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Extra info for Conscience and Convenience: The Asylum and Its Alternatives in Progressive America (New Lines in Criminology)
Established in 1889, its first report offered persuasive details about the miserable fate of the insane in poorhouses. “The most that can justly be said in behalf of the poor-houses,” the Commission declared, “is that they are custodial in character. ” No physician supervised the insane; a ‘Xeeper” was in charge. Only a few almshouses had medical supplies and none of them used a “proper system of classification,” or maintained a “proper case record”; physical restraints were commonly applied “at the will of an untrained at- .
The impact of the Elmira model was not to spawn imitations; neither it nor the 1870 Declaration of Principles affected American prison routines during these years. Rather, Elmira appeared to justify contentions that incarceration, properly redesigned, should remain at the center of the criminal justice system. Perhaps the most sustained and significant attack on the concept of institutionalization emerged in the field of insanity. In the 1870’s and 188oYs, leaders in the new discipline of neurology launched a major critique of medical superintendents and their 37 COPING WITH EVIL institutions that at times almost challenged the very idea of incarceration.
Moreover, asylum superintendents had excluded the neurologists from their institutions, thus not only failing to carry out their own scientific duties but preventing others from doing so as well. They also failed to keep clinical records or to provide therapeutic programs, instead dispensing excessive doses of drugs. Indeed, Spitzka’s scorn for them was so great that he would not even credit them with being decent administrators. ... . .. ” In the end, the neurologists were convinced that asylum care was not only crude and incompetent, but cruel and inhumane.
Conscience and Convenience: The Asylum and Its Alternatives in Progressive America (New Lines in Criminology) by David Rothman