Teaching the Article
Exercise 1

Work, Welfare, and Punishment

The Great Depression and New Deal changed the relationship between punishment and welfare. The Franklin D. Roosevelt administration gave new importance to crime prevention, and during the Great Depression more Americans understood crime and delinquency not as the product of poor character, but as the unhappy outcome of social circumstances. Especially in the cities, unemployment was high, young men’s ambitions for success as family providers were most frustrated, and the opportunities for crime were plentiful. Ask yourself whether these circumstances motivated Roosevelt to create the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The growing number of vagrants who arrived in Los Angeles created another population of urban unemployed; only these young men were to serve time for vagrancy and related offenses against public order in prison camps administered by the probation officer and criminologist Kenyon Scudder.

We would expect labor in welfare camps, such as those of the CCC, to be decidedly different than that in punitive work camps. As Scudder’s description of camp labor makes clear, however, he understood his camps more in terms of welfare than of punishment. Prisoners, too, appreciated the benefits of camp work, as you can learn from the recollections of the inmate Wayne Hunnicutt. But he also shares memories of the many risks and dangers of forest labor, which changed the lives of prisoners such as Arthur Aceves, who transformed from being a small-time drug offender to a lifelong welfare case.


  1. What solution to unemployment did Roosevelt offer in his second fireside chat? What “incalculable harm” do you think he sought to prevent? What concern about labor camps did the president try to anticipate in this fireside chat?
  2. What, according to Kenyon Scudder, prompted young boys to get in trouble? What benefits did young men gain from their commitment to forestry camps? What about these camps, do you think, was punitive?
  3. What did Wayne Hunnicutt like about the camp work? What did he dislike? How does he remember the relationship between camp prisoners and the surrounding communities during his camp assignment in 1961?
  4. How did the Department of Corrections case workers explain Arthur Aceves’s drug addiction? Try to reconstruct the events of August 9, 1964: How did this accident change Aceves’s life, and how specifically did it change his prospects for rehabilitation?


  1. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Second Fireside Chat, May 7, 1933.
  2. Excerpts from Kenyon Judson Scudder interview: Criminologist and Social Engineer. Completed under the auspices of the Oral History Program, University of California, Los Angeles, 1967, Special Collections Stacks Call no 300/49.
  3. Excerpts from Wayne Hunnicutt interview by Janssen Volker, Dec. 8, 2003, at Petaluma, California. (Recording in Volker Janssen’s possession). (5:41)
  4. Excerpts from Inmate Case File: Arthur Aceves (A-60028), received June 27, 1960.