Trends in Social Work, 1874-1956: A History Based on the Proceedings of the National Conference of Social Work

By Frank J. Bruno | Go to book overview

8 CONCERN OF THE CONFERENCE
WITH THE DELINQUENT

THE WORK of two men, Zebulon Reed Brockway and John Augustus, dominated much of the discussion that took place on delinquency, not only in the National Conference, but in other circles interested in penology, such as the National Prison Association and university classes on charities and correction. The history of the Elmira ( New York) Reformatory was almost precisely parallel with the life of the Conference, so that reports of its progress, and especially references to it as the exemplification of ideal prison administration, constantly occurred in contemporary literature. John Augustus died fifteen years before the Conference came into existence, but the dramatic beginnings in probation which he developed in Boston were lively memories to men of that period.

John Augustus ( 1785-1859) was a bootmaker who visited the police and municipal courts of Boston and was led by an unusual interest in people, coupled with a natural gift of discrimination, to ask a judge to be given the privilege of going bail for certain convicted defendants, who would then be released in his custody. Augustus then arranged to have the men (later he included women, even prostitutes), report regularly to him. He secured medical attention for them and found work, keeping meticulously accurate records of each person for whom he became surety. Most of the cases were of drunkenness, and Augustus persuaded them at once to sign a pledge of abstinence; it is reported that this reform, together with his persua

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