15 NOVEMBER 1935, Page 18


[To the Editor of THE SPECTATOR.] Sin,—There can be no more sentimental attitude towards juvenile crime than that of the baffled adult, who, unable, to think of an intelligent way of righting a wrong or setting a " bad boy " straight, exclaims " Let's give him a birching." Wherever records have been kept of the after-history of juvenile court cases, they have shown that birching is the surest way of making young offenders into recidivists. It has nothing to commend it but the morbid satisfaction which vengeance, however futile, gives the avenger.

So the Rev. Frank Stone's belief in the birch is founded on the sand of supposition. As regards restitution he is on firmer soil, and as it is always good to find common ground with one's opponents, I cannot forbear to welcome Mr. Stone's advocacy of restitution as a condition of probation wherever it is possible for the young offender to restore what he has stolen or repair what he has damaged. • The Howard League has for long maintained ' that the general- failure to require restitution is a serious weakness in much juvenile court work—and in the adult cones as well. The idea of reformation receives much lip service in these days, but it is idle to talk of reformation if the offender is allowed to reap the benefit of his offence and if no attempt is made to impress on him that someone else has suffered by his fault. We agree with Mr. Stone that repayment of . the value of stolen property should be one Of the normal methods of the juvenile courts.—I am, Sir, yours, &c.,


The Howard League for Penal Reform,' Hon. Secretary.

Parliament Mansion4, -Orchard Street, S. W.1.