In the blood-curdling outbreaks

And the time came, in 1913, when the wave of revolution in prison
methods struck the penitentiary which formed the background of the lives
pictured within these pages. Back of all my friendships with these men
had loomed the prison under the old methods, casting its dark shadow
across their lives. Many of them died within the walls; others came out
only to die in charity hospitals, or to take up the battle of life with
enfeebled health and enfeebled powers of resistance and endurance.
Almost as one man they had protected me from the realization of what
they endured in the punishment cells–from what the physical conditions
of prison life really were; but I knew far more than they thought I
did–as much as I could endure to know–and in our interviews we
understood that it was useless to discuss evils which I was powerless to
help; and then, too, I always tried to make those interviews oases in
the desert of their lives. But across my own heart also the shadow of
the prison lay all those years. Into the bright melody of a June
morning the sudden thought of the prison would crash with cruel discord;
at times everything most bright and beautiful would but the more sharply
accent the tragedy of prison life. Deep below the surface of my thought
there was always the consciousness of the prison; but, on the other
hand, this abiding consciousness made the ordinary trials and annoyances
inseparable from human life seem of little moment, passing clouds across
the sunlight of a more fortunate existence; and I was thankful that from
my own happy hours I could glean some ray of brightness to pour into
lives utterly desolate. So absolutely did I enter into the prison life
that even to-day it forms one of the most vivid chapters of my personal
experience. Accordingly, my point of view of the change in the prison
situation cannot be altogether that of the outsider. _I know_ what this
change means to the men within the walls; for in feeling, I too have
been a prisoner.

A little paper lies before me, the first number of a new monthly
publication from behind the bars of the prison I know so well. In its
pages is mirrored a new dispensation–the new dispensation sweeping with
irresistible force from State to State. Too deep for words was the
thankfulness that filled my heart as I tried to realize that at last the
day had come when _prisoners were recognized as men_, and that this
blessed change had come to my own State. I knew it was on the way; I
knew that things were working in the right direction; I had even talked
with the new warden about some of these very changes; but here it was in
black and white, over the signatures of the warden, his deputy, two
chaplains, the prison doctor, and several representatives of the
prisoners themselves: all bearing witness to the new order of things; to
the facts already accomplished and to plans for the betterment of
existing conditions. Of the fifteen hundred convicts fifty have been for
several months employed on State roads under the supervision of two
unarmed guards. The fifty men were honor men and none have broken faith.
Two hundred more honor men will be sent out in the same way during the
summer of 1914. Another three hundred will work on the prison farm of
one thousand acres, erecting farm buildings and raising garden and farm
products for the prison and the stock, and gaining health for themselves
in a life practically free during working hours.

To the men inside the prison walls the routine of daily life is wholly
altered. No longer do they eat in silence with downcast eyes; the table
is a meeting-place of human beings where talk flows naturally. No longer
is life one dull round from prison cell to shop, where talk and
movements of relaxation are forbidden; and back in silent march to
prison cell, with never a breath of fresh air except on the march to and
from the shops. This monotony is now broken by a recreation hour in the
open air every day, given in turn to companies of the men taken from the
workshops in which exchange of remarks is now allowed. In pleasant
weather this recreation is taken in games or other diversions involving
exercise. “Everything goes but fighting” is the liberal permission, and
recreation in cold weather takes the form of marching.

From October to May, for five hours in the day, six days in the week,
school is in session in four separate rooms, the highest classes
covering the eighth grade of our public schools. Any prisoner may absent
himself from work one hour a day if desiring to attend the school, and
can pursue his studies in his cell evenings. Competent teachers are
found among the prisoners, and no guard is present during instruction
hours. Arrangements are now on foot for educational correspondence
connected with the State university.

