Crime and Its Causes
by William Douglas Morrison
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Seeing that reformatories for girls, on account of the more hardened character of their inmates on admission, are not so successful as industrial schools, it is certainly within the mark to say that at least one-fourth of the cases discharged from these institutions become failures in the space of two years. If the proportion is so high at the end of two years, what will it amount to at the end of five? It is then that the young person enters upon what is par excellence the criminal age, and when that age is reached, I fear that the proportion of failures increases considerably. In any case we have sufficient data to show that the protection of the State, when extended, as it is in the United Kingdom, to helpless and homeless girls, does not in many instances suffice to keep them on the road of virtue. Deep-seated instincts manage to assert themselves in spite of the most careful training, the most vigilant precautions, and until the moral development of the population, as a whole, reaches a higher level, it will be vain to hope too much from the labours of State institutions, however excellent these institutions may be.

It has, however, to be remembered that the fallen class is not by any means recruited exclusively from the ranks of the helpless and the homeless. On the contrary, according to the evidence of the Roussel commission, nearly one half of the minors (44 out of 98) found in the "maisons de tolerance" of Bordeaux had no domestic or economic impediments to encounter. External circumstances, as far as could be seen, had nothing to do with the unhappy position in which they stood, and the life they adopted appears to have been entirely of their own choosing. It is true the Bordeaux statistics only cover a small area, and are not to be looked upon as in themselves exhaustive, but when these statistics confirm, as they do, the careful observations of all unbiassed investigators, we cannot be far wrong in coming to the conclusion that in France, at least, fifty per cent. of the cases of prostitution are not originally due to the pressure of want. Since the introduction of Truant and Industrial Schools in this country for homeless and neglected girls, it is certain that the proportion of those who fall from sheer destitution must be extremely small. On the Continent, where such institutions do not exist on such an extensive scale, the proportion may be somewhat larger, but in the United Kingdom it cannot, according to the most liberal computation, exceed ten per cent. of the cases brought before the magistrates. Many experienced observers will not allow that it reaches such a high percentage.

We are now in a position to tabulate the results of our inquiries as to the part played by destitution in producing prostitution and vagrancy. The following table represents the proportion of persons charged under the provisions of the Vagrancy Acts in the year 1888:—

Percentage of beggars, 45 per cent. Percentage of prostitutes, 12 " Percentage of other offenders, 43 " —- 100 per cent.

Percentage of beggars destitute from misadventure, 2 per cent. Percentage of prostitutes, do. do. 10 " Percentage of other offenders, do. do. 2 " —- 14 per cent.

It has already been pointed out that persons charged with offences against the Vagrancy Acts constitute on an average 7 per cent. of the total annual criminal population. According to the statistics we have just tabulated, 5 per cent. of these offences are not due to the pressure of destitution, and only 2 per cent. are to be attributed to that cause.

Let us now collect the whole of the figures set forth in this chapter, so that we may be in a position to give an answer to the question with which we set out, namely, to what extent are theft and vagrancy the product of destitution?

Proportion of offences against Property and the Vagrancy Acts to total number of offences tried in 1888, 15 per cent. Proportion of offenders against property destitute, 2 " Proportion of offenders against Vagrancy Acts destitute, 2 "

Adding together the two classes of offenders against Property and the Vagrancy Acts who, according to our calculations, are destitute when arrested, we arrive at the fact that they form four per cent. of the total criminal population. As has already been pointed out, beggars and thieves are almost the only two sections of the criminal community likely to be driven to the commission of lawless acts by the pressure of absolute want. It very seldom happens that murders, for instance, are perpetrated from this cause; in fact, not one murder in ten is even committed for the purpose of theft. The vast majority of the remaining offences against the criminal law are only connected in a remote degree with the economic condition of the population, and in hardly any instance can it be said of them, that they are the outcome of destitution. In order, however, to err on the safe side, let us assume that one per cent. of offenders, other than vagrants and thieves, are to be ranked among the destitute. What is the final result at which we then arrive with respect to the percentage of persons forced by the action of destitution into the army of crime? In the case of vagrants and thieves it has just been seen that the proportion amounted to four per cent.; adding one per cent. to this proportion, brings up the total of offenders who probably fall into crime through the pressure of absolute want to five per cent. of the annual criminal population tried before the courts.

These figures are important; they demonstrate the fact that although there was not a single destitute person in the whole of England and Wales, the annual amount of crime would not be thereby appreciably diminished. At the present day it is a very common practice to pick out a case of undoubted hardship here and there, and to assume that such a case is typical of the whole criminal population. It is, of course, well to point out such cases, and to emphasise them as much as possible till we reach such a pitch of excellence in our administration of the law as will render all unmerited hardship exceedingly rare. As it is, such cases are becoming less frequent year by year, and it is an entire mistake to suppose, as is too often done, that a serious amount of the crime perpetrated in England is committed by men and women who are willing to work but cannot get it to do. An opinion of that kind has an alarming tendency to encourage crime; it creates a false sentiment of compassion for the utterly worthless; it prevents them from being dealt with according to their deserts, and worst of all, it is apt to make the working population imagine that there is a community of interest between them and the criminal classes which does not in reality exist. From the point of view of public policy nothing can be more pernicious than to propagate such an idea; and no artisan who values his own dignity should ever allow any man, whether on platforms or in newspapers, to identify him in any way whatever with the common criminal.

Before finally leaving the question of the relations between destitution and crime, we shall now briefly inquire whether anything further can be accomplished in the matter of raising our legal and poor law administration to such a pitch of excellence, that not even five per cent. of our incriminated population can, with justice, bring forward any economic pretext whatever for violating the law. As far as legal administration is concerned, it must be remembered that mistakes will sometimes occur, no matter how numerous the precautions may be with which justice is surrounded.

To be certain of justice in all circumstances you must have not only an infallible law, but also an infallible judge and an infallible method of criminal administration. It is a truism to say that this is an impossibility, and every now and again society will have to submit to be shocked by the revelation of a palpable miscarriage of justice. At the same time it is important to take every possible precaution against the occurrence of such distressing accidents. This can only be effected by placing the administration of the law in all its departments, from the policeman to the Home Secretary, in the hands of thoroughly competent officials who have not only their heart, but what is equally important, their head in the work. When this is done, and if these officials are not embarrassed by public clamour in the performance of their duties (honest criticism will do them good), all will have been accomplished which it is possible to get in the way of effective and enlightened administration of the law.

In the next place it may be possible to mitigate the operation of our present poor law system in all cases of destitution through misadventure. Some prominent politicians—and I believe among them Mr. Morley—appear to be in favour of this course; and at a recent meeting of the British Association, Professor Alfred Marshall was inclined to the belief that a much larger discrimination might be allowed than now exists in the administration of out-door relief in cases of actual want; and also that separate and graduated workhouses might be established for the deserving poor. It will be admitted on all hands that proposals of this character land us on very delicate ground, and require the most mature consideration. Even now the inmate of a workhouse is often better supplied with food, clothing, and shelter than the poor labourer, who has to pay taxes to support him. If the condition of that inmate is made still more comfortable, will it be possible to prevent hundreds and thousands of the very poor, who now keep outside these institutions, from immediately crowding into them as soon as the slightest economic difficulties arise? Almost all philanthropic schemes, and especially all such schemes when supported by the public purse, have a tendency to be administered with more and more laxity as time goes on; and a scheme of this kind, if carried into law, would require to be managed with the utmost circumspection in order to avoid pauperising great masses of the community.

