West Virginia Reform School

Preston County Journal
July 24, 1890

West Va. Reform School.

The Board of Directors of the West Va. Reform School was in session at Pruntytown from Tuesday till Friday of last week. All the members were present except Major Gluck, who came as far as Grafton, where he was taken seriously ill and had to return home.

The Directors having decided at their May meeting to use the Court-house and jail buildings for the purpose of the school, and having relegated the matter of getting them and other things in readiness for the opining of the school, to the executive Committee (Messrs. Dawson, Woods and Gluck), the Committee had both buildings repaired both inside and out, repapered, a new roof put on the jail, and much other work done. This work has been under the direction of Supt. Showalter, and has been well and handsomely done. A full set of by-laws, prepared by President Price, was adopted, and an immense amount of other work was done. The school opened last Monday. Mr. and Mrs. Wirt Barnetts, of Pruntytown, were chosen warden and matron respectively.

There is an erroneous idea concerning the school. Pupils are not "sentenced" to it. Under the regulations adopted, boys must be sent to the school until they are of age. A boy may be discharged within 18 months after his entrance, if his conduct is firstrate. A regular system of merit-badges, copied from the national school near Washington, has been established. How long a boy will stay at the school depends on his own conduct. It cannot be less than 18 months (except in cases of pay pupils, who will be received for a period of not less than a year), or it may be till he is 21 years of age. After his discharge, he is liable to rearrest at any time until he is 21. Judges and Justices sending boys to the school, do not sentence them for a definite period, as to jail or to the penitentiary, but place them in charge of the school until they reach their majority. The Directors decide whether the boy is fit to be discharged while in his minority. Such is the rule at all the reform schools of the Country, so far as we know.

The Board meets on the second Tuesday of October, January, April and July, and the Executive Committee on the second Tuesday of each month. This committee for the current three months is Messrs. Dawson, Woods and Sennett.

The law concerning admission of pupils is as follows:

The manner of receiving inmates into the West Va. Reform School shall be in either of the following modes, namely: First, male minors under the age of sixteen years may be committed by the justice of the peace of any of the counties in the State, on complaint and due proof made to him by the parents, guardian or next friend of such minor, that by reason of incorrigible or viciuos [sic] conduct, such minor has rendered his control beyond the power of such parent, gardian [sic] or next friend, and made it manifestly requisite that from regard for the morals and future welfare of such minor and the peace and order of society, he should be placed in the West Virginia Reform School.

Second, male minors under the age of sixteen years may be admitted under the authority aforesaid, when complaint and due proof have been made that such minor is a proper subject for said reform school by reason of vagrancy or of incorrigible or vicious conduct and that from the moral depravity or otherwise of the parent, guardian or next friend, in whose custody such minor may be, such parent, guardian or next friend is incapable of unwilling to exercise proper care and discipline over such incorrigible or vicious minor.

Third, such male minors under the age of sixteen years as their parents, guardian or next friend may desire to place therein for temporary restraint or discipline, where parents, guardian or next friend shall agree and contract with the board of directors for their support and maintenance. And fourth, male minors committed by the several courts of the State as provided by the following section:

Whenever any male minor, under the age of sixteen years, shall be convicted in any of the courts of this State of felony, or of a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment, the judge of said court in his discretion and with reference to the character of the Reform School as a place of reform and not of punishment, instead of sentencing said minor to be confined in the penitentiary or county jail may order him to be removed and confined in the said Reform School; Provided, That in all cases no such transfer of any such minor from any county shall be made until due notice has been given to the superintendent of the Reform School and an answer received from him that there is room for such minor.

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