A protectory is a Roman Catholic institution for the shelter and training of the young, designed to afford neglected or abandoned children shelter, food, raiment and the rudiments of an education in religion, morals, science and manual training or industrial pursuits.
Institutions of this character are to be found in most of the dioceses of the United States. They are usually open to the reception of juvenile delinquents, who, under the better ideas now obtaining in criminal procedure, are committed by the courts, especially by Juvenile Courts, to educational rather than to penal institutions.
San Michéle, the first protectory for youth, was founded at Rome in 1704 by Pope Clement XI. When John Howard, the English prison reformer (1726–90), visited the institution, he read above the entrance this inscription: "Clement XI, Supreme Pontiff, for the reformation and education of criminal youths, to the end that those who when idle had been injurious to the State, might, when better instructed and trained, become useful to it. In the Year of Grace 1704; of the Pontiff, the fourth". On a marble slab inserted in one of the interior walls he read further: "It is of little use to restrain criminals by punishment, unless you reform them by education". This became the keynote of modern penology. The inmates worked together by day in a large hall where was hung up in large letters, visible to all, the Latin word silentium, indicating that the work must go on in silence. At night they slept in separate cells. This system of associated or congregate labour in silence by day and cellular separation at night, for which, under the name of the Auburn System, so much excellence has been claimed in American penology, was thus inaugurated at Rome in the beginning of the eighteenth century, more than a hundred years prior to the introduction of the method into use here. The same wise pontiff established in connexion with this foundation of San Michéle a special court for the trial of offenders under twenty years of age, a plan that has re-appeared in the last decade in the Juvenile Courts established in America and eelsewhere for the trial of delinquents under (seventeen years of) age.
Secular protectories or reform schools, or euphemestically termed "training schools", were instituted in America during the initial quarter of the nineteenth century. On 1 January 1825, the House of Refuge was opened with appropriate exercises on what is now Madison Square, New York City. Nine children, just gathered from the streets, were present and formed the nucleus of the new establishment that later grew to vast proportions on Randalls Island. Boston followed with a similar institution in 1826; Philadelphia in 1828; and in 1855 a girls' reformatory was founded at Lancaster, Massachusetts on the family or cottage plan, dividing the institution into three separate houses of thirty girls each, with their three matrons, all under the general supervision of a superintendent.
In 1904, according to the U.S. Census Reports, there were thirty-nine states and territories with institutions for juvenile delinquents, and these had ninety-three institutions exclusively for such children, reporting a population; between seven and twenty-one years of age, of 23,034 as against 14,846 population in such institutions on 1 June 1890. These figures did not include children placed in these institutions by parents or guardians without the sanction or order of a magistrate or other lawful committing authority, nor persons under twenty-one years of age committed to institutions that are not exclusively for juveniles, e.g. jails and workhouses. Inquiry at the Census Office in Washington showed there were one hundred and three institutions for juvenile delinquents in 1910; eighty-seven of these institutions reported 22,096 inmates on 1 January 1910.
In the great majority of cases the institutions are public. But the report of the Census entitled "Prisoners and Juvenile Delinquents in Institutions: 1904" observes that in several states the reformation and correction of delinquents are entrusted in whole or in part to private or religious agencies, and distinguishes as the most notable among these the Catholic Protectory in what is now the Parkchester section of the Bronx, the largest institution of the kind in the U.S., which in 1904 contained 2566 delinquents and dependents. The actual number present in this institution on 31 December 1909, was 2320, of whom 540 were girls accommodated in a department and buildings separate from the boys under the care of the Sisters of Charity. The boys were in charge of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, of the Institute founded by St. John Baptiste de la Salle. Another large protectory, St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys in charge of the Xaverian Brothers at Baltimore, Md., had a juvenile population of 748 on 1 December 1909. Since 1866, St. Mary's has cared for 7593 boys. Similar institutions were: in the United States, at Chicago, Illinois; Arlington, New Jersey (Diocese of Newark); Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Utica, New York (Diocese of Syracuse). In Canada, 4 in the Archdiocese of Montreal. In England: for boys, at Walthamstow, Essex; Farnworth, Lancashire; Birkdale, Lancashire and Market Weighton, Yorkshire nad for girls, at Bristol, Gloucestershire and Liverpool, Lancashire. In Scotland, at Parkhead, Glasgow. In Ireland: for boys, at Glencree, Co. Wicklow, and Philipstown, King's Co.; for girls, at Drumcondra, Co. Dublin.
