Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/280

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268
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

long, we believe, before public opinion will sanction its employment in their case.

The conclusion of the matter for the present is, that society is taking far too little interest in the questions which Mr. Boies so ably and earnestly discusses. It must be aroused from its easy-going indifference, or our boasted civilization will not be worth many generations' purchase. Philanthropy has taken the job of keeping up the standard of the human race out of the hands of natural selection; and it now devolves upon it to show that, aided by science, it is equal to its self-imposed task, and can indeed accomplish results that never could have been accomplished by the operation of unconscious laws.

 


LITERARY NOTICES.

Prisoners and Paupers. A Study of the Abnormal Increase of Criminals, and the Public Burden of Pauperism in the United States; the Causes and Remedies. By Henry M. Boies, M. A. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1893. Pp. 318. Price, $1.50.

Mr. Boies had peculiar facilities for the production of such a work as this and he has used them ably. In his preface he says that he has in this work not only endeavored to give a general view of the subject as it appears in this country, "to emphasize the waste of human sympathy and public funds which results from what appears to be inconsiderate and misdirected methods of treatment," but he proposes a most feasible—he says, "positive remedy."

The eleventh census of the United States, which is now being published, "furnishes statistics of a national growth in numbers, wealth, and general prosperity unparalleled in the history of civilization." Nevertheless, this census, says the author, makes some disclosures which are "appalling in the highest degree to our confidence in the future." One of these is the extraordinary increase in the criminal classes; and he shows that while in 1850 the proportion of criminals was 1 in 3,500 of the population, it increased in 1890 to 1 in 786·5, or 445 per cent; while the increase of population in the same period was only 170 per cent.

Mr. Boies claims that "such a disproportion can not continue indefinitely without a relapse into barbarism and social ruin." And he explains his statement by telling that such a condition of affairs does not exist in any other civilized nation. He attributes the first cause for crime and pauperism to the unnatural increase of intemperance; the second, "the crowding of the people to the centers."

The third cause lies in the existing laws for the punishment of criminals and the unintelligent manner in which they are administered. And having thus briefly summarized the conditions of paupers and prisoners generally and the causes for their existence, the author reviews the awful criminal condition of Pennsylvania, and in the sixth chapter begins an examination of the classes which form the prison and pauper population of the country.

In this part of the work it is stated that that portion of the population which is foreign-born, or having one or both parents foreign-born, furnishes over one third of the criminals and three fifths of the paupers of the country, whereas they constitute only one fifth of the whole number. From this the author concludes that to avert the danger "which has become imminent, and threatens our very existence, . . . Congress must regulate immigration as the initial remedy."

The excessive increase of criminals from the negro population occupies the next chapter, and the anomalous proportion of criminals among the population of African descent is so startling that Mr. Boies analyzes the causes very minutely. It appears, he says, that although "they constitute less than 13·51 per cent of the total population, yet they contribute one third of our convicts, though only 8·8 per cent of our paupers." Further on he says that this alarming increase "is quite as important and threatening as the foreign element," which has been considered. The cause for this disparity of criminals and paupers he claims is that "a ruling white minority (in the South), possessing the wealth, stands over a black majority which is paid for their labor actually less than the fairly comfortable subsistence which they received as slaves, and denies to them every right of equality. . . . This is as hostile to true Americanism as was slavery." And he continues.