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DEBATE OF NOVEMBER 21.Question: Resolved, That the contract system of employing prison labor should be abolished.
Brief for the Affirmative.S. R. Albee, J. M. Newell.
Best general reference: Report of Bureau of Labor statistics for Illinois, for 1886, pp. 88-98 and 121-136; or, Second annual report of the U. S. Commissioner of Labor, 1886, pp. 372-379 and 389-396.
1. It hinders the reformation of the prisoner, which should be the main object of penal institutions. (a) by transforming him into a money-making machine. (Illinois Labor Report for 1886, pp. 89 and 90). (b) by the predominant influence of the contractor, whose interest is opposed to reformation. (Ill. Report, pp. 90, 91 and 100.
2. Its competition with free industries is injurious. (a) because it is confined to a few industries.-Ill. Report, pp.92-124 and p. 136. (b) and thereby prevents an equal distribution of the burdens of prison support.- Report of Commissioner of Labor, 1886, p. 391 and Ill. Report, p. 124.
3. The Public Account System, without power machinery, is preferable because (a) it favors the reformation of the convict (1) by leaving him in exclusive charge of the prison officials, (Ill. Report, p. 88), and (2) by teaching him a trade (Ill. Report, p. 132). (b) it diminishes prison competition with free labor.
4. The Contract System, after a thorough trial, has been abandoned in New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California.- Ill. Report, pp. 137-142.
Brief for the Negative.W. R. Bigelow, C. D. Wetmore.
Best general references: Nation, March 5th, 1885 and August 4th, 1887; Princeton Review, Vol. XI, p. 196.
1. Is Prison Labor a Necessity? "It has thoroughly established itself as a fundamental principle of prison discipline, about the value of which there are no two opinions."-Encyc. Britt., Vol. XVIII, p. 572.
2. Is Productive Labor on the Part of Convicts an Injury to the Community? "We are convinced that those who participate in the crusade against the employment of convicts in the productive industries on the ground of unfair competition with free labor have no acquaintance with the facts and figures that bear on the question."-Science, Jan. 22, 1886.
3. The Contract system is the best system.
I. From Economical Standpoint.- U. S. Labor Report, 1886, p. 372. (a) It relieves the State from risking public funds in the hands of public officers in manufacturing and commerce. (b) It simplifies the management of prisons and prisoners. (c) It is the most remunerative system, furnishing to the State a definite, reliable and easily estimated income.
II. From Moral Standpoint., (a) Unremunerative labor is demoralizing.- U. S. Report, 1886, p. 311. (b) The contract system is eminently humane-Nation, August 4th 1887. (c) The constant employment of the convicts by the contract system has proved a great advantage in reforming the lives of prisoners.
4. The evils of the system suggest rather a modification in its details than a change to any other system.- Princeton Review, Vol. XI, p. 212; U. S. Report, 1886, pp. 314-315.
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