Charles Richmond Henderson.

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

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methods of elimination have been proposed for cutting off the

Preventive Measures. 317

increase of the criminal classes by some scheme of elimina-

The first of these, stated in its baldest form by McKim, is to
kill all persons whose hereditary strain promises bad issue.
Under this scheme all defectives and confirmed criminals would
be placed in air-tight compartments and be put to death without
pain by the introduction of some poisonous, but not unpleasant

Obvious objections to this plan are: that it would imply such
a wholesale hardening of public feeling as would amount to a
transformation of the entire community into a community of
criminals; that it would come too late, since before these per-
sons could be proved to be incorrigible criminals they have
already produced offspring endowed with their own traits; and
that such a monstrous and colossal application of capital punish-
ment would leave the social causes of crime untouched.

Another scheme has been proposed by many thoughtful per-
sons: sterilization. Surgery has reached a point where this can
be effected painlessly and without danger. It has already been
employed, sometimes at the request of the patient, as a hygienic
measure; and so long as it can be defended on the ground of
advantage to the prisoner, there may be little popular objection
to it. But again it must be said that the remedy is of very lim-
ited application, and comes too late; it does not prevent the
mischief of vicious heredity before conviction, and it does not
touch the social causes of crime. Bad sanitation, imperfect edu-
cation, neglect of industrial training, low wages, would still pro-
duce their natural crop of criminals, no matter how far these
schemes might be carried out.

It has also been urged that society extend the method of per-
manent segregation of criminals, as well as of imbecile and
chronic insane. Under progressive and cumulative sentences
this policy might be carried out without departure from legal
principles already adopted.

This policy would unquestionably free society from many dan-

3i8 An Introduction to Criminal Sociology.

gerous persons, but the social causes of crime would still remain
for cure.

Fere has suggested that the intermarriage of morbid with
healthy stock may help to bring up those on the lower level to
the normal average. But there are great difhculties in the way
of applying this remedy. It is notorious that the weak and
depraved tend to associate with each other, as they are rejected
by the superior, and thus they tend to intermarry and aggravate
their tendencies to degeneration. It seems probable that the
sound stock would suffer far more than intermarriage would
benefit the decaying stock.

Morbid heredity is by no means fatal and certain. Better
nutrition will often lift a descending family to strength and
vitality. As too great heat or cold causes monstrosity in the un-
born child, so the proper temperature and other suitable physical
conditions enable the mother to give the world a normal child.
This suggestion of Fer6 makes plain the close and vital connec-
tion between the questions of crime and pauperism and the " labor
question." Good wages means sufficient nutrition, warmth,
comfort, vigor, not only to growing individuals, but even to the
embryo in its development.

But there is a large class of degenerates who cannot safely be
left to this process of improved nutrition and crossing with better
elements. They must be kept from propagation by isolation,
and, perhaps, by surgery.

Among the measures of prevention may be mentioned the
restriction of immigration. No modern nation now pursues the
policy of sending its criminals abroad to prey upon foreigners.
But certain "philanthropic " societies are very fond of assisting
youthful, and even aged, offenders to make a new start in Arnerica.
Occasionally we find such methods complacently reported in the
publications of English and other humane societies as a praise-
worthy enterprise. It is needless to insist that in this country
we regard these devices as a menace to our security and health,
and we resent them as offensive and injurious. Discussion and

Preventive Measures. 319

experimentation in this country have gradually produced a sys-
tem of inspection and of return of defective persons which is
fairly efficient, although it requires further amendments, and
many very dangerous criminals cannot be rejected as defectives.
There is nothing in the appearance or condition of habitual
offenders which would justify a port immigration officer in send-
ing them back to their own native land. The effort to restrict
the migration of criminals must rest on international coopera-
tion, and on a method of recording the history and the individual
characteristics of refugees from justice.

7. Removal of Social Causes of Crime. — Each of the following
measures has a literature of its own. We have been dealing with
particular symptoms; here we open the subject of constitutional
treatment. Outside the direct action of constituted authorities
upon members of the criminal class, we must consider those
measures and agencies which diminish the force of the downward
pressure of general conditions. This is the counterpart of the
earlier discussion of the social and other environmental causes of
crime, since each cause may be brought, to some extent, under
the regulation of the organs of community life.

No list of reforms and modes of betterment made by one per-
son would be accepted by all, and it would require a treatise to
present the reasons for some of the more important recom-
mendations. A few examples must be chosen and presented
without extended argument.

