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Criminal Psychology [NOOK Book]



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Criminal Psychology

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AT the National Conference of Criminal Law and Criminology,
held in Chicago, at Northwestern University, in June, 1909,
the American Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology was
organized; and, as a part of its work, the following resolution was

``_Whereas_, it is exceedingly desirable that important treatises
on criminology in foreign languages be made readily accessible in
the English language, _Resolved_, that the president appoint a committee
of five with power to select such treatises as in their judgment
should be translated, and to arrange for their publication.''

The Committee appointed under this Resolution has made careful
investigation of the literature of the subject, and has consulted
by frequent correspondence. It has selected several works from
among the mass of material. It has arranged with publisher, with
authors, and with translators, for the immediate undertaking and
rapid progress of the task. It realizes the necessity of educating
the professions and the public by the wide diffusion of information
on this subject. It desires here to explain the considerations which
have moved it in seeking to select the treatises best adapted to the

For the community at large, it is important to recognize that
criminal science is a larger thing than criminal law. The legal
profession in particular has a duty to familiarize itself with the
principles of that science, as the sole means for intelligent and
systematic improvement of the criminal law.

Two centuries ago, while modern medical science was still young,
medical practitioners proceeded upon two general assumptions:
one as to the cause of disease, the other as to its treatment. As
to the cause of disease,--disease was sent by the inscrutable will
of God. No man could fathom that will, nor its arbitrary operation.
As to the treatment of disease, there were believed to be
a few remedial agents of universal efficacy. Calomel and bloodletting,
for example, were two of the principal ones. A larger or
<p vi>
smaller dose of calomel, a greater or less quantity of bloodletting,
--this blindly indiscriminate mode of treatment was regarded as
orthodox for all common varieties of ailment. And so his calomel
pill and his bloodletting lances were carried everywhere with him
by the doctor.

Nowadays, all this is past, in medical science. As to the causes
of disease, we know that they are facts of nature,--various, but
distinguishable by diagnosis and research, and more or less capable
of prevention or control or counter-action. As to the treatment,
we now know that there are various specific modes of treatment
for specific causes or symptoms, and that the treatment must
be adapted to the cause. In short, the individualization of disease,
in cause and in treatment, is the dominant truth of modern medical

The same truth is now known about crime; but the understanding
and the application of it are just opening upon us. The old
and still dominant thought is, as to cause, that a crime is caused
by the inscrutable moral free will of the human being, doing or
not doing the crime, just as it pleases; absolutely free in advance,
at any moment of time, to choose or not to choose the criminal act,
and therefore in itself the sole and ultimate cause of crime. As to
treatment, there still are just two traditional measures, used in
varying doses for all kinds of crime and all kinds of persons,--
jail, or a fine (for death is now employed in rare cases only). But
modern science, here as in medicine, recognizes that crime also
(like disease) has natural causes. It need not be asserted for one
moment that crime is a disease. But it does have natural causes,--
that is, circumstances which work to produce it in a given case.
And as to treatment, modern science recognizes that penal or remedial
treatment cannot possibly be indiscriminate and machine-
like, but must be adapted to the causes, and to the man as affected
by those causes. Common sense and logic alike require, inevitably,
that the moment we predicate a specific cause for an undesirable
effect, the remedial treatment must be specifically adapted to that

Thus the great truth of the present and the future, for criminal
science, is the individualization of penal treatment,--for that man,
and for the cause of that man's crime.

Now this truth opens up a vast field for re-examination. It
means that we must study all the possible data that can be causes
of crime,--
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940015609523
  • Publisher: SAP
  • Publication date: 9/25/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 1,101,238
  • File size: 588 KB

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