R. L. (Richard Louis) Dugdale.

The Jukes; online

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of Refuge. ** S. Syphilis. G. Gonorrhoea. P. H. Poor House. H. Habitual.


known, one of them however having a mother who died of paralysis;
3 of these 5 habitual drunkards are of pauper stock, while 2 of them
had prostitute mothers, 2 others are of criminal stock, the parentage
of the other being unknown. It thus appears that the neurotic
House of Refuge stock shows a cumulation of misfortune both as to
heredity and environment which accounts abundantly why they are
incurable criminals.

Typical classes of criminals. The large proportion of habitual
criminals raises the question : How shall their number be de'
creased ? This requires the citing of typical cases which suggest
reflections on the manner in which the law and the prison now
deal with them.

1. Of those who are essentially not criminal, who are of sound
mind and body, honest and industrious and of good stock, there
are, among State prison convicts, from i to 2 per cent. They are
usually committed for crimes against the person, and belong to that
class of men who are benefited by imprisonment, if the term of
sentence is not too long. What they need is protection from the
after recognition of habitual criminals, from contamination by loss
of self-respect, and opportunity for mental culture.

2. First offenders who fall because they are vain, self-indulgent,
and in the toils of lewd women. They abuse trusts by embezzle-
ment, and represent a class who are quite too numerous in our
midst. When detected they often escape prosecution altogether
for the sake of their parents, and because they are personally liked.
The type is that of a descending family, in which the misuse of
good faculties and the abuse of opportunities conspire to lead
astray, but the good teachings of youth and the dear associations
of home make reformation easy.

3. First offenders who have been led off into crime by bad asso-
ciates. They are children of honest parents who, from indulgence
or want of capacity, have not brought them up judiciously.

In the foregoing we have what may be called types of sporadic
crime, in which the primary element of disorder is only a movement
of momentary passion kindled partly by feelings of self-respect, or
educational neglect, uncomplicated by insane or criminal heredit-

THE JUKES. 1 1 1

ary tendencies, and in which the criminal habit has not become

4. Convicts of low vitality, born of pauper parents, who have left
them orphans in childhood so that they have drifted into habitual

5. Illegitimate children born of intemperate, vicious and criminal
parents, who have trained them to crime.

These types have, in addition to parental neglect, a hereditary
tendency to crime, pauperism or premature death. Many are, how-
ever, reformable, and, if such treatment is to be applied, the pre-
requisite is a knowledge of the ancestral defects, because the heredity
is the main factor in their lives.

6. Contrivers of crime who look upon crime as a legitimate
business, who " don't do no light things," but " go in for big money,"
and are irreclaimable.

7. Active executors of crime, who have past their thirty -fifth
year and are casting about to abandon the field as executors of
crimes, to enter that of crime capitalists.

8. Panders to the vices of criminals, themselves the active
abettors in facilitating crime.

In this series, whatever may have been the road which each has
travelled, whether forecast by hereditary transmission or induced by
miseducated childhood, these men, past reform, dangerous and
desperate, are of service to the State only as examples of the aus-
terity of her justice.

9. Men who have acquired epilepsy or insanity, and whose crimes
are, probably, the results of perverted minds.

10. Unfortunates who have inherited nervous and brain diseases
which destroy the moral sense.

11. Persons who have forms of nervous disease which destroy the
will power over the voluntary motions, and do acts of impulse which
result in murders, attempts to kill and rape.

Methods of Treating the Unbalanced. In whatever form or
degree crime takes place, it is an indication of want of balance
produced by some kind of disability which needs a treatment ap-
propriate to the conditions producing it. There are two modes of

I I2 777^ JUKES.

dealing with the crime problem, the immediate or correctional,
which acts upon the individual offender quickly and relates more
specially to the administration of the law, the efficiency of the
police, the perfection of prison discipline ; and the remote or pre-
ventative, which requires long periods of time to mature, and antici-
pates the development of the potential offender by effecting amelio-
rations in public health and general education, which remove the
causes of crime.

The Immediate or Correctional Method. In the State of New
York we have seven separate classes of penal and correctional in-
stitutions for the detention of accused persons and the punish-
ment of different degrees of crime committed at different ages.
These are Juvenile Asylums' for truant and vicious children, Re-
formatories for youths under 16 years who have committed crime,
Police lock-ups for temporary detentions, Workhouses for misde-
meanors, County jails for minor offenses, Penitentiaries for crimes
not of the highest degree and for certain classes of felons who are
yet young, and State Prisons for crimes of the highest degrees. In
all these penal institutions, until recently, the only correctional
method employed was that of the Congregate System of imprison-
ment, which, bad at first, has, in the State prisons in half a century,
degenerated by progressive and successive forms, kinds and degrees
of official corruption, ignorance and perhaps still more dangerous
indifference, until it has neither philosophy, ascertained experience,
justice, public advantage, or common sense to recommend it.

