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The American Jail

Condensed from The Atlantic Monthly Joseph E. Fishman

HIS paper deals mainly with jails,

Tbecause every person charged

with crime goes to jail before he is sent to a penitentiary or other institution. The jail is, so to speak, the preparatory school of crime. At present it is the initial breeding-place of corruption.

During the past 16 years I have visited 1,500 jails in the United States -many of them over and over again. If the facts were known, in most instances a judge's sentence actually reads: "I not only sentence you to confinement in a bare, narrow cell in a gloomy building, during which time you will be deprived of all human liberties and privileges, but in addition, I sentence you to a putrid mire, demoralizing to body, mind, and soul, where every rule of civilization is violated, where you are given every opportunity to deteriorate, but none to improve, and where your tendency to wrong-doing cannot be corrected, but only aggravated."

The cells of the Albany, New York, Jail are without light, natural or artificial, with only a two-foot space for the prisoner to move in. They contain buckets for toilet purposes, not always emptied daily. Each Saturday, at noon, the prisoners are locked in their cells, where they remain until Monday. Each week a prisoner spends 103 hours in this fashion, when he can do no reading and engage in no occupation whatever. The odor throughout the entire jail is nauseating; the bedding dirty beyond belief. As vermin are everywhere, the deputy cautioned me not to brush against walls or pipes. How does an inmate spend the remaining 65 hours in the week when he is not locked in his cell? There is work enough for only half the men; the remainder

spend their days in a large room, sitting in utter and complete idleness, or, if they desire, play cards and listen to stories of crime. There are no books or magazines for these prisoners. They get no fresh air, no exercise, no recreation.


In the great majority of jails throughout the United States, no effort whatever is made to separate the sick from the well. A very large percentage of prisoners suffer from venereal disease, often in an infectious stage. They drink from drinking cups; sleep on unwashed bedding used, possibly, by a hundred other prisoners, both sick and well; have common toilet facilities; and are crowded into the closest possible contact. A considerable percentage of those in jail suffer with tuberculosis.

I found 31 Federal prisoners in the Wichita, Kansas, jail, crowded into a room designed to hold 12. The jail was inadequately heated, and the prisoners suffered frightfully when the weather was cold. The bedding was never washed. Some of the blankets were so black that it was impossible to tell what their original color had been. The place swarmed with rats of the large sewer variety, which ran across the prisoners' faces as they slept and generally tormented them almost beyond endurance. The floor was littered with filth, and from it arose a nauseating stench.

The jails of Pennsylvania, while perhaps a little better on the average than in many states, are far from being suitable for habitation by human beings. Nearly all have little if any work for the prisoners. The fee system of compensating jailers still exists in many counties. Instead of being paid a salary, the jailer is given a certain sum a day to feed the pris

oners, retaining such portion of the allowance as is not paid out in food for prisoners. A more vicious system it would be impossible to conceive. Many other states have this same system-Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Rhode Island, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Tennessee, Arkansas, Ohio, Indiana, and Florida. I know of some places in the country where jailers have made as much as fifteen and twenty thousand dollars a year from the feeding of prisoners—or the non-feeding of them.

There are 115 county jails in Missouri, and of these at least 100 reek with odors that result from having almost no plumbing, or leaky plumbing. Almost without exception, they are unspeakably dirty and unsanitary, swarming with vermin, frightfully overcrowded, and generally so atrocious that it is hard to believe that they are meant to house human beings.

The climax of criminal indifference is reached in Indiana's care of insane persons who become state charges. Under the Indiana law insane persons must first be committed to the county jails, until the necessary steps can be taken for commitment to a hospital. The State Board of Charities declares:


The necessary commitment to hospital is often a slow and tedious process, and all the time the patient's chances of ultimate recovery lessen. Usually there are from 50 to 70 insane persons in the county jails at a time. The whole number admitted averages 935 annually. Seven insane men were found in the Madison County Jail. Several of them had been there for many months, and one for two years. These men were confined without supervision or special care. There was no provision for locking up any who became violent.

Idleness is still the prevailing condition in the great majority of jails throughout the country. The Cook County Jail at Chicago is a striking

illustration. During the day the prisoners are turned out in the corridors. One look at these corridors will bring home to you with great force just what the idleness in our jails means. With the exception of a few who work in the kitchen and around the jail, no prisoner does any work. At a conservative estimate, the value of the labor here wasted is, perhaps, between a half million and a million dollars a year. But economic loss through the mental, moral, and physical stagnation of the prisoners cannot be counted in dollars. It is incalculable. To see hundreds of able-bodied men lolling around, doing nothing except exchanging stimulating tales of criminal adventures and becoming more proficient in crime, is enough to make one despair of any solution of the criminal problem while idleness continues.

