The Criminal College
(continued)

That something can be done with those figures seems obvious enough. Then, it would seem to follow, why isn’t something done?

We learn, roughly, that the criminal of today, by a large majority, ranges between the ages of twenty-four and eighteen.

By applied humanity, perhaps it is possible to understand why a boy at eighteen will turn to crime. Is it possible that it is directly related to the wish of society that he has never been born?

Oh, certainly not that! It is much too obvious. These things must be couched in polysyllabic sentences by men so overburdened with degrees that they wear out ten pens a day signing their names.

Certainly there can be no foundation for the idle statement that all true things are the easiest.

But, just suppose that there is some truth in this.

The individual man looks hazily at the rest of society. To himself he is clear and important and very much a unit. But in a haphazard way he believes that all the people around him are different than he. They are all tied together and he is the only person in the world who is wholly alone.

And because he must live in his own flesh house for more or less three score and ten, he knows he will have to associate with a tyrannical mind perilously close to the end of his nose. Therefore, he never blames himself for anything. If he sinks a hatchet into the head of his firstborn, strangles his wife, rapes the lady of his best friend and then embezzles the funds of his firm for the getaway, he utterly believes himself when he tells the world that he is being oppressed.

If she takes out her husband’s new car and dents a fender putting it back in the garage, she soars into a tantrum, throws things and feels very abused if her husband mildly cautions her to be more careful next time.

What, then, is the thought process of an eighteen-year-old boy when his elders show such astonishing lack of good sense?

He was placed, at the age of five, in a school. And there he was taught, along with his alphabet, that he would grow up to be an important citizen in this world. At home he is usually expected to amount to something when he "grows up."

He carries this innocent-appearing virus with him into his teens and, finding himself close to manhood and an important seat in the sun, he allows the germs to breed beyond all hope of inoculation against them.

And then at sixteen or seventeen or eighteen, uncouth truth rises like a concrete wall before him and he runs into it and bruises himself.

Experience, in a gagging dose, has informed him that there are only two people in the world who care whether he lives or dies. But he cannot always lean back upon his father and mother for the necessary feeling of importance.

Then comes a variety of things, never identical from case to case. A third person makes eyes at him and he wants to have money, which is denied him through the regular channels because the world does not care to give him a job. He wishes to appear important or daring among his fellows. He has a real, crying need for money and is hungry or cold.

That is the extent of his criminality at the moment. He is young and has therefore not had a long and battering experience to tell him that the easiest money is to be gained by the hardest sweat. He is not thinking of himself as a collective piece of society. He is an individual and needs something.


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