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Crime: Its Cause and Treatment by Clarence Darrow

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This book comes from the reflections and experience of more than forty
years spent in court. Aside from the practice of my profession, the
topics I have treated are such as have always held my interest and
inspired a taste for books that discuss the human machine with its
manifestations and the causes of its varied activity. I have endeavored
to present the latest scientific thought and investigation bearing upon
the question of human conduct. I do not pretend to be an original
investigator, nor an authority on biology, psychology or philosophy. I
have simply been a student giving the subject such attention as I could
during a fairly busy life. No doubt some of the scientific conclusions
stated are still debatable and may finally be rejected. The scientific
mind holds opinions tentatively and is always ready to reexamine, modify
or discard as new evidence comes to light.

Naturally in a book of this sort there are many references to the human
mind and its activities. In most books, whether scientific or not, the
mind has generally been more closely associated with the brain than any
other portion of the body. As a rule I have assumed that this view of
mind and brain is correct. Often I have referred to it as a matter of
course. I am aware that the latest investigations seem to establish the
mind more as a function of the nervous system and the vital organs than
of the brain. Whether the brain is like a telephone exchange and is only
concerned with automatically receiving and sending out messages to the
different parts of the body, or whether it registers impressions and
compares them and is the seat of consciousness and thought, is not
important in this discussion. Whatever mind may be, or through whatever
part of the human system it may function, can make no difference in the
conclusions I have reached.

The physical origin of such abnormalities of the mind as are called
"criminal" is a comparatively new idea. The whole subject has long been
dealt with from the standpoint of metaphysics. Man has slowly banished
chance from the material world and left behavior alone outside the realm
of cause and effect. It has not been long since insanity was treated as
a moral defect. It is now universally accepted as a functional defect of
the human structure in its relation to environment.

My main effort is to show that the laws that control human behavior are
as fixed and certain as those that control the physical world. In fact,
that the manifestations of the mind and the actions of men are a part of
the physical world.

I am fully aware that this book will be regarded as a plea or an
apology for the criminal. To hold him morally blameless could be nothing
else. Still if man's actions are governed by natural law, the sooner it
is recognized and understood, the sooner will sane treatment be adopted
in dealing with crime. The sooner too will sensible and humane remedies
be found for the treatment and cure of this most perplexing and painful
manifestation of human behavior. I have tried conscientiously to
understand the manifold actions of men and if I have to some degree
succeeded, then to that extent I have explained and excused. I am
convinced that if we were all-wise and all-understanding, we could not

I have not thought it best to encumber the book with references and
foot-notes, for the reason that statistics and opinions on this subject
are conflicting and imperfect, and the results after all must rest on a
broad scientific understanding of life and the laws that control human
action. Although the conclusions arrived at are in variance with popular
opinions and long-settled practice, I am convinced that they are old
truths and are in keeping with the best thought of the time.

I am aware that scientifically the words "crime" and "criminal" should
not be used. These words are associated with the idea of uncaused and
voluntary actions. The whole field is a part of human behavior and
should not be separated from the other manifestations of life. I have
retained the words because they have a popular significance which is
easy to follow.


Chicago, August 1, 1922.









There can be no sane discussion of "crime" and "criminals" without an
investigation of the meaning of the words. A large majority of men, even
among the educated, speak of a "criminal" as if the word had a clearly
defined meaning and as if men were divided by a plain and distinct line
into the criminal and the virtuous. As a matter of fact, there is no
such division, and from the nature of things, there never can be such a

Strictly speaking, a crime is an act forbidden by the law of the land,
and one which is considered sufficiently serious to warrant providing
penalties for its commission. It does not necessarily follow that this
act is either good or bad; the punishment follows for the violation of
the law and not necessarily for any moral transgression. No doubt most
of the things forbidden by the penal code are such as are injurious to
the organized society of the time and place, and are usually of such a
character as for a long period of time, and in most countries, have
been classed as criminal. But even then it does not always follow that
the violator of the law is not a person of higher type than the majority
who are directly and indirectly responsible for the law.

It is apparent that a thing is not necessarily bad because it is
forbidden by the law. Legislators are forever repealing and abolishing
criminal statutes, and organized society is constantly ignoring laws,
until they fall into disuse and die. The laws against witchcraft, the
long line of "blue laws," the laws affecting religious beliefs and many
social customs, are well-known examples of legal and innocent acts which
legislatures and courts have once made criminal. Not only are criminal
statutes always dying by repeal or repeated violation, but every time a
legislature meets, it changes penalties for existing crimes and makes
criminal certain acts that were not forbidden before.

Judging from the kind of men sent to the State legislatures and to
Congress, the fact that certain things are forbidden does not mean that
these things are necessarily evil; but rather, that politicians believe
there is a demand for such legislation from the class of society that is
most powerful in political action. No one who examines the question can
be satisfied that a thing is intrinsically wrong because it is forbidden
by a legislative body.

Other more or less popular opinions of the way to determine right or
wrong are found to be no more satisfactory. Many believe that the
question of whether an act is right or wrong is to be settled by a
religious doctrine; but the difficulties are still greater in this
direction. First of all, this involves a thorough and judicial inquiry
into the merits of many, if not all, forms of religion, an investigation
which has never been made, and from the nature of things cannot be made.
The fact is, that one's religious opinions are settled long before he
begins to investigate and quite by other processes than reason. Then,
too, all religious precepts rest on interpretation, and even the things
that seem the plainest have ever been subject to manifold and sometimes
conflicting construction. Few if any religious commands can be, or ever
were, implicitly relied on without interpretation. The command, "Thou
shalt not kill," seems plain, but does even this furnish an infallible
rule of conduct?

Of course this commandment could not be meant to forbid killing animals.
Yet there are many people who believe that it does, or at least should.
No Christian state makes it apply to men convicted of crime, or against
killing in war, and yet a considerable minority has always held that
both forms of killing violate the commandment. Neither can it be held to
apply to accidental killings, or killings in self-defense, or in defense
of property or family. Laws, too, provide all grades of punishment for
different kinds of killing, from very light penalties up to death.
Manifestly, then, the commandment must be interpreted, "Thou shalt not
kill when it is wrong to kill," and therefore it furnishes no guide to
conduct. As well say: "Thou shalt do nothing that is wrong." Religious
doctrines do not and clearly cannot be adopted as the criminal code of a

In this uncertainty as to the basis of good and bad conduct, many appeal
to "conscience" as the infallible guide. What is conscience? It
manifestly is not a distinct faculty of the mind, and if it were, would
it be more reliable than the other faculties? It has been often said
that some divine power implanted conscience in every human being. Apart
from the question of whether human beings are different in kind from
other organisms, which will be discussed later, if conscience has been
placed in man by a divine power, why have not all peoples been furnished
with the same guide? There is no doubt that all men of any mentality
have what is called a conscience; that is, a feeling that certain things
are right, and certain other things are wrong. This conscience does not
affect all the actions of life, but probably the ones which to them are
the most important. It varies, however, with the individual. What reason
has the world to believe that conscience is a correct guide to right
and wrong?

The origin of conscience is easily understood. One's conscience is
formed as his habits are formed--by the time and place in which he
lives; it grows with his teachings, his habits and beliefs. With most
people it takes on the color of the community where they live. With some
people the eating of pork would hurt their conscience; with others the
eating of any meat; with some the eating of meat on Friday, and with
others the playing of any game of chance for money, or the playing of
any game on Sunday, or the drinking of intoxicating liquors. Conscience
is purely a matter of environment, education and temperament, and is no
more infallible than any habit or belief. Whether one should always
follow his own conscience is another question, and cannot be confounded
with the question as to whether conscience is an infallible guide to

Some seek to avoid the manifold difficulties of the problem by saying
that a "criminal" is one who is "anti-social." But does this bring us
nearer to the light? An anti-social person is one whose life is hostile
to the organization or the society in which he lives; one who injures
the peace, contentment, prosperity or well-being of his neighbors, or
the political or social organization in which his life is cast.

In this sense many of the most venerated men of history have been
criminals; their lives and teachings have been in greater or lesser
conflict with the doctrines, habits and beliefs of the communities where
they lived. From the nature of things the wise man and the idealist can
never be contented with existing things, and their lives are a constant
battle for change. If the anti-social individual should be punished,
what of many of the profiteers and captains of industry who manipulate
business and property for purely selfish ends? What of many of our great
financiers who use every possible reform and conventional catch word as
a means of affecting public opinion, so that they may control the
resources of the earth and exploit their fellows for their own gain?

No two men have the same power of adaptation to the group, and it is
quite plain that the ones who are the most servile and obedient to the
opinions and life of the crowd are the greatest enemies to change and
individuality. The fact is, none of the generally accepted theories of
the basis of right and wrong has ever been the foundation of law or
morals. The basis that the world has always followed, and perhaps always
will accept, is not hard to find.

The criminal is the one who violates habits and customs of life, the
"folk-ways" of the community where he lives. These customs and folk-ways
must be so important in the opinion of the community as to make their
violation a serious affair. Such violation is considered evil regardless
of whether the motives are selfish or unselfish, good or bad. The
folk-ways have a certain validity and a certain right to respect, but no
one who believes in change can deny that they are a hindrance as well as
a good. Men did not arrive at moral ideas by a scientific or a religious
investigation of good and bad, of right and wrong, of social or
anti-social life.

Man lived before he wrote laws, and before he philosophized. He began
living simply and automatically; he adopted various "taboos" which to
him were omens of bad luck, and certain charms, incantations and the
like, which made him immune from ill-fortune.

All sorts of objects, acts and phenomena have been the subjects of
taboo, and just as numerous and weird have been the charms and amulets
and ceremonies that saved him from the dangers that everywhere beset his
way. The life of the primitive human being was a journey down a narrow
path; outside were infinite dangers from which magic alone could make
him safe.

All animal life automatically groups itself more or less closely into
herds. Buffaloes, horses and wolves run in packs. Some of these groups
are knit closely together like ants and bees, while the units of others
move much more widely apart. But whatever the group may be, its units
must conform. If the wolf gets too far from the pack it suffers or dies;
it matters not whether it be to the right or the left, behind or ahead,
it must stay with the pack or be lost.

Men from the earliest time arranged themselves into groups; they
traveled in a certain way; they established habits and customs and ways
of life. These "folk-ways" were born long before human laws and were
enforced more rigidly than the statutes of a later age. Slowly men
embodied their "taboos," their incantations, their habits and customs
into religions and statutes. A law was only a codification of a habit or
custom that long ago was a part of the life of a people. The legislator
never really makes the law; he simply writes in the books what has
already become the rule of action by force of custom or opinion, or at
least what he thinks has become a law.