In the foregoing statement of typical classes of criminals we have
an enumeration of different fundamental crime causes, which range
under a few general heads. Some men do not learn right from
wrong because the physiological quality is poor ; some because the
balance between passion and judgment is so ill adjusted that they
run into excesses ; some from nurture in crime ; others from educa-
tional neglects. It is from a discriminating consideration of these
and of allied facts, in each individual case, that the possibility of
reform can be determined, and where they are accurately measured,
the limits of such reform can be established. Where the defect is con-
genital, as in idiocy, our power to control it is least j where func-


tional, as in the earlier stages of insanity and other diseases, it is
greater ; where it results from educational neglect, it is greatest.
But no scheme which has but one method of dealing with every
class of cases, can be of any general value. Is there not more
in human nature than in any human device which does not
include all varieties of human aberration and adapt itself to their
multiplex requirements ? To meet the exigencies of the problem the
State of New York has hitherto provided a prison, ranged the
perhaps epileptic felon in a gang to learn the lock step to torment
the shattered nerves, the fragment of a trade that supplies the mur-
derous or suicidal weapon, the congregate idleness that prepares for
solitary debauch, the enforced companionship of felons in the
stratified dormitories, where unmentionable crimes are perpetrated
inevitably perpetrated, because of the predisposing sloth till, at
last, the exhausted brain breaks down, and the congregate system
adds one more maniac to the long list of wrecked lives which
its many deficiencies create, or returns the felon upon the commu-
nity a more dangerous offender.

What is wanted is that an order and kind of treatment in ac-


cordance with the ascertained deficiencies of each person shall be
the key of the method of training, adopting any passion or emotion
which is yet sound or serviceable for the purpose as a point of
departure in the new education, and a weapon to conquer or amend
the frailties of the character, thus making any good trait the
nucleus for the crystallization of better habits.

In the " Jukes " it was shown that heredity depends upon the
permanence of the environment,* and that a change in the environ-
ment may produce an entire change in the career, which, in the
course of greater or less length of time, according to varying cir-
cumstances, will produce an actual change in the character of the
individual. f Now, if the environment furnishes the elements of the
mental nutrition, and largely determines by that means the char-
acter of the mental and moral growth, what are we to think of a
prison system which, with vast perfunctory incompetence, masses
an army of moral cripples, cursed with contaminating characteristics

See proposition 5, page 66. t The " Jukes," 58.



held in common, and thus, under the imposing title of " the con-
gregate system," prepares an environment of criminal example just
fitted for the assimilative power of each individual malefactor?
Upon what grounds shall we continue this system when the experi-
ence of other nations has demonstrated that three years of separate
imprisonment has more effect in checking crime than ten years of
congregate custody ; that it reduces the necessity of punishment ;
that it prevents the contamination of the reformable ; that it pro-
tects the convicts from recognition by their co-prisoners when
liberated ; that it checks the formation of gangs for future criminal
operations, and that it cuts off the possibility of odious crimes
which rivet the criminal habit because they obliterate the sense of
self-respect and the voice of conscience as the first step in a mental
degeneration that ends in a maniac's demise.

The best experience as respects all institutions is against the
aggregation of similar defects, or similar misfortunes within the
walls of a spacious building. The large hospital is making way
for the pavilion, and in many cases the tent in the open air with its
single patient ; the orphan home, for the domesticating of the child
in private families; the foundling hospital, for the nursing-out
system ; and the insane asylum, for the private treatment of the
mentally deranged. It is useless to resist a tide which thus sweeps
from all directions, and must necessarily carry away the congregate
method of treating every form of human infirmity.

Fortunately for our State, the recent adoption of a constitutional
amendment abolishing the political mismanagement of our State
prisons and the establishment of the Elmira Reformatory have
already produced reforms in the law and the administration of
penal discipline which give great promise.

As respects the amendment of the criminal law much needs to
be done, but there is room here for only two features, relating
to irreclaimable criminals and epileptics.

In dealing with the typical habitual criminals who are contrivers
of crime, criminal capitalists and panders, where we cannot accom-
plish individual cure we must organize extinction of their race. They
must sternly be cut off from perpetuating a noisome progeny either


by the propagation or perversion of a coming generation. The
old laws attempted this extinction by hanging ; but for us it must be
perpetual imprisonment, with certain mitigations to guard against
barbarity. For this class, congregate imprisonment is perhaps the
most suitable.

