Chicago Tribune

Can Only Follow Law, Not Hit at Sources of Social Evil.

A nicely dress, plump young woman who hid her face behind her muff; a decent girl who stamped her feet and wept stormily at the suggestion of Lawndale hospital; another girl who had lived a week in a hotel with a man who was not her husband and whose story was told in such a faint voice that the court had to bend far forward to hear her — these made the bulk of the ebbing business of the Morals court yesterday.

There has been a noticeable falling off in cases before this court in the last few weeks. This is attributed to three causes — the let up in the federal work among women, the bad weather which drives women from the street, and the improved changes of girls to make good wages.

This is only a temporary situation, however, according to court attachés. The mills will be grinding merrily soon unless something id don to stop the sources of the evils which find their immediate effects in this court.

Judge Cook Defends Court.

The report of the Girls Protective Bureau of the war department commission in training camp activities, calling the Morals court a vicious circle, was commented on yesterday by Judge Wells M. Cook, who had charge of the court during the investigation. Judge Dolan now sits there.

"It is easy enough," Judge Cook said, "for any one to investigate a court and point out remedies and faults. This report fails to get at the bottom of the situation, which is simply that we are dealing simply with effects, and are bound to proceed according to rigid laws. We must fine or imprison, or discharge. We cannot make society over, or take care of these girls when they are released from prison.

How Records Class Delinquents

"The court has compiled splendid records of the social evil in Chicago, and in my opinion the situation sifts down to these factors:

"What to do with the 50 per cent of these girls who are feeble minded.

"What to do with the 47 per cent who are casual delinquents, capable of reform.

"What to do with the 3 per cent of perverts — both men and women.

"I am convinced after months in this court, seeing thousands of girls pass before me, that 50 percent of them are mentally deficient, without hope of mental growth. They are at their greatest physical attractiveness and can make an easy living this way.

Urges Colonies for Girls

"It has been shown at Lawndale that they can do a certain amount of work, and I think we should support a law building institutions or colonies where these girls could be put away from society. It is the only way to protect society. They keep coming back.

"For the casuals, those who are caught for the first time, it is a matter for the remaking of our economic conditions in many cases. For the perverts it is a medical problem.

"Certainly the court realizes that it does no good to fine or imprison the majority of the cases, though the records show and the court business shows that a certain percentage of women are frightened by this activity. The government activity in protecting soldiers and sailors has been a good thing. At least, it has made many women much more careful.

Why Girls Drift Back

"Something should be done to care for the girls when their time is up in the bridewell. Their former associates in the underworld are the only ones who care for them and watch them and meet them when they come out, offering them warmth and good clothes if they will go back to the old life. No organizations watches over them. Religion does not do them much good unless they are down and out.

"The Morals court is like any other court — it deals with the law. We cannot change the law, or do away with causes, or protect society beyond the limits which have been fixed."


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