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Crime and Insanity


The Report of the Departmental Committee on Prisons, the chief recommendations of which—so far as they affect the subject of insanity in prisons— we reproduce under the heading “Notes and News,” contains much of interest to alienists, by whom it will be welcomed as evidence of reform and progress. The Report opens up a prospect of cooperation between asylum and prison workers, which cannot but make for a better understanding of the sources and relationships of crime and insanity, and promote our efforts to lessen the sum of unhappiness caused by the heedless propagation of these great degenerations. Too long, indeed, have the alienist and the criminologist worked apart, and a distinction, we venture to assert, quite unnatural has been drawn between their spheres of labour. We should be curious to learn how many instances could be adduced of cooperation between asylum and gaol medical officers, in those localities in which the asylum and the prison are contiguous; to what extent the medical officers of the one institution have taken advantage of the opportunities which offered to familiarise themselves with the cases to be found in the other. There may possibly be justice in the reproach that both our prison colleagues and ourselves have been remiss in not bringing before the notice of the proper authorities, with adequate persistence and force, the need for taking a common basis of study, and for associated labour. The desirability of keeping distinct institutions for dealing with insanity and crime might even be questioned by some. Wholly separate institutions for the study of the different abnormal and degenerative states of any given bodily organ, other than the brain, would assuredly be considered as unnecessary.

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See also Dr. Baker's article on “Insanity in English Local Prisons,” Journal of Mental Science, April, 1896.

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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: -
  • EISSN: 2514-9946
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
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Crime and Insanity

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