A History of Penal Methods: Criminals, Witches, Lunatics

A History of Penal Methods: Criminals, Witches, Lunatics

A History of Penal Methods: Criminals, Witches, Lunatics

A History of Penal Methods: Criminals, Witches, Lunatics

Excerpt

Criminology is the study of the causes and treatment of crime. To track the offender is a problem for the police; to determine his guilt or innocence is the work of the courts. Graphic accounts of his crime and capture, descriptions of his trial and conviction, or reports of the last scene when he stood upon the scaffold, are not criminology. The dreary records of convict mismanagement by the Governor of Gaolblank, and the ghastly- cheerful reminiscences of the Chaplain of Chokee--even the fascinating studies of, say, Edgar Poe, and Conan Doyle, in the art of Deduction--are not criminology. We know now, and are beginning to realize, that nothing ever happens without a cause. A man can no more exist underived from the Past or effectless upon the Future, than he can walk suspended in the air.

Therefore, when we look upon a person who is branded as a criminal, we have to account for him. He may be degraded enough as we find him, he may be a drunken, homeless wanderer or street-corner man, but what made him like this?

He started some few years back as a helpless baby, with a little bright, wondering face looking out on life. What has been impressed into it since then? It was a blank page, with only the water-mark of heredity, and a certain grade of quality and texture upon it. What have we written there? what has the whole community been doing to make these lines, now so deeply graven, or whence came they? How is this stain on him, and therefore on all of us, to be cleared away? What must be done to help with a strong hand: that will be criminology.

I have sought to show how every act of aggression which might occur, was met by an instinctive counter-

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