Crime—From a Statistical Viewpoint

John Koren
1914 The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science  
Let no one be deluded by the superscription. It is not intended to exhibit a statistical picture of the conditions of crime in the United States. That demands an extensive knowledge of the facts which no one may profess to have. The humiliating truth is that statistics of crime, in the proper sense of the term, are largely an unfamiliar commodity in this country. This does not signify indifference about crime matters. We talk a great deal about them. Statutes are piled upon statutes in effort
more » ... tatutes in effort to prevent and punish criminality. Huge and costly experiments are undertaken for the reformation of offenders. There are even some who fearlessly, if not always wisely, seek to probe the crime question in its causative relations. Yet the fundamental facts in regard to the whole situation are lacking; we are not in position to take adequate stock of the problems we set ourselves to meet. In general the purposes of criminal statistics are: (1) To furnish a measurement of the volume of crime during a given period; (2) to present the facts in regard to the different manifestations of criminality and the different classes of criminals; (3) to exhibit the judicial methods by which crime is dealt with; and (4) to serve as a basis for intensive study of specific phases of the crime question. The ultimate aim is to acquire a solid body of facts upon which to base intelligent action. Now let us examine in some detail the available statistical evidence about crime and see how far it meets the modest requirements stated. For the United States as a whole, the decennial census enumeration of prisoners is the main source of knowledge. But no matter how painstaking such an enumeration is and how intelligently the results are presented, only that portion of crime comes under view for which men are finally convicted and sentenced to imprisonment. Manifestly, such a census reveals nothing in regard to the thousands who, although found guilty, escape further penalty through the payment of fines, by suspension of sentence, by being placed on probaat Yale University Library on May 15, 2015 Downloaded from
doi:10.1177/000271621405200109 fatcat:s672e2yivfgltgocwv3fnu4wte