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AGO 1956 No. 288 - June 22, 1956
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

MAY THE DEPARTMENT OF INSTITUTIONS EMPLOY CHAPLAINS AT THE INSTITUTIONS UNDER ITS CONTROL -- EXCEPTING THE REFORMATORY AND THE PENITENTIARY -- IN CONFORMANCE WITH THE 4TH AMENDMENT TO THE WASHINGTON STATE CONSTITUTION

Of the institutions inquired about, only the Green Hill School and the Maple Lane School may employ chaplains conformably to the limitations of the 4th Amendment to the Washington State Constitution, construing the 4th Amendment to the Washington State Constitution, amending Article I, Section 11.

                                                                   - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                                                                   June 22, 1956

Honorable Neil J. Hoff, Chairman
Subcommittee on Public Institutions
206-C Administration Building
University of Washington
Seattle 5, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 55-57 No. 288


Dear Sir:

            By your letter of May 31, 1956, previously acknowledged, you ask for our opinion as to whether the state constitution prohibits the department of institutions from employing chaplains at the following state institutions:

1.         Rainier State School;

2.         Lakeland Village;

3.         Western State Hospital;

4.         Northern State Hospital;

5.         Eastern State Hospital;

6.         State Training School (Green Hill);

7.         State School for Girls (Maple Lane);

8.         State School for the Blind;

9.         State School for the Deaf;

10.       Washington State Veterans' Home;

11.       State Soldiers' Home and Colony.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            It is our conclusion that from the institutions you have listed, the Green Hill School at Chehalis and the Maple Lane School at Grand Mound are the only ones which may employ chaplains, in conformance with the limitations of the 4th Amendment to the Washington State Constitution, amending Article I, § 11.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            The 4th Amendment to the Washington State Constitution, amending Article I, § 11, provides as follows:

            "Absolute freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment, belief and worship, shall be guaranteed to every individual, and no one shall be molested or disturbed in person or property on account of religion; but the liberty of conscience hereby secured shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness or justify practices inconsistent with the peace and safety of the state.  No public money or property shall be appropriated for or applied to any religious worship, exercise or instruction, or the support of any religious establishment:  Provided, however, That this article shall not be so construed as to forbid the employment by the state of a chaplain for the state penitentiary, and for such of the state reformatories as in the discretion of the legislature may seem justified.  No religious qualification shall be required for any public office or employment, nor shall any person be incompetent as a witness or juror, in consequency of his opinion on matters of religion, nor be questioned in any court of justice touching his religious belief to affect the weight of his testimony."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            In determining whether the institutions listed above can employ chaplains, it is necessary to determine whether such institutions fall within the meaning of the term "reformatories," as used in the 4th Amendment, quoted above.

            In Webster's New International Dictionary, 2nd Edition, Volume II, the term "reformatory" is defined as follows:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            "A penal institution to which young offenders are committed, in which repressive and punitive measures are subordinated to training in industry and exercise of the physical, mental, and moral faculties."

            In the case ofHughes v. Daly, 49 Conn. 34, the court defined the term "reformatory" as follows:

            ". . . It includes all institutions and places in which efforts are made either to cultivate the intellect, instruct the conscience or improve the conduct; places in which persons voluntarily assemble, receive instruction and submit to discipline, or are detained therein for either of these purposes by force; . . ."

            InMcAndrews v. Hamilton County, 105 Tenn. 399, 58 S.W. 483, the court defined a reformatory as being:

            "It is in a certain sense a penal institution, being a substitute for a jail or penitentiary; its scheme being to not only punish, but at the same time to discipline and reform, the young of both sexes who have committed small offenses, or are likely to become outcasts in society."

            In determining whether or not the institutions listed above may employ chaplains, it is necessary to determine the intention of the legislature regarding the functions and purpose of each individual institution at the time it was created by the legislature.

            Section 1, chapter 167, Laws of 1901, establishing the State Soldiers' Home, provides in part as follows:

            ". . . 'There shall be established in this state an institution under the name of the Washington Soldiers' Home which institution shall be a home for honorably discharged Union soldiers, sailors, marines, soldiers of the Spanish-American war, and also members of the state militia disabled in the line of duty, and who arebona fide citizens of this state.'"

