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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 64746 Find in a Library
Title: LIBERTY AND MENTAL HEALTH - A PHILOSOPHICAL CONFLICT (FROM ADOLESCENT PSYCHIATRY, VOLUME 7 - DEVELOPMENTAL AND CLINICAL STUDIES, 1979, BY SHERMAN C FEINSTEIN AND PETER L GIOVACCHINI)
Author(s): N WEINSTEIN
Corporate Author: University of Chicago Press
United States of America
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 11
Sponsoring Agency: University of Chicago Press
Chicago, IL 60637
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: PSYCHIATRY HAS ASSUMED EXCESSIVE SIGNIFICANCE IN DETERMINING AN OFFENDER'S CULPABILITY, AND RECENT COURT DECISIONS HAVE FAILED TO CLARIFY THE ISSUE.
Abstract: AS A REACTION AGAINST THE EXCESSES OF 18TH CENTURY UTILITARIAN CRIMINOLOGY, ANGLO-AMERICAN JURISPRUDENCE HAS BEEN OBSESSED WITH THE EFFECT OF MENTAL DISORDER UPON CULPABILITY AND THE CONCEPT OF GUILT. THE CURRENT CONFUSION OF LAW WITH PSYCHIATRY WAS PROBABLY INITIATED BY THE 'PSYCHOPATHOLOGICAL CONCEPT OF CRIME' IN THE WRITINGS OF ALEXANDER AND STRAUB (1929) WHO ADVOCATED THAT 'NEUROTIC CRIMINALS' BE EXEMPTED FROM ALL FORMS OF PUNISHMENT AND TURNED OVER TO A PSYCHOANALYST FOR TREATMENT. RECENTLY NUMEROUS LOWER-COURT DECISIONS HAVE PLACED LIMITS ON THE CONFINEMENT OF PATIENTS AGAINST THEIR WILL, ECHOING THE GROWING CONCERN THAT TOO MANY PEOPLE ARE DEPRIVED OF THEIR LIBERTIES WITHOUT DUE PROCESS OF LAW AND THAT THE DEFINITIONS OF MENTAL ILLNESS ARE TOO VAGUE TO JUSTIFY INVOLUNTARY CONFINEMENT AND TREATMENT. THE MOST IMPORTANT COURT DECISION COMES FROM THE U.S. SUPREME COURT (O'CONNOR V. DONALDSON 1975): A MENTAL PATIENT WHO HAD BEEN COMMITTED IN CIVIL PROCEEDINGS TO FLORIDA STATE HOSPITAL AND HAD BEEN KEPT THERE AGAINST HIS WILL FOR 10 YEARS SUED THE HOSPITAL'S SUPERINTENDENT FOR DEPRIVING HIM OF HIS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO LIBERTY. THE COURT RULED THAT THE STATE CANNOT CONFINE A NONDANGEROUS INDIVIDUAL WHO CAN SURVIVE ON HIS OWN OR WITH THE HELP OF OTHERS. HOWEVER OTHER ISSUES (E.G., WHETHER THE PATIENT IS ENTITLED TO MONETARY DAMAGES) REMAIN OPEN TO DEBATE. SEVERAL OTHER RECENT CASES (E.G., SEMLER V. PSYCHIATRIC INSTITUTE OF WASHINGTON, D.C., AND BARTLEY V. KREMENS) FAILED TO SETTLE THE CONFUSION CONCERNING THE DEFENDANT'S RIGHT TO LIBERTY AND THE TREATMENT PROBLEM. (SAJ)
Index Term(s): Constitutional Rights/Civil Liberties; Criminal responsibility; Forensic psychiatry; Involuntary treatment; Judicial decisions; Jurisprudence
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=64746

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