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secured, and make the lines of railroads free to commerce, subject only to the rights of the corporations and individuals to whom they belong to demand compensation for their use, and then only to the extent to which they may be used.
The fundamental doctrine of the State Constitution is that railways are highways, and that, considered alone in that character, they belong to the public, subject to the control and regulation of the State; and adopting the language of the Supreme Court, employed in some of the cases in which that tribunal has sustained subscriptions made by public bodies in aid of the construction of railroads, they are improved highways, and the corporations that, by the permission and under the authority of the State, invested their means in making the improvements, acquired fixed, exclusive and vested property interests in the highway as improved, which the State has no constitutional power to disturb or displace, except in the exercise of the right and power of eminent domain, and upon making just compensation. But, it is true, as before stated, that the corporations that constructed and improved these highways, in addition to the powers conferred upon them to construct and maintain their roads, were authorized to employ upon them the most improved methods of transportation, and to engage in and carry on the business of common carriers of passengers and freights, and under the Constitution, their right to carry on that business cannot be taken from them by legislative action, nor by the exercise of the right or power of eminent domain, for after others have acquired the right to engage in business as carriers ou the lines of their railways, there remains to the corporations but the right of participation in a common right which cannot be taken by the State in the exercise of any of its powers.
It will be observed that the theory of the Constitution thus presented concedes to the owners of railroads the right to compensation for the use of their roads, to the full extent that its use may be required or taken, and it will be easy for the General Assembly to prescribe rules under which carriers will be authorized to place upon any of the railroads of the State a definite number of engines and carriages to make stated trips from and to certain points, to move at an established rate of spted, to use the appurtenances of the road, and the fixed facilities provided by the corporation, or the right to provide facilities at different and convenient points along the line, all to be governed by such equal and proper regulations as may be prescribed by the corporation. But the exclusive right of railroad corporations to carry on the business of common carriers on their lines is not supported by any just view of the law. They may, notwithstanding the fact that other carriers engage in business on their lines, continue to prosecute the same business, but upon the highway of commerce in which they are interested as owners, they, while employed in the office and duty of carriers, have no superior rights to others.
In the conclusion of this view of this important subject it is due to myself that I should say, that the interests of the country demand that the power claimed by private persons and corporations to control all the great lines of intercourse between the remotest points on the continent, and the great centres of commerce and trade, cannot be longer endured.
In the infancy of the system, when railroads were merely subordinates to the natural lines of transportation, and their only competitors for business were the wagons of the pioneers, rights and powers were conceded to the corporations that controlled them, that are utterly inconsistent with the relations they now bear to the commerce of the country. They have superceded the rivers and the lakes, and, like them, must be made free, subject to no other burdens than such as are necessary to compensate those that own them; and no system of regulations which concedes the unfounded claim of railroad corporations, that are also engaged in business as common carriers, to the exclusive use of their lines for their own business, will or can be effectual to prevent the abuses, unjust discriminations and extortions under which the people have suffered so much, and of which they so justly complain.
PENAL AND REFORMATORY INSTITUTIONS.
At an early day the report of the Penitentiary Commissioners will be laid before the General Assembly, and I have the satisfaction of informing the representatives of the people that what was expected when the law now in force for the government of the Penitentiary was passed, is realized : that the institution is now, and has been for some months past, practically self-sustaining.
On the 17th day of April, 1871, the General Assembly, embarrassed by the unexpected and unfortunate controversy in relation to the proposed relocation of the seat of government, suspended its session until the fifteenth of November following, and left the Penitentiary management without the means of providing employment or support for the convicts, and largely indebted and without credit, so that in fact there were no means of carrying on the institution. I was compelled to convene the General Assembly, and to again urge such changes in the law for the government of the Penitentiary as experience had shown to be necessary, and to ask an appropriation from the treasury for the support of the institution, if such a law could not be passed. I accordingly issued my proclamation convening the General Assembly at Springfield on the 24th day of May, 1871.
