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insane mind. Many insane patients have been treated with the greatest harshness, as simply rebellious convicts or malingerers; others have been almost wholly neglected on the ground that, if they were left alone, they would soon “come around”; and this in some cases has gone on for months. True, occasionally it is hard to draw the line; but a person with a medical training and some experience with the insane is the one most competent to do it.
The methods employed in dealing with the sane and the insane convict are totally unlike, and one is not suited to the other. Great dangers to health and life would attend a transposition of these methods, and be an unsafe procedure for both convicts and lunatics as well as for their custodians. It hardly ems necessary to argue that neither the prison cell nor prison hospital wards are proper places for insane convicts, but great tenacity of purpose in some States is still shown in holding manifestly insane persons in custody within the prison walls; and, notwithstanding all experience to the contrary, it is stated over and over again that such cases should remain in the custody of the warden, and not be relinquished to the entire care of a responsible physician, who should be independent of any control except that of the board of managers or the head of the State department.
In order to secure the highest degree of health and as a preventive of insanity, there should be improved prison buildings, larger cells, better sanitary arrangements, abundance of fresh air and sunlight, industrial occupation, educational influences, and, above all, greater hopefulness in prison life for the individual. The spirit of Christianity should prevail, and not its form. For the convict who becomes insane, special provision should be made. It is useless and inhumane to attempt to treat such cases in prison cells or galleries.
In some States the custom prevails of committing insane convicts to the hospitals for the care of the general insane. This is not a satisfactory procedure. The convict is very often a person who is morally depraved, and his presence is for that reason objectionable. He has many habits that are contaminating, and his influence is corrupting. As a rule, he is not a proper person to associate with the inmates of a general hospital.
He is often possessed of dangerous or homicidal delusions, particularly of persecution, and needs more careful watching and greater restraint than such hospitals ordinarily provide. He is under sentence, and
prone to make attempts to escape either from the buildings or grounds. Many of them are expert house-breakers and lockpickers; and, in order to hold them in safe custody, it is necessary to strengthen walls and window gratings, and to restrict the liberties of others by locked doors. This all gives to the hospital somewhat of the atmosphere of a prison, and is objectionable. The goal toward which hospital superintendents are striving to-day is all in the direction of greater liberty for the insane, a closer approach to home life, the open-door system, and paroles. A convict under sentence, perhaps a professional criminal, is not a proper subject for such an institution. He is an incongruous element. Numbers of them escape from such custody, and many of them feign insanity simply to procure this opportunity. The friends of non-criminal patients also object to such association with felons. When we consider that the general population of such a hospital consists of honest, thrifty, industrious, tax-paying citizens, often well educated and cultured, the objection has some force, particularly if the presence of the insane convict, in addition to being demoralizing, leads to the general deprivation of privileges and the curtailment of personal liberty for all other inmates. Actual experience has taught that such commitments are not desirable. It is only practised in those States where no other way for the care of the insane convict is provided, and is endured as a necessary evil.
The proper method of caring for the insane convict is in a special institution under the charge of a physician experienced in the treatment of the insane, who should possess the same powers and authority as are vested in the medical superintendent of a general hospital for the insane. In some States the number to be provided for would be small, and there could be combined in confinement with convicts such lunatics as have been charged with murder or assault or any other criminal act.
