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6/)e MIRROR A | Published Weekly | A [I Kjinnesotoi■Sfcat.e Yol. XX.—No. 19. The Indeterminate Sentence. BY HENRY WOLFER, WARDEN MINNESOTA STATE PRISON. The Indeterminate Sentence in its broadest sense, as I understand it, is a sentence imposed on all convicted of crime whether first offenders or not, the crime of murder excepted, leaving the time limit to be tentatively de termined later on, or after the offender (not the crime) has been carefully studied and analyzed by a competent tribunal. The Indeterminate Sentence scheme embodies as one of its basic princi ples that the individual offender and not the crime shall finally determine the length of confinement or detention that is necessary to reform him, and to secure the greatest degree of protection to society. This means a care ful analysis of his physical, mental and moral status in order to determine how long it is necessary for him to remain in prison, rather than the meas uring out of so much punishment for a given amount of crime. It seeks to regenerate the criminal, to readjust him to the requirements of society’s laws and customs, so that he may be safely released on probation. It pred icates that the crime shall not be considered, except for the purpose of de termining the culprit’s turpitude. Emphasis being placed upon the saving qualities of the individual—the man, or what there is left of him. The scientific application of the principles of the Indeterminate Sentence means, or implies, that the offender shall always be released on probation or parole, and that such tentative release shall come to him gradually and only after he has given reasonable evidence of his desire and purpose to live honestly and obey the law. It means that his treatment in prison shall tend to break down and eradicate the vicious and criminal traits of his character and build up and strengthen the best elements of his nature. The princi ples involved in the Indeterminate Sentence and the parole system are one and the same, and are inseparable. Both are in harmony with the spirit ofGod’s law and embody the highest possible degree of human justice and humanity in dealing with the criminal class. Probation, or parole, cannot be scien tifically applied to the convicted criminal save and except through the Indeterminate Sentence. Its original and basic principles are described so well, and so much better than I can describe them, by our late deceased friend, Carlton T. Lewis, at the National Prison Association at Louisville, Ky., on “The Future of Probation” that I would like to quote him briefly. “Probation,” he says, “is conformity to the law of humanity, the law of the universe, to the law of the Creator. Every human being born into this world is a fresh experiment of God. Every human being born into this world presents a novel problem ofi-destiny, “to fee solved by future events, and those future events, by the decree of the Creator, depend upon the will, the action, the life, the voluntary work of the being himself. Every human be ing placed upon earth is placed on probation, to work out his own destiny under the supervision of the Supreme Probation Officer of the universe. The analogy is not without force. It involves the principle upon which we are acting when we apply the theory of probation to our fellow men.” Can a learned judge, though he be as wise as King Solomon; can any human being however much he may be blest with wisdom within the scope of the finite, measure a crime and the human being that committed it and cast them into the mold of human Justice? Can the main springs of the intricate human mechanism be discovered and measured accurately and justly in the brief space of time usually allotted by a trial court? Is it possible under this unfavorable environment with such limited opportunity to study, weigh, and analyze the culprit’s character, measure his stature mentally, physically and morally and pronounce a just sentence ? Can it be done (except in rare instances) without working a great injustice ? I believe that its successful accomplishment is beyond the power of human intelligence. It would require infinite wisdom. Then wby send him to prison for a fixed term ? It may take only a brief space of time to cure him, and it may take a life time. One thing is certain and upon this point we are all agreed, he must be cured or permanently secured. As the object of imprisonment is to protect society and reform the offender, the moment that reasonable evidence is adduced that these objects are accomplished he should be released from prison confinement and allowed to work out his own salvation on parole. If he fails, whatever the cause therefor, he should be returned to prison. If, later on he shows enough character improvement to warrant it, he should have a second, yes, a third and even a fourth trial on probation. Punishment has no place in this scheme, either as a punitive penalty for wrongdoing, or as an example to deter others. I very much doubt if either has had as much regulative influence for good as is commonly supposed. Punishment as such has no place in the Christian’s scheme of regeneration. Punishment may be, and often is, necessary. Not as a penalty of suffering for the wrongs committed, but to promote the two-fold object that should ever be kept in view, viz.: the protection of society and the correction of the offender. The infinite scheme of punish ment for sins committed is based upon the theory that while disobedience naturally brings punishment as sure as night follows day, it is always temporized with mercy, and may be modified in a measurable sense by the transgressor whenever he shows a spirit of repentance. While the laws of God or the laws of health cannot be violated without entailing a natural penalty, its infliction is not naturally fixed and unalter able. If we are to remain in harmony with the laws of the universe the crime should be considered only in so far as it reflects the criminal tendency of the offender. His previous history and character should be carefully in vestigated to determine whether he is a criminal from choice, by accident, or by stress of circumstances under which his weak nature gave way, and finally his conduct and progress in character building after he has been committed and undergoing imprisonment should determine when the time is ripe for his release. He may be infinitely better or very much worse than the degree or character of the crime committed indicates. Under imprison ment he may develop an early reformation, or give evidence of a degree of criminality that cannot be cured. In the latter event, if after a fair trial he proves persistently recreant, he should remain permanently in prison. The Indeterminate Sentence has been advocated for several years by the National Prison Association, and has been strongly championed by those who have given the crime problem careful study. There are others, how ever, who object to it because it is a radical change from the old system of meting out punishment and dispensing justice. Some of our judges feel that such a system is fraught with danger that is likely to defeat the ends of justice and produce laxity m the enforcement of the law, resulting in un -equal punishment by unwarranted detention of one individual and the premature release of another. I defer with great respect to the opinions DIFFICULTIES CONFRONTING JUDGES “IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO REND.” STILLWATER, MINNESOTA, THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 22. 