DEDICATED TO MANY KIND FRIENDS.
A PLEA FOR THE CRIMINAL.
BEING A REPLY TO DR. CHAPPLE'S WORK: "THE FERTILITY OF THE UNFIT,"
AN ATTEMPT TO EXPLAIN THE LEADING PRINCIPLES OF CRIMINOLOGICAL & REFORMATORY SCIENCE.
THE REV. J. L. A. KAYLL,
CORRESPONDING MEMBER OF THE HOWARD ASSOCIATION.
INVERCARGILL! W. Smith, Commercial Printer, Temple Chambers, Esk Street. MCMV.
AUTHORITIES CONSULTED IN THE PREPARATION OF THIS VOLUME.
Brockway, Z. R. Elmira. Corre, Dr A. Paris. Drill, Dimitri. Moscow. Du Cane, Sir E. England. Dugdale, R. L. America. Ellis, Havelock England. Ferri, Prof. E. Rome. Garofalo, (Baron) Prof. Naples. Kidd, Benjamin England. Von. Krafft-Ebing, Prof. Vienna. Lacassagne, Prof. Lyons. MacDonald, Dr. A. Washington, U.S.A. Mercier, Chas. M. B. England. Morrison, Rev. W. D. England. Manouvrier, Dr. Paris. Moleschott, Prof. Rome. Orano, Giuseppe Rome. Ribot, Th. France. Rylands, L. Gordon England. Salomon, Otto Naeaes. (Sweden.) Scott, Jos. Elmira. Spitska, Dr. E. C. New York. Tallack, Wm. England.
CHAPTER I. Introductory 9
CHAPTER II. The Criminal 14
CHAPTER III. The Causes of Crime 28
CHAPTER IV. The Methods and Philosophy of Punishment 61
CHAPTER V. Elimination—Dr. Chapple's Proposal 87
CHAPTER VI. The Obligations of Society Towards the Weak 120
CHAPTER VII. The New Penology 133
CHAPTER VIII. The Prevention of Crime 138
CHAPTER IX. Some American Experiments—Elmira 155
CHAPTER X. Conclusion 188
This little book presents an appeal to society to consider its criminals with greater charity and with more intelligent compassion. No other plea is advanced than that the public mind should rid itself of all prejudices and misunderstandings, and should make an honest endeavour to understand what the criminal is, why he is a criminal and what, notwithstanding, are his chances in social life.
The criminal has a claim to be understood just as well as any other creature. It is not necessary that his sympathisers should shut their eyes to the fact that he is capable of shocking crime, that he is often an ungrateful wretch that will bite the hand that feeds him and that among his ranks are to be found the most depraved specimens of humanity that the mind can conceive. A failure to recognize these facts is actually a failure to do justice to his cause. Notwithstanding the hideous history that he may have to unfold, he does ask to be understood.
The majority of people take a most prejudiced view of the criminal's case. They will read the account of some fearful outrage or the details of a disgraceful divorce suit with absolutely no interest what ever in the persons concerned but only for the sake of the morbid satisfaction which such reading gives them. A glance at the sentence will draw forth from them the exclamation that the wretch got no more than he deserved or that he didn't get half enough. This simply indicates that society as a whole has made very little real progress in the manner in which it regards its criminals. The old barbaric idea of revenge is still the dominant one and any scheme for the betterment of the criminal, even if it should give unmistakeable signs that it will accomplish his absolute reform, is carefully investigated to see whether it provides for a sufficient degree of penal suffering. Suffering which is of an entirely penal nature, has very little deterrent value and absolutely no reformative value whatever. And yet our refined and educated men and women will read the accounts of crimes and, in their own minds, sentence the actors to five, ten, fourteen or twenty years; even death, as if criminals were so used to this sort of thing that they thought no more of it than their self-chosen judges would if deprived of a day's sport or disappointed over a ball.
"But," as an ex-member of the Justice Department said to me, "do you know what the wretch has done?" Yes, I do know what he has done, and I know him personally and well, and I know of what he is capable and such knowledge brings with it the conviction that society commits a greater crime than that which he has committed when it undertakes to punish him for his offence upon a principle of pure vengeance.
"Vengeance is mine," saith the Almighty, "I will repay." Society is not God any more than is the individual, so that by acting in the collective capacity no additional plea of justification may be advanced.
The endeavour of this book will be to show that the best interests of society are not served by the infliction of punishments which are essentially penal but by the accomplishment of the reform of the criminal. This latter process is for the criminal himself, infinitely more severe than the former, but it inflicts a pain which raises the man to a higher level; it is purgatorial, and not one which, being penal, leaves him a greater enemy to mankind than ever.
The criminal is not excused for his wrong-doing, he is not regarded as an automaton, but simply as a creature of capabilities and possibilities which require the intelligent sympathy of his fellows in order that they may be properly developed.
There are many persons who regard the reform of the criminal as an absolutely hopeless task and a waste of time to think over; they advocate his extermination. They would fling back to the Creator His own work as having, in their judgment, proved worthless, even mischievous.
Dr Chapple is astounded that the existence, or at least the birth, of defectives should be allowed. It is, he says, due in a large measure to the tide of Christian sentiment which is to-day in full flood. The Christian does at least recognize that of every defective God says, "take this child and nurse it for Me," but to speak of Christian sentiment being at its flood-tide to-day is surely not the speech of one who professes much belief in the future of Christianity.
Dr Chapple preaches a Gospel for the defective, and his banner is the skull and cross-bones! Christian sentiment when at its flood-tide will have swept away all such emblems. In replying to Dr Chapple, I have endeavoured to show that his proposal touches but the fringe of the problem, and even there after an unscientific and immoral manner. There is room for a measure of surprise that Dr Chapple should have undertaken to write his book with such a scant knowledge of the facts as they really are.
In presenting this little book to the public, the author does so with the hope that it may tend to restore the confidence in human nature that Dr Chapple has somewhat weakened, but also in some measure to inspire society towards greater collective ameliorative effort, in which our full confidence may unhesitatingly be placed. The author hopes that the criminal, a subject of patient study for the last ten years, will be seen in a somewhat new light. Criminologists declare the criminal to be seven-eighths of an average man. May society find in itself the ability and good-will to contribute the other eighth!
Small as this volume is, it has required many communications with the old world, and the author's thanks are due to many students engaged upon the study of this science in England and in the United States, and who have rendered him valuable assistance. Also, the assistance of many kind friends in New Zealand is gratefully acknowledged, and particularly that of Mr Alfred Grant, without whose aid the preparation of these sheets for the press would have been an almost impossible task.
The popular mind draws little or no distinction between criminals. In it there exists the idea of a criminal caste, all the members of which are prepared to commit any and every act of a criminal nature. In the popular mind, although it is just a question whether a man is bad enough to commit the greater crimes, yet thieves, violators, swindlers, forgers and murderers are all assumed to fall into the same category. In one sense they do, that is, that they are all anti-social beings, or rather they all possess certain anti-social qualities; but as soon as we proceed further we find that there exists a very great distinction in criminals. Criminals are first classified according to the motive of their crime. This classication ranges them under five different headings, the political criminal, the occasional criminal, the criminal of passion, the instinctive criminal, and the habitual criminal or recidivist.
Again they are classified, according to the nature of their crime, into thieves, robbers, violators, assassins, murderers, swindlers, etc. These again are sub-classified, e.g., thieves are classified as housebreakers, those who rob with violence, those who use weapons, those who rob from the person, and those who break safes. Murderers may also be classified according to the nature of their murderous instinct, illustrated by the instrument of destruction that they employ, whether it be the knife, firearms, poisons or other means, and again a classification exists between those who commit murder themselves and those who employ agents. All these classifications are entirely different, and although some criminals may range under more than one heading, yet it is generally the case that a criminal adopts both a certain form of crime and also a particular method for carrying it into execution.
The Political Criminal.—This man's offence is not against morality but against the governmental institutions of the country. He holds advanced ideas upon matters of government and upon the constitution of society, and in his attempt to propagate these he becomes a political criminal. The political criminal, as distinguished from all other criminals, never commits violence, his morals may even approach perfection; but he holds "ideas," ideas which are not acceptable to the government under which he lives.
The despotic rule of the Oriental countries is most favourable to the production of the political criminal: Russia and Germany are not without their representatives. Occasionally bands of political criminals are formed, and then, in the midst of demonstrations, unpremeditated violence may be committed. The Stundists and the Young Turkish Party are examples.
