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Crime - Its Causes And Prevention

( Originally Published 1915 )

Nature of Crime. — Crime is an offense against the law of the land. It varies in character and degree on account of the act itself and also on account of the law. A mild offense against the law is called a misdemeanor. A serious offense is called a crime. The only difference between a crime and a misdemeanor is in the gravity of the offense, and, since the estimate of the seriousness of an act varies from place to place, these are not the same in different communities. In early society, when natural justice prevailed and each man settled his own difficulties with his fellows, crime in a legal sense was unknown. Cruelty, savagery, and bestiality might have existed, but they did not become criminal until the judgment of society pronounced them so in formal law. Even after society began to recognize certain acts as criminal, they were treated solely as offenses against the person involved and not as against society at large. But now every criminal act is considered an offense against society. In a sociological sense a serious offense against society may be a social crime, even though the law has not been passed defining such act as criminal.

The Extent and Cost of Crime. — In the United States it is impossible to obtain more than a mere guess at the extent of crime. The United States Census supplies some figures which are suggestive, although they do not measure the amount of criminality in the country. As between states a comparison is unfair because the various states do not have the same laws. There is the same difficulty when one tries to compare different countries with respect to criminality. With these limitations, however, some statistics of crime in different countries will be suggestive of the extent of this social malady.

On June 30, 1904, there were in the prisons of the United States 81,772 prisoners, 77,269 males, and 4503 females, 55,111 white, and 26,661 colored. Of these 53,392 were in state penitentiaries, 7261 in reformatories, 18,544 in county jails, and 2675 in city jails. During the year ending June 30, 1904, there had been sentenced to imprisonment in prisons, 149,691. Besides these numbers there were in juvenile reformatories, 23,034.1 Thus, in 1904 there were more prisoners in the penitentiaries of the country (81,772) than there were undergraduate and graduate students in all the public universities, colleges, and technological schools of the United States (79,579), and almost as many as there were men undergraduates in both public and private universities, colleges, and technological schools of the country (82,877).2

Inasmuch as the Census of 1890 included those who were in prison awaiting trial, it is impossible to compare the number sentenced in the two decades. The Special Report of 1904 referred to above gives some comparative figures which, while in-exact and misleading perhaps, are worth consideration. As nearly as the statisticians employed on that report could ascertain there were per 100,000 population in the United States in 1850, twenty-nine prisoners, in 1860, sixty-one, in 187o, eighty-five, in 188o, one hundred seventeen, in 189o, one hundred thirty-two, or corrected by deducting prisoners not yet sentenced, one hundred six, and in 1904, one hundred. These figures may or may not indicate an increase of crime. Besides the inaccuracy inhering in the figures themselves there is the fact that during all these decades new statutes have been put upon the statute books and immigrants not used to the language or the laws of the country have been arriving in unheard-of numbers. While they perhaps break the laws and thus get into trouble, they are not always culpable. The list of homicides and suicides compiled by the Chicago Tribune shows in the twenty-one years from 1885 to 1906 an increase from 32.2 homicides per million inhabitants to 108.9, and of suicides during the same period from 978 to 10,125, while executions arose from 108 only to 123. The number of murders and homicides to each execution rose during that period from 17 to 76. On the other hand, lynchings fell from 181 to 69. One must not forget that it was during this period that this country in common with most others has seen a great increase in substitutes for imprisonment and the death penalty. Certainly, however, these figures do not give us any assurance that crime is diminishing.

Not much better is the showing of the European countries. Aschaffenburg, in his scholarly and temperate work, after giving many tables of figures comparing crime in Germany at different times, says, " Hence, the conclusion is unavoidable that brutality, recklessness, and licentiousness are spreading more and more in the growing generation." 1 Recidivism in that country is increasing as everywhere else. He says, " Of the 98,411 persons, who at the time of their conviction, in the years 1894 to 1896, had already served five or more sentences, 72.7 percent recidivated in the course of the five years following their last conviction." 2

This gloomy picture is not relieved by a consideration of the expense involved in this fact of criminality. Mr. Eugene Smith, before the National Prison Association in 1900, estimated that there are 250,000 persons in the United States who make their living in whole or in part by crime, costing the country $400,000,000 a year, besides another charge of $200,000,000 a year in taxes to catch, try, and punish them. These enormous figures take no account of the property destroyed, the time, life, and labor lost and the private expense involved in running down criminals, to say nothing of the expense of locks, burglar alarms, and other devices to prevent criminality. An interesting estimate of the direct and indirect cost of crime in the United States has been made by the chaplain of the Prison Evangelist Society of New York, which, while only an estimate, gives some idea of the items which must be taken into consideration. It is as follows :

