Charles Richmond Henderson.

Introduction to the study of the dependent, defective, and delinquent classes, and of their social treatment online

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inherited deformities of the face. The physiognomy reveals a
general intellectual inferiority, want of expression, cunning rather
than inteUigence ; and the dull, unresponsive look, natural or
acquired, speaks a moral nature out of harmony with social
environment and its demands.

It has even been claimed that the various kinds of criminals
may be detected by their facial expression, and without knowl-
edge of previous history; the murderers and housebreakers by
their heavy lower jaws ; those guilty of rape, or tending to sexual
offences, by the projecting eye, delicate features, thick lips, and
eyelids ; homicides by the glassy, cold, immobile look ; forgers
and swindlers by their artless and confiding glances.

Many observations of delinquents have revealed frequent mon-
strosities in teeth, ears, nose, and wrinkles. There are extensive
monographs full of illustrations of each of these kinds of defect.
There are statistics showing typical criminals to have, as a rule,
scant beard and abundant hair, with rare baldness. The skeleton
shows abnormally long arms, like those of the lower races. The
muscular system is feeble, incapable of continuous effort, although
capable of very vigorous effort for short time and fitfully, under
the spur of excitement.

Examination of the viscera on the anatomical table reveals
defective lungs, frequent heart disease, monstrosities, and diseases
of the sexual organs.

The nervous system exhibits in the laboratory insensibility to
pain from heat, cold, pressure, and pricking ; excessive suscepti-
bility to electric changes and variations in humidity; agility and
quickness, with low power of endurance ; many instances of color
blindness ; tendency to left-handedness ; incapacity for blushing ;
feeble vascular reaction ; imperfections of olfactory organs and
sense of taste. It is also said that criminals recover rapidly from

When we turn to psychical experiences and manifestations in

228 An Introduction to Criminal Sociology.

gesture, posture, vocabulary, sesthetic works, letters, and other
experiences, we discover a moral system and modes of reasoning
peculiar to the delinquent. There is inferior resistance to tempta-
tions, due to ill-balanced impulsiveness, vanity, want of foresight,
feeble power of concentration, absence of remorse and regard for
the interests of others, and tendency to relapse into crime.

These illustrations might be multiplied indefinitely; they all
tend to prove that a certain class of delinquents, who have been
studied in great numbers, are distinctly different from normal men
and inferior in both body and mind.

As to the extent of application of these descriptions to convicts ;
it is not asserted by the advocates of the view here presented that
the signs of criminal nature are found in all law-breakers. " The
data of criminal anthropology are not entirely apphcable, in their
complete and essential form, to all who commit crimes. They are
to be confined to a certain number, who may be called congenital,
incorrigible, and habitual criminals. But apart from these there
is a class of occasional criminals who do not exhibit, or who
exhibit in shghter degrees, the anatomical, physiological, and
psychological characteristics which constitute the type described
by Lombroso as the criminal man " (Ferri).

If we turn from definition and description to explanation of the
causes which produce the delinquent man, we encounter a series
of statements which can be best considered in our next chapter ;
but it should be noted in this immediate connection that the
writers under consideration count among the chief causes atavism,
degeneration, inherited defect of structure, and the perverting and
depressing influence of external conditions.

The controversy over the question is due to a radical scepticism
both as to the fact and the causes. That a considerable number
of criminals are inferior in body and mind to other men, owing to
hereditary and environmental causes, is beyond doubt. But the na-
ture of the defect and its relation to remote ancestral causes are in
doubt. There is a certain number of criminals who share common
characters with the feeble-minded, the insane by inheritance, and

Data of Criminal Anthropology. 229

the epileptic ; but this fact does not require us to set up a ^' criminal
type " separate from other defectives. The truth seems to be that,
so far as we are dealing with inferior persons, we find exactly the
same evidences of defect in the weaker criminals which we find
in members of the same degenerate stock of related individuals
who do not commit crime, but become vagabonds, paupers, or
inmates of asylums.

