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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/486

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

not merely primitive or old-fashioned, but in many cases shamefully absent. In reply to requests addressed to the Secretaries of State of various States for official statistics of crimes committed in their respective jurisdictions, the answers I received were in a number of cases negative. The officials mentioned replied that no statistics were published by the State in Illinois, Georgia, New Jersey, Tennessee, Kentucky, Maryland, Vermont, California, Idaho, Missouri, South Carolina, Connecticut, Texas, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Mississippi, Virginia, Colorado, and Kansas. It is true that in some of these States this lacuna is filled in by special prison reports or reports of commissioners or of the attorneys-general. But even in these cases, as well as in those published officially by the State (Ohio, Indiana, New York, Massachusetts, and Louisiana), the information furnished is a monument of antiquated methods and of very little value to the student of criminology. How, then, can we study the grave questions of crime and criminals without a basis of computation?

It may be true, as some claim, that Continental jurists have refined the criminal law to an unpractical degree and too much on classic and theoretic lines, but it will not be claimed that by adhering to an old-fashioned and obsolete criminal jurisprudence the Anglo-Saxons are safeguarding their fundamental liberties. That there is something essentially wrong, or at least antiquated, with our criminal law is evidenced by the popular discontent against it, which is too widespread and insistent to be the result of ignorance or sentiment. If there is inertia as to changes in the law it is probably because, while feeling that there is something wrong, the people either can not define it or the conservatism of centuries in this field is unconsciously affecting their better intentions. Who will deny (and I address this question to lawyers and judges) that, under our system, guilty men escape and innocent men suffer in larger numbers than it should be, even allowing for the defects inherent in all human systems?—that technicalities and not facts often save scoundrels; that unscrupulous lawyers do not avoid them, and the best of judges are obliged by legal dogmas to respect them? Who will deny (and I address this question to sociologists and penologists) that the penal provisions of our present laws are inappropriate, inelastic, and unscientific; that they neither prevent nor reform; and that the basic principle of our penal codes is still retribution and punishment? Can it be that the right of life, liberty, and property is becoming a pious fraud? Of course, it is not claimed that we have less liberty now than our fathers had three centuries ago; progress never stops, and each day is something gained; but it seems clear that the juridic basis and