A scheme of this character will, however, have to be tried if the manifesto of the Executive Council of the Dockers' Union, issued in September last, is to be acted upon by Trade-Unionists in general. According to the doctrine laid down in this manifesto, the idea of a Trade-Union, as a free and open combination, which every workman may enter, provided he pays his subscription and conforms to the rules, is an idea which must for the future be abandoned. Henceforth, a Trade-Union is to be a close corporation to be worked for the benefit of persons who have succeeded in getting inside it. The Dockers' Union, to do them justice, see that this policy is bound to increase the numbers of the destitute, but they propose to remedy this condition of things by establishing "in each municipality factories and workshops where all those who cannot get work under ordinary conditions shall have an opportunity afforded them by the community." If these State establishments are to be started for the unemployed, the workers in them must work at something, and it will have to be something which the unskilled labourer will not require a great deal of time to learn. What would the dockers say if one of these establishments was instituted by the municipality for the loading and unloading of ships? Hardly a Trade-Union Congress meets in which the complaint is not made that prison labour interferes with free labour; but what sort of outcry would there be if State labour, on an extensive scale, were to enter into serious competition with the individual workman?

These schemes for the establishment of State institutions offering work to the indigent will never solve the problem of want, and all attempts that have hitherto been made in that direction have either ended in failure or met with small success.

The latest of these schemes is a village settlement, which the authorities in New Zealand started some time ago to meet the case of the unemployed. The Government, in the first place, spent L16,000 in making roads and other conveniences for the settlers, and afterwards advanced L21,000 for building houses, buying implements, and so on. According to recent advices from New Zealand, only L2000 of this advance has been paid back, and it is the general feeling of the colony that the project has proved a failure. These, and other experiments of a similar character, compel us to recognise the disagreeable fact that a certain proportion of people who are in the habit of falling out of work are, as a class, extremely difficult to put properly on their legs. Failure, for some reason or another, always dogs their steps, and the more Society does for them, the less they will be disposed to do anything for themselves.

When such persons are sent to prison on charges of begging, or petty theft, it very often happens that they are assisted on their release by a Discharged Prisoners' Aid Society. Tools are given them, work is found for them, yet they do not thrive. Not infrequently the job is given up on some frivolous pretext; or if it is a temporary one, little or no effort is made till it actually comes to an end to look out for another. It is little wonder that men who live in such a fashion should occasionally be destitute; the only wonder is that they manage to pass through life at all. Those men hang upon the skirts of labour and seek shelter under its banner, but it is only for short and irregular intervals that they march in the ranks of the actual workers. The real working man knows such people well, and heartily despises them.

Would it be a right thing to increase the burdens of the taxpayer by opening State workshops, even if such a plan were feasible, for men of the stamp we have just been describing? Decidedly it would not. Yet these men form a fair proportion of the persons whom we have classed as driven to crime by economic distress. As far, then, as the criminal population is concerned, no necessity exists for the organisation of State factories; and so far as destitution is a factor in the production of crime, it can be grappled with by other agencies. In fact, if a graduated system of Unions, with a kind of casual ward, somewhat after the German Naturalverpflegstationen, could be worked and if Trade Societies adopted, under proper precautions, the principle of allowing debilitated members of their trade the opportunity of doing something at a somewhat reduced rate, it would be impossible for any well-intentioned man to say that he was driven to crime from sheer want. It is worth while, on the part of the nation, to make some small sacrifice to attain an object so supremely important as this. It is very probable that hardly any sacrifice will be needed. In any case it would get rid of the uncomfortable feeling entertained by many that there are occasions when human beings are punished who ought to be fed. It would completely alienate all sympathy from crime; it would then be known that criminal offenders deserved the punishment they received, and justice would be able to deal with them with a firm and even hand.



Having analysed the part played by destitution in the production of crime, the cognate question of the extent to which poverty is responsible for it will now be considered. If actual destitution does not count for very much in producing criminals, it may be that poverty makes up the difference, and that the great bulk of delinquency, if not the whole of it, arises from the combined operation of these two economic factors. We have examined one of them, let us now go on to the other. As this examination will have to be conducted from several different points of view which, for the sake of clearness, it will be expedient to consider one by one, I shall begin by inquiring what light international statistics are capable of throwing on the relations between poverty and crime. At the outset of this inquiry we are at once met by the old difficulty respecting the value of international criminal statistics. The imperfection of those statistics is a matter it is always important to bear in mind, but in spite of this circumstance the light which they shed on the problem of poverty and crime is not to be rejected as worthless.

It has been pointed out in the preceding chapter that the offences people, in a state of destitution, are most likely to commit are beggary and theft. In the case of persons who are in a state of poverty, but not destitute, it may be said that the offence they are most likely to commit is theft in one or other of its forms. What then are the international statistics of theft, and what is the relative wealth of the several countries from which these statistics are drawn? An answer to these two questions will throw a flood of light upon the nature of the relations between poverty and crime. If these statistics show that in those countries where there is most poverty there is also most theft, the elucidation of such a fact will at once raise a strong presumption that the connection between poverty and offences against property is one of cause and effect. If, on the other hand, international statistics are not at all conclusive upon this important point, it will show that there are other factors at work besides poverty in the production of offences against property. With these preliminary remarks I shall now append a table of the number of persons tried for theft of all kinds in some of the most important countries of Europe within the last few years. In no two of these countries is theft classified in the same manner, but in all of them it is equally recognised as a crime; if, therefore, all offences against property, of whatever kind, are put together under the common heading of "theft," and if the number of cases of thefts (as thus understood) tried in the various countries of Europe are carefully tabulated, we possess, in such a table, a criterion wherewith to judge, in a rough way, the respective position of those countries in the matter of offences against property.

The appended table is extracted from a larger one, the work of Sig. L. Bodio, Director-General of Statistics for the kingdom of Italy. The calculations for every country, except Spain, are based on the census of 1880 or 1881; the calculations for Spain are based on the census of 1877. In all the countries except Germany and Spain the calculations are based on an average of five years; for Germany and Spain the average is only two years.

Italy, 1880-84 Annual trials for theft per 100,000 inhabitants 221 France, 1879-83 do. do. 121 Belgium, 1876-80 do. do. 143 Germany, 1882-83 do. do. 262 England, 1880-84 do. do. 228 Scotland, 1880-84 do. do. 289 Ireland, 1880-84 do. do. 101 Hungary, 1876-80 do. do. 82 Spain, 1883-84 do. do. 74

To what conclusions do the statistics contained in this table point? It is useless burdening this chapter with additional figures to prove that England and France are the two wealthiest countries in Europe. The wealth of England, for instance, is perhaps six times the wealth of Italy; but, notwithstanding this fact, more thefts are annually committed in England than in Italy. The wealth of France is enormously superior to the wealth of Ireland, both in quantity and distribution, but the population of France commits more offences against property than the Irish. Spain is one of the poorest countries in Europe, Scotland is one of the richest, but side by side with this inequality of wealth we see that the Scotch commit, per hundred thousand of the population, almost four times as many thefts as the Spaniards. With the exception of Italy it is the poorest countries of Europe that are the least dishonest, and, according to our table, even the Italians are not so much addicted to offences against property as the inhabitants of England.

Perhaps the most instructive figures in these international statistics are those relating to England and Ireland. The criminal statistics of the two countries are drawn up on very much the same principles; the ordinary criminal law is very much the same, and there is very much the same feeling among the population with respect to ordinary crime; in fact, with the exception of agrarian offences, the administration of the law in Ireland is as effective as it is in England. On almost every point the similarity of the criminal law and its administration in the two countries almost amounts to identity, and a comparison of their criminal statistics, in so far as they relate to ordinary offences against property, reaches a high level of exactitude. What does such a comparison reveal? It shows that the Irish, with all their poverty, are not half so much addicted to offences against property as the English with all their wealth, and it serves to confirm the idea that the connection between poverty and theft is not so close as is generally imagined.