1906 and judgment of these able men, but I think they will also concede that the other side of the question has merit, and is ably supported by a large body of able men who speak from practical experience. As for inequality of punishment, I think those familiar with the com parative inequality of sentences for the same crime in different states, in different localities in the same state, and even in the different courts in the same locality, under definite sentence will admit that if the system is right it is not administered with anything like even-handed justice. In one state a given crime may be punished by two years in prison, and in another by a life sentence. The comparative difference in sentences for the same crime in the same state, or even in the same locality, is frequently relatively as great. I recall an instance of two cases in Michigan, where one was sentenced for nine years and the other for three months for the same crime. I received and had charge of both. They were committed about the same time, but by different courts in the same city. The man who had the longest sentence was the less criminal of the two. Such glaring inconsistency as this is not an uncommon occurrence. This comparison brings us irresistably to this conclusion—can there be such a thing as even-handed human justice in dealing with the criminal ? I do not think so with the definite sentence; with the Indeterminate Sentence, yes, to a very large degree. It is true that it will place a great responsi bility upon those entrusted with its execution; but such a law, I believe, can be administered with a larger degree of impartiality and with a nearer approach to equal justice to all than the system now in vogue. It is generally admitted that imprisonment has fundamentally a two fold object, viz.: the protection of society first, and second the reformation of the criminal, and that all other phases of the crime problem center around and must be in favor of or against the accomplishment of this twofold purpose. Society claims the right of protection against lawlessness, and has a right to demand that when one of its members separates himself by violat ing its laws, he shall be taken care of by the state until it has become reasonably apparent that he will become law-abiding. Then, and not until then, shall he be allowed his liberty and the rights and privileges that go with it. The administration of our criminal laws as now in force, as a whole, : throughout the United States, is a travesty upon justice. They do not protect society; neither do they encourage the reformation of the Criminal. Why ? Because the criminal reasons that he can defeat the law and the ends of justice, and he has good reasons for this conclusion. The administration of the law under the definite sentence plan encourages him in this course of reasoning, and what is the result ? The gradual increase of crime and the extravagant expenditure of the people’s money, amounting to millions of dollars annually to protect society from the inroads of crime. The Puri tanic old New England state, Massachusetts, claims that she expends five and one-half million dollars annually for police protection against crime and for courts and prisons. Our state is not quite so bad as this, for which we have reason to be thankful. We must teach the criminal that he must refrain from crime or remain permanently in prison. If we do this, his course of reasoning wdll soon change. Convince him that his crime tendencies, his character, his habits already acquired, or that may be ac quired either in or out of prison, shall form the basis of his final liberation on probation, and later by larger liberty and the rights of citizenship, and we will have laid a foundation for his reformation, if he is reformable, and if he is not, we will have subjected him to a test—a character analysis—that will determine just where he belongs. Most criminals are weak, as well as naturally reckless and wicked. Moral weakness, reckless disregard of the rights of others, a warped sense of his own importance and his personal rights, coupled with excessive ego tism, make up the disposition of the average criminal. In his own heart he believes that he can commit crime and defeat the ends of justice without be ing made to suffer the consequences; that the world and society owes him a living, and that he is clever enough to get it, with the chances in the con test largely in his favor as against that of society. We have the adminis tration of our laws to blame for this false standard of reasoning, which has become so prominent in the criminal character. He reasons inversely. The elements of chance are always uppermost in his mind. When he ceases to be a natural gambler he will mend his ways, and not before. His moral sense may be strengthened by an incentive to do right; his reckless nature may be curbed by forcing him (if necessary) to understand that it pays to be honest. He may be made to see the rights of others by knowing himself and his true relation to society. After all, society’s greatest safeguard against the criminal lies in his ref : ormation, and it is clearly its duty to see that the laws of government are so shaped, adjusted and administered as to discourage crime, stimulate its : repression, and right living by teaching wholesome respect for i its laws. Those who have studied the crime problem and followed the evil effects of the grinding process in imposing fixed sentences for various degrees of crime, guided by custom, and modified or increased perhaps by local influ ence, without vegard to the real character of the criminal, cannot but feel that our civilization, in so far as it applies to our