Fer^ says on this point : " It is a very important fact to notice
that whatever may be the origin of the degenerate, whether he
be the son of a delinquent, an insane person, an epileptic, or an
ataxic, an alcoholic, or a sexual pervert, the stigmata which he
bears cannot serve to distinguish him from another degenerate
of another origin. All these stigmata are common to all catego-
ries of degenerates ; and when one discovers a new stigma, one
knows at the same time that it is not special to a group ; for this
reason the efforts made to establish a criminal type have been

Some statements of Lombroso himself seem to accept this posi-
tion of Fere. In his introductory note to Drahms's "• The Crimi-
nal," Lombroso writes : " These latter (congenital criminals)
agree with all other degenerate species — microcephalics, epilep-
tics, cretins — mental, moral, or physical, in possessing a marked
resemblance one to another, even though born in countries most
widely separated. These anthropological conditions are the mani-
fest result of an arrested embryological development."

The metaphysical system of Lombroso and his school, based
on strict determinism, does not concern us here, since we are
studying phenomena and their relations, and not the philosophy
of free will or fate. And the ethical philosophy relating to the
ground and purpose of penalty must be deferred to the proper

9. Value of the Study of Criminal Anthropology. — Apart from
the speculations and conclusions of any particular school of an-
thropologists, we may recognize the vast importance of such studies
of the criminal. It is unlikely that courts will ever convict any

230 An Introduction to Criminal Sociology.

person charged with crime because he has a forbidding physiog-
nomy, a suspicious air, or pointed skull, or large ears. Nor is it
probable that brains will be examined on suspicion that they con-
ceal the stigmata of degeneracy. After all that is done by crimi-
nal anthropologists, it will be necessary to summon witnesses of
the fact and observe the form of procedure approved by experi-

But, short of absurd extremes, it may be fairly claimed that the
studies of criminals and other defectives have already made impor-
tant contributions to prison science and education. The writer
may here quote the language of his report on the subject of Prison
Laboratories presented and indorsed by the National Prison Asso-
ciation in 1900, Mr. R. W. McClaughry and Mr. Z. R. Brockway
being associated in the committee charged with the presentation
of the report.

The subject of inquiry set for your committee was this : Is it wise to recom-
mend the experimental establishment of laboratories in a limited number of
prisons and reformatories for the study of physical, psychical, and social facts
of criminal nature and life ; such laboratories to be directed by specially
trained investigators, and under control of wardens or superintendents ?

We may cite experiments already made in this direction which throw light
on the subject, e.g. the Bertillon measurements. These are physical, and for
an immediate practical purpose — the identification of adult convicts. They
are auxiliary to the detective machinery of poHce. The measurements are not
usually taken by men of scientific training, and yet some of the records have
considerable value to the student of the phenomena of crime. It is possible
that, with additional assistance and direction, this system might be extended,
and rendered still more accurate and valuable. Care must be taken, however,
not to load down the system and burden busy police with compHcated and
delicate measurements. The immediate practical object must be kept at all
cost in strict control.

In some of our prisons and reformatories physical measurements are already
taken for the practical purpose of directing the selection of suitable gymnastic
exercises for the cure of defects and diseases, for the development of the body,
and for the choice of the kind of employment. All agree that such measure-
ments, even if without instruments of precision, have great value in reforma-
tories for youth and undeveloped young men. The records are coming to have

Data of Criminal Anthropology. 231

some scientific value also for the criminologist. It would not be difficult to
extend these measurements and make them still more accurate and complete ;
and the plan we shall propose will include all that is valuable in the present
physical tests.