I was, when I issued the proclamation convening the Legislature, fully aware of the certainty that my motives would be misunderstood and unjustly censured, especially as I was compelled to say that I regarded the prosecution of the work upon the new State house as important not only to the general interests of the State, but as a means of providing immediate and remunerative employment for the convicts in the penitentiary. In my message cominunicated to the General Assembly at its meeting on the 24th of May, 1871, I frankly stated my views in relation to the subject of appropriations for the prosecution of the work on the State house, and at the same time I said that “It has been my earnest desire, since the commencement of my official connection with the government of the State, to see the penitentiary so conducted as to accomplish the reformation of criminals, and at the same time be as little burdensome as possible to the people of the State, and notwithstanding the unsatisfactory results of past operations, I still believe that with proper legislation and judicious management' it may be made eminently useful as a penal and reformatory agency, and at the same time substantially self-sustaining;" and at the same time I felt it to be my duty to add, "the only practicable system for the successful management of the penitentiary, in my judgment, is that which combines the retention of vomplete control of the discipline and government of the convicts by the State, with the lease of their labor to persons engaged in special pursuits, etc.," and the General Assembly, soon after its meeting, passed a well considered act which embodies and gives effect to this principle, and executed as the law has been by the Commissioners, whose names appear to the report, all that was then predicted has been fully accomplished.
I feel it to be my duty to express my obligations to the Commissioners for the intelligence and fidelity with which they have discharged their duties, and I have no doubt the Warden and his subordinates, of whose services the Commissioners speak so highly, fully merit their commendations.
But notwithstanding the success of the efforts of the Legislature and the officers of the penitentiary to improve its discipline, and to relieve the treasury from the burden of its support, I can but consider what has been done as but mere preparation for the commencement of real prison reform.
I do not propose any change in the principle or the general structure of the law now in force regulating the management of the penitentiary. Under its provisions the labor of the convicts may be made to pay the expenses of the penitentiary, and under judicious management and favorable conditions of the general business of the country, possibly produce a surplus of greater or less amount, which ought to be employed for the benefit of the unfortunate persons by whose labor it is produced.
Nor do I think it possible to specifically direct the application of any surplus earnings so as to best promote the interests of the convicts. I therefore recommend that authority be given to the Commissioners to appropriate whatever may remain of the earnings of the penitentiary, after the payment of all its expenses, to the improvement of the condi tion of the convicts, to making temporary provision for the support of the more helpless and destitute, after their discharge, until they can find employment, or to aid them in doing so. It is impossible for persons unfamiliar with the actual state of the case, to imagine the utter helplessness of many convicts when discharged from the penitentiary. Com. mitted to the institution when comparatively young, and while there cut off from all intercourse with their fellow men, they come forth ignorant of all the methods of obtaining honest support, they are outcasts who feel that they would not be benefited by making their actual situation known even to the benevolent, and they are therefore almost inevitably driven to seek the society and the aid of those whose character and habits of life are such as will afford no support to any intention the convict may have formed to pursue better courses. No reformatory system can be considered to be complete without some provision for the temporary shelter and support of persons of this class, nor without affording them aid in finding employment.
THE REFORM SCHOOL.
One of the institutions maintained by the State, and that from its objects and organization may, without great impropriety, be classed with its charities, is the Reform School at Pontiac.
This institution, though yet in its infancy, will, if it is so managed as to maintain public confidence hereafter, exercise an important and salutary influence in the improvement and reformation of a class whose condition has always excited the deepest interest.
Juvenile offenders, whose crimes are most frequently the result of the incapacity or the negligence of parents or guardians, or of neglected orphanage, or as experience has demonstrated with respect to many of that class, of latent intellectual or moral incapacity or disease, while they attract and enlist the sympathies of the philanthropic, furnish the
most encouraging field for the employment of reformatory agencies, and it is to be hoped that as the State advances in wealth and culture a
greater degree of attention will be given not only to the classes intended to be provided for and benefited by the Reform School, but to neglected childhood wherever it may be found in the State.
