Publication information
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Source: Central Law Journal
Source type: journal
Document type: editorial
Document title: none
Author(s): anonymous
Date of publication: 4 October 1901
Volume number: 53
Issue number: 14
Pagination: 261

[untitled]. Central Law Journal 4 Oct. 1901 v53n14: p. 261.
full text
Arthur MacDonald; criminals (study of); criminals (treatment).
Named persons
Arthur MacDonald [misspelled below].



     The late catastrophe that befell our country in the violent death of our beloved President at the hands of an assassin has awakened into controversy important questions relating to the treatment and suppression of crime, which have never been satisfactorily answered. Prof. Arthur McDonald, specialist in the United States Bureau of Education, who has made a most extensive study of criminals and criminalogy and who is now engaged in promoting the establishment by the United States government of a Psycho-Physical Laboratory for the study of criminal, pauper and defective classes, recently stated several conclusions as to the origin and proper treatment of the criminal man based upon the experience of those who have studied criminals directly or who have had practical control of large numbers in prisons or reformatories. These suggestions are very pertinent at this crisis and are earnestly commended to lawyers and law-makers as a basis for a sound, practical advance in the treatment of criminals and the suppression of crime. These conclusions are as follows: 1. The prison should be a reformatory and the reformatory a school. The principal object of both should be to teach good, mental, moral, and physical habits. Both should be distinctly educational. 2. It is detrimental financially, as well as socially and morally, to release prisoners when there is probability of their returning to crime; for in this case the convict is much less expensive than the ex-convict. 3. The determinate sentence permits many prisoners to be released who are morally certain to return to crime. The indeterminate sentence is the best method of affording the prisoner an opportunity to reform without exposing society to unnecessary dangers. 4. The ground for the imprisonment of the criminal is, first of all, because he is dangerous to society. This principle avoids the uncertainty that may rest upon the decision as to the degree of freedom of will; for upon this last principle some of the most brutal crimes would receive a light punishment. If a tiger is in the street, the main question is not the degree of his freedom of will or guilt. Every man who is dangerous to property or life, whether insane, criminal, or feeble-minded, should be confined, but not necessarily punished. 5. The publication in the newspapers of criminal details and photographs is a positive evil to society, on account of the law of imitation; and, in addition, it makes the criminal proud of his record, and develops the morbid curiosity of the people; and it is especially the mentally and morally weak who are affected. 6. It is admitted by some of the most intelligent criminals, and by prison officers in general, that the criminal is a fool; for he is opposing himself to the best, the largest, and the strongest portion of society, and is almost sure to fail.



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