The Occasional Criminal.—"Economic conditions are generally responsible for the production of the occasional criminal. His crime is committed in order to satisfy his present wants. In him the sensual instincts may not be stronger than usual, and the social element, though weaker than usual, need not be absent. Weakness is the chief characteristic of the occasional criminal. When circumstances are not quite favourable he succumbs to temptation." (The Criminal, p. 18.) The occasional criminal is clearly a subject for educational treatment. He needs to cultivate greater power of self-control, to strengthen his moral sense, and above all to be thoroughly equipped for the battle of life. Imprisonment will frequently ruin him and be the cause of his becoming a confirmed or habitual criminal.
The Criminal of Passion.—He is generally of considerable culture and of keen moral sensibility. His crime proceeds from a sense of righteous indignation which, for the moment, completely blinds him. Personal insults cannot disturb his calm, but the sight of a child being abused or a defenceless one being attacked, will so infuriate him that he may even commit murder. Premeditation is never present, he acts under the powerful inspiration of the moment, and his crime is an isolated event quite unconnected with his conduct in general.
The Insane Criminal.—Insane persons who commit criminal acts, show rather a variation of insanity than of criminality. It would be more exact to describe them as "criminal lunatics" than as "insane criminals." Two classes exist, a fact which is often overlooked, for there are both criminal-lunatics and insane-criminals. In the first case, criminality is the product of insanity, but in the second case insanity is the product of criminality. Not an hereditary product in either case, but a product resulting from a cause within the person's mental or moral self.
The pronounced lunatic, the incapable, irresponsible person whose actions are beyond his power to understand or control, is regarded by society as a being too dangerous to be at large. Of him we do not here speak to any extent, he is too well recognized. It should always be borne in mind, however, that he commits crime because he is a lunatic, and that although his confinement is absolutely necessary, yet there is no warrant whatever that it should be made penal in character.
Although it is not possible in a work of this kind to deal largely with the subject, the writer would urge upon the notice of society and upon the special notice of jurists that there are a number of persons whose crimes should excite for them the greatest sympathy instead of, as is the case, the greatest detestation. Men there are who, perfectly sane in the ordinarily accepted sense, and who have not only a clear conception of the immorality of their conduct, but also an intense abhorrence and shame for it, find themselves performing the most revolting acts under influences that are absolutely irresistible. The sensualist has no justification, but our laws are excessively cruel in their dealings with this class to which allusion is made. To be brief, no man charged with sadism (lust-murder) pederasty or the related crimes, should have his case made public until a most complete diagnostic examination (including his family and personal history) has been made by competent persons.
A careful study of Krafft-Ebing's monumental work upon the subject should convince our lawyers that they could not proceed in these cases without the assistance of the alienist and of those who are experts in the diagnosis of the various forms of patho-sexualism. The cases of insane criminals, that is, of the criminals whose vice is the cause of their insanity, is also divisible into two classes. There is that uninteresting class who on account of their irregular, immoral and excitable life become insane, and there is another class. These latter frequently escape the penalty of their crimes. Insanity is disclosed and they have no criminal record, therefore they are discharged. It would be a nice point to decide whether and to what degree, if any, responsibility exists. To give an example not altogether uncommon—a man who will not brook opposition or hindrance of any sort. On every such occasion he cherishes most spiteful, even murderous, feelings towards his opponent. He would do him any injury, even go to the length of killing him, but he dare not.
He will storm, abuse and threaten, but he dare not go further. He is avoided by his neighbours as being a most cantankerous fellow; he is always being involved in disputes. This man is undoubtedly criminal at heart and is cherishing anti-social feelings which are steadily growing in their intensity. Revenge becomes the almost dominating influence over his mind, but it is held in check by fear. At last fear gives way and there is no further restriction to the emotion of revenge, which then becomes supreme. At this climax insanity occurs and murder is committed synchronically. Morally the act was committed years previously, and it was by his own conduct in goading himself on to the climax that made it an actual fact. Subsequently, almost immediately, he may become rational again and retain consciousness of the deed and thoroughly understands its outrageous nature. He will not then express any regrets but will declare that his deed was perfectly moral. This man is as near a monster as we dare call any man, and should never be allowed to have his liberty restored to him.
Instinctive Criminal.—Called also the "born criminal" (Lombroso), or the "criminal by nature." The term "instinctive criminal" seems to be that growing most in popularity, possibly because there is less likelihood of it having to be modified by the results of further investigation.
By the instinctive criminal is understood a man in whom the criminal instinct has gained a supremacy over the social instinct. He is not only anti-social in deed but also in character. (It would be a mistake to term him anti-social in nature, for that would indicate that he was absolutely hostile to humanity. One, anti-social in character, is capable of betterment, and this is possible of every man.) Many causes operate to account for his production, some of them reaching far back into his ancestry. When this is the case some physical handicap is always present, such as e.g. cerebral irritation and epilepsy.
In childhood the instinctive criminal may be recognised by an excessive vanity which will often tempt him to steal, the thefts being generally confined to articles of personal adornment or which give an occasion to "swagger." When accused he will deny the charge brought against him with an effrontery which will too often create the conviction that he is innocent. When charged he will challenge the statements of his superiors without any hesitation whatever, but at a given moment will break down and make a most free and perhaps disinterested confession. Frequently he is very emotional in behavior and simulates the deepest regret, although he is practically without any remorse whatever. He will undertake to perform the most afflicting tasks of penance in order to expiate the wrong and give every assurance for future good behaviour. Neither of which is of the least value.
Onanism and a morbid love for sweets is an important characteristic. In the adult, laziness, debauchery and cowardice are to be noticed. His signature is peculiar, involved and often adorned with flourishes. He loves to be credited with the performance of great achievements, and will tatoo medals upon his body or other symbols significant of greatness. The instinctive criminal generally complains that he is unfortunate, or that he has never had a chance, and that society is always contriving to keep him down.
The Habitual Criminal, or the Recidivist.—When once a man has fallen into the clutches of the law and been incarcerated it is very difficult for him to keep his self-respect. His first crime may present many features to indicate that he is more the victim of circumstances than well-defined ill-will. But having been convicted, he finds himself shunned by all but criminal society, and together with other influences, educational in character, he is frequently allured into a relapse. If a prisoner endeavours to behave himself in gaol and keep aloof from evil contagion, he is bullied by his fellow-prisoners, and even his keepers regard him with suspicion. The one twit him with being a white-livered coward, the other consider him to be either a sneak or a "deep fellow." He is almost sure to fall and identify himself with the ranks of crime. An instance that the writer has personal knowledge of is that of a man, passionate in nature, and moved by the tears of a young woman on behalf of her imprisoned lover, stuck up a small country gaol under arms and gained the release of the imprisoned man. To escape the consequences he had to take to the "bush," and for two years he lived the life of an outlaw. He finally surrendered to the police and was condemned to death. As no personal injury had been committed and his manner of using his weapons shewed plainly that he did not contemplate any, his sentence was commuted to imprisonment for fourteen years, the first three to be spent in irons. At the end of that time the criminal habit was confirmed. For various offences he was sentenced at different times to periods aggregating in all to thirty years. After his last sentence had expired—six years ago—he began a new life and has not committed crime since. His whole career showed many redeeming points in it. This case is well-known to the New Zealand and Australian prison authorities.
The number of criminals who are allured into relapse is computed by Orano to be 45 per cent of the whole.
The distinction between the habitual criminal and the instinctive criminal is not merely an academical one but emphatically a practical one. Both are living the life of crime, and their acts may be, from an objective point, of exactly the same nature; but in the one case we have to deal with the criminal CHARACTER and in the other with the criminal HABIT. The distinction is first seen in the different ages at which each commences his criminal career; nextly in the different impelling causes. Again, the emotions, ideas and methods show a distinction. All these variations are in the aggregate of considerable practical importance, especially in the assignment of prisoners for reformatory treatment.
* * * * *
THE CRIMINAL TYPE.
Prof. Lombroso writing the introduction to Dr Arthur's "Criminology" says:—"This point as to the type, is scarcely recognized even by the most respectable savants. The reasons for this are many: above all, there are the criminals by occasion or by passion, who do not belong to the type and should not, for in great part it is the circumstances, and often the laws, which make them criminals and not Nature. And then some have strange ideas concerning the type."
No doubt if the acceptation of the idea of type is carried out in its complete universality, it cannot be accepted; but as I have already said in my previous writings that it is necessary to receive this idea with the same reserve which one appreciates averages in statistics.