One class of men has always been anxious to keep step with the crowd.
The way is easier and the rewards more certain. Another class has been
skeptical and resentful of the crowd. These men have refused to follow
down the beaten path; they strayed into the wilderness seeking new and
better ways. Sometimes others have followed and a shorter path was made.
Often they have perished because they left the herd. In the sight of the
organized unit and the society of the time and place, the man who kept
the path did right. The man who tried to make a new path and left the
herd did wrong. In its last analysis, the criminal is the one who leaves
the pack. He may lag behind or go in front, he may travel to the right
or to the left, he may be better or worse, but his fate is the same.

The beaten path, however formed or however unscientific, has some right
to exist. On the whole it has tended to preserve life, and it is the way
of least resistance for the human race. On the other hand it is not the
best, and the way has ever been made easier by those who have violated
precepts and defied some of the concepts of the time. Both ways are
right and both ways are wrong. The conflict between the two ways is as
old as the human race.

Paths and customs and institutions are forever changing. So are ideas of
right and wrong, and so, too, are statutes. The law, no doubt, makes it
harder for customs and habits to be changed, for it adds to the inertia
of the existing thing.

Is there, then, nothing in the basis of right and wrong that answers to
the common conception of these words? There are some customs that have
been forbidden longer and which, it seems, must necessarily be longer
prohibited; but the origin of all is the same. A changing world has
shown how the most shocking crimes punished by the severest penalties
have been taken from the calendar and no longer even bear the suspicion
of wrong. Religious differences, witchcraft and sorcery have probably
brought more severe punishments than any other acts; yet a change of
habit and custom and belief has long since abolished all such crimes.
So, too, crimes come and go with new ideals, new movements and
conditions. The largest portion of our criminal code deals with the
rights of property; yet nearly all of this is of comparatively modern
growth. A new emotion may take possession of man which will result in
the repeal of many if not all of these statutes, and place some other
consideration above property, which seems to be the controlling emotion
of today.

Crime, strictly speaking, is only such conduct or acts as are forbidden
by the law and for which penalties are prescribed. The classification of
the act does not necessarily have relation to moral conduct. This cannot
be fixed by any exact standard. There is no straight clear line between
the good and bad, the right and wrong. The general ways of determining
good and bad conduct are of little value. The line between the two is
always uncertain and shifting. And, in the last analysis, good or bad
conduct rests upon the "folk-ways," the habits, beliefs and customs of a
community. While this is the real basis of judging conduct, it is
always changing, and from the nature of things, if it could be made
stable, it would mean that society was stratified and all hope of
improvement dead.



Neither the purpose nor the effect of punishment has ever been
definitely agreed upon, even by its most strenuous advocates. So long as
punishment persists it will be a subject of discussion and dispute. No
doubt the idea of punishment originated in the feeling of resentment and
hatred and vengeance that, to some extent at least, is incident to life.
The dog is hit with a stick and turns and bites the stick. Animals repel
attack and fight their enemies to death. The primitive man vented his
hatred and vengeance on things animate and inanimate. In the tribes no
injury was satisfied until some member of the offending tribe was
killed. In more recent times family feuds have followed down the
generations and were not forgotten until the last member of a family was
destroyed. Biologically, anger and hatred follow fear and injury, and
punishment follows these in turn. Individuals, communities and whole
peoples hate and swear vengeance for an injury, real or fancied.
Punishments, even to the extent of death, are inflicted where there can
be no possible object except revenge. Whether the victim is weak or
strong, old or young, sane or insane, makes no difference; men and
societies react to injury exactly as animals react.

That vengeance is the moving purpose of punishment is abundantly shown
by the religious teachings that shape the ethical ideas of the Western
world. The Old Testament abounds in the justification of vengeance. A
few quotations amply show the Biblical approval of this doctrine:

Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed.
Genesis 9;6.

No expiation can be made for the land for the blood that is shed
therein, but by the blood of him that shed it. Numbers 35;33.

Wherefore should the nations [Gentiles] say, Where is their [the
Jews'] God? Let the avenging of the blood of thy servants which is
shed, be known among the nations in our sight. Psalms 79;10.

The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance; he shall
wash his feet in the blood of the wicked; so that men shall say,
Verily there is a reward for the righteous, verily there is a God
that judgeth in the earth. Psalms 58;10.

And I [God] will execute vengeance in anger and wrath upon the
nations which hearkened not. Micah 5;15.

All things are cleansed with blood, and apart from the shedding of
blood there is no remission. Hebrews 9;22.

For we know him that said, Vengeance belongeth unto me. ... It is a
fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews

True it is often claimed that Jesus repudiated the doctrine of
vengeance. The passage of 5th Matthew, 38-30 is often quoted in proof of
this assertion--"Ye have heard that it hath been said, an eye for an
eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say unto you, that ye resist not
evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the
other also." But the gospels and the other books of the New Testament
show plainly that non-resistance was not laid down as a rule for the
guidance of mankind, but only as a policy by one sect of the Jews and
Christians to save themselves from the Romans. The reason for the
doctrine was the belief that resistance was hopeless, and that God who
had the power would in his own time visit on the oppressors the
vengeance that the Jews and Christians were too weak to inflict. Jesus
and the early Christians knew of no people beyond their immediate
territory, and they did not appeal to mankind as a whole, or to future

The early Christians believed in judging and in punishment as vengeance,
the same as the Jews and other peoples believed in it. (See 13 Matthew
41-43, 23 Matthew 33, 25 Matthew 46.) They believed that the end of the
world was at hand; that the coming of the Lord was imminent; that some
of that generation would not taste death, and that God would punish
sinners in his own time. The New Testament is replete with this
doctrine, which was stated and elaborated in the so-called "Revelations
of St. Peter."

Probably this document was composed about the year 150 A.D. and by the
year 200 it was read as "Scripture" in some Christian communities.
Subsequently it disappeared and was known only by name until a
substantial fragment of the document was discovered at Akhmim in Egypt,
in the year 1887. A portion of it represents a scene in which the
disciples of Jesus ask him to show them the state of the righteous dead,
in order that this knowledge may be used to encourage people to accept
Christianity. The request is granted and the disciples are shown not
only a vision of the delightful abodes of the righteous, but also a
vivid picture of the punishments that are being meted out to the wicked.
It is interesting to note how the punishments are devised to balance in
truly retributive fashion the crimes mentioned. It is this type of
tradition that furnished Dante and Milton the basis for their pictures
of hell.

The following is the more interesting portion of this document:

And the Lord showed me [Peter] a very great country outside of this
world, exceeding bright with light, and the air there lighted with
rays of the sun, and the earth itself blooming with unfading flowers
and full of spices and plants, fair-flowering and incorruptible and
bearing blessed fruit. And so great was the perfume that it was
borne thence even unto us. And the dwellers in that place were clad
in the raiment of shining angels and their raiment was like unto
their country; and angels hovered about them there. And the glory of
the dwellers there was equal, and with one voice they sang praises
alternately to the Lord God, rejoicing in that place. The Lord said
to us, This is the place of your brethren the righteous.

And over against that place I saw another, exceedingly parched, and
it was the place of punishment. And those who were being punished
there and the angels who punished them wore dark raiment like the
air of the place.

Certain persons there were hanging by the tongue. These were they
who blaspheme the way of righteousness, and under them lay a fire
whose flames tortured them.

Also there was a great lake full of flaming mire in which were
certain men that pervert righteousness, and tormenting angels
afflicted them.

And there were also others, women, hanged by their hair over that
mire that flamed up, and these were they who adorned themselves for
adultery. And the men who mingled with them in the defilement of
adultery, were hanging by the feet with their heads in that mire,
and they exclaimed in a loud voice: We did not believe that we
should come to this place.

And I saw the murderers and their accomplices cast into a certain
narrow place full of evil snakes where these evil beasts smote them
while they turned to and fro in that punishment, and worms like
great black clouds afflicted them. And the souls of those who had
been murdered said, as they stood and looked upon the punishment of
their murderers, O God, just is thy judgment.

And other men and women were aflame up to the middle, and were cast
into a dark place and were beaten by evil spirits, and their inwards
were eaten by restless worms. These were they who persecuted the
righteous and delivered them up to the authorities.

And over against these were other men and women gnawing their
tongues and having flaming fire in their mouths. These were false

And in a certain other place there were pebbles sharper than swords
or any needle, red hot, and women and men in tattered and filthy
raiment, rolled about on them in punishment. These were the rich who
trusted in their riches and had no pity for orphans and widows and
despised the commandment of God.

And in another great lake full of boiling pitch and blood and mire
stood men and women up to their knees. These were the usurers and
those who take compound interest.

The noted preacher, scholar and president of Princeton College, Jonathan
Edwards, in his famous sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,"
put in forcible and picturesque language the religious and legal view of
punishment as vengeance:

They [sinners] deserve to be cast into hell; so that divine justice
never stands in the way, it makes no objection against God's using
His power at any moment to destroy them. Yea, on the contrary,
justice calls aloud for an infinite punishment on their sins. Divine
justice says of the tree that brings forth such grapes of Sodom,
"Cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground?" Luke xiii. 7. The sword
of divine justice is every moment brandished over their heads, and
it is nothing but the hand of arbitrary mercy, and God's mere will,
that holds it back.

They are now the objects of that very same anger and wrath of God,
that is expressed in the torments of hell: and the reason why they
do not go down to hell at each moment, is not because God, in whose
power they are, is not then very angry with them; as angry as He is
with many of those miserable creatures that He is now tormenting in
hell, and do there feel and bear the fierceness of His wrath. Yea,
God is a great deal more angry with great numbers that are now on
earth; yea, doubtless, with many that are now in this congregation,
that, it may be, are at ease and quiet, than He is with many of
those that are now in the flames of hell.

So that it is not because God is unmindful of their wickedness and
does not resent it, that He does not let loose His hand and cut them
off. God is not altogether such a one as themselves, though they
imagine Him to be so. The wrath of God burns against them; their
damnation does not slumber; the pit is prepared; the fire is made
ready; the furnace is now hot; ready to receive them; the flames
rage and glow. The glittering sword is whet and held over them, and
the pit hath opened her mouth under them.

