Page images

88 per cent were induced by alcohol; while the percentage of their crimes against property due to the same cause was but 77. Quite similar results were obtained for Italy through Marro's researches.1 The fullest and most carefully digested statistics have been gathered for Germany. Baer gives figures for the penitentiaries showing that 75.5 per cent of assaults; 68.8 per cent of robberies and murders; 63.2 per cent of simple homicides; and 60.2 per cent of sexual crimes are caused by alcohol; while in the common jails the percentages for alcoholic crimes of violence are even higher."

Statistics for the period 1883-1902 confirm Baer's earlier conclusions. In the entire empire the average number of crimes committed for every 100,000 civilians of punishable age was as follows for five classes of offenses: (1) resisting officers, etc., 41; (2) felonious assault and battery, 1.58; (3) theft, 201; (4) fraud, 47; (5) aggravated assault and battery, 196. It is enlightening to observe that for the first and fifth of these classes, where we should expect drunkenness to be a cause, the averages are high. Furthermore, in several districts on the same basis of 100,000, the number of convictions for aggravated assault and battery is startlingly large. For instance, in Bromberg it is 358; in Southeastern (Lower) Bavaria, 441; in the Palatinate, 517. Thus these offenses "are concentrated at three points." The reason is not hard to find. "The three centers of this brutal crime are also the three centers of alcoholic indulgence in its various forms: in the east (Bromberg), spirits; in Bavaria, beer; and in the Palatinate, wine."3

Here an interesting question arises: which of the three rival kinds of alcoholic drink is the most efficient maker of criminals? In the comparison just made wine takes precedence; but for Germany as a whole, and probably also for America, the leadership seems to belong to beer. The researches of Wlassak' indicate that in the descending scale the sequence is "beer, wine, spirits." In

1 Lombroso, op. cit., pp. 96-99; Marambat, in Revue scientifique (1888).

2 Baer, Der Alkoholismus (Berlin, 1878).


3 Aschaffenburg, op. cit., pp. 43-44.

Wlassak, Der Alkoholismus im Gebiete von Mährisch-Ostrau; Aschaffenburg, op. cit., p. 44.

any case, "we can certainly agree with Földes' in thinking that the kind of beverage is unimportant, as compared with efficacy of the alcohol it contains." If this conclusion is just, it warns us against making what may prove to be a fatal mistake: the amount of crime and most likely of the other evils due to alcohol will not be lessened by substituting beer for spirits or even for wine. It may even be increased; for the tendency is to consume it in relatively larger quantities, partly under the illusion of its alleged less dangerous effects. It is the quantity of alcohol which counts.

For crimes of violence English statistics tell a tragic tale. Measured by districts, the number of assaults and homicides rises steadily as the amount of drunkenness increases in passing from region to region. According to expert medical research (1907), at least 60 per cent of the graver homicidal offenses and about 82 per cent of the minor crimes of violence are chiefly due to alcohol. It is responsible for half the crimes of lust. The violation of children occurs most often in "seaports where alcoholism is most rife"; while rape on adults, like very many other crimes, is frequently the result, not of chronic, but of simple drunkenness.3 "In England, where it makes itself felt with most intensity," remarks Lombroso, "alcoholism enters as a cause into no more than 77 per cent of the cases" of crime.4

The European figures just presented must be taken for what they are worth. They are approximations to the truth won by expert investigations of limited extent. They probably fall short of measuring the whole volume of criminality due to intemperance. Vast as is the number of felonies and other heinous offenses caused by

[ocr errors]

Földes, "Einige Ergebnisse der neueren Kriminalstatistik," Zeitschrift für die gesammte Strafrechtswissenschaft, XI, 535; cf. Aschaffenburg, op. cit., PP. 44–45.

* Consult Aschaffenburg, op. cit., pp. 44-46, and Elizabeth Tilton's enlightening discussion, "Is Beer the Cure for the Drink Evil?" Survey, XXVII, 599-604, February 24, 1917, showing that beer is an efficient producer of both disease and crime. "No other drink is so insidious," affirms Professor Gustav von Bunge; and these conclusions are sustained by the researches of Professor Emil Kräpelin and other German experts.

3 William C. Sullivan, "The Criminology of Alcoholism," in T. N. Kelynack's The Drink Problem, pp. 189–98.

4 Lombroso, Crime: Its Causes and Remedies, pp. 98-99.

alcohol, the number of lesser crimes is much larger. In certain groups of prisoners the percentage of alcoholic convicts mounts as high as 96 or even 100. Very convincing are the facts disclosed by the careful and elaborate report of the Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics of Labor for the year closing August 20, 1895.2 Only the general results of the investigation may here be mentioned. For one year in one state, for all classes of crime, including drunken-` ness, 26,672 persons were convicted. Of these, 21,863 were under the influence of liquor at the time the crime was committed. Again, when the intent to commit the crime was formed, 4,206 are reported as "in liquor"; 4,866 as "sober"; and the rest, 17,600, as "not ascertained." To the question, "Did the intemperate habits of the criminal lead to a condition which induced the crime?" 22,514 answered "yes"; while in 16,115 cases that "condition" was in part induced by the "intemperate habits of others." Here, as in Germany, beer is the "ranking" drink as a producer of lawbreakers. On the average each convict was "addicted" to 2.97 "kinds of liquor"; but while 8,891 reported as addicted to wine; 20,251 to distilled liquor; and 22,233 to malted liquor, the highest number of all, 23,355 convicts, confessed that they were addicted to lager beer.

