New York Abandons Religious Quotas in Appointing Probation Officers

The practice of appointing probation officers in the Children’s Court in New York City on the basis of religious quotas will be abandoned, Commissioner J. Edward Conway, of the New York State Commission Against Discrimination, revealed last night.

He disclosed that John W. Hill, President Justice of the Domestic Relations Court, which has jurisdiction over the Children’s Court, has agreed to end the practice of inquiring about the religion of applicants for probation officers’ post. Mr. Conway added that he had been told that due to a shortage of prospective probation officers appointments have not been held up over the religious question.

The matter was brought before the Commission by the American Jewish Congress which complained that Justice Hill attempted to keep the total number of Jewish probation officers close to five percent of the total. The law governing referral of defendants before the Children’s Court states that “when practicable a child shall be placed with a probation officer of the same religious faith as that of the child.” A breakdown of cases before the court has revealed that Jewish children make up only about five percent of the case load.

The AJC contended–successfully–that the law referred only to the assignment of cases, not to the original appointment of probation officers. Although the Congress today hailed Mr. Conway’s determination, it announced that it would protest to Charles Abrams, chairman of the Commission, Mr. Conway’s failure to rule on Justice Hill’s assignment of cases on a religious quota. It will also protest Mr. Conway’s ruling that the AJC has no standing in questioning discriminatory appointments, but only in questioning discriminatory questioning of applicants.

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