- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 25 Jan 1906, p. 137-142
- Archibald, W.P., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- The strangeness that the disbelief in the possibility of amendment on the part of the criminal should be so deep-seated and universal. Many signal instances of transformation of character and conduct occurring in prison. Religion and science encouraging the hope for change from a law-breaker to a law-abiding citizen. A new word, "psycho-physics" admitted to the dictionary. The psycho-physical study of human nature. What we have learned about mental impression and perception, memory, imagination, judgement, and emotion in terms of physiology. The correspondence between the order of succession of nervous phenomena and the phenomena of thought, feeling and volition. Expert treatment as the ideal of the new criminology. What that means in terms of research aims. The difficulty of the task. The tendency of the parole system to change the atmosphere of the prison. The rational basis for the parole system. How a delinquent is made to feel the possibility of his regaining a social status and becoming a good citizen. The tremendous change undergone by penal systems. Prevention better than any clamour or system for the cure of crime. Just now beginning to approach an ideal by insisting upon better homes for the poor and vicious. The wisdom of the parole system and the discretion exercised in its administration judged by results. Some figures for consideration.
- Date of Original
- 25 Jan 1906
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- Full Text
- THE NEW CRIMINOLOGY.
Address by Mr. W. P. Archibald, Dominion Parole Officer, before the Empire Club of Canada, on Thursday, January 25th, 1906.
Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen,--
It is strange that the disbelief in the possibility of amendment on the part of the criminal should be so deepseated and universal. Men and women equally guilty before law, human and divine, but who have not been exposed to the contamination and shame of prison life, have abandoned their evil courses in response to influences exerted upon them in free life. There have been many signal instances of transformation of character and conduct occuring in prison. It would be foolish to estimate the exact percentage of corrigible and incorrigible convicts, or to shut our eyes to the persistence of the criminal type of character, or to expect from the average prisoner anything more than that he shall cease to be a law-breaker and become a law-abiding citizen. Religion encourages this hope. So does science, as I shall now proceed to show.
The methods and achievements of science have profoundly modified metaphysical thought, so that a new word, psycho-physics, has been admitted to the dictionary. In the psycho-physical study of human nature, there is a constant recognition of the vital relation between mental experiences in the operations of the brain and of the nervous system in man, of their interdependence and reciprocal relations and influence. The researches of physiologists have shed light on much that was formerly obscure in the anatomical structure and functions of the body. We have learned that every mental impression and perception, every act of memory, of the imagination, of the judgment, of the will, every passing thought or emotion, is accompanied in this life, the only life of which we have experimental knowledge, by molecular changes in nerve tissue, by nervous activity and emotion. The paths followed in the accumulation and discharge of nerve force have been partially traced. By the aid of vivisection, scientific proof of their existence has been secured, and the functional utility of certain tracts of the brain has been demonstrated, enabling us to localize, to a limited extent, cerebral action, and to inspire the hope that the further prosecution of the investigations now in progress may dispel some portion, at least, of the mystery which enshrouds our present dual existence.
The correspondence between the order of succession of nervous phenomena and the phenomena of thought, feeling and volition, and the fact that certain of them are demonstrably simultaneous, have given definiteness and precision to metaphysical speculation with reference to purely mental operations, if such there are; and they have given us an intelligible theory of the formation of habits, which, physiologically speaking, are neither more nor less than reflex nervous discharges rendered automatic by their repeated occurrence until the paths worn in the brain have become, so to say, broad and smooth. The current of nervous energy accordingly takes the line of least resistance. This parallelism extends as far as consciousness enables us to follow it, and, no doubt, it is still deeper and more farreaching. It partially explains, perhaps, the well-known and familiar fact that bodily states, experiences and habits affect the mind, while mental states, experiences and habits equally affect the body.
Expert treatment is the ideal of the new criminology. In our researches we aim at nothing less than the suppression of evil habits and replacing them by their opposites; in other words, the wearing of paths in the brain which shall offer less resistance than the old, familiar paths; the creation of new habits of thought, speech and action, with or without the consent of the convict himself. This is a task of tremendous difficulty. It is revolution by means of evolution. It is education in the etymological sense of the word; the education of all the prisoner's faculties, physical, mental and moral, on a well-considered, well-grounded plan, scientific and practical at the same time, but differentiated to meet the conditions and needs of each individual case. Kindness must be blended with severity, hope aroused as well as fear, obedience insisted upon and enforced, and above all the good will and co-operation of the patient enlisted for his recovery. Difficult as the task may be, it is not impossible; but time is essential for its accomplishment. How long a time is uncertain and cannot ever be foretold in advance.
The tendency of the parole system is to change the atmosphere of the prison. The convict, when his opposition to our penitentiary discipline has once been overcome, comes to regard it as the abode of hope, not of despair. Sooner or later, he recognizes in the warden a friend, whose strongest wish is to lift him out of the degradation into which he has fallen. When he begins to perceive that it is himself who made war upon society and that society is not his enemy, as he had blindly imagined, his reformation is begun. When he learns the meaning and intention of the law, and becomes reconciled to it, like a wild animal tamed, his reformation is achieved. Affirmatively, therefore, as well as negatively, the parole system is shown to have rational basis.
