Having recently admitted into the West Riding Asylum no less than three general paralytics, who either came from prison, or had undergone imprisonment not long previous to admission, on account of the commission of larceny; and being of opinion, considering the stage at which, in each case, the disease had arrived on admission, that its commencement must have dated prior to the commission of the crime;—I have been led to make further enquiry as to these and other similar cases which have occurred within the experience and recollection of the present medical officers of the West Riding Asylum. The result is, that I am now enabled, by the kind permission of Dr. Crichton Browne, to record short details of six cases of general paralysis, all males, and admitted during the last four years, in which it appears to me the commission of the crime was a manifestation of the earlier mental symptoms of the disease. Such being the case, the patients ought not to have been held responsible for their actions. I feel it, therefore, a duty, to call the attention of medical officers of prisons, and “all whom it may concern,” to these facts, and to urge upon them the necessity of instituting a more searching enquiry into the mental condition of such cases, and also of cultivating a more extended acquaintance with the symptoms—especially the earlier ones—both mental and physical, of that very common and peculiar disease usually termed “general paralysis of the insane;” and this I would do in no dictatorial spirit, for I am well assured that those to whom my remarks are addressed are susceptible to the influence of that humane sentiment which leads us to shrink from inflicting punishment for crime committed by persons who are of unsound mind and consequently not legally responsible for their actions.
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