Hold Still Bartlett Appears Exclusively in the Texas Observer THE TEXAS OBSERVER c YP7 Published by Texas Observer Co., Ltd. EDITORIAL and BUSINESS OFFICE: Entered as second-class matter, April 504 West 24th St., Austin, Texas. Phone 26, 1937, at the Post Office at Austin, GReenwood 7-0746. Texas, under the Act of March 3, 1879. HOUSTON OFFICE: 1010 Dennis, Mrs. R. D. Randolph. NOVEMBER 20, 1959 -We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and Ronnie Bugger the right as we see it. We are dedicated Editor and General Manager to the whole truth, to human values Sarah Payne, Office Manager above all interests, to the rights of man as the foundation of democracy; we will Published once a week from Austin, take orders from none but our own Texas. Delivered postage prepaid $4 per conscience, and never will we overlook annum. Advertising rates available on reor misreprenent the truth to serve the quest. Extra copier 10c each. Quantity interests of the powerful or cater to the prices available on orders. ignoble in the human spirit. A MORE REDEMPTIVE LOCAL PENAL SYSTEM “He’s not worth a damn or he wouldn’t be in here.”Texas jailer speaking of a young prisoner. AUSTIN Our society has turned its crime problems over to the wrong people with disastrous results. The Texas penal system, like those of most of the United States, has undergone some needed reforms, notably a more humane penitentiary and a beginning of probation and parole procedures. But we are still majoring on punishment instead of redemption. We continue to expand our courts, employ additional police, and build larger penitentiaries. Our biggest failure occurs where a redemptive process should be most effectivein city and county jails. Here first of fenders have their initial opportunity to decide whether they will repent or will really show society how tough they are. Let’s take a look at the typical jail in a populous Texas county. The jail attendants are politiCally appointed. Their salaries are so small that only a pensioned retired policeman or a younger man who holds another parttime job such as tavern-bouncer can of ford to take the job. Obviously, such men are not prepared by education or temperament to deal with the grave psychic and spiritual problems of the inmates. Neither do they know anything about basic case-work methods that would enable them to appraise the prisoner’s family and societal relationships. Some jail attendants in their ignorance and frustration give in to sadism. Some are sadistic by nature. Others may try to treat their charges with consideration but the best they can do is to give decent custodial care. Therefore, the first-time of fenders receive no real help from the jail staff. W HAT ABOUT facilities and environment ? Let us assume that a young man is placed in jail for theft or some other offense which draws a six-month sentence. He is placed in a small cell with three others. His bed consists of a thin mattress placed on a steel shelf. An open commode occupies the end opposite the door. There are no partitions between the cells just steel bars. All the cells face a central area where the only furniture is heavy tables with attached benches. At these tables the prisoners eat their meals, read, and play poker, using matches or sometimes cigarettes for stakes. A radio or perhaps a television set furnishes the only diversion besides poker. Typical jail facilities preclude segregation of prisoners except on the basis of sex and race. A youngster just over juvenile age and in ‘for the first offense lives in dreadful intimacy with many-time losers. A description of the conversation, the language, the anti-social attitudes, the depravity, and the utter boredom of a jail tank would be incomprehensible to those who have never observed them at close range. If there are seldom redemptive qualities in jail personnel, there is *usually nothing but depravity in other jail surroundings. What has just been described is elegance compared to the dark steel cubicles where the incorrigibles and the insane are kept. The latter are often kept in such cages for days and even weeks on order to hold them for the county health officer or for court hearings and transportation to state hospitals. Our young man with a six-month jail sentence, unless he is made a trusty, never gets out of his tank for any purpose. There is no attempt at any kind of education, neither vocational training nor occupational therapy. There are no classes in basic English, citizenship, or any other remedial courses. If the intellectual vacuum is filled with anything during the long six months, it likely will be moral depravity and crime. A jail by its very nature is not likely to have an inspirational atmosphere and attract inmates who feel a concern for being a good influence on their fellows. Councils of, churches sometimes employ a local pastor, or the Roman Catholic authorities designate a nearby parish priest as jail chaplain. Such an arrangement is good as far as it goes, but it does not go far enough. Such chaplains usually have no special training for institutional chaplaincy, and they give only a residue of time to the jail. What jails in urban areas do not lack is Sunday afternoon preaching. Preachers of fundamentalist sects and Bible institute students flock to jails and preach at their