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a
spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is
dreadfully provoked; His wrath towards you burns like fire; He looks
upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; He
is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in His sight; you are ten
thousand times more abominable in His eyes than the most hateful and
venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended Him infinitely more
than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince: and yet it is nothing but
His hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment; it
is ascribed to nothing else, that you did not go to hell the last
night; that you was suffered to awake again in this world, after you
closed your eyes to sleep; and there is no other reason to be given,
why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning,
but that God's hand has held you up; there is no other reason to be
given why you have not gone to hell, since you have sat here in the
house of God provoking His pure eyes by your sinful, wicked manner
of attending His solemn worship; yea, there is nothing else that is
to be given as a reason why you do not this very moment drop down
into hell.

O sinner! consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great
furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of
wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God whose wrath is
provoked and incensed as much against you as against many of the
damned in hell: you hang by a slender thread, with the flames of
divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it
and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, and
nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the
flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have
done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one

Consider this, you that are here present, that yet remain in an
unregenerate state. That God will execute the fierceness of His
anger, implies that He will inflict wrath without any pity.

Even though increasing knowledge may have somewhat softened the language
of vengeance, still both religion and the law have found their chief
justification for punishment in the doctrine of revenge.

The church has constantly taught from the first that God would punish
the sinner with everlasting torment. It has taught that all are bad from
birth and can be saved only by grace. The punishment to be suffered was
as terrible as man's mind could conceive. It would continue infinitely
beyond the time when it might be needed for correction or example. In
spite of a few humane or over-sensitive ministers, the doctrine persists
and is carefully preserved by the church. That the State likewise holds
fast to the idea of vengeance, punishment for the sake of suffering, is
just as evident. One needs only to note the force and degree of hatred
of the good to the one accused of crime, and the zeal that is shown for
a man hunt, to realize how deeply the feeling of vengeance is planted in
the structure of man. The truth is that it was a part of life before
religion and political institutions were evolved.

Still, most people are now ashamed to admit that punishment is based on
vengeance and, for that reason, various excuses and apologies have been
offered for the cruelty that goes with it. Some of the more humane, or
"squeamish," who still believe in punishment, contend that the object of
this infliction is the reformation of the victim. This, of course,
cannot be urged of the death penalty or even punishment for life, or for
very long-term sentences. In these cases there is neither inducement to
reform nor any object in the reformation. No matter how thorough the
reform, the prisoner never goes back to society, or he returns after
there is no longer a chance for him to be of use to the world or to
enjoy life.

Those who say that punishment is for the purpose of reforming the
prisoner are not familiar with human psychology. The prison almost
invariably tends to brutalize men and breeds bitterness and blank
despair. The life of the ordinary prisoner is given over to criticism
and resentment against existing things, especially to settled hatred of
those who are responsible for his punishment. Only a few, and these are
the weakest, ever blame themselves for their situation. Every man of
intelligence can trace the various steps that led him to the prison
door, and he can feel, if he does not understand, how inevitable each
step was. The number of "repeaters" in prison shows the effect of this
kind of a living death upon the inmates. To be branded as a criminal and
turned out in the world again leaves one weakened in the struggle of
life and handicapped in a race that is hard enough for most men at the
best. In prison and after leaving prison, the man lives in a world of
his own; a world where all moral values are different from those
professed by the jailer and society in general. The great influence that
helps to keep many men from committing crime--the judgment of his
fellows--no longer deters him in his conduct. In fact, every person who
understands penal institutions--no matter how well such places are
managed--knows that a thousand are injured or utterly destroyed by
service in prison, where one is helped.

Very few persons seriously believe that offenders are sent to prison out
of kindness to the men. If there were any foundation for this idea, each
prisoner would be carefully observed, and when he was fit would be
returned to the world. Not even the parole laws, which provide various
reasons and ways for shortening sentences, ever lay down the rule that
one may be released when he has reformed.

A much larger class of people offers the excuse that punishment deters
from crime. In fact, this idea is so well rooted that few think of
questioning it. The idea that punishment deters from crime does not mean
that the individual prisoner is prevented from another criminal act. A
convicted man is kept in jail for as long a time as in the judgment of
the jury, the court, or the parole board, will make him atone, or at
least suffer sufficiently for the offence. If the terms are not long
enough, they can be made longer. The idea that punishment deters, means
that unless A shall be punished for murder, then B will kill; therefore
A must be punished, not for his own sake, but to keep B from crime. This
is vicarious punishment which can hardly appeal to one who is either
just or humane. But does punishing A keep B from the commission of
crime? It certainly does not make a more social man of B. If it operates
on him in any way it is to make him afraid to commit crime; but the
direct result of scaring B is not to keep him from the commission of
crime, but to make him use precautions that will keep him safe from
discovery. How far the fear of detection and punishment prevents crime
is, of course, purely theoretical and cannot be settled either by
statistics or logic. One thing is sure, that if B is kept from crime, it
is through fear, and of all the enemies of man, fear is the one which
causes most misery and pain.

There are many facts that show that the punishment of one does not deter
others. Over and over again crimes are committed, by the young
especially, that resemble in every detail a previous crime which has
received large publicity through the newspapers, often through the
hanging of some culprit. Even the unthinking public, always clamoring
for severe penalties, does not believe that the example of punishment
deters. The public forbids the exhibition of pictures of hangings and of
crimes. Somehow, vaguely and dimly as most men see everything, the
public realizes that instead of punishments preventing crime,
punishments suggest crime. In the olden days when men admitted that
vengeance and punishment went together, they were at least more logical,
for executions were in the open light of day so all might see and be

But this sort of punishment was abolished long ago. Now executions are
behind tightly-closed doors, often before day-break, with no one present
but a doctor to pronounce the victim dead, a preacher to try to save his
soul, and a few favored guests. The most humane individuals advocate
suppressing the stories in the newspapers, beyond an obituary notice for
the deceased, and forbidding the publication of the details of the crime
and its penalty. So far as this succeeds, it is a confession that
punishment does not deter, but instead suggests and encourages crime.
The idea that crime is prevented by punishment, if believed, would be
followed by requirements that the young should visit prisons that they
might realize the consequences of crime, and that all executions should
be public and should be performed on the highest hill.

So much has been written about the decrease of crime that follows the
reduction of penalties, and likewise about the numerous crimes of
violence which generally follow public hangings, that it is hardly
necessary to recall it to the reader. The fact is, those who say that
punishment deters have no confidence in their own statement.

The operations of the human mind have always been clouded in mystery and
obscurity. The effect of what is seen and heard and felt has never been
certain. The great power of suggestion, especially with the young, is
only now beginning to be understood. Many things can be done by
suggestion. The immature brain records everything that the senses carry
to it through the nerves; these records, through lively imagination, are
constantly suggesting and urging to action. All good teachers and
observing parents know its power and, so far as such matters can be
proved, it seems clear that the details of crime and punishment
reproduce themselves over and over again by the suggestion carried to
the mind, especially with the young. There is every reason to think that
suggestions of crime will affect the mind as much as suggestions of
adventure, love or war.

Does it then follow that no one shall be restrained from freedom on
account of either his actions or his nature? It is really idle to ask
this question. No matter what one may think of the so-called criminal
and his responsibility, or quite regardless of whether we feel pity or
hatred, the great mass of the community will not suffer one who has
little self-control to interfere seriously and directly with the peace
and happiness of the community in which he lives. Whether by the action
of the law or by vigilance committees, some men will not be allowed to
be at large. Doubtless under proper treatment and environment most of
this sort of anti-social conduct would disappear, but for many years to
come it will remain.

Taking away the liberty of another has only one justification. The great
mass of people in any community must and will act for self-defense. It
needs no fine-spun theories to justify it. Hatred should have nothing to
do with it. The conduct of man in this regard is only like that of the
animal which destroys the one that is inimical to the pack or herd. The
self-protection of the group is the same as the self-protection of the
individual. Both the group and the man will save their lives against a
lunatic or any other menace, regardless of the nature of the menace.

Punishment, in the proper meaning of the term, cannot be justified by
any reasoning. Punishment really means the infliction of pain because
the individual has wilfully transgressed. Its supposed justification is
that somehow the evil done is atoned for, or made good, or balanced if
the author of the evil shall suffer pain. Punishment means that the
suffering by the victim is the end, and it does not mean that any good
will grow out of the suffering. It seems as if the question only needed
to be stated for right-thinking men to deny the validity of punishment.

It may be argued that whether the victim is punished or simply
restrained can make no difference. In this lies the whole difference
between scientific and humane treatment of the unfortunate, and the
vengeful punishments that have always been visited by the strong upon
the helpless and the weak. Society restrains the imbecile, the
dangerously insane, the victims of deadly, contagious diseases. All
these are restrained without any feeling of hatred, but with pity and
understanding. Society does not keep one of these persons under
restraint after he has sufficiently recovered to make it safe to return
him to the community; neither does it release one until he is safe. It
uses the best methods for his treatment that may make him fit to live
with his fellows, and the best efforts to place him in a proper
environment when discharged. Neither does any disgrace nor humiliation
nor handicap attach to the unfortunate when discharged. In a sense, the
attitude of mind held by the group toward the "criminal" is the whole
question. From this everything follows, and without it change or
humanity or hope is not possible.

It is true that insane asylums, homes for the feeble-minded, and
hospitals are not what they should be, nor what they will be some day.
All of this is not due to the attitude of the mind of the public, but is
due to the method of administration which is not within the scope of
this book. If justice and humanity shall ever have to do with the
treatment of the criminal, and if science shall ever be called upon in
this, one of the most serious and painful questions of the ages, it is
necessary, first, that the public shall have a better understanding of
crime and criminals.



It is only lately that we are beginning to find out anything about the
origin and nature of man. Laws have come down to us from old customs and
folk-ways based on primitive ideas of man's origin, capacity and
responsibility. It has been generally assumed that man was created
different from all the rest of animal life; that man alone was endowed
with a soul and with the power to tell good from evil; that in the
beginning man was perfect but yielded to temptation, and since then has
been the subject of an everlasting contest between the powers of light
and the powers of darkness for the possession of his soul; that man not
only knew good from evil, but was endowed with "free will," and had the
power to choose between good and evil; and that when he did wrong he
deliberately chose to do so out of an abandoned and malignant heart; and
that all men alike were endowed with this power and all alike were
responsible for their acts.

The old indictments charged that: "John Smith, being a wicked, malicious
and evil disposed person, not having the fear of God before his eyes,
but being moved and seduced by the instigation of the devil etc." It
followed, of course, that John Smith should be punished or made to
suffer, for he had purposely brought all the evil on himself. The old
idea is still the foundation of the world's judgment of men, in court
and out. Of course this idea leaves no room for mercy and understanding.
Neither does it leave any chance to give the criminal the proper
treatment for his defects which might permit him to lead a normal life.

