MAY 5, 1958
NEW YORK—It is an encouraging thing to find it being made more difficult for the Soviets to continue to take a negative attitude toward the proposal for a U. N. air patrol in the Arctic. Such a plan was advanced a number of years ago by Mrs. Elvira Fradkin in her first book on the U. N. air patrol, and it is interesting to find the same idea now coming up, even though in a limited way in this Arctic area.
If the plan could be accepted, it might be the beginning of real progress in disarmament. The Secretary General's plea to the Soviets to consider this, as well as Secretary Dulles' apparent willingness to cut flights and allay some of the Soviet's apparent fears, must mean that our Strategic Air Command believes that a U. N. patrol might be efficacious. One expects the first reaction from Moscow by Messrs. Khruschev and Gromyko to be a negative one, but perhaps we can hope for second thoughts and a more acquiescent attitude on the part of the Soviet representative in the Security Council.
The problem of the most effective psychology to be used in prison institutions was highlighted by the recent riot of some inmates in New York's Women's House of Detention. A high departmental officer, testifying against his chief, Correction Commissioner Anna Kross, made the revealing remark: Mrs. Kross is more sympathetic to inmates than to her officers, and the high brass of the department is angry at this."He also added that officers in the House of Detention were "burning mad" because Mrs. Kross had not punished the inmates who started the disturbance which ultimately involved 40 women.
It seems to me that Mrs. Kross has a right to expect her officers, above everything else, to be concerned about the prisoners in their care. Brutality does not help rehabilitation. It is true that the House of Detention, which was designed merely to house prisoners temporarily until sentence is passed, has been forced to serve as an actual prison. It is badly overcrowded, women have been kept there for long periods of time and the conditions, while somewhat improved, are very much less than ideal. I can therefore imagine what a difficult task faces the officers and the staff.
At the same time, I do not think that Mrs. Kross is unaware of the fact that the officers are dealing with extremely difficult people—bad people, emotionally disturbed people, people of low intelligence, as well as some of high intelligence who have unfortunately allowed themselves to sink into bad ways. No one is always wise, and it is quite possible that some of Mrs. Kross' ways of handling both the inmates and her staff are not always the best. But few people are more honestly devoted than she to improving conditions for both staff and inmates and to seeing that whatever can be done for rehabilitation is put into effect. We cannot want our prison institutions to be simply places of incarceration from which people go out hating society and their fellow human beings more than they did before they went in.