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Charles Richmond Henderson.

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ii6 An Introduction to Criminal Sociology.

purposes of discipline. But modern studies of the physical and
psychical aspect of convict life have made the distinction still
more clear, and traced them back, in many cases, to anatomical
conditions of brain and muscle.

1. The Standard of Normal Man. — The starting-point for our
study of abnormal man must be a conception of a normal man
and of normal social relations. Criminals present all degrees and
modes of departure from this ideal. Our image of the normal
may not be exact, and it will require much thought and care to
make it as distinct as science will permit. But very marked
irregularities or deformities are noticed even by children, and we
have but to carry this process of judgment into details, by the
aid of many measurements and tests, in order to attain a fairly
reliable standard of comparison of the normal with the abnormal.

We may begin with the normal type of the body. Anatomy and
physiology present a type of a healthy human body, although this
type varies within limits with the peculiarities of each race. The
physical type preferred by each race may be supposed, generally
speaking, to represent the form and condition adapted, on the
whole, to the environment of that race, and this form is admired
by men and women. Artificial deformities and mutilations must
be explained according to the special origin of each, but the
effects of such mutilations seem to be rarely inherited. In the
figures of Greek sculpture and of great paintings of the best
schools we may discover the forms which the culture races of
Europe regard as most perfect, although artificial deformities, for
particular reasons, are only too common, owing to irrational and
conventional standards of taste. Making all necessary allowance
for these exceptional departures from the type, it is certain that
ideal forms may be presented in art with an approximation to
truth, and that these classic models are a fairly reliable standard
of comparison.

Normal Psychical Type. — In actual dealing with men and
women daily experience trains one to recognize certain mani-
festations of mental action and habit as normal, while others



Data of Criminal Anthropology. 217

strike the shrewd observer as eccentric and peculiar in all de-
grees from oddity and slowness to actual imbecility or mania.

The power to adjust one's thinking, likes, and choices to his
natural and social environment, is a mark of normal psychical
action. A merely casual observation may not reveal the defect,
and we must sometimes notice actions for a considerable period
and under a variety of circumstances to detect the eccentricity.
Conduct reveals the equilibrium or loss of balance of the inner
and spiritual mechanism. There is an order of living, acting, and
thinking, for a given age and community, which is necessary for
the common welfare, at least for existence and survival. Adjust-
ment, adaptation, to this order is regarded as morality, as right
social conduct. This order has been the product of trial and
selection. The societies and groups of men which failed to
develop and maintain a moral order have perished. The indi-
viduals who do not conform tend to become extinct.

The order which is best is constantly changing, and thus new
adjustments must be made. Hence in times of rapid improve-
ment and elevation, like the present century, the difficulty of read-
justment is very great. We may expect an increase of crime
during the transition, until most men have either learned to make
the adjustment to the new order, or have been cut off. In times
and areas of degeneration, of general dissolution or decay of social
life, the difficulty is even greater and the perils of crime increased.

2. Study of Psychical Manifestations. — The mental self re-
veals its thoughts, feelings, habitual modes of inner activities,
will, and purpose through words, actions, gestures, conduct ; and
therefore, the methods employed in laboratories of physiological
psychology and psychophysics are useful in the interpretation of
mental reactions to external stimuli. Thus it is possible to dis-
cover by scientific tests, even without placing a boy in a telegraph
office to learn the trade, that he will be too slow in hearing and
responding to be successful at this craft, since the customary rate
of giving and taking messages is too rapid for his senses to keep
pace with the average speed of operators.



21 8 An Introduction to Criminal Sociology.

The Method of hitrospection. — In the last analysis we can
understand the mental processes of other persons only by inter-
preting the signs of their acts of consciousness in terms of our own
psychical experience. There is no direct way of discovering the
mental state of another human being ; the only possible bridge
across the space between souls is the outward action as interpreted
by our own memory of our own personal states. We connect with
certain bodily gestures and sounds certain definite kinds of thoughts,
feelings, and purposes. There is always danger of error, simula-
tion, misinterpretation, and yet the type of the normal is ever
before us, and our abihty to conduct our affairs depends on our
success in making approximately correct interpretations.

