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"HUMANIZING THE PRISONS"

MR. THOMAS MOTT OSBORNE '84 SPOKE OF TREATMENT OF PRISONERS.

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

Thomas Mott Osborne '84 spoke on "Humanizing the Prisons," before a large audience in Emerson J yesterday afternoon. In introducing his topic, Mr. Osborne emphasized the fact that there is no such thing as a typical criminal class-that the inmates of the prisons are not different in any material respect from many outside, except that they "have been caught." He spoke of the work of the State Prison Commission in its attempt to substitute new methods for old.

The whole object of any penal system, said Mr. Osborne, is the safety of society. The great question before penologists, then, is to determine whether this can best be brought about through harsh punishment or reform. The old system was based on the supposition that punishment was the effective means. Far from succeeding, the treatment the men obtained made them hate everyone and everything, and they left prison with a desire for revenge upon society. They took the first advantage to commit crime once more, and usually landed back again in prison. The punishments used were often so brutal, the absolute silence and the constant surveillance were so trying, that no good result could possibly have come from such methods.

The system which has been instituted at Sing Sing since Mr. Osborne took control is planned on very different lines. All minor offences are tried by a convicts' court, the silence rules have been greatly alleviated, the supervision is now much less strict and other similar changes have been made. The attitude of the prisoners has changed remarkably, and everything indicates that in time the men who leave Sing Sing will be really fit for citizenship in the outside world.

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