When it is said that the average of life is 32 years, and that the month least (? most) fatal to life, is December, no one understands by this that all or almost all men should die at the age of 32 years and in the month of December; but I am not the only one to make this restriction. In order to show this I have to cite the definition which Monsieur Topinard, himself the most inveterate of my adversaries, gives in his remarkable work "The Type," says Gratiolet, "is a synthetic expression." "The Type," says Goethe, is "the abstract and general image" which we deduce from the observation of the common parts and from the differences. "The type of a species," adds Isidorus St. Helaire, "never appears before our eyes but is perceived only by the mind." "Human types," writes Broca, "have no real existence, they are only abstract conceptions, ideals, which come from the comparison of ethnic varieties, and are composed of an ENSEMBLE of characters common to a certain degree among themselves." I agree with these different points of view. The type is indeed an ENSEMBLE of traits, but in relation to a group which it characterises, it is also the ENSEMBLE of its most prominent traits, and those repeating themselves, whence comes a series of consequences which the anthropologist should never lose sight of either in his laboratory or in the midst of the populations of Central Africa." Manouvrier opposes Lombroso's theory and denies the existence of the type. He argues that if it exist at all it must be universal, whereas the peculiarities noted by Lombroso are present in honest as well as in criminal persons, the latter having, however, the greater proportion.
The doctrine of Fatalism seems at first sight to be bound up in the acceptance of Lombroso's theory: but such is not the case. Lombroso himself declares that the type belongs to the born criminal only, and that the born criminal can be nothing more than an epileptic; criminality being a neurosis. It would thus seem that the type was but the indication of an organic defect which physically or psychically rendered the subject unable to adapt himself to the social condition; but not that unchangeable ideas, contradicting pure morality, were innate. Lombroso goes no further than to state definitely that the type exists, and that there are very clear indications that a different type will be found to correspond with the different forms of criminality. That the peculiarities are found also in persons living honest lives, proves nothing against his theory. For instance, there are many persons of distinctly criminal instincts who are kept in the paths of honesty merely by circumstances; and again, scientific investigation has not yet completed its work, and while certain typical peculiarities may be noted in the criminal and in the non-criminal alike, it is more than likely that the type will be found to consist in different combinations which will be discovered to exist in the criminal (not necessarily, the convict) exclusively. Or the type may consist in the peculiarities plus expression. The following typical peculiarities have been noticed by different criminologists:—
The Cranium.—The more frequent persistence of the metopic or frontal suture. The effacement, more or less complete, of the parietal or parieto-occipital sutures in a large number of criminals. The notched sutures are the most simple. The frequency of the wormian bones in the region of the median and in the lateral posterior frontal. The backward direction of the plane of the occipital depression. (Dr A. Corre.)
Feeble cranial capacity; heavy and developed jaw; large orbital capacity; projecting superciliary ridges; abnormal and assymetrical cranium; the presence of a median occipital fossa. (Lombroso.)
The Face.—Scanty beard; abundant hair, prognathism, thick lips, dull eye, lemurian appendix to the jaw, pteleriform type of the nasal opening, projecting ears, squinting eyes, receding forehead and deformed nose. "Those guilty of rape (if not cretins) almost always have a projecting eye, delicate physiognomy, large lips and eyelids, the most of them are slender, blond and rachitic. The pederast often has feminine elegance, long and curly hair, and even in prison garb, a certain feminine figure, delicate skin, childish look, and abundance of glossy hair parted in the middle. Burglars who break into houses have as a rule woolly hair, deformed cranium, powerful jaws, and enormous zygomatic arches, are covered with scars on the head and trunk, and are often tatooed. Habitual homicides have a glassy, cold, immobile, sometimes sanguinary and dejected look; often an aquiline nose, or, in other words, a hooked one like a bird of prey, always large; the jaws are large, ears long, hair woolly, abundant and rich (dark); beard rare, canine teeth, very large; the lips are thin. A large number of swindlers and forgers have an artlessness, and something clerical in their manner, which gives confidence to their victims. Some have a haggard look, very small eyes, crooked nose, and the face of an old woman." (Dr MacDonald, page 40.)
The following proverbs, collected by Lombroso, show the recognition in the popular mind of the criminal type:—"There is nothing worse than a scarcity of beard and no colour." "Pale face is either false or treacherous." (Rome.) "A red-haired man and a bearded woman greet at a distance." (Venice.) "Be thou suspicious of the woman with a man's voice." "God preserve me from the man without a beard." (France.) "Pale face is worse than the itch." (Piedmont.) "Bearded women and unbearded men, salute at a distance." (Tuscan.) "Men of little beard of little faith." "Wild look, cruel custom." "Be thou suspicious of him who laughs, and beware of men with small twinkling eyes." (Tuscan.)
It must be remembered that while physiognomy gives valuable hints it is by no means absolutely certain. Further investigation may add materially to its value. It is also to be remembered that habits play an important part in the physiognomy. So much so is this true that it has been said of the reformed criminals from Elmira, that their faces have changed.
THE CAUSES OF CRIME.
In investigating the causes of crime we have first to understand what we mean by the word "Crime," and also what we describe by the term "Criminal."
Crime may be regarded both objectively and also subjectively, i.e., as regards the deed itself and as regards the doer of the deed. In the past it was customary to consider the crime only and to punish the doer, or the criminal, according to the enormity of his deed. Scientific methods require, however, that we should study the criminal and ask ourselves "what is he?" and "of what forces is he the product?" If these questions can be satisfactorily answered, then society is better enabled to arm herself against his invasion, in fact having successfully diagnosed his case she may be led on to discover the means whereby criminals may be reduced to their irreducible minimum, both as regards number and as regards their capacity for doing harm.
Man has two natures, the animal and the spiritual. The animal is the passive product of Nature, the forces of his development being guided and restricted by the condition of the life in which he is born and reared. To this animal nature belongs the natural appetites, passions, faculties and senses. This nature is not sufficient in itself, and its realisation cannot be accomplished until it is brought into complete subordination to the higher or spiritual nature. The function of this spiritual nature is to subordinate the animal nature by harmonising and controlling it, and it finds its partial realisation in the institutions of family, church and state; and its ultimate realisation in the heavenly counterparts of these. Thus subordinating the animal nature, it develops the powers of man's natural inheritance along their true line of advance and brings him steadily nearer the goal of perfect manhood.
When, however, the spiritual influence is not exercised and man resigns himself to the uncontrolled influences which spring from his lower nature, he rapidly degenerates. Socially, this degeneracy is noticed by its process of gradually loosening, and finally severing the ties which bind man to his race. He becomes an unsocial being and ceases to contribute to the wealth, peace or establishment of society. His desire for society is regulated by his capacity to draw from it the satisfaction of the abnormal appetite of unregulated passion. In this mood he totally disregards the laws of society and seizes every opportunity that presents itself to prey upon it and he thus becomes an anti-social being. Through all ages up to the present, society has at the cost of much effort and suffering been progressing, stage by stage, towards a higher order. Each advance purchased at such a price, becomes a free gift, by inheritance, to the next generation, and from this inheritance still further progress may be made. It is quite possible that in a dissolute age retrogression may set in and the ground be lost, in which case its recovery becomes the arduous task of a succeeding regenerate age.
With each advance that it makes society embodies in its institution the principles of social life such as it has been able to discover them. These principles being finally accepted, we must assume that they are eternal or else we are compelled to admit that society may be for ever at fault, that its development does not correspond with the true development of man, and that this present life is in no wise preparatory for a future. Though we declare that the principles of society are eternal, the social institutions which embody them are merely temporal, and may change with time and circumstances. They are, nevertheless, binding upon our allegiance, and any attempt to overthrow them becomes the anti-social act of the criminal and is a punishable offence. The criminal is an enemy to social advance. He profanes that which society holds sacred, he scatters that which society, at great cost has acquired, and he attacks society at its most vulnerable points.
What, then it may be asked, are the causes that produce this anti-social being? In the case of the sane criminal, an immoral basis underlies all causes, and without this they would each and all be impotent. Some causes, as e.g. alcoholism, are the result of the individual's immorality; others again are independent.
The principal causes are:—A bad ancestry (heredity), bad domestic and social conditions, alcoholism, imitation, and stress of circumstances.
Heredity.—Among unscientific people there are many extravagant theories held, some even affirming that from the moment of conception a child's character may be determined as criminal, as if character underlay habit instead of habit evolving character.
It is therefore necessary that we should endeavour to discover if possible how far the influence of heredity extends, and especially to disclose its powers as a factor influencing conduct. A man may be seen to have the same peculiar carriage and gait as his father; but to argue from that, that he will in obedience to a naturally transmitted impulse, follow in his father's footsteps as a thief or a forger is to step entirely out of the bounds of science. Gait and carriage belong to a different sphere altogether from morals and conduct. But let it be at once acknowledged that the morals and conduct of any given ancestry show a tendency to be reproduced in the posterity. The drunkard is the father of drunkards; the suicide is the father of suicides, and the parent's crime is repeated by the child. Not in all cases is this by any means a fact: but in a sufficient number to exclude the possibility of coincidence accounting for them all, and to demonstrate conclusively that some influence must be at work connecting the deeds of the progenitor with those of his offspring. What is this influence? Can it be at once declared to be the influence of heredity? The most usual way of determining this question is by the process of exclusion. If environment, education, imitation and other causes do not account for the phenomena, then heredity must. Heredity thus becomes a convenient name by which to denominate the insolvable. Sometimes the denomination is correct and sometimes incorrect, and very often, even when correct, it conveys a wrong impression. The impression being that the influence of heredity is altogether irresistible and also ineradicable.