3. Materials for the General Student. — Occasionally it is possi-
ble to have personal interviews with criminals, and sometimes we
are forced by the business of life to have dealings with abnormal
and perverted persons. Burglars may introduce themselves at
midnight into our houses, or highwaymen hold us up in unex-
pected ways. Pickpockets reveal their moral nature in thronged
streets. Tramps deceive us with plaintive stories and dramatic
accounts of imaginary biographies.

The daily newspapers report only too many details of the tes-
timony in criminal trials, and the evidence brought out is an
important source of knowledge of criminal character. The self-
revelations of criminals in their confessions, letters, articles, books,
may be studied. The records of the studies of experts and special-
ists, their descriptions of typical cases, and their pictures from the
" rogues' gallery " are instructive. On all such subjects our infor-
mation must be obtained from original investigators. Knowledge
thus obtained is even more rehable than that obtained by one who,
without training, attempts to discover facts at first hand. Our
conduct must ordinarily be guided by such information. But there
is always room for new investigations by specialists who start with
adequate training for observation and interpretation.

4. Methods of Studying Criminals. — Not all these methods are
open to students in academic surroundings. Specialists alone are



Data of Criminal Anthropology. 219

competent to use with authority the instruments of precision, and
to interpret the phenomena. The college and university student
can, however, test and correct his own impressions, and the sug-
gestions of his readings, by the use of some of these methods if he
is under the direction of a competent teacher, and has materials
for observation. But such serious study must, in the interest of
personal morality, science, and humanity, be carefully distinguished
from prurient slumming expeditions and midnight forays in nether
social regions to gratify a base and salacious curiosity.

Physical Measurements and Analyses. — Criminals of all types,
classes, and ages are measured to discover the bodily traits which
are common to all or characteristic of classes. These measure-
ments are valuable only under conditions as yet imperfectly met.
The measurements of criminals must be compared with those of at
least an equal number of non-criminal citizens whose conduct is
actually adjusted to the order of society. Where criminality is an
acquired habit, we must not assume that the inherited structure
has determined the crime impulse. The connection must be
established by competent proof.

These physical measurements and descriptions apply to all
organs, tissues, parts, and functions. They are not only measure-
ments of length, breadth, thickness, but also of weight, density,
chemical reactions, secretions, physiological changes. They are
studied in close relations with other manifestations of vitahty and
character, and are not to be taken alone.

5. Classes of Criminals. — Using the word " criminal " in the
legal sense, as a person who endures a penal sentence, we find
actually in penitentiaries and reformatories classes of human be-
ings quite distinct from each other in physical and psychical traits.
Indeed, many of these convicts do not properly belong by nature
to the criminal group, when we use the word " criminal " to de-
scribe the antisocial person who is responsible for his acts.

The ^'- accidental criminal. This term is used to designate
those who have actually transgressed some " criminal " statute, and
exposed themselves to the penalty of the code provided for the



220 An Introduction to Criminal Sociology.

act. But they do not bear in their bodies, nor show in the
habitual workings of their mental and moral life, any distinct
marks of perverted nature. Occasionally good and strong men,
through anger, intoxication, or severe temptation, commit acts
which are obviously foreign to their ordinary modes of conduct.
Such cases are rare, and, for our present purpose, insignificant.
They are not often arrested, because the act is recognized as one
which does not belong to the man, and he is always ready to make
due reparation.

The eccentric refojiner and the moral genius. Under this title
may be classed those who are treated as rebels by their contem-
poraries, but honored as martyrs by more enlightened posterity.
It is among the tragedies of our world order that genius and
superior character may make a man obnoxious to those whom he
is ready to serve with his very life. In such a case there is no
help for it : Socrates must drink his poison ; Jeremiah must lie in
his dungeon ; Paul must be beaten and stoned ; even Jesus must
be crucified as a malefactor. Interesting as such cases are, they
do not belong to our subject. If eccentric persons prove to be
insane they are proper subjects for special treatment for nervous
disease by physician or asylum ; if they are simply erratic and dis-
agreeable we must tolerate them with some patience and merri-
ment ; while if they are really adjudged antisocial in disposition,
though intelligent, they will fall under one of the classes of crimi-
nals here to be considered.