So far as defective economic conditions tend to augment crime
the remedy must be found in modifications of our industrial
arrangements. Social peace and good will are fostered by the
voluntary action of intelligent and humane employers who seek
to act justly and fairly, and even generously, with those who are
under their direction; and there can be no doubt that the dis-
position and character of the employing class is a large factor in
the creation of better feeling in the industrial world. The unrest
amounting to standing revolt against the system which gives arbi-
trary power of employment and discharge and discipline to the

320 An Introduction to Criminal Sociology.

owners of the instruments of production may in time be modi-
fied in many ways : as by the extension of trade unions and of
cooperation on a voluntary basis, by the extension of state and
municipal enterprises, and by boards of conciliation and arbitra-
tion, voluntary or compulsory.

Since much of the dissatisfaction, misery, and anxiety of the
working-people arise from uncertainties and vicissitudes of com-
mercial life, we may hope that social peace and order will be
promoted by schemes of insurance against fire, sickness, death,
or old age; either by mutual benefit societies, or by state action,
as in Germany, or by the organization of insurance benefits by
great corporations, under state regulations.

Since much of crime arises from the premature and irregular
employment of children in unsuitable industries, to the neglect
of their education and training, we may look to factory legisla-
tion, inspection, and improved organization of schools for much

Standing armies, while necessary, are a great source of deprav-
ity, a financial burden, and a cause of social irritation; and social
peace demands that they should be restricted within the nar-
rowest possible limits.

Since alcoholism is recognized as one of the chief causes of
the overthrow of reason and conscience, of sanity and self-
control, we must press forward in the effort to find means of
reducing, if we cannot abolish, the evils attending the custom
of drinking stimulants and the traffic which fattens on the souls
of men.

Improved systems of poor relief and charity must also be
counted among the aids to removal of crime causes.

Since crime is, essentially, merely the gratification of natural
desires in antisocial and selfish ways, in excess, and in lawless-
ness, we have reason to hope much from the improvement in
education, in the multiplying of rational recreations, in the
growth of art interests, of music, and landscape gardening, and
cheap dramatic entertainments of a worthy kind.

Preventive Measures. 321

Religion will use all these means, will inspire the community
to gratify the higher wants of men, and will add its own supreme
and attractive objects of adoration and aspiration, its hopes and
sanctions, its consolations and its ministries. Sectarian divisions
will be diminished more and more ; idle and futile controversies
over insoluble problems will yield place to ethical studies and
practical endeavors to meet the certain and exigent needs of
humanity; and all devout and believing people will organize
their agencies in one grand and federated system for this universal
ministry to the soul of the race.



1. The Causes of Juvenile Delinquency have already been con-
sidered when we were studying the forces which tend to pauperism
and the general causes of crime. ^ Here we have to deal with
persons who are only in a modified sense capable of committing
crime, and yet who are a menace to the community and are
going the way which leads inevitably to criminality, unless some
check intervenes.

It is desirable to bring into clear relief, at this point, certain
general facts and conclusions which should be borne in mind
during the consideration of methods of dealing with juvenile

2. Classes and Distinctions. — Juvenile offenders and morally
imperilled children fall into several groups: (i) Neglected and
abandoned children under eight years of age, both male and
female. In this case we have nothing to do with penal agencies,
but only with the child-saving agencies discussed in our Part
II. (2) Children between eight and fourteen years, who are
morally imperilled. These also have been considered in Part
II, and will occupy us here only incidentally. It is true that
some of these children appear to be very monsters in their pre-
cocious criminality, and must be isolated from ordinary children.
Such are those whose parents have taught them to be vicious and
filled their young minds with images of lust and wickedness, who
have sent them out to beg and pilfer, or run upon infamous
errands. But they have not sinned against an awakened con-
science, for the moral nature is yet undeveloped, and the
dangerous signs of evil are due to abnormal brain structure 01

1 Chapter II, 5.

Social Treatment of Juvenile Offenders. 323

to imitation of vicious example. They have a certain degree
of intellectual power to discriminate between right and wrong,
but a very imperfect idea of remote consequences; they are
morally immature, and have not yet acquired the power of self-
control. (3) We have next the adolescents, of the age from
twelve to eighteen, the range of the period differing, within cer-
tain limits, with country, sex, and conditions. The period of
adolescence itself has its crises and stages. The differences of
sex become marked during this period, and are important con-
siderations in respect to criminality. For our present purpose
it is desirable to distinguish normal youth who are temporarily
wayward, owing to the important physiological and psychical
changes going on in their nature; the perverse, who are already
deeply depraved and unfit to mingle freely with those of the
group just described; and the abnormal and feeble-minded,
whom we have considered in Part III. Among juvenile offend-
ers, as among adults, we discover that sex modifies conduct; the
girls are much less criminal than boys.

Age is also a decisive factor. The degree of maturity condi-
tions crime. Children begin with petty theft and wandering,
verging on vagrancy. With increasing vigor, strength, and pas-
sion the youths tend to commit assault and burglary.