As a matter of fact, every scientific man knows that the origin of life
is quite different from this; that the whole current conception of the
individual and his responsibility is a gross error; and that no correct
judgments can be based on the old foundation; that no sane treatment of
crime can follow this assumption of man's origin and nature; that the
result of this foundation is almost infinite injustice and cruelty to a
large and constantly growing number of men and women; and that it tends
to endless injury and evil to society. The conception of man and the
treatment of crime and criminals by the courts is not better nor more
scientific than was the old-time doctors' treatment of physical ailments
by magic, incantations and sorcery.

The origin and development of all animal life is the same. In fact, the
development of plant life is on a similar pattern. The origin of a
human being is a simple cell, an egg. This cell is fertilized and
through growth after fertilization begins dividing and building and
taking on the form and semblance of a human being. All children have the
same origin, the same development and the same pattern, yet no two are
alike. Each has a distinct and different equipment from any of the
others. The size of the body, real and potential; the size and fineness
of the brain; the delicacy and sensitiveness of the nervous system; the
innate instincts upon which conduct mainly rests; the emotions which
control action and which flow from the structure--in short, the degree
of perfection and imperfection of the machine is all hidden in the
original cell. No well-informed person now thinks of questioning the
fact that the main characteristics of the human being, as of every other
animal and plant, are hidden in the germ or seed from which it sprang.

The laws of growth and development which govern organic matter were not
made for man and do not except man. Life begins with the cell and
evolves according to pattern. If the cell is that of a human being, it
will be black or white, male or female, tall or short, intelligent or
stupid, sensitive or stolid; it will develop a large or a small brain, a
fine one or a poor one, a sensitive nervous system or a defective one;
it will be ruled by instincts that are all-powerful and controlling,
and even the color of the hair and eyes are in the pattern. The whole
structure, potentially, is in the original cell, and infinite knowledge
could tell how the structure would respond to sensations as it passed
through life.

It is obvious that the kinds and differences of human structures are
infinite. It is no more possible for all men to respond equally to the
same stimulus, than it is for all machines or all animals to respond
alike. It is apparent that not one of the structures can ever work
perfectly, and that from the best down to the poorest structures are
infinite degrees of perfection, even down to the machine that has no
capacity for any kind of work.

No ordinarily intelligent farmer doubts for a moment that all of this is
true in the breeding of stock. He would never expect the same results
from various breeds of cattle or even from all cattle of the same breed.

There is no exception to the rule that the whole life, with every
tendency, is potential in the original cell. An acorn will invariably
produce an oak tree. It can produce no other tree, and it will always
develop true to its own pattern. The tree may be larger or smaller, more
or less symmetrical, stronger or weaker, but always true to the general
pattern of the oak. Variations will be certain, due in part to heredity
and in part to environment.

That the baby had nothing to do with its equipment will readily be
admitted by everyone. The child is born with a brain of a certain size
and fineness. It is born with a nervous system made up of an infinite
number of fine fibers reaching all parts of the body, with fixed
stations or receivers like the central stations of a telephone system,
and with a grand central exchange in the brain. If one can imagine all
of the telephone wires in the world centered in one station, he may have
some sort of a conception of the separate nerves that bring impressions
to the brain and send directions out from it, which together make up the
nervous system of man. None of these systems is perfect. They are of all
degrees of imperfection down to the utterly useless or worse than
useless system. These nerves are of all degrees of sensitiveness and
accuracy in receiving and transmitting messages. Some may work well,
others imperfectly. No one is much surprised when an automobile,
equipped with a mechanism much simpler than the nervous system, refuses
to respond properly.

The child is born without knowledge but with certain tendencies,
instincts, capacities and potential strength or weakness. His nervous
system and his brain may be good or bad--most likely neither very good
nor very bad. All of his actions both as a child and as a man are
induced by stimulation from without. He feels, tastes, sees, hears or
smells some object, and his nerves carry the impression to his brain
where a more or less correct registration is made. Its correctness
depends largely upon the perfection of the nervous system and the
fineness of the material on which the registration is made. Perfect or
imperfect, the child begins to gather knowledge and it is stored in this
way. To the end of his days he receives impressions and stores them in
the same manner. All of these impressions are more or less imperfectly
received, imperfectly conveyed and imperfectly registered. However, he
is obliged to use the machine he has. Not only does the machine register
impressions but it sends out directions immediately following these
impressions: directions to the organism as to how to run, to walk, to
fight, to hide, to eat, to drink, or to make any other response that the
particular situation calls for.

Then, too, stimulated by these impressions, certain secretions are
instantly emptied from the ductless glands into the blood which, acting
like fuel in an engine, generate more power in the machine, fill it with
anger or fear and prepare it to respond to the directions to fight or
flee, or to any type of action incident to the machine. It is only
within a few years that biologists have had any idea of the use of
these ductless glands or of their importance in the functions of life.
Very often these ductless glands are diseased, and always they are more
or less imperfect; but in whatever condition they are, the machine
responds to their flow.

The stored-up impressions are more or less awakened under stimulation.
As life goes on, these stored impressions act as inhibitions or
stimulations to action, as the case may be. These form the material for
comparisons and judgments as to conduct. Not only are the impressions
imperfect and the record imperfect, but their value and effect depend on
the brain which compares and considers the impressions. From all this
mechanism, action is born.

That man is the product of heredity and environment and that he acts as
his machine responds to outside stimuli and nothing else, seem amply
proven by the evolution and history of man. But, quite aside from this,
logic and philosophy must lead to the same conclusions. This is not a
universe where acts result from chance. Law is everywhere supreme. Every
process of nature and life is a continuous sequence of cause and effect.
No intelligent person would ever think of an effect in the physical
world which did not follow a cause or causes. It has taken man a long
time to find this out. The recurrence of the seasons, the seed-time and
harvest, the common phenomena of Nature, were once supposed to be
outside the realm of cause and effect and due to the whim of some
powerful being. But the laws of matter are now coming to be understood.
Chance, accident and whim have been banished from the physical world.
The acts of men alone are supposed to be outside the realm of law. There
is a cause for the eternal revolution of the earth around the sun, for
the succession of seed-time and harvest, for growth and decay; but not
for the thoughts and actions of man.

All the teaching of the world is based on the theory that there is no
free will. Why else should children be trained with so much care? Why
should they be taught what is right and what is wrong? Why should so
much pains be taken in forming habits? To what effect is the storing of
knowledge in the brain of the child, except that it may be taught to
avoid the wrong and to do the right? Man's every action is caused by
motive. Whether his action is wise or unwise, the motive was at least
strong enough to move him. If two or more motives pulled in opposite
directions, he could not have acted from the weakest but must have
obeyed the strongest. The same motives applied to some other machine
might have produced an opposite result, but to his particular structure
it was all-controlling. How any special motive will affect any special
machine must depend upon the relative strength of the motive and make of
the machine. It is for this reason that intelligent people have always
taken so much pains to fortify the machine, so that it would respond to
what they believed was right. To say that one could ever act from the
weakest motive would bring chaos and chance into a world of method and
order. Even punishment could have no possible effect to deter the
criminal after release, or to influence others by the example of the
punishment. As well might the kernel of corn refuse to grow upward to
the sunlight, and grow downward instead.

Before any progress can be made in dealing with crime the world must
fully realize that crime is only a part of conduct; that each act,
criminal or otherwise, follows a cause; that given the same conditions
the same result will follow forever and ever; that all punishment for
the purpose of causing suffering, or growing out of hatred, is cruel and
anti-social; that however much society may feel the need of confining
the criminal, it must first of all understand that the act had an
all-sufficient cause for which the individual was in no way responsible,
and must find the cause of his conduct, and, so far as possible, remove
the cause.



The acorn will inevitably produce the oak tree and it will grow true to
its pattern. All seeds and cells will do likewise. Still if the acorn is
planted in good soil, where it is properly nourished and in a spot where
it is sufficiently sheltered, the tree will be more likely to become
large and symmetrical, than if it is planted in poor soil or in an
exposed spot.

In one sense heredity is the seed, and environment the soil. The whole
structure and pattern and inherent tendencies and potentiality are in
the seed and cannot be changed. The child has nothing to do with its
early environment during the period when impressions sink the deepest
and when habits are formed. It is then that the meaning of facts is
interpreted. At this time the child is fashioned by the teachings and
environment in which it is placed. As the child receives its first
impressions, and all along through its development, it is forming habits
from those about it. These habits come to be strong, dominating forces
in its life. Very few people, if any, can trace definite views of
conduct or thought to their conscious effort, but these are born of
their structure and the environment that formed their habits after

The fact that an individual's political and religious faith depends
almost entirely on his place of birth and early youth, shows the
strength of environment in forming and shaping opinions and beliefs.

As the child grows and develops, it is influenced by all that surrounds
it. The human machine moves in response to outside stimulation. How it
will move depends upon two things, the character of the stimulant and
the machine to which it is applied. No two machines will act exactly
alike from the same stimulus. Sometimes they act in diametrically
opposite ways. For instance, under the same stimulation, one may run and
another may fight, depending perhaps on the secretions that the ductless
glands empty into the blood.

No machine can act except according to its make-up. Even an ignorant
person, who finds that the same stimulant produces different results on
different machines, would know that the structures are not the same.

Endless discussions have been devoted to the relative importance of
heredity and environment in human conduct. This is a fruitless task. In
a sense, each one is of supreme importance in the outcome of a life. It
is obvious that some structures are so perfect that almost no
environment will overcome them. Instances of strong men developing out
of poor environment are not rare. Many of these may be subject to doubt
as to whether the heredity caused the strength, for the smallest
particle of luck at some special or vital time may make all the
difference possible in the outcome of a life. While some heredities
withstand a poor environment, others are so poor that, no matter how
good the environment, the machine cannot survive. An idiot is an
illustration of one whom environment cannot change. No heredity will
overcome the hardest environment. The old saying, "every man has his
price," is true in this sense, that every machine will stand just so
much and no more. Some machines reach the breaking point soon and some
later, but all have their limit. Most people have a heredity that is not
the best nor yet the worst. Given an imperfect machine, they are thrown
into a certain environment, and then up to the capacity of their
machines the outcome depends entirely on the environment. Given an
environment easy enough they will succeed, or at least "get by." Given a
hard environment they will fail, or "go down." Tens of thousands of men
live in a comparatively easy environment and pass their lives as useful
citizens with no taint of criminality to their names, who under a hard
environment would be found in prison. On the other hand, perhaps most of
the inmates of prisons would have lived as respected citizens if their
environment had not been so hard. Heredity has everything to do with
making the machine strong and capable, or weak and useless; but when the
machine is made and thrown on the world in its imperfect shape,
environment has everything to do in determining what its fate shall be.



