2 Correction 1 (1932)

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PUBLISHED BY THE NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION

VOLUME 2                      ELMIRA, N. Y.  JANUARY, 1932

THE INDETERMINATE SENTENCE LAW
A  MENDMENTS to the criminal code which would
modify some of the provisions of the law, as
formulated by the late New York Crime Commis-
sion, are to be proposed for enactment during the
present session of the Legislature by the Commis-
sion to Investigate Prison Administration and Con-
struction. At a recent meeting of the Commission
held at the office of its chairman, Sam A. Lewisohn
in New York city, it was the unanimous sentiment
that certain amendments placed upon the statutes
of the State have, in many instances, completely
destroyed or rendered impotent the indeterminate
sentence law for first offenders.
The Commission has issued the following state-
ment
The indeterminate sentence law, as originally drafted,
recognized the impossibility of determining, by one act in his
career, the exact amount of punishment which would prove
salutory or remedial in each case involving the young first
offender brought before the bar of justice. It further placed
the stress upon rehabilitation and reform instead of upon
punishment per se. and emphasized the position taken by
modern penologists that, if penal law had for its primary
objective the protection of society-such protection could best,
and most economically, be secured by the restoration of the
former offender to society on a social basis at the earliest
possible moment-that the reformation and adjustment in
society of the erstwhile rebel against law and order would
afford better protection than his continued segregation be-
hind stone walls and iron bars.
It is generally conceded by those familiar with the
criminal that, if reformation is to be the objective in the
treatment of these young offenders, it will, in the vast ma-
jority of cases, be accomplished in a relatively short time
and that incarceration over a long period will, of itself,
unfit the individual for return to society on a useful basis
or make such a procedure exceedingly difficult, if not hope-
less. With this theory in mind the original indeterminate
sentence law prescribed a relatively short minimum sentence
after the expiration of which the prisoner could, in the dis-
cretion of the parole board, be conditionally released. The
original law registered its opinion of the gravity of the crime
by the length of the maximum sentence-thereby continuing
the supervision of the parole board over longer periods, in
the cases of those persons convicted of more serious violation
of the law.
In the past few years the increase in crimes of violence,
and the wide publicity concerning them afforded by the
press, stimulated an apparent demand for harsher methods
upon the theory that such measures would exercise a more
deterrent effect upon the potential criminal. That the theory
(Continued on Paqc 3)

NEW INSTITUTIONS RECOMMENDED
G  OVERNOR ROOSEVELT in his message to the
Legislature. recommends two new       penal insti-
tutions, one for mentally defective delinquents, and
another for the younger type. of delinquents:
The State is making good progress in carrying
out the new and comprehensive prison policy. With
current appropriations and those to be made by this
Legislature and the next, we shall be in a position by the
date set-1935-to eliminate the antiquated and unsani-
tary housing of prisoners which was such a disgrace to
our modern society. The new Attica Prison is already
in partial use, the new medium security prison at Wall-
kill is under contract, and I am asking this year for
the starting of two additional institutions-one to take
care of mentally defective prisoners and the other to
house the younger type of delinquents.
Equally importnt has been the progress in the
classification, segregation and paroling of prisoners, but
the more we give intelligent administration to this prob-
lem, the more we find a definite need for changes in
the present law dealing with first offenders and the
length of their sentences. I incline more and more to the
enactment of an indeterminate sentence law, the found-
ation of which will be the individual case rather than
the application of definite terms and rules laid down
by the Legislature and the courts. While the estab-
lishment of the Parole Board has given a more sub-
stantial justice, we must definitely follow this up with
an extension of the system of probation and with ade-
quate provision  for indeterminate sentences.   The
Commission to Investigate Prison Administration and
Construction will shortly make definite recommenda-
tions along these lines to your Honorable Bodies.
Several tentative sites are being examined by
experts to determine the best location for another
institution for defective delinquents. The present
Institution for Male Defective Delinquents at Napa-
noch is filled to capacity and it is impossible to
furnish proper training and housing facilities for
several hundred of this type of prisoner, already in
custody in the state prisons and the Reformatory
at Elmira. The new institution will supply this
deficiency and relieve overcrowding. The popula-
tion of the new institution will be selected from
those already in custody who seem to possess the
greatest possibilities of parole, leaving in the Napa-
noch institution those requiring close supervision
and longer custody.
The capacity of the Napanoch institution is
850 and the population on January 1st was 918.

NUMBER 1

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