Charles Richmond Henderson.

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

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nal court among the poor, which is now frequently none of the
best, would be wholesome. The policy of demanding reparation
from the guilty party is an important means of furthering his
genuine reformation. Profession of repentance without self-
sacrificing effort to make restitution must be treated as insincere.

There are difficulties in the way of adopting this policy. In
the United States the victim can sue the offender by civil process
and recover damages. This is a costly method, and generally
the criminal is propertyless and not financially responsible. The
principle of trial and procedure are different in civil and crimi-
nal law. In civil action a simple ^preponderance of evidence is
enough to secure a verdict. In criminal actions the evidence for
conviction must be so strong and cogent as to leave no reason-
able room for doubt. In civil cases a jury may not be necessary,
while in criminal actions the defendant may demand a jury. In
criminal causes the party acquitted is absolutely free, and it
would not be wise or fair to deny the victim the right to secure
justice by a civil trial, which he now possesses. In criminal
cases the state prosecutes, while in civil cases the plaintiff is a
private party.

What is the way of escape from these difficulties? It has been
suggested that the state may include in the penalty a demand for
restitution. If the victim accepts this award, he would be estopped
from civil action. The collection of the award is a formidable
difficulty, since the criminal usually has no means to pay, except
his labor. The state has a prior claim upon his labor because of

2o6 An Introduction to Criminal Sociology.

the public expense of detection and prosecution. But the wages
of prison labor might be divided between the state and the vic-
tim, and in case of conditional release one condition might be
that part of the wages earned should go to indemnify the victim,
until all should be paid.

Colonies. — For vagrant, feeble-minded, futile, mendicant, and
semi-criminal persons, it seems desirable to establish voluntary
and also compulsory agricultural colonies. Where men are willing
to submit themselves to control voluntarily and to accept disci-
pline and training for industry, it may be sufificient to provide
colonies on the German plan, without restrictions as to coming
and going. But for those who are lawless and criminal such
colonies of training must be compulsory, since such men will
neither accept the discipline which is good for them nor con-
tinue under it. Drunkards should be provided for in special
hospital asylums, under long sentences of three or four years,
and kept at work in the open air as much as the climate will

Whipping, inflicted by public authority, but without exposure
to the public, is recommended for cases of assault on women, for
wife-beaters, and similar offences. The danger of abuse, how-
ever, has been thought to be so great that this suggestion has not
often been incorporated in penal law.

14. Asylums for the Insane Convicts. — Crime, in modern
criminal jurisprudence, is the voluntary act of a responsible
person. In doubtful cases the physician or psychiatrist is often
inclined to emphasize personal defect, disease. On the other
hand, the judge regards his reponsibility for the protection of
society from harm. The reconciliation of this conflict may
be effected by provision for the detention, restraint, and care
of dangerous persons, convicted of crime, who are thought to be
insane. Here we must carefully distinguish between two classes
of persons- (i) those who have previously good reputation, and,
having become insane, are dangerous; (2) those who have a
record for crime, and have become insane at the time or after

Elements of Prison Science. 307

the time of the criminal act. Those of the first class should be
sent to ordinary hospitals and asylums for the insane; those of
the other class to asylums connected with the prison system. It
offends the moral and humane sentiments of the people to mingle
persons of these two types in one company.

15. Capital Punishment. — In former ages this was the ordi-
nary penalty for offences which were not repaired by fines. It
was often the legal penalty for minor offences, as stealing. Now
it is rarely inflicted except for murder or rape. The tendency
is to substitute for it some form of life sentence.

16. Deportation was once a common mode of punishment; but
it is retained by very few nations, and would not be tolerated in
this country, although it is occasionally suggested. Persons
who are ignorant of the English experience with transportation
to colonies, or who defy the lessons of experience, may be heard
to advocate the sending of convicts to Alaska or to the Pacific
islands. But the arguments used by our forefathers against that
injustice would rise from their graves to condemn such an
infamous policy of a strong nation. Furthermore, criminal law
is chiefly an affair of the several states; and it is not states, but
the federal government, which possesses colonies and territories.
No state in the Union has any control over any region outside of
the jurisdiction of its own courts. The United States courts
might be given power to transport federal convicts; but the eco-
nomical and moral objections would be found too strong against
this antiquated and obsolete policy. Each people must face and
solve the problem of crime on its own soil, which produced the



The necessary limitations on the efficacy of the penal system
compel us to give attention to the measures for preventing the
beginnings or the repetition of criminal acts. In this chapter
we shall deal with some of the more direct means of inhibiting
criminal conduct, with suggestions of a system of social arrange-
ments whose purpose is the prevention of the conduct which tends
toward crime. The direct preventive measures are designed to
act upon arrested persons, with a view to preventing recidivism,
or habitual repetition of offences; and the first to be mentioned
is: —

