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Not guilty by reason of insanity and the recovery paradigm: are they compatible?

Not guilty by reason of insanity and the recovery paradigm: are they compatible?

Tomlin, Jack ORCID: 0000-0002-7610-7918 (2019) Not guilty by reason of insanity and the recovery paradigm: are they compatible? Journal of Recovery in Mental Health, 2 (2/3). pp. 45-54. ISSN 2371-2376

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Some individuals will be placed within forensic hospitals after being found not guilty of having committed a criminal offence by reason of insanity (NGRI). This defence removes responsibility for a criminal act and assigns it to the mental illness. This negation of responsibility is at odds with the key tenets of the recovery approach, which prioritizes the empowerment of individuals to self-determine their actions. An over-application of empowerment and self-determination for persons with severe mental illness can unfairly attribute guilt in such cases.A medical model (MM) understanding of mental illness instead treats mental illness as a discrete entity subjectable to diagnosis and treatment. Emerging neuroscientific evidence supports this and is being adopted in criminal cases—including NGRI defences. Through an MM approach, the criminal justice system can focus on preventing future harms by providing care and forgo attributing blame unfairly. However, fully embracing the MM in NGRI cases is problematic. A designation of NGRI is highly stigmatizing and counterproductive when considered within the recovery approach. This paper argues that a subjective mental state test that permits non-culpability for severely mentally unwell individuals and makes distinct the criminal act from the mental illness is needed.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: recovery; medical model; insanity defence
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
K Law > K Law (General)
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA1001 Forensic Medicine. Medical jurisprudence. Legal medicine
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > School of Law & Criminology (LAC)
Last Modified: 21 Feb 2023 16:43

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