Page:The plea of Clarence Darrow, August 22nd, 23rd & 25th, MCMXXIII, in defense of Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold, Jr., on trial for murder.djvu/112
104 PLEA OF CLARENCE DARROW IN DEFENSE
attention whatever to the modem attitude toward the young, if he pays any attention whatever to the precedents in this county, if he pays any attention to the humane instincts which move ordinary man.
I have a list of executions in Cook County beginning in 1840, which I presume covers the first one, because I asked to have it go to the beginning. Ninety poor unfortunate men have given up their lives to stop murder in Chicago. Ninety men have been hanged by the neck until dead, because of the ancient superstition that in some way hanging one man keeps another from committing a crime. The ancient superstition, I say, because I defy the state to point to a criminologist, a scientist, a student, who has ever said it. Still we go on, as if human conduct was not influenced and controlled by natural laws the same as all the rest of the Universe is the subject of law. We treat crime as if it had no cause. We go on saying, "Hang the unfortunates, and it will end." Was there ever a murder without a cause? Was there ever a crime without a caused And yet all punishment proceeds upon the theory that there is no cause; and the only way to treat crime is to intimidate every one into goodness and obedience to law. We lawyers are a long way behind.
Crime has its cause. Perhaps all crimes do not have the same cause, but they all have some cause. And people today are seeking to find out the cause. We lawyers never try to find out. Scientists are studying it; criminologists are investigating it; but we lawyers go on and on and on, punishing and hanging and thinking that by general terror we can stamp out crime.
It never occurs to the lawyer that crime has a cause as certainly as disease, and that the way to rationally treat any abnormal condition is to remove the cause.