Now, whatever the influence of heredity may be, it must be determined scientifically and not merely guessed at. Nor must the failure to find an adequate cause for a certain crime be a sufficient reason for accounting heredity as responsible. Heredity has limits to its range of influence as well as any other cause for crime, and it may be found that there are certain fears which it can never invade. For instance, one sphere wherein its influence is manifestly great, is in the structure of the nervous, osseous, muscular, circulatory and vascular systems. Again, what is more common than to find intellectual ability running in families? Ribot, in his work on heredity, gives long lists of the world's most famous poets, artists, musicians, statesmen and soldiers, all showing the tendency of ability, in these various directions, to be transmitted from one generation to another. Not always to the generation immediately succeeding, for sometimes these various qualities disappear in the son to reappear in the grandson or great-grandson. However, convincing the evidence for transmission in these cases may be, it gives no warrant whatever for the conclusion that heredity may exercise an influence upon the MORAL conduct of man.
Let it here be observed that the Moral Law is fundamental to all law. No laws in Nature ever contradict the Moral Law, but are always found acting in obedience to it. All the works of God are in accord with this Law; God is the Moral Governor of the Universe. Therefore whatever may hold good with all other laws, does not necessarily hold good with this Law. That a man should inherit his father's intellectual qualities is then no argument that he should also inherit his father's immorality. Nothing less will suffice than distinct evidence that he HAS inherited his father's immorality.
A further observation is necessary, and that is, that morality is not absolute but relative. Strictly speaking, no man is moral. God alone is absolutely moral. Nor can we compare the morality of one man with the average morality of mankind in general. To estimate a certain man's morality of conduct we must compare his conduct with the degree of the sense of responsibility which exists within him, and also his power of control over his conduct. The murderous act of a lunatic for instance is an immoral act, because we compare the act with morality in the abstract; but it would be a mistake to call the lunatic an immoral man, for the simple reason that he had no control over his conduct and was therefore not responsible for it.
Take the case of the drunkard. A certain drunken father has several drunken sons. The influence of environment, of education, or of imitation, we will suppose to be excluded. Is heredity the cause, and if so, has it invaded the moral sphere? The influence of the father's drunkenness is first made manifest in his own nervous system. The nerve centres become clogged and poisoned and fail to discharge their functions with the same healthy activity as formerly. The nervous system degenerates, and the consequence of this degeneracy is the production of that form of irritation within the system which we call the craving for drink, and which requires alcohol for its immediate satisfaction. The man will admit that he has no liking for the taste of drink; but declares that he is in a certain state of unsettlement which can only be overcome by the use of liquor. A temporary calm is induced, only to be followed by a more intense irritation or unsettlement afterwards, and thus a circle of cause and effect is at once described.
This is then the degenerate state of the father's nervous system. Now, it is undoubted that he may transmit this same degenerate nervous system to his offspring and thus as his children grow up it is not to be wondered at if the same craving for drink is to be found in them as was existing in their parent. The influence of heredity has been at work upon the nervous system. Has its influence been restricted to this system, or has it invaded the moral sphere? The children's conduct is immoral, for no amount of argument can determine drunkenness to be anything else: but are the children themselves immoral? They are not immoral so far as they are acting in obedience to an impulse which is irresistible. The drunkard who is himself responsible for his habit, is, strictly speaking, an alcoholic and is vicious and degraded. The drunkard who drinks in spite of himself is, strictly speaking, a dipsomaniac, and is diseased and insane. The alcoholic may become the dipsomaniac; but the child who is the victim of a transmitted taint is without doubt a dipsomaniac and not an alcoholic. He is insane. It may not be an incurable form of insanity; nor need it be a very acute form; but insanity it is, and therefore he cannot be called an immoral man because he drinks, although he is guilty of immoral conduct. Heredity has not invaded the moral sphere. It has given the man a diseased nervous system, which, while weakening his will, has not perverted it. Thus it is seen then that if any effort is to be made for the reform of the dipsomaniac, the direct influence of heredity must be overcome by a course of treatment which would be addressed to the nervous system. Treatment which shall draw out the alcoholic poison and which shall quicken and invigorate the nerve centres. When the influence of heredity is discovered to be restricted within these limits, the case of the hereditary dipsomaniac becomes far less hopeless than it appeared at first sight, and it is for this reason that the causes of crime should be thoroughly investigated. To moralise to the dipsomanic is but lost effort, one may as well abuse a driver for not stopping his bolting horses. Some reformatory schemes have trusted entirely to moral agencies, and their failure has been quoted as evidence that all such schemes are futile. But their failure has been due to an entirely wrong conception of the cause of crime. The primary cause is undoubtedly a reprobate will: but this cause is not found in every case. Where the consequences of the parent's conduct has been inherited we find not the primary, but a secondary cause, such as e.g. a diseased nervous system. Sometimes both the primary and the secondary causes exist side by side, and then treatment must be addressed to both the will and to the physical system. In fact whatever methods of treatment are employed, the moral temperament must not be neglected, for even if the will be not perverted, it is considerably weakened and needs strengthening.
The case of the sensualist is somewhat similar to that of the drunkard. Ribot quoting Prosper Lucas, gives the example of a "man cook, of great talent in his calling, has had all his life, and has still at the age of sixty years, a passion for women. To this he adds unnatural crime. One of his natural sons living apart from him does not even know his father, and though not yet quite nineteen, has from his childhood given all the signs of extreme lust, and strange to say, he, like his father, is equally addicted to either sex." (Ribot; Heredity p. 89.)
The fact that this son imitated his father's vices at an early age, is not sufficient in itself to assign the cause to heredity. Nor does the fact that he was separated from his father's influence or example, strengthen the assignment beyond dispute. The causes for such conduct are so common that very few men escape from their influence, and whosever does not resist them, falls and becomes a victim. But probably this was a case in which an inherited influence pressed itself so strongly upon him as to become irresistible. What, we ask was inherited? A perverted will? That is absolutely impossible. A perverted will is the outcome of a deliberate choice of evil when the choice of virtue is equally possible. A weakened will, or a will subject to heavy stress is a different thing. There must be some stress upon the will. What is it? It is a well known fact that the exercise of the members of our body results in a great facility of movement being attained. The pianist can, after long practice, execute rapid and complex performances of fingering, which in the early stages of education were absolutely impossible. It is because the nerve centres controlling the muscles employed have been brought to such a high state of activity that they operate almost independently of the will. The nerve centres controlling certain of our functions DO operate independently of the will. Breathing is an example, and although an effort of the will is required to correct bad breathing, yet when once the habit of correct breathing is established, the directing influence of the mind ceases, and the nerve centres discharge their functions automatically.
In the normal man the sexual instinct is inherited but the passion is submissive to the control of the will. The will is supreme and self-restraint is always possible. The immoral man has refused to exercise this restraining power, he has, in fact, by his immoral thoughts, lent his mind to the strengthening of the passion until it has gained an ascendancy. Continual sexual excitement has resulted in the nervous centres controlling the sexual organs becoming so powerfully developed as to act almost automatically, and independently of the will. In the normal man, sexual excitement results upon the mental vision; in the sensualist the excitement precedes the vision. Another effect is noticed in the physiognomy which changes in accordance with the development of the nerve centres and presents all the appearances of the typical sensualist or prostitute.
In some cases the sensualist transmits this highly organised or disordered nervous system to his descendants, and consequently when they arrive at a certain age they find their bodies invaded by a passion over which they have small, and sometimes no, control. It is distinctly a case of functional insanity with them. Their will power is weak because of undue stress, but it has not been perverted. Perversion may follow; but may also be avoided, and even the will sufficiently strengthened so that it may re-assume control and subject the passion to control. The influence of heredity is here also confined to the nervous system. That is, the direct influence, the influence which was first felt and before it received any support which the mind of the victim may give it. The cases of hereditary suicides, murderers and assassins afford a very large field for investigation, and we cannot do more than suggest some causes which seem to give strong evidence of their existence. These causes if their existence be allowed, and we see every reason that it should, will restrict the influence of heredity to a much narrower sphere than is popularly supposed. The old story of the devil preaching upon the horrors of hell serves somewhat to illustrate our meaning. When the abbot enquired whether it was not contrary to his interests to draw so vivid and terrible a picture he replied in the negative and gave as his reason that the man who contemplated the horrors of hell was the man who was bound to find his way there.
