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An amendment to the Child Labor Law raised the legal working age from twelve to fourteen, except when a child is the only support of a widowed mother, an invalid father, or is solely dependent on self for support.
Consideration for the rights of children secured the passage of a carefully drawn provision for the appointment by the governor of a special magistrate in Baltimore for the trial of juvenile cases, and probation officers appointed by the Supreme Bench of Baltimore City will look after the children under the orders of the new magistrate. The bill was indorsed by the leading charitable and educational organizations, public and private, of the city; and the prospect is that this much-needed reform in the treatment of juvenile offenders will be carried out under admirable officials. At first but two of the probation officers will be paid, by funds from persons interested in child-saving. It was not possible to provide for a court presided over by a judge, except by constitutional amendment.
The Workman’s Co-operative Insurance Act aims to protect employees in perilous occupations. The act creating the Bureau of Industrial Statistics was amended so as to provide Baltimore with a free employment agency aimed to bring together employers and laborers out of work. This same state bureau was successful in securing a bill providing for two inspectors (to be appointed by chief of bureau) of sweat shops and factories in Baltimore City. It provides that all manufacturers must have permits from the bureau after July 1. It is understood that one of the inspectors is to be a woman, and that both will co-operate with school attendance officers in preventing the illegal employment of minors.
Amendments to the Chattel Mortgage Act of 1900 make it an offence to loan money upon security of chattels, in any form of negotiation, at an illegal rate of interest, with penalty of a fine of $100 for first offence and imprisonment for thirty days for subsequent offences, and the further forfeit of the entire amount loaned.
A tuberculosis commission of five persons (three of them physicians), appointed by the governor for two years, was authorized. The members are to serve without pay; but $4,000 is appropriated for the expenses of the commission, whose duties are to investigate the prevalence and cause of tuberculosis, its economic relation to the community, and to devise and recommend measures for its restriction. An act was passed to punish the slaughter for food of diseased animals, and yet another bill gives local boards of health summary powers in abatement of nuisances.
The Board of State Aid and Charities received little consideration at the hands of the legislature, to whom its first report was presented. The board had taken slight pains to investigate institutions or to consider on any general plan the rights and needs of the poor. The legislature appropriated $75,000 to charitable institutions in excess of similar items in 1900. This increase went chiefly to institutions managed by private boards. Fourteen institutions never before granted public money were added to the former list, and none were struck from it. Among the new corporate dependants on the State's bounty are a social settlement, i hospital, 3 dispensaries, 2 medical colleges, all in Baltimore, and 2 hospitals and a home for aged in the counties. Until some systematic and intelligent principle is adopted to govern charitable appropriations, this same indiscriminate expenditure at the cost of the tax-payer, with no adaptability to the needs of the poor, will continue. Public opinion, no less than legislators, needs education in this matter. The appropriation to the Maryland Training School for the Feeble-minded at Owings Mills was wisely increased $28,000 a year for 1902 and 1903, — an annual increase of $12,000. $36,000 was also given for buildings and furnishings.
The second annual report of the Supervisors of City Charities of Baltimore City for the year ending Dec. 31, 1901, makes clear that the cardinal principle underlying the methods adopted by the board in their varied work is careful treatment of the individual, keeping primarily in mind two queries,– Can the applicant's relatives help? can some private agency help? Negative answers to these two questions alone entitle an applicant to city aid. Thus, out of 490 children referred to the supervisors, but 149 on investigation were found to be proper city charges.
In the realm of private charity in Baltimore the most important fact in its immediate consequences is the resignation in April of Miss Mary Willcox Brown, general secretary of the Charity Organization Society. She will resume her place in the society's corps of volunteer workers.
The vacancy in the office of general secretary of the Charity Organization Society forced to the front a question which has been before the active managers for some time, i.e., the possibility and advisability of closer relations between the society and the Association for the Improvement of the Condition of the Poor, the one general relief-giving agency working on the district plan. The probability is that the best energies of the two societies will be devoted during the coming year to a readjustment of relations so radical that the experiment must be watched with the deepest interest in all our large communities where charity organization society principles have during the past twenty-five years done so much to leaven almsgiving.
If the proposed federation between the Charity Organization Society and the Association for the Improvement of the Condition of the Poor helps the next general secretary and the agents of both the Baltimore societies to keep material relief in its proper subordinate position as a means of helping needy families in their homes, so that we can year by year reduce the relative amount of mere “doles" distributed by the charitable agencies in the community, the proposed experiment will have justified itself. Until such a result shall seem assured, the plan will need the careful criticism of its friends.