            Section 2, chapter 10, Laws of 1937, establishing what is now known as the Rainier State School, provides as follows:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 4]]

            "A public institution is hereby established to be known as the Western State Custodial School for the care, confinement, training and employment of defective and feeble‑minded persons of the State of Washington."

            Section 1, chapter 70, Laws of 1905, which established an institution which is presently known as Lakeland Village, states as follows:

            "That a State institution hereby is established to be known as 'The State Institution for Feeble‑minded,' for the care and education of the defective and feeble‑minded youth of the State of Washington."

            Section 1, chapter 156, Laws of 1907, which created the Washington Veterans' Home, states as follows:

            "That there shall be established and maintained in this State a branch of the State Soldiers' Home, under the name of the 'Washington Veterans' Home,' which branch shall be a home for honorably discharged soldiers, sailors and marines who have served the United States government in any of its wars, members of the State militia disabled [d] while in the line of duty, and who arebona fide citizens of the State, and also the wives of such soldiers, sailors and marines."

            Chapter 81, Laws of 1915, which established the Northern State Hospital and renamed the Western State Hospital and the Eastern State Hospital, states in so far as pertinent as follows:

            "Section 1.  That the Western Washington Hospital Farm situated near the town of Sedro Woolley in Skagit county be and the same is hereby established as a state hospital for the insane and shall hereafter be styled and known as the 'Northern State Hospital.'

            "Sec. 2. . . . The hospital for insane situated at Fort Steilacoom in Pierce county shall hereafter be styled and known as 'The Western State Hospital.'

             [[Orig. Op. Page 5]]

            "Sec. 3. . . . The hospital for insane situated at Medical Lake in Spokane county, shall hereafter be styled and known as 'The Eastern State Hospital.'"

            In § 229 of chapter 118, Laws of 1897, the legislature set forth the purpose and function of the state's schools for the blind and deaf which had previously been created.  It reads as follows:

            "Said school shall be free to all resident youth in the State of Washington, who are too deaf, blind or feeble minded to be taught by ordinary methods in other public schools:  Provided, They are free from vicious habits and from loathsome or contagious diseases."

            With the exception of Green Hill School and Maple Lane School, the institutions about which you inquire generally may be said to fall within three broad classifications: Those for the mentally defective; the physically defective; and the homes for certain classes of war veterans.  A reading of the laws concerning the institutions about which you inquire, with the exception of Green Hill School and Maple Lane School, plainly indicates that their purpose and function is to care for, give treatment and rehabilitation as hospitals and schools, and in the case of the Veterans' and Soldiers' Homes, to provide homes for certain classes of war veterans.  A reformatory, in its commonly accepted meaning and as used in connection with the Washington State Reformatory, is an institution to which juvenile offenders of the law are committed and in which punishment is subordinated to constructive measures to achieve a reformation of the mental and moral faculties of the youth committed to that institution.

            Obviously, the legislature in establishing the institutions above noted did not intend that their functions should fall within the type of institution known as a reformatory.

            We have previously ruled (AGO 53-55 No. 356 [[to Fred R. Dickson, Department of Institutions on December 3, 1954]]) that the State School for Girls (Maple Lane School) comes within the term "reformatory" as used in the 4th Amendment, and may employ a chaplain.  A copy of that opinion is enclosed for your information.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 6]]

            "The Washington State Training School was established in accordance with authority granted by the legislature of 1890, found in the Session Laws, at page 271.  Section 1 provides:

            "'That areform school be and is hereby established to be known as the Washington State Reform School.'  (Emphasis supplied.)

            "and section 2 provides that:

            "'Said school to be for the keeping and reformatory training of all youths between the ages of eight and eighteen. . . .' (Emphasis supplied.)

            "It is manifest that the legislature intended that the Washington State Training School was intended to be classified as a reformatory. . . ."

            In conclusion it is our opinion that, with the exception of the Green Hill School and the Maple Lane School, the institutions listed are not institutions which may be classified as reformatories within the 4th Amendment of the Washington State Constitution, and, therefore, are not eligible to employ chaplains.

Very truly yours,

DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General


STEPHEN C. WAY
Assistant Attorney General

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