Puslapio vaizdai

It is useless to talk about the criminal in terms which are different from those we use about other human beings. They do different things because they have different habits and different interests in life, they do them in terms of common human needs habits, approval, love, friendship, loyalty. And then the boy is arrested again. His sentence to prison is a repetition of an old experience. After a few years he will be out again to carry on the old game. Then again the same story. Or he is shot in some gang feud or dies of some disease contracted in his irregular life. He becomes a narcotic, a derelict, a broken body in a rickety world. Or he may be sentenced to prison for twenty years, for life, or to be hanged. His career comes to an end when he is a young man, usually under thirty, and sometimes under twenty-one. Recently Warden Laws of Sing Sing Prison pointed to the fact that out of twenty-one men he had in the death house nineteen were under twenty-one years of age. And that is the typical career of the average professional criminal.

All he knows about life, about people, about the world, is limited and circumscribed by this curious contact with the world in this circular relationship. After a while he accepts it as a matter of course. He bargains upon the amount of freedom he may have, hopes for escape, for total freedom from arrest, but bargains with fate and gives hostages to freedom, calculates his chances, and accepts the inevitable with stoicism. He turns with bitter revenge upon the traitor, builds up a code of honor and rules of the game; he must be fairly caught and fairly dealt with a recognized punishment for a

recognized deed of evil. He bargains with the district attorney, "cops a plea," calculates the amount of "good time" that he can save by good behavior, uses his friends to secure leniency in judgment, bribes the policeman to change his charge, frightens the witnesses, or buys them or pleads with them to forget or to change their charge or to fail to appear in court, accepts imprisonment as a part of the game, and hungrily returns to the gang and to his career of crime again for another indulgence.

A world of contacts and friendships is built up, and a code of honor. A good criminal and a "square guy" is known and respected; a famous one is lauded and sought after; a clever one is admired; a “snitch" is hounded, persecuted, and even killed. Treason to the gang, to the rules of the game, is unforgivable. So strong is the tradition that strangers may execute a common judgment even if they have not been hurt personally. In between are great emotional strains and fears. The exciting life leads to the need for excitement, stimulants are needed, perversions are acquired and practised, and the best foot is put forward, and the best face is turned upon misfortune. A man takes his "bit" just as a soldier takes his wound, decently and without whining. The community itself has developed a certain admiration for the good and honest criminal. Think of the admiration involved in the columns of news given to O'Banion in Chicago, who was known to be guilty of some thirty murders. Or to Chapman; he is almost a hero. The police themselves speak with admiration of these men and boast of their friendship with them, and the wardens and guards will often tell you proudly

how they handled them and got needs we have. We live by doing the along with them.

8 4

The part the institutional career plays in keeping the man bound to his world of crime, to his experiences as a criminal, to his hungering for a return to the field from which he came that part is misunderstood and overlooked. The prison term is looked upon as punishment and as a separation from the world of crime. The prison was first built in the hope of isolating and gradually cleansing the criminal of his sins by giving him time for communion with God, for pondering upon his failures in life, to resolve to do better, to forget the old, and to lay the foundation for the turning over of a new page in life. As a matter of fact, it has the opposite result. It is perhaps not too much to say that the prison is the chief reason for the continuance of the criminal career, for the return of the criminal to his previous haunt. The fact that approximately seventyfive per cent. of the professional criminals are known to be recidivists (have been in prison before) is sufficient proof that confinement does not keep them from returning. The object of the prison is not fulfilled in practice. The reason for that is not always clear and needs to be explained in some detail.

People you and I, every one-live in terms of experience. We are imbedded in a stream of experience and are carried along by it. Our habits and our physical needs, which are served by these habits, are but contacts, relations, interests. They are They are loves, hates, friendships, acts; they are a satiation of the things we need and the way we have learned to feed the

things we do in the way we do them with people as part of the process. We practise upon other people as part of the materials of the very life we live. We carry on in a stream of experience which is both our limiting relation as well as our opportunity, but, what is perhaps most important of all, our emotional contact with the world. When arrested, the criminal leaves the stream of life experience outside the prison wall, and nothing takes its place. But man must live in terms of experience; he cannot live outside of it. After a few days, when the physical side of the prison has become a recognized and identified existence, the man slips back to the world outside. He lies on his cot and thinks, or rather indulges in day-dreams, of the things he did, the friends he had, his loves, his hates, his adventures, his world. goes over the thing emotionally. He lives, that is, feels, over again and again the things he felt before. Experience must either be present—the thing that happens and absorbs now, that occupies attention, interest, and brings self-forgetfulness now or it is lived in terms of the past, in what brought forgetfulness of self before. The very future that men build is rooted in the past. The castles in the air are but projections of past experiences, with past failures out of the way. They may be up in the air, but they have foundations in the ground of past behavior, past experiences, past glory and shame.


Day-dreaming for the criminal becomes a substitution for living: he lives in the past because he is not living in the present. Day-dreaming is but chewing the cud of the past, and being denied the very things that made life

go. The criminal returns to them emotionally because he can feel again the past, though he cannot live it. That is in the nature of an emotional fixation. The little things drop out with time, and the keen, vivid emotional interests remain. The love, the hate, the fear, the anger, the chase, the stirring things, remain. The days pass into weeks, and the weeks into months and years. The further away the world slips in reality, the keener and the more insistent become the emotional substitutes for it. He daydreams at his work,-it is mechanical and uninteresting,—and his glance is backward, turned upon the past. At night he lies on his cot and lives over again the battles and loves of yesteryears and builds new programs like unto the past. He can do nothing else; he must carry on the stream of the past because there is no present.

