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August 27, 1904


JAMA. 1904;XLIII(9):610. doi:10.1001/jama.1904.02500090030004

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It was left to President Roosevelt, in a recent memorandum, clearly to enunciate a characteristic, commonsense view of the plea of insanity in extenuation of crime. He said:

I have scant sympathy with the plea of insanity advanced to save a man from the consequences of crime, when, unless the crime had been committed, it would have been impossible to persuade a responsible authority to commit him to an asylum as insane. Among the most dangerous criminals, and especially among those prone to commit this particular kind of offense [rape], there are plenty of a temper so fiendish or so brutal as to be incompatible with any other than a brutish order of intelligence; but these men are nevertheless responsible for their acts, and nothing more tends to encourage crime among such men than the belief that through the plea of insanity or any other method it is possible for

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