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VARIATIONS IN THE NUMBER OF PERSONS ON PAROLE FROM INSTITUTIONS IN THE CARE OF PROBATION
OFFICERS AT THE END OF EACH MONTH
TRAINING SCHOOLS FOR CHILDREN
Grand total ..
For the care of these paroled persons, children and adults, and the many others remaining on parole from preceding years, only 25 regular parole officers are now employed in the State. These officers moreover act only for their own institutions and so in many instances cover the same areas. Of course, it is necessary for them to depend largely upon the reports of others in regard to the conduct of their charges. In this work they utilize various citizens, including representatives of charitable organizations, chiefs of police, and probation officers. We find that probation officers are everywhere ready to co-operate with the parole officers in supplying information and in some instances taking entire charge of cases. This work has been especially developed in the city of Buffalo where the county probation office has cared for 21 persons discharged from the State prisons during the past year. In the State at large the number of paroled persons in charge of all probation officers as reported monthly to the Commission has been increased till at the end of the year the number of cases was 149. The following chart shows the increase in this work.
The Commission recommends as in the past that probation officers should undertake this work so far as their time and other duties allow. The system of having parole officers travel over large areas, attempting to supervise their cases in many localities, cannot work satisfactorily without a very much larger number of such officers than there is any chance of the State providing in the near future. We believe that the probation officers might with advantage co-operate with the agents of institutions in this work to a still greater degree. If necessary there might be provided additional probation officers to act as parole officers for all persons paroled in certain localities.
The Commission also recommends as in the past that there be the same central State supervision of the work of parole officers as is established for the work of probation officers. We supported a bill introduced last year by the Commission of Prisons to delegate this supervision for the purpose of developing and improving parole work to the State Probation Commission. We believe that in this way needed co-ordination between the work of the parole officers and the probation officers can be best brought about and the parole work extended and improved.
CHILDREN'S COURTS New York State affords a laboratory for the study of various plans for establishing and conducting children's courts. All kinds of courts from the entirely separate Children's Court of Buffalo presided over by a judge who gives his entire time to it, to the criminal police court in some of the smaller cities and villages where children are not even given a separate trial but are treated to all intents the same as adults, are to be found in this State. Two counties - Monroe and Ontario — have established county children's courts as parts of the county court.
A special study of the workings of the Monroe County Children's Court has been made during the past year. Our general conclusions are that the plan has great advantages in securing effective dealing with the children brought before it, far more effective than they could obtain in the courts of the justices of the peace and the village justices or the city magistrates. The court has wider powers. It also has proper facilities, including a detention home and especially trained probation officers. On the other hand, some objection has been found to the court in that it is too far removed from the homes of the children, causing some hardship to parents, and others concerned, in bringing the children to the county seat at Rochester, and also, what is more serious, in causing some cases to be neglected on account of the difficulty of bringing them to Rochester. This objection is especially valid in the case of what appears to be the less serious offenses, such as truancy and incorrigibility. The Commission believes that these objections can be effectively removed by having the court go to the people, so to speak. In other words, that the children's court
might be held in a number of different parts of the county. In a county as large as Monroe, it would seem that the children's court judge might of advantage give his entire time to the work. Possibly in these ways, better co-operation could be established with the local justices of the peace, constables and attendance officers 80 that there should be no neglect or delay in bringing the children to court. The probation officers of the children's court should work in all parts of the county and should seek to co-operate with the local authorities in every way possible.
In the other county in which a children's part of the county court has been established with exclusive jurisdiction over children's cases, there appears to have been less difficulty in reaching the cases needing attention in various parts of the county. The court has been held in cities located in the two ends of the county. To some extent, however, the same objections have been raised in Ontario county, which the Commission believes could be avoided by the more frequent meeting of the court in the city of Geneva and also at times in other parts of the county.
It seems highly desirable that children's courts should handle cases of adult contributory delinquency. It would be well if every case involving a child could be handled in a children's court. If, as suggested for Monroe county, a separate county children's court judge could be provided in all counties in which the work justifies the full time services of such a judge, contributory delinquency cases could then be transferred from the local courts to the county children's court.
The Commission introduced and supported an amendment which became a part of the Judiciary Ar.icle of the proposed new Constitution, rejected by the voters last fall, which would have provided that all children's courts should have full equity jurisdiction. This amendment would have tended to standardize and broaden the power of the children's courts, removing as far as possible the vestiges of criminal procedure which now obtain in all of our courts. It is hoped that this amendment may subsequently be enacted separately.
There is urgent need for the amendment and codification of the laws of the State relating to the handling of juveniles so as to establish a uniform procedure as far removed as possible from the criminal for the handling of children in all parts of the State.