Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/198

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29·46 per cent.[1] It is thus shown by recent statistics that the various grades of criminal population are increasing more rapidly than the population at large. The same results have been shown by previous census reports. It must also be remembered that a large number of actual criminals are not under confinement, and are hence not included in the figures showing their increase. It has evidently become a vitally important question for decision by society as to the best plan to pursue toward the criminal. In dealing with this problem too much stress is popularly laid upon merely punishing the malefactor. Popular conceptions of the nature of punishment have varied widely with the age. The earliest enactments of penalty were, in form, vindictive; next retributive; and, finally, as the highest conception, reformatory. While the State, uninfluenced either by vindictive feeling or pity, deprives criminals of liberty for a time as a measure of self-protection, it must adopt some mode of treatment during incarceration. The old plan consists in getting a certain amount of work out of them to aid in their support, but without making any effort at reform. The unexpressed idea appears first to get even with them, and then kick them out upon society, usually to begin depredations again. An abnormal mental and moral atmosphere is diffused in such a prison, and the large congregation of criminals is a school for confirming the vicious. The reformatory plan aims at the prisoner's rehabilitation, so that there may be some hope of right behavior after release. This result is sought by means of physical renovation, industrial and intellectual education, and general moral impression. In order to satisfactorily apply these agencies the science of penology has shown an indefinite sentence with a conditional discharge, including partial oversight after discharge, to be necessary. It is a fact proved by statistics that a large percentage of criminals are defective either physically or mentally, and have had an unfavorable heredity and environment.[2] Under the general system in this country no attempt is made to rehabilitate them during confinement. Criminals are first made to a certain extent by unfortunate heredity and unfavorable social conditions, and then confirmed by imprisonment. "Weak character and environment bring out the unfittest elements, and society by its treatment hastens to provide for their survival. When we see that, accord-

  1. Census Bulletin, No. 72, May 27, 1891.
  2. Of 552 convicts received at the State Penitentiary for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in 1886, 263 were found in a condition of impaired health, and 174 were in an unsound mental condition, as follows: Insane, 12; epileptics, 7; mentally undeveloped, 61; weak intellect, 77; idiotic, 17: 159 were inclined to grave diseases of the neurotic type, which tend to modify the moral, mental, and physical condition from inheritance of bad formation.