Crime: Its Cause and Treatment eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 200 pages of information about Crime.
so far there seems little immediate chance for change.  Still the philosopher does not complain.  He sees human passion for what it is, a great emotion that holds men in its grasp, a feeling that nothing can stand against.  Opposition is destroyed by force, and often blind, cruel, unreasoning force.  Sometimes even worse, this force is created for selfish ends.  There are always those who will use the strongest and highest emotions of men to serve their private, sordid ends.  Changing social systems, new political ideas, the labor cause, all movements for religious, social or political change have their zealots; they are met by the force of convention and conservatism ready to defend itself, and the clash is inevitable.  It is easy to distinguish this sort of action from the things done by those who are known as criminals.  Their acts are done to serve personal ends.  Society may always punish both, but all men of right ideas will understand that the motive is different, the equipment and capacity of the men are different, and they are only in the same class because they each violate the law and are each responsive to emotions and to feelings that are of sufficient strength to compel action.

XVI

THE LAW AND THE CRIMINAL

If one were ill with a specific disease and he were sent to a hospital, every person who touched him, from the time his disease was known until he was discharged, would use all possible effort to bring him back to health.  Physiology and psychology alike would be used to effect a cure.  Not only would he be given surroundings for regaining health and ample physical treatment, but he would be helped by appeals in the way of praise and encouragement, even to the extent of downright falsehood about his condition, to aid in his recovery.

If such is done of “disease,” why not of “crime”?  Not only is it clear that crime is a disease whose root is in heredity and environment, but it is clear that with most men, at least when young, by improving environment or adding to knowledge and experience, it is curable.  Still with the unfortunate accused of crimes or misdemeanors, from the moment the attention of the officers is drawn to him until his final destruction, everything is done to prevent his recovery and to aggravate and make fatal his disease.

The young boy of the congested districts, who tries to indulge his normal impulses for play, is driven from every vacant lot; he is forbidden normal activity by the police; he has no place of his own; he grows to regard all officers as his enemies instead of his friends; he is taken into court, where the most well-meaning judge lectures him about his duties to his parents and threatens him with the dire evils that the future holds in store for him, unless he reforms.  If he is released, nothing is done by society to give him a better environment where he can succeed.  He is turned out with his old comrades and into his old life, and is then supposed by strength of will to overcome these surroundings, a thing which can be done by no person, however strong he may be.

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