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May 11, 1889


JAMA. 1889;XII(19):668. doi:10.1001/jama.1889.02400960020006

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During the last few years the reading public has been often shocked by reports of great cruelty and sometimes deaths from harsh treatment of the insane in public asylums for the care of that unfortunate class. One of the most recent of such reports has come from the Cook County Asylum for the pauper insane, in which an inmate named Burns is alleged to have died in consequence of the kicks and blows inflicted by two or three of the men employed as attendants. The post-mortem showed evidences of most extensive bruises, with fracture of one rib and the sternum. The primary judicial proceedings developed evidence that the Asylum is greatly overcrowded with patients and managed with a very inadequate number of attendants, many of whom, owing to the small wages paid and the repulsive nature of the work, are taken from the more rough and ignorant classes of society.

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