With or without such measurements the superintendents and wardens make
shrewd observations on the physical and mental strength, characteristics, and
tendencies of prisoners. In some cases these impressions and judgments are
systematically recorded and become the basis for valuable statistics. The
direct observations of physicians and other officers are supplemented by police
and court records, and by information secured through correspondence. Have
•we not here a fair beginning of a kind of study which trained persons might
extend and make more useful ? Science is common sense armed with the best
tools, instruments, and methods. Everyday knowledge, picked up in frag-
ments by hard experience, becomes science by becoming more accurate, thor-
ough, and complete; by tracing out all relations, causes, effects, laws, tendencies.
The fact that all our successful wardens and managers have long since worked
intelligently in this direction is good evidence that the time is ripe for further

The studies of children in schools ^ and families shed light on the theme of
this investigation.

Some of these studies are conducted by physicians for hygienic reasons ; as
examination of teeth, eyes, ears, skin, etc. Sometimes these examinations are
made by physicians, teachers, and psychologists for pedagogic purposes. They
demonstrate the importance of knowing the capacity of the person who is to
be taught, disciplined, and influenced.

The officials in charge of the present census are making arrangements for

1 Mr. Z. R. Brockway, in a recent letter, expresses this judgment : " There is not
much knowledge about the criminal except the superficial and incidental knowledge
of criminals had by individual legislators, courts, and court officers, who come in
casual contact with criminals. The comprehensive study of the criminal class in
society is of great importance, and should be initiated and carried on by system
under state direction. I am more and more impressed, having personally observed
some fifty thousand prisoners, that the prison class is a class of inhabitants different,
as a class, from others who do not fall into crime. One who should travel through-
out the world visiting prisons of different nations and the prisoners therein would
be impressed, if an intelligent observer, with the similarity of general appearance of
prison populations. The distinguishing characteristics of criminals which, when
observed in mass, give such a positive impression, ought to be inquired into, mapped
out, and published for the information of the lawmakers and those who administer

2 See Francis Warner, " The Study of Children and Their School Training."
The Macmillan Co., 1899.

232 An Introduction to Criminal Sociology.

certain studies in this direction for statistical uses. The eminent character and
knowledge of Dr. F. H. Wines is guarantee for the high value of the methods
and results of this investigation, and it deserves all encouragement. But, use-
ful as this temporary effort will be, it cannot take the place of a permanent
laboratory established in each institution, and following out life histories year
after year with patient study and minute research.

The students of criminal anthropology and criminal sociology in various
countries have already studied quite carefully many thousands of convicts. ^

But in the United States we have the greatest variety of race types, all of
them effected by the peculiar conditions of American industry, climate, and
political institutions. The data furnished from Europe cannot apply in all
respects under the entirely different conditions of our country. We must make
our own investigations with our own material.

What is proposed ? We recommend a laboratory, furnished with the best
modern instruments of precision, conducted by a specialist or trained observer,
for the scientific study of prison populations, with special reference to obvious
practical needs of the administration in the discipline, instruction, and training
of prisoners. These studies would be : Physical: the anatomy and physiology
of prisoners ; measurements of sensation and other manifestations of mind
through the body ; and the hereditary factors. Psychical : the mental, emo-
tional, voluntary life-activities ; the tastes, ideas, knowledge, motives. Social :
the domestic, industrial, neighborhood, legal, political, and religious environ-
ment which have influenced the character and conduct. We know that all
these factors enter into every life and help to shape it, and that no one of
them taken alone is sufficient for an explanation.

Conclusions : This kind of investigation is entirely practicable, from what-
ever point of view we regard it. Competent investigators can be found or
trained. The cost is moderate. In many instances the board of managers of
institutions can make the appointment by means of funds already under their
control for educational work. It is useful for discipline; for the direction of
aid to discharged prisoners; for the enlightenment of legislatures, courts, and
authorities in criminal law and procedure. It promises to make important

1 Dr. Jules Morel contributed a valuable paper to the National Prison Association
m 1896, " Proceedings," pp. 279-281. A schedule of examinations of convicts is
there given. G. E. Dawson offers a " Study of Youthful Degeneracy " in the " Reports
of the U. S. Commissioners of Education," 1897-1898, Vol. I, p. 1321. The board of
education of Chicago has established a bureau for child study, and the reports of
this bureau are of great interest in this connection. Miss F. A. Kellor, in the Ameri-
caji Journal of Sociology^ January and March, 1900, gave the results of studies of
criminal women. Professor F. Starr gave an account of Dr. Boca's interesting
laboratory at Puebla, Mexico, in the American Journal of Sociology, July, 1897.

