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.