The time given to recreation and to education has not lessened the
output of the shops; on the contrary, the new spirit pervading the
prison has so energized the men, so awakened their ambition, that more
and better work is done in the shops than before. The grade of
“industrial efficiency” recently introduced serves as a further
incentive to skill and industry and will secure special recommendation
for efficiency when the men are free to take their own places in the

Nor is this all; for each prisoner as far as is practicable is assigned
work for which he is individually fitted. Men educated as physicians are
transferred from the shops to the staff of hospital assistants; honor
men qualified for positions where paid attendants have hitherto been
employed are transferred to these positions, thus reducing expenses.
Honor men having mechanical faculty are permitted during the evenings in
their cells to make articles, the sale of which gives them a little
money independently earned. Also in some of the prison shops the workers
are allowed a share in the profits. It is the warden’s aim to utilize as
far as possible individual talent among his wards, to give every man
every possible chance to earn an honest living on his release; to make
the prison, as he puts it, “a school of citizenship.” To every cell is
furnished a copy of the Constitution of the United States and of the
State in which the prison is located, with the laws affecting criminals.
Further instructions relating to American citizenship are given, and are
especially valuable to foreigners.

But helpful as are all these changes in method, the real heart of the
change, the vital transforming quality is in the personal relation of
the warden to his wards. In conferences held in the prison chapel the
warden makes known his views and aims, speaking freely of prison
matters, endeavoring to inspire the men with high ideals of conduct and
to secure their intelligent and hearty co-operation for their present
and their future. Here it is also that the men are free to make known
their prison troubles, sure of the warden’s sympathetic consideration of
means of adjustment. Heart and soul the warden is devoted to his work,
never losing sight of his ultimate aim of restoring to society
law-abiding citizens, but also feeling the daily need of these prisoners
for encouragement and for warm human sympathy.

Mr. Fielding-Hall, after many years of practical experience with
criminals, reached the conclusion that humanity and compassion are
essential requisites in all attempts “to cure the disease of crime,” and
the curative power of sympathy is old as the hills; it began with the
mother who first kissed the place to make it well; and from that day to
this the limit to the power of sympathy has never been compassed, when
sympathy is not allowed to evaporate as an emotion, but, hardened into a
motive, becomes a lever to raise the fallen.

It is largely owing to the sympathy of the present warden that light and
air have come into the moral and mental atmosphere of this prison. In
the natures of the men qualities hitherto dormant and undiscovered have
come to the surface and are in the ascendant, aroused by the warden’s
appeal to their manhood; and the warden’s enthusiasm is the spark that
has touched the spirit of the subordinate officials and has fused into
unison the whole administration. And the warden is fortunate in the
combination of men working with him. His deputy, the disciplinarian of
the place, served for twenty-five years on the police force of Chicago,
a position directly antagonized to crime and yet affording exceptional
opportunity for the study of criminals. True to his colors as a
protector of society, he now feels that society is best protected
through the reclamation of those who have broken its laws; he believes
that the true disciplinarian is not the one who punishes most severely
but the one who trains his charges to join hands with him in the
maintenance of law and order within their little community; and he has
already reduced the punishment record for violation of rules to scarcely
more than one-tenth of former averages; and the shackling of men in the
punishment cells is abolished.

The prison physician is an up-to-date man, fully in accord with the
views of the warden, and with admirable hospital equipment where
excellent surgical work is done when required. The two chaplains have a
missionary field of the highest opportunities, where a sympathetic
friendship for the prisoner during six days in the week becomes the
highway to their hearts on the seventh.

The faces of the prisoners bear witness to the life-giving influences at
work among them; the downcast apathy has given place to an expression
of cheerful interest, and the prison pallor to a healthful color. And
the old prison buildings–the living tomb of hundreds of men–are
themselves now doomed. On the adjacent farm the prisoners will
eventually build new quarters, either one modern prison into which God’s
sunlight and the free air of heaven will have access, or, better still,
a prison village, a community in detached buildings, after the plan
which has proven so satisfactory in other State institutions.

And what of the women sent to prison in this State? For fifteen years
and more they have been housed in a separate institution. This has never
been a place of degradation. Every inmate has a light, well-ventilated,
outside room, supplied with simple furnishings and toilet conveniences;
white spreads cover the beds, and the home touch is evident in the
photographs and fancy-work so dear to the heart of woman. The prisoners
in their dress of blue-and-white check are neat and trim in appearance
as maids from Holland. They number but sixty-five, and conversation is

The women have a recreation playground for open-air exercise and an
assembly-room for evening entertainments. They are given industrial
training and elementary education; and though the discipline is firm the
life is kept normal as possible; and wilful violation of rules seldom
occurs. The present superintendent is a woman of exceptional
qualifications for the position–a woman of quick, responsive
sympathies, and wide experience, with fine executive ability. A
_thorough_ course in domestic science is fitting the women for domestic
service or future home-making, and some of them are skilled in fine
needle-work and embroidery.