Data of Criminal Anthropology. 233

contributions to the various sciences of human life : to anatomy, physiology,
anthropology, psychology, sociology. The prisons would thus be brought into
contact with the great life of universities, and would contribute to the best
forms of intellectual wealth. This would not be at the cost of pain, and would
assist millions of convicts throughout the world. For the achievements of ex-
perimental science, built on real exploration rather than on mere speculation,
are the possessions of mankind, and are not confined to a class or a country.

If this recommendation meets with the favor of this influential association,
it may be proper to agree upon suitable means for carrying it into effect.

A permanent committee might be formed for the accumulation of informa-
tion on the subject, reaching the details and specific kinds of desirable data for
judgment and action. This information would be at the service of all members
of the association.

It would be in order to secure the widest possible publication of such infor-
mation as would prepare the public mind for advance movements here started.

Our representatives in each state could devise their own methods of secur-
ing the introduction of the plan into the institutions with which they are

This report was heartily and unanimously adopted by the association, and
was discussed by the wardens in a special session. The same committee was
continued for another year to prosecute the inquiry and promote the establish-
ment of laboratories. In response to a request from the wardens, some further
materials are herewith added to the brief outline which served as a basis for
the discussion.

The formulation of investigations must be left to the experts who will be
appointed directors of laboratories in prisons ; but some further illustrations
may be presented here in order to make more clear the scope of the purpose
of the report. The causes of crime lie in the nature of the offender and in his
environment. Methods of reformation and of prevention, to be successful,
must be based on knowledge of these causes. The inquiry will be directed to
a study of all these elements, physical, psychical, and social.

Examples of physical measurements are such as the following : height,
weight, peculiarities of the head, of the palate, teeth, lips, ears, tonsils, face,
spinal column. In respect to movements, it is possible to measure speed, lung
capacity and action, strength of grip, legs, back, and chest. Physiological
defects are discovered and measured, as corrugation of face, incoordination of
eyes, twitching, pallor, mouth-breathing. All of these throw light on the
physical basis of mental life, the power to work, the requirements of training,
diet, and exercise. A detailed study of the senses may be made, as of sight,
hearing, touch, muscle sense, smell, taste, pain. Still further indications of
abnormal conditions are found in the manifestations of disordered perception,

234 ^^ Introduction to Criminal Sociology.

attention, feeling, will, and mental activity in making associations, compari-
sons, and in reasoning. Studies of juvenile offenders in Europe and America
have already established the fact that they are, on the average, much inferior
in height, weight, muscular strength, and vital capacity to the average of chil-
dren of the industrial classes who are their neighbors. ^ The social influences
cannot be so exactly measured, but they are often most important. For juvenile
offenders it is not difBcult to discover defects in home environment, hygienic
conditions, aesthetic and moral influences, companions, work, and play. In
most cases the student can discover and record the facts of nationality, educa-
tion, religion, moral instruction and ideas, parental influences, occupation,
temptations, amusements and games, habits, superstitions, conjugal relations.
The correspondence and travel necessary to collect data of this class from
police, courts, teachers, pastors, employers, and others, can be done only by
persons who reside permanently at a prison. The importance of having estab-
lished laboratories is very clear. Miss F. A. Kellor, having had considerable
experience with such studies in prisons north and south, says : —