Aggregate Cost to the various states $774,000,000
Aggregate Cost to the Federal Government 80,000,000
Criminal losses by fires 100,000,000
Custom house frauds 60,000,000
Wages of 100,000 in states' prisons 28,000,000
Wages of 150,000 in jails 33,000,000

Total $1,075,000,000

The situation is similar in Germany. Aschaffenburg re-ports that in 1909 in Germany there were 248,648 thefts, frauds, and embezzlements, and adds, " Unfortunately we have no idea, even approximately, how great the average damage was in each case, but there can be no doubt that national prosperity sustained a tremendous injury through these crimes against property." Taking as a measure his findings as to the time-loss sustained by those who were gravely injured by assault in Worms, 7.3 days for each act, he estimates that for such crimes alone in Germany there was a loss of time amounting to 2308.8 years in that single year in Germany from that crime alone.'

The Causes of Crime. — Among those causes which are prominent may be noted hereditary characteristics of the individual. His organic constitution, including the structure of the skull, brain, and vital organs, and his degree of sensibility — in fact, all bodily characteristics — may be of such nature as to induce criminal acts. Moreover, in the mental constitution of the criminal are often observed anomalies of intelligence and feeling. The moral sense is frequently blunted or deficient. This amounts sometimes to what is known as " moral insanity," or the absence of moral sense. While defects of this nature may not insure criminal action, they predispose the individual to crime. Criminality due to hereditary defect is a combination of weakness and viciousness. Some inherited defect of mind or body, or both, furnishes the individual basis for criminal conduct. Under some social conditions such a person would not become criminal. But under social conditions which give the opportunity or furnish the social incentive to criminality, such an individual will not have the will power to resist temptation to commit a crime, or will not be conscious of the gravity of the act, or, finally, will not be moved by the usual prudence which a socially normal person possesses. Some recent studies indicate that most of the criminality due to hereditary defect is the result of feeblemindedness. Pinel, Morel, and many others 2 have pointed out that many people are frequently characterized by what is called moral insanity, that is, seeming lack of any moral sense from their earliest days. Lombroso, taking the cue from them, found, as he thought, a very close connection between the characteristics of the morally insane and the criminal, especially what he called the " born criminal." He also called attention to the close relations which crime has to epilepsy, coming to the conclusion that moral insanity, epilepsy, insanity, and crime committed by the born criminal are all of one piece.' The labors of Lombroso stimulated inquiry both for and against his position and resulted in finer discriminations than he made. More careful studies made by others have, however, made clear that insane persons are often criminals. Indeed, the figures seem to indicate that the number of insane among those who commit serious crime is unduly large. Thus, Aschaffenburg found of those prisoners committed to the penal prison in Halle who had been guilty of sexual crime, only 45 out of 200 were entirely normal. Leppmann found only 30 normal mentally out of 90 committed to the penitentiary at Moabit for rape or for assaulting children. Of the beggars and tramps examined by Bonhoffer 75 percent were more or less abnormal mentally.' Of the young criminals incarcerated at Elmira the Superintendent and the Board of Managers report that to the unpracticed eye of the layman at least a third of them are mentally defective, while the physicians of the institutions put it at a much higher figure. Sutherland, the English student of recidivism, is authority for the statement that fully one third of the recidivists of England are suffering from physical and mental degeneracy characterized by mental warp, instability, and feeblemindedness. He estimates that fully two thirds of the petty offenders who are recidivists are pathological in the same sense' Healy, in his Psychopathic Institute in Chicago, found that of 62o youthful recidivists, 26 per cent of them were distinctly below the class which he calls poor in native ability.' Dr. Frank Moore, Superintendent of the Rahway Reformatory in New Jersey, found that at least 46 percent of the boys there were mentally deficient.' Goddard, of the Vineland, New Jersey, Institution for the Feeble-minded, estimates that 25 per cent of all delinquents are feebleminded.2 In his last book he estimates that from 25 to 50 per cent of all our prisoners are mentally defective and incapable of managing their affairs with ordinary prudence .3 Just what proportion of crimes are committed by those who are mentally unbalanced or deficient it is impossible at this time to say, but the studies thus far made do indicate that inherited or acquired mental defect is responsible for much more of the criminality than we have been accustomed to suppose.

