From time to time, we apprehend, it falls to the lot of all physicians in public asylums to receive into their institutions insane patients from gaols. After inquiry into the history of the offence, there will not infrequently be considerable reason to believe that the prisoner was insane at and before the date of the act. It often happens in the case of a minor offence that the patient is a general paralytic, and his condition on admission to the asylum makes it certain that the disease was present long before the offence was committed. It is in cases of this kind that we have reason to regret the failure adequately to recognize the relationship between criminology and psychology in this country. In Belgium, as our readers are aware, a commission, consisting of well-known alienists, exists, for the examination of the inmates of prisons. The “American Journal of Insanity,” July, 1894, contains a paper upon the subject by Dr. H. E. Allison, according to whom there exists among the “life men” in prisons (American, we presume), a very great proportion of insanity. In many cases the subsequent history shows that insanity must have existed when the act for which the prisoner has been sentenced was committed. Dr. Allison is of opinion that “insanity in all classes of criminals is too often overlooked, or when recognized, the popular desire is to hold them both sane and responsible.” The article from which we quote once more calls attention to what, in our opinion, is a much needed reform in our methods of disposing of and dealing with cases of crime.
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