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NCJ Number: 44594 Find in a Library
Title: CRIME AND VIOLENCE AMONG MENTAL PATIENTS RECONSIDERED IN VIEW OF THE NEW LEGAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE STATE AND THE MENTALLY ILL
Journal: AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PSYCHIATRY  Volume:135  Issue:1  Dated:(JANUARY 1978)  Pages:33-42
Author(s): L SOSOWSKY
Corporate Author: American Psychiatric Assoc
United States of America
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 10
Sponsoring Agency: American Psychiatric Assoc
Arlington, VA 22209
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: CRIME RATES OF A GROUP OF MENTAL PATIENTS ARE COMPARED WITH THOSE OF THE LOCAL POPULATION, CONCLUSIONS ARE DRAWN, AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY ARE MADE BASED UPON THE RESULTS AND LEGAL CONCERNS.
Abstract: IN RESPONSE TO CONTEMPORARY LEGAL CONCERN OVER THE CIVIL RIGHTS OF THE MENTALLY ILL, MANY STATES HAVE PASSED LEGISLATION LIMITING INVOLUNTARY CIVIL CONFINEMENT TO THOSE MENTALLY ILL PERSONS WHO ARE DANGEROUS TO THEMSELVES OR TO OTHERS, THUS RELAXING TRADITIONAL RESTRAINTS ON THE MENTALLY ILL. HISTORICALLY, THE MENTALLY ILL HAVE BEEN ASSUMED TO BE MORE VIOLENT THAN THE GENERAL PUBLIC; THIS PRESUMPTION HAS BEEN WIDELY QUESTIONED IN THE LAST TWO DECADES. IN THIS STUDY, THE ARREST RATES OF 301 MENTAL HOSPITAL PATIENTS WERE COMPARED WITH THOSE OF THE LOCAL COUNTY POPULATION. IT WAS FOUND THAT PERSONS ADMITTED TO THE HOSPITAL FROM THE LOCAL COUNTY WERE ARRESTED APPROXIMATELY NINE TIMES MORE OFTEN THAN COUNTY RESIDENTS. THIS FINDING THAT THE MENTALLY ILL ARE MORE PRONE TO CRIMINAL ACTIVITY THAN INDIVIDUALS IN THE PUBLIC AT LARGE DISAGREES WITH THE RESULTS OF EARLIER STUDIES. THE DISCREPANCY COULD BE EXPLAINED IN SEVERAL WAYS: (1) NEW TREATMENT CONCEPTS AND TECHNOLOGIES HAVE ALTERED HOSPITAL UTILIZATION, THEREFORE THE ADMISSION SAMPLE USED IN THIS STUDY WAS PROBABLY DEMOGRAPHICALLY DIFFERENT FROM THOSE IN EARLIER STUDIES; (2) DUE TO LEGAL REFORM, MORE MENTALLY ILL PERSONS WERE IN THE COMMUNITY THAN BEFORE, SO THERE WAS MORE MANIFEST CRIMINAL ACTIVITY AMONG HOSPITAL INMATES; AND (3) INCREASED DIVERSION OF ARRESTED PERSONS FROM THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM TO MENTAL HOSPITALS COULD ACCOUNT FOR AN APPARENT RISE IN CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR AMONG MENTAL HOSPITAL PATIENTS. IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT, AMONG STATES WHICH HAVE RELAXED RESTRAINTS ON THE MENTALLY ILL, RESEARCH BE CONDUCTED TO MORE COMPLETELY IDENTIFY FACTORS WHICH EXPLAIN THE INCREASE IN CRIME RATES AMONG THE MENTALLY ILL OVER THE YEARS. THE EMERGING NEW LEGAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE STATE AND THE MENTALLY ILL, WHICH GUARANTEES THEM EQUAL TREATMENT UNDER THE LAW AND ASSURES A VOLUNTARY TREATMENT SITUATION WHEN POSSIBLE, MAY INCUR A HERETOFORE UNASSESSED SOCIAL COST -- MORE CRIME AND VIOLENCE IN THE COMMUNITY. SUPPORTING DATA ARE PRESENTED.
Index Term(s): Crime Rate; Mentally ill offenders; Studies
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