Evil habits also are conducive to criminal action by gradually destroying normal action. Also the use of narcotics, liquors, and drugs, by weakening the will power and destroying the moral sense, leads towards crime. Giving vent to wrath in a violent manner often weakens the self-control and distorts the judgment, and thus sometimes prepares the way for criminal action, should conditions arise favorable to it.

This class of causes were once thought to be beyond human control. God had made people so. They were endowed by Him with certain evil propensities which were a part of the naturally depraved nature of man. God's work, while beyond understanding, must not be meddled with ; it must be borne. Many criminals employ the very same reasoning to-day in extenuation of their crimes.4 With our growth of knowledge concerning man's natural history and the laws of heredity, we know this reasoning is wrong. Whatever theory we may hold on the subject of creation, we now know that heredity in animals can be controlled to a remarkable extent. Why can it not be con-trolled in man, we naturally ask. No stock breeder would expect to raise race horses from draft-breed sires and dams. Heredity here, as in the case of paupers, should be more subject to social control than at present. The arguments for this are given in the chapter on Degeneracy and need not be repeated here.

Influences of Physical Nature on Crime. — Besides those causes of crimes arising from personal characteristics there are a large number of influences found arising from physical nature. Among these may be enumerated climatic conditions. It is observed that crime varies with the change of seasons or with the alternation of excessive heat and excessive cold. Crimes against the person are much more frequent in a hot climate or in a hot season, while crimes against property occur much oftener in a cold climate or in the winter season. Various explanations of this observed fact have been offered. Some have suggested that the heat irritates people and makes them more inclined to violence, while cold has the contrary effect, but coincides with the time of year when. food is naturally scarce and so induces crimes against property. Probably the frequent opportunities offered by hot weather and warm climates for social contact have more to do with crimes of violence than the effect directly of the heat. The relative length of day and night in part limits the kind and determines the nature of crime. Meteoric conditions, storms, and sudden climatic changes affecting the nervous and mental conditions of men are conducive to crime. What influence electrical disturbances have on criminal action has never been scientifically determined, although there are specific indications that there are positive relations between the two.

Little can be done to remove the causes of crime which reside in the physical environment. Were the time given for it, man would naturally become adapted to his environment by the elimination of those who are moved to antisocial conduct by the physical conditions. But human beings are migratory. A people does not remain long enough in one place to permit this slow process of adaptation by natural selection to work out its results. Doubtless the repressive measures of society have ever stimulated those most easily affected by the physical conditions to adapt themselves and restrain their impulses. Moreover, these influences are the most regular of all the causes of crime in their action and can be foreseen and provided for to a certain extent. Probably they also are the group of causes accounting for the smallest amount of crime.

Social Causes of Crime. — Social conditions have much to do with criminal action. The person somewhat weak in character might never be guilty of criminal action if he had the right kind of social environment. On the other hand, a person of strong character will have sufficient power of resistance to remain uninfluenced by bad social or physical conditions.

The density of population in large cities is conducive to bad social conditions and supplies strong incentives to criminal action. Crowded conditions in the home break down decency and modesty and lead to sexual crimes. The intense crowding multiplies human contacts, thus provoking conflict. Poverty is ever there with her debasing influence, ever crowding the weak soul to criminality to make a living. There are the glaring contrasts between poverty and wealth leading to the development of class feeling and class conflict. There also criminal " gangs " with their baleful influence upon the innocent have their paradise.

Isolated community life has, in an opposite way, an effect on crime. The very vacuity of life in such places makes for crime. In the absence of the more refined excitements of the normal social community, people in these places resort to the elemental and primitive. Violence, either lustful or predatory, stalks abroad here with small chance of discovery. Vice and sexual irregularities find many who have nothing better to do. Feuds thrive where the bonds are chiefly those of kinship. The normal society is one of sufficient density to permit all social advantages and proper social regulation without the evils of overcrowding.

The moral attitude of a community has considerable to do with the amount of crime committed. Where the standard is high and public opinion severe against crime there is much less of it than where the standard is low and public opinion not condemnatory. Likewise, it may be said that law may increase the apparent amount of crime without increasing the actual criminal conditions of a community. Thus, criminality always seems to increase, following the enactment of a strong prohibitory liquor law. That seeming increase, however, is often due solely to men's reaction against a new and unpopular law. Also where the police force is active in the apprehension of crime and the judicial system very efficient in its operations, the re-corded amount of crime will be higher, although the tendency in the long run will be to decrease crime. The customs and religion of a community, the nature of industrial pursuits, as well as the financial and economic conditions, have much to do with the increase or decrease of crime. For example, let the religion lay no or little emphasis upon morality and regard for law and you will have much crime. Let financial and industrial depression come ; thousands will be thrown out of work ; some will be ruined ; and thefts and robberies will increase.

