The main aim of the Swedish Women's Peace reform in 1998 was to enhance criminal legal protection for women exposed to violence in heterosexual relationships and to promote gender equality. However, these ambitions risk being contravened in a masculinist criminal legal system. One problem concerns how the victim is constructed in criminal legal cases. The author argues that moral balancing and discourses of responsibility and guilt in Swedish cases constrain the agency possible for women and suggest that a more comprehensive policy in Sweden must be developed to include violent men, their agency, and their responsibility for the violence.
Concern for the recognition, support, and rights of victims within the criminal justice system has grown in recent years, leading to legislative and procedural changes in the administration of justice that have improved the experiences of victims. What is not clear is whether all victims have benefited from changes in the system regardless of race and social class. This study investigates the experiences Aboriginal people who are victims of sexual violence have with the Canadian criminal justice system. The authors seek to explore perspectives about their encounters with the judicial system from the point of first contact with the police through involvement with the court and community service providers, utilizing grounded theory qualitative methodology. They conclude that race is a key determinant in the manner in which a victim will be perceived by the people in the justice system and the manner in which the victim will approach the judicial process.
This paper is an overview of the conceptual and methodological problems encountered trying to assess the hypothesis that the mentally ill, as a consequence of deinstitutionalization, are being "criminalized". Generalizations are difficult to make, in large part because most of the studies are American and do not fit well into the Canadian scene. Relevant Canadian findings are reviewed and compared to the US data. There is some evidence that Canadian patients may be diverted from the criminal justice system more often than in the US, where there are fewer resources. However, this conclusion must be tempered by the fact that Canadian surveys have found high rates of mental disorder among prison and jail inmates.
People with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) present challenges to those who work in the criminal legal system. Prenatal exposure to alcohol can cause physical, neurological, and psychological impairments. It is vital to understand the individual offender in order to address the underlying reasons for criminal behavior. Individuals with FASD often come from dysfunctional backgrounds, and may have mental illnesses and substance use disorders. A comprehensive medical-legal report, prepared by a professional experienced with FASD, can help judges and lawyers understand how complex the interactions are among brain damage, genetics, and the environment. The person with FASD can be misunderstood in court, victimized in jails, and mismanaged in the transition back to the community, unless those working with the individual are aware of FASD and its implications.
The object of this retrospective descriptive investigation was to illustrate how compulsory committed or detained patients are evaluated in psychiatric statements from the hospital, Forensic Medical Council, and court under the Danish Mental Health Legislation of 1989. The cases were evaluated using topics and areas dealing with the previous and present medical history, legal topics, and legal premises. The investigation examines a 5-year period with 40 cases involving 30 patients, 22 cases of which were presented to the Forensic Medical Council. The investigation reveals that in dealing with the medical history only, symptoms and treatment are of interest to the court, whereas the legal grounds are of very high interest both to the court and the hospital. This investigation raises the question as to whether the form of the psychiatric statement faces reality and whether the judiciary and psychiatry view the patient from very different angles. This requires that the instrument of communication, that is, the psychiatric statement, should be accurate.
Compulsory treatment potentially offers a cost-effective and rehabilitative alternative to incarceration for substance-user offenders. However, the compatibility of harm-reduction principles and compulsory substance-user treatment initiatives is unclear. First, the historical record suggests that policy and legislative changes promoting diversion to treatment are typically not followed up by administrative, fiscal, and evaluative support. Moreover, cost-saving arguments underlying past programs may be inadequate to cope with concerns about civil liberties raised by compulsory treatment practices. Second, empirical evidence suggests that there may be a fundamental incompatibility between attitudes endorsing compulsory treatment and attitudes endorsing harm reduction. Finally, empirical claims about the relative efficacy of mandated versus nonmandated substance-user treatment are plagued by conceptual and methodological problems. These arguments suggest that compulsory substance-user treatment and harm reduction may not be as compatible as is commonly believed. Consequently, caution is warranted in moving toward a widespread adoption of compulsory treatment policies. [Translations are provided in the International Abstracts Section of this issue.]