While criminal statistics appear to prove that sexual offences are becoming more frequent in society, seemingly keeping even more than pace with the march of modern intelligence, and while many ascribe this increase to the leniency of law in dealing with them, contrasting the few months' imprisonment commonly imposed with the burning alive, hanging, and quartering of previous generations, I am inclined to think the cause should be sought in an entirely different direction. Punishment has little terror for the confirmed criminal, the recidivist. " It is a long quarter of an hour to pass," said Cartouche, speaking of his approaching execution.1 The scaffold does not suppress nor hinder those passions which are stronger than death— Lust, Vengeance, Jealousy. It only deters from the lesser crimes. Let us seek a cause in the law itself. To the eye of Justice, in the matter of sexual crime, the effect, as Ovid well says, rather than the cause, is most frequently visible.2 The superficial treatment of actB which deeply concern society, makes it easy, as a thoughtful writer remarks,8 to treat a delinquent, who is as dangerous to society as a wild beast, or a murderer, as a mere criminal; locking him up for a specified time, and then turning him loose to prey upon society again, without the slightest attempt to analyze his mental condition or provide a cure for the social evil. The truer knowledge of the psychopathologist, in such a case, after examination had established the fact that reformation was impossible, would prompt the removal, permanently, of such a degenerate, both sexually and mentally perverted, not for punitive but preventive reasons.
As previously stated in these pages, it is always important to bear in mind that a perverse sexual act by no means always indicates perversity of instinct. Normal sexual acts are quite frequently performed by pronounced inverts; and abnormal, and even flagrantly criminal, acts, are just as frequently performed by persons of wholly sound mind and sexuality. But, even with perversity of instinct, it must be clearly shown that the specific act was of pathological origin to entitle the offender to legal clemency. And this brings us back to the initial premise—that all such abnormal acts ought, in the strictest justice to both culprit and humanity, to be made the subject of careful preliminary medical examination.