The lines in the old picture of prison life so deeply etched into my
consciousness are already fading; for while I know that in too many
States the awakening has not come, and the fate of the prisoner is still
a blot on our civilization, _the light has broken and the way is clear_.
Not only in my own State but to every State in the Union the death-knell
of the old penitentiary, with its noisome cells and dark dungeons, has
struck. The bloodless revolution of the reform movement is irresistible
simply because it is in line with human progress.

Not until the present generation of criminals has passed away can
adequate results of the widespreading change in prison management be
expected; for a large percentage of our convicts to-day are the product
of crime-breeding jails, reformatories, and prisons. The “incorrigibles”
are all men who have been subjected to demoralizing and brutalizing
influences. In the blood-curdling outbreaks of gunmen and train-holdups
society is but reaping the harvest of evils it has allowed. Not until
police stations, jails, workhouses, reformatories, and prisons _are all
radically changed_ can any fair estimate be made of the value of the
recent humane methods.

The basic principle of reform in those who prey upon society is the
changing of energies destructive into energies constructive. It is the
opening of fresh channels for human forces. Change of environment, the
breaking of every association connected with criminal pursuits, life in
the open in contrast with the tainted atmosphere of crowded tenements
and dance halls–all this has a healthful, liberating influence on the
mind; abnormal obsessions are relaxed, different brain-cells become
active, and the moral fibre of the man as well as his physical being
absorbs vital elements. That the laborer is entitled to a share in the
fruits of his labor is true the world over, and industry and efficiency
are stimulated by recognition of the relation of achievement to reward.

Strict repressive discipline applied to organized enslavement of labor
is in direct violation of all these principles. The penal colony seems a
rational method of dealing with those whose permanent removal from our
midst is deemed necessary. Time and again have penal colonies given
satisfactory solution to the criminal problem. Virginia and Maryland
absorbed the human exports from English courts, and their descendants
joined in the building of a great nation; while the penal colony in
Australia resulted in a civilization of the first rank. While the
deportation of our criminals to-day may be neither practicable nor
desirable, the establishment of industrial penal communities in every
State, on a profit-sharing basis, is both practicable and desirable, and
would unquestionably result in the permanent reform of many who are now
a menace to public safety.

Notwithstanding that progressive wardens are accomplishing all-important
changes in their domains, permanent reform work for convicts demands a
number of concessions in legislation. Until the contract system is
wholly and finally abolished in favor of the state-use system the power
of even the best warden will be limited. With the state-use system and
the prison farm the prisoners have a variety in opportunity of
industrial training almost as great as that offered on the outside.

That the earnings of prisoners, beyond the cost of their maintenance,
should either be credited to the man himself or sent to the family
dependent upon him is but fair to the prisoner, and would relieve the
county from which he is sent from taxation toward the support of the
man’s family. This is so obvious that it is now widely advocated for
both economic and humanitarian reasons, and in several States has
already been adopted.

Another concession is of still greater importance, since its neglect has
been in direct violation not only of every principle of justice but of
common every-day honesty. This concession is the recognition of the duty
of the state to make what reparation is possible to the man who has
suffered imprisonment for a crime of which he was innocent.

Years ago, during one of my visits to our penitentiary, a lawyer of wide
experience made the remark: “From what I know of court proceedings I
suppose twenty per cent of these convicts are innocent of the charge for
which they are here.” I did not credit that statement, and afterward
repeated it to another lawyer, who said: “I should estimate the
percentage even higher.” I did not believe that estimate either; nor do
I now believe it. But having worked up the cases and secured the pardons
of two innocent men, and having personally known two other men
imprisoned for crimes in which they took no part, I _know_ that innocent
men are sent to prison. Lawyers are prone to dispose of such instances
with the offhand remark, “Well, they might not have been guilty of that
particular act, but no doubt they had committed crimes for which they
escaped punishment.” I have positive knowledge of only those four cases,
but in none of them was the convicted man from the criminal class.
Another remark which I have met is this: “Doubtless there are innocent
men in prison, but there are more guilty ones who escape,” which reminds
one of Charles Lamb’s admission: “Yes, I am often late to business in
the morning, but then I always go home early in the afternoon.”
Plausible as the excuse sounds, it but aggravates the admission.

