I fully appreciate the very great honour which has been done to me this afternoon in asking me to speak of the experience which I have had in nearly twenty years of work amongst those who are suffering from alcoholism. Of courseyou will forgive me if I speak in an altogether unscientific way. I can only say exactly the experiences I have met with, and as I now live, summer and winter, in their midst, I can give you at any rate the result of my personal experience among such people. Thirteen years ago, when we first started the colony which we have for inebriate women at Duxhurst, the Amendment to the present Inebriate Act was not in existence, that is to say, there was no means of dealing with such people other than by sending them to prison. The physical side of drunkenness was then almost entirely overlooked, and the whole question was dealt with more or less as a moral evil. When the Amendment to the Act was passed it was recognised, at any rate, that prison had proved to be a failure for these cases, and this was quite obvious, because such women were consigned for short sentences to prison, and then turnedback on the world, at the end of six weeks or a month, as the case might be, probably at the time when the craving for drink was at its height, and therefore when they had every opportunity for satisfying it outside the prison gate they did so at once. It is nowonder therefore that women were committed again and again, even to hundreds of times. When I first realised this two cases came distinctly and prominently under my notice. One was that of a woman whose name has become almost notorious in England, Miss Jane Cakebread. She had been committed to prison over 300 times. I felt certain when I first saw her in gaol that she was not in the ordinary sense an inebriate; she was an insane woman who became violent after she had given way to inebriety. She spent three months with us, and I do not think that I ever passed a more unpleasant three months in my life, because when she was sober she was as difficult to deal with-although not so violent-aswhen she was drunk. I tried to represent this to the authorities at the time, but I wassupposed to know very little on the subject, and was told that I was very certainly mistaken. I let her go for the reasons, firstly that we could not benefit her, and secondly that I wanted to prove my point. At the end of two days she was again committed to prison, and after being in prison with abstention from alcohol, which had rendered her more dangerous (hear, hear), she kicked one of the officials, and was accordingly committed to a lunatic asylum. Thus the point had been proved that a woman had been kept in prison over 300 times at the public expense during the last twenty years before being committed to a lunatic asylum. The other case, which proved to me the variations there arein the classifications of those who are dubbed “inebriates,” was a woman named Annie Adams, who was sent to me by the authorities at Holloway, and I was told she enjoyed thename of “The Terror of Holloway.” She had been over 200 times in prison, but directly she was sober a more tractable person could not be imagined. She was quite sane, but she was a true inebriate. She had spent her life in drifting in and out of prison, from prison to the street, and from the street to the prison, but when she was under the bestconditions I do not think I ever came across a more amiable woman. About that time the Amendment to the Inebriates Act was passed, and there were provisions made by which such women could be consigned to homes instead of being sent to prison. The London County Council had not then opened homes, and they asked us to take charge of their first cases. They were sent to us haphazard, without classification. There were women who were habitual inebriates, there were those who were imbecile or insane; every conceivable woman was regarded as suitable, and all were sent together. At that time I saw clearly that there would be a great failure (as was afterwards proved) in the reformatory system in this country unless there were means of separating the women who came from the same localities. That point I would like to emphasise to-day. We hear a great deal nowadays about the failure of reformatories, but unless you classify this will continue to be so.
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