THE CRIME QUESTION 25
AN INQUIRY INTO THE CRIME QUESTION.
The statistical method I believe to be the mother of the great-
est errors advanced upon the question of crime in this country.
Especially is this true with regard to crime among Negroes.
It might interest, if it does not instruct, to mention a few of
the opposite conclusions and ridiculous inferences drawn by dif-
ferent investigators from the same set of tabulated facts and
The prison statistics of Massachusetts show that for the fif-
teen years between 1850 and 1885, there was one criminal com-
mitted for every 103 persons, but that for the fifteen years be-
tween 1870 and 1885 there was one commitment for every 83
persons, an increase in crime of about 25 per cent. It could not
be disputed; there were the figures, and they were official. Be-
yond all question Massachusetts was rapidly deteriorating, said
the statisticians. But what are the real facts? There was an
actual decrease in all crime during that period except in temper-
ance, and in that case the increase was not actual, but apparent,
being caused by the passage of more stringent prohibition laws
in 1874. This, of course, caused more arrests than before, though
there was no actual increase in drunkenness; simply better en-
Second. The statistics of 1880 show that there was not a
single case of drunkenness and disorder in Alabama and Ar-
kansas, and only 20 cases of assault in those States, as against