In the Illinois statute the following definitions are made the
basis of discriminating treatment : a dependent and neglected
child is one who for any reason is destitute or homeless or aban-
doned or dependent upon the public for support, or has not proper
parental care or guardianship; or who habitually begs or receives
alms; or who is found living in any house of ill-fame or with
any vicious or disreputable person; or whose home, by reason
of neglect, cruelty, or depravity on the part of the parents,
guardians, or other person in whose care it may be, is an unfit
place for such a child; or any child under the age of eight years
who is found peddling or selling any article or singing or playing
any musical instrument upon the street or giving any public

324 An Introduction to Criminal Sociology.

The words "delinquent child" include any child under the
age of sixteen years who violates any law of the state or any city
or village ordinance.

3. Correctional Agencies. — It would be difficult to describe
all the methods employed in civilized countries for the trial and
punishment of wayward children and youth. The attempt will
be made to outline the methods which seem to accord most
nearly with principles derived from the experience of the best
courts and institutions, and to present the facts as a consistent

The Court. — A juvenile court is the central agency in a
rational modern system of dealing with delinquent children and
youth. The judge should be chosen for his learning, his kind-
ness, fairness, tact, and experience with children. No position
calls for higher qualities and finer powers of judgment. The
letter of the law carries one but a little way, and the exercise of
discretion is of the essence of the plan.

Juvenile offenders should not be tried in the same court with
criminals, but in a separate room and free from the depraving
influence of a crowd of vile characters who usually haunt the
police trials. A jury may be demanded, but it is ordinarily

Any reputable resident of the state should have power to
petition the court and call attention to a neglected, dependent,
or delinquent child. The person who has charge of the child
may be summoned to appear in the court and give answer to the
declarations of the petition.

To carry out the purposes of the court the judge has authority
to appoint officers to take charge of the child, to watch over its
welfare, and to give information for the further action of the
court. In some communities these probation officers are paid
by a child-saving society without expense to the state; but this
seems to be a temporary device. There is no reason why the
state should not pay for such service, although cooperation with
private societies of responsible persons may be sought.

Social Treatment of Juvenile Offenders. 325

Disposition of Delinquent Children. — The court may continue
the hearing, from time to time, and may commit the child to the
care and guardianship of a probation officer duly appointed by
the court, and may allow the child to remain in its own home,
subject to the visitation of the probation officer; such child to
report to the probation officer as often as may be required, and
subject to be returned to the court for further proceedings, when-
ever such action may appear to be necessary; or the court may
commit the child to the care and guardianship of the probation
officer, to be placed in a suitable family home, subject to the
friendly supervision of such probation officer; or it may author-
ize the probation officer to board out the child in some suitable
family home, in case provision is made by voluntary contribution
or otherwise for the payment of the board of such child until a
suitable provision may be made for the child in a home without
such payment; or the court may commit the child, if a boy, to a
training school for boys, or, if a girl, to an industrial school for
girls. Or if the child is found guilty of any criminal offence,
and the judge is of the opinion that the best interest requires it,
the court may commit the child to any institution within the
county incorporated under the laws of the state for the care of
delinquent children, or to some similar institution. In no case
shall a child be committed beyond his or her minority. Chil-
dren under twelve years are not to be committed to jail or police
station. They must be kept apart from adult prisoners. These
provisions of the Illinois law may be modified according to local
conditions, and they are here given as an illustration of a
principle which promises important and beneficent results.

4. Methods of Correction. — It remains to consider the various
means by which the action of the juvenile court may carry out
its purpose.

Admonition. — In many instances the judge is able to discharge
his entire duty to an erring child simply by warning and instruc-
tion. He has to deal with ignorant, untaught, and undeveloped
children. A dignified, impressive, and fatherly lesson, delivered

326 An Introduction to Criminal Sociology.

from a position of power and authority, charged with wisdom
and kindness, often makes a profound impression on a young per-
son, and frequently it is all that is necessary to support parental
authority and the counsels of school-teachers. Not seldom the
parents themselves require such advice and a certain menace of
punishment, since their own negligence or vice may be the pri-
mary cause of the evil actions of their offspring. If a child or
youth can be dismissed with an admonition and without a formal
record of sentence passed, the evil of a criminal history is
avoided and the future is not clouded with this memory.

Conditional release and conditional condemnation are more
severe measures, sometimes made necessary where a law has
been violated and the subject is wayward and obstinate. Since
a criminal record is thus made it should be avoided, if possible.

Under either plan the boy can remain at home, go to school,
or learn a trade, without becoming an expense to society. As
soon as wayward children are confined in a public institution
they become a heavy charge, and many parents are only too
willing to surrender their offspring to a boarding-school, under
police regulation, if they can thereby escape the cost of mainten-
ance and have the boy taught a trade. Indeed, it requires the
greatest care to prevent some parents from actually leading their
children into lawless acts on purpose to throw their support upon
the city or state.

