Crime and Its Causes by William Douglas Morrison


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Page 1

First Edition, _February 1891_.

Second Edition, _February 1902_.




CONTENTS.


CHAP.

I. THE STATISTICS OF CRIME

II. CLIMATE AND CRIME

III. THE SEASONS AND CRIME

IV. DESTITUTION AND CRIME

V. POVERTY AND CRIME

VI. SEX, AGE, AND CRIME

VII. THE CRIMINAL IN BODY AND MIND

VIII. THE PUNISHMENT OF CRIME

APPENDICES




PREFACE.

This volume, as its title indicates, is occupied with an examination
of some of the principal causes of crime, and is designed as an
introduction to the study of criminal questions in general. In spite
of all the attention these questions have hitherto received and are
now receiving, crime still remains one of the most perplexing and
obstinate of social problems. It is much more formidable than
pauperism, and almost as costly. A social system which has to try
hundreds of thousands of offenders annually before the criminal courts
is in a very imperfect condition; the causes which lead to this state
of things deserve careful consideration from all who take an interest
in social welfare.

In the following pages I have endeavoured to show that crime is a more
complicated phenomenon than is generally supposed. When society will
be able to stamp it out is a question it would be extremely hard to
answer. If it ever does so, it will not be the work of one generation
but of many, and it will not be effected by the application of any
single specific.

Punishment alone will never succeed in putting an end to crime.
Punishment will and does hold crime to a certain extent in check, but
it will never transform the delinquent population into honest
citizens, for the simple reason that it can only strike at the
full-fledged criminal and not at the causes which have made him so.
Economic prosperity, however widely diffused, will not extinguish
crime. Many people imagine that all the evils afflicting society
spring from want, but this is only partially true. A small number of
crimes are probably due to sheer lack of food, but it has to be borne
in mind that crime would still remain an evil of enormous magnitude
even if there were no such calamities as destitution and distress. As
a matter of fact easy circumstances have less influence on conduct
than is generally believed; prosperity generates criminal inclinations
as well as adversity, and on the whole the rich are just as much
addicted to crime as the poor. The progress of civilisation will not
destroy crime. Many savage tribes living under the most primitive
forms of social life present a far more edifying spectacle of respect
for person and property than the most cultivated classes in Europe and
America. All that civilisation has hitherto done is to change the form
in which crime is perpetrated; in substance it remains the same.
Primary Schools will not accomplish much in eliminating crime. The
merely intellectual training received in these institutions has little
salutary influence upon conduct. Nothing can be mope deplorable than
that sectarian bickerings, respecting infinitesimal points in the
sanctions of morality, should result in the children of England
receiving hardly any moral instruction whatever. Conduct, as the late
Mr. Matthew Arnold has so often told us, is three fourths of life.
What are we to think of an educational system which officially ignores
this; what have we to hope in the way of improvement from a people
which consents to its being ignored?

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Sun 15th Sep 2019, 16:37