $50 a month for 10 months. The New Era j j sold advertising space. The state has i I not received an\ funds for this advei 11sing. We have had before us a num hei of the *idvertisers and have re I reived letters from others. Many < om piain that they did not receive valor for their money. However, they are in better position than is the state be cause they at least had advertisement in the New Era, while if the stale ever received any funds from the New Era. j or from the advertising that was printed in it. this committee lias been unable to locate it. We have ascertained from t!i*' testimony of Mr. Cowart and others that between u.no and $700 was col let ted for tiiis advertising. Mr. Cowart receiving about $100 and Mr. Sheehan the balam ' This department, although it handled larye sums of money, never had a bank no omit, checks issued to it were cashed but there is no record o/ what became of the money, and the in dorsements on some of the checks which have been presented to us is the onl\ it cord of who received the money. The record of this department would be comical if it was not so tingle. State tie me and Fish Co minis;-inner Wo do not an i m .vlth Governor Hen deison that the department is useless, liht we are of the opinion that the salary and expenses of the commission er can be saved by abolishing the of fice :\nd transferring the duties of th# office to the probate judges of the re spective counties. All of these telephone and telegraph bills were charged to and paid by the Crt&te. When Commissioner Wallace was ex ;i mi tied in reference to those charge* In fore the committee, he was asked the following question; "Do you think this money should have been paid out of your department fhnd?" Mr. Wallace replied: l most assuredly do. The money was placed In the state treasury by the department, more than MO.i/OO. nod when I saw the depart mc.it was hetng attacked and thereby the protection of game and fish in Ala bama being attacked. 1 dc-uned It my duty to call those who seek to protect (t on tInneil on l‘nsr Hrvev See Texas Colorado ^ and the Rockies Enrcute to the California Expositions Go one way via New Orleans or Shreveport and Through Colorado Sleeper Daily In connection with Santa Fe Lines Diverse Route Tickets with Stop-overs. Write i J. M. Trier. D. P. A. , \ Tex. & Pac. RyBirmingham, Ala. ^MHi■■M^mHMmH \ < Men! a sale of Pants good onos at that—that will come speed ily to the rescue of that suit about done, and save it from the clutches of the old clothes man. Entire stock included. i&'l Palm Beach 1 Pants I $4.00 summer pants . 2.95 $3.50 value included $5.00 summer pants 3.95 $6.50 summer pants 4.95 $8.00 summer pants 5.95 In the $2.95 lot, plenty of fine blue serges, so much in demand, and at higher prices named—beautiful worsteds in sightly stripes, that match so well most any color of coat. And those fine white serges, plain or striped, are included—fine with a blue serge coat. In Window Number One Today Shirts Shoes Reduced Reduced Of BIRNINCIIAM ILbtPAySAT 1901 SI In Ordering UiiimIm l'lrn*e Mention rill'. VUK-HKH Vl.ll i r— - 1 ■ 1 1 -■ ■■■ ■ ■ . ■ .- — - 1 """ The Attitude Makes It Always Cool .— .. - - i i imii ■ ■■"‘v-* ***** ... If you want the best vacation you ever had, come and enjoy yourself at Gr< >ve Park Inn The Summer Comfort Hotel Get out in the air; play golf, or tennis; roam through the mountains; go driving, riding, or autoing—or just rest on the spacious verandas. It will do you good any way. The cool, invigorating air of the highest point east of .the Rock es is wonderful. Blankets at night; no mosqui toes. F or either rest or recreation, no other place offers the same fas cinations as Grove Park Inn. Milk and cream from Bi'tmore Dairies; water from the mountain side. Come; and you’ll come again. WRITE FOR BOOKLET AND SPECIAL SUMMER RATES Grove Park Inn, Sunset Mountain, Asheville, N. C.