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December 31, 1904


JAMA. 1904;XLIII(27):2040. doi:10.1001/jama.1904.02500270034009

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One special phase of the labor problem that comes to the front every little while is the question of the effects of the anticonvict labor laws on the health and mortality of prisoners. Owing to the demands of the labor unions, several states have passed laws which prohibit contract labor in the prisons, and which seriously embarrass the prison authorities in the management and discipline of the institutions. It is a well-known fact that idleness of prisoners tends to physical and mental deterioration; an increase of insanity, as well as a general impairment of the health and well-being of the prisoners, has generally followed the enacting of the laws aforesaid. Even under the best of conditions, with plenty of work, some mental deterioration is inevitable in prisoners. Add to this the restlessness and worry of enforced idleness, and the chances of mental breakdown are vastly increased. If our criminal laws

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