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Crime

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CRIME Homes are destroyed, or heavily burdened, when their adult members commit criminal acts. We have besought clemency in judgment and oppor tunity for reform on behalf of juvenile delinquents, nor should we be harsher in judging the moral qual ity of adult offenders. Literal observance of the injunction not to judge, if by that we mean any final or authoritative condemnation of individual men and women, is the only rational attitude of society towards the so-called criminal. But, as in the case of juvenile offenders against the law, re straint and correction, education for the corrigible, and hospital or custodial care for the incorrigible, are not to be regarded as evidences of moral judg ments. It is not sentimentalism, such as is ex hibited in short terms and a failure to convict criminals, that is required.

Modern penology rests upon the theory of social defense; and reformatories, which are educational institutions, and hospital colonies for mental or moral imbeciles, are its reliance, when probation 12 and other preventive measures of a milder sort have failed. The prison, conceived as an institution for inflicting punitive vengeance, is already as obsolete as the whipping post and the gallows. Experience has shown that they are not deterrents but that they are demoralizing to the society which cher ishes them. Within the broad theory of social defense there is room for many divergent views as to the best way of suppressing or eliminating crime. There is the theory of the Italian " positivist " or " scientific " or " biologic " school, that the male criminal and the female prostitute are born de generate, and bear physical stigmata by which we may in time expect experts to separate from normal citizens those who need special treatment appro priate to the criminal class, whether they happen to have committed definite crimes or not.

The idea is not new. De Quiros mentions a mediaeval edict ordering that in case of doubt be tween two suspects, the one showing more de formity was to undergo torture; and there was a member of the Medici family who reserved final judgment until the criminal had been examined physically and then said, "Having seen your face and examined your head, we do not send you to prison, but to the gallows." The idea is not new, but it is not true either. What is true about it is the principle that the offender should be treated according to his nature rather than according to his specific offense. A competent physical and psycho logical examiner can tell us something about his nature and so lay the basis for a more intelligent regimen. Courts should not fix sentences. Judges are neither physicians nor teachers. Their ma

chinery is not adapted to the making of a curricu lum or the prescribing of a course in corrective hy giene. Criminal court procedure is admirably adapted to discovering whether the right man has been caught and whether he has committed some offense of which society must take cognizance. When this has been done the decision as to how the offender shall be treated, whether it is fitting that he should remain normally in society or be tem porarily or permanently secluded, and on what terms, if at all, he shall gain social rehabilitation, should be made by an entirely different authority, with wholly different machinery and resources at its disposal.

Some such reorganization of penal law and crim inal procedure is in the air. It is still far from a reality. An assistant district attorney in New York, after indicating this sounder theory, pessi mistically adds: " Be that as it may, vengeance and not public spirit is still the moving cause of ninety per cent of all prosecutions for crime." So, as in all other social problems, we have something to work for. What we have to do is: First, to socialize the police, changing their point of view to that of prevention, and when an arrest is necessary, to the laying in each case of a sound basis of fact for a final and logical disposition of each case when it comes to court. In other words, not necessarily a conviction, but such investigation of all the circumstances as will lead to appropriate action, is the test of honest and efficient police work.

Second, to socialize the courts. This is a process long since under way. Among its landmarks are probation, suspended sentence, indeterminate sentence, specialized courts, such as those for children, for women, and for domestic relations, and night courts, and better records, with finger print identification. These landmarks are not the thing itself. Socializa tion lies in the spirit of procedure of which these institutions are but the outward symbol.

Third, to socialize the prisons, which means, as prisons, to abolish them altogether. Logic ally obsolete, they are still very much in evi dence and many of them are conducted on the principle shamelessly announced some years ago in the Prison Congress by a warden who said: "These men are sent here for us to pun ish and it is our business to punish them as much as possible." A system of probationary fines might enable many to remain with their families while still receiving necessary disci pline; and the earnings of those who are im prisoned, as experiments have already demon strated, might be used for the partial support of their families.