The contemplation of criminal acts effects a strange fascination upon the mind and very often induces imitation of the same acts. When a suicide or murder, in fact any crime, is committed by a member of a family the other members either, according to their moral disposition, experience a greater or lesser repulsion for the deed than they formerly possessed. The enormity of the deed is either stronger or lesser in their eyes than before. In the latter case, murder or suicide does not seem nearly so heinous a crime when it is brought so closely under their notice. The very knowledge that a father or uncle or any other near relative, or even friends for that matter, committed suicide, makes the act appear far less terrible, and also far less impossible for themselves. Most men have at some time or another an impulse to destroy themselves, it may not be very strong; but if it is felt at a time when the circumstances of life are unfavourable and, if added to this, there is presented the example of a suicide very near at home, the impulse is undoubtedly strengthened. The whole chain of circumstances seem to direct the vision upon the rash act of the friend or relative, until at last the vision becomes fascinating, and the act is imitated. To use a concise expression one may call this the "hypnotic power of circumstances." It is not an absolute cause in itself; but, strictly speaking, may we call any cause absolute? It is not a cause which would influence a man of strong will or of sound morality. But a sentimental person, one of morbid ideas, weak will, or overcome by the thought of detection, or the fear of misfortune, might easily fall a victim to its influences. It will not account for all the cases of hereditary suicide, for a mental disease may be transmitted which would account for the suicide of both father and son or whatever the combination may be. It, however, does account, we believe, for the majority of the cases, and the similarity of the method employed strengthens this belief, for it indicates that the mind is dwelling upon the actual vision of the relative's suicide, and is not merely contemplating suicide in the abstract. This theory would imply that any case of suicide, upon which the mind would dwell and concentrate itself, would exercise the same influence, and this is the case. A few years ago in Dunedin an accountant who was involved in financial difficulties, shot himself with a pistol. His executor, against the advice of friends, took charge of the pistol. Becoming involved in financial difficulties himself, he too committed suicide by shooting himself with the same weapon! Almost, without a doubt, we may say that the circumstances of the first suicide exerted upon the mind of the trustee a hypnotic influence which combined with and gave the final impulse to the other contributing causes of his act.
Another instance is that of a young man who, contemplating suicide, carried a revolver about with him for a whole day. He spoke of suicide to his friends, occasionally discharged shots into the ground, and finally, during the evening, blew his brains out. That he contemplated suicide was evident from his conversation, but that his mind was not made up, is also evident from the delay he occasioned. In fact, his whole behaviour indicates a faint desire to cling to something stronger than himself in order to brace himself against his haunting fears. The revolver fascinated him. He dallied with it, made up his mind, changed it again, and finally the influence became supreme for a moment, and he fired the fatal shot. Throughout the day, he very probably thought of the grief of his relatives and of the young woman he was soon to marry, he pictured the consternation of his friends, read the newspaper accounts of his act, saw his funeral, and let his mind run altogether in morbid channels. Thus it was that the vision of his own act exerted an hypnotic influence upon him which became at the critical moment supreme and irresistible.
When the picture is real and not imaginary, and when the circumstances of a parent's or brother's or friend's suicide may easily be recalled and the mind allowed to dwell upon them, how much greater would the influence become, especially when the same example has served to diminish the idea of the enormity of the act. Where persons lend themselves to the idea that an hereditary influence exists and may spring upon them at any moment, they are almost sure either to destroy themselves or else to develop some form of insanity. There are cases of murder and assassination (apparently hereditary crime) where the conditions are so similar that the hypnotic power of circumstances may likewise be urged as sufficient cause.
So far, an attempt has been made to show that whatever the influence of heredity may be, it is restricted outside the sphere of morality. It cannot transmit an IMMORAL IDEA. So far as certain forms of vice and crime are concerned it most probably is limited entirely to its effect upon the physical structure of man. Combined with family tradition and working upon a diseased, or weakened will, it accounts for similarities of conduct. Suicides, murderers and assassins do not then receive by transmission from their ancestry any taint or tendency which may be called the direct cause of their crime. Another factor is present, a hypnotising power, and this is the final and directing power. It is a different influence to imitation, although its first result is the same, viz: the lowering of the moral idea. But crimes where the act is the imitation of another person's act are generally committed from the desire to become notorious and to be the centre of observation. The spirit of vanity, very strong in the low type, is appealed to and aroused. Or perhaps, the example of another's crime affords a suggestion for the method of accomplishing a certain desired end. On the other hand, the ancestral example, after having broken down the moral barrier depends entirely upon its power to fascinate. Those of weak will or guilty conscience, alone succumb to its influence. If we consider the cases of thieves, vagabonds and paupers we find their crimes and vices likewise running in families. It is nevertheless quite a mistake to jump at the conclusion that heredity accounts for all these coincidencies. Exempting all cases of transmitted mental alienation and observing only those who are quite responsible for their action, it is impossible to suppose that there is, somewhere in their organism, a power which will direct their lives into the channels of vice or crime just as irresistibly as the influence which makes the hair grow on the crown of their heads. It is unthinkable. It supposes a responsible person who cannot control himself. Which is a contradiction.
M. Moleschott, at the International Congress of Criminal Anthropology held in Paris in 1889, "mentioned an influence towards crime that had not been noticed, to wit, the hereditary social influence, or that is, the tradition which is instilled into the mind of every child before he knows the difference between right and wrong, that by which he obtains the rudiments of his knowledge of right and wrong. Whether it be correct or not it is the child's standard. He gets it not from any knowledge of theory of justice, but from the tradition of his own neighbourhood, as it is taught by his parents and associates by the people, and as is believed by them." (Criminal Anthropology; the Smithsonian Report for 1891.)
It will be understood that the influences of which M. Moleschott speaks are not of an hereditary nature, that is, they are not transmitted through the blood; but they are influences which are present from the first moment of consciousness. They are quite sufficient to account for the criminal type being found in the physiognomy of a person born and reared among such surroundings. It is a very popular error to suppose that a person's physiognomy never changes, and therefore that if the criminal cast of countenance is seen it must be a faithful witness to some innate depravity transmitted from an ancestry. The expression plays such an important part in the moulding of the countenance, that of two brothers very much alike in youth, one, afterwards given to crime, will still retain his resemblance to his brother; but will display the criminal type as well. It is thus that we have the different types in murderers, assassins, thieves, swindlers and sensualists. They are all criminal or vicious but their forms of criminality and vice are so diverse that a different expression results from the different kinds of thought passing through their minds. In their theories, few people acknowledge that the symmetry of the facial features may change, and yet it is a matter of common observance that they do. In the cases of persons becoming insane or persons who have suffered from long and painful illnesses it is very remarkable. Likewise in the case of the man who has fallen into crime, it is also most noticeable. Of course there are limits to the changes which the expression may produce, but these changes are nevertheless very great and sufficiently so, not perhaps to produce Lombroso's type in any given face, but to give that face at least a distinctly criminal cast.
The appearance then of this criminal cast upon the features is not sufficient evidence to account for an inherited tendency towards crime. Dr Manouvrier insists that Lombroso's theory that the criminal is born and not made is based upon the exploded science of phrenology, and declares that all the anatomical distinctions and physicological characteristics quoted by Lombroso are to be found among honest men as well as among criminals. The fact that a greater proportion are found among criminals to his mind proves nothing.
[There is not vast difference between normal and abnormal persons possessing these peculiarities. In Lombroso's work "The Female Offender" he notices:—
Normal Women Criminal Women Receding foreheads 8 per cent. 11 per cent. Enormous lower jaws 9 " 15 " Projecting cheek bones 14 " 19.9 " Murderesses 30 " " ears 6 " 9.2 " Flat nose 40 " Thieves 20 "
Gradenigo (quoted by Lombroso) gives the following table showing the peculiarities of the ears of 245 criminals as compared with 14,000 normal women:—
Normal Criminal Regular external ear 65 per cent. 54 per cent. Sessile ear 12 " 20 " Scaphoid fossa prolonged to lobe 8.2 " 21.2 " Projecting ears 3.1 " 5.3 " Prominent anti-helix 11.5 " 14.2 " Darwin's tubercle 3 " 2.9 "
Other anthropometrists notice different proportions.]