International statistics then, as far as they go, point to the conclusion that it is the growth of wealth, rather than the reverse, which has a tendency to augment the number of offences against property, and national statistics, as far as England is concerned, exhibit a similar result. It is perfectly certain, for instance, that the mass of the population possessed a greater amount of money, and were earning on the whole higher wages between 1870-74 than between 1884-88. According to the evidence given before the late Lord Iddesleigh's Commission on the depression of trade, the prosperity of the country in the five years ended 1874 was something phenomenal. This was the opinion of almost every class in the community. Chambers of commerce, leading manufactures, workmen in the various departments of industry, all told the same tale of exceptional commercial prosperity. During this period it was easy for any person with a pair of hands to get as much as he could do; workmen were at a premium and wages had risen all round.

But, notwithstanding this state of unwonted prosperity, we shall find on turning to the statistics of offences against property that a larger number of persons were convicted of such offences in the five years ended 1874 than in the five years ended 1888. It hardly needs to be stated that the five years ended 1888 were years of considerable depression, some of them were years in which there was a good deal of distress, and in none of them was the bulk of the population as well off as in the preceding period. It is, therefore, plain that an increase in the wealth of a country is not necessarily followed by a decrease in the amount of crimes against property; that, in fact, the growth of national and individual wealth, unless it is accompanied by a corresponding development of ethical ideals, is apt to foster criminal instincts instead of repressing them.

If we look at crime in general, instead of that particular form of it which consists in offences against property, it will likewise become apparent that it is not so closely connected with poverty as is generally believed. The accuracy of Indian criminal statistics is a matter that has already been pointed out. When these statistics are placed side by side with our own what do we find? According to the returns for the two countries in the year 1888, it comes out that in England one person was proceeded against criminally to every forty-two of the population, while in India only one person was proceeded against to every 195. In other words, official statistics show that the people of England are between four and five times more addicted to crime than the people of India. On the supposition that poverty is the parent of crime, the population of India should be one of the most lawless in the world, for it is undoubtedly one of the very poorest. The reverse, however, is the case, and India is justly celebrated for the singularly law-abiding character of its inhabitants. In reply to this it may be said that India differs so widely from England in race, manners, religion and social organisation, that all these divergencies must be taken into account when comparing the position of the two countries with respect to crime. A contention of this kind is in perfect harmony with what is here advanced. It is, in fact, a part of our case that crime is either produced or checked by a great many causes besides economic conditions. The comparison we are now making between the criminal statistics of England and India is intended to show that economic conditions alone will not satisfactorily explain the genesis of crime. If such were the case India would have a blacker criminal record than England, for it has a lower material standard of life; but as India is able to exhibit a fairer record, in spite of its economic disadvantages, we are compelled to come to the conclusion that poverty is not the only factor in the production of crime.

A further illustration of the same fact will be found on examining the Prison Statistics of the United States. According to an instructive paper recently read by Mr. Roland P. Falkner before the American Statistical Association, the foreign born population in America is, on the whole, less inclined to commit crime than the native born American. In some of the States—Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and California—"the foreign born," says Mr. Falkner, "make a worse showing than the native. In a great number of cases, notably Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee, we notice hardly any difference. Elsewhere, the showing is decidedly in favour of the foreign born, and nowhere more strongly than in Wisconsin and Minnesota." It is perfectly certain that the foreign born population of the United States is not, as a rule, so well-off economically as the native born citizen. The vast proportion of the emigrant population is composed of poor people seeking to better their condition, and it is well known that a largo percentage of the hard, manual work done in America is performed by those men. The economic condition of the average native born American is superior to the economic condition of the average emigrant; but the native American, notwithstanding his economic superiority, cuts a worse figure in the statistics of crime. This is a state of things the Americans themselves are just beginning to perceive, and it cannot fail to make them uneasy as to the efficacy of some of their erratic methods of punishing crime. It has, until recently, been the habit of American statisticians to compare the foreign born population with the whole of the native population with respect to crime. The outcome of this method of comparison was taken all round favourable to the born Americans, and for many years people satisfied themselves with the belief that a high percentage of crime in the United States was due to the foreign element in the community. It is now seen that this method of calculation is defective and false. A comparatively small number of foreigners emigrate to the United States under eighteen years of age; in order, therefore, to make the comparison between natives and foreigners accurate, it must be made with foreigners over eighteen and Americans over eighteen, for it is after persons pass that age that they are most prone to commit crime. The result of this new and more correct method of comparison has been to show that the native American element, that is to say, the element best situated economically, is also the element which perpetrates most crimes. Such a result is only another illustration of the truth that an advanced state of economic well-being is not necessarily accompanied by greater immunity from crime.

A further illustration of this significant truth is to be witnessed in the Antipodes. In no quarter of the world is there such wide-spread prosperity as exists in the colony of Victoria. All writers and travellers are unanimous upon this point. Nowhere in the world is there less economic excuse for the perpetration of crime. Work of one kind or another can almost always be had in that favoured portion of the globe.

Even in the worst of times, if men are willing to go "up country," as it is called, occupation of some sort is certain to be found, and trade depression never reaches the acute point which it sometimes does at home.

Nevertheless, on examining the criminal statistics of the colony of Victoria, what do we find? According to the returns for 1887, one arrest on a charge of crime was made in every 30 of the population, and on looking down the list of offences for which these arrests were made, it will be seen that Victoria, notwithstanding her widely-diffused material well-being, is just as much addicted to crimes against person and property as some of the poor and squalid States of Europe. It may be said in extenuation of this condition of things, that Victoria contains a larger grown-up population, and therefore a larger percentage of persons in a position to commit crime than is to be found in older countries. This is, to a certain extent, true, but the difference is not so great as might at first sight be supposed. Assuming that the criminal age lies between 15 and 60, we find that in the seven Australasian colonies 563 persons out of every 1,000 are alive between these two ages. In Great Britain and Ireland 559 persons per 1,000 are alive between 15 and 60. According to these figures the difference between the population within the criminal age in the colony, as compared with the mother country, is very small, and is quite insufficient to account for the relatively high percentage of crime exhibited by the Victorian criminal statistics.

All these considerations force us back to the conclusion that an abundant measure of material well-being has a much smaller influence in diminishing crime than is usually supposed, and compels us to admit that much crime would still exist even if the world were turned into a paradise of material prosperity tomorrow.

In further confirmation of this conclusion let us glance for a moment at another aspect of the relations between poverty and crime. It is generally calculated that the working class population of England and Wales form from 90 to 95 per cent. of the total population of the country. According to the investigations of Mr. Charles Booth, as contained in his work on East London, the working classes constitute about 92 per cent. in the districts be had under examination, the remaining 8 per cent. being made up of the lower and upper middle classes. Let us therefore assume that 10 per cent. of the population consists of the middle and upper classes, and that the other 90 per cent. of the community is composed of working people. Many statisticians will not admit that the middle and upper classes form 10 per cent. of the nation, and assert that 5 per cent. is nearer the mark. This is also my own view, but for the purposes of this inquiry we shall assume that it is 10 per cent.