Most people live a narrow existence. Perhaps the great majority of men
and women find their safety in this kind of a life. The adjustment of
heredity and environment is not an easy task to one who lives an
unsheltered life. The ordinary person, thrown on his own resources, is
poorly equipped for existence. His opinions on most matters are not
sound. He uses poor judgment as to how he shall spend the little money
he gets. He is generally driven by debts and harassed in all his efforts
to get a living. A large family adds to his trouble and his existence is
a constant struggle with what, to him, is an almost hopeless fate.

Industrial conditions for the most part are relentless and hard. The
poor man is thrown into competition with his fellows for work. He may
get along when work is easy to get and wages are good, but in dull times
he falls behind, and is in hopeless trouble. His life is a long, hard
struggle to make adjustments to his environment, and it is not strange
that he goes down so often before the heavy task. Failure to make proper
adjustments directly and indirectly often means prison to him.

Again, the ordinary and especially the weak man is hopelessly puzzled by
his environment. It must never be overlooked that man has a lowly
origin. The marks of his humble birth are in his whole structure and
life. His make-up has been the work of the ages. He is a late
development of a life that knew nothing of law, as law is understood
today. His ancestors were hungry and went out after food, they killed
their prey and took their food by main strength whenever they had the
power. They were subject to certain customs which were very strict, but
which were few and did not seriously complicate life. They knew only the
law of force. Their existence was simple and primal, and they were
governed by no "rights," except such simple ones as were made by might
and custom.

Civilization is a constant building-up of limitations around heredity; a
persistent growth of environmental control as it progresses, or at least
moves along. This structure, especially the legal structure, is built by
the more intelligent and always by the strong men. It is always shifting
and moving, and it is impossible for the inferior man to adjust his
emotions and his life rapidly to the changes. Things which are not
condemned by his feelings of right and wrong are condemned by laws that
meet with no response from his emotions and moral ideas. To him at least
these are not different from the things that are done by others with
impunity and without rebuke. Especially is this true of the rapidly
growing class of property laws that have had no counterpart in the early
history of man. This list has grown so fast that it is beyond the power
of a large class of men to find in their feelings any response to many
of these criminal statutes. The ever-growing social restrictions are of
the same modern growth, and it is equally impossible to feel and
understand them. What we call civilization has moved so fast that the
structure and instincts of man have not been able to become adjusted to
it. The structure is too cumbersome, too intense, too hard, and if not
breaking down of its own weight, it is at least destroying thousands who
cannot adjust themselves to its changing demands. Not only are the
effects of this growing body of social and legal restrictions shown
directly by their constant violation, generally by the inferior and the
poor, but indirectly in their strain on the nervous system; by the
irritation and impatience that they generate, and which, under certain
conditions cause acts of violence.



No one can understand conduct without knowing something of the
psychology of human action. First of all, it must be understood that
reason, which so many have idealized and placed in control of the human
machine, has little to do with the actions of men. It is a common habit
with most men to find fault with and bewail the fact that human beings
do not act from reason. However much the truth is impressed upon us, we
never seem to realize that the basis of action is in instinct and
emotion. It is really useless to quarrel with Nature. Whether it would
have been better to have made man some other way is not worth
discussing. He has been evolved in a certain way and we must take him as
he is. Our impatience with the method that Nature has provided for
influencing human conduct is largely due to our idea of the meaning of

Man has fancied himself in a position in the animal world that facts of
life and nature do not sustain. We seem to feel that man has some high
calling; that he should make something of himself which cannot be
accomplished; that he should form some sort of a perfect order that he
never can reach; in short that man has a purpose and a mission. It is
manifest that all we know is but a mite compared with the unknown, and
it may be that sometime a purpose will be revealed of which man never
dreamed. Still from all that we can see and understand, Nature has but
one desire, and that is the preservation and perpetuation of life. This
is its purpose or, rather, its strongest urge not only with men but with
all animal life. Sometimes to create one fish a million eggs are
spawned. Nature is profligate both in spawning life and compassing its
destruction. In the human species the capacity for life is immeasurably
beyond its fruition. A large portion of those who are born die an early
death. And that human life shall not be extinct, Nature plants the
life-giving desire deep in the constitution of man. The creation of life
comes from an instinct so profound and absorbing that it carries a train
of evils in its wake. Many are overweighted by the sex instinct to their
positive harm. Nature somehow did not trust such a fundamental duty as
the preservation of the race to reason. If intellectual processes were
responsible for life, the world no doubt would soon be bare of animate
things. Neither could the care of the young be trusted to anything but
the deep-seated instinct that causes the mother to forget her own life
in the preservation of the life of her child.

The functions of body, on which life is founded, do not depend upon
reason. The heart begins to beat before birth; it continues to beat
until the end of life. The reason has nothing to do with the heart
performing its function. Man goes to sleep at night confident that it
will still be beating in the morning. The blood circulates in the veins
independent of the thoughts of man. The digestive processes go on
whether he sleeps or is awake. Many of his muscles never rest from birth
to death. Life could not be preserved through the intellectual

Human action is governed largely by instinct and emotion. These
instincts and emotions are incident to every living machine and are the
motor forces that impel the organism. They do not think. They act, and
act at once. All the mind can do is to place some restraint on such
instincts and emotions through experience, education and settled habits.
If the actions are never inhibited, the machine will tear itself to
pieces. If too easily inhibited, it will do no work. It is manifest that
the perfect machine does not exist.

Man is moved by his instinct of flight and his emotion of fear, which
are set in motion by apprehended dangers and by unaccustomed sights or
sounds. Terror sometimes becomes so intense that it prevents flight and
brings convulsions and death. It is idle to reason with one in terror.
It is idle to reason with a mob in terror or a nation in terror. One
might as well expect to calm a tempestuous sea with soft words.

The instinct of repulsion brings hatred and dislike and, combined with
the instinct of pugnacity, may lead to crimes of violence. When these
instincts are strong enough, the weak and superficial barriers cannot
stand against them. An electrical flash showing the scaffold with the
noose above it would have no force to stop an instinct and emotion fully
aroused. Through seeing, feeling, hearing, tasting or smelling, some
instinct is called into action. Many times several conflicting instincts
are aroused. The man is like a tree bent back and forth by the storm. If
the storm is hard enough, sooner or later it will break. Which way the
tree falls has nothing to do with the consciousness of the tree, but has
to do only with the direction of the prevailing and controlling force.

The instinct of gregariousness draws animals or men together into
communities and close relations. This is one of the strongest instincts
and not only preserves life but is fundamental to those human
associations that are the basis of civilization. Except for this,
animals would live a lonely life and probably perish from the earth.
Through this instinct, man builds his villages and cities and organizes
his states and nations. With the gregarious instinct and the parental
instinct drawing men together, and the instincts and emotions of flight,
fear and pugnacity, repelling and pushing them apart, conflict is
inevitable. All that can be done is to create and cultivate as strong
habits, customs and laws as possible to stand against the power of
instinct and emotion in time of need, and to remove the main inciting
causes so far as man has the intelligence and power to remove them. It
is evident that this can never be complete. There are too many weak
machines, too many defective nervous systems, too many badly organized
brains. Accidents are inevitable, and some accidents are called
"crimes." When the accident is international or world-wide, it means
war. Those who believe that there is any power to stop all the harmful
manifestations of man's instincts, either individually or _en masse_, do
not understand the fundamental nature of man.

Many and probably all instincts work both for good and ill. Flight,
pugnacity, repulsion, sex--all are life-preserving or life-destroying,
as the case may be. A certain degree of excitation brings life and
pleasure. A stronger or weaker may bring calamity and death. The
parental instinct, with the instinct of reproduction, is fundamental to
life. It is the basis of tenderness and sympathy, and is likewise the
foundation of jealousy and often of hatred and pugnacity. At one time it
may mean the deepest and most abiding pleasures of life, and at another
it may bring death. Life cannot exist without it, and yet, that it may
persist, Nature seriously overloads many machines with disastrous
results. History is replete with the helplessness of reason and judgment
in dealing with these emotions. Neither when they act for good nor for
ill can reason and judgment have the slightest weight when these
instincts and emotions are stirred to the depths.

The emotion to acquire and keep property is very strong and perhaps at
the base of the deep desire for wealth. This emotion is probably of a
comparatively late growth, but today it seems to have taken its place as
one of the strongest that move men. This emotion, like all others,
prompts man to get what he wants. It of course does not suggest the way,
but is simply an urge to acquire and possess. It is modified and hedged
about by customs and habits but, like all instincts, its strength is
always seeking ways to accomplish results regardless of the rules laid
down and thus urging their violation. With weak machines and imperfect
systems, where not only are the restrictions imperfect, the habits not
well defined, but where it is impossible to satisfy the instinct under
the rules laid down, there can be but one result; a large number will
take property wherever and however they can get it.

The instinct for acquisition is so strong that men are constantly
contriving new and improved methods for getting property. Often the new
methods come under restraint of the law. The enactment of the law does
not give man the feeling that a thing is wrong which before was right
and many continue their ways of getting property, regardless of the law.
The instinct is too strong, the needs too great, and the barriers too

Instincts are primal to man. He has inherited them from the animal
world. Their strength and weakness depend on the make-up of the machine.
Some are very strong and some abnormally weak, and there are no two
machines that emphasize or repress the same instincts to the same
degree. One need but look at his family and neighbors to see the various
manifestations of these instincts. Some are quarrelsome and combative
and will fight on the slightest provocation. Others are distinctively
social; the gregarious instinct is pronounced in many people. These are
always seen in company and cannot be alone. They readily adapt
themselves to any sort of associations. Others are solitary. They choose
to be alone. They shrink from and avoid the society of others. In some
the instinct at the basis of sex association is over-strong; they like
children; they are generally sympathetic and emotional, and the strength
of the instinct often leads them to excesses. Others are entirely
lacking in this instinct; they neither care for children nor want them;
they habitually avoid association with the other sex. The difference is
constituent in the elements that make up the machine.

