M. B. Sampson’s “Rationale of Crime”

M. B. Sampson’s Rationale of Crime concurs with the Newgate Calendar when it says that poor education and inherently foul moral character breed criminals and echoes Foucault by noting that forced psychological re-education is more painful than physical torture.  Pages 72-75 of The Rationale of Crime provide empirical and scientific proof that ignorance breeds licentiousness; the warden of Eastern State Penitentiary of Philadelphia says that a large number of the inmates in his prison become productive members of society following their schooling in his prison (P74, p2.)  The Newgate Calendar, likewise, links Jonathan Wild’s moral corruption to his incapacity to afford any educational tracts besides those of the hated atheism and deism (P111, p4)  Both tracts also imply some people are born criminals.  Sampson says phrenology can identify potential villains, and Riddlesden of the Newgate Calendar turns rotten despite his formal education (Newgate P92, p1; Sampson P152-177.)  Sampson says that physical punishment for vice actually breeds more vice because it feeds the criminals’ hunger for destruction (P80, p2.)  He links the success of the Eastern State Penitentiary to its emphasis on psychological punishment through solitary confinement and strict education (P69, p2-3.)  The warden says that these programs terrify inmates by removing them from their natural element and forcing them to change (P76, p1.)  More then a hundred years later, Foucault realized this phenomenon and said that the modern penal system is non-corporal and directs its viciousness towards the soul rather than the body (P16, p1-3.)  The claims of The Rationale of Crime repeat those of the Newgate Calendar and Discipline and Punish.

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