How large a proportion of the criminal population is made up of the middle and upper classes? An answer to this question would at once show the exact relation between poverty and crime. If it could be shown that the well-to-do classes, in proportion to their numbers, are just as much addicted to the commission of criminal acts as the poorer people, it would demonstrate that crime prevailed to an equal extent among all sections of the community, and was not the work of one class alone. Unfortunately, such statistics are not to be had. But, as the facts are not to be got at directly, this does not mean to say that it is impossible to catch a glimpse of what they are. This may be done in the following manner:—According to the report of the Prison Commissioners, between 5 and 6 per cent. of the persons committed to gaol during the year ended March, 1890 (omitting court-martial cases), were debtors and civil process cases. Now, it may be taken as certain that in a very small proportion of these cases were the prisoners working people. Nearly all these offenders are to be considered as belonging to the well-to-do classes. Yet we see that they form 5 per cent. of the criminal population, and it has to be remembered that the fraudulent debtor is just as much a criminal, nay, even a worse criminal in many instances than the thief who snatches a purse. In addition to this 5 per cent. there is at least 3 per cent. of the ordinary criminal population belonging to the higher ranks of life. At the lowest estimate we have 6 per cent. of the criminal population springing from the midst of the well-to-do, and if all cases of drunkenness and assault were punished with imprisonment instead of a fine, it would be found that the well-to-do showed just as badly in the statistics of crime as their poorer neighbours.

In making this statement with respect to fines, I do not wish it to be understood that all cases of drunkenness and assault should be followed by imprisonment. On the contrary, it is a great mistake to send anyone to gaol if it can possibly be avoided, and imprisonment should never be resorted to so long as any other form of punishment will serve the purpose. What is here stated is merely meant to bring out the fact that the proportion of well-to-do among the prison population does not accurately represent the proportion of offences committed by that class; and it does not represent it for the simple reason that the well-to-do have facilities for escaping imprisonment which the ill-to-do have not. When a man with a certain command of means is involved in criminal proceedings, he has always the assistance of experienced counsel to defend him, he is always able to secure the attendance of witnesses,[21] if he has any, and should the offence be of a nature that a fine will condone, he is always able to escape imprisonment by paying it. It very often happens that poor people are unable to secure these advantages in a court of justice, and prison statistics of the different classes, even if we had them, would, for the reasons we have just mentioned, always give the working classes more than their fair share of offenders.

[21] A case was tried in London a short time ago which illustrates the difficulties in the way of poor people, so far as the attendance of witnesses is concerned. In this case the witness appeared five successive days in court waiting for the trial to come on. Not being paid by the defendant, this witness was unable to appear the sixth day. On that day the case was at last called, the prisoner had now no witness and was, of course, convicted.

It has always to be borne in mind in making calculations respecting the proportion of criminal offenders among the various sections of the community that there is a population of habitual criminals which forms a class by itself. Habitual criminals are not to be confounded with the working or any other class; they are a set of persons who make crime the object and business of their lives; to commit crime is their trade; they deliberately scoff at honest ways of earning a living, and must accordingly be looked upon as a class of a separate and distinct character from the rest of the community. According to police estimates this class consists of between 50,000 and 60,000 persons in England and Wales. Notwithstanding the smallness of its numbers, this criminal population contributes a proportion amounting to fully 12 per cent. to the local and convict prisons of England. As this percentage of the prison population is recruited from wholly criminal ground, it is important to place it in a distinct and separate category when forming an estimate of the criminal tendencies of the several branches of the population. This is what has been done in the subjoined table. This table will accordingly show, first the proportion of the poorer class to the total population, and next their proportion to the prison population. It will do the same for the well-to-do class, and will finally give the percentage of the criminal class in the local and convict prisons:—

Proportion of working class to total population 90 p. ct. Proportion, of prisoners from this class 82 p. ct. Proportion of well-to-do to population 10 p. ct. Proportion of prisoners from this class 6 p. ct. Numbers of criminal class, say 60,000 Proportion of prisoners from this class 12 p. ct.

According to these figures, the well-to-do contribute less than their proper proportion to the prison population. This arises, as has already been stated, from the fact that this class has so many more facilities for escaping the penalty of imprisonment; the difference would be adjusted if the cases tried before the criminal courts were taken as a standard. An examination of these cases would undoubtedly show that each class was represented in proportion to its numbers.

According to Garofalo, one of the most learned of Italian jurists, the poor people in Italy commit fewer offences against property, in proportion to their numbers, than the well-to-do, while in Prussia persons engaged in the liberal professions contribute twice their proper share to the criminal population. A somewhat similar state of things exists in France; there the number of persons engaged in the liberal professions forms four per cent. of the population; but, according to the investigations of Ferri, in his striking little book, "Socialismo e Criminalita," the liberal professions were responsible for no less than seven per cent. of the murders perpetrated in France in 1879.

What is the period of the year we should expect most crime to be committed if poverty is at the root of it? In this country, at least, it is very well known that the labouring classes are apt to suffer most in the depth of winter, and the depth of winter may be said to correspond with the months of December, January, and February. It is in these months that all outdoor occupations come to a comparative standstill; it is then that the poorest section of the population—the men without a trade, the men who live by mere manual labour—are reduced to the greatest straits. In the winter months some of these men have to pass through a period of real hardship; the state of the weather often puts an absolute stop to all outdoor occupations, and when this is the case, it takes an outdoor labourer all his might to provide the barest necessaries for his home. In addition to this difficulty, which lies in the nature of his calling, a labourer finds the expense of living a good deal higher in the depth of winter. He has to burn more fuel, he has to supply his children with warmer clothing, in a variety of ways his expenses increase, notwithstanding the most rigid economy. Winter is not only a harder season for the outdoor labourer, it is a time of greater economic trial for the whole working-class population. This, I think, is a statement which will be universally admitted.

On the assumption that poverty is the principal source of crime we ought to have a much larger prison population in the depth of winter than at any other period of the year. The prison statistics for December, January, and February—the three most inclement months, the three months when expenses are greatest and work scarcest—should be the highest in the whole year. As a matter of fact, it is during these three months that there are fewest people in prison. According to an excellent return, issued for the first time by the Prison Commissioners in their thirteenth report, it appears that there was a considerably smaller number of prisoners in the local prisons of England and Wales in the winter months—December, January and February, 1889-90—than at any other season of the year.[22] And this is not an isolated fact. A glance at the criminal returns for a series of years will at once show that crime is highest in summer and autumn—a time when occupation of all kinds, and especially occupation for the poorest members of the community, is most easily obtained—and lowest in winter and spring, when economic conditions are most adverse.[23]

[22] See Appendix, iii.

[23] Scotch statistics are in harmony with English. For the year ended March, 1890, the number of ordinary prisoners in custody in Scotland was lowest in December, January and February. It was highest in July, August, September. Crime was also highest when pauperism was lowest. See 12th Report of Scottish Prison Commissioners.

All these facts, instead of pointing to poverty as the main cause of crime, point the other way. It is a curious sign of the times that this statement should meet with so much incredulity. It has been reserved for this generation to propagate the absurdity that the want of money is the root of all evil; all the wisest teachers of mankind have hitherto been disposed to think differently, and criminal statistics are far from demonstrating that they are wrong. In the laudable efforts which are now being made, and which ought to be made to heighten the material well-being of the community, it is a mistake to assume, as is too often done, that mere material prosperity, even if spread over the whole population, will ever succeed in banishing crime. A mere increase of material prosperity generates as many evils as it destroys; it may diminish offences against property, but it augments offences against the person, and multiplies drunkenness to an alarming extent. While it is an undoubted fact that material wretchedness has a debasing effect both morally and physically, it is also equally true that the same results are sometimes found to flow from an increase of economic well-being. An interesting proof of this is to be found in the recent investigations of M. Chopinet, a French military surgeon, respecting the stature of the population in the central Pyrenees. M. Chopinet, after a careful examination of the conscript registers from 1873 to 1888, arrives at the following conclusions as to what determines the physical condition of the population. After discussing the cosmical influences and the evil effects of poverty and bad hygienic arrangements on the people, he proceeds to point out that moral corruption arising from material prosperity is also a powerful factor in producing physical degeneracy. He singles out one canton—the canton of Luchon—as being the victim of its own prosperity. In this canton, he says, that the old simplicity of life has departed, in consequence of its prodigious prosperity. "Vices formerly unknown have penetrated into the country; the frequenting of public houses and the habit of keeping late hours have taken the place of the open air sports which used to be the favoured method of enjoyment. Illegitimate births, formerly very rare, have multiplied, syphilis even has spread among the young. Food of a less substantial character has superseded the diet of former times, and, in short, alcoholism, precocious debauchery, and syphilis have come like so many plagues to arrest the development of the youth and seriously debilitate the population."[24]

[24] Revue Scientifique, September 13, 1890.

