By Robert G. Ingersoll
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Additional resources for Crimes Against Criminals
All this is, in my judgment, a mistake_ It is a denial afthe integrity of nature. It is based upon the supernatural and miraculous, and as long as tlris mistake remains the cornerstone of criminal jurisprudence, reformation will be impossible. 57 We must take into consideration the nature of man-the facts of mind- the power of temptation-the limitations of the intellect-the force of habit-the result of heredity-the power of passion-the domination of want-the diseases of the brain -the tyranny of appetite-the cruelty of conditions- the results of association-the effects of poverty and wealth, of helplessness and power.
If we expect a prosperous and peaceful country, the citizens must have homes. The more homes, the more patri· ots, the more virtue, and the more seeu· rity for all that gives worth to life. old world. To divide lands among successful generals, or among favorites of the crown, to give vast estates for services rendered in the war, is no worse than to allow men of wealth to purchase and hold vast tracts of land. The result is precisely the same-that is to saY, ·a nation composed of a few landlords and many t enants-the tenants rcsorting from time to time to mob violence,.
If the pen· nlty were imprisonment for life, the jury would reel that if any mistake were made it could be Tectified; but wheTe the penalty is death a mistake is fatal. A conscientious man takes into consideration the defeds of human nature-the uncertainty of tes· timony. and the countless shadows tliat dim and daTken the undeTstanding, and Tefuses to find a verdict that. if wrong, cannot be righted. The death penalty. inflicted by the Government, is a perpetual excuse fOT mobs. <\: The greatest danger in a Republic is a mob, and as long as States inflict the penalty of death, mobs will follow the example ...
Crimes Against Criminals by Robert G. Ingersoll