Harper's New Monthly Magazine,  11 (1885–86), 444–48.

Education as a Factor in Prison Reform

Charles Dudley Warner




Crime, Heredity, Physiognomy, Degeneration, Psychology, Education

    Contends that the 'heavy mass in our jails' were largely 'born in vice and nurtured in crime, inheriting or acquiring it young'. In fact, these men are 'in an abnormal condition, physically, mentally, morally. Physically they are brutalized, if not diseased. Look at their faces, the shape of their heads; they are heavy, logy in movement, coarse in fibre, physically degraded, as a rule. Crime, the habit of wickedness, is not only stamped upon the face, it is ingrained in the physical man, and [...] I mean this literally, that the flesh itself is inert, debased, even where it is not organically impaired by vice'. Goes on to argue that this 'heavy, degraded body is a type of the distorted, abnormal mind. The mind may not be what the psychological specialist would call diseased, but it is dwarfed, and either undeveloped or far from being in a healthy state', and although it may be 'sharp, ferret-like, cunning [...] it is narrow, non-receptive; it wants stability, character'. (445) Proposes the 'universal application' of the 'philosophical and capable' system of prison education employed at the Elmira Reformatory in New York State (446), where inmates are educated both 'psychologically and physiologically' and made to 'obey rigid rules of order and decency' that make them 'form new habits' by which the majority are 'changed sensibly and probably radically' (447).

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