captive congregations several times in a single Sunday afternoon. Jailers are always relieved when churches cooperate in designating one minister as regular jail chaplain. To my knowledge there is not one fulltime trained chaplain in any city or county jail in Texas, notwithstanding the large number of inmates populous counties. THE Y O U N G prisoner was likely without funds and jobless when the law infraction occurred. At best he was deficient in moral orientation and probably was in a bad environment. Now let us see what happens to the jail inmate when his sentence is completed. Is he given an exit interview? Is a member of the jail staff or county probation office available to show an interest in his immediate plans and offer some friendly guidance? The answer is “No!” On the day of release, a jailer shouts the prisoner’s name “and all you got.” The steel tank door is unlocked, he is taken to the desk sergeant where any property being held is’ returned, and he walks out a free manfree in body, that is. It is bewildering to be out in the Harold Kilpatrick, executive secretary of the Texas Council of Churches and a Presbyterian layman, is the Observer’s guest columnist this week. A native of Comanche, Texas, Kilpatrick was vice president of the San Antonio Real Estate Board for ten years, then became executive secretary of the San Antonio Council of Churches, which grew under his leadership to include 104 churches of 24 denominations. He joined the Texas Council of Churches in 1953. For several years he was a member of the general board of the National Council of Churches sunshine and among ordinary people again after being locked up for six months. Our ex-inmate may be a long way from parents and real friends. He is not hungry at the moment, but he will be in a few hours. And he has no money. Maybe he can find a temporary job, but how will he account for the past six months when making application for work? Where to go to get his bearings ? He thinks of the camaraderie at ‘Joe’s Place, where he knows there will be at least two or three people who will stake him to a beer and a sandwich. No, that’s where his misery began. But this street is chilly and it’s at least warm and cozy at Joe’s … SIX out of every ten men who complete their prison sentences return. Thirty-four percent of Texas ,youths committed to the Boys’ Training School are sent back for a second, third, or fourth time. Most of the men and women who commit felonies were first case numbers in our juvenile courts and city and county jails. But we did not try very hard to redeem them. Our society wanted ‘them punished. People are willing to hire more police and build bigger courthouses, jails, and penitentiaries. But and is now a member of the executive board of the Division of Christian Life and Work. He is on the board of the Texas Social Welfare Assn. and an officer of the state volunteer advisory council for mental and tuberculosis hospitals. The Texas Council of Churches represents 13 Protestant denominations with 3,500 churches and about 1,750,000 members. Harold Kilpatrick they won’t provide the money for employing a trained counsellor with a small fund that could be used in rehabilitating people who need it desperately. The reasons are simple but hard to overcome. For one thing, people even good, Christian people still think that punishment alone will cause a lawbreaker to change his ways. They do not want to change their minds about this. People still have a false image about the large current crop of “jailbirds.” They think of criminals as tough-looking, heavily-bearded, apearmed thugs who are beyond redemptive love. But this picture is tragically false. Today’s criminals are merely lost boys and girls whom we have failed in education, in religion, in penology. Our society cruelly has given them a distorted sense of values and then more cruelly withholds from them an opportunity for corrective and redemptive treatment. Punishment for wrong-doers ? Yes, but accompanied with every possible corrective procedure. HAROLD KILPATRICK AT LAST NEW WAVERLY … and a Democrat last.” Well ! Those of us who have observed LBJ’s close’ adherence to the Eisenhower line realized long ago that he was a Democrat “last,” but out of our generous hearts we have thought he didn’t know it himself. But now we know that he does know it and isn’t ashamed. He isn’t ashamed. That gives us the measure of the man. He isn’t ashamed even while he is asking the Democrats of Texas to send him back to the Senate. Even while he confidently expects the Democrats of that body to honor his leadership. One wonders if it was intentional or accidental irony that the Democrats of Bastrop bought that elevendollar red table cloth for him to stand on? Was it symbolic of the greed for power, the effort to gobble up honors he has not earned, or was it just one of those amazing coincidences we sometimes see dealt out by ironic fate? Perhaps those three old witches get tired, too, of this clamoring for favorite sonship by one who is so poor a son. At any rate we have this indelible picture : this man having just confe:Ised to a thousand or more Democrats that he is a “Democrat last” standing alone and silent on a red tablecloth. What a picture. MFC Notes on the Guest Columnist
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