It happened some years ago in my own State that a working man was
convicted of killing another. Henry Briggs asserted his innocence, but a
network of plausible evidence was drawn about him and he was sent to
prison for life. His widowed mother had faith in his innocence and paid
two thousand dollars to lawyers, who promised to secure her son’s pardon
but accomplished nothing in that direction. Briggs had been in prison
some ten years when he told his story to me and I believed that he told
the truth. His home town was across the State from me, but I wrote the
ex-sheriff, who was supposed to know all about the case, that the
prisoner’s mother would give another thousand dollars to him if he could
secure evidence of Henry’s innocence and obtain his pardon. A long and
interesting correspondence followed, and at the end of two years
evidence of the man’s innocence was secured and Henry Briggs was a free
man. In his last letter the sheriff wrote me: “To think that all these
twelve years that convicted man had been telling the absolute truth _and
it never occurred to any one to believe him_ until you heard his story.”
But that ex-sheriff, who had collected his sheriff’s fees and mileage
for taking an innocent man to prison–he was really indebted to the
prisoner for a neat little sum paid by the county–yet that sheriff had
no scruples in taking the thousand dollars from Mrs. Briggs for righting
a wrong which, he frankly admitted to me, he had taken part in
perpetrating. Now, in common honesty, in dollars and cents, the county
from which Henry was sent owed the Briggs mother and son at least ten
thousand dollars; instead of which the mother was left an impoverished
widow, while the son, with youth and health gone, had to begin life over

When men are maimed for life in a railroad accident the owners of the
road are obliged to pay a good round sum in compensation. The employer
is liable for damages when an employee is injured by defective
machinery; but to the victims of our penal machinery no compensation is
made by the state, at whose hands the outrage was committed. It is true
that the injured party is at liberty to bring suit against the
individual who charged him with the crime, but as the burned child
dreads the fire so the innocent man convicted of a crime dreads the

But we are waking up to a sense of this most cruel robbery; the robbery
of a man’s liberty, his earnings, his reputation, and too often his
health; and we are coming to see that compensation from the state, on
receiving convincing evidence of the man’s innocence, is only the man’s
just due–is even far less than fair play.

To Wisconsin belongs the honor of taking the lead in this most
important reform, since in 1913 Wisconsin passed a law insuring
compensation in money from the State in every case where proof could be
furnished that one was not guilty of the crime for which he had suffered
imprisonment. A more just and righteous law was never passed. Money
alone can never compensate for unjust imprisonment, but the only
atonement possible is financial compensation and public vindication.

The measures so far considered are all remedial; but while we have
recently made rapid progress in measures applied after men have been
sent to prison we have thought little of preventive measures. And just
here we face again the spirit of the times.

All along the latter half of the nineteenth century men of
science–chemists, biologists, physicians–were studying preventive
measures to stem the tide of evil in the form of disease. Previously
medical science had been directed chiefly to battling with diseased
conditions already developed; but under the leadership of Pasteur and
Lord Lister the medical world was aroused to the fact that it was
possible to avert the terrible ravages of many of the diseases which
fifty years earlier had been accepted as visitations from Providence.
Henceforth “preventive measures” became watchwords among men devoting
themselves to the physical welfare of the race; and “preventive
measures” have also a most important relation to the moral welfare of
the community, and the way is opening for their application.

For instance, the imprisonment of innocent men would be largely
prevented by the abolition of all fees in connection with arrests and
convictions. The system of rewards for arrests and convictions is
absolutely demoralizing to justice; for as long as the whole battalion
of men employed to protect the public have a direct financial interest
in the increase of crime it is unreasonable to expect decrease in the
number of men confined in our jails and prisons. An official inspector
of jails and police stations in my own State reports that she has
frequently had police officers admit to her that it was a great
temptation to arrest some poor devil, since the city paid fees for such
arrests; and she further states that in Chicago the entire basis of the
city penal administration is fees, and she adds: “What better inducement
could be offered to officials to penalize some unoffending stranger
looking for work?” All the evils arising from this abominable and
indefensible arrangement would be in a measure decreased by the simple
process of abolishing fees and increasing salaries. This has already
been done in some localities; and doubtless the coming generation will
wonder how the feeing system could ever have been adopted or tolerated.

