« AnteriorContinuar »
years thereafter the annual report of the superinten
Unwilling to proceed in this direction, or to condent of State prisons portrays the consequences as
tinue in the way which reminds us of the bronze they have been found in practical administration un horses of Berlin, cach arrested and thrown back by der such laws, and proven by the figures and facts the head, christened by the stolid wits of that capisubmitted, in the course of his official duty, to the
tal “Advance backwards," * Forwards retreat," Legislature. He says: “By the law of 1888 all the Legislature of 1895 sought to restore the law by prison industries were abolished. The result was the amendment above referred to, which, adopted necessary idleness and the evils which always at
in due course by concurrent resolution of the Sentend such a state among imprisoned men. Hence
ate and Assembly, now awaits the session of 1896 in 1889, a new prison system was established under and, as it is hoped, final submission to the people a Inw which nined to afford employment to the before January, 1897. It is a prudent and praiseprisoners, while it was framed to reduce the com
worthy measure to be supported by every wellpetition of the labor of the prisoners with free labor wisher to prison reform, because it is the only practo as low a point is possible. The results of the
tical means in the limited interval which remains business carried on under this law, since 1889, have before this part of the Constitution shall take effect. been consolidated, and the superintendent is grati-We could have wished, more signal return to the
beneficial results of the constitution of 1846 and the fied at the satisfactory report presented in the following tables." The approved system avoids all
law of 1889, and that in the course of that progress un reasonable and cruel punishments, but still is
of prison reform, which has been marked by stately hampered with restrictions to please that minority,
and confident steps for the last twenty years, the always most clamorous, who claim the support, and
power of the Legislature over prison labor had been speak in behalf of, manual labor. Contract work
left utrammeled, and that the constitutional office was prevented. In certain industries not more than
of the Superintendent of State Prisons, the same in 100 prisoners could be employed, and in
terms under both Constitutions, bad been enlarged more than five per centum of the free labor engaged in discretionary authority and proportionate respontherein. It is observable that this is further reduced sibility. Yet as by precedent we are bound to preby the estimate that three convicts do not do one free
sume the wisdom of constitution makers, and the man's work. In fact, not one per centum of com
amendment follows the method they themselves petition has been found by statistics.
have provided, we may assume this article with its tem, after five years of proof without cavil, scemed contradictory and meaningless clauses, if they be free from open attack. Nevertheless, coupled with
construed together, was left for deliberation, and the wise, but in such place unnecessary and
to be amended as indicated above. If of doubtful functory, exordium, that, “- the Legislature shall by purpose, the new article should not be permitted to law provide for the occupation and employment of
rule by omission or accident. It is not paradoxical
to say that the amendment is necessary to maintain prisoners sentenced to the several State prisons,
the law, but to leave the new Constitution without penitentiaries, jails and reformatories in
the State," the new Constitution adds a prohibition to
amendment is to change the organic law.
Organic law touches the rights of men, protected take effect after two years, and in the cautious lan
both by written and unwritten law, as Blackstone guage of the annual report, radically limits, after
in his commentaries says of latent powers of society the late nameil therein, the field for the employment of
"which no climate, no time, no constitution, no the prison population.” Prison reports, the world
contract can ever destroy or diminishı.” Such are over, show that this practically sweeps away safe
involved in prison reform. Moral and economic productive labor. The injunction, moreover, is fu
reasons bring to this side of the argument the intile and useless until we return, as in England, to
terests of the majority of citizens, while on the the treadmill. This and similar purely punitive
other side the cry of the prisoner, wearing the semlabor should be, if at all, under a law similar to that
blance and form of man, is not lost in the oubliette of England classifying the prisoners, and the classes of hard labor should be designated by legislative and hands to help him, if the law permits and if he
and dungeon of a past age. There are ears to hear enactment.
be one who can possibly be restored to usefulness 1893, p. 10. In Pennsylvania and Rhode Island and safety. We claim for him a right to labor so no power had been reserved by charter or Constitu- long as it is his right to live; and that in a rational tion for amendment, but such power was held to be way, to some reasonable end, to some relief of inherent in the people of the State. In the latter society is well as of himself.
It is as necessary to State the question arose under the charter granted
the development of sound life in a man, as air to by Charles II in 1663, but the Amended Constitu 101 N. Y. L. 1895, 1011. Assembly, April 24, tion was adopted in 1812.