Let no one think that these assertions are the language of a sentimentalist or a visionary. Their truth has been verified by experience. If a man has been in prison for a term of five years, more or less, it is a momentous instant for him when the guard slips the bolt and he steps out a free man. But if this man was a criminal five minutes before he was discharged from prison, so he is in principle five minutes after; moving the bolt only reshapes his circumstances without doing anything to change the man. Change of circumstance is no index of change of character. Constructive work in connection with the parole system has first of all to be put into the personality of the man before he leaves the prison; then there must be the effort on his part to reform and do better before the system can help him.
In the operation of the parole system we get to know the man from every standpoint before a movement is made to help him. Then a patron is sought out who will give the man employment, and also take a special interest in his oversight to encourage him in his endeavour to be law-abiding. Through industry and the newfound social environments a delinquent is made to feel the possibility of his regaining a social status and becoming a good citizen. Should he relapse into his old ways of living, the license is revoked and the man is returned to prison.
In the ordinary affairs of life men everywhere seek the causes which produce effects. Men are called into being, live their lives and pass away in obedience to natural laws which are as immutable as the movement of the tides. In the evolution of our penal administration the defect of the born cripple, the idiot, the insane, is no longer charged to the poor victim, who, unhampered, by the world, still has a burden as heavy as should be given any mortal man to bear. It is not very long ago that a world, about as intelligent as our own, believed that disease, deformity and sin came from the same cause--some sort of an evil spirit or genius that found his abode in man. The way to destroy the evil spirit was to destroy the man. But penal systems have undergone a tremendous change. The paramount purpose of all effort in our Federal institutions is to " correct with punishment." It is necessary at times to be severe in our treatment of the criminal, but never unrelenting. While charity sustains the heart, science and, religion must govern the mind. They are indissolubly joined in the treatment of the criminal classes. With these two elements in a man's make-up, the spectres of pessimism which generally haunt the background of our efforts will vanish.
Better than any clamour or system for the cure of crime is the purpose of prevention. For if to cure is the voice of the past, and to suppress is the command of temporary physical force, to prevent must be the divine whisper of spiritual power. Prevention did not begin soon enough to entirely prevent crime. To prevent crime, as in preventing ill-health, we should begin at least a century before the criminal is born. We are just beginning to approach an ideal by insisting upon better homes for the poor and vicious; by child-placing in well selected homes; and by the provisions of the juvenile Court. While even these excellent agencies cannot affect those whose early life is not touched by their beneficent influence, yet preventive measures may be applied to them at any point of their progress downward, and keep them from drifting further. Has society the right to punish a feeble being and not try to rescue, protect and correct it? To extend to a wayward one the friendly hand, to help it in its distress to forget, and make it forget, the past blemish and taint; to make into a good citizen one who might become a useless and dangerous being; is not only to serve the highest and truest interests of one's country, but to render a lasting and beneficial service to humanity. Chastisement to the delinquent without a possibility of a parole or pardon and forgetfulness, discourages and degrades the delinquent; the hope of rehabilitation provokes to effort and restores.
The wisdom of the parole system and the discretion exercised in its administration can be judged by results. From the adoption of the system in 1899 until the close of the last fiscal year there were 1,082 paroles granted. Of this number of prisoners paroled, 657, or about sixty-one percent, have completed their sentences, under license, without violation of the conditions imposed; while 325, or thirty percent, additional, have thus far respected the conditions of their licenses which are still operative. Those who have forfeited their licenses by subsequent conviction, and who may be thought to represent the criminal element of those under license, number 24, or but little over two percent. The remaining seven percent have been re-committed for non compliance with the conditions of the license, but without charge of criminality against them during the peril they were at large.
It cost the State $254 per capita for the maintenance of convicts in our penitentiaries during the past year. The 222 men released on parole this past year who have proved themselves satisfactory cases have turned producers. The State has not only been relieved of the cost of their keeping in penitentiary, but these men. working outside at labourers' wages ($1.50 per day) produce in the year over one hundred thousand dollars to the support of their families and themselves. I know many of those men who are earning ,three or four dollars per day, having good positions as capable mechanics, etc., in various cities of the Dominion. The following statement of results have been compiled from figures obtained from the Commissioner of Dominion Police, and I submit them for your consideration:
CONVICTS PAROLED 1899-1900 1900-1 1901-2 1902-3 1903-4 1904-5 Total From penitentiaries 71 122 157 113 122 127 712 From prisons jails and reformatories 1 53 89 65 67 95 370 Total 72 175 246 178 189 222 1082 Licensee cancelled for non- compliance with condiditions 5 9 19 11 16 16 76 Licensee forfeited by subsequent convictions 7 8 6 2 ... 1 24 Sentences completed on parole 59 141 139 124 96 48 657 Sentence not yet terms. 1 17 32 41 77 157 325 noted Total 72 175 246 178 189 222 1082