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Vol. XXVII: No. 19.
THE PROBLEMS OF PRISONS A Great Gulf Separates the Officials and the inmates, hut Kindness is Bridging it and Men are Redeemed Where Cruelty Would not Affect. \ Imitates of prisons may be regard ed as a composite man, for in any collection of human beings, from a family to a nation, there is the larg er man, which organizes itself in human form —with hear!, trunk, limbs, and organs. One group rep resents the brains, another the phys ical powers: the stomach is figured by the purveyors of food, and these analogies may be followed indefi nitely; they are not fanciful, but ac tual. lie is all here, but is prevent ed from functioning freely. His reaction against this repression of free action —a repression far more physical than mental —gives unna tural energy to the faculties and tends to lead into certain special channels, such as the falsity of hu man justice, the overpowering de sire to be at liberty; emotions of re sentment, resignation, hope, despair, impulses of antagonism or of good will toward others; moods of irony, cynicism, and even humor; good or evil preoccupation of all kinds. In this way large reservoirs of human force are collected, which cau get no relief from expression, and therefore corrode aud distort the mind. . ,f S p^ Hut prisoners at that are no diff erent clay from other folks. They are, if anything, different iu that they are more sensitive, more sympa thetic, more appreciative, and more trustful, once their confidence is gained, than the average persou. They love the world and wish it well. The average prisoner—even the “ old timer” serving a third or fourth sentence —will advise against a life of crime with all the earnest ness and logic he is capable of com manding. But the prisoner, with his good qualities, has his faults,many of them. He is always looking for the beet of it, and, from his stand point, why shouldn’t he get it? He is a prisoner (the word is not pleas ant to hear). It carries a stigma of shame and disgrace. It is lasting. He is declared unfit to live among his people; his movements are re stricted; he can not move or speak without the consent of an official; he is stripped of his citizenship; his home a narrow 7 cell; he is helpless; has lost all —everything a man val ues in this w-orld. The prisoner knou'B all this full w ell. To him the best of it is the worst that the free man can imagine. This is the body corporate and the proposition the man or men charged with the care, keeping and discipline of prisoners have to con tend with. The problems .to be solved are difficult, and a gigantic task confronts the warden of any penitentiary. While the power of most wardens is as nearly absolute as mortal power can be, it is neces sary, if he is expected to accomplish anything. The demands of his po sition are great —greater than any other person in the w'hole commu nity. Upon his say-so depends the hope or despair of the prisoners, but we are convinced that the average warden is anxious for the uplift and untiring in promoting the welfare of the men under him. f A great honor is due the prison official who voluntarily treats the prisoner with justice and mercy, whose radius of human action is cir cumscribed only by the book of reg ulations. Harsh traditional usuages are gradually being eliminated and there are but few now who persist in delaying the realization of ad vanced ideas in the handling of law breakers. But no intelligent reform of abuses can be effected until they have been authoritively acknowl edged, and the remedies necessary to relieve and cure evils understood. Improvement is slow, and gross an* i The World’* Oldest Prison Newspaper: In Continuous Publics* tion Since 1887. lie Mlffif IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO MEND achroisms are found side by side with advanced conditions. Prisoners often distrust their officials when the latter’s only fault may be the path and obligatian to obey regula tions long out of date. The prison er sees the belter way aud. as a rule, will not listen to reason. The offi cial know T s it too, but is not free to walk in it. From this condition of affairs comes that great antagonism between prisoners and officials w-hich exists in all prisons. The warden to do good must bridge the gulf which separates the prisoner and himself. He must be the example and precept of right. He will not delay action until all difficulties are removed, but is prompt to seize every opportunity as it offers itself, lie walks where others cr6ep, and sees the end where others grope. While sedulous to avoid favoritism, he takes into consideration the’'per sonal equation” of each man, and gives him the interpretation of the law best suited to the case as it may be. Iu his system of discipline, there is as little as possible of the merely mechanical and whatever nifty be allowed of individual con sideration. This is not more human than expedient; for most of the men are quick to perceive the proper means to deserve good treatment, and, instead of sinking into lethargy and indifference, are aroused to do what in them lies to meet the war den half way. Frequently, though, regardless of the work of such offi cials, in this great human body, there are developed ideas unfair, and we w-ill tiud prisoners who will resist all efforts of the officials in this direction. They do not mean to, but the world has treated them bad ly, and they can not help it. Kind ness is winning them, though where, cruelty would never affect them. Punishment and abuse may stir and arouse a man so that he will tight with a desperation born of de spair, but more often he sinks into a state of mind, sullen, revengeful and heartless —a condition fatal to refor mation, aud dangerous to society. Method, discipline, authority, are fine things, aud will accomplish much, but with a prisoner you can not force his soul against