« FöregåendeFortsätt »
This question has been agitated to such an extent in the State of New York that a constitutional amendment was submitted to the people abolishing the convict contract system, and the result of the vote was as follows:
For abolition... Against abolition.
138,916 The Commissioner of Labor, Hon. Charles F. Peck, has devoted his entire report to the investigation of this subject, and says, upon the threshold of his investigations, that “a subject of such great importance, and one so imperfectly understood, being pressed upon the attention of the legislature by persistent agitation, and finally by the solemn voice of the people, I have deemed it my duty to make a thorough and impartial investigation of the contract system prevailing in our penal institutions in its relation with the free industries of the State.” He then follows with certain established principles :
First. The object of the law in the punishment of crime by imprisonment is not to wreak vengeance for a wrong, but to protect society.
Second. In the enforcement of the penalty of the law, the reformation of the prisoner should be kept in view as of the first importance.
Third. The convict, when not physically disabled, should be kept employed at productive labor.
Fourth. The State has the right to use the labor of the convicts to make the prisons self-supporting, but the labor should be so utilized as to cause the least possible detriment to any industrial class.
Fifth. In the management of the prison and in utilizing the labor of the convicts, it is of less importance that the prisons be made a source of revenue than that the convicts should be reformed and the burden of their labor be distributed as widely and as equitably as possible.
Sixth. The State should have absolute control over the discipline of the prison and the employment of the convicts under all circumstances.
Seventh. The State has no right to permit the making of profits out of the labor of convicts at the expense of their reformation.
Then follows the statistics of the New York prisons from 1854 down to 1877, on “State account,” showing the expenses, earnings and de. ficiency of each year.
THE CONTRACT SYSTEM.
The advocates of the contract system maintain that over thirty years' experience in prison deficits has amply proven that system to be the only one which has been found success ul in making the prison selfsupporting. The records in the comptroller's office show the following exhibit of earnings and expenses of the State prisons since 1854:
FINANCIAL STATEMENT Of the Sing Sing, Auburn and Clinton State prisons, under the former
499, 127 22
480, 429 87
- 490,336 59
659,831 13 485,967 50 489,512 44
925, 665 14
436, 152 70
919, 178 78
492, 709 24
646, 492 (9
1,002, 913 11
379, 393 43
623, 619 68
946, 606 41
368, 978 51
971, 744 95
246, 664 31
725, (80 64
In the year 1879 under the provisions of an amendment to the Constitution this system was thrown aside, and General Pillsbury was appointed, “with power to institute such changes in the management of the prisons and in the mode of employment of the convicts, as would tend to make their labor more remunerative to the State," a rapid decrease took place in the deficiencies, as follows:
The advocates of the contract system rely upon the above official records to prove that from a financial standpoint the present system is infinitely preferable to the old “public account” system.
COMPLAINTS OF COMPETITION.
It is denied by contractors that they undersell their competitors in the market. They claim in connection with the charge of competition,
First. That many firms employing citizen labor systematically undersell the contractors.
Second. That the quantity of manufactures of all kinds produced in the prisons of this State, is too small to affect that made by its citizens.
Third. That prison labor has no material influence upon the prices paid for citizen labor.
Fourth. That as a rule, the small and weak manufacturers are the ones who cut prices, and the reason why they do it is, that their necessities are such that they have to sell their goods week by week, and month by month, in order to pay their bills, and the buyers, knowing their necessities, take advantage and force down their prices.
Fifth. That the complaints of competition are mainly confined to leaders of trades unions.
Mr. John 's. Perry, manufacturer of stoves and hollowware, who