In the matter of Negro crime there are several considerations in dealing with figures of arrests, commitments to prison, or other evidences of crime. It is a well-known fact that the Negro suffers a large amount of injustice in the courts and that they suffer especially in those localities where the fee system is still used. Officers who make the arrests, the petty magistrates, and other officials get a portion of fines assessed. The temptation to make unwarranted arrests and unjustified convictions is obvious.

Illiteracy and poverty, greater among Negroes than among whites, and previous condition of servitude, with its degradation, are undoubtedly bearing fruit in delinquency and crime.

Public opinion also has had a great deal to do with Negro crime. The ordinary Negro has it continually dinned into his ears that he is a nobody, that he is inferior and criminal. This breaks down group morale, removes self-respect. If a man is made to believe that he is a citizen like anybody else, will be held accountable for what he does like anybody else, and is expected to stand up to the standards of a man, it goes a long way in deterring him from delinquent conduct.

Furthermore, crime is partly a matter of delinquent communities which have neglected to provide care and training for their children and young people. This is true of all delinquent classes. Crime is a community disease, and the individual is affected by contagion of vice and neglect. The Negroes, burdened with poverty, are crowded into segregated districts of our cities. The respectable persons and families among them have difficulty in protecting themselves from the vicious and criminal, both those of their own race and those of the white race, who prey upon the residents of such districts, especially upon the children and youths.

We may take the census figures of crime with allowances because of variations in collecting them. That the crime-rates of Negroes in the North exceed those in the South, is partly accounted for by the fact that the large majority of the Negroes in the North are migrants, that a larger proportion are above ten years of age, and that more than three fourths of them live in the larger cities where commitments to prison for all classes are greater in number than in rural districts. Migrants are undergoing readjustments to new conditions and surroundings.

According to the census of 1910, the percentage of Negroes receiving sentences of one year or more was 33.8 per cent of all Negroes sentenced to prison in that year, while the whites receiving such sentences was 10.2 per cent of all whites sentenced; that is, the proportion of Negroes receiving such sentences was three times as large as the proportion of whites. This is partly due to heavier sentences being imposed upon Negroes for offenses similar to those of the white race, to different practises of states in imposing heavier or lighter fines for crimes as distinguished from misdemeanors, and to a larger number of white prison sentences for lighter offenses, with shorter terms, such as drunkenness and disorderly conduct. It may be of importance in this connection to compare prison sentences of Negroes for rape with those of other national elements of our population. Sentences for rape per 100,000 of the population in the United States in 1904 were: Colored 1.8, Italians 5.3, Mexicans 4.8, Austrians 3.2, Hungarians 2, French 1.9, Russians 1.9.1 If all the Negroes who are charged with rape and lynched were added to these figures, the Negro rate would probably still be less than that of all the nationalities except the French and the Russians.

In commenting on its own figures of crime, the census report says that the figures -

1 Negro Year Book, 1918-1919, pp. 371-72.

"will probably be generally accepted as indicating that there is more criminality and lawbreakmg among Negroes than among whites. While that conclusion is probably justified by the figures, it is a question whether the difference shown by the ratios may not be to some extent the result of discrimination in the treatment of white and Negro offenders on the part of the community and the courts as well as the framing of some laws, such as those making non-payment of debts a crime instead of a civil liability.

"An offense committed by a Negro is perhaps more likely to be punished than the same offense committed by a white man, especially if the victim of the offense committed by the Negro is white, while in the other case the victim is Negro. It is probable that, as compared with the white man, the Negro when brought to trial on a criminal charge is in fewer instances able to employ expert counsel to defend his case and assist him in taking advantage of any technicality in the law which may be in his favor.

"Moreover, in the case of those offenses for which the penalty may be a fine or imprisonment as the alternative if the fine is not paid, it is probable that the Negro is more often unable to pay the fine than the white man and is therefore more likely to be sent to jail; but, of course, this consideration has little weight in connection with more serious offenses which are seldom penalized by fines only".

When the whole range of crime is taken into view, it is a striking fact that a Negro has never been accused of treason to his country, has never attempted to assassinate a president or other high public official, or has ever organized any kind of revolt against the Union, although the race has suffered from oppression during many generations.

The testimony of police and court authorities in New York, Chicago, Cincinnati, and other cities of the North was that crime had decreased among Negroes during the prosperity of war wages and during the first months following the Armistice. The same is probably true elsewhere and indicates the influence of the Negro's poverty upon his crime and that increase in home ownership and better wages will decrease crime. Here again is the opportunity for the message of Him who sought to help the delinquent and neglected.

There seems to have been in the last twenty-five or thirty years a considerable increase in juvenile delinquency among Negroes. Whether or not this is due to the increased efficiency in gathering data and the handling of juvenile Negro delinquents or whether it is really an increase in the delinquency is hard to say. If it is the latter, it is partly explainable by the growing readjustments in Negro family life. It is to be borne in mind that the present generation of Negro children is the first that has had family control by parents born in freedom. The aftermath of slavery and all the turmoil of transition from serfdom to freedom and from country life to city life is still heavy upon the Negro family, childhood, and youth. Here lies the great hope and the great need for religious education and community service as a challenge to the Church - to care for these lambs of the fold.

The figures for defectives, showing the number and percentage of the insane, feeble-minded, and blind, are of very little value because the bulk of the Negro population is in the South where there is very little provision made for and there are few authentic records of these defective classes of Negroes.

Significant evidence of moral progress of Negroes may be cited from the experience with the 500,000 or more Negroes who migrated from the South to the North during the World War and the months since the Armistice. They have been often in great congested crowds in many of the largest cities of the North; they have been separated from their old surroundings, friends, and home ties and have settled among a strange people in a strange land. While there are no figures available, and while newspaper headlines about Negro crime may create the other impression, the statements made by social workers, police officers, and citizens will bear ample testimony to their orderliness, their susceptibility to guidance, their respectful submission to authority, and their eagerness to adapt themselves to the order and routine of industry and life of the communities into which they come. Their desires and efforts to better their condition, take hold of and use the greater opportunities for education, the facilities for home life, and the community opportunities in the freer atmosphere of the Northern clime are eloquent tributes to their adaptive capacity and their power of achievement and a powerful appeal to the Christian forces of these communities to reach out helping hands to them.