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consisted at first of three gentlemen and two lady visitors. In 1887 Governor Williams approved an act of the Legislature by which the general supervision and government were vested in a board of women managers. This was, at that time, and we believe still is, the only governmental prison known, either in the United States or in Europe, under the entire management of women.
The safe transfer of the women prisoners, seventeen in number, under the charge of warden, chaplain, and matron of the Jeffersonville prison, was considered a great event, “as two were dangerous and others below hope.” The present Superintendent says: “We have no weapons of defense, not a gun or pistol about the premises. Kind words and gentleness of manner are almost sure to win. We have eleven lady officers, women of refinement and Christian character, lending every thought to the uplifting of their sex. The financial showing in the seventeenth annual report reflects great credit upon the management, while the large percentage claimed as “permanently reformed," attests to the thoroughness of work and wisdom of methods.
In 1870 a number of influential ladies of Eastern Massachusetts-among whom was Mrs. E. C. Johnson, the present Superintendent of the reformatory—petitioned the Legislature for a separate institution for the reformation of female prisoners, but it was not until the fall of 1874 that ground was broken at Sherborn for the erection of the buildings. In September, 1877, these were occupied, and the work has been eminently successful from the start. The system of grading adopted in 1881 has proved very satisfactory, and over two hundred and thirty inmates, ranging from fifteen to seventy-five years of age, find in it an incentive to order and decorum. The aim is to prepare them, if found trustworthy, to do good work as servants, and this is so far a success that the demand is greater than the supply.
No one familiar with the old régime in connection with women prisoners but would hail with thankfulness the improvements shown under the present administration. Said an English critic .after a visit : “I remarked, “These people are almost of a hopeless type '; the reply came quickly, ‘Hopeless is not a permitted word here, we hope for all.' I came away glad to have seen such an experiment, hopeful for its success, and confident that women had undertaken for women a beneficent work.”
Women in other States are agitating the question of separate prisons for women, and in several feel assured of success in the near future,
In 1887 at Hudson, N. Y., The House of Refuge for Women was opened, and an efficient lady superintendent placed in charge. The results reached, even at this short period, have been encouraging in the highest degree, and emphasize the wisdom of the arrangements, which are largely due to the persistent efforts of women in philanthropic circles. We quote from report of “Standing Committee on Reformatories,” of which Josephine Shaw Lowell is a member : “To any who have visited even once one of the county jails in this State, and know the condition of young women in them, kept in idleness, in the midst of degraded companions, under the charge of male keepers, frequently not out of sound, sometimes not out of sight of the male prisoners, nothing can be more affecting than to see the young women in the House of Refuge, neatly dressed, always occupied, and constantly under the care of refined and conscientious women.”
WOMEN ON STATE BOARDS. In New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Wisconsin there are women on the State Board of Charities.* In Pennsylvania, the board appoints women visitors to public institutions, and in Rhode Island the Governor appoints a board of women visitors to all institutions caring for women and girls. Massachusetts stands alone in the honor of having women on “ Boards of Commissioners of Prisons." This was inaugurated in 1880, and their gracious womanly influence is felt in all the institutions of the State.
In some other States women are coming to be recognized factors in these lines of work, and are cordially invited to fill places of trust. The Journal of Prison Discipline and Philanthropy, published by the Pennsylvania Prison Association, in its issue of 1886 says : “This society has profited largely by the recent admission of competent women into the acting committee. Their suggestions have proved of marked advantage, and with the time, intelligence, and high moral force they have given to the work, both in and out of the prison, there has been a gain which promises incalculable good.”
DEPARTMENT OF PRISON, JAIL, AND POLICE WORK OF THE
NATIONAL WOMAN'S CHRISTIAN TEMPERANCE UNION. This department is in the eleventh year of organized work, which, under the same Superintendent, Mrs. S. H. Barney, of
* See chapter on Charity.—ED.
Providence, has steadily increased until now her parish is the entire country. The plan of national, State, and local superintendents insures system and supervision all along the lines, and brings out annually the general summary of work attempted and work accomplished.
In the spirit of the department's motto, “ Not willing that any should perish," the investigations have extended to State prisons, penitentiaries, convict camps, city prisons and jails, houses of correction or refuge, police stations and lock-ups, and reformatories for adults and juveniles.
In many of these places were found a brutality and neglect of the common decencies of life which were disgraceful beyond description. Criminals of all grades herded together irrespective of age, sex, or degrees in vice. Youths of both sexes confined with those hardened in crime, while awaiting trial, became schooled in vice. Thousands, who for some first and trivial offense were lodged in the calaboose or the county jail, exposed to the contaminating influences of indiscriminate companionship, became hardened, and lost all self-respect as they yielded, day by day, to this mind-poisoning, moral miasma.
