Dix, Mann & Crime in Massachusetts

Dix, Mann & Crime in Massachusetts

Questions over Dorothea Dix on Prisons:

  1. Who does Dix seem most concerned about, the insane, the “idiotic,” the poor, or criminals? Explain how you reached your conclusion.

She is mainly concerned with the insane and “idiotic” but mostly with the insane. This is because most of her examples are on the mentally challenged persons, who have been reduced to being insane by the prison caregivers. In the statement, she mentions, “I refer to idiots and insane persons, dwelling in the circumstances not only adverse to their physical and moral improvements but extreme disadvantages…”

She further gives examples of how these insane and mentally challenged persons have been neglected across the country, and how they are caged like prisoners simply for being insane, and for not being unlawful. Although Dix fights for the rights of the “idiotic” and the criminals too, her main interest is undeniably the insane, most of whom she can relate with, because she had been “twice stricken by stress-induced nervous breakdowns” herself.

  1. What does she want the Massachusetts legislature to do?

In addressing the Massachusetts legislature, Dix demands reforms in the oversight of both public and private institutions obligated with the responsibility of taking care of the mentally ill persons. She begs, implores and demands the men of the legislature to offer protection to the insane people by separating them from prisoners, who also suffer from loud cries by the mentally ill.

  1. After reading her examples, how do you think poverty is connected to crime and insanity?

From Dix’s examples, there is a definite connection between poverty and insanity. For instance, while traveling across the country, Dix describes the situation in Dedham, where two females have been jailed in impoverished buildings filled with straws, and that they are always made to shut up. Although one of the two females is supposedly curable, the overseers refuse to hospitalize because it is expensive.

  1. How does Dix claim the housing of the insane with convicts affects both groups? Do you think she is correct? Explain.

She argues that the confinement of both convicts and the insane persons within the same prisons defies the “good order and discipline,” which ought to be observed in every regulated prison. Dix empathizes with the convicts, who have to endure the ravings and sufferings of the insane persons. Of course, she is right to make such statements. Her arguments are based on the fact that prisons for convicts are meant to be separate from the mentally ill, such as the Worchester Insane Asylum.


Questions over the Massachusetts Board of Education:

  1. How can you tell that Mann is a religious person? Give examples.

Mann is a religious person because the 10th report in 1846 was majorly dedicated to showing God’s strength and importance, and thus the need to show appreciation. He begins the news by saying, “I believe in the existence of a great, immortal, immutable principle of natural law… the principle of divine origin,” thus proving his standpoint in terms of spirituality. He further mentions that “the will of God” places the rights of every American child to a degree of education that will enable him/her perform better in social, natural existence.

  1. What are some of the problems in society that Mann claims can be cured by education? Which do you think is most likely to be solved by education? Why?

Mann advocates for education because it would eradicate poverty and narrow the gap between the rich and the poor. For instance, he claims the main idea set by revolutionizers and reformers is that “people are poor because others are rich.” He rejects this idea by suggesting education as a revelation for the population to transfer a portion of the rich people’s properties to those with little possessions. Mann also believes education “prevents both revenge and madness” of the people. Although he agrees that education will not eradicate human nature of hating on each other, Mann trusts in training to lessen the hearts of the people in terms of selfishness.

  1. How does Mann explain that a republican form of government is dependent upon an educated population? Give some specific examples.

Mann argues that a republican government is highly dependent on the education of its people – the Americans. He agrees that the “affairs of a great nation or state are exceedingly complicated and momentous” and that no one can dispute it. Therefore, with such greatness for a country, according to Mann, it would be important for the republican government to take education as a vital aspect in its governance. Mann further explains, “The want of adequate intelligence will bring ruin or disaster upon a department.” Here, he gives examples of a merchant losing intelligence and thus becoming bankrupt. Besides, he also offers an example of a physician abandoning his knowledge and patients will have to die. Similarly, if the republican government is independent of intellectually education population, the country’s greatness is poised to fail.