criminal jurisprudence, is yet very imperfect. Our penal institutions are turning thousands of habit ual criminals out upon the world every year to continue war upon society —those known by the authorities at the time of discharge to be criminals by nature and from choice—this fact having been fully established by a knowledge of previous criminal records, as well as by careful observation and character analysis they have undergone while in prison. Is it right, fair or just either to society or the criminal to allow this to go on ? Ido not think so. On the other hand, is it either just or fair to keep an offender in prison one moment longer than is necessary to adequately protect society, and se cure reasonable evidence that he has reformed and will henceforth obey the law ? I think not. While the average criminal is more or less obtuse, and some of them abnormal; his methods of reasoning are not unlike those pursued by the average man with well-regulated habits and character. He readily detects an injustice imposed upon himself or others; he knows when he is being justly punished, and his keen observation and character study of his fellows in prison with him, made doubly sharp by the circum scribed limits of his prison world, enables hi A to discover when the time is ripe for release from prison. Delay this when it is merited and society is the sufferer as well as the repenting victim. Release him if still unrepent- INEQUALITY OF SENTENCES. PRESENT LAWS INADEQUATE ing, vicious, vindictive and criminal, then society is the principal victim, but the criminal has also suffered an injustice, as he might have been reformed if not prema turely released. THE INDETERMINATE SENTENCE THE SOLUTION. How, then, are these evils to be remedied ? Myanswer is by the Indeterminate Sentence. It provides for com. mitment to prison the same as you would an insane per son to the hospital for the insane, to remain there until reasonable evidence is adduced that he is cured; but if he cannot be cured, to remain there indefinitely. I believe this can be done with reasonable accuracy, and with comparative justice to aft, provided the prison is properly managed, and its interest controlled by a competent supervising board, before whom each prisoner shall appear personally from time to time as occasion warrants, to be heard in his own behalf, the warden of the prison being required in each case to furnish a care ful record of the prisoner, both before and after con viction, together with the result of his observation as to the prisoner’s character and ability to faithfully keep his parole. With the Indeterminate Sentence and the grading and parole system in careful operation in our prisons, controlled as I have briefly but crudely outlined, I be lieve that crime would decrease, society be more effi ciently protected, and the expense of running thecriminal branch of the government very greatly reduced. But are we yet fully ripe for the Indeterminate Sen tence with the broad application of its principles, in our state prisons? We are, provided the judiciary and the good people of this commonwealth believe and have con fidence in it, and provided the supervisory tribunal and the executive head of the institution believes in it. And provided further, that our system of parole supervision and identification can be made more generally effective and thorough than it is now. Otherwise we had better go on growing gradually, as we have been doing for some years, until conditions are more ripe for its complete application. Sunshine and Success. Someone has said: “It takes sunshine to produce a rose, a perfect rose. And man, to be successful, must have sunshine inside. The world wants joj, comfort, sunshine, and will cling to the man who has it, who radiats gladness and triumph wherever he is and under all circumstances.” This is not only a beautiful touch of sentiment, but a great practical truth clearly expressed. And yet how few persons ever imagine sunshine in the soul as an element contributing to success in life. How few ever studiously seek to acquire it as a means of ad vancing their own material interest. Habits of appli cation, punctuality, saving and faithfulness to obliga tion, these are universally regarded as necessary elements in achieving success. But unless a sunny nature be possessed as a temperamental gift it is rarely acquired or sought specifically. How often the statement is heard that such an in dividual is personally magnetic. And by this is meant that his nature possesses an indefinable something which attracts instead of repelling. Such an one we always enjoy meeting, in his presence always feel at home, and from the date of our first meeting hail as friend. Perhaps for the reason that most persons are quite content to accept their friends as such without attempt ing to find a cause for the friendship, rarely do any ask themselves the secret of this personal charm. But if it were done, would it not in ultimate analysis be found to be due to the fact that such an one is a veritable storage of sunshine and joy ? And the influence of these qualities over human nature is as irresistible as the in fluence of sunshine in the physical universe. In other words, sunshine in the soul is as necessary to the full rounded development of man as an individual or asocial being as sunshine in cosmic nature is to the development of the perfect rose. Do you doubt it ? You have only to be observant of your friends, neighbors and acquaint ances in order to remove your skepticism.—Denver News. Genuineness Gives Power. The man who is conscious of posing, of always try ing to cover his tracks, is a weakling. The very con sciousness that he is a fraud, that he is not what he tries to appear, takes away his self-respect, and with it his self-confidence. Such a man is always a coward, because he is constantly full of fear lest he make a misstep that will leave something uncovered, and that will betray his deception. He is always afraid that he will be found out, hence he must carefully plan every step in advance to guard against it. Being conscious of this effort to deceive, he loses the power which comes to the genuine man who has noth ing to cover up, who acts naturally, who has such conr fidencein the truth that he knows that he has no motive for deceit. The genuine man inspires confidence because he radi ates the power of principle. The man of shams radiates his deception. No matter what his words say, we feel that there is something wrong, that he has not the genuine ring, that he is a counterfeit.—Success. | <■ TcDua.l SI.OO a year, in advance. I tKMH.j aix Months> 5A cents.