" In order to secure the data, there should be permanent and suitable laborato-
ries in each institution, with a well-trained person in charge. Temporary labo-
ratories with portable supplies have been used, but are unsatisfactory for the
following reasons: (i) Delicate instruments are required which are not easily
transported. (2) Satisfactory rooms, free from noise and disturbance, are not
always obtainable for temporary use. (3) A stranger coming into an institu-
tion frightens, confuses, and misleads the inmates, who are not then in a nor-
mal state. A permanent laboratory would be an adjunct of the institution,
and would be accepted as a matter of course. The psychologist should be a
resident in the institution, and be familiar with the prison population. (4)
The transient psychologist secures his subjects through request. It should
be a natural part of institution regime, as natural a requirement as a bath or a
change of clothes upon arrival. Suspicion and superstition are thus averted.
(5) Sometimes tests need to be repeated under different conditions, and this
requires longer residence."

Naturally and properly the administrative officers of prisons will ask where
competent directors of such institutions can be found. It is vital to the per-
manent success of this movement that the first appointees be in all respects
suitable. The technical qualifications are a training in laboratories of anthro-

1 Dr. Christopher, of the Chicago board of education, deserves great credit for
promoting studies of children in the schools. One of the officers, Mr. Victor Camp-
bell, has kindly shown me some results of this investigation of 282 juvenile delin-
quents in the John Worthy School. The results of recent measurements agree
with those obtained- by other observers.

Data of Criminal Anthropology. 2^^

pology and of physiological psychology, and a certain additional experience
in studies of normal and defective persons in a wider range. The director
must be able to formulate and apply schedules of questions which will bring
out the social forces which tend toward crime. From the standpoint of the
sociologist, this is the most interesting part of the investigation. Having sub-
mitted this conservative suggestion to an eminent authority ^ in physiology,
the writer is distinctly authorized by him to make an even stronger statement
than, as a student of sociology, he would venture to make in a field where he
is a layman. This statement is to the effect that the inherited physiological
and psychical traits are of minor, even of insignificant, importance, as causes
of crime, save in the rare and exceptional cases of depleting disease or insan-
ity; that defective social conditions, economic, industrial, domestic, and educa-
tional, are the supreme maleficent forces; that it is even positively misleading
and harmful to dwell much, if at all, on bodily and mental traits, because we
thus divert public attention away from social reforms and amelioration which
are within human power to control, and which alone are capable of prevent-
ing a criminal career.

But even if these physical and psychical records prove to be unimportant in
the explanation of causes of crime, their practical value as means of identifica-
tion, as guides in physical training and making of dietaries, and as helps in the
selection of suitable methods of training, would remain.

This protest of a physiologist must, however, serve to make all the more
clear and emphatic a belief expressed in the report, that the director of the
laboratory must give special attention to a study of the social surroundings
and influences which have led to crime. If this be an important, perhaps
the only important, subject of investigation, it follows that the director must
have training in sociology and economics as well as in phj'siological psychol-
ogy. For the tyro in these subjects is no more competent to analyze the
complex social forces than the quack is competent to diagnose disease as a
necessary preliminary to treatment by medicine, surgery, or regimen. The
phenomena of social life are more obvious and accessible than those of physi-
cal life, but they are far more vast, entangled, and complicated. It is hardly
probable that any one person can be found who will be equally equipped in
all three fields of research, and the results of various directors will necessarily
have unequal value.

The prison physician in some cases might be able to spend six months in
a university laboratory and be able, with his previous knowledge of anatomy
and physiology, to use the instruments and interpret the results. Advanced

1 These points are illustrated and confirmed in a work of Professor Jacques Loeb,
" Comparative Physiology of the Brain and Comparative Psychology."

236 An Introduction to Criminal Sociology.

students who have been thoroughly trained by modern methods in psychology
would find a new and enticing field in an institution whose inmates are un-
der the control of the authorities and become communicative if they are
approached in a sympathetic and tactful way. The number of competent
observers would be small at first, but the hope of employment and the oppor-
tunity of discovery would soon attract a supply of psychologists.^

Online LibraryCharles Richmond HendersonIntroduction to the study of the dependent, defective, and delinquent classes, and of their social treatment → online text (page 20 of 35)