1. Registration and Identification. — The social control of
members of the criminal class depends on thorough knowledge
of each member of that class of the community by the authorities.
One of the common tricks of one who has lost his good name is
to assume a new one, that is, an "alias." An upright man does
not like to change his name even if it is unmusical and tediously
frequent in use. Most normal persons feel it as a slight if their
neighbors cannot recall their names on seeing their faces, and
much of social influence is lost by forgetting the marks of indi-
viduality. But in the world of criminals things are upside
down, and all our ordinary standards are reversed. One who is
"wanted" by the detectives for a serious breach of law hides
under a false name, changes his dress and hair, tries to cover his
tracks, breaks with his past, foils the shrewdest of the police,
and starts, foxlike, on a new stage of his cunning game of hide-
and-seek. If the indeterminate sentence is to be enforced,
especially with cumulative sentences for recidivism, and shorter


Preventive Measures. 309

terms, with probation, for first offenders, there must be knowl-
edge of the character and personal history of each old offender.

The older method of identifying criminals was very crude and
unscientific. It was based upon that general study of faces and
figures upon which men rely for the ordinary business and inter-
course of life, and it answered the purpose fairly well in the
simple conditions of agricultural society, with few cities, and a
comparatively small number of criminals devoted to the business.
Detectives were sometimes quite shrewd in recognizing faces;
but many innocent persons have been arrested, put to great
inconvenience, and permanently injured in reputation because
they had some resemblance to certain law-breakers. Photo-
graphs were taken to supplement the memories of detectives, but
they had little value, since it is so easy to transform the appear-
ance completely by trifling changes of hair, beard, and dress;
and a photograph carelessly taken may itself be a source of

The Bertillon system, now coming into common use, is based
on the measurements approved by the experience of anthropolo-
gists, and promises to become a great factor in the identification
of professional criminals, as well as in the protection of inno-
cent persons falsely accused of crime. It is simple, easily used
by policemen, and effective for its purpose. Bertillon distin-
guishes three kinds of " signalment, " the anthropometrical, the
descriptive, and the use of marked peculiarities. The anthropo-
metrical signalment is based on these principles: (i) The almost
absolute immutability of the human frame after the twentieth
year of age; (2) the extreme diversity of dimensions which the
human skeleton presents when compared in different subjects;
(3) the facility and comparative precision with which certain
dimensions of the skeleton may be measured. Two photographs
are taken, one of the front face and the other of the profile ; and
these are taken on a uniform plan, by cameras screwed into the
floor, from a chair likewise fixed so that the relative proportion
of height and size are kept exactly in all pictures. The color of

jio An Introduction to Criminal Sociology.

the eyes is a means of identification of considerable value, as this
factor is not under the control of the volition of the criminal.
Scars, warts, excrescences, deformities, and other marks are care-
fully noted and recorded. But the main reliance is on the exact
measurement of the bones of the body, since these are never
the same for two persons, and, after adult life, do not change in
the individual. The measurements taken are the full height
standing, the length of the trunk or sitting height, the stretch of
the arms, the length and width of the skull and of the right ear,
the length of the left foot, the middle and the little finger of the
left hand, and of the forearm. All these facts are set down,
according to the metric system, on cards which also bear the
photographs; and these cards, often many thousands of them, are
classified in cabinets according to the groups into which they
naturally fall. If a prisoner unknown to the police must be
identified, in order to fix the evidence upon him and to discover
whether he has a previous bad record under some other name, he
is measured, and the files are sought for a card bearing his former
history. In a few minutes the former card can be found, and
the identification is certain and complete without danger of
injustice to an innocent person. The cards are classified and
subdivided by sex, by head lengths, by head widths, by lengths
of middle finger, etc.

As a direct means of prevention this system is valuable because
it deters men from making a record from which they cannot
escape; it makes the trial more accurate and just; it facilitates
speedy and certain condemnation; it diminishes those technical
delays of law which tend to arouse the gamblers' instinct in the
criminal class.

To make the Bertillon system as efficient as it is capable of
becoming, it should be managed by the general government, or
by some commission with a central bureau, so that any city
police authority could instantly communicate by telegraph with
men who have copies of all the records made in the United States.
A still more advanced step will be taken with the establishment

Preventive Measures. 311

of an international bureau for the record and detection of

If the methods sketched above under the head of prison labora-
tories should be generally adopted, the Bertillon system would
form a part of a more general scheme of study of convicts. The
preventive value of such studies is apparent, since a thorough
knowledge of each man is necessary as the basis of the most
effective reformatory measures, discipline, probation, grading,
punishment, parole. Indeed, the best effects of these modern
measures of reformation depend largely on the full and accurate
knowledge of individual cases.