The first visits of the women to many of these places, where they went unheralded, were unwelcome, and they were some. times repulsed by officials with, “We don't 'low any women round here ; leastwise, only them that's sentenced." Entrance at last secured, it would have been a picture worthy of some master hand when these women stepped, pale-faced but bravehearted, into those miserable, crowded corridors. The lewd and profane conversation was hushed, but it could be felt, as plainly as could be seen the vilest of obscene prints and the most dangerous kinds of literature.
Nothing was more disheartening than the condition of women in these places. Having become criminals, they were generally deemed hopeless, and, on being released, it was expected they would drift back again after a longer or shorter period.
The call to the work gained emphasis as it was realized how little this age of boasted civilization and philanthropy had done for unfortunate and degraded women. Arrested by men, given into the hands of men to be searched and cared for, tried by men, sentenced by men, and committed to our various institutions for months and even years, where only men officials had access to them, and where, in sickness or direst need, no womanly help or visitation was expected or allowed.
In one of the New York cities, in a jail, eleven women were found to be in the care of men, and the keys of “the women's quarters" in the hands of one of the male convicts. The women, with the intent of being ready for their release, which was near, had removed most of their clothing“ for the wash,” and were in a semi-nude condition.
A visitor to a county jail in Pennsylvania, writes : “ The scene that met our gaze when we entered the jail was indescribable. The prisoners—twenty-six men and two womenwere allowed to associate in the open space between the vestibule and the cells. In appearance, they might have been a gang of bandits in a cave. The men were in groups, playing cards on low boxes on the floor. The jail was deficient in ventilation, also in light and cleanliness."
In a New England jail two boys were found under fourteen years of age. The months which would elapse before their trial would be ample time to complete their crime education under the tutelage thus provided for them. Similar sights may be seen in many of the prisons and jails of our land, proving conclusively the need of womanly forethought in these matters, which from a merely economical standpoint need prompt attention. The better care of our juvenile offenders cannot be deferred without irreparable loss, for in a few years we shall have missed our chance to save them, so they will then be found in the ranks of confirmed criminals. Perhaps no work of the department will prove more fruitful in results than the effort to secure Matrons for the Police Stations. The movement began in 1877 and has been adopted in one or more cities in twenty States, while in Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania all cities over a given number of inhabitants are required by law to provide matrons to care for arrested women. We quote from an article furnished the International Review in 1888 by the present writer :
POLICE MATRONS. Shall we have police matrons ? seems no longer an open question. With the reform inaugurated in twenty cities, and under advisement in as many more, the idea may be said to be established. How wide is to be the influence of such an officer, and how effective her work, depend upon the place and the woman. “The place” should be central, with requisite accommodations for the comfort and convenience of the matron, in order that she may economize her time and strength. Official recognition of her work and its importance, with ready co-operation in various ways, will necessarily have much to do with its success ; and these have sometimes been won under very trying circumstances. Other points, more or less essential, will occur to those interested, for every conceivable objection and obstacle will be presented, emphasized, and duly magnified while the effort is being made to secure a place.
That secured, then comes the question, “ Where is the woman to fill it ?" There will be applicants enough, and for them “ friends at court ” to push their claims, but“ the right woman ” will have to be sought ; and it is better to wait for her, than to inaugurate the movement under too great disadvantages. A middle-aged woman, scrupulously clean in person and dress, with a face to commend her and manner to compel respect ; quiet, calm, observant, with faith in God, and hope for humanity ; a woman fertile in resources, patient and sympathetic. She could hardly be all this without possessing a generous endowment of “ good common sense,” and she cannot possibly do the work required unless that is sanctified. It will be seen at once that “the place” is indeed, in a very real sense, “missionary ground, and that “the woman ”must necessarily have these qualifications and spirit in order to fill it and meet the demands of the time. Competent and conscientious, the influence of such a woman, in such a position, can hardly be overestimated. Her duties, serious and responsible, but legitimate to the office, will naturally develop as she is given opportunity to work out the problem, “ What can be done for women in police stations ?” under methods de. manded by Christian civilization.
Of course, she will be “ on call," and every woman brought to the station will be committed at once into her care, and every duty connected with search, locking-up, and necessary attendance, will be performed by her. The cells for women (entirely separate from the men) will be in her charge, and she will be accountable for them and their occupants. Just what she will need to do in every case, no one could possibly outline. Said the chief of police in — : “I wish you to state definitely all the duties of a police woman.” For answer, I said : “ Will you first describe to me the duties of a policeman ?” “Impossible," was the reply ; “he must be ready for everything." Just so, within the limitations of her office, must the matron be ready for everything
Women brought to stations are not all drunk, or even bad. Girls or women suddenly set adrift; one who has lost her train and is penniless ; or who finds herself deserted; or who, by reason of sudden illness, fainting, or temporary aberration, cannot give her name and residence ; the partially insane;