Every new crusade against crime not only sweeps away a large amount of work that has been slowly and patiently done toward a right understanding of crime, but likewise puts new statutes on the books which would not be placed there if the public were sane. When it does not do this, it increases penalties which work evil in other directions and awe courts, juries, governors and pardon boards, not only preventing them from listening to the voice of humanity and justice, but causing them to deny substantial rights and wreak vengeance and cruelty upon the weak and helpless.
Is crime increasing?
The question is often asked, Is crime increasing? Statistics of all kinds can be gathered on this subject. In the main they seem to show that crime is on the increase in most civilized countries. It is very unsafe to use statistics without at the same time considering all the questions on which conduct rests. An increase of crime, as shown by statistics, may mean that the records are kept more completely than in former times. It may mean temporary causes like bad times are adding to the number of arrests and convictions. It may mean new classifications. It may mean that figures are based on arrests instead of convictions. It may include misdemeanors with graver offenses. It may or may not include repeaters. Statistics in any field are useful, but usually for broad generalizations, and they must always be interpreted by men of experience who are not interested in the results. Still, on the whole, it is probable that statistics show that crime is on the increase. What have reason and human experience to say on the subject?