Furthermore, these tables reveal another fact which should quicken the social conscience: the largest percentage of alcoholic criminals is yielded by the "occasional drinkers" (18,571); the next largest, by the "social drinkers" (18,392); while at the bottom of the list are the habitual or "excessive drinkers" (4,516). Baer obtains a similar result for Prussia: 52.2 per cent of the alcoholic convicts in the penitentiaries and 70.4 per cent of those in the prisons are reported by him as "occasional" drinkers. Decidedly the social or occasional drunkard is a serious menace to society. The constant drunkard may not be quite so capable of the homicidal rage as is the fitful drunkard; but, like the constant opium smoker,

'Lilian Brandt, "Alcoholism and Social Problems," Survey, XXV, 19. 'Part I: "Relation of the Liquor Traffic to Pauperism, Crime, and Insanity," Report, pp. 3-416. Its relation to crime is treated in many tables (pp. 121–287).

3 Aschaffenburg (Crime and Its Repression, pp. 72-75) discusses this point, reproducing Baer's figures; cf. Lombroso, Crime: Its Causes and Remedies, pp. 96–98.

he has paid the price. His relative immunity-it is only relative immunity-spells degeneration. He is but a survivor of a throng of whom many, before becoming sodden, have passed through the criminal court.


The whole story has not yet been told. There are even darker phases of alcoholic criminality. Some of the most fatal wrongs against society are not measured by court sentences nor defined by the criminal codes. There are long-range offenses which elude the lawmaker and escape the notice of the man on the street. Alcohol is responsible for such "social crimes" on an enormous scale. In various ways, for instance, it is a menace to the family and a destroyer of domestic happiness. Thus, during the official year ending April 3, 1913, the court of domestic relations in Chicago heard and disposed of 3,699 cases, of which 2,432 were for wife or child abandonment or for failure of parents to support their children. Among the causes of these 2,432 family separations, excessive use of intoxicating liquors held first place with 46 per cent, while but 12 per cent are charged to the next highest cause, immorality of the husband.'

The legal as well as the actual disruption of the family life is likewise very often due to intemperance. In Germany drunkenness is one of the chief causes of separation and divorce; and the children of divorced parents are frequently forced into a life of crime. In the United States drunkenness is the officially assigned cause of about one-fifth of all the dissolutions of wedlock. The great government report, covering the years 1887-1906, discloses the sinister fact that directly or indirectly 184,568 divorces, or nearly 20 per cent of the whole number reported for the two decades, were granted for intemperance; and in nine-tenths of these cases the culprit was the man.3 Think of it! More than one hundred and eighty Sixth Report of the Municipal Court of Chicago, pp. 84-86; cf. also Herbert C. Shattuck, "Legal Aspects of Prohibition," Case and Comment, XX, 463.

2 Lombroso, Crime: Its Causes and Remedies, p. 90.

3 Bureau of the Census, Special Report, Marriage and Divorce, I, 28-29; also Bulletin, No. 96, pp. 14-15.

thousand marriages dissolved and homes destroyed by the drink curse, not to mention the thousands of wives who patiently endure that curse without seeking judicial relief! Even this huge number fails to tell the whole tale of family wreckage due to alcohol. It is well understood that a large percentage of the divorces in the court records charged to desertion, and some of those charged to adultery, are really due to conditions caused by drink. Does not the situation call loudly for an abatement of the divorce evil through the outlawry of a primary cause, the liquor traffic?

Alcohol in many ways is a menace to mother-welfare and childlife. It is a protoplasmic poison which from the instant of conception may foredoom a human being to an abnormal life of misery and crime. "The child of the female drunkard is not born with a direct alcoholic tendency, but is probably born with ill-nourished tissues, and especially with a badly developed brain and nervous system, which render him more liable than a healthy individual to fall under the influence of drink." The milk of the drinking mother contains alcohol, so that the "child then absolutely receives alcohol as part of his diet, with the worst effects upon his organs"; for alcohol harms the "cells in proportion to their immaturity." The harmful influence of the inebriate mother on the unborn child is established beyond reasonable doubt. "Since the work of Nicloux it may be considered to be proved that alcohol may pass as such from the mother to the foetus, and in considerable quantities." In a study of chronic drunkards among the mothers in the Liverpool prisons, Dr. W. C. Sullivan has shown that a large percentage of their offspring are degenerates. He "found that of 120 such inebriate women there were born 600 children, of whom 335 (or 55.8 per cent) died under two years of age or were dead-born." The result of a comparison of "these figures with similar returns from sober branches of the same families" is even more convincing. Of

'Mary Scharlieb, "Alcoholism in Relation to Women and Children," in Kelynack, The Drink Problem, pp. 162, 166; cf. Horsley and Sturge, Alcohol and the Human Body, pp. 263-65.


Nicloux, L'Obstetrique (1900), cited by Newman, Infant Mortality, p. 72; cf. Horsley and Sturge, op. cit., pp. 243-65.

'Sullivan, "Influence of Maternal Inebriety on the Offspring," Journal of Mental Science, XLV (1899), 489-503.

« PreviousContinue »