Source: The Friends of the Insane, The Soul of Medical Education and Other Essays
Source type: book
Document type: essay
Document title: “Shall We Convict, Sentence and Punish, or Commit, Care for and Cure the Insane Delinquent?”
Author(s): Holmes, Bayard
Publisher: Lancet-Clinic Publishing Company
Place of publication: Cincinnati, Ohio
Year of publication: 1911
Pagination: 7-13 (excerpt below includes only pages 9-10)
|Holmes, Bayard. “Shall We Convict, Sentence and Punish, or Commit, Care for and Cure the Insane Delinquent?” The Friends of the Insane, The Soul of Medical Education and Other Essays. Cincinnati: Lancet-Clinic Publishing, 1911: pp. 7-13.|
|excerpt of essay|
|Leon Czolgosz (trial: criticism); Leon Czolgosz (trial: compared with Guiteau trial).|
|James A. Garfield; Abraham Lincoln; William McKinley.|
From the preface: “The following essays are corrected reprints from the pages of the Lancet-Clinic” (p. iii).
Title of the book is given on its cover as Friends of the Insane and Other Essays.
From title page: By Bayard Holmes, M.D., Chicago.
Shall We Convict, Sentence and Punish, or Commit, Care for and Cure
the Insane Delinquent? [excerpt]
Just how large a per cent. of the crimes against
person are committed by the insane it is not possible to say. The opinion of
competent observers is at one that it is very large; and from time to time,
at least from decade to decade, the estimate of those observers gradually rises.
Crimes against property are of a considerably different nature. They vary much
according to the location of the bread line and the magnitude of other economic
and social factors. But even here a growing portion of the delinquents are found
to be insane.
This is not the place to criticise the administration of justice in our criminal courts; it is, however, the place to demand that the insane man whose disease is first discovered by a delinquency—a crime against person or a crime against property—be promptly, safely and decently put in the proper surroundings for diagnosis or cure. We understand that an insane man may be as responsible for a criminal act as a sane man,  but even when that is the case his punishment should not take precedence over his cure. His apprehension, his examination, his trial and his conviction should be guided and even stayed by the indications for the treatment of his disease. The public mind may be momentarily outraged by a terrible crime, but public remorse at the deliberate revenge of courts, that should be courts of justice if not of mercy, is not soon forgotten. Note, for example, the vengeance meted out to the insane murderers of Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley and the apologies with which those dark pages of our national history are now written, read and taught to our children.