Insight into Juvenile Laws 1 Cowboy Bill Creates Stir for Yankees WASHINGTON The “Magnolia Jungle” has a new hero in the U. S. Senate. He is Lyndon Johnson’s successor as senator from Texas, the Hon. William A. Blakley. Blakley hopes to be elected to the post he now holds by appointment. Apparently he decided that he had a sure-fire vote-catcher in opposing the designation of Robert C. Weaver as President Kennedy’s new federal housing chief. Weaver is a Negro. But it just goes to show how far the nation has advanced from the days when witch-hunting was fashionable. The Senate banking and currency committee, after a demonstration of bush-league McCarthyism by Sen. Blakley, voted to confirm Weaver 11-4. The bombshell that some Dixiecrats threatened to throw at Weaver turned out to be a dud. Blakley, perhaps on his own initiative, decided that he was the man who could take care of Weaver and, at the same time, enhance his chances of winning the Texas election. Obviously, in Blakley’s judgment the way to knock off Weaver was to accuse him of “radicalism.” THE NATURE of the “charges” against Weaver turned out to be flimsier than usual. In the ‘thirties Weaver led a panel discussion on housing before the National Negro Congress. Although FDR sent greetings to the meeting and the Republican Mayor of Philadelphia welcomed the congress, Blakley decided that 23 years afterwards Weaver should have known it was communist-dominated. Weaver had also lent his name to one or two other organizations, infiltrated by the Communists some 15 or 20 years ago. Blakley kept insisting throughout his questioning that Weaver “undoubtedly knows more about the subject than I do.” This protest turned out to be needless. Blakley gave himself away when he referred to a review of Weaver’s book The Negro Ghetto that appeared in a Communist publication. Weaver had not seen it and asked “Under whose by-line did it appear?” Blakley examined the document and noted these words, By J. Crow, Realtcr. He solemnly announced the author’s name to roars of laughter in the committee room. Blakley appeared puzzled by the audience’s amusement. “Do you know J. Crow ?” Blakley asked Weaver. “Yes, I’ve known of Jim Crow,” Weaver said with a poker face, “and he didn’t write any book reviews.” IN THE ROOM as Blakley questioned Weaver were a number of old friends of the late Sen. Joe McCarthy. They winced as Blakley started his questioning of Weaver and by the time it was over some were visibly embarrassed. This was a dark day for McCarthyism. Old Joe’s memory was sullied; even he could not have done as badly as Bill Blakley. But it was a memorable day for the U.S. Senate when even conservative Republicans like Sen. Capehart of Indiana refused to be impressed by shop-worn charges of “radicalism” and voted to confirm a Harvardeducated Negro to a position of great eminence. ROBERT G. SPIVACK THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 5 Feb. 18, 1961 AUSTIN Rep. Franklin Spears, the outstanding representative from San Antonio, customarily to be found on the side of the folks, and an excellent fellow, has, however, introduced several bills designed to punish juvenile offenders as adults. He also, let it be added, has cosponsored with Rep. Don Kennard, Fort Worth, a bill to create a paid state juvenile parole system. Kennard almost got this through in 1959, Governor Daniel helping behind the scenes, but the gas and oil lobbyists had first claim on the time of the legislators, and juveniles, especially juvenile delinquents, had some difficulty attracting their attention. Con Notebook The Latin-American boy facing felony charges for stealing books at the University of Texas library has suffered a heart attack and is in Seton hospital. He is not to be confused with the Anglo-American boy who was only suspended from school for the same crime, but has already returned to classes. The Latin-American suffered his heart attack three days after his first appearance in court. About the situation his physician wrote in an open letter, “The emotional impact of the trouble he is in cannot be under-evaluated as the cause for his present physical condition.” An auto dealer from Mission, Tex., appearing as a witness for Rep. V. E. Berry’s.horseracing amendment, said: “Our principal crop is tourists, and our crop is getting shortercoming later and leaving earlier. No question in my mind these people are going elsewhere, where they can play.” That metaphor of “crop” for tourists is dull and disgusting. It’s a cliche, a cheap, calloused cliche. We hope people from other states keep coming -to see us down here, whether or not they spend a penny in Texas. We hope they have so many friends down here they can live off the land. We hate to think that there may be a day when Texans will slur “you” and “all” together only because they are in a hurry to get on with the sales pitch. Austin was the point of beginning for the theater stand-ins that spread across the country in a noble statement of co-operative esteem between races. Every major newspaper in Texas gave the stand-ins a front page story. This doesn’t mean they agreed with the method or purpose of the standins. But they recognized a news story. Every major newspaper did it except Austin’s afternoon Statesman. The Statesman gave the Lincoln’s Day event no story. Or was this an exception? Is the Statesman a major newspaper ? With a circulation of only 27,000, it is probably the smallest metropolitan newspaper in Texas. And with 100 proof, neurotic, timid misdirection of the reportorial staff, it gives no promise of rising about that circulation 27,000 circulation in a city of 190,000 and a marketing area of half a million. Amazing! B.S. Nothing Could Be Finer You’ve got to get up early To outwit old Price and Charley In committee. But nothing could be harder Than to tap a banker’s larder In committee. So if they get escheatage voted, Here’s what we’ll say: Honesty outbalanced pressure Just for a day! For nothing could be harder Than to tap a banker’s larder Down in Tex-as! sequently, the state for two more years has returned youths in trouble: to the very environments in which their troubles began. While aware of the need to sustain more hope for the rehabilitation of youths than society is yet ready to expend on adult criminals, Spears also has a blind spot about criminals, a kind of “damn them” feeling that results in legislative proposals more punitive than they are thoughtful. Under present law, boys cannot be prosecuted under adult criminal laws until they are 17; girls have to