While we are making a business of excluding from the criminal
class those charged with crime but not properly criminals, we may
pay a Httle attention to the so-called " insane criminals'' These
are persons who suffer from a lack or atrophy of moral sense,
while they display an apparent integrity of logical powers of
thought. This condition may be either congenital or acquired.
It bears various names in the literature of the subject, as moral
imbecility, or reasoning madness. There are many degrees and
manifestations of this form of insanity, and sometimes it may be
difficult even for the expert alienist to distinguish between mere



Data of Criminal Anthropology. 221

hard wickedness and actual brain defect. The fundamental
psychical state is in some respects akin to that of the innate
or instinctive criminal.

It should be distinctly noted that we are not here thinking of
those insane persons, of previous normal and moral character, who,
in a pathological state, as frenzy, epilepsy, delirium of fever, become
dangerous to their neighbors and so require restraint.

Are ^^ moral iinbeciles^^ responsible? The question is more
easily asked than answered. Passing by the metaphysical and
theological problem involved, and considering simply the matter
of social defence, we may properly leave the question unanswered.
It is enough for our practical purpose to conclude that the moral
imbecile requires some kind of permanent restraint, segregation,
guardianship, and employment, both for his own real good and for
the safety of others. If the moral imbecile is clearly insane, he
cannot fall within the legal definition of a criminal, because the
code clears all insane persons from criminal responsibihty. But
still social defence calls for confinement. If capacity for crime
clearly exists, the physical and mental defect may be adjudged
too slight to be named insanity. There are cases of an inter-
mediate kind difficult for experts to define, and in judicial trials
there may be serious conflict of medical testimony, because the
data are obscure and complicated. In this situation the court and
jury must exercise their best discretion, but social security should
be guarded by prolonged medical observation of the subject.

The instmctive criminal, sometimes called the criminal born or
the incorrigible. Persons of this class manifest in the most marked
way the physical and psychical anomalies noted by the criminal
anthropologists. Ferri says of them, " They are types of a man
savage and brutal, or knavish and lazy, who cannot distinguish
between crime and any honest industry." It seems better to
designate the members of this class instinctive rather than innate
or congenital criminals, in order to avoid the assumption that
their traits result from heredity. Some of the most marked psy-
chical traits of confirmed criminals may be acquired.



222 An Introduction to Criminal Sociology.

Criminals by acquired habits, tending to become professional
criminals. These persons have not striking marks of the instinc-
tive criminal, and apparently no innate tendency to antisocial'
conduct. There may be a hidden moral weakness which easily
yields to the impulses of circumstances and corrupting environ-
ment. Impunity at the first lapses increases the tendency to
secure the objects of desire without labor. The forbidden acts,
going without detection and punishment, form the links in a chain
of habits which ever grows heavier. Habits make character.
Theft becomes a profession. Acquaintance with older criminals
in the free intercourse of jail, brothel, and common prison life
stimulates antisocial feelings, inflames the imagination, furnishes
companionship of the bad, makes the man reckless of the opinion
of upright people, and increases the stock of criminal schemes.
Alcoholism is a strong factor in many cases, although not in all.
The neglect of good men before and in the intervals of incarcera-
tion leaves them the prey of idleness, temptation, misery, and
shuts them out from honest careers.

Criminals by habit have two marks, very common in the class,
precocity and recidivism. They begin at an early age and tend
to become repeaters of lawless acts, because they know no other
course, and have adapted themselves to only one mode of life.
They generally begin with crimes against property. Dickens
describes the method of training a boy to the criminal habit in
his story of Fagin in " Oliver Twist."

