In recent years abductions during divorce custody and access disputes have received greater attention from both the lay and medical press. However, little has been written on the psychopathology of the abductors or the impact on children of being kidnapped by a parent. In this study 20 cases of abduction, involving 20 parents and 37 children, were examined after the children had been located and returned to the custodial parent. Characteristics of the abduction and psychopathology seen in the children are compared to those of a control population. The outcome of assessments conducted by the family court clinic after the abductions are profiled.
Swedish penal law does not exculpate on the grounds of diminished accountability; persons judged to suffer from severe mental disorder are sentenced to forensic psychiatric care instead of prison. Re-introduction of accountability as a condition for legal responsibility has been advocated, not least by forensic psychiatric professionals. To investigate how professionals in forensic psychiatry would assess degree of accountability based on psychiatric diagnoses and case vignettes, 30 psychiatrists, 30 psychologists, 45 nurses, and 45 ward attendants from five forensic psychiatric clinics were interviewed. They were asked (i) to judge to which degree (on a dimensional scale from 1 to 5) each of 12 psychiatric diagnoses might affect accountability, (ii) to assess accountability from five case vignettes, and (iii) to list further factors they regarded as relevant for their assessment of accountability. All informants accepted to provide a dimensional assessment of accountability on this basis and consistently found most types of mental disorders to reduce accountability, especially psychotic disorders and dementia. Other factors thought to be relevant were substance abuse, social network, personality traits, social stress, and level of education.
This paper constitutes the first stage of data analysis in a larger controlled study designed to assess the effect of a forensic psychiatric assessment on legal disposition defined in three ways: 1. the number of days spent in custody prior to trial; 2. the number of sentenced days of incarceration; and 3. the conviction rate. A historical cohort design was used to follow two cohorts of individuals remanded, pretrial, to Southern Alberta Provincial Correctional Centres between 1988 and 1989. The study cohort consisted of all offenders detained who received a forensic psychiatric assessment. The comparison cohort consisted of a random sample of persons detained who did not undergo a forensic assessment. Because of small numbers, individuals below the age of 18 and women were excluded from study. This paper compares socio-legal characteristics of study and comparison subjects in order to better understand forensic psychiatric referral patterns and identify potentially confounding factors that would need to be controlled in subsequent analyses of legal outcomes. No differences were noted with respect to educational level but forensic subjects were found to be slightly older (average of 31 years compared to 29 years). Aboriginal peoples (Native Indian, Inuit and Metis) were three times more common among non-forensic offenders. Forensic patients were more likely to have had a prior forensic assessment but less likely to have a prior criminal detention. In addition, forensic patients were three times more likely to be charged with a crime against a person and counted more offenses in the target episode than comparison subjects.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
To assess fitness to stand trial, competency to plead guilty, and competency to understand Charter cautions to determine if the level of competency varies across these domains.
The Fitness Interview Test-Revised (FIT-R) and the Test of Charter Comprehension (ToCC) were administered to a group of individuals held on remand for fitness evaluations. Additionally, several questions from the FIT-R that address the ability to make a guilty plea were assessed separately and constituted an individual measure of competency to plead guilty (CoP).
As predicted, the results indicated that the fact that an individual is competent at one juncture in the criminal proceedings does not mean that the individual necessarily is competent at all other stages of the proceedings.
These findings suggest a need for a stage-specific approach to forensic competency assessments, requiring specialized instruments designed to assess the legal issues of competency at the various stages of legal proceedings.
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.
Some literature suggests that compulsory community treatment orders (CTOs) are effective in reducing hospitalizations in a subgroup of psychiatric patients with histories of repeated hospitalization, allowing them to be treated in the community under less restrictive measures. However, studies have yielded contradictory findings, in part because of methodological differences. Our study examines the effectiveness of CTOs in reducing hospitalizations and increasing community tenure of such patients.
The sample included all psychiatric patients who had been given a CTO during a 9-year period at 2 of McGill University's hospitals. This is a naturalistic, observational, retrospective, before-and-after study where patients acted as their own control subjects. We examined variables, including the number, duration, and time to psychiatric admissions, comparing 4 time periods: early, pre-index, index (when the first CTO was in force), and post-index periods. The total study duration per subject encompasses the longest period of observation within existing studies in Canada.
Psychiatric patients with histories of frequent readmissions demonstrated a significant reduction in their number of hospitalizations as well as an increase in the median time to re-hospitalization, during the period when they were treated under a CTO. This effect of CTO was sustained even after the CTO had expired.
Our study suggests that CTOs are effective in assisting psychiatric patients with histories of repeated hospitalizations to live and be treated in the community, diminishing the occurrence of frequent hospitalization.
An assessment of risk management systems for patients on Warrants of the Lieutenant Governor in the provincial psychiatric hospitals was conducted. The assessment revealed that, to date, with some exceptions, the system has coped reasonably well. However, with a present count of over 400, and the ever increasing number of patients on warrants, there is a pressing need to improve the overall coordination of the system. The numbers, types and location of beds required to serve the system must be reviewed. Staff needs and training must be addressed. Increased numbers of coordinated research studies and improved information systems are required. System-wide policies and procedures for releasing information to policy, employers and home operators are necessary. As well, there must be a consistent approach in dealing with potential abuse of alcohol and non-prescribed drugs. Systems for authorizing and documenting patient privileges can be improved in some hospitals. A set of guidelines for interpreting terms and conditions of warrants is necessary. Lastly, information for staff treating patients on warrants should be developed and distributed.
The distinction made in the common law tradition between sane and insane automatisms, and in particular the labelling of epileptic automatisms as insane, are legal concepts which surprise and even astonish lawyers of other traditions, whether they work within a civil law system or one with elements both from civil law and common law. It could be useful to those lawyers, doctors and patients struggling for a change in the common law countries to receive comparative material from other countries. Thus, the way automatisms are dealt with in non-common law countries will be discussed with an emphasis on the Norwegian criminal law system. In Norway no distinction is made between sane and insane automatisms and the plea Not Guilty by virtue of epileptic automatism is both available and valid assuming certain conditions are met. No. 44 of the Penal Code states that acts committed while the perpetrator is unconscious are not punishable. Automatisms are regarded as "relative unconsciousness", and thus included under No. 44. Exceptions may be made if the automatism is a result of self-inflicted intoxication following the consumption of alcohol or (illegal) drugs. Also, the role and relevance of experts as well as the law of some other European countries will be briefly discussed.