JOHN D. WELLS, BOSTON, STATE CORRESPONDING SECRETARY. The legislature of 1901 abolished the offices of commissioner of prisons and general superintendent of prisons, and conferred all the powers and duties possessed by said commission and superintendent upon a new board of prison commissioners, consisting of five persons, two of them women, to be appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the council. One member of the new board, designated by the governor as its chairman, receives a salary of $4,000; the other members serve without compensation,
The same legislature effected a change in the financial management of the several state institutions for the insane.
Under the new law these institutions, which formerly had the entire management of their own finances, receiving appropriations from the state for the support of state patients, now have all their expenses paid from the treasury of the Commonwealth, and pay into the treasury all their receipts for the support of town and private patients.
Another law of the same legislature authorizes the Secretary of the Commonwealth to refer applications for the incorporation of charitable homes for children to the State Board of Charity for its investigation and report.
As a result of legislation of the years 1900 and 1901, the State Board of Charity has been enabled to issue, in connection with its annual report, and also as a separate document, a report of charitable corporations throughout the state, containing a list of their officers, a statement of their objects, the number of their beneficiaries, their financial status, and their annual receipts and expenditures. These corporations include some two hundred institutions or homes for the care of the aged, sick, children, etc., having a total valuation of about thirty million dollars; and the board, largely induced thereto by outside representations of the importance of such action, sought this year for legislation which would authorize it to visit and inspect these institutions, with the purpose of giving the result of such inspection to the legislature and the public. The bill presented by the board was favorably reported on by the Joint Committee on Public Charitable Institutions; but opposition to it developed later, and the matter was finally referred to the next General Court.
The State Board of Charity has modified its rules regarding the release of prisoners on probation from the state farm, shortening the terms of confinement in cases of commitment for drunkenness. In connection with the rules the board has selected and appointed a corps of volunteer probation visitors, nearly all of them men, in different parts of the state, to whom the paroled prisoners are expected to report upon their release, and to continue to report during the term of their maximum sentences. A failure to make such report is construed as a violation of the terms of release, and involves a return to the institution.
now fifty-six such visitors, representing the cities and towns of the Commonwealth from which the greatest number of commitments are made. The system has already accomplished some very good results.
Of the 353 cities and towns in the state, 221 provide for their poor in almshouses, nine of them uniting in a single almshouse, two having an almshouse in common, and the remaining towns having each its own almshouse. Under the system of state inspection recently established, all these institutions are visited by an agent of the State Board of Charity once in each year, and some of them oftener. The greater number of them are in a very satisfactory condition, and suggestions on the part of the board with respect to needs and defects are generally welcomed. The advice of the board has also been frequently sought by the local authorities with regard to plans for the rebuilding and reconstruction of almshouses; and the board asked this year for legislative authority to pass upon such plans, but without favorable result.
Further progress has been made in the matter of the colony system for the care of the insane. Under legislative action the State Board of Insanity has purchased a tract of 1,500 acres in the towns of Gardner and Westminster, about sixty miles from Boston, to which patients of the chronic class will be gradually transferred from the hospitals, to the number of about one hundred a year,
The colony is under the control of a board of seven trustees, two of them women, appointed by the governor, under the provisions of an act of the legislature of 1900. The colony system will be gradually extended in other directions, in connection with the hospitals and asylums.
The enlargement of the State Sanatorium at Rutland (the hospital for consumptives) is rapidly approaching completion, and a bill is under consideration by the legislature for the establishment of an additional hospital for the same purpose. Moreover, some of the larger municipalities are taking steps to provide within their own limits for the care of patients suffering from tuberculosis in its advanced stages.
A. DELINQUENTS. Adult Criminals.- State prison, 825; Reformatory Prison for Women, 239; Massachusetts Reformatory (men), 888; county jails, 626; county houses of correction, 2,621; state farm, 811. Total, 6,01O.
Vicious and Insubordinate Children. In institutions, 533; in families, 1,140. Total, 1,673.
Adults.- In state institutions, 869; in local almshouses, 4,295 ; in families, 357. Total, 5,521.
Children.- State charges in State Hospital, 60; state charges in families, 2,281; town charges in institutions, 465; town charges in families, 694. Total, 3,500.