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The Osborne Association

1938-43 Reports on reformatories


A council was started at Jackson in August, 1941. Prior to this time, discipline was theoretically under the control of the superintendent, but the individual instructors could penalize the boys and administer punishment before informing the superintendent. The council, composed of the assistant superintendent, farm superintendent, and school principal, has taken over this authority, and all serious breaches of discipline must be brought before it for disposition and punishment. In this procedure the officer reporting the boy is required to describe the occurrence on which the report is based, and the council decides what disposition shall be made.

There is an honor roll prepared weekly by the cottage instructors on their judgment of the behavior of the boys in their cottages, but no honor credit system of merits and demerits is used for marking purposes. Honor roll standing is solely a matter of the cottage officer's decision as to whether or not the boy deserves to be placed on the honor roll for the week. No printed rules have been issued to guide the cottage personnel in determining these standings, and each cottage instructor can mark in accordance with his own understanding and wishes. Sex offenses, stealing, and A.W.O.L. are considered the most serious forms of misbehavior. Counseling, minor penalties and warnings are tried at first, but if these are not effective segregation and switching are resorted to, with the council now deciding whether or not to use the last two methods.

Boys who run away are handled by the council, and they may be warned and penalized by restriction of their campus activities, segregated, or switched, according to the disposition determined upon by the council. The biennial report for the two years ending June 30, 1940, showed 40 escapes in 1939 and 21 in 1940. For the following biennium ending June 30, 1942, there were 20 boys listed as escapes in 1941 and 39 in 1942.

Punishments -- When switchings are allowed by the council, the officer does it in the presence of the council members. The boy is switched across the buttocks and legs. He may receive as many as ten or twelve "licks" with a small branch cut from a convenient bush or tree. It was stated that there may be ten of these switchings a month. At the time of the survey there had not been one for five days. The records read revealed frequent switchings by the cottage officers for such offenses as "cutting-up", inattention, fighting, and refusal to listen, but this happened prior to the formation of the council, and it was explained that the switchings have since been reduced in number.

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