HOW TO DEAL WITH CRIMINALS.
The purpose of criminal legislation and administration is clearly the protection of society. The criminals are punished, not for the mere sake of the punishment or for vengeance, but to deter them from further crime or to serve as a warning to others. Only on this account can punishment be justified.
To prove an effective warning the punishment for crime should be certain, prompt and just. For these reasons effective police, upright judges and fair methods of procedure are absolutely essential. Efforts should be made not to influence the courts by public opinion, and the pernicious prejudgment of cases by popular newspapers should be discountenanced.
The surest method of stopping a criminal’s dangerous activity is to reform him; to give him a new and absorbing interest. Experience at our best reformatories shows that with the indeterminate sentence a very large majority of young criminals can be transformed into safe and useful citizens. This method is both cheaper and more effective than direct punishment for fixed terms.
THE PREVENTION OF CRIME.
The best method of dealing with crime is that of prevention. The work of protecting society against crime should begin with arousing parents to the sense of their responsibilities and by training them thoroughly in the duties of parenthood. Philanthropic agencies, the church, the schools, the State, may do much both by training character and by removing temptation. The maintenance of good economic conditions, provision for wholesome amusements, improved sanitation, all tend to remove pernicious influences and strengthen the power of resistance to temptation. The public press and the theatre, which are at times exceedingly harmful agencies, may be and should be transformed into active moral forces. In furthering all these reform measures and preventive movements each individual has a personal responsibility, and, as an active citizen, he may render most important service. The home, the school, the church and the State, all touch the individual on every side and create and together control the influences that make or unmake character.
Questions for Further Consideration.
What was the effect of Cain’s anger upon his own life?
Gladstone said, “I do not have time to hate anybody.”
In what way do anger and hatred hamper one’s greatest usefulness? Do you believe in the modern theories regarding the effect of jealousy and hatred upon the body?
Is capital punishment at times a necessity?
What is the most effective argument which can be used to restore honor and manhood to a criminal?
Is there any particular agency at work in your community to assist men who have committed crimes?
Is the chief object of punishment to avenge the wrong, to punish the criminal, to deter others from committing similar crimes, or to reclaim the wrong-doer?