1895. Senate, May 14, 1895.
Such a sys
breathe, and the elements of food. In idleness his grasp has seized them, and the stamp of its treatmind rots as does his body.
ment is made. Their baneful influence is to be exThe proper mode of punishment is a problem of cluded, if crime, which is a greater object than the State wherein the moral predominate over the eco criminal, is to be repressed. nomic questions. Yet the latter have a double Another example may serve.
Mark amid lovely bearing. Our State maintains three prisons at a scenery on our river's bank the site of a chemical cost of over half a million dollars, for which factory. Upon the foliage of adjacent hills in a under the new Constitution there would practi- | long and distinct line is seen the path of its poisoncally be, with the increased expense, no return.
ous gases swept away by the wind, destructive They were self-sustaining not long ago. What, of leaves, of twigs and growing vegetation. Withhowever, if it be a failure of another sort ? “The in its walls is wrought out a product, safely, beprison, say many writers, “is a manufactory
cause skillfully treated, needful to the arts, and of the phthisical, the insane and the criminal.” Un-profitable, yet vengeful enough when mishandled. doubtedly, without occupation for the prisoner such Thus we may picture the State prison as a factory, is its tendency. A forcible writer speaks thus of its materials men, its laboratories for some advanthe English systen of 1879 and his words are a
tageous use. warning even to our own day." Nothing could be
Our State Prison Report of 1891 maintains the more clumsy and inefficient, except for evil. Then position that for such physical, mental and moral there is the expense of the system, which does not well-being, as is attainable in prison, the continuous reform por get rid of the thief; in old days gaol employment at labor of the prisoners is necessary. fever did the latter when the halter failed; ours
It adds, “the economical question is not referred merely hoards him up for awhile to turn him loose
to at all. Continued employment of some descripon society more wolfish than ever. As we deal
tion is absolutely essential.” The reasons are many with the thief he is our most costly national lux
for this rule and no writer of importance, no enury.” In France and on the Continent the ruin of lightened prison management fails to insist upon convicted men and the chief cause of recedivism its adoption wherever possible in any way. Their has been found by the courts and the inspectors-gen-experience unites in the conclusions, warranted by eral of prisons in the prison and its regime.1?
the facts in our own State under the law of 1888, gaols of Ohio, with half a dozen exceptions, have
until it was repealed, that “Nothing can be more been called by an important committee of investi
cruel and inhuman than to keep prisoners in idlegation in that State, moral pest houses and schools
“indolence made obligatory by law is the of crime. Emile Gautier speaks of the prison as a
worst feature of the jails; without productive hot house for poisonous plants. Like reports come
labor there can be no reformation of criminals." from many countries and States, that prisons seem
Arrived again at our starting point, the first sento increase rather than diminish the number of
tence of the 29th section of the third article of the habitual criminals against whom society must ever
Constitution, we find it not abrogated by the probe on its guard, and for whom it so liberally pro- posed amendment, but it may be held to contain vides, that the prisons are preferred to work-houses.
the settled and deliberative judgment of our State. Proverbs and popular songs describe the folly of This proposal is, that “All prisoners sentenced to the any other opinion than this that, “ Ile who says the several state prisons, penitentiaries, jails and reformaprison punishes, he is deceived," and we recall the
tories of the State shall be kept occupied and employed judgment and saying of Lacassagne that “every | at labor.” Such is the language of the amendment society has the criminals it deserves.” This refers
now before the people. less to the origin, than to such parts of their lives as
“What shall be that labor ?” asks the Superinthe State is in a measure responsible for, after its
tendent of State Prisons in his report of 1894, and
the same question was heard from many a side at the 1 Sketches from Shady Places, Thor Fredur
meeting of the National Prison Association at St. (1879), 306–7.
Paul, 1894. No State in the Union has completely 12 Ellis Criminal, pp. 249, 253. Enquête Parli- answered it and yet in most the restrictions are fewer mentaire V, pp. 345, 381, 542. Dr. Strachan, West
than in our own. In England and on the Continent chester Rev., June, 1895, says the majority of re
the principle prevails in the words of the English cedivists are instinctive criminals and consequently act 13 - that the expense of maintaining in prisons are “incapable of keeping within the law while prisoners who have been convicted of crime should free agents. Their will power is weak or altogether in part be defrayed by their labor during the period absent and their instincts are strong. Being thus constituted they fall at the slightest temptation 13 Report of Commissioners of Prisons, 1894, pp. whatever the threatened punishment may be."