Facts such as these should serve to remind us that the growth of wealth may be accompanied, and is accompanied, by degeneracy of the worst character unless there is a corresponding growth of the moral sentiments of the community. "The perfection of man," says M. de Laveleye, "consists in the full development of all his forces, physical as well as intellectual, and of all his sentiments; in the feeling of affection for the family and humanity; in a feeling for the beautiful in nature and art." It is in proportion as men strive after this ideal that crime will decay, and material prosperity only becomes a good when it is used as a means to this supreme end. Otherwise, the mere growth of wealth, be it ever so widely diffused, will deprave the world instead of elevating it. The mere possession of wealth is not a moralising agent; as Professor Marshall[25] truly tells us, "Money is general purchasing power, and is sought as a means to all kinds of ends, high as well as low, spiritual as well as material." According to this definition, money may as readily become a source of mischief as an instrument for good; its wider diffusion among the community has, therefore, a mixed effect, and it works for evil or for good, according to the character of the individual. It is only when the character is disciplined by the habitual exercise of self-restraint, and ennobled by a generous devotion to the higher aims of life, that money becomes a real blessing to its possessor. If, on the other hand, money has merely the effect of making the well-to-do rich, and the poor well-to-do, it will never diminish crime; it will merely cause crime to modify its present forms. Such, at least, is the conclusion to which a consideration of the contents of this chapter would seem to lead.

[25] Principles of Economics, p. 81.



In the present chapter we shall proceed to discuss the effect exercised by two characteristics of a distinctly personal nature in the production of crime, namely, age and sex.

As sex is the most fundamental of all human distinctions we shall begin by considering the part it plays among criminal phenomena. According to the judicial statistics of all civilised peoples, women are less addicted to crime than men, and boys are more addicted to crime than girls. Among most European peoples between five and six males are tried for offences against the law to every one female. In the southern countries of Europe, females form a smaller proportion of the criminal population than in the northern. This circumstance may be accounted for in several ways. In the first place, it may be the case that women in the south of Europe are better morally than in the north; it may be that the social conditions of their existence shield them from crime; or it may be that the crimes men are most prone to commit in the south are of such a nature that women are more or less incapable of perpetrating them. It is perfectly well known that in the south of Europe women lead more secluded lives than is the case in the north; they are much less immersed in the whirl and movement of life; it is not surprising, therefore, to find that they are less addicted to crime. Nor is this all. The crimes committed in the South consist to a large extent of offences against the person; physical weakness in a multitude of cases prevents women from committing such crimes. In the North, on the other hand, a large proportion of crimes are in the nature of thefts and offences against property. Most of these crimes women can commit with comparative ease; the result is that they form a larger proportion of the criminal population. Assaults are offences women are less capable of committing than men; hence, if we find that the crime of a country consists largely of personal violence, we shall also find that the percentage of female criminals will be relatively small. In Italy, where offences against the person are so prevalent, females only form about nine per cent. of the criminal population; in England, where personal violence is seldom resorted to, females form between 17 and 18 per cent. of the persons proceeded against, and about 15 per cent. of the numbers convicted.

A consideration of these circumstances tends to show that although southern women commit fewer crimes in proportion to men than northern women, this fact is partly owing to the character of the crime. But it is also owing to more secluded habits of life, and to the freedom from moral contamination of a criminal nature which these habits secure.

Proceeding from quantity to quality we find that although females commit much fewer crimes in proportion than males, the offences they do commit are frequently of a more serious nature than the crimes to which men are addicted. According to the investigations of Guerry and Quetelet, women in France commit more crimes of infanticide, abortion, poisoning, and domestic theft than men. They are addicted equally with men to the perpetration of parricide, and are more frequently convicted than men for the ill-treatment of children. English criminal statistics also show that the proportion of women to men rises with the seriousness of the offence. The proportion of women to men summarily proceeded against is 17 per cent., the proportion proceeded against for murder and attempts to murder is as high as 36 per cent. Women are also more hardened criminals than men. According to the statistics of English prisons, women who have been once convicted are much more likely to be reconvicted than men,[26] and the prison returns of Continental countries tell the same tale.

[26] In 1889-90 the recommitted males were 44.3 per cent. of the total number of males committed (exclusive of debtors and naval and military offenders); the recommitted females 65.8 per cent. of the total number of females committed exclusive of debtors.

The facts relating to female crime having been stated, it will now be our business to inquire why women, on the whole, commit fewer crimes than men. The most obvious answer is that they are better morally. The care and nurture of children has been their lot in life for untold centuries; the duties of maternity have perpetually kept alive a certain number of unselfish instincts; those instincts have become part and parcel of woman's natural inheritance, and, as a result of possessing them to a larger extent than man, she is less disposed to crime. It is very probable that there is an element of truth in the idea that the care of offspring has had a moralising effect upon women, and that this effect has acquired the power of a hereditary characteristic; at the same time, it must be remembered that other causes are also in operation which prevent women figuring as largely in criminal returns as men.

Among the most prominent of these causes is the want of physical power. In all crimes requiring a certain amount of brute strength, such as burglary, robbery with violence, and so on, the proportion of women to men is small. A woman very rarely possesses the animal force requisite for the perpetration of crimes accompanied with much personal violence. But where the element of personal violence does not come conspicuously to the front the proportion of female criminals to male immediately rises, and in such crimes as poisoning, child murder, abortion, domestic theft, women are more criminally disposed than men. Undoubtedly the lack of power has as much to do with keeping down female crime as the want of will. This is especially manifest in the crime of infanticide. For the perpetration of this crime women possess the power, and the vast number of women convicted of this offence in proportion to men is ample proof that they often possess the will. Of course the temptation to women to commit this kind of crime is often extreme; it is the product, in many instances, of an overwhelming sense of shame; and the perpetrators of infanticide are often far from being the most debased of their sex. Still, the prevalence of infanticide among women is an evidence that, where the temptation is strong and the power sufficient, women are just as criminally inclined as men.

It has also to be borne in mind that women are very frequently the instigators of crime and escape punishment because they are not actually engaged in its commission. In almost all cases where robberies are committed by a pack of thieves, a part of the preparatory arrangements is entrusted to women, and women lend a helping hand in disposing of the spoil. It is the men, as a rule, who receive all the punishment, but the guilt of both sexes is very much the same. In many cases of forgery and fraudulent bankruptcy among the well-to-do classes, for which men only are punished, the guilt of women is equally great. Household extravagance, extravagance in dress, the mad ambition of many English women to live in what they call "better style" than their neighbours sends not a few men to penal servitude. The proportion of female crime in a community is also to a very considerable extent determined by the social condition of women. In all countries where social habits and customs constrain women to lead retiring and secluded lives the number of female criminals descends to a minimum. The small amount of female crime in Greece[27] is an instance of this law. On the other hand, in all countries where women are accustomed to share largely the active work of life with men, female crime has a distinct tendency to reach its maximum. An instance of this is the high percentage of female crime in Scotland. According to the Judicial Statistics for the year 1888 no less than 37 per cent. of the cases tried before the Scotch courts consisted of offences committed by women. It is true only 11 per cent. of these offences were of a serious nature—the remainder being more or less trivial, but, even after taking this circumstance into consideration, the unwelcome fact remains that Scotch women commit a higher percentage of crimes in proportion to men than the female population of any other country in Europe. The proportion of English female offenders to male is not half so high; it was only 17 per cent. in 1888, and is showing a tendency to decrease, being as high as 20 per cent. for the twenty years ended 1876. The proportion of female offenders in Scotland to the total criminal population is moving in an opposite direction. The late Professor Leone Levi, in a paper read before the Statistical Society in 1880, stated that Scotch women formed 27 per cent. of the persons tried before the criminal courts; they now form 37 per cent., a most alarming rate of increase.

