Document 5: Richard Tuthill to Cora Bussey Hillis, 10 January 1904, Cora Bussey Hillis Collection, Ms. 72, Box 1, State Historical Society of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa.
This letter from Cook County Judge Richard Tuthill is one of the many letters of advice Hillis received as the Iowa campaign entered the final stages. In this letter, Tuthill focuses on probation and the success of the system in Illinois.
The cornerstone of the juvenile court philosophy was that children could be rehabilitated. To accomplish this goal, judges in the juvenile court utilized a new range of interventions that were designed to address the needs of society as well as the needs of the child. Tuthill's discussion of probation and houses of detention reflects an important element in the story of the movement. These systems were the heart of new legislation, so Hillis needed to learn from experts about what worked and what did not work in other states. In this way, again, it is an interesting to look at the final law and concurrent legal documents to see to what extent Tuthill's advice was adopted in Iowa.
Circuit Court of Illinois.
Judge Richard S. Tuthill
In Chambers, Chicago 1/10/1904
Mrs. Cora B. Hillis,
Des Moines, Ia.
My dear Mrs. Hillis:
In reply to you jut [sic] at hand, would say, that I would provide in the Bill for paid probation officers, at least one in every county, and two in every county with a population over fifty thousand, or perhaps three. Judge Cole will be better able to decide upon this question than I could, the officers to be paid by the county upon the approval of the judge of the juvenile court, fixing the salary in the law at such sum as the judge thinks proper under the circumstances. The probation officers here who are paid, are paid through voluntary subscription and the salary averages from fifty to sixty dollars a month.
The Indiana law I like really better than our Illinois law, as they have made some improvements, as to paying board money for children. We have it in our law but it has never been successfully carried out with us. The Children's Home and Aid Society endeavor to raise money for this purpose but we had such poor success in keeping the children in homes provided that I am not able to say what is best in that respect.
I fear you would have difficulty in raising money to pay probation officers by voluntary subscription. Here in Chicago a large number of very wealthy people who are charitably inclined and able to give and want to give, want to feel they are doing something in this child saving work themselves contribute. I think some seven or eight probation officers are paid by individuals, each paying the salary of one probation officer.
I think, perhaps, you could get along without a Detention Home, by simply notifying the parents, fixing time, place etc. I do this here, and really have no difficulty in getting the child in court, this, of course, would over come the expense of a detention home.
What is best to be done in any instance, is generally determined by existing conditions at the time and place. You, Judge Cole and others interested in this work are much better able to appreciate your conditions than I am, and I would feel much hesitancy in advising you, except very tentatively, as to what to do. Act on your own best judgment and you will probably act more wisely than if out-siders say what you ought to do.
Yours, very sincerely,
(signed) R.S. Tuthill