of their imprisonment." Yet success has not been of the body 9,000 feet per day, a merely animal fully attained, and the last report of the English function, but as the early report of Auburn prison Commissioners of Prisons ! shows that with the states, fifty convicts can be more easily governed greatest variety, fifty-nine employments in fifty- at work than ten in idleness, and one of the comseven prisons, besides those of the first class of harr
mittee to investigate its working, whose report labor, “consisting of work at the tread-wheel,
was published in 1828, finds its chief recommendashot-drill, crank-capstan, stonebreaking, or such tion
tion in the discipline; that the convicts sleep better other like description of hard labor as may be ap- after its use, and that they are less given to idle pointed,” etc., embarrassment occurs “in finding talk. Small attention was given to the herding of suitable industrial labor for prisoners who know no the prisoners in this work of gangs, or that with trade which can be carried on in prison, and whose the care of the prisoners, all individuality, all sentences are not long enough to admit of their ideals, all hope, all progress towards reformation being taught one." The warden of Michigan were ground away. prison reported that out of 850 convicts in one Labor is ennobled when we read that “Manual prison, 200 were not employed and with most half qualification is the strongest safeguard against time, and work on alternate days had to be pursued. crime, and one of the most potent influences in the Superintendent Scott, of Massachusetts, in his able reformation of the criminal;” when we think of it address last year at St. Paul, had this to say that as an educator, as well as preventive of evil habits “if prison discipline is simply to be maintained, and evil thoughts, and men taught, as they feel many forms of unproductive labor could be intro- | their powers grow, to rise in the plane of human duced, and the crank and tread-mill would be pre- activity, and become independent beings, with some ferable to idleness, and the question might be solved information of responsibility. But labor is debased, through unproductive labor." The opinion that even to the eye of a convict, in the tread-mill, and " this can be accomplished by the introduction of certainly it is to all its apostles who guard free instructive labor at the sacrifice of remuneration, labor so jealously, when in this age of the triumphs and at a somewhat additional increased expense” is of intelligence and genius, when steam and elecgiven, but he adds: “ Probably since industries tricity multiply as we will all brute power, we rewere first started in prisons they were never in duce labor to a mere feeble animal process, to a sergreater peril than now owing to existing legislation vice not equal to that of a dog or a mule. in New York and Ohio and pending legislation in
The opposite and pleasant extreme we see in the Massachusetts and Kentucky.”
State prison of Japan, where prisoners who are It is, alas, a true bill of indictment, and unless worthy are engaged in works of art, in: cloisonné relief comes, the judgment will be, that we return to work, in wood carving, pottery, fan, umbrella and the tread-mill. We go back to September 23, 1822, basket making, and descend through their grades for the first operation of this instrument in the New of capacity to stone breaking as the last, to which York penitentiary, and its titles in the literature of only thirty out of two thousand convicts are left. 15 the day, and also in the argot of criminals, sound The usefulness of interesting labor was exhibited, strange to us now; in thieves' slang, “The ever
and it pathetic picture was drawn, when the warden lasting stairs,” “ The wheel of life," "The care of Clinton prison reported in 1891, that “the grinder," officially known as - The Stepping or moroseness and sullenness of idle men when the Discipline Mill” or Tread-mill, in England Treadshirt industry was suspended required tact and wheel, with its substitute for use in the cells, the patience to avert unpleasant consequences." crank. The London Society for the Improvement of Prison Discipline seems to have published the 1828 are interesting. Messrs. Isaac Collins, Stephen first description and recommendation of it that we Grollet and Thomas Eddy, of the Society of had in our State, but it was earlier used in Hart- Friends, were most instrumental in securing the ford, and speedily sought for in Ibany and Mary- | necessary attention in 1822 to the disciplinary adland. It was worked either by men or women in vantages of the tread-mill and furnished illustragroups of from thirty to fifty on a wheel, and as in tions, some of which are published with the report England now, it did service then as power to grind of the mayor, October 28, 1822. The commissioners corn or pump water for prison use. The daily task of prisons, England, instituted medical inquiries in is recommended in the last report of the English | 1893 upon the requisite amount of labor, and their commission* to be equivalent to raising the weight conclusions are given with some detail in their re
port of 1894. They have discontinued the shot
p. * The reports on the Stepping or Discipline Vill Tokyo letter of II. Norman to Pall Mall Gazette, published by the common council of New York in | Oct. 18, 1888. Ellis, p. 273, note.