The judge presiding at the hearing or trial should, in his discretion, be empowered to commit, either to such hospital or to an ordinary hospital, persons charged with any criminal offence who, in his judgment, were proper subjects for such commitment. Furthermore, if an objectionable criminal from the courts should be inadvertently committed to a State hospital, the superintendent of such hospital, upon petition to a justice of the Supreme Court, should be empowered to transfer a homicidal or dangerous patient to this special hospital for the criminal insane, or else the State
Commission in Lunacy should exercise such power of transfer. Before the removal of an insane convict from a penal institution to such special hospital for insane criminals, he should be examined by two physicians, and, upon their certificate, committed by a judge, the same safeguard being thus afforded against an improper commitment of a convict as is given to the ordinary citizen. If such a person should still remain insane at the hospital at the date of the expiration of the sentence upon which he was sent to prison, he should be detained at the hospital either until recovered or until his condition should warrant his discharge. In this manner a large number of irresponsible, dangerous, and habitual criminals would be selected out of the general convict body, and held in safe custody. Among such persons thus detained at Matteawan is a convict now fourteen years over his time, who still possesses strong delusions, who has served four short terms in prison for as many homicides which he has committed. He was finally found to be insane by the prison authorities, and transferred to our custody. His son, after a notorious criminal career, has been also committed to our care. One is from the prison, the other from the courts. Another patient detained over his time has a record of over thirty convictions, mostly to the penitentiary. His brother is also with us. There are also several other cases where brothers have come into our custody, wherein both have been charged with murder and found to be insane. Undoubtedly, dangerous traits often run in families. Where care is taken in selecting such cases as possess delusions of this char•acter and detaining them in custody, society receives the fullest protection from lunatics unsafe to be at large. Both present hazard from the individual is avoided and, because his confinement ends his opportunities for reproduction, the risk otherwise arising from his progeny is escaped as well.
New York, Michigan, Massachusetts, and Illinois have established hospitals for the reception and care of the criminal insane; and Pennsylvania is actively agitating the question.
In the larger States, like New York, where the population warrants it, we believe that two institutions are needed, one for the convicted cases, and one for the unconvicted and the dangerous class. Each hospital would eventually contain from seven to eight hundred inmates. The institution for the convict insane should be governed by rules similar to those which now govern Matteawan. Patients from the penal institutions should be com
mitted thereto, and, if insane at the expiration of their sentence, should be detained until fit to be released. The State of New York has made an appropriation of $100,000 for such a hospital; and buildings are now in process of erection by convict labor at Dannemora, where the new institution is located. It outside the prison enclosure and at a distance from the walls, so that its management may be entirely independent of the prison. There it is proposed to receive from the penal institutions of the State, convicts who may become insane, and in the salubrious climate of the Adironack regions to do all that can be done for their amelioration and cure.
In conclusion, we believe that the best method of caring for the insane convict, is not in the cells or wards of the prison itself nor in the wards of a general hospital for the insane, but in an institution especially designed for that purpose, where he should have, as far as possible, all the benefits of treatment for his development and cure that are given to the free citizen in any well-regulated hospital for the insane, and wherein the convict, moreover, should be detained until he is pronounced a fit subject for absolute release.
2. HOW FAR MAY WE ABOLISH THE PRISONS ?
BY W. M. F. ROUND, OF NEW YORK.
[Read Thursday morning.)
Since the earliest dawn of civilization, the problem of the bestowal of prisoners has been a perplexing one. When prisoners were held for a ransom, or were of great value on account of the possession of state secrets, or when religious hatred was gratified by a prisoner's sufferings, the dominant idea as to their keeping was safety and seclusion, under conditions that would either produce death or make death a desirable release. Dungeons, underground, damp, dark, noisome, or chambers high in battlemented towers, with smallest heavy-barred openings, or even pits sunken in the earth and barred across the top, fulfilled every requirement of safety, and sufficiently gratified any desire for revenge.
As civilization advanced, it dawned upon the minds of those who held wards of the community that these wards might have rights that should be respected, and that they might also be made profitable to the State, to the extent, at least, of earning a part of their keeping. This foolish idea, that it was not a luxury and duty to support prisoners in idleness, has, in its development, brought upon us the whole intricate prison-labor problem. It opened the prison doors to the walking delegate.
Prisoners multiplied as communities grew, and crimes multiplied as legislation progressed. Wherever there was a high civilization and a thickly populated country, wherever cities were built, wherever commerce and industry thrived, there grew up great establishments for the keeping of criminals. But for many years the mediaval idea of the safe keeping of the prisoner, and that alone, prevailed. If he could be made to earn his living, it was a mere incident. It never occurred to legislators of those days that he had a right to earn his living, and that the public had a right to demand that he should earn it. A class, known as the criminal class, was created and fostered, branded and made