Crime: Its Cause and Treatment eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 200 pages of information about Crime.

Furthermore, the insane and subnormal are influenced by punishment and fear.  Even the animal responds to both.  It is possible that in many instances those who are insane and subnormal are influenced by fear more than the intelligent and normal.  The most that can be said is that they have not the same power of resistance that is given stronger men.  This means only that they have not stored up the experiences of life so well; that their nervous system has not so well conveyed impressions, or that their power of comparison is less; this, in turn, means that it will take greater stress or harder environment to overcome the inhibitions of the sane than the insane.  The treatment of the insane and the defective is an acknowledgment that all conduct comes from a direct response of the machine to certain stimuli and the machine can act only in a way consistent with its mechanism.

In other cases, the courts often recognize the strength of hereditary defects in nullifying environment with its strict ideas of right and wrong.  The kleptomaniac is generally recognized as being a well-defined class of the insane.  Most of the shop-lifters are women.  This is especially a female crime.  It is useless to explain why.  It is not a daring crime; it is secretive in its nature; it requires more stealth than courage; it especially appeals to women on account of their taste for the finery exhibited at stores.  The kleptomaniac, however, is generally a rich or influential woman.  She steals something she does not need, and she is therefore held to be a kleptomaniac and not responsible.

The poor woman who steals something she actually needs is not a kleptomaniac.  I have no doubt that the rich woman who could not resist shop-lifting is a kleptomaniac.  I have just as little doubt that the poor woman, with an imperfect make, found her environment such that she was forced to act as she did.  If a rich woman is irresponsible and cannot resist when she steals something she does not need, I can see no reason why a poor woman is not likewise irresponsible when she takes something that she needs or must have.  The kleptomaniac finds herself in a position where her emotions and her feelings are too strong for her judgment and inhibitions.  Everyone who acts must act from similar causes or inducements.  There is no special providence in the realm of mind.  There is no room for chance in any natural phenomenon.  Possibly the public will understand sometime, and law-makers and law-enforcers will place crime and punishment on a scientific basis.

XXVII

SOCIAL CONTROL

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