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NCJ Number: 49748 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: INTERFACE OF THE MENTAL HEALTH AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEMS - AN EXAMINATION OF PENNSYLVANIA'S MENTAL HEALTH PROCEDURES ACT OF 1976
Author(s): S D FLEMING
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 260
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
US Dept of Justice
Washington, DC 20531
Grant Number: 78-NI-AX-0022
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Document: PDF
Type: Thesis/Dissertation
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THE POSSIBILITY THAT A STATE LAW NARROWING CONDITIONS FOR INVOLUNTARY COMMITMENT TO MENTAL HOSPITALS WILL RESULT IN THE DIVERSION OF NONDANGEROUS MENTALLY ILL PERSONS INTO THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM IS EXPLORED.
Abstract: THE PENNSYLVANIA MENTAL HEALTH PROCEDURES ACT OF 1976 RESTRICTS GROUNDS FOR INITIATING AND CONTINUING AN INVOLUNTARY COMMITMENT BY REQUIRING PROOF OF DANGEROUSNESS. IT WAS HYPOTHESIZED THAT A SUBSTANTIAL INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF MENTALLY ILL PERSONS IN THE COMMUNITY WOULD RESULT, AND THAT THESE PEOPLE WOULD BE DIVERTED INTO THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM VIA ARRESTS FOR PETTY OFFENSES AGAINST THE PUBLIC ORDER. TO TEST THE HYPOTHESIS, ARREST AND COMMITMENT TRENDS IN PHILADELPHIA COUNTY, PA., BEFORE AND AFTER ENACTMENT OF THE 1976 LAW WERE EXAMINED, AND ARREST RATES FOR A SMALL SAMPLE OF PERSONS FOR WHOM UNSUCCESSFUL COMMITMENT ATTEMPTS RESULTED FROM APPLICATION OF THE NEW LAW'S CRITERIA WERE ANALYZED. THE EXPECTED DECREASE IN THE NUMBER OF INVOLUNTARY COMMITMENTS DID NOT TAKE PLACE, BUT THE LENGTH OF TIME SPENT IN THE HOSPITAL BY INVOLUNTARILY COMMITTED PERSONS WAS REDUCED CONSIDERABLY. ANALYSIS OF COUNTYWIDE ARREST RATES PROVIDES ONLY TENTATIVE SUPPORT FOR THE DIVERSION HYPOTHESIS: OUT OF 16 PUBLIC ORDER OFFENSES, ONLY 2 EXHIBITED THE HYPOTHESIZED INCREASE. NOR DID THE ANALYSIS OF 94 PERSONS WHO HAD BEEN 'REJECTED' BY THE MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM BECAUSE OF THE NEW LAW SUPPORT THE HYPOTHESIS. ANY INCREASE IN ARREST RATES AT THE COUNTYWIDE LEVEL COULD NOT BE ATTRIBUTED TO THESE PERSONS. THERE WAS AN INCREASE IN THE FREQUENCY OF ARRESTS FOR VIOLENT OFFENSES AMONG THE MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM 'REJECT' SAMPLE, BUT THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE INCREASE COULD NOT BE TESTED. ONE REASON FOR THE LACK OF THE EXPECTED DIVERSION EFFECT IN PENNSYLVANIA MAY BE THAT RELATIVELY FEW MENTALLY ILL PERSONS ACTUALLY WERE RELEASED INTO THE COMMUNITY, AND FEW OF THE PERSONS WHO WERE RELEASED WERE CHRONICALLY ILL OR SENILE. OTHER FACTORS MAY HAVE BEEN PUBLIC ACCEPTANCE OF DEVIANCE, THE USE OF BOARD AND CARE HOMES, RELUCTANCE TO PENALIZE PERSONS REGARDED AS 'SICK,' AND THE USE OF PRIVATE CRIMINAL COMPLAINTS--AN ALTERNATIVE MEANS OF HANDLING CASES THAT POLICE AND MENTAL HEALTH WORKERS DO NOT FEEL LIE WITHIN THEIR DOMAINS. PROJECTIONS ABOUT THE FUTURE OF DEINSTITUTIONALIZATION IN PENNSYLVANIA AND IN GENERAL ARE OFFERED, INCLUDING COMMENTS ON THE POSSIBLE LONG-TERM CONSEQUENCES OF CHANGING MENTAL HOSPITAL POPULATIONS INTO A CORE OF DANGEROUS INDIVIDUALS. A REVIEW OF THE HISTORY OF MENTAL HEALTH LEGISLATION IN PENNSYLVANIA, A DISCUSSION OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MENTAL ILLNESS AND DANGEROUSNESS, SUPPORTING DATA, AND A BIBLIOGRAPHY ARE INCLUDED. (LKM)
Index Term(s): Civil commitment; Deinstitutionalization; Mentally ill offenders; Pennsylvania; State laws; Studies
Note: UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - DOCTORAL DISSERTATION
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=49748

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