With few exceptions, girls of twelve and fourteen years of age are confined in the same room with abandoned prostitutes, and with older women who have fallen into degradation. Some of the younger girls are by no means hardened; many of them would be easily amenable to suggestion and discipline. Their minds are still in a formative state, and they listen, of course, to stories of crimes, and emerge mentally polluted and beyond redemption, firmly convinced that everyone is "crooked."

All that has been said may be said with slight variations concerning the jails in the great majority of the states in the Union. As they stand at present, the jails in the United States are melting-pots. Into them are thrown helter-skelter the old, the young, the guilty, the innocent, the diseased, and the healthy, there to be mixed with the further ingredients of filth, cold, stagnant air, and bad plumbing, and all brought to a boil by the fires of complete idleness. Only the strongest material can resist the fusion. Atl. M., D. '22.

(To be continued)


A Christmas Message

Condensed from Harper's Magazine
Edward S. Martin, Editor

S Christmas comes again there is a prospect that it will bring to our troubled world some better news than it has had of late. One thing that makes it look so is the disturbance in the minds of the organized churches in the United States at the massacres, burnings, and deportations that have attended the Turkish advance. The church people in this country, with something like general accord, have remonstrated at the failure of our government to take effective measures in deprecation of these doings. The State Department and the White House were flooded with remonstrances. Why aren't you doing something? the church people asked Secretary Hughes, and his answer was that the only way to do more was to get more power from Congress. That brought home to many minds afresh and with energy the drawbacks of the policy of isolation from the affairs of Europe. The whole Turkish uprising is a consequence of the absence of the United States from the counsels of Europe. Over and over again we have been assured that the recovery of Europe would certainly be long deferred if the United States did not help about it. Month after month we have seen that assurance coming true. Suddenly came these Turkish massacres, and the American churches seem to wake up and want something done.

Another important group the bankers want something done. The most important message of their recent great meeting in New York was that we must bear our share of the troubles of Europe and help to cure them. This is good news. If enough Americans realize that this country must do something, something will be done. There are people who have thought that Europe and Asia were

no concern of ours. But we are not justified in taking any such course. In so far as we have the power to help and do not use it, we may expect our own system to be poisoned. It is by helping others that we best help ourselves. That is true in business, in banking and in all the work of the church. It is even true in politics, which is nothing more than the governmental end of all these other activities.

Listen to the closing words of the speech of Mr. Thomas Lamont to the bankers in New York:

Do not forget that as the nations of Europe face great dangers, America too is facing a crisis, though of a different order. We have gained great power. With the power goes weighty responsibility. Since the armistice have we discharged that responsibility? We have shouted advice to the nations of Europe. But we have been timid and fearful of petty entanglements. Now we have, it would seem, come to the parting of the ways. Shall we give our mind, our understanding and our sympathy to these problems or shall we stand aside and add to our national stock of gold? Nineteen hundred years ago it was that St. Paul said: "For unto whomsoever much is given of him shall much be required." And a little before there was One who said: "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." What shall we measure for ourselves? Shall it not once more be the courage that is America's tradition? Shall it not be the generosity as well as the justice that, among all the nations of the earth, will in truth and name make America first?

No sounder message than that to the American people can come from anyone. If we believe in peace on earth, we must also believe in good will to men. There is plenty of it in this country, the problem is to get it moving and give it wise direction. The great errand of the United States to help the nations of Western Europe to harmony; to help them to put aside national contentions and

work together to save the civilization of Europe. We can help them by entering their counsels that concern the management of the world.

This seems to mean that in some way or other we should get into the League of Nations, the organization that in these days is the sanest and most useful council that Europe affords. It has been proposed lately that we might enter it as we entered the war, not as an ally but as an associate. We bargained for nothing, we demanded nothing. If we went

into the League of Nations on the same basis, we might be useful there again. But somehow we must be quit of isolation. Almost every thoughtful person who has been in Europe this summer has come home with the feeling that it belongs to us to have a hand in what is going on there and that we shirk a duty by keeping out. Congressmen who have been abroad have returned impressed with this sentiment, which they did not have when they started.

