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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 56

Insane and Weak-Minded Prisoners

Insane and Weak-Minded Prisoners.

The Secretary of this Association has during recent visits to prisons, repeatedly had brought under his notice the grave inconveniences resulting from the considerable number of insane or weak-minded persons who are received into the local gaols. This involves, in many cases, the placing of prisoners in association, three or more in a cell, by night as well as by day—a most objectionable, but now very common, practice in English gaols.

More power ought to be given to the local officers promptly to send such prisoners to Asylums, or some other place more suitable than a prison.

This class appears to be on the increase. The problem of their best disposal must claim serious attention from the Medical Officers of prisons.

If prisoners, whether in the convict establishments or in the local gaols, require special medical attention, on the grounds of insanity, or doubtful sanity, they should be also removed to some place suitable to the circumstances of such persons. This has, to a considerable extent, been done, with regard to convicts. But better arrangements are urgently needed in the Local Gaols in this direction.

More uniformity also in the exercise of Medical functions, in general, is requisite. Serious injury to the discipline is experienced in some prisons for want of the individual peculiarities of the local Surgeon being guided, or even controlled, if necessary, by the advice of a, superior Medical authority.

The Prison Hospitals, also, may well claim some effort to brighten them a little and to diminish the excessive dulness and gloom which are apt to characterize them.