itself. You must lead him up and out of himself; you cannot curse him into a better man. The supreme object of imprisonment should be to in spire the prisoner to do his best when more than his best is needed. The fight to extirpate the old sys tem is steadily going on, and will eventually succeed. The evils of the contract-labor system are al ready becoming know-n, and it w ill be blotted out of existence, and when that system has become a thing of the past, au immense step in all other features of jail ameliora tion will have been taken. The next step w-ill involve the entire principle of prison punishments as a determent of crime and a means of making better men of prisoners. The state w-ill then not take revenge upon the criminal, will not annihi late his self-respect or crush out whatever manhood he has in him. — Good Words. ‘Warden Hoyle, of the San Quentin, Cal., prison abolished the striped uniforms for prisoners on November 7tli. Hereafter only inmates in solitary confinement will wear striped suits, the other pris oners will be designated by black markings on their caps and sleeves. This was one of the Warden’s last official acts as he was about to re sign, The striped uniforms were burned in a large bonfire in the prison yard, while the band played and 2,000 prisoners looked on. We w’ould like to see Warden Wolfer follow Warden Hoyle’s lead.” —Ex. Warden Wolfer did that little trick so long ago friend that it is ancient history. Mayhaps the edi tor of the above had best visit this institution before asking for any more reforms. Stillwater, Minnesota December 11. 1913 BACK UP. PRISON JOURNALISM ON THE INCREASE Many New Publications Are Being Added to the List. Prison Journalism Covers a Field of Endeavor That is Necessarily Restricted. Concerning prison jjuruaiism Lend-A-Hand has the following pertinent and pointed observations: “Prison papers, like others, are supposed to be published for the benefit of humanity iu general and the prisoners iu particular, and to do justice to both is not always au easy matter. There are many things which, perforce, must be left unsaid, aud oftimes, through prejudice, the w-rong construction is placed on what is said. If we touch on poli tics our fingers are liable to become filthy from a growing evil. Should we praise the management of the prison for improvements they have made and humane treatment accord ed the inmates, the men inside call us ’suckers’ and those outside say we do it because we have to, neither one of which is correct. Our posi tion is one of trust, and w-e write and print for a cause few men can understand until they have been in our position. This is a community of its ow n. We have desirable and undesirable; intelligents and iguo rants; sane and insane; good citizens and bad; religious aud nou-religious; honest and dishonest; hypocrites and open countenance —just as you have in the town iu which you live. ’ln the penitentiaries of six states are published periodicals that are of great value in the fight for the under dog. Prisoners do not ask for maudlin sympathy or sentiment of the sloppy variety, and there is no class of people on earth who turn on that sort of rot quicker than a prisoner. Most of us realize that society must have some method of dealing with aud controlling its re fractory brother —some place to keep him within bounds —hence jails and penitentiaries. In the past, vindic tive punishment and inhuman treat ment has been meted out regardless of future effects in retaliation upon society. This was all wrong, and no one knew it better than the vic tim. It is the purpose of changing or correcting this erroneous method that prison papers are published, and in consequence thereof many changes have been and are being made that may be credited to the efforts of such periodicals as Lend- A-lland, of Oregon; Reflector, of North Dakota: Monitor, of Texas; Mirror, of Minnesota; News, of Ohio; and Good Words, of Georgia.” To the above list The Mirror would add the Bulletin, of Kansas; The Better Citizen, of New Jersey; and judging from the first copy cf Our Dope Book, of Washington, it w ill take a high stand for the better ment of humanity. The other prison publications are devoted to sto. ies, a rehash of the news of the day, local items, selec tions from other papers, and base ball. KANSAS GOING SOME. If there is a department in the prison which holds more than ordi nary interest for the inmates, it is the parole office, inasmuch as it is through this dtf artment that all ap plicants for must pass. The department is at present in charge of Mr. F. E. Snyder, parole officer, who succeeded Mr. John Hig gins in that capacity on July 1 of this year. Notes from the records of this office show tb-U since the inaugura tion of Governor Hodges 78 men have received governors’ paroles, besides this, there were 157 who re ceived paroles of the ordinary vari ety through the Board of Correc tions —a total of 235 in nine months. Of this number only three have violated their paroles. A glance at the previous records shows this to be the lowest percentage (less than one aud three-tenths per cent.) of violations in many years —all of which goes to prove the efficiency am] practability of treating kindly aud humanely the men who are so unfortunate as to be incarcerated in a place of this kind. ' Trusting a man, even an impris oned man, makes him trustworthy in most cases. Indeed, the very kindness shown to men here has a strong tendency to make them realize the debt of honor which they owe to those who trust them to make good” when the opportunity is given them to do so; and by far the most of them fultill the obliga tion. This is in sharp contrast to the attitude of prisoners w’ho have gone out from here (in times now’ long past, we are thankful to say;) —thoroughly broken in spirit and unfit to make their way in the world, or else so embittered by harsh and cruel treatment as to be like