It has been found extremely difficult in practice for the courts to har. monize some of the provisions of the law which provides for the commitment of persons to the Reform School, and the general laws that provide for the punishment of offenders by confinement in the penitentiary, with the obvious demands of criminal justice. As an illustration of the difficulty adverted to, it will be observed, by reference to the provisions of the act of 1867, in relation to the Reform School, that all courts of competent jurisdiction are authorized to exercise their discretion in sending juvenile offenders to the county jails in accordance with the laws, or in sending them to the Reform School, provided that no person shall be sent to the Reform School for a term that will detain him beyond the time when he shall arrive at the age of eighteen years. The practical effect of this provision is that a class of persons that are under the age of eighteen years, but have nearly attained that age, are deprived of the benefit of the institution. If they are within a few months of that age, a sentence to detention in the Reform School, until they attain the age of eighteen years, is but for a nominal term, which subjects the State to the expense of conveying the offender to the institution to remain for a time too short to be productive of benefit, while a sentence to confinement in the county jail produces all the mischiefs intended to be avoided by the establishment of the Reform School. It is suggested that it would be a judicious method of removing the difficulty to amend the law so as to authorize the courts to sentence juvenile offenders to the Reform School for a term to extend until they arrive at the age of twenty-one years.
INEBRIATE HOSPITAL. Recent investigations have led the most intelligent thinkers to the conclusion that drunkenness is a form of disease that admits of treatment and cure. This is not the proper occasion to discuss nor present at length any of the theories that have been lately advanced in relation to this form of misfortune, but enough is known to inspire a measure of confidence in the possibility of curing drunkenness by the use of the proper means, and no one familiar with the subject will hesitate to confess that, from its extensive prevalence and the mischiefs and dangers it is constantly producing, all efforts should be made to ascertain, by experiment, whether it does admit of permanent cure; nor would the failure of any experiment that might be made by the State relieve the subject from embarrassment, for there will still remain in the community a large and dangerous class, to whom may be traced the commission of a large proportion of the crimes that afflict society and disturb social order, and the time has come when it is a reproach to the State that no measures can be devised which will bring relief. I am aware that some still urge the total prohibition of the use of the liquors that produce intoxication, as the proper remedy for the evil of drunkenness; but I have never observed any satisfactory evidence of a real intention on the part of the people to enforce measures of prohibition, nor do I believe the total prohibition of the use of intoxicating agencies possible. But if I am mistaken in this opinion, and the time shall hereafter arrive when the men who believe the total prohibition of the use of intoxicating liquors judicious or possible, will come to consider that object of enough importance to induce them to prefer its success to that of political parties, and vote according to their convictions, and succeed in giving effect to their views, it is not so near at har.d that the General Assembly should, on account of its approach, delay to make provision to relieve society from the almost unendurable evils that drunkenness now produces.
Nor would it, in my judgment, greatly affect the duty of the General Assembly to make provision to protect society against the form of danger now under consideration, to express a concurrence with those who believe that intoxication is only a crime that merits punishment-and that is the light in which it is regarded under existing laws. As a crime none of the modes of punishment heretofore employed have been found sufficient to suppress it. As a social vice it is scarcely reproved; if, from the character or station of the guilty party, it is thought proper to punish the offender, it is done by the infliction and collection of fines, that only impoverish without reforming him, and the only effect of the frequent imposition of fines is to deprive him of his property and reduce his family to want.
To me the theories upon which the laws respecting drunkenness depend are as manifestly absurd as they are oppressive and unjust. If it is a mere habit, that inflicts no public injury, all the laws that treat it as a crime are unjust, and should be at once repealed. If it is a crime it should be punished whenever committed. The laws should be enforced impartially and without respect to the social standing of the offender, and if a crime, persons who become intoxicated ought to be subjected to the laws that authorize dangerous persons to be restrained.
If drunkenness is a disease or habit that produces physical alterations that assume the form of diseased mental or nervous action, so that the subject becomes an object of danger to individuals or to the public peace, punishments that assume his legal responsibility are unwarranted and unjust, though his confinement may be justified upon grounds that are consistent with proper regard for the safety of the public and with the real interests of the unhappy victim.
Accepting what I conceive to be the most enlightened as well as the most huinane view of the subject, I recommend to the General Assembly the establishment of an asylum or retreat for inebriates, to which all persons conscious of their unhappy condition may voluntarily resort upon consenting to such conditions and regulations for the gov. ernment of their conduct as may be prescribed under the authority of law, and to which all habitual drunkards and persons who become dangerous when intoxicated may be committed, and, if need be, confined until cured.
The safety of individuals and of society is involved in the success of the measure proposed.