2. Substitutes for Incarceration. — Among other wise and
effective measures to prevent recidivism may be mentioned
those substitutes for incarceration already discussed under pe-
nology. These do not apply to confirmed criminals, but they are
very useful in dealing with younger offenders, whose moral sense
has not yet been completely subverted and corrupted.

3. Care for Discharged Prisoners and their Families. — One of
the most certain facts in the range of our present studies is that
discharged convicts must have remunerative employment imme-
diately upon release if they are to be saved from return to crime
career. Most of them are poor, and are dependent upon daily
labor for daily bread. Even a brief period of idleness brings
them to distress. During their incarceration their families,
dependent on them, are, in most instances, charges upon public
charity, especially where the convict has wife and children.
This urgency of need in the case of a majority of convicts
is an essential factor.

It is also a very common experience, easily accounted for, that
convicts find it difficult to secure positions. Introductions from
the superintendent of a penitentiary are not the best kind of
recommendations. Workmen do not like to associate with a
"jail-bird." Thus the convict, upon his release from prison
walls, confronts a frowning world; his own conscience makes
him uneasy and sensitive; his memory haunts him; and his fears

312 An Introduction to Criminal Sociology,

exaggerate his suspicion that all men suspect and hate him.
Perhaps those who are less depraved suffer most from such inner
weakness, and find it hardest to face their fellow-men in their
shame and self-condemnation.

Various methods have been devised and tried for the aid of
discharged prisoners. Private enterprise has not been in vain in
the various Christian countries of Europe and America. Even
when the state acts with a complete system, the cooperation of
private parties is always of great value. The visitors of such
societies become acquainted with the prisoners previous to dis-
charge, learn their capacity for industry, their previous history,
and their hopes. These visitors correspond with the friends of
the criminal and seek to reestablish friendly relations with the
family, with employers, and with kind citizens who may help the
man to get on his feet again.

One form of help must be employed with great caution, if at
all. There are great evils connected with homes for gathering
discharged men into one place. Their contact tends to deepen
the bad influence of those who seek such temporary shelter
merely as a basis for raids as soon as chance offers. There is
very general agreement among wardens that convicts should be
scattered at the very door of the prison, and not congregated in
private institutions, where the police have no direct control over
them. The sooner convicts are lost in the multitude of working-
people the better for them and for society.

The most promising method is that of state provision and con-
trol, with auxiliary private aid and personal service. The central
principle governing all dealings with convicts is social protection
and the reformation of the offender. The state should carry out
this purpose logically and thoroughly, when once its courts have
convicted a man of offence. The control of the discharged pris-
oner should be simply a regular part of the treatment. It has
already been shown that conduct under discipline is no secure
guarantee of good conduct in freedom, and it is mockery to
permit a man to go entirely free while this uncertainty exists.

Preventive Measures. 313

Confinement for a certain term is not the payment of a debt;
indeed, it involves increased expense to the community, since
the earnings of prisoners do not support them. Discharge from
prison is not the termination of the process of punishment, but
only a stage in that process. Final release from the grip of dis-
cipline should come only when the constituted guardians of public
safety and order have assurance in the conduct of the convict
that he may be trusted with liberty from surveillance. If this
principle be accepted, as it is already in part and falteringly, it
will follow that the authorities intrusted with the treatment of
convicts will extend their agency over the prisoner after his dis-
charge for a time sufficient to secure proof of his upright habits.
This principle will require that previous to discharge the admin-
istration provide employment in some remunerative occupation
for which the convict has preparation and skill. It is useless
and dangerous to send out a man to find work for himself, with
no other recommendation than a card of dismissal from a prison.
The saloon and the boon companions of crime are ready to greet
him and steer his steps back into evil ways; and in his loneli-
ness, feeling of desolation and discouragement, he is powerfully
tempted to accept their hospitality until he can join them in
preying on the industrious and honest. An agent of the prison
should travel over the commonwealth to make arrangements with
employers to give work to those who are able and willing to work.
This can be done better by an accredited agent of the govern-
ment than by any other, for the reason that the paroled man is
still under the power of the authorities of the prison, and this legal
power gives them a firm hold upon the man such as no private
party can gain. He is conscious that any departure from right
action may return him to the place of restraint for a long period.
To the objection sometimes offered that the state by furnishing
employment for convicts does more for them than it does for
honest laborers, the answer is, that the convict is in an entirely
different position from that of ordinary laborers; and that it is
to the interest of all citizens, even of all wage-earners, that men

314 A^ Introduction to Criminal Sociology.

shall not be permitted to rove about like dangerous wild beasts,
with no possibility before them but to rob and to kill. In a
well-ordered state this reproach will not be well founded, since
free bureaus of labor are there provided for all.

