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NCJ Number: 51103 Find in a Library
Title: TRANSFER OF PRISONERS TO MENTAL INSTITUTIONS
Journal: JOURNAL OF CRIMINAL LAW AND CRIMINOLOGY  Volume:69  Issue:3  Dated:(FALL 1978)  Pages:337-352
Author(s): J F LOOK
Corporate Author: Northwestern University
School of Law
Managing Editor
United States of America

Williams and Wilkins Co
United States of America
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 16
Sponsoring Agency: Northwestern University
Chicago, IL 60611
Williams and Wilkins Co
Baltimore, MD 21202
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: CRIMINAL COMMITMENT STATUTES, ALLOWING BROAD ADMINISTRATIVE DISCRETION REGARDING INSTITUTIONALIZATION OF MENTALLY ILL PERSONS, ARE EXAMINED IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE DUE PROCESS AND EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSES.
Abstract: CRIMINAL COMMITMENT TO MENTAL INSTITUTIONS RESULTS IN SEVERAL DEPRIVATIONS OF LIBERTY. THE PRISONERS ARE USUALLY PLACED IN A MAXIMUM SECURITY WARD AND HAVE THEIR ACTIONS MONITORED AND CONTROLLED. COMMITMENT TO A MENTAL INSTITUTION MAY EXTEND THE LENGTH OF THE INDIVIDUAL'S INCARCERATION AND AFFECT PAROLE POSSIBILITIES. MENTAL PATIENTS ARE FREQUENTLY DRUGGED INTO DOCILITY; THEIR PSYCHOLOGICAL AUTONOMY IS JEOPARDIZED, AND THEIR PSYCHIC CONDITION IS OFTEN DAMAGED. THEY SUFFER BOTH THE STIGMA OF BEING MENTALLY ILL AND OF BEING CRIMINALS WHEN THEY ARE RELEASED. THE DUE PROCESS CLAUSE PROTECTS THE INDIVIDUAL AGAINST DEPRIVATIONS TO LIBERTY AND DEMANDS THAT THE PRISONER BE AFFORDED PROCEDURAL SAFEGUARDS BEFORE HE CAN BE TRANSFERRED. THIS DUE PROCESS IS OFTEN MODIFIED (OR 'STREAMLINED') IN THE CASE OF MENTALLY ILL PERSONS ON THE GROUNDS THAT THE ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS OF FULL ADVERSARIAL HEARINGS WOULD BE PROHIBITIVE, THAT THE PROTECTION OF THIRD PARTIES MUST BE GUARANTEED, AND THAT THE PRISONERS' OWN WELL-BEING IS BEING CONSIDERED. IT IS ARGUED THAT THE IMPRECISION OF PSYCHIATRY AS A SCIENCE, AND HASTY DECISIONMAKING PROCESSES IN DETERMINING MENTAL ILLNESS, CAN LEAD TO ERRONEOUS COMMITMENTS. OBSERVANCE OF STRICT PROCEDURAL SAFEGUARDS IN THE COMMITMENT DETERMINATION ARE URGED. IT IS SUGGESTED THAT THE PRISONERS SHOULD ALSO BE ENTITLED TO AN INDEPENDENT PSYCHIATRIC EXAMINATION, AND BE GIVEN PERIODIC REVIEWS IN THE CASE OF A COMMITMENT ORDER. COMMITMENT TO MENTAL INSTITUTIONS SHOULD OCCUR ONLY WHEN UNEQUIVOCABLE NEED IS PROVEN. EQUAL PROTECTION LAWS, AT THE STATE LEVEL, ARE INTENDED TO SAFEGUARD THE PATIENTS' INTERESTS AT EACH STAGE OF CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS. CIVIL COMMITMENT PROCEDURES IN ILLINOIS AND NEW YORK ARE DISCUSSED, AND CASES IN WHICH THE PROCEDURES WERE NOT USED IN CONJUNCTION WITH MENTALLY ILL INMATES ARE DESCRIBED. IT IS ARGUED THAT CRIMINAL COMMITMENT STATUTES, WHICH PROVIDE FOR TRANSFER OF PRISONERS TO MENTAL INSTITUTIONS UNDER SPECIAL 'STREAMLINED PROCEDURES' FOR MENTALLY ILL PRISONERS, ARE LARGELY A MATTER OF ADMINISTRATIVE DISCRETION AND ARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL ON BOTH EQUAL PROTECTION AND DUE PROCESS GROUNDS. (DAG)
Index Term(s): Civil commitment; Equal Protection; Judicial discretion; Mentally ill offenders; Psychological evaluation; Right to Due Process; Rights of the accused
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=51103

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