If Lombroso's theory, that a man was born a criminal, was to be taken as the rule, Manouvrier declares that it must then be universal, and that men thus born must inevitably commit crime. If it be a rule then it must operate in all classes, and since it does not so operate, proof is given that it is not the rule. Manouvrier declares that the man possessed of characteristics the very opposite of Lombroso's criminal, if subjected to the conditions, influences, and temptations, which lead to crime would as likely commit crime as he who possessed all the characteristics which Lombroso describes as typical. Manouvrier regards the social life of a person from childhood as being the most important factor in moulding character. He emphatically denies that there is in the embryo a predisposition to crime. Dr Magnan likewise refuses his assent to this theory.
It may be rather daring to suggest a theory which would reconcile the differences between these eminent men: but as the facts presented by each side are indisputable, some such reconciliation must exist. Possibly if we interpret Lombroso's phrase, "inherited tendency towards crime" or "predisposition towards crime" in the same way as we interpret the term ("predisposition towards disease") when speaking of tubercular persons (or, as Mercier speaks of the insane), that is as persons, who in a given favourable environment, are more likely to commit crime than persons without that inherited tendency, we may find these theories to be more in accord with one another. Lombroso insists that there must be an inherited tendency, Manouvrier insists that there must be environment. As in the case of tubercular persons (of tubercular ancestry) these two causes are complementary, may it not be also the case with criminals of criminal ancestry? The INHERITED IMMORAL IDEA seems to be really what Manouvrier rejects. A vicious conception of life which makes the man inevitably, incurably, and irresistibly a criminal, is apparently the interpretation he puts on Lombroso's theory. But from Lombroso's works and speeches, the interpretation does not appear to be at all a necessary one. The transmission of a disordered nervous system with its consequences, as one cause, the "hypnotic influence of circumstances" as another cause, and these two causes acting sometimes separately and sometimes conjointly, will very possibly account for the phenomena Lombroso observes. A most important factor, and one which cannot be disregarded, compels the acceptance of some such theory. This factor is the success resulting from reformatory effort. It is not only Lombroso and Manouvrier that need to be reconciled, but Lombroso, Manouvrier and Brockway. This latter gentleman is the founder of the famous Elmira Reformatory which has reformed 82 per cent. of 12,000 felons which have been committed to it for treatment.
We come then to this conclusion that heredity plays an important part in the production of the criminal; but that there are other very important factors which are often confused with it and when separated from it reduce the popular estimate of its influence to the scientific one, which is considerably the lesser one. Furthermore, as a consequence of this investigation, the true foundations upon which reformatory science is to be built are clearly indicated.
This statement, that heredity plays an important part in the production of the criminal, needs to be carefully guarded. It means precisely this and nothing more:—That where an hereditary influence (such as above described) making crime easier, has been transmitted, there that influence is an important factor in the production of the criminal. It does NOT mean that this influence is invariably transmitted by the criminal parent, neither does it mean that the majority of criminals are "born" criminals.
The following is an extract from a letter upon this subject which the author has received from Dr. Arthur MacDonald, one of the leading criminologists of to-day:—"There is no proof of any scientific value that criminality is inherited." By criminality we understand "the moral basis of crime."
The famous "Jukes" family that lived in the State of New York, afford one of the most interesting studies in heredity to be found in the annals of criminology. Of this numerous family (some 709 persons of which were clearly traced in five generations) the elder sons took to crime and the younger sons to vagabondage. There was indeed a proportion of honest and industrious persons among them. Of the women 52 per cent. were prostitutes. That a proportion of honest men among the sons, and a fair number of virtuous women among the daughters is recorded, clearly proves that an hereditary taint is not, in all cases, necessarily transmitted from parent to child. Latency in one generation, with activity in the next, is frequently observed in the transmission of disease; but in the case of crime, as distinguished from vice, this is rarely so.
That the younger sons of the "Jukes" family fell into habits of vagabondage (leaving it to the elder sons to carry on the criminal traditions of the family) is also worthy of notice. It serves to show that whatever the influence of heredity may be, as a factor disposing towards crime, it cannot be an independent and final factor. In families living after a primitive manner of life, as this family did, the elder sons are invariably the companions of their fathers and accompany them on their depredatory raids. The younger sons are left to the milder environment of their mother's society. Thus from a criminal point of view, the environment of the elder sons is more intense than that of the younger sons. The difference in environment accounts for the difference in character formed; the more intense environment accounting for criminals and the milder environment for vagabonds. Sometimes the influence of environment is overcome, and we noticed that among the "Jukes" a proportion of the family was honest and industrious. Acknowledging the transmission of a physical defect from a criminal ancestry, we must bear in mind that the conditions of the criminal's life are such as are calculated to produce in himself that defect which he transmits. His body becomes weakened, his nervous system disordered, and the physical substratum of his mind diseased. These defects he transmits to his offspring and thus handicaps them in the effort that is required from the individual to adapt himself to the conditions of society.
This is the criminal "taint" or handicap that makes it more likely that the individual should fall into crime than the normal man. Although society regards this hereditary criminal as a monster, it has been made clear that he is really more deserving of compassion than one not so handicapped. To secure society from his injurious acts, our courts frequently take the illogical and unjust course of imposing a more severe punishment upon him. This is in itself a clear evidence of the demand that exists for penological reform.
Environment.—By environment we understand bad homes, bad associations, and generally bad conditions.
Of the condition of the 12,000 persons who passed through the Elmira Reformatory between the years 1876-1902, only 1.47 per cent. came from good homes and 37.4 per cent. from fair homes. Of the character of the men's associations, 56.6 per cent. was positively bad; 41.9 per cent. was "not good;" .9 per cent. was doubtful, and 1.6 per cent. was good.
It is scarcely necessary from a practical point of view to enquire into the actual amount of crime which results from a bad environment, for it is only too obvious that none but those of the strongest wills and of the highest morality can resist the influence of bad surroundings when these are constant. Our enquiry should rather be directed to ascertain what constitutes a bad environment and what are the causes that produce it. It should also seek to discover by what means its evil influence may be checked and how to eradicate these influences when present. The attitude of our law-courts towards the criminal is practically this:—"You have been reared amidst evil surroundings whose influence you could not resist, you are a criminal, an outcast from society, you must be punished by being locked up in a school of crime in the hope that it may inspire you to live a better life. The sentence of the court is ..." And society endorses this attitude!
The evil influence of bad surroundings is well exemplified by an instance recorded by Viscount D'Haussonville in his work "L'Enfance a Paris":—"Some years ago a band of criminals were brought before the jury of the Seine charged with a terrible crime, the assassination of an aged widow, with details of ferocity which the pen refuses to describe. The president of the court having asked the principal, Maillot, called 'the yellow,' how he had been brought to commit such a crime, he replied:—What do you wish that I should tell you Mr President? Since the age of seven years I have been found only on the streets of Paris. I have never met anyone who was interested in me. When a child, I was abandoned to every vicissitude—and I am lost. I have always been unfortunate. My life has been passed in prisons and gaols. That is all. It is my fate. I have reached—you know where. I will not say that I have committed the crime under circumstances independent of my own will, but finally—(here the voice of Maillot trembled) I never had a person to advise me. I had in view only robbery. I committed robbery but I ended with murder."
The following description of the manner in which parents may defeat the work of the juvenile reformatory or industrial school was given by Senator Roussel at the Fourth International Prison Congress:—"The pernicious influence of parents relative to minors is manifest in two ways and at two periods of the child's life. First in extreme youth, when he is only a burden, his parents neglect him. He is left without proper care, often without proper food and subjected to all the hazards of the streets; he is forced to be a vagabond and a beggar, and this situation continues until a violation of the law places the little unfortunate in the hands of justice. Later, everything is changed. When by maturity of age and good effects of penitentiary education, the child instead of being a burden can be a source of profit, we see those same parents, who had abandoned him in his infancy, and apparently had forgotten him altogether, go to him and win him back to them by their entreaties, and finally on his discharge regain him by virtue of parental authority. This indiscretion of evil parents ... is the way that the first-fruits of correctional or charitable education are corrupted and that a great many minors who would have become useful members of society, are definitely lost to it."
It may be heresy to criticise our public school system but it is more than an open question whether we are not producing a generation of badly educated people who are not aware of their own ignorance, who see no dignity in labour and who prefer to make their living by speculation rather than by work. The fault largely consists in estimating the efficiency of a school or a teacher solely by the results obtained at examination and making the children work for this end and this end only. Their memories are taxed to the uttermost but no attempt is made to develop them into reasoning, enquiring and labour loving beings. The difficulty with which children in the sixth and seventh standards follow the simplest arguments is simply amazing. The teachers, moreover, have no opportunity for cultivating the art of pedagogy. Their whole time is taken up preparing matter to pour into the child's mind. The bad salaries that are paid can also have but one result, viz., the depriving the State of the services of the most manly and most noble teachers and having the work committed to those of the genus prig.
Bad homes, bad schools and playgrounds only once removed from cattle yards, will be, in this country, the most potent factors in producing crime.
