Author: Masten, V. M. (Vincent Myron)
Crime — United States
Criminals — United States
COL. V. M. MASTEN
RICHARD G. BADGER
THE GORHAM PRESS
Copyright, 1922, by Richard G. Badger
All Rights Reserved
Made in the United States of America
The Gorham Press, Boston, U. S. A.
Very much in the printed page has been aimed wide of the mark alike of the prevention, the deterrence, and the reclamation of the predal felon.
It is intended that this semi-technical volume shall help to call the truly reformative turn. Also, the intention is that the subject matter of the book shall at once amplify and reënforce conclusions reached in The Crime Problem and Stop Thief! the author’s previous publications.
A distinctively scientific treatise on crime and criminals is not essayed by the writer, for the very good reason that such a treatise is not, at this moment, to any man’s hand. This, because human society seethes in the most fateful transitional state of all time up to this time; because human expression is more complex and varied than during any other period of human history; because material values change with constantly changing conditions; and because the criminal picks his tools and plys them agreeably with the pressure upon him of objective influences germane in those conditions of change.
The crass criminal presents no psychic problem. He is much as he was, impelled much as he was, when cavemen carried clubs. Having, usually, but mediocre mental equipment, and being crowded out of the big games of life, he has recourse naturally either to individual force, or to crooked cunning with which to match the throws of his better-equipped brothers.
By and large, the issue with the low-grade habitual forager is a very simple one; in the final analysis, he leaves society no choice other than to fight him with the like of his chosen weapons.
There will be isolated and sporadic exceptions to the general rule given; but as to the grand majority of marauding criminals, they must be met, both in and out of prison, with force more impressive than that which they employ; palpably so, else penal codes might as well be pigeon-holed for containing meaningless proscriptions.
It is as all would like it when the force can be confined to educative measures so ordered for sustained averages as to encourage the imprisoned to help themselves; but when they won’t help, just won’t, then steps must be taken which will make it practically impossible for them further to filch from their fellowmen.
If a thief will have it no other way than to be a thief, then control of him, and not his social rehabilitation, must be the desideratum.
Circumstantial felons there will be so long as social circumstance makes for them. Always a certain percentage will go down under the pressure of a closely competitive social scheme that recks but little of moral weaklings, and less of physical slackers; but such bear serious relation to criminal statistics in the sense only that they are dragged down to habitual crime appreciably by criminal recidivists; by repeating felons who forage on society by choice, who make no bones about it, who shout stout defense of it, and who glory in it.
With the latter class of criminals it is up to America to deal, and to do it now. During recent decades, and within and without prison walls, crime-breeding slack has been paid out to them until to kill ruthlessly means not so much to them as would warts on their hands.
Therefore: reformative régimes should function so as to free such prisoners of shackles forged by their lower selves. When refractory units will not coöperate to that end, the aim of society must be for deterrence that protects society from them, and no apology whatsoever to them for the deterrence.
For society habitually to bare its breast to the deadly strokes of derailed underdogs, just because they are derailed underdogs, is for society to spade at its own grave.
Statistics that involve general conclusions are avoided herein. They are, because under present opportunity for specific research, they cannot be made either substantially reliable or inclusive. At the best they may mislead. At the worst they will lie.
|II||The Criminal Mind||32|
|III||The Moral Criminal||51|
|VI||Links in the Chain of Crime||104|
|IX||Crime and the Lay Critic||154|
|XI||Psychology and the Criminal||192|
Criminal types there are, but there is no one criminal type.
Closely-allied criminous expression is vastly different as to individual intent. That will be so because the underlying causes for like offenders are dissimilar and variable.
The height of the offense usually squares with the depth of depravity, the which is no respector of facial or other deviations from the Apollo type.
Jails would be more numerous than churches, were natural criminals surely shadowed forth in visible signs such as long, tapering fingers; rodent eyes, or those bead-like, shifty, countersunk and narrowly spaced; bull neck, connected with a vertically-lined back head; laterally-extended side-jaw bones; protruding fore jaw; the ape’s forehead, marked by the ape’s fuzzy hairline, the same fuzzy hair extending inward from under the outer edges of the eye sockets; eagle’s beak, or more commonly, the tangential, flattened nose of the gorilla, with arms like his, unusually long and big-boned as compared with the rest of the frame; thin lips, emphasizing a cruelly-set mouth, or thick lip above a ponderous jaw; and ears in all sizes, conformation, setting and contour, opposed to the perfect model.
It is true that the predal felon frequently features several of such as the signs indicated. It is also true that millions of honest freemen feature the same signs, and do no worse than dissemble, as more or less do all humans. And it is further true that, in so far as emphasis on such symbols is concerned, the bulk of lawbreakers would pass unnoticed in a promiscuous crowd.