Habitual criminals should be divided into two classes, the aim-
less vagabond, and the professionals in the crime trade or art.^
The vagabonds have inferior strength, courage, energy, and inven-
tiveness, and live by ruse, low cunning, imposture, begging. The
professional criminals learn a regular trade in some branch of the
craft of dishonesty, and pursue it steadily until arrested and con-
victed. Many of the older men become capitahst managers in
the occupation, and employ bold young rogues to execute their
schemes of plunder.

1 Ruggles-Brise, Bulletin Commission, " Penitentiaire Internationale," \^ ser.,
Liv. II., 1900, 2e vol., p. 247.



Data of Criminal Anthropology. 223

It is interesting and important to observe that ' there are social
ranks and distinctions in both these classes, just as truly as in the
high " society " which sets the " Four Hundred " on the right
hand of fashionable judgment, and the common herd of aspirants
on the left. There is a very striking difference in the appearance
of the drunken, incompetent, and degenerate crowd of a city work-
house, and the relatively more intelhgent and vigorous convicts of
a state penitentiary. The members of these ranks have no deal-
ings with each other, if they can help it.

Criminals by Passion. — Certain anthropologists have thus
designated convicts of previous blameless conduct ; persons of
sanguine temperament, with exaggerated sensibility and irrita-
bility, which distinguishes them from instinctive and habitual
criminals. They sometimes have a tendency to insanity or
epilepsy. They repent with sincere remorse, and their moral
taste revolts against the companionship of vicious and depraved
persons found in prisons. They have not the serious marks of
physical defect which belong to the "criminal born." Their
crimes are commonly committed against the person, as in violent
reaction against offence or insult, and are done only under severe
provocation. If carefully and wisely treated at an early stage,
they turn from the way of crime and afterward become good
citizens. During the storm and stress period of adolescence,
many youths temporarily lose much of the power of inhibition
of impulses ; and it is a pity that parents and teachers have so
little understanding of the nature of the changes going on during
these years, and so little sympathy with the difficulties of lads at
this time.

Crimi?iais by Occasion. — In these there is no natural and native
tendency to crime. Generally they fall by force of some tempta-
tion in personal conditions or in the physical and social environment.
They do not lapse if the temptations are removed and the oppor-
tunity is opened to a steady life of habitual industry. The crimes
are either against person or property, but, having moral sensibility,
these persons are capable of remorse and repentance. There is



224 ^^ Introduction to Criminal Sociology.

usually lack of foresight of consequences and a ready yielding to
impulses, characteristic of youth. Many adolescents are wild and
irregular because the higher brain areas are yet undeveloped, the
power of reflection and consideration has not yet been trained,
and self remains still the centre of regard. If judiciously edu-
cated and busily employed such persons often grow up to be relia-
ble men ; but their danger is very great, and parental solicitude
is warranted by the real peril.

6. Relative Numbers of Each Class. — While there are typical
cases of all groups, there are many intermediary stages, and no
absolute boundaries can be fixed between them. Some persons
seem to belong to two of the classes, having characters of both.

Ferri thinks that insane criminals, so-called, and criminals by
passion are most rare, perhaps five to ten per cent of all ; but it
must be remembered that those who are evidently insane are
usually at once sent to the hospitals, and never come under arrest,
only the doubtful cases being indicted for crime. Ferri thinks
that instinctive and habitual criminals are from forty to fifty per
cent of all, but of these two classes the instinctive criminals num-
ber only about two or three per cent of the total. Thus the crimi-
nals by occasion and habit would constitute the great majority of
convicts.

7. Other Modes of Classification. — It is evident that there are
other ways of possible classification. All attempts to make fast
limits fail in many particular cases.

Krauss makes three groups based on the fundamental character
common in each : the energetic, the vicious, the weak. Among
the energetic he finds the desperate monster, the choleric, and
the passionate. Among the vicious he notes the sub-classes
of the demonic or revengeful, the intriguing, the knave. Among
the weaklings, the ragamuffin, the sneak, the vagabond, the half-
brute (Caliban).

