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If Christ Came to Chicago!

Part 5—What Would Christ Do in Chicago? | Chapter III—Casting out Devils (continued)

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originally published in 1894

Sexual incontinence is not a crime, and should not be treated as such. It is a sin which should be left to the moralist and the Christian teacher. It only comes within the lash of the law when it becomes the source of disorder and public scandal, and actual crime. If this principle were recognized, many of the greatest difficulties would disappear. An immoral woman who plies her vocation so as to make no scandal and create no nuisance should no more be subjected to police surveillance, to say nothing of arrest, than the immoral man who takes pleasure in a dissolute life. The case is different when the woman converts herself into a peripatetic nuisance, or makes the house a moral cesspool, so that it infects the neighborhood. In that case she should be proceeded against as a nuisance and her neighbors should take prompt action against such a center of contagion being established in the midst of their young people. Even then the greatest care should be taken against arbitrary and vindictive measure in which justice is violated under the plea of protection for morality. These people forget that it is a greater immorality to prostitute justice than to follow the calling of a prostitute. The girls for the most part are victims rather than the accomplices of the criminals and should not be interfered with. It is the keepers, and the landlords of such houses, who should be prosecuted when prosecution is deemed advisable; and in every case when they are proved to be guilty they should be sent to jail and the house broken up. The present system of arbitrary pulling is simply a regulation system under the mask of arbitrary arrest. Those who make a traffic in vice by exploiting their fellow creatures, the procurers, the souteneurs, and the "macs," are the worst parasites of the vicious system and should be severely dealt with instead of being allowed, as at present, to escape scot-free.

A lady who has devoted much time to the subject and who has had practical experience in the work of reclaiming and rescuing the unfortunates, called upon me soon after my arrival in Chicago to urge upon me the importance of more vigorous action in this matter. The Anchorage mission, an admirable institution established close to the sunken district of Fourth Avenue, does a good and noble work. So does the Refuge for Fallen Women, which is one of the most remarkable institutions of its kind in the counter. But they are inadequate. The Home of the Good Shepherd is another institute in which is doing excellent work. But these three do not do much more than touch the fringe of the question. My friend wrote me as follows:

"I wish to see established over the city a series of seven graded homes.

"1ST HOME—for pure girls found in hospitals, depots, worn-out clerks, etc, where if they desire they could be trained into service for this field.

"2nd HOME—For those who come in after their first offense. There is so much need of this, they have no refuge now.

"3RD HOME—For those who have lived the life, either as kept women or madams, or those who have frequented houses of shame.

"4TH—A home for the workers, chapel school and work rooms of many kinds, typewriting, music, drawing, painting, dressmaking, bookkeeping, or any other thing a woman can do credit to or develop a taste for. Care being taken, no woman is where she does not fit, misapplied people cause much of the confusion in life to my thought.

"5TH—Maternity home. Mothers living here with little ones. Children born here and cared for afterwards. Kindergarten, kitchen garden etc, etc.

6TH HOME—For women addicted to drink.

"7TH—A home where old sinners can come and die—with a Saviour—and hospital in which these women can help much and in making themselves useful, they will be more content.

"The women able to work should receive wages, kept for them in a bank of our own, as it were, and after a few years, strong in the physical and spiritual with a sum of money at their command, they could go out from us citizens, able, having been taught their trade, to build up a business of their own. Desirable, that this should be done in our city, than the one in which they have been living and known in sin.

"All that is needed to start this home at once is the money. God grant it may soon come. I am looking alone to Him for it, and I firmly believe it will be given, and you can see the benefit of having a preventative home in connection with the others. No girl coming from the neighborhood would receive any stigma, no one knowing from which she came, it would be no disadvantage to the pure girl, as those homes would be perfectly distinct and what greater honor could be conferred on any woman than to be educated for this field in the vineyard."

When Mr. Carter Harrison ordered all the women to leave State Street, and concentrate on Fourth Avenue and Clark Street, he effectively destroyed the value of all decent property in the neighborhood. If such a policy is pursued in the figure, the owners who have property in the condemned district should be compensated, otherwise they are driven to the alternative of either closing their property or of entering the business of brothel keeping. The Japanese alone have carried this policy out to its full logical extent. There are prostitute quarters in Japanese cities which are the Fourth Avenues magnified. Should such a policy be adopted, it would be well to adopt it with our eyes open, giving due regard to the interests of the neighbors and with adequate security for the escape of the inmates. It is possible to establish such a quarter, brilliantly lighted and constantly patrolled by police matrons, who would have power to suppress any house which would be proved to have debauched innocent girls, or to have admitted any inmates without first sending them to a good woman to dissuade them from the life into which they were entering. This could be done. It would be better than the present system, which has the disadvantage of establishing a prostitute quarter without the safeguards which might be secured where the Japanese system is logically carried out. For my own part, I prefer the scattering system, but this is too large a subject to discuss here.