Everyone is familiar with the varying strength and weakness of the
instincts of getting and hoarding as shown by his neighbors and
acquaintances. Some seem to have no ambition or thought for getting or
keeping money. Some can get it but cannot keep it. Some have in them
from childhood the instinct for getting the better of every trade; for
hoarding what they get, and accumulating property all their lives. In
this, as in all other respects, no two individuals are alike. History is
filled with examples of men who had the instinctive power of getting
money combined with the instinct for keeping it. Their names are
familiar, all the way from Midas and Croesus down to the prominent
captains of industry today. It is common for them and their adherents
who criticise new schemes of social organization to remark with the
greatest assurance that before wealth can be equal, brains must be
equal. The truth is that brains have little to do with either the making
or accumulating of money. This depends mainly, like all other
activities, on the strength or weakness of the instincts involved. One's
brain capacity cannot be measured by his bank account, any more than by
the strength of his body or the color of his hair. His bank account
simply shows his innate tendencies. There is no doubt that brain
capacity as well as physical perfection adds to power, but it is the
instinct that determines the tendency and strength of the activity.

To say that the one who gets money the most easily and keeps it the most
safely has the best brain is no more reasonable than to say that the
foxhound is more intelligent than the bull-dog because it can run
faster. Nature formed one for running and the other for holding on. The
brain power is not involved.

There are manifold ways of gratifying all these instincts. The desire
for property calls simply for getting it and keeping it. It does not
involve the method to be used. The way is determined by other faculties,
by education, by opportunities, by the strength and weakness of
inhibitions. It does not follow that all legal ways are morally right
and all illegal ones morally wrong. Society in its development has
established certain ways in which it may be done. These ways are easy
for some, they are hard for others, and for many quite impossible.

Still the instinct for getting is always present, leading and urging to
acquire and to keep. Endless are the ways that men have contrived to
gratify this instinct. If, perchance, a law stands in the way, means are
always sought to get around the law. Every desire is always seeking its
own gratification or satisfaction. This means life. Most men believe
that the way they adopt for getting money or gratifying other instincts
is really no worse than some other person's way. The man who uses the
confidence game contends with great assurance that his methods are like
other business methods; that all men are using every means to get the
largest return for the least effort, and one way is no better than
another. A considerable portion of society has always supported him in
these ideas. The law is full of shadowy lines which divide legal
acquisition from the illegal, some of which are so fine that no one can
see more than a technical difference. For instance, under an indictment
for obtaining money by false pretenses, one may make all sorts of
statements as to the quality, value, style and desirability of the
article sold, if he does not make a specific statement of a fact
regarding the material contained in them or the amount, number, quality
or the like. He may lie, but to be safe he must know the kind of lie the
law permits. Many lies pass as "puffing goods" and are within the pale.
A trader is not expected to tell the truth. What he can and cannot say
may be determined only by a careful examination of the law, and not
always then.

Infinite are the reasons men give for doing the things that their
instincts bid them do. All depends upon the strength of the instinct and
the character of the machine; the restrictions and habits formed; and
many other factors of which the man knows nothing. In fact, all depends
upon his endowment and the outside forces that move to action, and for
none of these is he in any way to be praised or blamed.

Society seems to be almost oblivious to the emotional life of man. The
great masses of men have no capacity or chance to prepare a proper
environment in the intense commercialism and mad rush of today. The laws
of trade and commerce give most men food, clothing and shelter but
nothing more. There is no beauty in their homes or surroundings; no
music or art; no adventure or speculation. Existence is a dead thing, a
dreary round. To many such people crime furnishes the only chance for
adventure. Take away emotions and life is hopelessly dull and
commonplace. The emotions of men must be fed just as the body must be
fed. To many religion has furnished this emotional life. Churches have
provided some art and some music. But aside from the Catholic Church
almost none of this is for the poor. To many if not most people religion
cannot take the place of joy. Dogma and creed deaden and cannot appeal
to the reason of man. Still they have furnished a large part of the
emotional life to great masses of men, without which existence would
hold no hope or joy. But this is not enough to fill most lives. The
element of joy is largely lacking. To many it makes no appeal, although
music and art and beauty do. In no country has society so utterly
neglected and ignored the emotional side of man as in America. This has
led many men to a life of adventure that for them has been possible only
in crime. Many others found this life in the saloon, mixed with
influences not conducive to a normal life. The closing of the saloons
has added to the already serious need of providing for the innate
feelings of men. This is all the more important for America, as a large
part of our population has come from lands where beauty and art and
music have for generations been made a part of the common life of all.



Those who have had no experience in the courts and no knowledge of what
is known as the "criminal class" have a general idea that a criminal is
not like other men. The people they know are law-abiding, conventional
believers in the State and the Church and all social customs and
relations; they have strict ideas of property rights, and regard the law
as sacred. True they have no more acquaintance with law-makers and
politicians in general than with the criminal class, which, of course,
is one reason why they have such unbounded confidence in the law. Such
persons are surprised and shocked when some member of the family or some
friend is entangled in the courts, and generally regard it as a
catastrophe that has come upon him by accident or a terrible mistake. As
a rule, they do all in their power to help him whether he is acquitted
or convicted. They never think that he and everyone else they know is
not materially different from the ordinary criminal. As a matter of
fact, the potential criminal is in every man, and no one was ever so
abandoned that some friend would not plead for him, or that some one who
knew him would not testify to his good deeds.

The criminal is not hard to understand. He is one who, from inherited
defects or from great misfortune or especially hard circumstances, is
not able to make the necessary adjustments to fit him to his
environment. Seldom is he a man of average intelligence, unless he
belongs to a certain class that will be discussed later. Almost always
he is below the normal of intelligence and in perhaps half of the cases
very much below. Nearly always he is a person of practically no
education and no property. One who has given attention to the subject of
crime knows exactly where the criminal comes from and how he will
develop. The crimes of violence and murder, and the lesser crimes
against property, practically all come from those who have been reared
in the poor and congested districts of cities and large villages. The
robbers, burglars, pickpockets and thieves are from these surroundings.
In a broad sense, some criminals are born and some are made. Nearly all
of them are both born and made. This does not mean that criminality can
be inherited, or even that there is a criminal type. It means that with
certain physical and mental imperfections and with certain environment
the criminal will be the result.

Seldom does one begin a criminal life as a full-grown man. The origin
of the typical criminal is an imperfect child, suffering from some
defect. Usually he was born with a weak intellect, or an unstable
nervous system. He comes from poor parents. Often one or both of these
died or met misfortune while he was young. He comes from the crowded
part of a poor district. He has had little chance to go to school and
could not have been a scholar, no matter how regularly he attended
school. Some useful things he could have learned had society furnished
the right teachers, surroundings and opportunities to make the most of
an imperfect child. Early in life he does some desultory work in casual
occupations. This of course is not steady, but he picks up what he can
and keeps the job for a short time, sometimes quitting work because he
is discharged and sometimes because, like most boys and men, he does not
like to work. His playground is the street, the railroad yards or vacant
lots too small for real play, and fit only for a loafing place for boys
like himself. These gather nightly and talk of the incidents that
interest most people, mainly the abnormal things of life and generally
the crimes that the newspapers make so prominent to satisfy the public
demand. He learns to go into vacant buildings, steals the plumbing, and
he early learns where to sell it. From this it is only a short step to
visiting occupied buildings at night. In this way he learns to be a
burglar as other boys learn to play baseball or golf.

Naturally he has no strong sense of property rights. He has always had a
hard time to get enough to eat and wear, and he has grown up
unconsciously to see the inequality of distribution and to believe that
it is not fair and that there is little or no justice in the world. As a
child he learned to get things the best way he could, and to think
nothing about it. In short, his life, like all other lives, moves along
the lines of least resistance. He soon comes to feel that the police are
his natural enemies and his chief business is to keep from getting
caught. Inevitably he is brought into the Juvenile Court. He may be
reprimanded at first. He comes again and is placed on probation. The
next time he goes to a Juvenile Prison where he can learn all the things
he has not found out before. He is known to the police, known to the
Court, known to the neighbors. His status is fixed. When released from
prison, he takes his old heredity back into his old environment. It is
the easiest to him, for he has learned to make his adjustments to this
environment. From fifteen to twenty-five years of age, he has the added
burden of adolescence, the trying time in a boy's life when sex feelings
are developing, when he is passing from childhood to manhood. This is a
very difficult time at best to the type of boy from which a criminal
grows; he meets it without preparation or instruction. What he knows he
learns from others like himself. He gets weird, fantastic, neurotic
ideas, which only add to his natural wonderment.

Every person who has not inherited property must live by some trade or
calling. Very few people in jail or out choose their profession. Even if
one selects his profession it does not follow that he has chosen the
calling for which he is best adapted. So far as a person can and does
follow his desires, he generally means to choose the calling which will
bring him the greatest amount of return for the least exertion. He may
have strong inclinations in certain directions, as, for instance, to
paint or to write or to investigate or to philosophize, but, as a rule,
he does not make his living from following these ambitions. If he does,
it is generally a poor living. But usually his aim is to make money at
something else so that he can give free rein to his real ambitions.

Most men start to make a living as boys from the ages of fifteen to
eighteen. They have no idea of what they ought to do or even of what
they want to do. Usually, so far as they have an ambition, it is to do
something more or less spectacular that seems to have an element of
adventure and not too disagreeable or hard; something like the work of
a policeman, a chauffeur, or an employee in a garage. Still, first and
last, most boys and most men have no opportunity for choosing an
occupation. In fact, the boy is told that he is a man and must get a job
long before he knows that he is a man or begins to feel
responsibilities, while he still has all the emotions and dreams of a

When he is told he must go to work he looks for a job. He does not wait
until he can find the one that fits him. He cannot afford to wait and if
he could, he does not know what job would fit. He takes automatically
the first place he can get, hoping to find a better one, which generally
means an easier one, before very long. It is hard for a boy to stick to
work; too many things are calling him away. Every instinct and emotion
is urging him to play. New feelings and desires are coaxing him from
work. His companions and the boy life in which he has a place urge him
to leave his task. Usually he keeps his job no longer than he can help
and later looks for something else. The chances are great that he will
never find what he wants; that he has not had the preparation or
training for a successful workingman's career, whatever that might be.
He is a doer of odd jobs and of poorly paid work all his life.

He must have some calling and takes the easiest one, which is often a
life of crime. From this start comes the professional criminal
so-called. He may make a business of picking pockets. If this comes to
be his trade it is very hard for him to give it up. There is so strong
an element of chance--he never knows what a pocket will contain--it
gratifies a spirit of adventure. Then it is easy. The wages are much
greater than he could get in any other calling; the hours are short and
it never interferes with his amusements. It is not so dangerous as being
a burglar or a switchman, for he can find an excuse for jostling one in
the street-cars or in a crowd and thus reaching into a pocket.