Defective legislative, judicial, and punitive machinery may actually increase the crime of a community. Consider what happens when there is a corrupt or unjust judge. Criminals believe they can buy the judge's favor, and crime is increased. Let the legislature pass a law which makes it impossible to secure swift and certain justice; criminals will gamble upon the chance, and crime will increase. Let the police take bribes and collect graft, crime will flourish, for criminals will be protected against society by the paid officers of the law, as every investigation involving police departments for the last twenty years unmistakeably shows.

The social causes of crime probably bulk largest in their influence upon criminality. Yet they are the most hopeful because perhaps the most subject to control by society. If bad social conditions are the result of social neglect, why may not better social conditions be secured by careful conscious planning by society? Every movement which relieves the density of population — cheap transportation, suburban planning, removal of factories from great centers to suburbs, garden cities, good housing, which provides a normal outlet to social instincts, normal recreation, stimulation of interest in books, art, clean, healthful sport, social religion, scientific legislation, just judges, and a criminal procedure which secures equal justice to all and speedy and certain action to apprehend the guilty ; an education which prepares for the useful life — all will make good conditions for people to live in, and tend to lessen crime.

Classification of the Causes of Crime. — Arranged according to the influence operating to produce crime, perhaps the briefest and yet a fairly comprehensive classification of the causes of crime is proposed by Professor Henderson, which we have ventured to summarize as follows :

(1) Causes in the External World.

(a) Climate) Hot climates and seasons cause crimes against

(b) Seasons person ; cold, crime against property.

(c) MeteorologiCal Changes—electric conditions, barometric

changes, humidity and heat, day and night.

(2) Social Conditions.

(a) Conjugal relation — more crime among single than among married.

(b) Social position —lower classes furnish more than upper classes.

(c) Density of population — crime increases with density.

(d) Customs — begging, causing mutilation of children to produce sympathy for child by public ; carrying concealed weapons ; dueling and fighting ; pubic torture.

(e) Economic Conditions — poverty, industrial changes.

(f) Food and famine— theft and robbery — not definitely determined.

(g) Beliefs — "property is robbery" ; the whole product of industry belongs to labor; "scabs" have no right to work, etc.

(h) Lack of industrial education — no chance to earn an honest living.

(i) PolitiCal factors — spoils system, bribery.

(j) Bad association's and evil suggestion— "gangs" of boys dominated by bad men ; "yellow" newspapers and novels ; public scandal and crime in newspapers, etc.

(k) Lynching — brutality and violence engenders crime.

(l) Immigration — not much directly, but indirectly through race and industrial conflict.

(m) The negro factor — race prejudice, unskilled labor, social ostracism.

(3) Physical and Psychical Nature of the Individual.

(a) Sex — five times as many male as female convicts.

(b) Age — youth is the Criminal age.

(c) Education — training in trades and morals decreases crime.

(d) Occupation — those which attract rude untrained men show most crime ; semicriminal occupations like saloons, gambling, etc., increase crime ; kind of crime varies with occupation.

(e) Alcoholism—weakens inhibitory powers, dulls the conscience, excites anger and lust ; leads to bad associations.

(f) Hereditary and individual degeneration.'

Classifications of Crime. — Stephen, in his History of Criminal Law in England, has given the following classifications of crimes : " (r) Attacks upon the public order, (2) abuses or obstructions of public authority, (3) acts injurious to the public in general, (4) attacks upon the persons of individuals or upon rights annexed to their persons, (5) attacks upon the property of individuals or rights connected with, and similar to rights of property." Perhaps in a more practical way we might speak of political crimes, such as treason and counterfeiting; of public crimes not political, such as lynch law, mob violence and arson; crimes against persons, such as assault and battery, rape, murder, manslaughter ; and crimes against the property of persons, such as theft, robbery, embezzlement, and forgery.