Fines, — In certain classes of cases the judge may set a fine,
and require the parents or other persons to give security for its
payment. Fines are the only form of penalty which do not
injure beyond remedy. If the accused prove to be innocent,
after a whipping or imprisonment, there is no adequate remedy,
the pain having been borne ; but a fine can be repaid, if innocence
can be established. Fines must be fixed according to the ability
of parents to pay; and this requires the exercise of wise discretion
and detailed information on the part of the judge. If the fine
can be made payable in instalments, the burden is not so heavy.
The tendency and influence of this method of punishment would

Social Treatment of Juvenile Offenders. 327

be to improve parental care and discipline and enforce parental
obligation, and so strengthen the educative value of the family

Corporal Punishment. — Customs, laws, and opinions of experts
are divided on this subject, and we have not adequate data for
a final judgment. There are few communities in this country
where corporal punishment by whipping would be tolerated. No
punishment avails if the social environment which produced the
offence continues unchanged. The boy who is severely whipped
and sent back to a brutal home and a vagabond gang of com-
rades, to live in idleness, cannot be expected to amend his ways.

Guardianship. — The judge must act upon information and
advice, since he cannot personally visit and watch over all the
hundreds of children who, in a great city, are brought to his
notice. The corps of probation officers, therefore, is an essen-
tial factor in the useful working of a juvenile court. In addition
to the official agents of the court, there are numerous child-saving
associations which may be trusted with the wards of the court,
under its direction and control.

Where there is a complete state organization of child-saving
agencies, the county agents or representatives of the system may be
charged with the duty of watching over the conduct and interests
of those who have been before the courts or are out on parole.

Detention. — Children and youth awaiting trial should not be
imprisoned, except in aggravated and dangerous cases. Parents
may keep them at home, if the family life is suitable for this
task; or voluntary societies may be responsible for them. In
every way the child should be kept out of prison; for familiarity
takes away that dread of the prison which acts, in some degree,
as a deterrent influence on most young persons.

Day Industrial Schools. — Following out the principle already
insisted on, that imprisonment should be avoided and parental
duties enforced by the court, measures should be taken to keep
the wayward and vagrant youth in the public schools by some
adaptation of the schools to the needs of this class. It has

328 An Introduction to Criminal Sociology.

been found that boys who run away from ordinary book schools
and persist in truancy, become enchanted with sloyd and manual
training exercises, where their hands are kept busy with some-
thing tangible. Special rooms should be set apart for such cases,
and the greatest pains taken to help the dull children before they
are taken away from home and society to be shut up at public
expense for a series of years. This method requires a great deal
of thought and care, but it is rational, and it is necessary to
secure the best results. If the family is too poor to support the
children, then assistance, from private or public sources, must be
provided. The authorities cannot enforce the compulsory edu-
cation laws where extreme poverty compels the parents to keep
their children at home. If the children come starved and weak
to school, and thus unfit for their studies, they must be fed, even
at the risk of pauperizing the parents.

A very desirable arrangement is to provide day industrial
schools, preferably as part of the public school system, for those
children who require such special treatment. The children of
these schools live at home at night, but take one meal each day
at the school.

Industrial Boarding-schools^ sometimes called''' Parental Schools. ""
— While we insist that parental duty should be enforced to the
uttermost, that vagrant and mendicant parents should be pun-
ished for sending out their little ones to beg or steal, it must
at last be reluctantly admitted that separation from parents
sometimes becomes necessary to save the child.

The best method for such a school includes the following
features : a group of separate dwellings, each accommodating not
more than thirty or forty boys or girls, under the charge of a mas-
ter and matron; a central school, in which manual training and
technical instruction are important factors; large grounds with
facilities for outdoor occupation and recreations; careful medical
supervision, with all the means of building up vigorous and
healthy bodies; freedom from bars, grated windows, and all the
signs of a prison; sentences not less than three months and not

Social Treatment of Juvenile Offenders. 329

more than two years; payment by the parents compulsory by
law, up to the limit of the ability of the parents; with discharge
on parole and subsequent watchcare of probation officers; board-
ing or placing out in new family homes as rapidly as may be, in
cases where the home is an unfit place for the child; finally,
restoration to normal social conditions at the earliest moment

Children under ten or twelve years of age should not be sent
to such boarding-schools, but should be placed in families to be
adopted if severed from the parents, or boarded out and super-
vised by a responsible society until final disposition of them can
be made. The institution should be regarded strictly as a merely
preparatory and transitional stage in the treatment even of youth
advanced in vicious ways.

The Reform School. — An institution is necessary for youth who

Online LibraryCharles Richmond HendersonIntroduction to the study of the dependent, defective, and delinquent classes, and of their social treatment → online text (page 28 of 35)