Drahms excludes the insane altogether, as irresponsible before
criminal law, and makes three classes, the instinctive, the habitual,
and the single offender. But the term " single " offender seems



Data of Criminal Anthropology. 225

to be too weak for misdemeanants, since it is rare that a convict
is required to endure even a short sentence unless his previous
habits have led him logically to a lawless act.

For practical purposes of prison discipline it is common to di-
vide all offenders into the classes, juvenile offenders, reformatory
cases, habitual criminals, and criminal insane, with further division
according to sex. Here again classification is based on social
exigencies rather than on the nature of the offender ; and there-
fore superintendents must discriminate and distinguish sub-classes
in their institutions, and seek to keep the less hardened offenders
apart from the influence of those more depraved and abandoned.

The purely legal distinctions according to the nature of the
crime, as rebels, thieves, robbers, throw little light on the actual
physical and psychical nature of the convict.

8. " The Criminal Type." — At this point we may give a little
space to the consideration of a much controverted topic which has,
perhaps, been discussed beyond its merits. Yet the discussion has
a value in impressing the importance of basing all social treatment
on the nature of the criminal rather than on the artificial distinc-
tions of the codes which notice only acts. The eminent ability
and services of those who believe they have found a criminal
variety of the human race entitle them to a respectful considera-
tion. It is incredible to suppose that their labors have been
entirely fruitless, although their theories are the matter of seri-
ous debate.

It will make for clearness and precision of statement and
understanding if we distinguish in the writings of this "school"
of criminal anthropologists, ( i ) their definitions and descriptions
of the type, (2) their explanation of the fact, (3) their metaphysi-
cal assumptions, (4) their recommendations of a practical nature
for legislation and penal treatment. At this point of our study we
are primarily concerned with the first point, their views of the
type itself.

In Lombroso's introduction to MacDonald's " Criminology " we
have a definition of " type " : " It is necessary to receive this idea



226 An Introduction to Criminal Sociology.

with the same reserve with which we appreciate averages in statis-
tics. When it is said that the average of Hfe is thirty-two years,
and that the month most fatal to hfe is December, no one under-
stands by this that all, or almost all, men should die at thirty-two
years and in the month of December. . . . 'The type,' says
Gratiolet, ' is a synthetic impression.' ' The type,' says Goethe, ' is
the abstract and general image which we deduce from the obser-
vation of common parts and from differences.' ' The type of a
species,' says Isodorus St. Hilaire, ' never appears before our eyes,
but is perceived only by the mind.' The type is an ensemble of
traits, but in relation to a group which it characterizes, it is also
the ensemble of its most prominent traits, and those repeating
themselves most often."

Within this variety there are several sub-varieties of the crimi-
nal type. But the delinquent man, in general, is declared to
present certain marks of physical and psychical defect which are
described with such minuteness and detail as to fill many volumes
of illustrations. Some of these marks may be briefly summarized.

We are to look for a skull of average size, although extremes
are frequent. Thieves have small heads, and murderers large
heads. Persons of the long-headed or broad-headed races show
exaggerations of the racial characteristic. The pointed skull is
frequent ; the lower jaw is heavy ; the orbit of the eye is too
large for the normal ; there is want of symmetry in the head ; the
forehead recedes ; the zygomatic arch is large and prominent.

Dissections of the brains of instinctive criminals reveal defects
of weight, shape, quality of cells, development of convolutions ;
and those defects which are occasionally found in normal people
are accumulated in greater number in criminals. Diseased con-
ditions are frequent, pigmentation, degenerating capillaries, cysts,
thickened and adhering membranes, vestiges of hypersemia,
hemorrhages, and meningitis.

The faces of delinquents are said to show the effects of unfavor-
able environments, habits, and associations. There is a downcast,
sullen, dejected, despairing look, and often a strange pallor of



Data of Criminal Anthropology. 227

countenance. While many of these effects are ascribed to en-
vironment, confinement, and disciphne, there are organic and



Online LibraryCharles Richmond HendersonIntroduction to the study of the dependent, defective, and delinquent classes, and of their social treatment → online text (page 19 of 35)