Most of the juvenile delinquents sent to institutions in the United States are committed either during minority or for an indeterminate period. Statistics show that female delinquents are committed during minority more frequently than the males. On the other hand, commitment for an indeterminate period was more frequently imposed upon males than females. Most of these delinquents are literate. During 1904, of the male delinquents, 84.7 per cent could both read and write; the per cent of literate females was as high as 89.4. The length of stay in the institution is as a general rule not long. Under the system of parole and probation, the actual restraint is much shortened. The average duration of residence of 1508 boys discharged from the New York Catholic Protectory had been fifteen and two-thirds months; of two hundred and fifty girls, thirty-two and one-half months. The management of the Protectory claim that the girls' department cannot be considered a reformatory or even a home for delinquent children, and express their satisfaction with the recent amendment of the law in New York to prohibit the conviction of children under sixteen years of age of crime as such, restricting the complaint to delinquency.
At St-Yon, in France, in the first quarter of the eighteenth century, St. John Baptiste de la Salle undertook the training and correction of wayward youth. The methods which are now employed at the New York Catholic Protectory, which is under the care of the order established by him, can be taken as indicative of the general plan of protectories or the ideals which they seek to attain. The Protectory aims to form the youth committed to its care by vigilance, good example and instruction: vigilance, to remove from the children the many occasions of offending; example, that the teachers be exemplars of the virtues they inculcate, for example is much better than precept; instruction, that they may become intelligent scholars, not only in the secular sciences but in religion, which is the warmth that gives life and light to all other learning, without which there is danger that knowledge may but minister to evil. Many of the boys received have been truant players with a strong disinclination to study. To overcome this and to train and develop the receptive faculties in the usual school studies entails much labour upon the Brothers. Moreover, it is felt that for these children especially vocational studies should not be postponed until mature years, but should be commenced early, so as to accustom the boy to what may afterwards prove to be the means of earning his own livelihood when he shall have left the Protectory. Accordingly, the effective faculties are instructed in different industries, in printing in all its branches, photography, tailoring, shoemaking, laundry work, industrial and ornamental drawing, sign-painting, painting, wheel-wrighting, blacksmithing, plumbing, carpentry, bricklaying, stone-work, baking in its different branches, and in practical knowledge of boilers, engines, dynamos and electric wiring.
At the Lincoln Agricultural School, a subsidiary institution, the boys also receive a training in dairy-farming and other agriculture. It was felt that if these children should not acquire a taste for the farm and for husbandry, but should return later to the city, they will have passed the trying period of their lives under conditions that will help them to be good men and assist them in health and in many other ways in after-life. While the productivity of these protectories is sometimes considerable, this is not the aim, but simply incidental to their primary object, which is the development of an industrious boy of good character for the glory of God and the good of the country. Protectories are always desirous of allowing their inmates to go out into the world, if they are prepared for it. They are impressed with the truth in the statement of Archbishop Hughes in his letter of 19 June 1863, to Dr. Ives: "Let the children be in their house of protection just as short as possible. Their lot is, and is to be, in one sense, a sufficiently hard one under any circumstances, but the sooner they know what it is to be the better they will be prepared for encountering its trials and difficulties". These protectories have established working boys' homes, like St. Philip's of New York City, St. James' of Baltimore, the Working Boys' Home of Chicago, and other places, where the children may be safely housed and fed, taught manners, trained in the amenities of life, and somewhat accustomed to the use of money and economic conditions before they become incorporated in the great mass of citizenship.