[27] According to prison statistics of the Greek Government for 1889, out of a total prison population of 5,023 only 50 were women. See Revista de Discipline Carcerarie, Nov. 30th, 1890, page 667.

It hardly admits of doubt that the high ratio of female crime in Scotland is to be attributed to the social status of women. In no other country of Europe do women perform so much heavy manual work; working in the fields and factories along with men; depending little upon men for their subsistence; in all economic matters leading what is called a more emancipated life than women do elsewhere; in short, resembling man in their social activities, they also resemble him in criminal proclivities. Scotch criminal statistics are thus a striking confirmation of the general law revealed by the study of criminal statistics as a whole; namely, that the more women are driven to enter upon the economic struggle for life the more criminal they will become. This is not a very consoling outlook for the future of society. It is not consoling, for the simple reason that the whole drift of opinion at the present time is in the direction of opening out industrial and public life to women to the utmost extent possible. In so far as public opinion is favouring the growth of female political leagues and other female organisations of a distinctly militant character, it is undoubtedly tending on the whole to lower the moral nature of women. The combative attitude required to be maintained by all members of such organisations is injurious to the higher instincts of women, and in numbers of cases must affect their moral tone. The amount of mischief done by these public organisations for purposes of political combat is not confined to women alone. The overwhelming influence exercised by mothers on the minds of children is notorious; and that influence is not so likely to be for good where the mother's mind is contaminated by a knowledge of, and sometimes by practising, the shady tricks of electioneering.

The present tendency to create a greater number of openings in trade and industry for women is not to be dismissed as pernicious because of its evil effect in multiplying female crime. After all, an enlarged industrial career for women may be the lesser of two evils. According to the present industrial constitution of society a very large number of females must earn a living in the sweat of their brow, and until some higher social development supersedes the existing order of things it is only right that as wide a career as possible should be opened out for the activities of women who must work to live. At the same time it would be an infinitely superior state of things if society did not require women's work beyond the confines of the home and the primary school. In these two spheres there is ample occupation of the very highest character for the energies of women; in them their work is immeasurably superior to men's; and it is because the work required in the home and the school is at the present moment so improperly performed that our existing civilisation is such a hot-bed of physical degeneracy, pauperism, and crime. One thing at least is certain, that crime will never permanently decrease till the material conditions of existence are such that women will not be called upon to fight the battle of life as men are, but will be able to concentrate their influence on the nurture and education of the young, after having themselves been educated mainly with a view to that great end. European society at the present moment is moving away from this ideal of woman's functions in the world; she is getting to be regarded in the light of a mere intellectual or industrial unit; and the flower of womankind is being more and more drafted into commercial and other enterprises. Some affect to look upon this condition, of things as being in the line of progress; it may be, and to all appearance is, in the line of material necessity, but it is unquestionably opposed to the moral interests of the community. These interests demand that women should not be debased, as criminal statistics prove that they are by active participation in modern industrialism; they demand that the all-important duties of motherhood should be in the hands of persons capable of fulfilling them worthily, and not in the hands of persons whose previous occupations have often rendered them unfit for being a centre of grace and purity in the home. It cannot be too emphatically insisted on that the home is the great school for the formation of character among the young, and it is on character that conduct depends. In proportion as this school of character is improved, in the same proportion will crime decrease. But how is it to be improved when the tendencies of industrialism are to degrade the women who stand by nature at the head of it? Indifferent mothers cannot make children good citizens; and the present course of things industrial is slowly but surely tending to debase the fountain head of the race. At the International Conference concerning the regulation of labour held recently at Berlin, M. Jules Simon, at the close of an excellent speech to the delegates, pointed out the remedy for the present condition of things. "You will pardon me," he said, "for concluding my observations with a personal remark, which is perhaps authorised by a past entirely consecrated to a defence of the cause which brings us here. The object we are aiming at is moral as well as material; it is not only in the physical interests of the human race that we are endeavouring to rescue children, youths, and women from excessive toil; we are also labouring to restore woman to the home, the child to its mother, for it is from her only that those lessons of affection and respect which make the good citizen can be learned. We wish to call a halt in the path of demoralisation down which the loosening of the family tie is leading the human mind."

Passing from the question of sex and crime we shall now consider the proportions which crime bears to age. According to the calculations of the late Mr. Clay, chaplain of Preston prison, the practice of dishonesty among persons, who afterwards find their way into prisons, begins at a very early age. In a communication addressed to Lord Shaftesbury, in 1853, he said that 58 per cent. of criminals were dishonest under 15 years of age; 14 per cent. became dishonest between 15 and 16; 8 per cent. became dishonest between 17 and 19; 20 per cent. became dishonest under 20.

I have little doubt that these proportions are still in the main correct, and that the criminal instinct begins to show itself at a very early period in life. In Staffordshire "it is an ascertained fact, that there is scarcely an habitual criminal in the county who has not been imprisoned as a child."[28] But it is after the age of twenty has been reached that the criminality of a people attains its highest point. A glance at the subjoined table will make this clear:—

Population of England and Prisoners in Local Gaols Wales in 1871 in 1888

Under 5 13.52 Under 12 0.1 5 and under 15 22.58 12 and under 16 2.8 15 " 20 9.59 16 " 21 16.1 20 " 30 16.66 21 " 30 30.2 30 " 40 12.80 30 " 40 24.3 40 " 50 10.05 40 " 50 14.7 50 " 60 7.32 50 " 60 6.4 60 and upwards 7.48 60 and upwards 5.4

[28] Reformatory and Refuge Journal, July, 1890.

These figures show that in proportion to the population, crime is, as we should expect, at its lowest level from infancy till the age of sixteen. From that age it goes on steadily increasing in volume till it reaches a maximum between thirty and forty. After forty has been passed the criminal population begins rapidly to descend, but never touches the same low point in old age as in early youth.

Females do not enter upon a criminal career so early in life as males;[29] in the year 1888, while 20 per cent. of the male population of our local prisons in England and Wales were under 21, only 12 per cent. of the female prison population were under that age. On the other hand, women between 21 and 50, form a larger proportion of the female prison population, than men between the same ages do of the male prison population. The criminal age among women is later in its commencement, and earlier in coming to a close than in the case of men. It is later in commencing because of the greater care and watchfulness exercised over girls than boys; but it is more persistent while it lasts, because a plunge into crime is a more irreparable thing in a woman than in a man. A woman's past has a far worse effect on her future than a man's. She incurs a far graver degree of odium from her own sex; it is much more difficult for her to get into the way of earning an honest livelihood, and a woman who has once been shut up within bolts and bars is much more likely to be irretrievably lost than a man. If it is important to keep men as much as possible out of prison, it is doubly necessary to keep out women; but it is, at the same time, a much harder thing to accomplish. This arises from the fact that the great bulk of female offenders enter the criminal arena after the age of twenty-one, and can only be dealt with by a sentence of imprisonment. If females began crime at an earlier period of life, it would be possible to send them to Reformatories or Industrial Schools, and a fair hope of ultimately saving them would still remain; but as this is impossible with grown-up persons, prison is the only alternative, and it is after imprisonment is over that a woman begins to recognise the terrible social penalties it has involved.