With one further reflection on the State's responsi- | be called to account for theft. But although they bility to the young we shall leave this subject. Boys be not chargeable in an action on theft, they must from ten to eighteen years of age fill the resormatories be liable in an action to produce, if they be in of the different States; in one prison of California four possession or have fraudulently brought it about hundred prisoners were under twenty-five years of that they be not in possession; and so after the age; of the entire prison population of our State last production of the article, they will be liable in a year over fifty per cent were less than twenty-seven vindication («). A condiction likewise lies against years of age. In England by the last report fifty
them. It is equally conceded that an heir may sac five per cent of youthful criminals had been provi
in an action on theft; for the prosecution of certain ously convicted from once to eight or ten times; wrongs is given to heirs; so, too, the heir has the and it is supposed the same ratio woull prevail
action of the Aquilian law (b). But the action on here. Survey from what quarter you will the field
outrages does not belong to the heir. It is held of crime, you find the roots and the blossom and
not only as to that on theft, but also as to the other the flower of poisonous plants overspreading it, and actions, whether civil or honorary, which arise from to an alarming extent. It is the devil's harvest
wrongs, that the mischief follows the person. that is constantly gathered in. In 1850 the crimi.
ULPLAN. Several wrongs concurring never bring nal was one in 3,442 of population, in 1860 one in
it about that impunity is given to one; for one 1,647, in 1870 one in 1,171, in 1890 one in 83.5, wrong does not diminish the penalty of another in 1890 one in 757. Even from the Utilitarian
wrong. One, therefore, who has stolen and killed
a man is liable in the action on theft because he has point of view, society is to be protected by the law, and its burdens grow less if one out of 1,000 con
stolen; in the Aquiliau because he has killed; and
neither one of these actions extinguishes the other. victs can be turned from habits of crime. We
The same is to be said if he has robbed and killed; know that with the best. prison methods of this decade in many countries the ratio of reclam:tions and in the Aquilian. It hus been queried whether
for he will be liable both in the action for robbery has been encouraging, and in many instances has
if a condition have been brought on account of the been large. At all events such humanizing en
theft, an :iction can be brought nevertheless by deavors are in the right direction. Any correct
virtue of the Aquilian law? And Pomponius has rule for prison labor will be for something more
written that the action could be brought because than discipline, and for the prevention of the
the action under the Aquilian law is for one valussources and causes of crime.
tion, the condiction on account of theft for another; The inscription of Pope Clement XI teaches the
for the Aquilian takes valuation for the highest at correct lesson: It is of little use to restrain crim
which it was during the year, but the condiction on inals by punishment unless you reforin them by account of theft does not go back of the time of cducation," and I would add, teach them of honest
joining issue. But if it be a slave who has comand ennobling labor. *
mitted these, in whatever action he has been sur
W. P. PRENTICE. rendered for amends, the other action is barred. In New York, September 3, 1895.
like manner, if one have beaten a stolen (slave) with a stick, he is liable in the two actions, on theft
and on outrages; and forsooth if by chance he have SELECTED TITLES FROM THE DIGEST.
killed this same person, he will be chargeable in Translated by Charles F. MacLean, Lecturer on Criminal Law three actions, In like manner, if one have stolen
in the University of New York,
(re) $ 15 I. de actionibus (IV. 6): We term actions
in rem vindications; actions in personam, in which LPIAN. It is a principle of the civil law that
it is contended that (some one) ought to convey or other successors as little; accordingly they cannot
to perform, condictions. Condicere, in ancient lan
guage, is to give notice; now, however, we call the *In France the tide of criminality has risen sev action in personam whereby the moving party cral hundred per cent; so also in Germany for claims (something] ought to be conveyed to himmany serious crimes, and in Italy and Belgium, in self by misuse, a condiction; for nowadays no fact over the civilized world, it is the same appalling notice is given in that name. story. During this century in Spain the sentences (b) L. 1. D. a legem Aquiliam (IX. 3). The to perpetual imprisonment nearly doubled be- Aquilian law annulled all laws which prior to it retween 1970 and 1883, and however the statistics lated to unlawful injury, those of the XII. tables as are analyzed the increase in crime seems real. “ The well as others, $ 1. The Aquilian law is a plebisCriminal” Havelock Ellis, Nat. Prison A. Rep. 1994, citum, in that Aquilius, tribune of the people, ob
tained for it the approval of the populace.
and abused another's female slave, he will be Had the prosecution in the Vosburgh case been able chargeable in each of two actions; for the action to produce the evidence they obtained just after the for damaging a slave may be brought against him case was closed, of his having purloined the tartar as well as that on theft. Likewise, if one have emetic from the store of a druggist friend, and with wounded a slave whom he has stolen, there will be whom he had had dlesultory talks on the subject of poioccasion similarly for two actions — that of the sons, the defendant never would have sworn that Aquilian law and that on theft.