The Classification of Criminals. — Criminologists have studied long and hard to discover a criminal type. Thus far they have not succeeded in demonstrating that there is a universal type which is essentially criminal. But their investigations have been rewarded in showing that certain criminals, especially those known as " instinctive," have an aggregation of defects or characteristics, which, taken together, show their possessor to be an abnormal individual and help to explain his criminality. These defects are in part physical anomalies. Among those noticed more often in criminals than in non-criminals, according to the criminal anthropologists, are skulls of the average size with frequent extremes. Thieves have small heads, murderers large heads. The pointed skull is frequent, the lower jaw is unusually heavy, an asymmetrically shaped head occurs often, the orbit of the eye is unusually large, the zygomatic arch unusually high and prominent. Defects of brain are very frequent in what Lombroso called the " born criminal." There is an extraordinary tendency to vary from the racial type of head form. If he belongs to a long-headed race, the criminal's is likely to be unusually long. The physiognomy is said to betray criminality — sullen looks ; furtive eyes in the thief, a stare in the murderer. Abnormalities of organs occur more often than among non-criminals — unusually long arms, left-handedness, or ambidextrousness, pointed ears, scanty beard in men and beard in women, extra fingers, toes, and teeth, defective lungs, heart, and nervous system. Many others have been suggested by students of the matter. It must be added, however, that all these stigmata of degeneracy which have been found only go to show that an unusual number of degenerates become criminals, and therefore the greater number of these signs of degeneracy appear among prisoners than among non-criminals. The finding of these stigmata of degeneracy was what led Lombroso at first to declare the criminal an atavism, then broaden the generalization and say that the criminal is an insane person, and later to further declare that he is an epileptoid.

Likewise, abnormalities have been observed in the intellectual characteristics of criminals. They are declared to be lacking in moral sensibility, do not dream so readily as other people — a condition found also among idiots and epileptics of long standing. In intelligence they are stupid, inexact, imprudent, yet having a cunning which leads to hypocrisy and lying. On the whole they are distinctly below non-criminals in intelligence. They are emotionally unstable, often very sentimental, usually religious after a superstitious, unethical fashion, and manifest a debasing tendency in all their literature and art. They are anti-social, not in the sense that they do not love companion-ship, but that they hate society and its ways, having a code of their own, when they are not distinctly defective mentally.

These anthropological characteristics of the criminal are not agreed upon by all criminologists. The Germans especially have contended that the Italian school has failed to establish many of its generalizations.' While we must record the judgment that the Germans have in many cases shown the Italian case " not proven," yet there can be no doubt that the Italian school has done an invaluable service in pointing out the close relationships undoubtedly existing between degeneracy and crime in a considerable number of cases. The debate, however, is leading to the conclusion that crime has links connecting it not only with physical degeneracy, but with bad social conditions in even a larger number of cases.

While it may be contended that crime, not the criminal, is the pathological social phenomenon, and therefore less attention should be given to a classification of criminals than of crime, it must be remembered that so far as the treatment of crime is concerned, no progress was made until after the theory that the punishment must fit the crime gave way to the theory that the punishment must fit the criminal. Bearing in mind the practical aim of the study of crime — how to treat it we venture to classify the criminals as well as their crimes.

Dr. Dugdale has given the following typical classes of criminals who have come within his observation :1, (I) Those who are essentially non-criminal but by force of circumstances or accident have broken the law. (2) First offenders who fall through vanity or self-indulgence and the influence of evil women. (3) First offenders who are led into crime by bad associates. (4) Convicts of low vitality born under evil conditions who have drifted into crime from lack of care. (5) Illegitimate children born of intemperate, vicious, and criminal parents, who bring them up to a life of crime. (6) Promoters of crime as a regular business. (7) Criminals who seek to retire from active service and become criminal capitalists. (8) Those who pander to the vices of criminals and thus become the active abettors to crime. (9) Criminals through epilepsy, insanity, and perverted minds. (ro) Those affected with nervous diseases which cause them to lose control of themselves and commit crime.

Henderson classifies criminals as: (1) accidental, (2) eccentric, (3) insane, (4) moral imbecile, (5) instinctive, (6) criminals by acquired habit, (7) criminals by passion, and (8) criminals by occasion .

Ellis has a simpler classification as follows : (1) political, (2) by passion, (3) insane, (4) instinctive, (5) occasional, and (6) habitual .

Draehms has proposed a classification which is too simple. He divides criminals into classes as follows : (1) instinctive, (2) habitual, and (3) single offender .