Alcohol.—The influence of alcohol in the commission of crime is both direct and indirect. We see its direct influence in those crimes which are committed whilst the culprit is either in a state of intoxication or else just recovering from such a state. To detect and trace its indirect influence a much closer study is required. The inconsequent, lazy and thriftless life of the criminal demands some sort of stimulant, and this is found readily at hand in alcohol. Alcohol is not the cause of the crimes of these people but it is closely associated with such cause. The man who stabs another in a saloon is not then guilty of his first crime. Under the influence of intoxication he has lost his power of self-control and he commits a deed for which he may in a sober moment have still a degree of moral abhorrence or be perhaps too much of a coward to perform.
Many criminals, whose crime requires a certain amount of nerve and calculation, as e.g. assassinations, murders, robberies, swindlings, etc., will not touch alcohol until their crime has been completed and they have satisfied themselves that they covered up all trace of it. They then often indulge in a debauch.
In the lower courts, offenders will frequently plead as an extenuation that they were intoxicated at the time when they committed their offence. This is often done in order to escape the full penalty, and such pleas are not to be relied upon in estimating the real influence of alcohol. In the higher courts, for the same reason, criminals often feign insanity, and in not a few of such cases they become their own dupes by actually losing the possession of their senses. Drunkenness and crime go together, although the increase in the consumption of alcohol does not necessarily mean that crime has increased. Neither does the reverse hold good. When crime appears first it is not long before all forms of animal indulgence follow. Sometimes drunkeness appears first, and when the home has been reduced to beggary, crime results.
Under the immediate influence of drink, the crimes most commonly committed are those against morality and the person. In countries where the saloon is an institution, it is invariably the home of criminals and the scene of many murders and deeds of blood. In France, e.g. out of 10,000 murders committed, 2,374 occurred in saloons. The indirect influence of alcohol is perhaps more terrible than its direct influence. There is this sad feature about it also that the greatest sufferers are the victims, not of their own abuse, but of that of others. Many a criminal tells the story, which is easily corroborated, of the days of his childhood when his father came home drunk and the children for very fear had to hide themselves or run out into the streets, often to sleep wherever they could, and perhaps steal to satisfy the pangs of hunger. Such children are quickly absorbed, the girls into the ranks of prostitution, the boys into those of crime. Many too, by reason of their parents' intemperance, are weaklings and unable to take their stand in the ranks of honest labourers. Unless they are rescued by philanthropic effort they very soon take to crime, and physically and psychically present all the features of the "instinctive criminal."
Of 12,000 criminals at Elmira, in nearly 36 per cent, was a drunken ancestry to be clearly traced.
To state exactly the influence of alcohol as a cause of crime will, from the nature of the case, never be possible; but this much is certain, that EVERY cause finds in it a strengthening contributary of considerable potentiality.
Imitation.—One of the principal characteristics of the criminal is his excessive vanity. His great ambition is to gain notoriety and to be talked about by the public. Almost every criminal has his hero in crime whose deed he tries to emulate as nearly as possible; or, better still, to outshine. Thus we find, that when some daring deed has been perpetrated, there are not wanting others who quickly make an attempt to imitate it. A prisoner tried to kill his comrade because a third man, who was standing his trial for murder, was receiving in his estimation too much attention from the public and especially "too many bouquets." A murderer in New Zealand declared that the notorious bushranger Ned Kelly was his ideal of a man. A certain priest, beloved by all, was found murdered. None could account for the crime; afterwards it was discovered to have been the act of a young criminal who performed it merely as an act of bravado. Instances of this sort might be multiplied all tending to show that the vanity of the criminal leads him, as far as his courage will permit, to imitate the most daring deeds in crime. The witnessing of executions and reading the accounts of fictitious and real crimes often leads many into crime. As a deterrent to crime, it was once the custom in England to conduct executions in public. Lombroso records it as being his conviction that such publicity does, by the law of imitation, lead more into crime than it turns from it. This he considers is one of the most powerful arguments in favour of abolishing the death penalty. Out of 167 persons condemned to death in England, 164 had been present at executions. The reading of sensational novels or the descriptive accounts of great crimes has a most alarming effect upon those who are of an impressionable nature. These persons are to themselves the heroes of an imaginary world. They will put on an air of bravado, adopt a "swagger" style of attire, carry sharp knives and pose before their companions as dare-devils. If not sufficiently courageous to perform deeds of daring they will constantly be recounting imaginary ones for which they will claim the authorship; or else they will be for ever threatening to do something of a staggering nature. The more courageous of these frequently become dangerous criminals while the more timid descend into sneak thieves, or the assaulters and violators of the persons of the defenceless. This inflammatory reading matter also exerts an hypnotic influence over some which is almost irresistible. Dr MacDonald ("Criminology" p. 131), gives the instance of a woman who after having read of the dreadful crime of a Parisian mother, came to Dr Esquirol and pleaded with him to admit her into his hospital, declaring that since reading of this crime she was tormented by the devil to kill her youngest child. Reading of the crime and vividly picturing to herself the details of it, had resulted in the woman's mind being laid hold of by a fascinating power which continually prompted her to kill her own child. Her wish was granted and she recovered.
In this case we have another instance of the "hypnotic influence of circumstances." Firstly, the picture is deeply impressed on the mind; next the moral sensibilities are hardened, and lastly the overt act is committed. Tropmann who murdered a whole family of eight, confessed that his demoralisation was due to the reading of sensational novels. The publication of the details of crimes and the circulation of inflammatory fiction is a most fruitful cause of further crime. One of the most efficient safe-guards against crime and scandal is a sensitive public moral tone. This is undoubtedly hardened by the publicity given to sordid and gruesome details. One fails to see what good purpose can possibly be served. Knowledge is power, but in this case, it is a power for evil. The weak-willed readily obey the law of imitation, the criminal is gratified at seeing the big headlines in the newspapers and impelled to further crime, and some neurotics are positively hypnotised.
Any serious attempt to suppress the increase of crime must take these matters into consideration, and it will unquestionably prove abortive unless a much stricter censorship is exercised over the publication of the gruesome details of crimes and scandals and also over the sale of the type of literature referred to.
THE MANNER AND PHILOSOPHY OF PUNISHMENT.
The various punishments which are inflicted upon our law breakers are fines, imprisonment, flogging, and death.
Fines produce a very useful means of dealing with persons whose offences show a tendency to crime rather than to actual criminality. In many cases the self-respect of the offender has not been sacrificed, and while under arrest the sense of shame is deeply aroused. The shock from being brought face to face with the law is often sufficient in these persons to check any further tendency towards crime. The imposition of a fine will satisfy the claims of justice and inflict that degree of punishment necessary to fix the idea of abhorrence towards crime in the mind of the offender. In the case of boys charged with petty offences fining is often a most valuable means of punishment. To dismiss with a caution may lead to nothing; to imprison is invariably a most disastrous course to pursue; to flog within a gaol may be too severe but to fine is an excellent method. The parent has to pay the fine, and as the child's offence is generally due to the want of parental control and discipline, the punishment reaches right home and better control for the future generally results. Where parental control is non-existent, and there remains no possibility of creating it, other measures must be taken which will supply a substitute for the discipline of home life.
In some case of theft, minor assault, disturbing the peace, and other offences which indicate a momentary and not very serious lapse of self-control, or perhaps a somewhat vague conception of the supremacy of the law, fines serve all the purposes of justice. A four-fold restitution for all damage done might be taken as a standard to be increased or diminished in exceptional cases. In all these instances the culprit should be made to pay the fine himself even though it should require a fairly lengthy period in which to liquidate it. Section 16 of The New Zealand Criminal Code provides that the Court may exercise its own discretion in imposing a fine upon any person whose offence rendered them liable to a term of imprisonment. There are many cases, however, even of first offenders, in which fining is quite useless.
Imprisonment.—So much has been written describing the various prison systems in vogue in different parts of the world that it is unnecessary to do much more than briefly outline them here.
(1). The congregate system. In which the prisoners are associated together by day or by night or by both. Were the object to convert the prison into a school of crime, no better system could be devised. The standard of the lowest is the standard which must prevail under the congregate system.