Questions over “Crime in the City”:

  1. Which “vice” does the author blame for most of the crime? Do you think he is correct? Why or why not?

Although the article blames rum, which promotes drunkard behavior in the city and future crime rates, the author insists that the cause of all these issues is corruption. Without a poor leadership in place, the city loses its morality and instead crime, pollution, prostitution, pickpockets and petty traders prevailed. The author is correct in pointing this out because the mayor even “refused to appoint a Marshall” despite a public outcry to have one. Immorality in the city was immeasurable because the wrongdoers felt “the executive power of the city was their friend and ally,” and thus they were lenient on the law.

  1. The article claims that appointing Irishmen as constables did nothing to deter crime. What do you think he is implying? Do you agree? Explain why or why not.

Despite an appointment of a new marshal and Irishmen being police officers, nothing changed much. Instead, things became worse than they had expected. Crime rates increased from 583 to 971 the following year. The author is trying to imply that, without changes in the mayor himself, things would still be the same. That is, the mayor is the head of the city, and if he even tolerates corruption and immorality, the police officers will also have a similar mentality of crime and sin. Worse, the fact the mayor made the changes himself; it was expected of him to retain some of his corrupt allies. Therefore, the author suggests the remedy to “lay on the ballot box” as a new election to get rid of the mayor altogether.


Questions Comparing All Three Documents:

  1. What imagery does Mann use from the Bible? How is this similar to Dix? Give specific examples.

Mann states that the will of God is “conspicuously manifested in the order of nature,” which translates to God’s creation in the Bible. Mann also believes in a great, immortal and immutable nature of the law that should be allowed to take its course of nature, even if it involves allowing equal education to every citizen. It is similar to Dix’s plea, whereby she urges the legislature to exercise their “wisdom which is the breath of the power of God.”

  1. How could Mann’s approach solve some of the problems listed in “Crime in the City?”

Since Mann’s approach involved believing in God as guidance to ensure a balanced flow of nature, such a religious perspective would have helped tame some of the city’s population, and perhaps reduce prostitution and minimize crime rates. Mann also vouched for education as a way of reducing poverty; hence, this would have solved crimes issues by keeping children in school. With knowledge, the mayor’s intelligence awareness would have improved, and this would have led to him choosing the right men for the jobs of police officers. Also, education would have resulted in more job opportunities, and thus virtue would have been “confronted on the street by harlots, young men decoyed to houses of infamy.” This way, the city would record minimum crime rates.

  1. What is the most significant difference in tone between Dix’s plea to the Massachusetts legislature and the article about Crime in the City?

The plea by Dix was emotional and felt like she was not only begging the legislature to protect the mentally ill, but also her request felt like a “personal” experience. She connected on an emotional level with the legislature and did not sugarcoat anything. Dix wanted them to experience the same “hurtful” feeling she had when she visited the prisons across the country. Although she was reminding them of the rights of the insane persons, Dix expressed it in a remorseful and begging manner.

On the other hand, the Crime in the City was meant to evoke the emotions of people standing up for themselves. The article is more like a report on the events happening during the mayor’s reign. The mayor is not only corrupt but does not care about the city. Unlike Dix, the author for Crime in the City is targeting the public as his/her audience, and thus the need to use an evoking tone, which can prompt action to elect a new mayor.

  1. The article, Crime in the City, was published in 1854, Dix’s plea was in 1848, and Mann’s report was from 1846 and 1848. If you had no other information, would you think Dix and Mann’s ideas: a) were successful, and crime rates were exaggerated, b) did not work, c) had not been implemented, or d) some other factor had led to an increase in crime. Explain how you reached your conclusion.

Without enough information, it would be easier to conclude that the crime rates were exaggerated; however, I would have blamed the crime rates on an external factor. The answer lies in the third and final article on Crime in the City, whereby the external factor must have been the mayor’s poor leadership and corruption tendencies. With the right mayor, the city’s crime rates would have been that high. Of course, Dix’s emotional plea to the legislature would have worked, and Mann’s suggestions on education were too trite to ignore. The city’s future relied on intelligence and thus education for a broader population was foreseeable.