Ishmael of old-tlieir hand against every man’s and every man’s hand against theirs, and tenfold more a menace to society thau before they entered prison. Since Mr. Snyder took charge of the parole office, he has recommend ed the final discharge of sixty pris oners, who have been on parole for a year or more and have made good during that time; and these have all been restored to full citizenship — Bulletin. If Representative Evans of Mon tana shall persist in his attack in the house upon the Delaware whip ping post as a punishment for her prisoners he may force the Dia mond state to abolish that relic of a bygone age and civilization, says the Philadelphia Ledger. Mr. Evans offered a resolution directing Attorney General Mcßeynolds to enjoin the authorities of the com monwealth from lashing her cul prits on the bare back with a knout on the ground that the whipping post violates the prohibition in the federal constitution against “cruel and unusual punishments.” Several hundred years ago Hog ging w’as not unusual aud was not deemed cruel; in earlier days the use of the thumbscrew and rack and of the wheel were not unusual and there was a time when the un tamed instincts of the world toler ated the drawing aud quartering of felons and traitors, but the w’orld has moved along; the cat-o’- nine-lails has had its day, physical suffering aud cruelty are not ac cepted means of correction or pun ishment, yet Delaware clings tena ciously to the ancient practice. It does not re-abolish its anachronis tic device. It does not reform prisoners, it degrades them. It does not uplift the community, it shames and brutalizes it. The w hipping post is a relic of barbar ism more adapted to the civilization of Russia than to that of the United States. —New’s Tribune. I care not a shuck for a man’s nationality, his politics or his re ligion; they are all the same to me; but the man who is “on the square” is the man I want to take by the hand, and go through life with as my friend. Nor can we stop with individual or corporation. Empires and are today as never be fore on the basis of the square deal. Our nation is influenced by the action of another nation, which have their effect on every citizen. A square-dealing nation makes a square-dealing citizen; a square dealing jobber tends to make a square-dealing retailer, and in turn the influence of the square-dealing retailer produces an effect upon the lives of every patron with whom he comes in contact. We cannot too keenly realize the effect and impor tance of a square deal. —Industrial Enterprise. THAT WHIPPING POST THE MAN WHO IS ON THE SQUARE. UtMMESOT \ ■ IQRJQI * Edited and Published Weekly by Inmates of the Minnesota State Prison TERMS: —$1.00 a Year ANOTHER JOINS THE HANKS The Kansas Bulletin Joins The Mirror in its Fight on Antequated Names, Al though it Goes Us One Better and Wants to Eliminate Penitentiary. There are two words in the Eug lish language that ought to become obsolete at once. They are: “Pen itentiary” and “convict.” No man or woman coming to a penitentiary and then going out under the dread ful appellation “ex-convict” can do so without undergoing a serious handicap. A paroled prisoner said to the writer not long since, “I have borne the name ‘ex-oonvict,’ now for four teen years, and am getting so that I cau hardly bear the word. To have the finger pointed at me, and hear some oue say, ’he is an ex convict,’ is more thau I cau bear.” When will the human family rise above the plane of a chicken? i r ou cut a chicken’s head off and throw it in the yard among other chickens and see what will happen. Every oue that cau possibly get around the poor unfortunate one to pick at it, will do so. They will keep up this savage procedure as long as there is life, and then when their fel low is really dead they try to eat him. We do little better with our fel lows. Get him down once, then all jump ou him. “He is just an ex convict, aud I would not trust him,” is the common way of putting it. How unjust such an attitude is, and how unkind to our unfortunate brother. So long as he does wrong and is not caught we will associate with him freely, but let. him get in the penitentiary once, and we are through with him. The sin then, seems to l>e getting caught. No matter what you do, so long as you keep out of the clutches of the law. This is all wrong. The man who goes to prison and pays the debt he owes society, is entitled to a trial at least. He should not be referred to as an “ex- convict,” and as “from the penitentiary.” POLICE WOMEN FOR PITTSttWG Recent investigations by mem bers of woman’s civic society have prompted John H. Daily to have prepared a section for the forth coming city budget in which he asks an appropriation for police women. He proposes that they, shall be on duty in the downtown districts to look after young men and women frequenters of cafes and night restaurants. The num ber of women guardians will be de termined by the amount of the ap propriation. The movement is said to have the indorsement of a majority of the nine city councilmen. —Duluth News-Tribune. LOSING JOHNSON BY A WHISKER. When John W. Carberry, the star writer of the Boston Globe, was in Idaho covering an important special assignment, somebody took him to see a baseball game. That night he wired Tim Murnane part owner of the Boston Red Sox this message; “Have found the greatest pitcher known to history. Saw him work this afternoon. You’d better get him. His name is Walter Johnson.” Tim showed the telegram to a lot of fellows in the Globe offices, and all of them nearly laughed them selves to death. “Poor old John Carberry,” they said between their gusts of hysteri cal mirth. “He couldn’t tell a curve pitcher from a tub of pretzels.” Then they sent him a whole lot of very funny, exceedingly scarcastic telegrams. One month later, Walter Johnson made his debut in Washington, hav ing been purchased for fifty dollars.