What Causes Crime

“I hated everybody I saw.” serial killer Carl Panzram

Killer: A Journal of Murder, is a little-known crime book classic written in part by serial killer Carl Panzram and edited by Gaddis and Long. The sensational book was made into a not-too-convincing movie with James Woods in 1996.

The story goes that Panzram was recovering after one of his many prison beatings, and a sympathetic guard slipped him a dollar. The guard’s kindness inspired him to write the book, with smuggled pen and paper. Panzram wrote on his experiences in crime and how a child must be taught to live right by the age of seven:

Any child, if properly taught, will live the way he is taught to live. All criminals are merely overgrown children. It is in your hands to make us or break us. We, by our own efforts, are failures in life, simply because we don’t know any better. We don’t know how to live decent upright lives. Heredity has very little to do with the shaping of our lives. The main causes of why we are what we are is because of our improper teaching, lack of knowledge and our environments.Every man’s philosphy is colored by his environments. If you don’t want us to rob, rape and murder you, then it is your place to see that the mental and moral misfits are properly taught a sufficient amount of useful and sensible knowledge and put into the proper environment where they can be best fitted to exist in life. Otherwise, they will be misfits and failures and you are the actual cause because they don’t know any better and you do…

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