From the standpoint of the social welfare rather than from that of legal status, which considers what the person charged with crime has actually done, the accidental criminal is in no sense a criminal. His act was the result of accident and his conduct was not antisocial. For example, in the prison of one of our states in the Central West was a man sentenced under the law for several years for causing the death of a man under the following circumstances : The man condemned to prison and his wife were sitting on a bench in a park on a summer's evening attending a band concert, when a drunken man came jostling through the crowd. Because the wife of this man happened to be in his way he struck her with his fist. The woman's husband struck back at the drunken man and struck him a blow in the temple which killed him. This man who killed the other had never been a quarrelsome person and did only what any man would have done in defense of his wife. From the standpoint of sociology, therefore, the accidental criminal should be excluded from the category of criminals. So, the moral imbecile is either insane or mentally defective in some other way and should not be classified separately. He belongs either under the category of the insane or of the instinctive. Nevertheless, since the law still is tinged with the social theory of an earlier day, such crimes may be retained in a comprehensive classification. We venture, therefore, to suggest the following classification: (I) political; (2) occasional, including (a) accidental, (b) eccentric, (c) by passion, (d) single offender; (3) natural, including, (a) moral imbecile, (b) insane, (c) feeble-minded, (d) epileptic ; and (4) habitual, including, (a) the natural criminal, (b) the criminal by acquired habit.

The term " political criminal " is used to indicate those who commit a crime against the established government. It includes those who are guilty of trying to kill public officials, in order the better to overturn the government. They were formerly called regicides for the reason that they usually attacked the king as the chief representative of the hated social order. It includes also the rebel against the established government. The term also includes what has come to be termed the regenticide, or magnicide, who is also an anarchist, such as Caserio, who killed Carnot, president of France, and Czolgosz, the assassin of McKinley. Sometimes such a person is insane, as in the case of the man who made an attempt on the life of ex-President Roosevelt at Milwaukee in the autumn of 1912, and sometimes he is perfectly sane, as in the case of Czolgosz.1

The occasional criminal includes four different varieties. He may commit an offense against the law by accident, as in the case of the man who struck the drunken fellow without intent to kill. While such a man is a criminal in the sight of the law, he scarcely presents a problem for criminology. He may commit crime because he is out of tune with the times in which he lives. If dissent from the established church is a crime, as it has been in many countries in times past and still remains so in some of the more backward countries, then the heretic is a criminal. Socrates was such a criminal. These men are eccentric according to the thought of their times and they are therefore criminals. Again, the occasional criminal may include him who in a burst of passion commits crime, but when he is calm suffers remorse for the act committed. Usually the act was done under the spur of insult or severe provocation or under the stimulation of wild companions in youth. These may become criminals if they are thrown into prison with hardened criminals or are not allowed to have a chance to redeem them-selves. They may, however, under favorable conditions be-come good citizens. A variety of the occasional criminal is to be found in what is called the single offender. Sometimes he is a criminal by passion. He learns his lesson by that one experience and ever after controls his impulses. He may, how-ever, be one who had got into bad company and had set out on a criminal career with the avowed purpose of warring against society, but who was caught in time and came out of his experience with the law with sobered mind and a social attitude.

What is here called the natural criminal is what the Italian school calls " the criminal born." The term " natural " is preferable because it does not beg the question as to whether crime as such is inheritable. It includes all those persons who become criminals largely because of the inheritance of defects which sometimes incline them towards antisocial acts. Included in this class is the moral imbecile, who by reason of inherited mental defect, has no sense of the value of different acts. It also includes the feeble-minded of the higher types, who, under favorable circumstances, would probably remain perfectly normal in con-duct. In this class must be placed ,the epileptic who, in a seizure, commits a crime, but who is not conscious of his acts.

The last class, the habitual criminal, is subdivided into the habitual criminal who is a mental defective and who has continued so long in crime that it has become habitual with him and no amount of favorable influences will now keep him in correct ways. It also includes those unfortunate persons who, while young, have fallen into bad ways, and who, because of being refused a chance by society or because of bad associates, while being punished, have lost all hope of a decent life, and have finally decided that a life of crime is the only one open to them.

Ferri has made an interesting estimate of the numbers of criminals in the different classes. He estimates that insane and criminals by passion constitute only from 5 per cent to io per cent of the convicts; the natural, or instinctive criminals from 2 per cent to 3 per cent; the habitual criminals from 37 per cent or 38 per cent to 47 or 48 per cent, and the occasional criminals from 40 to 55 per cent. If this estimate is true, it is apparent that the criminals by habit and by occasion form by far the largest part of the criminal population. It must be remembered, however, that in these classes are some who are also defective and only by careful segregation can be kept from preying upon society. However, the showing is hopeful by reason of the fact that so large a proportion of the whole are criminals because of wrong social conditions.

