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American Prison Association: Constitution

National Prison Association

Article I. This association shall be called the American Prison Association, and its objects shall be—

  1. The amelioration of the laws in relation to public offences and offenders, and the modes of procedure by which such laws are enforced.
  2. The study of the causes of crime, the best methods of its prevention and the best means of treatment of the offender.
  3. The improvement of the penal, correctional and reformatory institutions, throughout the country, and of the government, management, and discipline thereof, including the appointment of boards of trustees and of other officers.
  4. The care of, and providing suitable and remunerative employment for discharged prisoners, and especially such as may or shall have given evidence of a reformation of life.

Article II. The officers of the association shall be a president, five vice-presidents, a general secretary, a financial secretary, a treasurer, and a board of directors, not exceeding thirty in number, of which the officers above named and the ex-presidents of the association shall be ex-officio members.

Article III. There shall be the following standing committees, namely: An executive committee, of which the president shall be ex-officio chairman, the general secretary, ex-officio secretary, and the financial secretary and treasurer ex-officio members; a committee on criminal law; a committee on prevention and probation; a committee on prisons; a committee on reformatory methods; a committee on parole and discharge of prisoners; and a committee on statistics.

Article IV. The board of directors, of whom any five members shall constitute a quorum—two of said members being officers of the association—shall meet annually, and in the interval of its meeting its powers shall be exercised by the executive committee, which shall fix its own times of meeting.

Article V. Any person contributing annually to the funds of the association five dollars shall be a member thereof; a contribution of one hundred dollars at any time shall constitute the contributor a life member; and a contribution of two hundred dollars at any one time shall entitle the contributor to be a patron. Corresponding members may be appointed by the board of directors or by the executive committee. The power of electing officers shall be confined to the corporate members of the association.

Article VI. The association shall hold an annual meeting at such time and place as it shall appoint, on which occasion the several standing committees and the treasurer shall submit annual reports.

Article VII. All officers of the association shall be elected at the annual meeting; but vacancies occurring after the annual meeting may be filled by the board of directors, who shall also appoint all committees not chosen at the annual meeting; and all officers shall hold over till their successors are chosen.

Article VIII. The executive committee shall consist of seven members of the board of directors—the president, the general secretary, the financial secretary, and the treasurer, being ex-officio members—any three of whom shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.

Article IX. This contribution may be amended by vote of a majority of the members of the association at any meeting thereof; provided that notice of the proposed amendment shall have been given at the next preceding meeting.


  1. The order of business at each stated meeting shall be such as is determined by the board of directors and the executive committee.
  2. The president, general secretary, financial secretary, and treasurer shall perform the customary duties of their respective offices. The general secretary shall be the executive officer of the association; the financial secretary shall collect the members’ dues and pay the same to the treasurer.
  3. The president shall appoint committees on organization, time and place of the next meeting, and on resolutions, at the first business session of the annual meeting of the Conference, unless otherwise ordered by the association.
  4. The president shall decide questions of order, subject to an appeal; and the rules of order shall be those in Cushing’s Manual, so far as they may be applicable.
  5. No bills shall be paid by the treasurer unless approved and signed by the president and general secretary of the association, or in case of death or incapacity of either, the persons designated by the executive committee to act in his stead.
  6. No alternation shall be made in these by-laws, except on notice of the proposed amendment at a previous meeting of the board.

 Source: Henderson, Charles Richmond. Papers, [Box 2, Folder 9], Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.