(2). The solitary system. The extreme opposite of the congregate system. The prisoners are allowed to have practically no communication with anyone whomsoever. In some countries this system is made indescribably cruel. At Santiago in Chili in one part of the prison the inmates are employed upon useful work under most humane conditions, and yet in another part of the very same building a most barbarous system exists. Mr F. B. Ward (quoted in Penological and Preventive Principles) describes what he saw in 1893:—"In this splendid model institution there are noisome, slimy cells, where daylight never enters, in which human beings are literally buried alive. Under the massive arches of enormously thick walls, where even in the outside rooms perpetual twilight reigns, are inner cells, two feet wide by six feet long, and destitute of a single article of furniture. Until recently, those confined in them were walled in, the bricks being cemented in places over the living tomb. Now there is a thick iron door, which is securely nailed up and then fastened all around with huge clamps, exactly as the vaults are closed in Santiago Cemetery, and over all the great red seal of the Government is placed—not to be removed until the man is dead, or his sentence has expired. The tiny grated window is covered by several thicknesses of closely-woven wire netting, making dense darkness inside, so that the prisoners cannot tell night from day. There is no ventilation except through this netting, and no opening whatever to admit outside air into the tomb. Low down in the iron door, close to the ground, is a tiny sliding panel a foot long by a few inches wide arranged like a double drawer, so that food and water may be slipped in on shallow pans and the refuse removed. Twice in every twenty-four hours this panel is operated, and if the food remains untouched a given number of days, it is known to a certainty that the man is dead, and only then can the door be unsealed, unless his time is up. If the food is not touched for two or three days no attention is paid to it, for the prisoner may be shamming; but beyond a certain length of time he cannot live without eating. Not the faintest sound nor glimmer of light penetrates those awful walls. In the same clothes he wears on entering, unwashed, uncombed, without even a blanket or handful of straw to lie upon he languishes in sickness, lives or dies with no means of making his condition known to those outside. He may count the lagging hours, sleep, rave, curse, pray, long for death, dash his brains out, go mad if he likes—nobody knows it. He is dead to the world and buried though living. They told us that only one man has ever survived a year's sentence there. Those that survive six months are almost invariably drivelling idiots or raving maniacs."
It was under similar conditions to these that the assassin of King Humbert of Italy was incarcerated. Such a system shows a cruel vindictive rage towards the criminal. Terrible as the offender's crime may be, society must deal calmly and not lose self-control or give such an exhibition of its own criminal ferocity.
The Separate System.—Under which the prisoners are not allowed to associate with each other, but receive frequent visits from gaolers, warders, chaplains, and other persons who are likely to bring beneficial influence to bear upon them. Each man has his own cell, in which he sleeps and works. His exercise is conducted in such a manner as to prevent contact with other prisoners. He is allowed books and given daily instruction. Under this system perhaps the best results are obtained.
The Silent System.—A system under which the prisoners associate with one another but are forbidden to communicate. This system cannot be strictly enforced, and as it converts trifling matters into serious offences, it makes the prison life a state of petty persecution.
The Combined System.—A system which the prisoners are kept apart during the night but work together during the day. This system has been adopted in New Zealand, and in the following description of the value of imprisonment it will be understood that it is to this system that reference is made.
A man is sent to prison because he has proved himself unfit to be at liberty. His attack upon society was evidence of this, and society punishes him by taking away the liberty which he has thus abused. His dread of the prison increases as he comes under the shadow of its grim walls, and, once having passed within, a feeling of remorse and desperation seizes him. Its intensity or weakness will depend upon his temperament. He is soon told in the most emphatic manner that he is to regard himself as a felon; that he is to live with felons as a felon and observe the habits of a felon. He is given a uniform coarse in texture clumsy and grotesque in appearance and branded over with the broad-arrow and with his prison number. In this garb it is impossible for a man to preserve his sense of self-respect. If he should not be amenable to the prison discipline he may be held up to ridicule by being compelled to wear a parti-coloured uniform. However can a man be expected to reform who is held up to the ridicule of felons? It matters not from which class of life he is drawn, what his age is, or the nature of his offence, he is thrown into the company of the worst criminals in the land. If he were a cultured man, or a man who had known no associates in his crime, or if his aesthetic taste was considerably developed it matters not; he must do the same work and mix in the same company as the most ignorant and most brutal. To utterly disregard these qualities is to ignore the wide-open channels along which the most powerful reformative influences may be transmitted. If his recovery is to be considered these are most substantial assets. They are, as it were, "the general health" of the patient suffering from a local lesion. Yet our prison system not only ignores them but patiently sets to work to destroy them, as if their possession were an additional offence on the part of the criminal. Prisoners who try to keep aloof from their associates may often be made to suffer very considerably for it. Others, craving for some association, soon fall in with men whom they would have regarded, a few days previously, as impossible companions. The almost entire absence of elevating influences makes it easy for the concentrated power of evil to become irresistible. The gloom of the prison rises, the fear of the law vanishes and the new born tendency to crime becomes a confirmed habit. A man needs either a very strong will indeed, or else to be supported by powerful social traditions to enable him to resist the evil influences of prison life. A few men do resist and maintain their sense of self-respect in spite of all indignities and bad influences. Some sink as under a torture; some sink and are enticed and absorbed into felony. These last will plan their future crimes while they are serving their first sentence. Henceforth the prison is their home.
What purpose is thus served? Why should a man who has lost self-respect be continually reminded of it? If a man is diseased he is not placed amongst filthy conditions and the emblems of sickness and death crowded upon him. His removal from all unhealthy surroundings is the first essential necessary for his recovery, and the same should be observed with the criminal. He should be entirely removed from criminal surroundings and efforts made to eradicate the criminality which has expressed itself. Society has not the right to degrade a man, much less to school him in crime. If he prove absolutely incorrigible (a very difficult matter to ascertain) he should be banished from society for all time either by life-long imprisonment or by death. If not, the carrying out of his punishment must be performed with a very sacred sense of responsibility. All manner of means are taken to relieve and cure the physically sick; much greater surely should be the means employed to heal the morally and socially sick.
Another matter wherein our prison system might be justly criticised is the scale of diet provided for the prisoners. No one asks that they should be given luxuries, but it might at least be recognised even in prison that one man's food is another man's poison, that one fattens where another starves, and that variety is essential to good health. A prisoner who was serving a very long sentence once said to the author, "fancy having the same dinner every day of your life." Let one fancy it, boiled beef every day except Sunday, when roast beef is provided. The same meal every day, the same clothes to wear every day and all day, and the same routine to go through. What wonder is it that in the confirmed criminal many faculties appear to have atrophied. They have obeyed a law of nature. The popular comment is no doubt—"what else do you expect? They deserve it all, they have brought it upon themselves." We expect that our criminals should at least be treated like the by-products of our mills and factories, i.e. made the most of. Bitter prejudices must give way to the dictates of reason and humanity.
Practically the "combined system" produces no good results. It satisfies neither justice, humanity, nor economy. Neither is it efficient to afford protection to society. It satisfies prejudice and vengeance alone. The only system of imprisonment which is of any value and which the State ought to consider is one which converts the gaol in every essential into a "crime-hospital."
Concerning life imprisonment much apprehension exists in the public mind. The prevailing idea is that this sentence implies incarceration for a period of twenty years. This is due perhaps to the fact that in England the sentences of "lifers" are reconsidered at the end of that period, and in the majority of cases a pardon is granted. The New Zealand prison regulations contain this section (116) "No rule for the remission of life sentences will be laid down. Such sentences are passed on persons guilty of the very gravest offences; and the Governor will only extend the royal prerogative of mercy to such persons in exceptional cases." Under certain conditions life imprisonment is the only way of dealing with criminals who refuse to reform. Those conditions do not exist in our New Zealand prisons, and a life sentence served within their walls is the most cruel form of punishment our laws allow. The prisoner enters the gaol with a long, dark, hopeless future before him. As the years roll by not one ray of light brightens his lot. He can never better himself. He suffers, he is meant to suffer, the loss of all he holds dear (and even a murderer holds some things dear). This absolute loss, this complete severance of all ties, produces a most agonising mental state and afflicts the poor wretch with untold horrors. He is made to drag out an existence under most unnatural conditions, conditions in which every effort he makes towards self-improvement is a useless one, every aspiration is routed, the natural affections crave in vain for an object to fasten upon, and where an artificial atavistic process is set in motion so powerful as to defy the resistance of all in time. This is no imaginary picture, a man is a man, and one of the cruellest tortures to submit him to is to deprive him absolutely of hope and make good his evil because it requires an effort which is useless, and evil his good because it is easier and costs the loss of nothing. Perhaps the majority of lifers are those whose sentences have been commuted from the death penalty. Such a sentence is in reality the death penalty carried out under slow process extending over many years. Gradually remorse and despair do their work upon the natural instincts, the mind and the body. The man becomes brutalised, insane and dies. An exception here and there may be pointed out; but given twenty men of same age and good health, and sentence ten to twenty years, and ten to life imprisonment, and the chances are that (under reasonable conditions) the ten with the defined sentence will survive it, whereas of the lifers the majority will be insane within twelve years. The following testimony will, however, be of greater weight:—