The most impregnable stronghold of inhumanity in dealing with persons
suspected of connection with crime is our police stations; especially is
this so in our larger cities. The police station and the feeing system
are the parent of one most barbarous custom; an evil most elusive, its
roots, like the roots of the vicious bindweed, so far underground, with
such complicated entanglement of relationships, as to be almost
ineradicable, involving in some instances State attorneys of good
standing, detectives, policemen, sheriffs–in fact, more or less
involving the whole force of agents supposed to be protectors of the
public. This abuse is called _the third degree_, or _the sweat-box_.

A man is arrested, accused of a crime or of knowledge of a crime. Before
he is given any trial in any court unscrupulous means are resorted to
in order to extort an admission of crime or complicity in crime–or even
of knowledge connected with a crime.

A physician who knew all the circumstances recently called my attention
to the case of a woman supposed to have some knowledge that might
implicate her husband in a burglary. The woman was an invalid. After
being kept for forty-eight hours without food or water, forced to walk
when she seemed likely to fall asleep from exhaustion, she was told that
her husband had deserted her, taken her child, and gone off with another
woman. She was by this time in a frantic condition, and when told that
her torture would cease with her admission of her husband’s guilt, too
distracted to question his desertion of her, she gave false evidence
against her husband and was set free.

The husband was in no way implicated in the crime, but the consequences
of the affair were disastrous to his business. He had never thought of
deserting his wife, but it was part of the scheme of the _third degree_
to keep the husband and the lawyer whom he had engaged from seeing the
woman until the end sought was accomplished.

A young lawyer told me of a most revolting _third degree_ scene
witnessed by him, and he told me the story as an instance of the
cleverness which devised a terrible nervous shock in order to throw a
supposedly guilty woman off her guard; the shock was enough to have
driven the woman raving insane.

Whenever I have spoken of this subject to those familiar with
_sweat-box_ methods, the evil has been frankly admitted and
unhesitatingly condemned, but I hear always the same thing: “Yes, we
know that it is a terrible abuse, but we have not been able to prevent
it.” It is simply a public crime that such a system should be tolerated
for one day. Mr. W. D. Howells has well said: “The law and order which
defy justice and humanity are merely organized anarchy.”

I have not hesitated to brand my own State with this _third-degree_
evil, but I understand it is practised also in other States on the
pretext that the end justifies the means–but what if the end is the
life imprisonment of an innocent man? I have in mind a young man who was
subjected to four days of _sweat-box_ torture. At the end of that time,
when even death by hanging offered at least a respite from his
tormentors, he signed a statement, drawn up by those tormentors, to the
effect that he was guilty of murder. The boy was only eighteen, but was
sent to prison for life, though it now seems likely that he had nothing
to do with the crime. However, it is difficult to secure pardon for a
man sent to prison on his own confession; and there is just where the
injustice is blackest: it cuts from under a man’s feet all substance in
a subsequent declaration of innocence, _for it stands on the records of
the case that he confessed his guilt_.

There are of course many cases where the _third degree_ is not resorted
to; indeed, its use seems to be mainly confined to the cities where
police stations are a ring within a ring. In smaller towns after the
arrest is made the case usually comes to trial with no previous
unauthorized attempt to induce the prisoner to convict himself, and, if
the accused is a man of means who can employ an able lawyer, the trial
becomes a game between the opposing lawyers, and both sides have at
least a fair chance. Not so when the court appoints a lawyer for the
poor man. The prosecution then plays the game with loaded dice; for it
is the custom for the court to appoint the least experienced fledgling
in the profession. Los Angeles, Cal., has recently introduced an
admirable measure to secure a nearer approach to justice in the courts
for the poor man, by the appointment of a regular district attorney for
the defence of accused persons who are unable to pay for a competent
lawyer. This appointment of a public defender has been made solely with
the aim of securing justice for the poor and for the ignorant foreigner;
it is a most encouraging step in the right direction, and seems a
hopeful means of exterminating the _sweat-box_ system.