The great thing the world needs, as always, but preeminently this year, is religion: the understanding and application of the great Christmas message. All the great problems before it are full of thorny possibilities. The temper in which they are approached is everything, and that temper depends upon the ideas about human life, its purpose and conditions, that are in the minds of the men who confer. The materialiststhe people who believe that men can live by bread alone, and that more material accessories is the great aim of human effort-will never bring peace to the world. The great

achievement, in so far as it is ever accomplished, will be the work of a different order of minds, of the minds that put spiritual things-righteousness, courage, justice, kindness, love ---above all the material things, and believe that if they can attain and possess the spiritual valuables, the other necessaries will be added to them. The great thing that is going on in the world now is the demonstration that that idea of life that puts spiritual things before material things is sound; that not only good morals depend upon it, but good business and the welfare of states and people. There is an old saw, "Be good and you will be happy," but what all the world is finding out now is that it cannot be happy unless it is good, and that it cannot make up for lack of goodness by any kind of advantage it may procure by strength or wiles.

And goodness implies, not merely correct deportment, not merely observance of the law and impeccable morals, but good will and helpfulness and the courage to take responsibilities that belong to one. The neutral kind of good will, which merely lets things alone, is not enough in these days. What is needed, and what at this season and this year the circumstances of all the world demand from the United States, is that more positive good will that sees a need, that assumes a duty, and helps for the sake of helping, without too keen an eye for immediate profits or loss, but with the conviction that true prosperity for any nation can only come out of service to its neighbors. Harp. M., D., '22.

"If I had a private secretary who knew what my reading tastes were, he could not assemble for me a more up to date and interesting list of subjects than you have in the Digest. Thru my recommendation several people have subscribed for your wonderful little magazine."-H. B. M., Minneapolis, Minn.


Psychology in a Modern Hospital

Condensed from The New York Times

Russell B. Porter

Contentment of mind · first requisite to recovery.

2. Absence of sounds, sights, smells.

3. Operations made less terrifying.

4. For all classes and creeds. 5. The hospital of the future.

THE new Fifth Avenue Hospital in

for its psychological reaction upon New York is planned especially the patient. It is situated opposite Central Park, and it is a great white structure that one might readily imagine as millionaire's country club, or anything magnificent and comfortable, anything but the usual dingy, smelly, unattractive hospital.


The patient finds an interior in harmony with the exterior. He enters a high-ceilinged, circular rotunda, with an air of spaciousness and comfort that reminds one of the lobby of a first-class hotel. It is decorated in soft tones, restful to the eye, and is further distinguished by an entire absence of hospital noises and smells, equally restful to the nerves. These features are in effect throughout the hospital. Unobtrusive ventilating devices take away odors, and acoustic machines and sound-proof walls make the building as near sound-proof as possible. The patient is protected from any suggestion of the misery or suffering that one associates with life in a hospital. If a patient is unable to walk he is admitted by a separate driveway at the rear of the hospital, and is taken upstairs by a special elevator. The absence of hospital sounds, sights, smells, on every floor, gives a patient confidence and comfort.

Except for the children's floor, where wards are desirable, every patient has a private room-a wardless hospital. Every room is an outside room, with a maximum of light and air. There are no inside rooms, no courts. In this respect, the hospital is the only one of its kind in the world. The X-like design is responsible for this.

2. The rooms themselves give almost all the space and comfort of rooms in a big hotel, and, like such rooms, they have been furnished with the idea of providing a home-like atmosphere. They are furnished with wooden bureaus, tables and chairs, painted in accordance with the general decorative scheme. The absence of the stereotyped white enamel furniture and white walls is a relief to the eye and soul. The beds are fitted with a mechanical device that enables the nurses to elevate the head and knees with a simple motion like cranking a Ford. If a patient wants something, he presses a button in his room, and a red light flashes on in the corridor, which remains "on" until a nurse comes inside the room and puts it out by pressing another button.


This hospital, with accommodations for 300 to 350 patients, and built at a cost of $3,500,000, has every scientific equipment for the best possible treatment of the patient. Many of the rooms have private bathrooms. have private lavatories and are equipped with everything that the patient needs. This insures prompt service, and makes it unnecessary for the nurses to go flying back and forth in the halls for extra equipment.

Automatic telephones and telautograph machines enable the nurses and doctors to summon others and order equipment without making a sound to

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