OCR Interpretation

The day book. (Chicago, Ill.) 1911-1917, May 19, 1915, NOON EDITION, Image 7

Image and text provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Urbana, IL

Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045487/1915-05-19/ed-1/seq-7/

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By Jane Whitaker.
This is the story of Willie, who is
20 years old, and who has about as
much intelligence as a shaggy dog,
because Willie knows when he is hun
gry, but he doesn't know very much
He went to school until he was 16
serves his sentence not knowing why
he is there and he comes out and
commits another little criminal act
and he serves another sentence, and
some day it is very possible that Wil
lie will commit a very grave crime
and then the law will send him away
for the rest of his life as punishment
and he only reached the second and Willie will not know just why
grade. But he has been in other they are punishing him, for he has
schools. He has been in the John
Worthy school and in the graduate
school, the House of Correction.
Yesterday he was in the boys'
court, where he has been before, and
this time he was charged with break
ing into his stepmother's house to
steal a watch that had belonged to
his dead father. Also he was charg
ed with sleeping on the porch of his
stepmother's house, where he isn't
wanted, but he slept there because his
brother, who is older and more in
telligent, has tried to care for him
and found the task rather heavy.
There is the making of a criminal
in Willie, though when you talk to
him you think only of that shaggy
little doggie. He looks at you out of
rather trusting eyes; he bows his
head in what seems to be embar
rassment, but which is really a lack
of understanding of what you are
saying to him.
And one moment he hides away
two buttons that he wears at his
waist, one a picture of the Christ and
the other a picture of a girl, and then
again he proudly displays them. But
though he will tell you about the girl,
he doesn't want you to ask him about
the other button.
Willie has the making of a criminal.
So far he has been charged with mis
demeanors, and he has been punish
ed for them, though, of course, a civ
ilized community would not put a
shaggy dog in jail for stealing or for
being disorderly or for any of the lit
tle crimes Willie has committed. But
there isn't any place to put Willie ex
cept in jails and reformatories and he
the intelligence of a shaggy little
dog he knows when he is hungry.
After I had tried to talk with him,
and after I had learned his history, I
picked up a book written by Henry
Herbert Goddard, a doctor of psychol
ogy and director of research labora
tory of the training school for feeble
minded boys and girls at Vineland,
and in it I found this:
"The criminal is not born; he is
made. The so-called criminal type is
merely a tyne of feeble-mindedness,
a type misunderstood and mistreat
ed, driven into criminality for which
he is well fitted by nature. It is
hereditary feeble-mindedness not
hereditary criminality that accounts
for the conditions."
Dr. Goddard gives the percentage
of the mental defectives in various
reformatories and schools, which is
almost 50 per cent, and he continues:
"Even if a much smaller percent
age is defective it is sufficient for our
argument that without question one
point of attack for the solution of the
problem of crime is the problem of
"It is easier for us to realize this if
we remember how many of the
crimes that are committed seem fool
ish and silly. One steals something
that he cannot use and cannot dis
pose of without getting caught. A
boy is offended because the teacher
will not let him choose what he will
study and he sets fire to the school
"Another kills a man in cold blood
in order to get two dollars," and he
continues: "Judge and jury are fre-

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