Vanderson 1919 25 7 8 medical director for the

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V.Anderson ( 1919: 25 7 -8), medical director for the National Committee for Mental Hygiene, declared, "At least 50 per cent of the inmates of state prisons throughout the country are suffering from some form of nervous or mental disease and defect ....These individuals furnish a substantial nucleus to that most expansive body, the recidivists who clog the machinery of justice, who spend their lives in and out of penal institutions and furnish facts for the astonishing facts of recidivism." For criminals, sterilization offered a double advantage. First it could be used as punishment/treatment. Due to the belief that vasectomies limited sex drive and aggressive behavior, this simple operation seemed to offer an easy solution in particular to the problem of sex crimes. Several early laws couched their sanctioning of sterilization in punitive rather than eugenic terms. To use Washington and Nevada's earliest laws as an example, both allowed for the compulsory sterilization of habitual criminals and persons adjudged guilty of carnal abuse of female persons under 10 years or of rape, without any mention of heredity nor diagnosis of feeblemindedness. California's law exposed more persons, but the section on criminals required little eugenic evidence, subjecting recidivists convicted multiple times of sexual or moral perversion to sterilization. Second, eugenicists argued that, by preventing procreation, sterilization would prevent the increase of crime. If criminals did pass their defective genes through the generations, then ending the procreative abilities of criminals would cut crime off at its source. Davenport (1917: 17-19), a leading expert on eugenics, wrote: "There is no question that if every feeble-minded, epileptic, insane and criminalistic person now in the United States were operated on this year. there would be an enormous reduction of the populations of our institutions." Laws such as Connecticut (1909) and Indiana (1907) reveal this eugenic intent by specifying sterilization for those persons, including criminals, rapists, imbeciles and idiots, for whom procreation was determined to be inadvisable. The focus upon criminals served a very different purpose than sterilizations for intra-institutional control. Intra-institutional © Blackwell Publishers Ltd 1998.
81 Gender in Compulsory Sterilization Programs control was primarily an interest of superintendents, serving their needs as supervisors of large custodial institutions. Sterilizations targeting criminals, on the other hand, served a symbolic function within the outside world. Sterilization was a simple, low cost, largely symbolic way to assure the public that crime rates would be reduced and criminals effectively handled. Among legislators who supported the use of sterilization, the control, or at least appearance of control, of criminals seems to have been a significant reason behind this support. Of the fifteen states which passed laws between 1907 and 1922, ten specified criminals in some way, either as rapists, confirmed criminals, habitual criminals, hereditary criminals,

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