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The Michigan State Reform School is pleasantly situated on a slight elevation, at the east end of Shiawassee street, about one mile north of east from Capital Square, city of Lansing.
A farm of one hundred and thirty-nine acres belongs to the Institution ; three acres of which are inclosed by a high board fence, and building in front, and the shops in the rear.
The yard in front of the building, containing five acres, is surrounded by a neat picket fence, and laid out in drives and walks, and ornamented with trees and shrubs.
The grounds enclosed by the high fence are devoted to the pleasure and comfort of the boys, on a portion of which a gymnasium is erected, which adds materially to their health and enjoyment.
The center building of the house proper fronts west, and is forty-eight feet wide, fifty-six feet deep, and four stories high. There are two wings, extending north and south, each ninetyfive feet long, thirty-three feet deep, and three stories high, excepting the towers at the extremities, which are four stories high. One wing extending east eighty-three feet, thirty feet deep, three stories high. On the first or ground floor of the center building are a kitchen and dining-room for the Superintendent, a store-room and laundry. On the second floor are a reception room, parlor, Superintendent's office and private
On the third floor are rooms for the officers and employés. On the fourth floor is the chapel, suitably arranged, and furnished for seating four hundred persons.
On the first floor of the north wing are the dining-rooms
for the boys. The second floor is used for dormitories and bedrooms, and all the upper portion is used for dormitories, arranged with separate sleeping apartments for the boys.
In the basement of south wing is the wash or bath room for the boys, where their daily ablutions are performed. On the first floor are school-rooms and tailor shop; on the second floor, school-rooms and library. The upper portion, as in the north wing, for sleeping apartments.
In the basement of the east wing are the laundry, storeroom and cellar. On the first floor, the kitchen, bakery, shoe shop and ironing room. On the second, the hospital and bed. rooms, and in the upper portion are sleeping apartments for the boys.
On the northeast part of the yard stand the shops, a three story brick building one hundred and forty-six feet long and fifty-three feet wide, suitably divided and provided with machinery for the employment of the boys.
On each side of the main building, facing the front yard, stand two family houses; two story brick edifices, forty-two by fifty-two feet, containing suitable apartments for an overseer and his family, together with a large number of inmates whose good conduct has merited this advancement.
The farm, all of which is now under cultivation and pasturage except about twenty-five acres of wood-land, has for its use a large barn 48 x 60, with stone basement and cellar for the use of cattle, a horse-barn, wagon and tool sheds, etc., sufficient to shelter all the stock and tools necessary for carrying on its operations.
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Showing a great moral improvement in the community during the time, which is corroborated by the statistics of other penal institutions of the State; a pleasing subject of contemplation that the moral standing of our population is improving, and a high compliment to the political complexion of the government that has controlled in all departments of State during all these years, being so strikingly in contrast with that of New York City, which has about the same population, whose control bas, during the same period, been under a different dynasty; and its criminal calendar shows a fearful increase of crime. This
may not be a proper time to ask an examination of this subject, but it is at least one which may well be considered as pertinent to our work, and worthy of consideration and reflection by political economists, whatever may be their creed.
We cannot too often repeat what has so often been referred to in the reports of this Board, of our faith in the beneficent work institutions of this character may accomplish, if well conducted; or their importance for juvenile delinquents; furnishing the means for supplying that education of which they have been deprived, and which will fit them for future usefulNo truer axiom was ever uttered than “if society and
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individuals do not tax themselves for the virtue of youth, they will be doubly taxed for the vice of the adult." If we would have noble, honorable manhood, we should see to it that the children and youth of our country are kept in the paths of rectitude and virtue.
We have already referred to the low standard of education of the boys when admitted, as shown by the reports of the officers of the School. This fact is often times a reason for detention for a period after a boy may, by good conduct, have attained that grade which would under other circumstances admit of his discharge; and it is the best answer we can give to many fond parents or interested friends, who urge an early release of those confided to our control, that we insist that our duty to the state and community from which they come, requires their detention until they receive some portion of that instruction which, through the neglect of those friends or other causes, they have been deprived.
The importance and expediency of public education have ceased to be topics of argument; the policy of our State upon this subject has become fixed and settled. But there are a large number, especially in our large towns and cities, who seldom, if ever, attend the public schools so bountifully provided for them. This is proverbially true of that sect who are clamoring for a division of the school fund, that they may use their portion to sustain their sectarian schools. They also demand the expulsion of the Bible from our schools. In both of these demands they have succeeded in the State of New York. As an evidence of the fruit of this particular class of education, we should fail to perform our duty if we did not especially invite attention to the Superintendent's table referring to this subject, showing the great disproportion of the Roman Catholic representation here, as compared with the population of our State.
It is notorious that a very small proportion of the Roman Catholic children attend our public schools.
subordinate officers in the school, since our last report; some of whom were not pleased at the conclusion we were forced to arrire at—that their services were not beneficial to the best interests of the school,--and made charges of grave import against other' officers, which made an investigation into its affairs necessary. The result has been made public, therefore it is unnecessary to refer to it here.
The work still goes on, each one aiming to contribute something towards the reclamation of these waifs of society, in training them for paths of usefulness and industry. Too much praise cannot be awarded to the Superintendent and his assistants, for their faithful and unwearied devotion to the work of bringing these lads to realize the importance of pursuing lives of usefulness and industry.
The question of satisfactory employment has ever been a question of the greatest importance to the management of the School-one to which they have given much thought and consideration—to so employ them at some occupation within their capacity, which would be remunerative to as large a degree as possible, without a great outlay of capital, and at the same time be of service to them in earning a livelihood when discharged. So far, the caning and flagging of chair-seats has seemed to be the most available to this end of any which has presented itself to our notice; and yet, this is not a trade which they can rely upon to any great extent as an occupation, and very few indeed follow it when released from the School. As in former years, the Farm has received a large share of attention and given employment to a considerable portion of the larger and older boys.
The amount of labor expended in clearing, fencing, and ditching, thus bringing into successful cultivation a very unpromising and rough tract of land, has been a task of far greater magnitude than any one can comprehend who has not been familiar with it as it has been in progress. Yet, great and laborious as it has been, we trust in future years the insti