Why do we classify criminals? Only that we may know how to treat them. He who is a criminal by passion needs to be treated much differently from him who is a moral imbecile. He who is a criminal by accident cannot be treated in the same way as he who has lost all hope and has become an habitual criminal. It is in the interests of individualization of penal measures. Just as physicians classify disease that they may know how to give the proper treatment to each kind of disease, so the social physician tries to classify crime so that he may understand it and know how to provide measures that will prevent and cure it.

The Punishment of Crime. In former times the punishment of crime always carried with it the spirit of revenge, and criminals were thrown into prisons and dungeons with some-thing of the idea of getting even with them or hurrying them out of the sight of the community. Under the more enlightened conditions of modern society the objects of punishment are clearly defined as (i) the protection of society, (2) the prevention of crime, (3) the reform of criminals. The whole object of punishment is to improve the conditions of society.

Various methods of exercising this punishment have been instituted, such as capital and corporal punishment, imprisonment, confiscation of property, banishment, and a deprivation of civil and political rights. While perhaps retributive justice still receives the approval of most people who have not thought carefully about the matter and of some students of penology either as a deterrent or as a satisfaction of what is sometimes called " our natural sense of the fitness of things," but which is really a survival in our thought of the old sanction of revenge, correction of individual action, and the prevention of crime are to-day considered the more important phases of the purpose of criminal law. The humanity of modern society, and the aim to improve society, demand that reform shall be made very important in the treatment of the criminal. So bad have been the results of prison life and labor and so great has been the growth of sentiment in favor of giving even prisoners a chance to live their lives under the best possible circumstances, and, if possible, to reform, that a number of important movements have recently risen above the horizon of public attention. One is outdoor work for prisoners not only in reformatories, but also in the penitentiaries; sometimes on farms adjoining, sometimes upon the roads. The purpose is to get the men out into the open sunlight and fresh air, where their health is bettered and their conduct much improved. The other is a movement in the interest of the families dependent upon these men for support. This takes two directions, the one in favor of parole for long-term and even life prisoners, the other looking towards the establishment of a wage for the families, this wage to be paid by the state from the earnings of the man. These earnings are supposed to be in excess of what it takes to support him in the prison. The prison farm and road work have been introduced in a number of states. It has been possible in certain states for some time for prisoners to earn some money by overtime work. Earnings out of the actual production of the man in excess of what it costs to keep him are a dream thus far in the experience of prison management. These movements, however, are experiments which will probably suggest better ways of treating those who must be shut away from society. As yet the problem is by no means solved.

Reformation. The reformation of the criminal is accomplished by the application of the various methods of prison management. In the first place a careful study, both physical and mental, by the most exact methods known, should be made of all prisoners with a view to their proper classification. The hardened and hopeless criminals should be separated from the first offenders, and insane, feeble-minded, and epileptic criminals should be segregated by themselves in special institutions for the care of these classes. Adult offenders guilty of a misdemeanor should be placed either in a farm colony or on probation, young adult criminals in a reformatory or on probation, and hardened criminals in a penitentiary. Industrial labor of all kinds should be instituted as a means of discipline, and, in hopeful cases not in for life, as preparatory to the independent life of the individual on release. In the case of hopeless recidivists, labor should be provided which will help to defray the expenses of their maintenance, and to support their families. Academic instruction should be given to all prisoners capable of profiting thereby during certain hours in the day. Opportunities should be given for moral and religious instruction as well. Within the prison walls careful classification of all inmates should be made, and only those allowed to associate together who will be mutually helpful. All evil association should be avoided. Some have advocated the unicellular system, in which solitary confinement is the only rule, as in the Pennsylvania system. While this has its advantages in discipline, it is lacking in the methods of reform inasmuch as it gives no opportunities for association. On the other hand, where the group system is allowed it requires great care and skill in classification and management.

