Mental Health and Criminal Law – Introduction

‘The link between mental illness and crime is well known’

                                        – (General Synod, 13th February 2008).

It is fair to say, I think, that there are many people being punished in jail who are suffering from serious mental illnesses and should not be there. Their, illness is made worse by their incarceration and they need, instead, to be in a therapeutic environment.

But what are the facts surrounding the relationship between mental disorder and criminal justice and what issues need to be considered?

The kinds of questions I intend to address in my posts in this category of my blog include :

   – to what extent does mental disorder contribute to crime?

   – to what extent are mentally disordered offenders responsible and culpable for their crimes compared to their non-mentally disordered counterparts?

   – to what degree are mentally disordered offenders’ conditions treatable?

   – how can the human rights of mentally disordered offenders be best protected?

   – where is the dividing line between deviance and disorder? In relation to this question, who should go to prison and who should go to a therapeutic setting?

   – what problems does the concept of ‘severe and dangerous personality disorder’ pose for the criminal justice system?

   – to what extent is the disordered offender morally responsible for his or her offending?

   – to what extent does the criminal justice system make the mental condition of the offender better or worse?

   – does the criminal justice system lower the offending rate of disordered offenders?

   – does the criminal justice system lead to successful treatment of the mentally disordered offender’s condition?

   – is the overlap between mental disorder and offending explicable by other factors such as discrimination, poverty and social exclusion?

   – does the criminal justice system deal fairly and equitably with the mentally disordered?

IMPORTANT NOTE : The link between mental disorder and crime is a very complex one, not least because there is such a range of both mental disorders and types of crime. We are not, then, dealing with two simple, clear cut variables. Quit the opposite, in fact.

My next post in this category will follow very shortly. If you have any opinions on this topic, I would be very interested to hear them, so please leave a comment if you wish – I will respond asap.

Best wishes, David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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About David Hosier MSc

Holder of MSc and post graduate teaching diploma in psychology. Highly experienced in education. Founder of Survivor of severe childhood trauma.

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