The burglar is not so apt to be a professional; his is a bolder and more
hazardous trade; if he is caught he is taken from his occupation for a
longer time. The great hazard involved in this trade and also the
physical strength and fitness of those who follow it lead to its
abandonment more frequently than is the case with a pickpocket or a
petty thief. Robbery is seldom a profession. It is usually the crime of
the young and venturesome and almost surely leads to early disaster.
Murder, of course, is never a profession. In a broad way it is the
result of accident or passion, or of relations which are too hard to

In prison and out, I have talked with scores of these men and boys. I am
sure they rarely tried to deceive me. I have very seldom seen one who
felt that he had done wrong, or had any thought of what the world calls
reformation. A very few have used the current language of those who
talk of reform, but generally they were the weakest and most hopeless of
the lot and usually adopted this attitude to deceive. In almost every
instance where you meet any sign of intelligence, excuses and
explanations are freely made, and these explanations fully justify their
points of view. Often too they tell you in sincerity that they believe
their way of life is too hard and does not pay; that while they cannot
see how they could have done any differently in the past, they believe
their experience has taught them to stick by the rules of the game.

The boy delinquent grows naturally and almost inevitably into the man
criminal. He has generally never learned a trade. No habits have been
formed in his youth to keep him from crime. A life of crime is the only
one open to him, and for this life he has had ample experience,
inclination and opportunity. Then too for this kind of young man the
life of a criminal has a strong appeal. Life without opportunity and
without a gambler's chance to win a considerable prize is not attractive
to anyone. The conventional man who devotes his life to business or to a
profession always has before him the prizes of success--to some honor
and glory, and to most of them wealth. Imagine the number of lawyers,
doctors and business men who could stick to a narrow path if they knew
that life offered no opportunity but drudgery and poverty! Nearly all
of these look forward to the prizes of success. Most of them expect
success and many get it. For the man that I have described, a life of
toil offers no chance of success. His capacity, education and
environment deny him the gambler's chance of a prize. As an honest man,
he may raise a family, always be in debt, live a life of poverty and
hardship and see nothing ahead but drudgery and defeat. This is why so
many mediocre men are found in the mountains and oil fields prospecting
for hidden wealth. With the chance of a fortune just before them, and no
other opportunity to win, they spend their lives without a family or
home, urged on by the hope of luck.

The man grown from boyhood into ways of vice and crime sees this hope
and this hope only to make a strike. He has no strong convictions and no
well-settled habits to hold him back. The fear of the law only means
greater caution, and after all he has nothing to lose. In his world
arrest and conviction do not mean loss of caste; they mean only bad
luck. With large numbers of men crime becomes a trade. It grows to be a
business as naturally as any other calling comes to be a trade.

There are other criminals who do not come from the class I have
described, but the habitual visitor to criminal courts knows that they
are very few. Of the others, some are born of parents who could care
for them and have done their best and yet, in spite of this, they have
repeatedly been entangled in the law; these are often the only ones of a
large family who have not lived according to the rules of the game. They
are different from the other members of the family. For the most part
they have some specific congenital defect, or an unstable system that
prevents the correct registration of the experiences that produce safe
habits, or makes them unable to withstand temptation or suggestion.

Everyone knows how easy it is, especially for children, to react to
suggestion. The whole life of a child is a response to suggestion. This
is about all there is to education. Even older men constantly and
readily yield to suggestion. The results gained by quack doctors,
lightning-rod agents, promoters and dealers in oil stocks, mining stocks
and an endless number of other stocks, show that the right kind of
suggestion is bound to produce results. The dressing of the windows of
department stores and the writing of catchy advertisements are a
constant recognition of the power of suggestion. So well known is this
weakness of human character that schools of salesmanship are regularly
organized and promoted to teach the art of getting victims to part with
money for things they do not want or need.

Every right-feeling person does everything in his power to educate the
child. He is ever watchful through the child's youth and early manhood
to equip him with the capacity to make a living. He seeks to build up
around him and within him the strongest kind of habits and beliefs. He
carefully teaches the child that the only way to live is to observe all
the rules laid down by experience and custom, so that he may not react
to the temptations that life holds out at every step. Every wise person
feels almost certain that if his children are reared without education,
without discipline, without training or opportunities, they will almost
inevitably swell the ranks of the criminal classes. And it is especially
certain that if one of his children is defective or has an unstable
nervous system, such a child should never be left without protection and

There are professional criminals of a different grade, like the forger
and the confidence man. Both of these have generally had some education
and a fair degree of intelligence, and have had some advantages in life.
The forger, as a rule, is a bookkeeper or an accountant who grows expert
with the pen. He works for a small salary and sees nothing better. He
grows familiar with signatures. Sometimes he is a clerk in a bank and
has the opportunity to study signatures; he begins to imitate them,
often with no thought of forging paper. He does it because it is an art
and probably the only thing he can do well. Perhaps some hard luck or an
unfortunate venture on the Board of Trade, or in a faro bank, makes him
write a check or note. He easily convinces himself that he is not
getting the salary he earns and that less worthy men prosper while he is
poor. Then too his business calls for better clothes and better
surroundings than those of the workingman, and gives him many glimpses
of easy lives. For a time he may escape. If the amount is not too large
it is often passed by without an effort to detect. Sometimes it escapes
notice altogether. Some business men write so many checks that they take
no pains at the end of the month to figure up their account and examine
every check, and never notice it unless the balance given by the bank is
so far out of the way that it attracts attention. After a forger grows
to be an expert, he can move from town to town. If he is taken and put
in prison and finally released, he is hard to cure. Forgery is too easy
and he knows of no other trade so good. A large percentage of these men
never would have forged, had their wages been higher. Many others are
the victims of the get-rich-quick disease; they haunt the gambling
houses, brokers' offices and the like. Often when they begin they expect
to make the check good; generally, they would have made good if the
right card had only turned up in the faro bank, or the right quotation
on the stock exchange.

There is another class of forgers, generally bankers, who speculate with
trust funds. To cover up the shortage they sign notes expecting that
they will never be presented and will deceive no one but the bank
examiner. If luck goes against them too long, the bank fails and the
forgery is discovered. These are really not forgers, as they never
intend to get money on the note. It is only a part of a means to cover
up the use of trust funds. Of course, these men are never professional
forgers, and are much more apt to die from suicide or a broken heart
than to repeat.

But with few exceptions, the criminal comes from the walks of the poor
and has no education or next to none. For this society is much to blame.
Sometimes he is obliged to go to work too soon, but often he cannot
learn at school. This is not entirely the fault of the boy's heredity;
it is largely the fault of the school. A certain course of study has
been laid out. With only slight changes this course has come down from
the past and is fixed and formal. Much of it might be of value to a
professional man, but most of it is of no value to the man in other
walks of life. Because a boy cannot learn arithmetic, grammar or
geography, or not even learn to read and write, it does not follow that
he cannot learn at all. He may possibly have marked mechanical ability;
he may have more than the ordinary powers of adaptation to many kinds of
work. These he could be taught to do and often to do well. Under proper
instruction he might become greatly interested in some kind of work, and
in the study to prepare him for the work. Then too it is more or less
misleading to say that an uneducated man commits crime because he is
uneducated. Often his lack of education as well as his crime comes from
poverty. Crime and poverty may come from something else. All come
because he had a poor make-up or an insufficient chance.

After all, the great majority of men must do some kind of manual labor.
Until the time shall come when this kind of work is as easy and as well
paid as other employment, no one will do manual labor if he can do any
other kind. Perhaps the time may come when the hardest and most
disagreeable work will be the best paid. There are too many unskilled
workers in proportion to the population to make this seem very near. In
the meantime--and that is doubtless a long time--some one must do this
work. Much of it is done under supervision and requires no great skill
and need not be very disagreeable or hard. In a complex civilization
there is room for everyone to contribute to the whole. If our schools
are some day what they should be, a large part of their time, in some
cases all of it, will be devoted to manual training and will be given to
producing skilled workmen. This sort of school work can be made
attractive to thousands of boys who can do nothing else. And if easier
conditions of life under fairer social surroundings could be added to
this kind of education, most boys who now drift into crime would
doubtless find the conventional life more profitable and attractive.



Women furnish only one-fifth to one-tenth of the population of penal
institutions. Probably the percentage would be still lower if among
these were not a number of rather common convictions for acts which are
peculiar to women, like abortion, infanticide, child abandonment and the
like. As to the other crimes, few women are burglars or robbers, or
guilty of other crimes of violence, except murder. Women steal and
poison and blackmail and extort money and lie and slander and gossip,
and probably cause as much unhappiness as men; but their crimes, like
their lives, are not on so large or adventurous a scale. They do not so
readily take a chance; they lack the imagination that makes big
criminals or lays broad schemes. In many of their crimes they are often
the accomplices of men and take rather a minor part, although sometimes
a quite important one. For this reason they are often not detected and
frequently not prosecuted, a fact which leaves the percentage smaller
than it otherwise would be. Then too, juries are apt to acquit women of
crime even when they are indicted and tried. It must be a positive case
and one which calls for no possible feeling of sympathy or where there
is no personal appeal that will work the conviction of a woman. Men have
so long adopted an attitude of chivalry toward women that very few
juries will convict them. This too has much to do with the small number
of female convicts.

Some writers claim that the small number of women in penal institutions
shows that women are better than men; but this is a hasty conclusion
arrived at from insufficient facts. There are fewer female prisoners
because women have lived a more protected life; they have not been
engaged so generally in business; they have not been so constantly
obliged to fight their way in the world; their lives have been more
quiet and smooth; they have been surrounded by strong conventions and
closely watched. Especially is this true with regard to the girl as
compared with the boy. Such protection naturally keeps them from the
commission of crime. The great consideration shown to them by
prosecuting witnesses, prosecuting officers, judges and juries,
supplements the protected life and is an added reason for the showing
made by statistics. It is notorious that a woman is seldom convicted of
murder. This has been the subject of much complaint on the part of the
public; still a man may condemn such acquittals and when placed on a
jury will himself vote for acquittal.

