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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 83828 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Just Deserts for the Mad
Author(s): I Potas
Corporate Author: Australian Institute of Criminology
Date Published: 1982
Page Count: 234
Sponsoring Agency: Australian Institute of Criminology
Canberra ACT, 2601, Australia
National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
Sale Source: Australian Institute of Criminology
GPO Box 2944
Canberra ACT, 2601,

National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Document: PDF
Language: English
Country: Australia
Annotation: The text examines sentencing practices, particularly in the Australian Capital Territory, regarding mentally disordered offenders and suggests that alternatives (based on a just deserts approach) to the current options of incarceration or conditional release are needed.
Abstract: Contending that both the community and the judiciary have developed false and unrealistic expectations of the criminal justice system's ability to protect society through sentencing policies, the author suggests the need for limits against unnecessarily harsh punishments. Existing laws dealing with mentally disordered offenders are grossly inadequate, particularly when treatment rather than punishment appears to be the most appropriate response. In the Australian Capital Territory, a judge can either sentence a mentally disordered offender to imprisonment (coupled with a recommendation that the offender receive psychiatric treatment while in prison), or issue a conditional release order for the offender's treatment in the community as an out-patient. Instead, the mentally disordered offender should be sentenced to receive help in a psychiatric institution rather than in a conventional prison. Punishment should be commensurate with the offense, and the least restrictive treatment should be offered applicable to the circumstances of each case. This view of just deserts promotes a uniform sentencing approach by focusing on the degree of culpability of the offender, giving due regard to subjective considerations. The book touches on procedural law, covering such topics as unfitness to plead and the insanity defense. It refers to the problems of providing treatment to offenders and adequate facilities to accommodate forensic patients. Reference is also made to civil commitment procedures in an effort to explore the relationship of punitive to nonpunitive modes of disposal. The laws of Queensland and Tasmania, which provide hospital commitment orders in lieu of imprisonment, are reviewed, as is the trend toward community treatment. Footnotes, an index, a table of cases, and illustrations are provided.
Index Term(s): Australia; Competency to stand trial; Criminal responsibility; Custody vs treatment conflict; Insanity defense; Just deserts theory; Law reform; Medicolegal considerations; Mentally ill offenders; Offender mental health services; Sentencing guidelines; Sentencing reform
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