Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



Although little is left of the theory which ascribed to mental deficiency causative force in criminal conduct, the entire episode taught at least two valuable lessons to modem criminologists. First, it served as a warning against superficial research and hasty conclusions, thus inducing subsequent scholars to take a more scientific approach to similar problems. Second, it aided in alerting others that, although not all or even most criminals are mentally deficient, there are an appreciable number of criminals who possess a subnormal mentality, and who must be reckoned within the criminal law. Notwithstanding that the legal profession has utilized the first lesson, it has not benefited appreciably from the second. To this day, the question of what attitude the law should take toward the effect of feeble mindedness on capacity to commit crime has been largely neglected. This article attempts to suggest a first step towards the solution of the problem.