From time to time it is confidently asserted in the public Press that not only is insanity rapidly on the increase in English prisons, but that the present system of administration is largely responsible for this state of affairs. Such statements appear to be circulated without a real knowledge of the facts, and they tend to unsettle and mislead the public mind. With the object of showing that imprisonment, as at present conducted, has not the deteriorating effect on the nervous system that it is alleged to have, the following tables, founded on an examination of Table E, Commissioners of Local Prisons, Report, England, 1895, have been prepared. Before entering into statistical details it may not be out of place to state that increased interest has recently been displayed in things pertaining to criminality and to the physical, moral, and intellectual characteristics of the criminal. There can be no doubt that the somewhat extravagant views held by a section of continental criminologists have met with a ready acceptance in certain quarters in this country. Attempts have been made to prove that the stigmata, physical and psychical, said to have been observed amongst Italian criminals, are also present in English felons. These stigmata are to be found in varying and uncertain proportion amongst a part of the population of our prisons, but not, in my opinion, to such an extent as to warrant the assumption that there exists a special criminal type or a distinct criminal neurosis. Receding foreheads, square chins, large ears, and tattoo marks are but poor data on which to base a pathological criminology, but safer ground is reached in the presence of contorted and narrow palates, of heart disease, and tubercular affections, of the after-effects of syphilis and intemperance, all of which are to be frequently met with amongst criminals.
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