Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/224

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sion, if we may be allowed to use the same reasoning that he does. For his statistics only show that crime and education are both increasing. But that does not prove that the increase in education is the cause of the increase in crime. Diseases have increased during the past half-century, and so has medical skill; but that does not prove that the one increase was caused by the other. Perhaps the increase of diseases would have been far greater had it not been for the increase in the power to cope with them. So education may, for aught Mr. Reece's statistics prove, be the only thing that prevents a still more rapid growth in crime.

The statistics of our last report show that the most enormous strides in developing a criminal class have been taken in those States where ignorance, and not education, most abounds. If we take the ten States that have the largest number of citizens unable to write, we shall find that from 1850 to 1880 the ratio of their prisoners has increased over fivefold, from one in 5,400 to one in 970; from 1860 to 1880 it has grown threefold, or from one in 3,600 to one in 970; while the ten States that have the fewest citizens unable to write have swelled the proportion of their criminals only threefold for the longer period and only fifty per cent for the shorter—the figures being, for 1850 one in 3,100, for 1860 one in 1,500, and for 1880 one in 1,050. So that in the States of greatest illiteracy the relative increase of criminals during the last twenty years has been six times as rapid as in the States of least illiteracy. And if we ask in what classes the most ignorance is to be found, our census tells us that the foreign-born are fifty per cent more illiterate than the natives, and the blacks seven times as illiterate as the whites; and our census tells us. further that the foreign-born furnish one hundred per cent more than their share of criminals, and the blacks one hundred and fifty per cent more than their share.

Do not these facts prove that the advance in crime is the result not of education but of the absence of education? We might think so, if figures had not that reprehensible habit of being all things to all men. Therefore, we may find, upon a more careful examination, that there is some other cause than ignorance for this rapid growth of our prison population in certain parts of our country. If I am not mistaken, there are several such causes, some of them entirely independent of the change in the illiteracy of the nation. One of them lies in the transition from an unsettled condition to a settled condition on our constantly advancing frontier: another is in the change from slavery in the South; and, a third is in the gradual elevation of the standard of human conduct, making crimes of actions that had been only lawful escapades in earlier times.

The first cause comes out clearly if we compare the ten States