We cannot hope to accomplish much with preventive measures until we
frankly face the causes of the evils we would reduce. That the saloon is
a prolific source of crime the records of all the courts unquestionably
prove; it is also one of the causes of the poverty which in its turn
becomes a cause of crime. The saloon is wholly in the hands of the
public, to be modified, controlled, or abolished according to the
dictates of the majority. This is not so easy as it sounds, but when we
realize that while the saloon-keeper reaps all the profits of his
business it is the taxpayer who is obliged to pay the expense of the
crimes resulting from that business, the question becomes one of public
economy as well as of public morals. The force which makes for social
evolution is bound to win in the long run, and the gradual elimination
of the saloon as it stands to-day is inevitable; and certain it is that
with the control of the saloon evil there will be a marked reduction in
the number of crimes committed.

The criminal ranks receive annual reinforcement from a number of sources
now tolerated by a long-suffering public. We still have our army of
tramps, caused in part by defective management of county jails where men
are supported in enforced idleness at the expense of the working
community; the result also of unstable industrial conditions and far
greater competition, since women, by cutting wages, have so largely
taken possession of industrial fields. Constitutional restlessness and
aversion to steady work also cause men and boys to try the easy if
precarious tramp life; and in hard-luck times the slip into crime comes
almost as a matter of course.

The trail of the banishment of the tramp evil has already been blazed
through Belgium, Holland, and Switzerland by the development of the farm
colony to which every tramp is rigidly sent. There he is subjected to an
industrial training involving recognition of individual ability, and
development along the lines to which he is best adapted. These farm
colonies are schools of industry where every man is obliged to work for
his living while there, and is fitted to earn a living when he leaves.
The results of these measures have been altogether satisfactory, and we
have but to adapt their methods to conditions in this country to
accomplish similar results. The elimination of the tramp is a necessary
safeguard to the community; and to the tramp himself it is rescue from
cumulative degradation.

Mr. Fielding-Hall, an Englishman, at one time magistrate, later warden
of the largest prison in the world, and the most radical of
humanitarians, after years of exhaustive study of the causes of crime,
declares that society alone is responsible. He adds: “It is no use
saying that criminals are born, not made; they are made and they are
made by society.” And it is true that in every community where human
beings are herded in foul tenements, herded in crowded, unsanitary
factories, or live their days underground in mines, we shall continue to
breed a class mentally, morally, and physically defective, some of whom
will inevitably be subject to criminal outbreaks. Poverty causes ill
health, and malnutrition saps the power of self-control.

Medical science is even now telling us that there is probably no form of
criminal tendency unrelated to physiological defects: brain-cells
poisoned by disease; brain-cells defective either through heredity–as
in the offspring of the feeble-minded–or enfeebled through malnutrition
in childhood, the offspring of want; brains slightly out of balance;
and, more rarely, the criminal impulse developed as the result of direct
injury to the brain caused by a blow. Crimes are also committed under
temporary abnormal conditions such as “dual personality” or double
consciousness. In this diagnosis of crime we find ourselves next door to
a hospital; and this class of criminals does closely parallel what
alienists call “borderland cases,” while the unscientific penologist has
carelessly classified them as “degenerates.” Physicians tell us that
when Lombroso was studying “types,” if he had invaded the charity
hospitals of large cities he would have found the same stunted,
undernourished, physically defective specimens of humanity that he
stigmatized as the “criminal type.”

Of two prisoners whom I knew well one was subject to slight attacks of
catalepsy, the other to epilepsy; each of these men had committed a
murder, and each said to me the same thing: “I had no reason to kill
that person and _I don’t know why I did it_.” Both these men were
religious and extremely conscientious; but when the “spells” came on
them they were irresponsible as a leaf blown by the wind; and while
passionately regretting their deeds of horror they seemed always to
regard the act as _something outside themselves_.