be 18. Spears’ H.B. 257 would authorize the prosecution of boys 15 and 16 years old and girls 15, 16, and 17 years old “as if the child were an adult.” Lowering the “adult” age to 15 would reverse the whole trend of modern juvenile delinquency theory. We aim now for rehabilitation in preference to punishments so severe the delinquent may become embittered beyond recall. Spears would throw into Huntsville and Goree State Farm, along with hardened adult thieves, murderers, dope pushers, rapists and prostitutes, boys and girls of high school age. As though to divert such a criticism, Spears’ bill requires that the juvenile officer and the juvenile judge both agree that prosecution of a juvenile as an adult would be proper, “and the district attorney and the grand jury willing to indict.” Says Section 6 of his bill: “If the grand jury returns an indictment, the child shall be subject to the penal laws of this State and tried in accordance with the Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure as if the child were and adult.” Spears would have the juvenile delinquency law provide further : “No adjudication upon the status of any child in the jurisdiction of the juvenile court shall operate to impose any of the civil disabilities ordinarily imposed by conviction, nor shall any child be deemed a criminal by reason of such adjudication, nor shall such adjudication be deemed a conviction, nor shall any child be charged with or convicted of a crime in any court, except as provided in Section 6 of this Act.” \( Emphasis He even goes so far as to make sure that juveniles over 14 will be incarcerated with hardened criminals with a similar little proviso. He would amend the present juvenile law to read: “No female person over the age of years shall be placed or committed to any compartment of any jail or lockup in which persons over juvenile age are incarcerated or detained; but shall be placed in a room or ward separate and apart from that occupied by adults except as provided under the transfer proceeding as set out in Section 6 of this Act.” \(EmN RAW IMPORT, therefore, Spears’ proposal would treat boys and girls 15 and 16 as though they were adults, prosecute them as felons under laws passed to punish adults, imprison them with adults, and deprive them of voting rights and other privileges of citizenship which are taken from adult criminals. What underlies this desire to treat juveniles as adult criminals? The fact that a few juvenile-age boys and girls are, in their incorrigibility, exasperating and menacing. Explaining the bill to the Observer, Spears stated: “As Judge Archie Brown of Bexar County Criminal District No. 1 said to me, when the 15and 16-year-old commits a childish act, he should be treated as a child, but when he ‘cases the joint,’ makes or obtains a weapon, or commit cruel acts of physical violence, he is acting as an adult, and should be treated as one.” This, alas, is the kind of reasoning by which children are to be deprived of their liberty and their right, as children, to more tolerance than they will get later in life. Children are accepted as children as long as their acts are “childish” \(like playing hooky, one presumes, or stealing milk off doorsteps for a adults” when they commit more stupid and more childish acts like taking a gun in hand, beating a younger child, or breaking into a drug store ! This is playing shell games with children ! Now you see them now you don’t. By setting the age limits of 17 and 18, the legislature was approximating the age before which young people generally have not had time to become fully responsible. To get a few mean, sophisticated, inexperienced, stupid, or reckless boys and girls in jail, Spears would tear down a wall against righteoUs prosecutors and judges which protects all young people from the community’s wrathfulness against destructive adults. Does not Spears know that the state already has prison-like facilities for the really incorrigible young? He should visit the maximum security ward at Gatesville. Here, in locked cells, are boys who are too rough for the freer, more hopeful treatment in the rest of the reform school. They have run off, or knifed a boy, or struck an attendant . . . They are taken to this locked, sanitary building, past the sliding iron gates on the halls, into their barred and cheerless cells. I went into one of these cells in 1959. There is a bed, there is a basin, there is an open, seatless toilet, there is a little window, and there are four, undoubtedly four, and only four, very near walls. The door of bars was open, but I felt fear and horror rising in meMy God, let me out of here! They watch the boys in these cells closely for signs they may be going mad under the strain. But except for those who are being held for trial as adults when they turn 17 \(for acts committed before they were 17, another breach in the juvenile wall that ought to be re” chance, with luck and good behavior, of getting back to being boys. We have not told them once and for all, “You are no good; you are going to jail with the rest of the no-goods.” As I left the place, a mother and a father and a sister were visiting with a gangly, pimply boy in the lobby near the door. I heard what they were saying and felt I was eavesdropping on something very private. He was still a boy to his parents and those who loved him had hope. I T IS TOO EASY, august legislators, to confuse indignation with morality and pass off a stern mien as earnest of a considering soul. Righteousness, being a Biblical virtue, has long appealed to politicians as their official manner in worthy public works. A righteous man can judge us all, and counsel the angels. Those of us, however, who, when we were boys, ran loose some times in the streets, hid from cruising cops under a house on the river bank, and saw some of our friends drawn into serious stealing by older ones, by graduates from Gatesville, know righteousness is is slippery path that only saints can safely tread. R.D. 4,-,4wsszo To: Senator William Blakley Senate Office Bldg., \(Temporary Washington, D.C. Dear Senator Cowboy Bill, Allow me to express my gratitude for the fine , plug you gave me in the hearing on Weaver this week. Although he was not a Red, I think you are to be congratulated on the forthright manner in which you proved he went to that meeting with Franklin D. Roosevelt Sr. 25 years ago. As far as I am concerned, and many of your constituents, that is ample accomplishment. Respectfully Yours, J. Crow, Esq.
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