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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/673

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THE CALIFORNIA PENAL SYSTEM.

tin at present usually contains about fourteen hundred and Folsom about nine hundred, but an increase equal to the gain in population would give them three thousand instead of twenty-three hundred. Even during the so-called hard times of recent years there has been no marked additions to the criminal classes in California, and the two great strikes—that of the ironworkers and that of the railroad brakemen and firemen—led to surprisingly few violations of the laws.

Close observers say that there has been a marked increase during the past decade in the number of tramps, and that petty criminals have increased everywhere. But there are no statistics of the county and township jails. It seems certain that many villages and small towns, even where incorporated, have increasing trouble with gangs of hoodlums who are rapidly fitting themselves for State prisons. The reform schools have been largely recruited from this semi-criminal element, but stronger laws, swifter punishment, more firmness in dealing with young offenders, and, in brief, a higher grade of public sentiment on the part of citizens of small towns is evidently necessary. According to recent discussions in the New York Evening Post, the same sort of thing occurs in staid New England, and there, as here, it is one of the most serious problems of the times. From such a class of idle and vicious boys the prisons will hereafter be recruited, rather than from newcomers.

The nativity tables of both prisons show that the number of California-born convicts ranges in recent years from eighteen per cent in 1890 to nearly twenty-five per cent in 1895-96. In that year in San Quentin, out of 819 American-born convicts, 314 were born in California, 68 in New York, 44 in Pennsylvania, 41 in Illinois, 36 in Ohio, and 35 each in Massachusetts and Missouri. Oregon sends 12, Arizona 10; Washington and Nevada are represented by only one apiece. The Southern States, excepting Kentucky and Virginia, send very few. Something the same proportion throughout holds at Folsom, and fairly indicates the States from which the population of California is chiefly drawn. The total of American nativity at San Quentin is sixty-four per cent; at Folsom, as last reported, it was about sixty-five per cent. Of the foreign born (thirty-six per cent at San Quentin), 99 out of 481 were Irish, 82 were Chinese, 56 were German, 49 were Mexican, and 44 were English. No one doubts that the laws are strictly enforced against the Chinese and the Mexicans (meaning Spanish-Californians); the other classes have votes and influence, and often have better chances for avoiding punishment for misdeeds. Japan contributes only one convict to San Quentin and two to Folsom. The Chinese as a rule go to prison for assaults upon each other ("highbinding"), for gambling, or similar offenses, but seldom for crimes against Americans. The Mexicans generally come