When people are diagnosed as mentally ill and commit crimes, there are identifiable differences between which of them will be sent to prisons or alternatively be declared not criminally responsible and sent to psychiatric institutions, according to a study by University of Montreal researchers in Issues in Mental Health Nursing.
The researchers examined the cases of 103 people who’d been diagnosed with mental illnesses and had committed crimes. They then tried to identify any key differences between those people who’d ended up in prison compared to those who’d been declared to be not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder (NCRMD) and landed in psychiatric institutions.
According to a press release about the study, people diagnosed with mental illnesses who were declared to be not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder usually had a higher level of schooling than those who were sent to prison. People who were NCRMD were more than twice as likely to have been using specialized mental health services prior to their offence (54% vs 25%). People who were sent to prison, though, tended to have longer histories of criminal activities than people sent to psychiatric institutions (66% vs 34%). And people with drug or alcohol problems and “higher level of psychopathy” were over three times as likely to land in prison (71-80% vs 25-29%).
(Abstract) Clinical Characteristics and Service Use of Incarcerated Males with Severe Mental Disorders: A Comparative Case-Control Study with Patients Found Not Criminally Responsible (Dumais, Alexandre et al. Issues in Mental Health Nursing. August 2014. doi:10.3109/01612840.2013.861885)
Severely mentally ill criminals: Who goes to prison and who goes to psych institutions? (University of Montreal press release on EurekAlert!, December 16, 2014)