Moscow: Izd. Narodnogo Komissariata Vnutrennikh Del RSFSR, 1927. 120 pp.: ill. 23,5x15,5 cm. In original illustrated wrappers. Small stains and some tears of covers, some underlines in bibliographical list, otherwise very good. Signed by the author to the Secretary of the Main Administration of Places of Confinement of the USSR, Maria Ivanovna Tikhomirova. One of 2000 copies.
Essays on daily life of the Moscow House of Correction for underage criminals (Mostruddom). Published by the NKVD. The book is written by Jewish lawyer Boris Utevskii (1887-1970). In the pre-revolutionary period, he conducted scientific work on the theory of state and law, criminal law. In 1920, Utevsky was invited to work in the NKVD of the Ukrainian SSR, and he moved to Kyiv. In Kyiv, he got a job as a secretary of the collegium of the People’s Commissariat of Justice of the Ukrainian SSR. He participated in the creation of the first Ukrainian Criminal Code. In 1923, he moved to Moscow and began to work as deputy director for the educational department of the Moscow House of Correction. In 1924, he was appointed senior inspector-consultant of the Main Directorate of Places of Confinement of the NKVD and the People’s Commissariat of Justice of the RSFSR. At the same time, he worked at the State Institute for the Study of Crime and the Criminal, which also included a penitentiary section. This book was compiled at this period. The foreword was compiled by Evsei Shirvindt (1891-1958). He was the First Head of the Main Directorate of Places of Confinement of the NKVD and simultaneously directed the State Institute for the Study of Crime and the Criminal. In 1938, he was arrested and sentenced to labor camps and then exile until 1955.
In the foreword, he elaborates on the first Russian Reformatory worked in Moscow in 1918-1919. On its base, the Moscow House of Correction was founded in 1921. According to Shirvindt, self management was introduced there. Children were divided into groups of five people with a leader in each one. The leaders together formed the Board while the highest body was the Congress of all
foster students. Shirvindt also claimed that Soviet houses of correction absolutely differed from European and American reformatories.
The book described reception of novices and then grouping them, different regimes of groups, studying and analyzing juvenile offenders: age, social background, presence/absence of home and family, addictions, criminal record, literacy level, character. A separate chapter examines the interaction of children with each other: language, habits, gambling (a photo of handmade cards published), inscriptions on the walls of cells, their tattoos, stories about their criminal deeds. As a supplement, 11 autobiographies of foster students were published to show off the success of the Moscow House of Correction. Chapter four was devoted to the artistic creativity of students. Their drawings were published, as well as group pictures of creators of a wall newspaper and actors. There is a list of performances staged and a reproduction of a handmade advertising poster. The edition includes a significant amount of photographs: children of various ages are shown in a classroom, a library, a doctor’s office, as well as bookbinding, carpentry, shoemaking workshops.
At the end of the book, a bibliographical list on juvenile offenders contains 122 sources. In all, Boris Utevskii is the author of more than 350 works. This copy includes a title page of his 1929 book signed by the author to the same person. Both, the author and the addressee, worked in the organization that later was renamed GULAG.
Paper copies are located in Harvard, Rutgers, Texas Universities.