In discussing the question of homicidal tendency among a
certain class of epileptics Dr. Maudsley says : " The attack of
homicidal mania may take the place of the ordinary epileptic con-
vulsions ; being truly a masked epilepsy. The diseased action has
been transferred from one nervous centre to another, and instead
of a convulsion of the muscles the patient is seized with a convul-
sion of ideas. * * * These are facts of medical observation first,
that an outbreak of irresistible homicidal impulse may occur in a
person who has the epileptic neurosis^ without there ever having
been an attack of actual epilepsy ; * * Secondly, that it may im-
mediately precede or really take the place of an attack of epilepsy
in either of its forms ; and thirdly, that it may follow an attack of
epilepsy* * * ' sudden and irresistible impulses being,' as Trousseau
remarks, ' of usual occurrence after an attack of petit mal, and
pretty frequent after a regular convulsive fit.' " *

The following is a case in point :

T. C d, aged 47 ; assault and battery ; six months in peni-
tentiary. Is of a sanguine, lymphatic temperament, average vitality,
good general health, but apathetic. He is intelligent, with a fair
stock of useful knowledge, and was a school teacher when young,
but now is an upholsterer. His moral sense is fair, but his will is
weak. He served in the rebellion for nine months and was wounded
in the head by a ball, which fractured the skull ; was insensible for
several months, and after being trepanned came back to conscious-
ness ; in 1864 had an epileptic attack, a consequence of the injury
received by the brain, and in the last 10 years has had ten or twelve
epileptic seizures. Has probably been committed before for similar
offenses ; confesses that he has been in brawls before, and that,
when he gets a little liquor, he " gets off his head." Says he can't
drink much for it makes him wild. This, while somewhat exagger-

Resjxmsi&ility in Mental Disease, by H. Maudsley, M. D., pp. 166, 169.


ated, is quite consistent with his acquired epilepsy. In the upper
posterior portion of the head, on the right side, is a depression of
the skull from the bullet wound, in which the first joint of the finger
may be laid to one-third its thickness. What this man needs is to
be withdrawn from the temptation of drink and placed where he
will not be excited. There is hardly a doubt that he will commit
murder some day ; not because he is of a vicious or malignant
temper, for his disposition is mild and apathetic, but because his
epilepsy may at any moment be developed into a homicidal impulse
which he cannot control. This man will probably be returned
again and again to prison on short sentences for acts which are the
direct result of disease, which will never be checked on account of
the deterrent effect of imprisonment, and will cost the State heavily
for continual arrests and trials. Will presiding justice in our courts
of law ever put her finger into that wound and learn what is the
matter with this man ? Yes, most undoubtedly, when he has mur-
dered some poor victim in some shocking way, then she will say that
he must not be hanged because he is irresponsible. When justice
does put her hand upon that wound she will have to call a physi-
cian to guide it to the spot ; for is not justice blindfold ? And it
will not be justice either which decides whether the man is respon-
sible for his violence or not, but it will be the doctor's dictum.
Why should justice neglect to keep the doctor by, to help her to a
wise judgment of his case when he is summoned at her bar for
assault and battery, and make a fitting disposition that will forestall
his braining a human creature ? This is no improbable case : it has
frequently occurred. Three years ago an epileptic was committed
to Sing Sing. Shortly after, he was transferred to the insane asylum
and discharged from thence when his term expired. Within the
last eight months he has again passed through the courts, been re-
committed to Sing Sing, and one month ago was seized with an
epileptic fit during which time he killed a fellow-convict, after
which he was again committed to the insane asylum, this time
probably for life. Justice being blind, why should she neglect to
make a medical inquest whenever an attempt on life has been com-
mitted, and, where the evidence shows such dangerous brain dis-


order, commit the accused to an insane asylum for life ? In the
case of an attempt to kill, in what respect does it differ from murder,
except in the fact of being not fatal ?

The Remote or Preventive Method. In this aspect the study of
criminal careers merges into a larger inquiry than its own special
domain, and for its complete solution embraces the whole science
of life. From this point of view, the analysis of crime causes in-
cludes all the physiological and social phenomena which affect the
well-being and stability of the race, in which the combined forces
of the Court of General Sessions and the policeman's club play but
a minor part. The fact that our present civilization is a growth
through countless generations, the result of constant and cumu-
lative training, seems to indicate that a discovery of the method
and order of this growth, applied as a method of education,
would develop, in a few generations, and in exceptional instances
in a single individual, a mental and physical condition approxima-
ting that which it has taken countless generations to evolve. That
this process is now measurably understood, makes it possible to
adapt it to the reform of the criminal class.