All these measures, however, are but palliatives. The real exorcism must be accomplished by raising the standard of morality until it will be regarded as shameful for a man to be unchaste as it is now for a woman, and in the promotion of everything which tends to give men and women more points of contact. Any advance that is made in the direction of the emancipation of women tends to reduce the physical relation to its proper subordinate position. Nor does this in any way imply the ignoring of the important part which that relation occupies in society. Unless civilization is a mistake and Christianity a delusion, monogamy is the ideal towards which our race is tending. In the future, adultery and fornication will be regarded as almost as inconceivable as incest. Every step towards this tends to exalt the conjugal relation and at the same time to extend the possibilities of friendship between the sexes.

Hitherto, I have confined myself to discussing the exorcising of evil spirits which are vices rather than crimes. But the criminal demon must not escape attention; he is the superlative degree of human crookedness. To cast him out is the task which the police and magistrates have continually before them and there is no truce in that eternal warfare. But there are one or two things which might be done with advantage in Chicago. The first is to case manufacturing criminals. That is much more practical and easier withal than to reclaim them after they are manufactured. Chicago manufactures her criminals in two ways: first, by the absence of any arrangement for dealing with incipient criminality in the child; secondly, in the lack of any adequate arrangements for reclaiming the idle tramp, or of preventing the gravitation into bumdom of the unemployed workingman, and thirdly, by the scandalous abuses which prevail in her police courts.

An admirable little book written by my friend, Mr. Waugh, the honorable Director of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, was published in England some 15 or 20 years ago. It was entitled The Jail Cradle, and Who Rocks It, and constituted such a damning indictment against sending children to herd with criminals that the practice of sending juvenile offenders to jail has almost ceased, with advantage to society and to the children themselves. New South Wales and some of the Australian colonies have gone further than any other countries in the protection of the juvenile offender from the influence of other criminals. If New South Wales is at the head of the scale Chicago lies very near the bottom. Police magistrates, journalists, and every other authority have deplored the practice of accustoming children before they are in their teens with the police station and the cells in the Bridewell. There is very little reverence for children in Chicago. Messenger boys not more than 14 years of age go in and out of the police cells every hour of the night gaining an intimacy with the drunken and debased classes which can hardly be said to tend towards edification. Mere lads the same age make a regular tour through the houses of ill-fame, selling newspapers on Fourth Avenue, nor is it thought that it is undesirable that such young children should be introduced so early to the abominations of a great city. As for the waifs and strays, if it were not for Mr. Daniels, the indefatigable superintendent of the mission of Sate Street, I do not know what would become of them. This mission is one of the most admirable charities in the city; and it is housed in a way which would be a disgrace to a third-rate country town. Mr. Daniels has set his heart upon the building on the Lake front, where there could be established a department dealing entirely with the juvenile offender so that he would be removed altogether from contact with elder criminals. His scheme, which is well thought out and carefully planned, would supply a court for all offenders whose youth would entitle them to special consideration, but he would use the greater part of the building as the headquarters of his busy boys. Mr. Daniels has made a business success of the Waif's Mission. He has taken the riffraff of the streets and trained them in habits of industry and thrift, and made them earn their own living. This is done under every conceivable difficulty; wretched accommodation, lack of support, in fact, lack of everything except what is supplied by Mr. Daniels's own indomitable will and loving heart. He is ready, if he is provided with adequate housing, for his lads to ask for no further contribution. He would make the institution self-supporting and rid the town of the shame and disgrace of the manufacture of juvenile criminals. I sincerely hope that the philanthropy of Chicago will see that Mr. Daniels's prayer does not go unanswered.

Criminals are also manufactured by neglecting the tramp. If no adequate provision is made for relieving the necessities of the penniless and destitute, they will beg and be supported by the conscience of the community in doing so. But begging is only one shade better than stealing, and the habit of mendicancy leads naturally to actual thieving.

There is no excuse for a city like Chicago in which the elementary necessities of sanitation and of street cleaning are so poorly attended to for refusing to provide a labor test for the tramp. It is in the winter when the tramp plague is the most formidable in the towns, and at that time there is work for 10,000 men on the streets and the alleys of the city. There is work enough to be done, it is only a question as to whether the tramps will be allowed an opportunity of working at useful labor for their rations instead of prowling round the city, infesting every street and alley and rapidly degenerating into the semicriminal condition of professional bum.

(To be continued.)

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