Still, close parallels prevail as between members of classes of the anti-social. They ply the same tools, speak the same language, are bound by and large by the same laws of clan, foregather in the same caves of earth, affect the same mannerisms and mental attitude, and spend ill-gotten gain for intrinsically the same things, if over different counters; but they do not yield of themselves in the same measure to the powers of darkness. If they did, the bulk of them would be capital criminals, instead of offenders against property.
Usually the pack are of one mind as to the method of procedure, else they wouldn’t “pal” it as one. Type then matches type as closely as members of criminal types match; yet no two will be actuated by absolutely the same motives, and no two will have come by motives to act in absolutely the same way. The demarcation may call for the most careful of research; but it will be there, and it will demarcate, if only by shading so slight as to escape other than the truly expert examiner.
Glaring cross-matches of type evolve not infrequently, as for example: of two on the same job, the one would ride rough-shod and quickly over human life to what he seeks. The other balks, then and there, at ruthless spilling of blood, and will “queer the deal” rather than be party to a killing.
The first duty of the criminologist is to probe to the cardinal causes for a given type of criminal. Doing it, he will uncover the fact that aside from the congenital thief—who thieves as naturally as his more polished prototype mulcts agreeably with man-struck statutes—the average criminal commonly consummates in effect to help whirl the treadmills of parasitic sporting mongers. He is the pawn sacrificed in the all-comprehensive predal game. His the lay to go out and “get the goods,” somewhere, anyway; theirs to induce him to stake his loot against odds that are unbeatable at long play. He takes all of the chances coming and going; but since he is a generous and constant provider, nimble-fingered and witted gentry pass some little of coin to grease his going, and to “stake” him, fresh from durance for having waxed a bit too bold while operating out of the domain of comparative immunity. In big cities, the “bull” usually gets him only when he bungles.
In any case it is “Easy come, easy go” with the criminal, both as to the gelt he gets and his punishment for getting it the way he gets it; and so, while plying their nefarious tools, all types of criminals play both ends against the established social order.
The marauding type figure, for instance, that it is clever business to crack a man on the cranium, relieve him of a money satchel containing a small fortune, “plant” the fortune, then if caught and convicted, loll around a prison for a few months; and it is “clever” as seen from the criminal’s point of view, however asinine it may be from the viewpoint of deterring him.
Right here hides “the nigger in the woodpile”: the thief is sentenced merely to serve time, without regard for restitution of that which he had stolen. In many cases the time served is little more than “sleepin’ time” the which he jeeringly dubs it; and in no case does it cover the question of equity.
What actual redress has a man for the loss of thousands of dollars, in the imprisonment of a malefactor, no matter how long his term of imprisonment runs?
What the deterrence in a comparatively short prison term that leaves the prisoner with a firm grip on his bundle of loot?
What expect other than that certain types of men will gladly dare issues written to their hands, hearts, and natural predilections? Why wouldn’t such go after what they want with murderous tools?
How repress the criminal by bidding for him, and how deter him through laying odds in his favor that are close to prohibitive as against society?
Where the sense in penal procedure that puts a premium, both in and out of prison, on the won’t-work criminal rounder, and blisters the itinerant who does no worse than hawk harmless wares?
Why, on the one hand, tempt cupidity, and on the other hand, tax honesty? And if, as an individual, you will have it that way, why feel peeved about it, shall an automatic be shoved against your stomach as a raucous voice bites off the command, “Cough up the coin?”
Penal law will serve the commonwealth as it should only when it shall have assured restitution in kind by the thief, up to the reasonable limit. This, as to immediate restitution of “planted” loot not only; but the sentence should further amerce to a fine of the unpaid balance, to be worked out usually in prison by the prisoner and credited to the account of the party, or parties, he robbed.
If fine in prison working days were not congruous with generous justice, then the penalty to further amerce to stated monthly payments by the prisoner on parole, to be held reasonably to his last by the State, or in lieu thereof, to be re-apprehended and required to pay by compulsion as stated.
Cases would come up, of course, whereof the exact lettering of law of the kind could not be executed; but such law could and should be framed so as to embrace the great bulk of predal offenses, and still carry sufficient of elasticity to enable committing magistrates to judge and dispose wisely for the common good.
It will be objected that such legal procedure would visit hardships on the families of offenders. Unquestionably that would be so in isolated instances, albeit the bulk of predal felons do not have families, and when they do, they are frequently a drag on them.
Again, it is, in the end, for the best interests of all concerned, that the State shall bring the last pressure to bear in order to stop the thief; particularly, marauding and foraging thieves. And again, the State could furnish work for the families of prisoners in cases of special need—and save money.
Through it all, relative distinction should be made as between the purely circumstantial and habitual thief. Not that social bon-bons should be tossed to the former; but that very close to even-handed justice should be meted out to the latter. So much distinctively should be done because by-choice predal felons always constitute the nucleus of crime and criminal intent in America.
Isolated cases will not be entirely congruous with any general rule of penal law; but consideration of the peace and security of the great mass must go before emotional procedure whatsoever which crosses the curbing of the gun-hung hound who goes a’riding to kill.
