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June 21, 1890

SUGGESTIONS FOR THE RECONSIDERATION OF CRIMINAL JURISPRUDENCE AS AFFECTING INEBRIETY.Read in the Section of Medical Jurisprudence at the Forty-first Annual Meeting of the American Medical Association, held in Nashville, Tenn., May, 1890.

JAMA. 1890;XIV(25):895-897. doi:10.1001/jama.1890.02410250015001e

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Abstract

During the past twelve months I have noted two sentences (these are but a type of many others), which seem to me to have been as devoid of justice as of mercy. In France a soldier was condemned to die for, while in a state of intoxication, having struck his superior officer. In England, a man was sentenced to death for, while intoxicated, killing his mother-in-law.

When sober, and in full possession of their senses, neither of these accused was shown to have exhibited any inclination to insubordination or to violence. The criminal acts were conceived and committed when the doers were, for the time at least, non compos mentis, and incapable of forming a criminal intention, yet they were punished as severely as if they had harbored a criminal design. Granted that punishment was indispensable, how can there be a justification of inflicting as severe a penalty on a

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