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Mentally Disordered Offenders in Forensic Rather Than Hospital

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Mentally Disordered Offenders in Forensic Rather Than Hospital

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  • September 15, 2011
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Assess the care for sentencing mentally disordered offenders to prison rather than a forensic psychiatric hospital setting. The 19th Century saw many efforts to remove mentally ill offenders from the prison system. Bethlam Hospital in London opened a new wing for the criminal offenders who were diagnosed with a mental illness. Shortly after, Broadmoor hospital was opened. However, this did not end the detention of the mentally ill offenders in prison; although more special provision was being created within the prison system for those who were not able to be transferred to a mental hospital. There have been a number of cases highlighted that large numbers of mentally ill offenders are finding themselves in the prison system. There is, however, only a small minority of prisoners who are experiencing severe mental disorders, which under the mental health legislation warrants detention. The majority of offenders with mental health problems combined with substance abuse continue to remain in the prison system. The report of the Gladstone Committee in 1985 recommended that all prison officers with medical expertise be experienced or trained in the subject of mental illness, further acknowledging the fact that there is a significant presence of the mentally disordered offenders in prison. In assessing the case for sentencing mentally disordered offenders to prison rather than a forensic psychiatry hospital; it is necessary to look at the issues related to the interface between the prison service and the mental health services with regards to the way in which prisoners with mental health problems are managed. In 1988, the American Psychiatric Association's Council of Psychiatry and Law clearly approved the use of mental hospitals as prisons. The Council affirmed that psychiatric patients who no longer needed active psychiatric treatment or those who were deemed to be untreatable could still be managed in a psychiatric setting. Those who were acquitted and were...