"THE CITY AND COUNTY FEDERATION OF WOMEN'S CLUBS" of San Francisco

WOMAN'S COURT DEPARTMENT

Mrs. L. M. Culver, Chairman

Two years have elapsed since the first and only report of a Women's
Police Court in the city of San Francisco was ever written.

The past two years have been years of work and study to make the Court
as efficient as possible. The Judges have always aided and abetted our
work in many ways, and we feel that we have accomplished much. Great
gains have been made in the rehabilitation of families and the care of
children that came under our supervision. We have closely followed the
plans mapped out in the beginning of our work, and we have sent many
girls not only to their homes in the United States, but in five cases to
foreign countries.

Due to the enactment of the "Prohibition Law," a very large percentage
of our Failures to Provide, Abandonment of Wife, Battery Cases and the
number of women addicted to drink who have come through our Court have
been reduced; I feel safe in saying, fully fifty percent. This means
independence of families, better fed and clothed children, happier
faces, closer family ties, less illness and many happy homes, where
before fear and sorrow and poverty were predominant.

For some time we have realized that certain eliminations of procedure in
both Police and Superior Courts are necessary to obtain that justice all
are entitled to expect, when they come into the Court. Chief among these
are the continuations of cases for trial until witnesses have moved away
or are not to be found. Between the trials of cases in the Woman's Court
and their hearing in the Superior Court, months sometimes elapse, and a
case that was heard in the Woman's Court with all the details complete,
in the Superior Court many weeks later, is dismissed, because the
witnesses cannot be found. This extreme lapse of time should be
eliminated in order that justice may be rendered.

Close study of cases in the Woman's Court has assured us that a Public
Defender in the Court is becoming imperative. The Prosecuting Attorney
is provided by the City and County, but the Defendant must provide
counsel regardless of his financial ability to do so, or do without.
This compels the presiding judge to be counsel as well as judge when the
defendant appears without aid. The Public Defender is as necessary as
the Prosecuting Attorney and the introduction of the Public Defender
into the Woman's Court will have a very decided moral effect, and
prevent criticism of the decisions of the Judge by the defendant, many
times, when unable to obtain counsel.

Our incumbent District Attorney - and Police Judge at the time of the
establishment of the Woman's Court, and one of its strongest supporters
- willing at all times to help work out the problems of the Woman's
Court, has created a department within the Bond and Warrant office
whereby minor cases such as neighborhood quarrels, family troubles,
battery cases - are heard on citations separate from the Woman's Court,
thereby relieving the Court of many cases that should never come into
it. By this means alone over 200 cases have been heard by that
department since January 8, 1920, that would otherwise have come into
the Woman's Court.

One of the hardest problems confronting the Woman's Court was a sane,
practical, efficient manner of handling the cases of the delinquent
women, who come into the Court. Nothing yet tried has in any way been
efficient. We have followed all the laws laid down by Nation, State and
City and found only a ring around which we are traveling day after day,
getting nowhere.

The City and County Federation of Women's Clubs, desiring that some
positive action might be taken which meant rehabilitation, went before
the State Legislature in 1919 and asked and worked for a State
Industrial Farm for Delinquent Women. Fifteen States of the Union are
now maintaining these farms, and reports and results obtained from them,
assured them, that this meant the definite change of purpose for which
they were working. The State gave $155,000 and Gov. Stephens appointed
five persons, three women, and two men, as a committee to carry out the
plan and purpose.

A site in Alameda County will probably be decided upon, and the building
plans are in the State Architect's hands, and they are assured by their
committee that the farm will be purchased in a short time. This Farm is
not a workhouse or a jail, but just a farm in the fullest sense of the
term - tilling the soil, dairying, laundry work, cooking, house work,
sewing, chicken raising, work that will fit them for earning their own
livlihood, and making homes for themselves.

The Woman's Court has entered upon its fourth year. We have learned how
to work and the Judges have accepted our suggestions and worked with us
and harmony has been the result. As citizens, we appreciate the
privileges extended us and they have been many, and we earnestly hope
the Judges feel that their work taken up where they lay it down, and
carried on until order and comfort is the result in those families that
come before them, means better homes, greater happiness and better
citizens.

The Police Department has been called upon many times during the past
two years for aid in the carrying out of our work, and instant response
and most efficient results have aided us greatly. We appreciate these
efforts in our behalf and the courtesy and interest they have always
shown.

The Chairman of the Department reports also the following, which will be
of interest to our Federation members:

On the day of the Fourth Annual Convention June 2, 1920, the Federation
was, unknowingly, taking an active part in the federating of the Women's
Clubs of our Island sisters in Mid-Pacific Ocean.

The Club women of the City of Honolulu and the Island of Oahu have long
been recognized as active factors in civic life. The problems to be met
were, in many ways, the problems of the San Francisco City Federation,
and after several meetings of discussion and understandings, on the
second day of June, 1920, at a called mass meeting in Mission Memorial
Hall in Honolulu, representatives of nearly fifty Island clubs
unanimously voted to federate their clubs that a more centralized
strength, closer co-operation and a thorough acquaintance of their club
life might be obtained.

The women of Honolulu and the Islands are wonderful workers, and the
results of their work can be seen on every side. Kindergartens in many
parts of the Island have been maintained by them for years, to afford
their large foreign population the opportunity of an elementary
education upon which to build a definite American manhood.

The Outdoor Circle of six hundred women is engaged in tree planting,
parking and beautifying the sides of the mountains by planting ferns and
creeping flowering plants along the wonderful drives that carry one to
every part of the Island, which is one continuous garden of beauty in
itself.

Child Welfare has long been a very carefully and well carried out
constructive plan; and many clubs have given their whole efforts in this
direction. They have furnished stenographers and special investigators
at their own expense in order that the best results might be obtained.

Industrial Schools for boys and girls have been established, and the
work of the Girls' School is a great credit to the Island Territory and
a most progressive step in rehabilitation.

The Boy's School commences with the cottage plan this year, and their
efficiency will soon set a mark of capability that mainland states may
well follow.

To these conditions are the Islands entitled: Better transportation,
more ships, shorter time and cheaper rates. We should work from this
side for these things that mean much to us as well as to these rapidly
advancing Islands.

The San Francisco City Federation is most happy to present this
introduction to our Island neighbors.

If we can help you, you have our promise of aid.

If you grow beyond us, then we shall ask aid from you.


Transcribed by Elaine Sturdevant

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Page last updated June 2, 2002