One of the best methods of reform is found in the indeterminate sentence, which treats the prisoner as susceptible of reform under punishment. The law usually fixes the term of imprisonment from a minimum to a maximum sentence, for instance, from two to six years. When found guilty the judge sentences the prisoner to the penitentiary or the reformatory without stating the exact length of time. Then, through the administration of the prison board or the warden, he is kept in confinement only so long as it seems necessary to complete a reform, but within the maximum sentence ; he is then allowed to go free. Usually, in connection with the indeterminate sentence is the parole system, under which a person is allowed to leave the prison on parole, reporting monthly to the warden concerning his location, condition, and success. If he fails to report while on parole, or commits any crime or misdemeanor he is returned to the prison to work out his full time of service. The parole system has been a success in reformatories, industrial schools, and penitentiaries wherever tried, even though in none of our states has anything but the limited indeterminate sentence — that is, with a maximum limit — ever been tried. A modification of the indeterminate sentence, as it prevails in New York and upon which most indeterminate laws are based, is that in force in Massachusetts, applying only to women. Instead of the time spent while out on parole counting on the maximum time of sentence, only that spent in the reformatory counts, so that it is impossible for a woman to behave herself for a few months after release on parole until her sentence expires and then do as she pleases. That unexpired time hangs over her for two years if a misdemeanant, and for five if a felon, while out on parole.

But the best method of social reform is prevention, and therefore industrial education, care of boys in towns through recreation grounds and social centers, and the prevention of the spread of the criminal suggestion and example, are of great value. To this end the juvenile court, which has recently been instituted in a large number of the States, is proving an important means of prevention. It has long been known that our jails are conducive to the development of crime. The careless association of all classes, the herding of the young and old together, and the lack of reformatory measures, have made the modern jail nothing more or less than a breeder of crime. The juvenile court comes to the rescue and says to the boy who has committed his first offense, " The jail is awaiting you, you are guilty, but I am going to send you back to your home and to the school and you must report to me regularly for a term of six months or a year of what you are doing. This report must be signed by your teacher or your parents." Or the judge may say, " I will send you to a good home or to the industrial school or some other place, but I will keep you out of jail." A juvenile court thus instituted to try all cases of children under sixteen is an important means for the prevention of crime.

Program of Reform. — The program of reform, then, should begin with the improvement of the condition of homes and tenements of people of the poorer classes, the institution of free kindergartens, and the development of industrial education. The jail should be remodeled and created into an institution of reform by the proper classification of the inmates and the establishment of industrial and educational processes. The farm colony plan has worked with signal success in Washington, D. C., and Cleveland, Ohio.1 Great stress should be laid on reformation in the industrial and reform schools, the reformatory, and the penitentiary. But the best work that is done is that which educates towards independent manhood and keeps people out of institutions. Prevention of crime is the only certain cure of crime.


ASCHAFFENBURG, GUSTAV. Crime and its Repression.

ELLIS, HAVELOCK. The Criminal, pp. 124—200, 233—329.

FERRI, ENRICO. Criminal Sociology, pp. 1-143, 200-265.

FOLKS, HOMER. The Care of Destitute, Neglected, and Delinquent Children, pp. 198-239.

GILLIN. " Social Factors Affecting the Volume of Crime," The Physical Bases of Crime, 1914, pp. 53—67, or Bulletin of the American Academy of Medicine, Vol. XV, Apr. 1914, pp. 71-85.

HENDERSON, C. R. Dependents, Defectives, and Delinquents, pp. 102—232;

Preventive Agencies and Methods; Penal and Reformatory Institutions. LOMBROSO, CESARE. The Female Offender, pp. 27-35, 147—191; Crime, Its Causes and Remedies.


TALLACK, WILLIAM. Penological and Preventive Principles, pp. 1-100, 194-260.

WINES, F. H. Punishment and Reformation, pp. 132-229.


1. State the difference between crime in the legal sense and crime in the sociological sense.

2. Attempt to ascertain the cost of crime in your county.

3. Pick out a half dozen cases of crime in your community and ascertain the causes operating in each case.

4. In the light of the discussion in the text carefully analyze the laws of your state for dealing with murder and criticize them, pointing out the admirable characteristics and the defects.

s. What plans has your state for the reformation of criminals?

6. Make an outline of a system of laws governing the punishment of the crime of homicide inspired by the aim to reform those that are probably subject to reformatory influences and to protect society from those who are hopeless. Give your reasons for each measure proposed in this scheme.

Outlines Of Sociology:
Poverty - Its Causes And Remedies

Charities And Charity Organization

Crime - Its Causes And Prevention

Social Degeneration

Administration Of Charitable And Correctional Affairs

Field Of Investigation

Methods Of Investigation

Social Philosophy

Science Of Society

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