To split hairs of deterrence over confirmed social hyenas, is to furnish them with the last formula from which to tear things.
At any rate, the most efficient punishment is natural punishment. To make the thief pay in kind is absolutely the best way by which to discourage the thief; and shall he have been made to pay for a “dead horse,” he shall have, mayhap, for the first time in his life, absorbed an awakening respect for the law of consequence. And having got so far, mayhap there will be hope for him; but not so, so long as society practically furnishes him grist to grind in such as subterranean “protection,” false sentence, false probatory extensions, and false prison régimes which allow him to pick and choose, play up and down and under.
Specifically writing, the time to start “restitution” is in the time of youth, and the occasion, the first offense. Then, when the toll against a lad is comparatively in pennies, the degradation of thieving should be brought home to him in a parole paper contingent upon his restoration, dollar for dollar, of that of which he had deprived another. Thereafter, raise the imposition to suit repetition, so long as he is held subject to probation. At the reformatory, the same rule should hold, plus legal interest on the obligation—shall he have come up through a juvenile school of reform, after having broken probatory parole.
Measures of the kind wouldn’t cure all of thievery, since many thieves are born thieves who take to thieving as ducks to water; but they would serve in due time to cause the bulk of potential thieves to consider it most carefully before deciding for the anti-social chute.
Whatever the type of criminal, he is usually motivated cardinally in the selection of a criminal career by a very positive distaste for actual work. If he is an itinerant, half-baked tradesman, he will take a “flyer” here and there at his craft, especially while the police are combining for those of his kidney; but consecutive, concentrated endeavor in a humdrum groove he will not abide. And since his instinctive impulsions are those of the parasite, and his appetites those which require some little of money to satisfy, he takes naturally to the tools of the crook.
What crooked tools he will select will depend largely upon his natural fitness to employ them. Usually he aims to excel in his particular line, and he will usually choose the line in which he thinks he can do so. If he is rough-hewn, likes the feel of rough tools, and has the knack of handling them, he will likely enlist in the yeggman division. One whose tastes are more refined and temper more timorous, will naturally go in for forgery, if he guides a cunning tracing pen. The big-tent men, with nerve and daring, take the longest chance with superior intelligence and engraving skill, and keep paying tellers agog. Those who pack a plausible “gift of gab,” backed by no mean knowledge of the intricacies of high finance, as well as where the same does and does not trench upon legal proscriptions, constitute the Wallingfords of “fake” promotion; and lesser lights of the same persuasion who have neither the smoothness of personality, approach and attack of their bigger brothers, form the “now-you-see-it-and-now-you-don’t” fraternity of endless variety and variety of working tools. The sneak-thief runs true to his name, and is properly most dreaded by the clan criminal, some of whom he is most liable to “double-cross,” and others to euchre with the cards of the “stool-pigeon.” Second-story operators, his near relations, are commonly drug-soaked neurotics with a penchant for the air-line, and bizarre ways and means of getting to it and getting away with it.
Since the temptation is great to get a whole lot for nothing and to do it quickly, and since it is so easily done these days, the marauding criminal will be most any type of criminal; but he is commonly a murderously-inclined high-wit of his class of exceptional nerve and resourcefulness, to the first of which he is commonly helped by such as heroin, and to the second by that spitting devil in spurious hands—the automobile. When he is a low-wit, and plans accordingly, the “finest” betimes get him; and when they do, he is a low-wit indeed if he cannot flash an indestructible alibi. Why not, when the testimony of his retainers is accepted at its face value in our courts of law?
The above partition of the predal crew is far from final, either as to selection of tools, or the manner in which they are employed. There will be overlapping and underlapping all along the criminal line, although the criminal is commonly quite as nice as another about his caste, habitually foregathers with those of his attainment, and affects to spurn smaller fry.
But bear it in mind that no two criminals are impelled to criminousness by identically the same underlying impulsions.
The moral weakling stepped off with pyramided peculation, got caught at it, and lacking moral stamina to face out squarely a grave mistake, chose the supposedly lesser line of resistance to “easy money.”
This lad, congenitally tainted with light fingers, brought up in the midst of criminal suggestion, deprived of the benefit of influences that might have counterbalanced, literally kicked into the company of habitual thieves, finally casts his lot with them and lets it go at that.
That young man, inoculated with several species of the sporting bug, and with virus that saps at once his courage and vitality, gets entangled where he can’t get clear, juggles figures, and finds his way into a 6 x 8 cell, where, being a consummate ego-centric—spite of the miserable mess he has made of it—he indulges in self pity, swears to himself that “everybody gave him the worst of it,” and declares for reprisal upon society in general. This is the type most likely either to “overlap or underlap,” depending upon the prison régime and the after-parole circumstance.
Another, engulfed over a heartless wench who rouses in him the demon jealousy—through playing him against the fellow who flashes “real” money, and for whom she adjusts the base string of