In discussing the question of intermittent industry, it was shown
that one of the causes of idle habits was, primarily, physical and
mental disease. Now, a large part of the disease which prostrates
the community is entirely controllable by sanitary precautions. The
first condition, therefore, of social and moral regeneration is public
health. The draining of lands, the sewerage of cities, the ventila-
tion of houses, the amelioration of tenements, the cleansing of
streets, the widening of thoroughfares, the demolition of rear build-
ings, the removal of cesspools, the purity of water supplies, the
abundance of fresh air, are only a few of the conditions which, if
observed, will so improve the health of the general community that
they will be more capable, and for that reason more willing, to do their
work without exhaustion than they now are. With this increment
of vitality they will need less and, therefore, consume less of inebria-
ting stimulants than they now do. Public health will react against
intemperance in all its forms, and this again will react in maintain-
ing and perfecting public health. In a community in which its in-


fants are blessed with the advantages of perfect hygienic training,
the body will assume that steady, uninterrupted growth which is
the first requisite for the organization of a sound mind and its con-
comitant a well-balanced life. Then will be possible the next
great step in the larger domain of crime cure, the educational ques-
tion. Those who comprehend the specific process of moral educa-
tion, that it begins with certain concrete acts which, by repetition
and variation, organize in the mind definite and permanent abstract
conceptions of right and wrong, will see at once that the foun-
dations of the moral character must be laid in the earliest infancy
and must begin by the education of the senses. From babyhood,
infants must have liberty to use their limbs, toys to occupy their
attention when awake, and when they are able to walk, their play
must be so directed that, at least a portion of it, shall take a system-
atic form which produces objects of beauty or of use as permanent
results of their manual dexterity. Various materials, such as those
suggested by Froebel in his Kindergarten education, must be given
to the child to be fashioned into multiform objects so that knowledge
will be gained by the use of the hands and eyes. This exercise of
the hands forms the basis of industrial training and unconsciously
organizes the habit of industry, so that it becomes not only of easy
performance but an essentially necessary activity of the waking
hours. Given a taste for steady work and you have the best pos-
sible safeguard against the unbridled indulgence of the passions, and
with this, an effectual check to the formation of criminal practices
which are, in a majority of instances, the direct result of indulgence
in exhausting vices, or in the feverish pursuit of indulgence which
a hard-working man does not think of and for which thefts and
embezzlements are committed. But the industrial training here
advocated must not be the arbitrary imposition of a formal task.
Work is not an education, in its proper sense, unless it enlists the
putting forth of the powers of body and mind, simultaneously and
cheerfully, to accomplish a predetermined result. For this reason,
the " team system " of industry for children and youths, which is
almost universal in our houses of refuge, is an educational blunder,
and not industrial training in its proper sense. It does not produce


habits of industry because it fails to employ the mind, and as the
fraction of a trade it teaches soon becomes a purely automatic
operation that requires no attention, the mind is left free to rove
over the recollections of vice and schemes of mischief, which it is
the purpose of the reformatory to obliterate by training.

Thus public health and infant education conforming, in general
plan, to Froebel's Kindergarten school, are the two legs upon which
the general morality of the future must travel. It may be objected
that the general community is not sufficiently trained to understand
and to establish rational education as here indicated. If this be so, it
is at least possible to order that a few hundred of the large number of
the orphans supported by the State shall be dealt with according to
the most approved methods of education. In St. Louis, Missouri,
the Kindergarten education has been introduced in the public schools,
and observers of its effects say that it has a marked tendency to
prevent hysteria among girls. If this is true, how important an aux-
iliary must it be to a class of human beings who are, according to
Bruce Thomson, seventeen times more liable to nervous disorders
than the average community !

In the preceding pages I have endeavored to show that the
two great factors in a well-balanced life are a healthy body, prop-
erly developed, and a sound and broad judgment, resulting in a
well-fashioned and powerful will. It now only remains to add that
the same methods which will secure the advantages of these for the
general community, will also be efficacious when applied to the
rectification of unbalanced lives. Indeed, it may be asserted that,
inasmuch as the study of the defects of the blind, the deaf mute
and the idiotic has resulted in the discovery of some of the most
valuable axioms of educational science, so will the steady, careful
and masterly training of the criminal add other axioms equally
valuable in a complete system of education. Indeed, there is a dis-

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Online LibraryR. L. (Richard Louis) DugdaleThe Jukes; → online text (page 11 of 12)