In fine, citizens pay taxes in return for the public services of the State, amongst which that of public security is the chief. And the State actually expends millions every year upon this social function. Nevertheless, every crime which is committed is followed by a grotesque comedy. The State, which is responsible for not having been able to prevent crime, and to give a better guarantee to the citizens, arrests the criminal (if it can arrest him--and seventy per cent. of DISCOVERED crimes go unpunished). Then, with the accused person before it, the State, ``which ought to concern itself with the lofty interests of eternal justice,'' does not concern itself with the victims of the crime, leaving the indemnification to their prosaic ``private interest,'' and to a separate invocation of justice. And then the State, in the name of eternal justice, exacts from the criminal, in the shape of a fine payable into the public treasury, a compensation for its own defence--which it does not secure, even when the crime is only a trespass upon private property!
Thus the State, which cannot prevent crime, and can only repress it in a small number of cases, and which fails accordingly in its first duty, for which the citizens pay it their taxes, demands a price for all this! And then again the State, sentencing a million and a half to imprisonment within ten years, puts the cost of food and lodging on the shoulders of the same citizens, whom it has failed either to defend or to indemnify for the loss which they have suffered! And all in the name of eternal retributive justice.
This method of ``administering justice'' must be radically altered. The State must indemnify individuals for the damage caused by crimes which it has not been able to prevent (as is partially recognised in cases of public disaster), recouping itself from the criminals.
Only then shall we secure a strict reparation of damage, for the State will put in motion its inexorable fiscal machinery, as it now does for the recovery of taxes; and on the other hand the principle of social community of interests will be really admitted and applied, not only against the individual but also for him. For we believe that if the individual ought to be always responsible for the crimes which he commits, he ought also to be always indemnified for the crimes of which he is the victim.
In any case, as the indefinite segregation of the criminal is the fundamental principle of the positive system of social defence against crime, apart from the technical systems of imprisonment and detention, so indemnification as a social function is a second essential principle, apart from the special rules of procedure for carrying it into effect.
These two fundamental principles of the positive system would still be incomplete if they did not come into practical operation according to a general rule, which leads up to the practical organisation of social defence--that is to say, the adaptation of defensive measures to the various criminal types.
The tendency of the classical theories on crime and prison discipline is in sharp contrast, for their ideal is the ``uniformity of punishment'' which lies at the base of all the more recent penal codes.
If for the classical school the criminal is but an average and abstract type, the whole difference of treatment is, of course, reduced to a graduation of the ``amount of crime'' and the ``amount of punishment.'' And then it is natural that this punitive dosing should be more difficult when the punishments are different in kind, and not very similar in their degrees of coincident afflictive and correctional power. Thus the ideal becomes a single punishment, apportioned first by the legislature and then by the judge, in an indefinite number of doses.