The project of the Institute of Criminal Law of Harvard University printed elsewhere in the CRIMSON is an attempt to remedy an age old evil by a new method. The particular trouble in this case is the disappointingly and even dangerously low grade of the public service officials who administer penal and correctional institutions, departments of probation, parole boards and other public and private agencies dealing with delinquency and criminality. The significance of this lies in the aim to help the public agencies which every one thinks of in this connection. The recent scandal in the New York police force and the ill-success of the present officials in preventing crime are sufficient comment on the need of a change.
Were such a training as this required for all those who occupy the offices mentioned above, there would be little question that some benefit would arise. The success of the professionalization of the diplomatic force during the past ten years bears witness of the fact that this is far from an exaggerated statement. Such a step in the field which the Institute hopes to help would raise the prestige of the offices and remove their present political nature. The result would unquestionably be more able and better trained men in charge of the important and fundamental departments which have to do with crime prevention.
But as there is now no such requirement the success of the proposal is more doubtful but none the less possible. The superiority which men who have had this training will show over the beneficiaries of the spoils system or of the present inadequate civil service examinations, may force even a politician to appoint for ability rather than personal service. Since this method of offering such a course as this has never been tried before, it is impossible to predict the outcome, but the importance of the service concerned leads one to expect success. At any rate there can be no doubt about the worth of this project as a first step in the right direction.