Crime: Its Cause and Treatment eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 235 pages of information about Crime.

That man is the product of heredity and environment and that he acts as his machine responds to outside stimuli and nothing else, seem amply proven by the evolution and history of man.  But, quite aside from this, logic and philosophy must lead to the same conclusions.  This is not a universe where acts result from chance.  Law is everywhere supreme.  Every process of nature and life is a continuous sequence of cause and effect.  No intelligent person would ever think of an effect in the physical world which did not follow a cause or causes.  It has taken man a long time to find this out.  The recurrence of the seasons, the seed-time and harvest, the common phenomena of Nature, were once supposed to be outside the realm of cause and effect and due to the whim of some powerful being.  But the laws of matter are now coming to be understood.  Chance, accident and whim have been banished from the physical world.  The acts of men alone are supposed to be outside the realm of law.  There is a cause for the eternal revolution of the earth around the sun, for the succession of seed-time and harvest, for growth and decay; but not for the thoughts and actions of man.

All the teaching of the world is based on the theory that there is no free will.  Why else should children be trained with so much care?  Why should they be taught what is right and what is wrong?  Why should so much pains be taken in forming habits?  To what effect is the storing of knowledge in the brain of the child, except that it may be taught to avoid the wrong and to do the right?  Man’s every action is caused by motive.  Whether his action is wise or unwise, the motive was at least strong enough to move him.  If two or more motives pulled in opposite directions, he could not have acted from the weakest but must have obeyed the strongest.  The same motives applied to some other machine might have produced an opposite result, but to his particular structure it was all-controlling.  How any special motive will affect any special machine must depend upon the relative strength of the motive and make of the machine.  It is for this reason that intelligent people have always taken so much pains to fortify the machine, so that it would respond to what they believed was right.  To say that one could ever act from the weakest motive would bring chaos and chance into a world of method and order.  Even punishment could have no possible effect to deter the criminal after release, or to influence others by the example of the punishment.  As well might the kernel of corn refuse to grow upward to the sunlight, and grow downward instead.

Before any progress can be made in dealing with crime the world must fully realize that crime is only a part of conduct; that each act, criminal or otherwise, follows a cause; that given the same conditions the same result will follow forever and ever; that all punishment for the purpose of causing suffering, or growing out of hatred, is cruel and anti-social; that however much society may feel the need of confining the criminal, it must first of all understand that the act had an all-sufficient cause for which the individual was in no way responsible, and must find the cause of his conduct, and, so far as possible, remove the cause.

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Crime: Its Cause and Treatment from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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