“I have never had tartar emetic in my hands, until ULPIAN. When one wishes to prosecute an ac
I passed a powiler of it over the table in this court
room." tion which arises from wrongdoing, he will be re
Though acquitted by the jury, the drugmitted to the ordinary procedure if he wishes to vist's (lisclosure brought from the public so strong sue for pecuniary damages, and he will not be com
and general a verdict of guilty, that the pastor pelled to subscribe a criminal accusation; but if he speedily departed for regions where his true char
acter was unknown. wishes to have punishment of the affair prosecuted extraordinarily, he will needs subscribe a criminal Meyer was one of a party of rascals leagued toaccusation.
gether to defraud life insurance companies, and one of his pals turned State's evidence and declared that
Meyer had shown him a paper in which was “brechCHRONIC ANTIMONIAL POISONING.
weinstein ” (tartar emetic), and that he had wit
nessed the use thereof on the food given the poor Two CASES WICII FIGURED IN THE COURTS COM
deceived wretch who was party to the plot, but lost PARED BY PROF. DOREMUS.
his life through the treachery of those he thought [Abstract from paper read before the Medico-Legal Con his friends. gress iu New York city. ]
It is of paramount importance, in prosecuting a T would be difficult to find in the annals of case of alleged homicide by poison, to prove the
medico-legal literature two cases more worthy purchase or possession of the poison. The cause of of detailed study than those to which your atten the people against Vosburgh met one of its greatest tion is called for a few minutes this morning. obstacles in not being able to prove the former at
They present in some respects such marked con the time of the trial. Every effort was made through trasts and in others such confirmations that they detectives and the evidence of druggists who had form for the jurist, the toxicologist, and the phy- sold tartar emetic, both in Jersey City and New sician a rare opportunity of judging of the methods York, to secure this important evidence. of conducting criminal causes, of the limitations of
Most of the druggists questioned had not sold any expert medical testimony, of our knowledge or our
antimonial preparations, even the one to whom lack of it regarding the effects of certain poisons,
Vosburgh went, and he never dreamed that his and the value and necessity of chemical research on occasions where it would apparently be valueless.
store of tartar emetic had been depleted until,
by some inexplicable impulse, he was led to look at The very titles of the cases arrest our attention at
the bottle on his shelf, when the whole question of first glance. * The People Against the Rev. George where Vosburgh got his supply became clear. About B. Vosburgh,' The People Against Henry Veger,
an ounce of tartar emetic was missing from the alias William Reuter, alias Ilenry Meyers, alias
bottle, Hugo Mayer, jointly indicted with Maria Meyer, alias Emilie Bauer, alias Maria Meyers.”
The defense in the Vosburgh case was conducted
along remarkable lines. They made no opening. The records of antimonial poisoning, except in a
They put the defendant on the witness stand, but few accidental cases, show that it has been resorted
not the wife. Nor did the wife appear for the to by persons in the better walks of life and possess
people. Poor, frail, delicate and over-wrought ing more than the average intelligence. These cases follow the rule. The reverend gentleman who
creature, she wavered between substantiating the was brought to the bar, was not so unfamiliar with averments of her family in accusing her husband
and her affection for him, with perhaps an added toxic agents as would appear from his testimony, as was shown, unfortunately, subsequent to his acquit, which might be brought to light under cross-exami
fear of disclosures concerning their married life, tal. Meyer was possessed of considerable medical knowledge, though his practice was irregular — he
nation by the defense. During the trial she ran was known as Dr. Meyer. Vosburgh, from his call-away, fearing she might be compelled to take the ing, could not have bought or kept poison about witness stand. him without exciting suspicion; Meyer, on the While the defense did not deny that antimony other hand, was entitled to have and use poisons. had been discorered by chemical tests in medicine,