It is quite safe to go further and claim that public security
demands that, if ordinary industry does not supply occupation,
the convicts shall be held in compulsory agricultural colonies,
rather than be permitted to wander at their will. Nothing short
of the most thoroughgoing and vigorous system can ever bring
the criminal class under social regulation. At present, a large
part of the work of the police consists in watching men who are
known to have no other business than that of burglary and kindred

But voluntary societies for aiding discharged prisoners and
their families, as auxiliary to the state system, or as a substitute
for it, perform a valuable service in all Christian lands. Their
agents assist the prison officers in preparing the prisoner for a
place before his liberation, and make known to him the various
avenues of employment which are open to him. The society
secures and presents information about opportunities of employ-
ment, but, as far as possible, it may require the convict himself
to make the effort to find work. Under some circumstances the
man must be both trained and tested before any private society
can recommend him. The bureaus of information are often
helpful in securing places for discharged men.

One of the most powerful motives which act to restrain men
from lawlessness is family affection. A young man who has some
regard for parents and sisters, or wife and children, has natural
ties to honor. But if this bond is severed by incarceration, and
all communication is broken up, the influence grows weaker, and
finally loses all force. Therefore it is desirable that from the
first days of imprisonment the man be encouraged to communi-
cate frequently with those whose affection is a redeeming force
with him. In this connection the service of chaplains and vis-
itors of societies is of immense value. And if local societies

Preventive Measures. 315

arrange to visit the family, to cheer and protect the wife and
children or aged parents, to prevent dependence and deeper
humiliation, and to promote the exchange of letters, they assist
materially in the process of reformation. The federation of
churches in every county and city, with the association of chari-
ties, should work systematically to look after such families and
win back the wandering member to his duty and his home.

4. Certainty of Detection and Conviction. — The practical prin-
ciple is now generally accepted that severity in penalty is rela-
tively of little consequence compared with swiftness and certainty
in the legal procedure and the penal process. Hanging and
whipping seem to have little effect in deterring the careless and
reckless youths who go into crime. But when it is understood
that justice is swift, accurate, and impartial, those who are caught
in its toils are more chary of placing themselves once more in
its power. It is the gambling chance which actually attracts the
criminal and makes his destruction more sure. Justice should
be made to work, so far as possible, like a natural law, surely,
quietly, noiselessly, and with absolute certainty. The ideal
cannot be at once and perfectly attained, but it may be approxi-
mated. To meet this need we must strive for upright and well-
organized police forces, whose individual members will be
rewarded and honored quite as much for warning and preventing
as for arresting and convicting.

Clean courts and upright magistrates, especially in city police
courts, are demanded by this situation. It is needless to point
out that these courts come nearer to the life of the poor than
those which are used in civil cases by the comfortable classes of
society; and one of the most active and poisonous influences for
evil in cities is the venal conduct of many of these lower courts
of summary jurisdiction. Where the court officers are in collu-
sion with corrupt police and partisan hacks to accept hush money
from brothels and gambling dens as a price of immunity, we
have the conditions of contempt for law which demoralizes those
already sorely tempted to rebel against morality.

3i6 An Introduction to Criminal Sociology.

The movement of bar associations to correct the errors in pro-
cedures so as to avoid the abuses of technicalities by unscrupulous
attorneys of criminals, is in the direction of improvement.

One serious obstacle in the course of justice is the abuse of
the power of reprieve and pardon by the executive branch of
government. It is thought desirable to remove this historical
power of the executive as far as possible from the region of
caprice and favoritism. The system of marks and parole, regu-
lated by boards or commissions, with conditional liberation and
surveillance of police, tends to reduce the abuses of the pardoning

5. Police. — The chief impediments to efificient police service
are : The appointment of policemen for partisan reasons, nomi-
nally by mayor or board, but really by a local alderman, and the
system of paying police magistrates with fees instead of salary.
For example, the magistrate is paid for the trial of a prostitute
whom he dismisses without a fine, or with a small one which is
really a tax, and a tax which he divides with the policeman for
his share. The policeman, if honest, is discouraged from making
arrests because he sees that it does no good, or if dishonest, he
makes arrests in order to divide the spoils with the magistrate.
Another more direct method of spoliation without justice is to
charge houses of ill fame a certain sum for immunity from police
disturbance, which sum naturally does not go into the public
treasury. Police are very often burdened with matters which
properly belong to officers of health or education. Interference
by the mayor and other officials to protect their political friends
from arrest is a degrading custom. The vices of licentiousness
and gambling are hindering and corrupting influences. Pros-
titutes and gamblers, by the aid of bribes and local political work,
often secure license to pursue their nefarious callings unmolested.
(N. P. A., 1891, p. 107.) The reform of these evils would go
far to prevent crime.

6. Checks upon the Hereditary Supply of Bad Stock. — Various

Online LibraryCharles Richmond HendersonIntroduction to the study of the dependent, defective, and delinquent classes, and of their social treatment → online text (page 27 of 35)