[29] Ages and proportion per cent. of males and females committed in 1889-90.

Ages Males Females

Under 12 years 0.2 0.0 12 years and under 16 3.1 1.1 16 years and under 21 17.5 10.7 21 years and under 30 28.4 31.4 30 years and under 40 23.9 28.6 40 years and under 50 14.2 17.5 50 years and under 60 6.4 6.8 60 years and above 6.2 3.8 Age not ascertained 0.1 0.1

The proportion of offenders under sixteen years of age to the total local prison population of England and Wales, has decreased in a remarkable way within the last twenty or thirty years. The proportion of offenders under sixteen committed to prison between 1857-66, amounted to six and three-quarters per cent. of the prison population, and if we go back behind that period it was higher still. In fact, during the first quarter of the present century, the extent and ramifications of juvenile crime had almost reduced statesmen to despair. But the spread of the Reformatory system and the introduction more recently of Industrial and Truant Schools for children who have just drifted, or are fast drifting, into criminal courses, has had a remarkable effect in diminishing the juvenile population of our prisons. At the present time the proportion of juveniles under sixteen to the rest of the local prison population is only a little over two per cent. and it is not likely that it will ever reach a higher figure. It might easily be reduced almost to zero if children destined for Reformatories were sent off to these institutions at once, instead of being detained for a month or so in prison till a suitable school is found for them. Some persons object to the idea of sending children to Reformatories at once, on the ground that to abolish the terror of imprisonment from the youthful mind would embolden the juvenile inclined to crime and lead him more readily to commit it. Others object on the ground that it is only right the child should be punished for his offence. In answer to the last objection, it may pertinently be said that a sentence of three or four years to a Reformatory is surely sufficient punishment for offences usually committed by small boys. With regard to the first objection, our own experience is that the ordinary juvenile is much more afraid of the policeman than of the prison, and that the fear of being caught would operate just as strongly upon him if he were sent straight to the Reformatory as it does now. The evils connected with the present system of sending children destined for Reformatories to prison are of two kinds. At the present time many magistrates will not send children to Reformatories who sorely need the restraints of such an institution, because they know it involves a period of preliminary imprisonment before they can get there. Secondly, it enables a lad to know what the inside of a prison really is. On these two points let me quote the words of an experienced magistrate. "I have many times," said Mr. Whitwell, at the fourth Reformatory Conference, "when having to deal with young people, felt it very desirable to send them to a Reformatory, but have shrunk from it because we are obliged to send them to prison first. I think it should be left to the discretion of the magistrates and not made compulsory. I feel very strongly indeed that it is most desirable to keep the child from knowing what the inside of a prison is. Let them think it something awful to look forward to. When they have been in the prison they are of opinion that it is not such a very bad place after all, and they are not afraid of going there again; but if they are sent to a Reformatory and told that they will be sent to a prison if they do not reform, they will think it an awful place." These are wise words. It is impossible to make imprisonment such a severe discipline for children as it is for grown-up men and women, and as it is not so severe, children leave our gaols with a false impression on their minds. The terror of being imprisoned has, to a large extent, departed; they think they know the worst and cease to be much afraid of what the law can do. Hence the fact that society has less chance of reclaiming a child who has been imprisoned than it has of reclaiming one who has not undergone that form of punishment although he has committed precisely the same offence. In England, many authorities on Reformatory Schools are strongly in favour of retaining preliminary imprisonment for Reformatory children; in Scotland, experienced opinion is decisively on the other side. On this point, the Scotch are undoubtedly in the right. The working of prison systems, whether at home or abroad, teaches us that any person, be he child or man, who has once been in prison, is much more likely to come back than a person who, for a similar offence, has received punishment in a different form. The application of this principle to the case of Reformatory children decisively settles the matter in favour of sending such children to Reformatories at once. If this simple reform were effected, the child population of our prisons would almost cease to exist. In the year 1888, this population amounted to 239 for England and Wales under the age of twelve, and 4,826 under the age of sixteen, thus making a total of 5,065 or 2.9 per cent. of the whole local prison population.

In the preceding remarks on juvenile offenders under 16, it has been pointed out that the great decrease in the numbers of such offenders among the prison population is mainly owing to the development of Industrial and Reformatory Schools. In order, therefore, to form an accurate estimate of juvenile delinquency, we must look not merely at the number of juveniles in prison; attention must also be directed to the number of juveniles in Reformatory and Industrial Institutions. Although these institutions are not places of imprisonment, yet they are places of compulsory detention, and contain a very considerable proportion of juvenile delinquents. All juveniles sent to Reformatories have, indeed, been actually convicted of criminal offences, and in 1888 the number of young people in the Reformatory Schools of Great Britain (excluding Ireland) was in round numbers six thousand (5,984). These must be added to the total juvenile prison population in order to form a true conception of the extent of juvenile crime. It is almost certain that if these young people were not in Reformatories they would be in prisons, for, in almost the same proportion as the Reformatory and Industrial School inmates have increased, the juvenile prison population has decreased.

To the population of the Reformatory Schools must also be added a large percentage of the Industrial School population. Since the year 1864, the number of boys and girls in Industrial and Truant Schools has gone on steadily increasing. In that year the inmates amounted to 1,608; twenty-four years afterwards, that is to say, in 1888, the number of children in Great Britain in Industrial and Truant Schools amounted to 21,426.[30] It is true that a considerable proportion of these children were not sent to the schools on account of having committed crime; at the same time it has to be remembered that nearly all of them were on the way to it, and would in all probability have become criminals had the State left them alone for a year or two longer. At the time of their committal the children we are now dealing with were either children who had been found begging, or who were wandering about without a settled home, or who were found destitute, or who had a parent in gaol, or who lived in the company of female criminals, prostitutes, and thieves. Such children may not actually have come within the clutches of the criminal law, but it is sufficient to look for a moment at the surroundings they had lived in to see that this was only a question of time. We must, therefore, add those children, along with the Reformatory population, to the number of juveniles in gaol if we wish to form a proper estimate of the extent of juvenile delinquency. If this is done we arrive at the conclusion that the criminal and semi-criminal juvenile population is at the present time more than 25,000 strong in England and Wales alone; if Scotland be included it is more than 30,000 strong. These figures are enough to show that it is only compulsory detention in State establishments which keeps down the numbers of juvenile offenders; and there can be little doubt, if the inmates of these institutions were let loose upon the country, juveniles would very soon constitute seven, eight, or, perhaps, ten per cent. of the prison population.

[30] In 1889 there is a slight decrease.

Let us now consider the case of young offenders between the ages of 16 and 21. This is the most momentous for weal or woe of all periods of life. During this stage, the transition from youth to manhood is taking place; the habits then formed acquire a more enduring character, and, in the majority of cases, determine the whole future of the individual. If youths between the ages just mentioned could by any possibility be prevented from embarking on a criminal career, the drop in the criminal population would be far-reaching in its effects. It is from the ranks of young people just entering early manhood that a large proportion of the habitual criminal population is recruited; and if this critical period of life can be tided over without repeated acts of crime, there is much less likelihood of a young man degenerating afterwards into a criminal of the professional class. It is most important that the professional criminal class should be diminished at a quicker rate than is the case at present; and, in spite of police statistics to the contrary, it is a class which has not become perceptibly smaller within the last twenty or five and twenty years. A proof of this statement is to be seen in the fact that offences against property with violence display a tendency to increase, and it is offences of this nature which are pre-eminently the work of the habitual criminal. It is a comparatively rare thing to find a habitual criminal stop mid-way in his sinister career; the accumulated impressions resulting from a life of crime have too effectively succeeded in shaping his character and conduct, and he persists, as a rule, in leading an anti-social life so long as he has physical strength to do it.

