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Entered as second-class matter March 28, 1916, at the Post Office at Concord, N. H.,
Signed articles are not to be understood as expressing the views of the editors or publishers
A STUDY OF ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY FEEBLEMINDED DELINQUENTS
LOUISE E. POULL
This study has grown out of the examination of one hundred and fifty case histories of prisoners taken from the morning line up of New York Police Headquarters. These cases have been pronounced feeble-minded by the joint diagnosis of psychiatrist, psychologist and social investigator and are a fair sample of the feeble-minded who are brought before the magistrates in large cities every day. They represent 21/7 per cent of the total number of cases examined by the doctors of the police laboratory in one year. In order to simplify the problem all cases have been eliminated in which the syndrome includes not only feeble-mindedness but also epilepsy or dementia praecox or other psychoses.
Table No. 1 gives the nature of the crimes committed:
*This proved to be a case of General Paresis and should properly have been excluded from this study
It is easily seen that they are not selected for any one crime. Of the fact that they are lawbreakers there is no doubt and the large majority of discharges and suspended sentences is evidence of the disinclination of the judges to place these prisoners with socalled normal criminals.
The latest plan of reclassification of prisoners includes a separate department for feeble-minded delinquents. Do the latter form a homogeneous group?
Careful study of these case histories seems to indicate they should be subdivided into two distinct classes. The first includes those in whom there is an established criminalistic trend. Whether this trend is caused by inherited instability or by habits formed in early environment is to be determined by those who have in their charge the further disposition. Early
detection, segregation and treatment are of vital importance. That they are doubly dangerous to society by reason of their criminality and feeblemindedness is certain. That penal methods, such as are customary in treating criminals who are not feeble-minded, will fail of their purpose, be it reformation or mere deterring, is a foregone conclusion. The feebleminded are unable to generalize from the concrete punishment to the wrong committed. In consequence they suffer not only needlessly but their anti-social trend is made stronger by supposed wrongs.
This group includes as to the nature of crimes, the sex perverts, felonious assaults, arsons, homicides, besides burglaries and others. In listening to the case histories as they are brought up in conference, the inference is unavoidable that when the time shall come when all those arrested are given a mental test, the number will greatly exceed that of the present finding. In evaluating this finding it must be born in mind that only those who have an "inferior appearance" are now given over for a mental test. In this way many are overlooked who are defective but have a superficial brilliancy, whose associative powers are ready but whose minds are shallow. Many, also, are now simply classified as asocial who have an asymmetrical mental development.
The following cases are cited as typical of the criminalistic group:
B. M.-Heredity is not ascertained. The parents are Russian Jews. The mother is dead and the father speaks little English. The home when investigated was clean and there was no evidence of criminality about it. This boy is now 19 years of age, chronologically, and measures 10 years mentally by the Stanford Revision. His delinquencies commenced at an early age when he was sent to the probational school at the age of 10 years. He was certified as mentally defective at that time by the Board of Education.
The following list of delinquencies gives an idea of his career: 1911-Committed to Jewish Protectory for Juvenile Delinquency. Paroled; returned for violation of parole. Discharged, 1912.
1913-Committed to House of Refuge. Discharged, 1913.
1915-Committed to Workhouse for attempting to pick pockets. During interval of freedom the school principal found B. M. visiting the school at odd hours and arousing "gang spirit" among the boys.
1915-Arrest for picking pockets.
1915-Arrested for Disorderly Conduct.
1916-Arrested for grand larceny. Sent to Letchworth Village. 1917-Arrested for grand larceny. Discharged.
There is apparently no need for these thefts. Mental examination shows an active but shallow mind and childish, unreliable judgment. He is impatient of control and has a marked wanderlust. While in an institution he made an ineffective attempt at suicide in order to "spite his family." He found grievances on slight foundations. On account of erratic behavior and bad influence on others, none of the institutions
former offences; and thus in time they become habitual offenders. Reports of investigators prove that relatives as a rule do not make allowances for the mental status of these unfortunates and this is not strange since even in courts of justice this important factor is not always recognized.
Intelligence and Delinquency, Harold J. Williams, Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, January, 1916.
The Laboratory in the Study and Treatment of Crime, V. V. Anderson, Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, March, 1915.
A Study of Fifty Three Male Convicts, George Ordahl, Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, March, 1916.
A Classification of Borderline Mental Cases amongst Offenders, V. V. Anderson.
Types of Delinquent Careers, Bernard Glueck, M. D., Mental Hygiene, April, 1917.
BY THEODOSIA GARRISON
The kindliest thing God ever made
His glorious company of trees
Throw out their mantles, and on these
Green temples, closed against the beat
The white road blisters in the sun;
And feel the dew of dawn still wet
Beneath thy feet and so forget
The burning highway's ache and fret.
This is God's hospitality,
And whoso rests beneath a tree
Hath cause to thank Him gratefully.
MINUTES OF A MEETING OF THE COMMITTEE ON MENTAL HYGIENE OF THE STATE CHARITIES AID ASSOCIATION,
THURSDAY, MARCH 21, 1918
The twenty-ninth regular meeting of the Committee on Mental Hygiene of the State Charities Aid Association was held in the Trustees' Room of the United Charities Building, 105 East 22d Street, New York, at 4.15 P. M., March 21, 1918. The following members were present: Mr. Henry C. Wright, the Secretary pro tem., presiding; Mrs. William B. Rice; Dr. Paul Monroe; and Mrs. Paul Tuckerman. There were present as guests Dr. H. G. Gibson, who represented Dr. Smith; Miss Amelia J. Massopust, Social Worker of the Manhattan State Hospital; and Miss Elizabeth C. Adams. Of the staff there were present, Mr. Hastings, Miss Clark and Mr. Bowman.
The minutes of the meeting of January 20th were read in part and approved. The Executive Secretary presented a report covering the work during the period since then.
EXECUTIVE SECRETARY'S REPORT
Since the Committee last met in January, the report of the Hospital Development Commission has been transmitted to the Legislature. Interest in its suggestions regarding a more adequate handling of the problems of insanity and feeble-mindedness is naturally heightened by the fact that this Committee was interested in the creation of the Commission, and devoted much time and effort to making studies and otherwise assisting the Commission in its inquiry during the past several months.
As members of the Committee have doubtless noted from reading the report, the Commission's inquiry seems to have been painstaking and openminded, and the recommendations lay the foundation for a comprehensive and continuous plan of development which is undoubtedly the most ambitious and promising of any suggested in many years. The report has already attracted widespread attention and much favorable comment. We have assisted in giving it wide publicity by publishing a special issue of the S. C. A. A. News containing a summary of it.
The Commission's recommendations as to the insane may be briefly summarized as follows:
Two new State hospitals in the metropolitan district, one in the Creedmore section near Brooklyn, and the other on a site yet to be selected. The enlarging of existing State hospitals in and near New York City. The completion of the State Hospital at Marcy near Utica. A psychopathic hospital in New York City.
More orderly methods of making appropriations.