And so the world becomes more and more unreal, more and more emotionalized, more and more tense and vivid. Sometimes the dream world becomes a complete substitute for the real prison world, and the man goes insane; he may even become violent. That is the reason why there is comparatively more insanity in prison than in freedom; there is more day-dreaming; there is less real check upon life, less real substitutes for the dream. If he does not go insane, he always overemphasizes the feeling of content of the past. Upon release, he returns to the world from which he came; he is more inevitably bound to it than ever before.

What shall we do about it? Our Our present system of dealing with the criminal and the problem of crime is a futile exercise in despair and bad humor. It seemingly has no relation

to the problem involved-that of changing the habits, the life interests of the people whose behavior is unsocial-or at least of intelligently trying to achieve such a metamorphosis in character. For it is in its residue in behavior, habit, that the system must express itself.

A short discussion of the court technic will complete the picture of the process the community employs in making the criminal. The court is confined by its organization to an examination of the act that the man is charged with. The definition is an artificial one made by a legislature apart from the specific person who actually is under trial. The lawyers and the district attorney engage in a dialectical game of trying to prove or disprove that the man did the thing involved. There is passionate contention and appeal to the emotions of the jury, and then the conviction of the criminal and the sentence. The question, Why did he do it; what kind of man is he? is slurred over. The sentence is for an arbitrary time, a few years or months, depending on the caprice of the judge and the latitude of the law. The whole thing has its origin in the definition of crime as a malicious, deliberate choosing to do evil. Hence a need for compensating punishment. It goes back to the notion that a man who does evil is possessed of evil, and that you can "exorcise the devil," drive him out by pain. It is based on the assumption that men act in terms of a calculation of pain and pleasure, and that you can remake a man by balancing the pain he gives to the community by the pain he receives from the community; that if you treat a man badly enough, you will ultimately make a

saint out of him; that if you sear and scar a man for evil, he will mellow and soften and be saved. None of these assumptions are true, and none of them is acceptable as a basis for the development of a legitimate penal system.

The scheme is breaking down; the juvenile court is a breach in the prerogative of the criminal law. And even there we are going from defining the child who gets into trouble as a "delinquent" to defining him as a "problem child." When we have done that, the juvenile court will give place to the medical and psychological technic for the handling of the boy, and we shall dispense with the court procedure, just as we do in a hospital. The scheme is also breaking down with a broadening of the definition of

the term "irresponsibility." We are going from insanity to admitting notions of psychopathic personality. But as long as we are organized to scrutinize the individual act of the man rather than the man himself, and as long as our court procedure is in terms of adjusting penality to an evil act, just so long will a rational consideration of the problem be very difficult, if not impossible. Until we concern ourselves with the problem of reconstruction, center our attention there rather than upon the individual act, with legally and arbitrarily defined judgments, just so long shall we be playing an innocent game of hide-andseek with antiquated notions, while leaving the problem of crime very much the way it was yesterday and is to-day.

The Mistress of the Inn


What, does one spread the table for a stranger
Before he 's showed his passport, signed his name?
A harbor-town like this, we 're all in danger
Of being left with the sack. I ruled the same
For all comers-they 'll remember how I said it:
First, if you please, the color of my pay?

To you, you only, I'd have given credit;

You could have chalked the slate and sailed away,

You who, entering, halted, let your quick glance scan
The place, tossed a scornful sixpence to the porter.
(No ships, these days.) That tight-fisted harridan,
Life, might at least give back as good as I've brought her,
I who watch above a waste of gray-green water

The flappings of a mateless pelican.




HE day was too hot. How could any one, he wondered, expect him to make a decision on a day like that-especially a decision which he would be required to abide by in cold weather as well, with no allowance for heat expansion.

But there it was. He must either marry her, or buy her an armful of roses, see her to the train, and cut their lives apart. Her family was moving to Tennessee,-God help them in weather like that!-she was going with them, he was staying there; and did he want her? It was all a-jumble in him. He knew that he ought to feel very acutely. It was too hot.

He turned out on to Fifth Avenue, the side of it which had a reluctant little strip of shade running along its edge,-to ferry back and forth on foot instead of going into a hot place to eat. He could eat in the evening, when the sun had gone down.

Forty-seventh, Forty-sixth, Fortyfifth-all the streets had disgorged hot men and women into the avenue, the avenue had beckoned them to its spuriously shady side, and there they were, packing around and about him. So thick were they that now and then he had the feeling as he walked that some one had just ducked between his legs. Swarms of motorbuses and cars fanned blue clouds of gasolene toward the pavement.

He wished he had stilts a hundred feet high-stilts with sharp steel points on them for impaling other hot men and women.

She was moving to Tennessee, and did he want to marry her? He knew it lay with him. All. She would say yes. She had said yes before, many times, in telling him that he looked better in tweed than in serge, and that he must get more exercise. Her interest, her suggestions, all had such a permanent air.

There was a girl-there, waiting to cross the avenue, who looked something like her. But Elsie would have looked flushed and warm. This girl really did not. Insolence! More beautifully wrought, too. A dainty profile, and the profile carried down her whole figure, daintily. There was something about the smoothness of her cheek, blending shadow-like under the eyes-something aboutsomething about—

Too bad he could n't meet her. Why not? With all of life before him, and he just about to marry a girl who looked something like this one, but not quite so desirable-too bad he could n't tell this girl and know her. Custom was taking a good deal of responsibility on responsibility on its shoulders in keeping him from knowing a girl who might transfigure his whole life.

Perhaps he would meet her some

« AnkstesnisTęsti »