None of us yet understand the interaction between the mental and
physical in the nature of man, but the fact of this interdependence is
clear; and while progressive prison wardens are sifting the human
material thrown into their hands, giving comparative freedom to “honor
men,” and industrial training and elementary education to those within
the walls, they do not ignore the fact that there is a residue–they are
in all our prisons–a residue of men who cannot stand alone morally;
handicapped by causes for which they may not be responsible they cannot
hope to be “honor men” for they are moral invalids–often mental
invalids as well. That they should be kept under restraint goes without
saying. They need the control of a firm yet flexible hand, and they
should be under direct medical supervision; for back of their crimes may
be causes other than bad blood.[16]

Improved factory laws, better housing of the poor, the enforcement of
regulations for public hygiene, the application of some of the saner
theories of eugenics, the work of district nurses, all these are on the
way to reduce the number of diseased or abnormal individuals who fall so
readily into crime. Already we have several recorded instances when a
blow on the head had caused uncontrollable criminal impulses, where
skilful brain surgery removed the pressure, and with the restoration of
the normal brain the nature of the individual recovered its moral
balance. Every large city should have its psychopathic detention
hospital in connection with its courts, to be resorted to in all cases
where there is doubt of the responsibility of any person accused of
crime, and every large penitentiary should have its psychopathic
department for men sent to prison from smaller towns.

But when all is said and done, when the main sources of crime are
recognized and controlled, when sound sociology unites with Christianity
as the basis of management in every prison, when the “criminal type” of
Lombroso has been finally consigned to the limbo of exploded theories,
crime will still be with us, simply because human nature is human
nature; and whatever else human nature may be it _is_ a violent
explosive, whether we agree with Saint Paul as to “the old Adam” or
believe with the evolutionist that we are slowly emerging from the brute
and that the beast of prey still sleeps within us–not sleeping but
rampant in men and women allied in white-slave traffic and in those
responsible for the wholesale slaughter of mankind and the destruction
of property caused by war. Nothing short of the complete regeneration of
human nature can banish crime; and after we who call ourselves “society”
have done our best human nature will continue to break out in lawless
acts. As long as we have poverty in our midst desperate want will revolt
in desperate deeds, and poverty we shall have until the race has
reached a higher average of thrift and efficiency, and industrial
conditions are developed on a basis of fairness to all; and where there
is a weak link in the moral nature of a man undue pressure of
temptation, brought to bear on that link, will cause it to break, even
while in his heart the man may be hungering and thirsting for
righteousness. When the science of eugenics has given its helping hand
it will still be baffled by the appearance of the proverbial black sheep
in folds where heredity and environment logically should have produced
snowy fleece; and who among us dare assert that no infusion of bad blood
discolors his own tangled ancestry?

All the evils of poverty, vice, and crime are but expressions of
imperfection of the human nature common to us all. The warp of the
fabric is the same, various as are the colors and tones, and the
strength of the threads of which the individual lives are woven. Whether
or not we realize it, all our efforts toward social reform indicate a
growing consciousness of the oneness of humanity.

With all our imperfections, is not human nature sound at heart? Do we
not love that which seems to us good and hate the apparent evil? We do
not realize the insidious working of evil in ourselves; but when it is
revealed to us objectively, when it is thrown into relief by an outbreak
of evil deeds in others, our healthy instinctive impulse is to crush it.
Surely back of the religious and the legal persecutions has been the
desire to exterminate apparent evil; that desire is still with us but we
are learning better methods of handling it than to unleash the
bloodhounds of cruelty. We are beginning to understand that evil can be
conquered only by good.

As the words of the Founder of Christianity first led me into my prison
experience, after all these years of study of the subject I find myself
coming out at the same door wherein I went, and believing that every
theory of social reform, including all the ‘ologies, resolves itself in
the last analysis to a wise conformity to the Golden Rule. On the
fly-leaf of a little note-book which I carried when visiting the
penitentiary were pencilled these words: “The Christian religion is the
ministry of love and common sense,” and I have lived to see the teaching
of Christianity forming the basis of prison reform, and science clasping
the hand of religion in this relation of man to man. Henceforth I shall
believe that _nothing is too good to be true_, not even the coming of
universal peace.


[16] The relation of the criminal to the defective and the insane had
been clear to me for many years, and I could not understand the
disregard of the courts to any fact so obvious to the student of the
three classes. But most valuable work in this line is now being done by
Dr. J. M. Hickson, of the psychological laboratory operated in
connection with the Chicago municipal court, and the results of his
tests of the mentality of young criminals are now commanding attention.
Dr. Hickson unhesitatingly declares the need of reform in our laws and
our courts. The existence of this psychopathic laboratory is largely due
to Judge Olson, of Chicago, a man of most advanced views on penology,
and a practical humanitarian.