After all, the juries are right. Most of the cases of murder against
women involve sex relations. Nature has made the bearing and rearing of
children first of all the woman's part, and this fact so dominates her
life that nothing else seems important to her in comparison. She is not
able to judge in a broad and scientific way matters so clearly affecting
life. It may even be possible that in the evolution and preservation of
life, her judgments are right. At least they are the natural judgments
for a large number of women, or these tragedies would not occur. No
doubt as woman enters the field of industry formerly monopolized by man,
and as she takes her part in politics and sits on juries, the percentage
of female criminals will rapidly increase. In fact, the percentage of
women prisoners has been climbing for many years. As she takes her place
with men she will be more and more judged as men are judged, and will
commit the crimes that men commit, and perhaps furnish her fair quota to
the penitentiaries and jails.

Whether this will be better or worse for the race is no part of the
discussion, and can only be told by long experience. Women must accept
the facts and make their choice of activities in view of these facts.
Quite apart from any sentiment, I think that it is a mistake to believe
that men and women should be judged alike. The structure and nervous
system of women cause physical and mental disturbances which affect
their judgment and life. If there were any justice in human judgment and
civilization, then each human being would be judged according to his
make-up, his tendencies, his inclinations and his capacities, and no two
would be judged alike.

Any sudden change in the treatment of women in the courts will work a
great injustice that will leave its effect on both women and men, and
still more on the life of the race.



This subject would scarcely have been noted a few years ago. True, there
was in the past a small mixture of children in the grist ground out in
the criminal courts. Usually they received some leniency, and were
viewed with more curiosity than alarm. The juvenile criminal was
regarded as a prodigy with a capacity for crimes far beyond his years.
Something of the attitude obtained in regard to him which attaches to
the child chess player or the child mathematician. The child criminal is
now common, and for the most part is a product of the city.

All crime is doubtless much more common in the city than the country,
and the young criminal especially is a product of the crowded community.
To those who look for natural causes for all phenomena the reason is not
far to seek. The city itself is an abnormal thing. Primitive man and his
ancestors were never huddled together in great multitudes, as are the
dwellers in cities today. To a degree almost all animals are gregarious,
but the units of organization are much smaller with them than with man,
excepting possibly in the case of the ant and the bee, insects which
seem specially adapted to live a highly automatic and cooperative life,
such as human beings cannot possibly reach. But primitive men and their
direct ancestors lived in small groups. They could not have preserved
their life in any other way. They lived by fishing and hunting and by
gathering roots, berries and herbs. Later they tended their flocks and
cultivated the fields in a simple way.

With the introduction of the modern machine, the factory system and the
railroads, in the last century, our great modern cities were evolved. As
they grew more complicated, new problems arose. The life of the crowded
city is most difficult even for normal men and women. The adjustments
are too numerous and too complex for an animal made with simple tastes
and for a pastoral life. But, if it is hard for men, it is almost
hopeless for children, especially the children of the poor who fill our
prisons, asylums and almshouses.

Every child needs the open air and the open life of the country. He
needs, first of all, exercise which should be in the form of outdoor
play. No healthy boy wants to live indoors, even though his home may be
a convenient city "flat." The woods, the fields, the streams, the lakes,
the wide common with plenty of room, have always made their natural
appeal to the young. And as sunlight kills most of the deadly germs, so
outdoor life with exercise and play takes care of most of the unhealthy
thoughts, habits and ideas of child-life. In the past, our schools both
in the city and country have done little to help the young. For the most
part healthy children have always looked on them more or less as
prisons. Here they have been confined and kept from exercise and play,
to study useless and unrelated facts and to commit to memory dry rules
which are forgotten as soon as their minds are ready to retain anything
worth while.

Schools should be made to fit the needs of children, and not children to
fit schools. The school that does not provide work and play for the
child which he is glad to do, has learned little of the psychology and
needs of youth. Botany, Zooelogy, Geology and even Chemistry can be
taught to children before they learn to read, and taught so that it will
seem like play, and through this the pupil will acquire a natural taste
for books. It is only within the last few years that the modern school
has really begun to educate the child. It has been a hard fight that
scientific teachers have waged with conventional education for the right
of the child. What has been done is too recent and scattering to show
material results.

Nothing is so important to the child as education. The early life is the
time that character is formed, habits are made, rules of conduct
taught, and it is almost impossible to up-root old habits and
inhibitions and implant new ones in later years.

It is true that "the child is father to the man," and he is the father
of the criminal as well as the useful citizen. Outside of the hopelessly
defective, or those who have very imperfect nervous or physical systems,
there is no reason why a child who has had proper mental and physical
training and any fair opportunity in life should ever be a criminal.
Even most of the mentally defective and those suffering from imperfect
nervous systems could be useful to society in a sheltered environment.
Poor as the country schools have always been, the outdoor life of the
country child is still so great an influence that he generally escapes
disaster. He is not sent to a factory, but lives in a small community
where he has fresh air and exercise.

Of course here as everywhere we must allow for the defective, the
imperfect, the subnormals and the children of the very poor. These
unfortunates furnish a large percentage of the inmates of prison, and
most of the victims for the scaffold which civilization so fondly

The growth of the big cities has produced the child criminal. He is
clearly marked and well defined. He is often subnormal even down to
idiocy. In most cases he is the result of heredity. Many times he may
have fair intelligence, but this is usually attached to an unstable,
defective nervous system that cannot do its proper work, and he has had
no expert treatment and attention. He is always poor. Generally he has
lost one or both parents in youth and has lived in the crowded districts
where the home was congested. He has no adequate playground and he runs
the streets or vacant, waste places. He associates and combines with
others of his kind. He cannot or does not go to school. If he goes to
school, he dreads to go and cannot learn the lessons in the books. He
likes to loaf, just as all children like to play. He is often set to
work. He has no trade and little capacity for skilled work that brings
good wages and steady employment. He works no more than he needs to
work. Every night and all the days that he can get are spent in idleness
on the street with his "gang." He seldom reads books. He lacks the taste
for books, and such teachers as he knew had not the wit to cultivate a
taste for good reading. Such books as he gets only add to his unhealthy

Many writers have classified the crimes that the boy commits. It is
scarcely worth the while. He learns to steal or becomes a burglar
largely for the love of adventure; he robs because it is exciting and
may bring large returns. In his excursions to pilfer property he may
kill, and then for the first time the State discovers that there is
such a boy and sets in action the machinery to take his life. The city
quite probably has given him a casual notice by arresting him a number
of times and sending him to a juvenile prison, but it has rarely
extended a hand to help him. Any man or woman who has fairly normal
faculties, and can reason from cause to effect, knows that the crimes of
children are really the crimes of the State and society which by neglect
and active participation have made him what he is. When it is remembered
that the man is the child grown up, it is equally easy to understand the
adult prisoner.



Crimes against persons are not always as easy to classify and understand
as crimes against property. These acts are so numerous and come from so
many different emotions and motives, that often the cause is obscure and
the explanation not easy to find. Still here, as everywhere in Nature,
nothing can happen without a cause, and even where limited knowledge
does its best and cannot find causes, our recognition of the connection
between cause and effect and the all-inclusiveness of law can leave no
doubt that complete knowledge would bring complete understanding.

It is always to be borne in mind in considering this class of crimes
that the motive power of life is not reason but instinct. If men lived
by reason the race would not survive. The primal things that preserve
the race, the hunger for food, drink, sex, are instinctive and not only
are not awakened or satisfied by reason, but oftentimes in violation of
it. Nature, first of all, sees to the preservation of the species, and
acts in a broad way that life may not perish. Nature knows nothing about
right and wrong in the sense in which man uses these words. All of our
moral conceptions are purely of social origin and hence not instinctive
in human life, and are forever giving way to the instincts on which
Nature depends. The preservation of life has called for the emotions of
hate, fear and love, among the other emotions that move men. The animal
fears danger and runs away, and thus life is preserved. The weaker
animal is almost entirely dependent for life upon his fear. He is
sometimes afraid when there is no danger, but without fear he would be
destroyed. Sometimes the animal hates and kills and thus preserves
himself. The love of offspring is the cause of the care bestowed upon it
which preserves its life. The herd instinct in animal species develops
packs and clans and tribes and states. Man is the heir to all the past,
and the instincts and emotions of the primitive animal are strong in his
being. These may have been strengthened or diluted as the ages have come
and gone, but the same instincts furnish the motive power for all his
acts. Man fears and hates, and runs or kills and saves his life. He
loves, and preserves his offspring.

Man sees an object. Instinctively he may fear it or he may hate it. He
may run from it or destroy it. He gathers impressions through his
senses. The nerves carry them to the brain. He comes to fear certain
persons and things, to hate certain other persons or things, and to
love still others. If the hatred is strong enough or the danger great
enough or the desire sufficient, he may kill. Whether he plans the
method or deliberates upon the act can make no difference. He is
prompted by the instinct, and the reflection simply means the
consideration of reasons for and against, or the reaching of
inhibitions. If he acts, it is one of the primal emotions that causes
the act. He is the "machine" through which certain emotions find their
path and do their work. Infinite are the causes and circumstances that
give rise to an emotion strong enough to take human life.

Killings which result from a sudden passion are easily understood.
Everyone has been overwhelmed by rage, where reason and judgment and all
acquired restraints are entirely submerged. The primitive man with his
primitive emotion reasserts himself. It is mainly accident or the lack
of some particular circumstance that prevents a murder. Of course some
people are overwhelmed more easily than others. Some natures are less
stable, some nervous systems less perfect, and the built up barriers are
weaker. The whole result of stimuli is determined by the strength of the
feeling acting upon the machine. Such a person is not ordinarily
dangerous to the community. The act itself would generally assure that
it could never happen again. Some killings, however, are more
deliberate. They are preceded by a settled hatred which preys upon the
mind and fights against the preventive influences that training and
habit have formed. Under a certain combination of circumstances these
restrictions are swept aside and the emotions have their way.

There are, of course, certain broad classifications of homicides. A
considerable number, perhaps more than any other, come through the
commission of robbery, burglary and larceny. In the midst of the act the
offender is caught, and kills in an effort to escape. These murders fall
under the heading of property crimes; the cause is the same, and the
rules governing them are the same. The second group, with respect to
numbers, grows from the relations of men and women. Wives kill husbands
and husbands kill wives; sweethearts kill each other. Jealousy and
revenge are commonly mixed with sex life and sex association. Many
socialists have argued that under an equal distribution of property,
where women were freed from fear of want, these crimes would disappear.
But this argument does not take human nature into account. Jealousy is
inevitably associated with sex relations. The close contact of men and
women over long periods of time inevitably causes friction and
misunderstanding. These conditions often grow chronic, and in marriage

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