The only hope, therefore, of diminishing the habitual criminal population, is to lessen the number of recruits; and as most of these recruits are to be found among lads of between sixteen and twenty-one, it is to these lads that serious attention must be directed. Every year a certain proportion of youths ranging between these two ages shows a pronounced disposition to enter permanently upon a criminal life by repeatedly returning to prison. The deterrent effect of short sentences has ceased to operate upon them, and all the symptoms are present that a downright career of crime has begun. In such circumstances what is to be done? A plan has been proposed by Mr. Lloyd Baker for dealing with refractory and unmanageable Reformatory children, the substance of which is to send them to another institution of a stricter character than the ordinary Reformatory School, and which for want of a better name he calls a Penal Reformatory. It is very probable that something in the nature of a Penal Reformatory is just what is wanted to prevent a youth on the downward road from finally swelling the proportions of the professional criminal population. If Great Britain ever established such institutions, she would then possess a graded set of organisations for dealing with the young, which would cover the whole period of youthful life. The Truant School would catch the child on the first symptoms of waywardness, the Industrial School would arrest him standing on the verge of crime, the Reformatory School would dual with actual offenders against the law, and the Penal Reformatory would grapple with habitual offenders under the age of manhood.[31]

[31] Ages at which 507 offenders first began to commit crime—

Under 10 1.5 41 to 45 2.1 11 to 15 17.0 46 to 50 2.3 16 to 20 36.1 51 to 55 2.1 21 to 25 20.1 56 to 60 .8 26 to 30 7.1 61 to 65 .8 31 to 35 5.1 66 to 70 .2 36 to 40 3.6

Marro. I Caratteri dei delinquente. Studio antropologico-sociologico, p. 356.

After the age of manhood has been reached, and the main lines of character are formed, punitive methods of dealing with criminal offenders must assume a more prominent position, and the prison should then take the place of the Reformatory. In youth the deterrent effects of punishment are small, and the beneficial effects of reformative measures are at their maximum. In manhood, on the other hand, this condition of things is reversed, and the deterrent effects of punishment exceed the beneficial effects of reformative influences. An interesting example of the value of punishment for adults, as compared with other methods, is given by Sir John Strachey in his account of infanticide in certain parts of India. "For many years past," he says, "measures have been taken in the North-West Provinces for the prevention of this crime. For a long time, when our civilisation was less belligerent than it has since become, it was thought that the best hope of success lay in the removal of the causes which appeared to lead to its commission, and especially in the prevention of extravagant expenditure on marriages; but although these benevolent efforts were undoubtedly useful, their practical results were not great, and it gradually became clear that it was only by a stringent and organised system of coercion that these practices would ever be eradicated. In 1870 an act of the legislature was passed which enabled the Government to deal with the subject. A system of registration of births and deaths among the suspected classes was established, with constant inspection and enumeration of children; special police-officers were entertained at the cost of the guilty communities, and no efforts were spared to convince them that the Government had firmly resolved that it would put down these practices, and would treat the people who followed them as murderers. Although the time is, I fear, distant when preventive measures will cease to be necessary, much progress has been made, and there are now thousands of girls where formerly there were none. In the Mainpuri district, where, as I have said, there was not many years ago hardly a single Chauhan girl, nearly half of the Chauhan children at the present time are girls; and it is hoped that three-fourths of the villages have abandoned the practice."[32]

[32] India by Sir John Strachey, pp. 292-3.

These facts speak for themselves and afford an incontestable proof of the value of punishment as a remedial measure when other remedies have failed.[33] In the re-action which is now in full force, and rightly so, against the excessive punishments of past times, there is a marked tendency among some minds to go to the opposite extreme, and an attempt is being made to show that imprisonment has hardly any curative effect at all. Its evils, and from the very nature of things they are not a few, are almost exclusively elaborated and dwelt upon, little attention being paid to the vast amount of good which imprisonment alone is able to effect. It is possible that imprisonment sends a few to utter perdition at a quicker pace than they would have gone of their own accord, but on the other hand, it rescues many a man before he has irrevocably committed himself to a life of crime. If it fails the first time, it very often succeeds after the second or the third, and no one is justified in saying imprisonment is worthless as a reformative agency till it has failed at least three times. According to the judicial statistics for England and Wales, imprisonment is successful after the third time in about 80 per cent. of the cases annually submitted to the criminal courts, and although it is a pity that the percentage is not higher, yet it cannot fairly be said that such results are an evidence of failure. The prison is unquestionably a much less effective weapon for dealing with crime among Continental peoples, and in the United States, than it has shown itself to be in Great Britain; but this failure arises in the main from the laxity and indulgence with which criminals are treated in foreign prisons. A prison to possess any reformative value must always be made an uncomfortable place to live in; Continental peoples and the people of America have to a large extent lost sight of this fact; hence the failure of their penal systems to stop the growth of the delinquent population. If, however, imprisonment is not allowed to degenerate into mere detention, it is bound to act as a powerful deterrent upon grown-up offenders, and it is the only menace which will effectually keep many of them within the law. The hope of reward and the fear of punishment, or, in other words, love of pleasure, and dread of pain, are the two most deeply seated instincts in the human breast; if Mr. Darwin's theory be correct, it is through the operation of these fundamental instincts that such a being as man has come into existence at all. In any case these instincts have hitherto been the chief ingredients of all human progress, the most effective spur to energy of all kinds, and when properly utilised they are the most potent of all deterrents to crime. Were it possible for the hand of social justice to descend on every criminal with infallible certainty; were it universally true that no crime could possibly escape punishment, that every offence against society would inevitably and immediately be visited on the offender, the tendency to commit crime would probably become as rare as the tendency of an ordinary human being to thrust his hand into the fire. The uncertainty of punishment is the great bulwark of crime, and crime has a marvellous knack of diminishing in proportion as this uncertainty decreases. No amelioration of the material circumstances of the community can destroy all the causes of crime, and till moral progress has reached a height hitherto attained only by the elect of the race, one of the most efficient curbs upon the criminally disposed will consist in increasing the probability of punishment.

[33] Cf. Tarde Philosophie Penale, p. 467.

In proportion as the probability of being punished is augmented, the severity of punishment can be safely diminished. This is one of the paramount advantages to be derived from a highly efficient police system. The barbarity of punishments in the Middle Ages is always attributed by historians to the barbarous ideas of those rude times. But this is only partially true; one important consideration is overlooked. In the Middle Ages it was extremely difficult to catch the criminal; in fact, it is only within the present century that an organised system for effecting the capture of criminals has come into existence. The result of the nebulous police system of past times was that very few offenders were brought to justice at all, and society, in order to prevent lawlessness from completely getting the upper hand, was obliged to make a terrible example of all offenders coming within its grasp. As soon, however, as it became less difficult to arrest and convict lawless persons, the old severities of the criminal code immediately began to fall into abeyance. Sentences were shortened, punishments were mitigated, the death penalty was abolished for almost all crimes except murder. But even now, the moment society sees any form of crime showing a tendency to evade the vigilance of the law, a cry is immediately raised for sterner measures of repression against the perpetrators of that particular form of crime. The Flogging Bill recently passed by Parliament is a case in point. These instances afford a fairly accurate insight into the action of society with regard to the punishment of crime. It punishes severely when the criminal is seldom caught; it punishes more lightly when he is often caught; and its punishments will become more mitigated still, as soon as the probability of capture is made more complete. A comparatively light sentence is in most cases a very effective deterrent, when it is made almost a certainty, and all alterations in the future in criminal administration should be in the direction of making punishment more certain rather than more severe. Such efforts are sure to be rewarded by a decrease in the amount of crime.

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