This Editorial addresses the concept of significant threat pertaining to Canadian law.Read more
Female Sexual Offenders and Judicial Decision-making
Background: Research examining female sexual offending is limited, and the profile of this unique offender group is not well understood. Female sexual offending has largely been identified as a rare occurrence, typically perpetrated in the context of an unhealthy relationship with a paraphilic male counterpart. Given recent changes in law and minimum sentences for sexual offences—particularly in relation to child pornography and child luring offences—it remains unknown how this has impacted sentencing of female offenders charged with sexual offences.
Objectives: The goal of this study is to better understand female offenders convicted of sexual offences and their offence characteristics. Additionally, it seeks to identify patterns in judges’ decision-making with respect to aggravating and mitigating factors that impact sentencing decisions.
Methods: A sample of 26 judges’ sentencing decisions between 2000 and 2017 were obtained to investigate the Canadian female sexual offender (FSO) as she enters the justice system.
Results: In the study sample, high rates of psychopathology and childhood trauma were important features of this offender group. Offences tended to occur over extended periods, with a male co-offender, and with a young victim that was well known to the offender. Aggravating factors related to the vulnerability of the victim, abuse of power, and lack of insight. Mitigating factors related to accepting responsibility and a desire for self-change. Offenders were generally sentenced for two to five years, with ancillary orders intended to track and restrict further offending, rather than foster rehabilitation.
Discussion: Gaining a better understanding of Canadian FSO population is the first step toward improving rehabilitation and prevention.
Psychiatrie légale canadienne et française : application dans le domaine pénal
L’expertise psychiatrique est une des disciplines de la psychiatrie légale. Sa pratique est spécifique aux juridictions où elle s’exerce et aux ressources qui lui sont attribuées. L’évolution des connaissances en psychiatrie et psychopathologie, ainsi que les décisions politiques ont un impact majeur sur la nature et le déroulement des missions d’expertise. Il existe des différences significatives entre les pays, ce qui surprend fréquemment, puisque la pratique de la psychiatrie générale est quant à elle la même. Nous proposons dans cet article une comparaison entre la pratique de l’expertise psychiatrique pénale en France et au Canada.Read more
A Review on the Effectiveness of Canadian and American Mental Health Courts
Objective: This systematic review synthesizes mental health court (MHC) research across the United States and Canada. This study reviews and compares the operations and practices of MHCs across both countries, as well as their recidivism rates.
Methods: We gathered from existing literature to present common MHC practices used across the United States. However, in response to the lack of literature about Canadian day-to-day practices, we developed a questionnaire and contacted every Canadian MHC. In total, we contacted 36 Canadian MHCs, and 19 courts filled out a questionnaire. With respect to recidivism rates, we conducted a comprehensive literature search in February and March 2019 in PsycINFO, Google Scholar, Web of Science, and National Criminal Justice Reference Service Abstracts using the keywords mental health court, therapeutic justice, serious mental illness, mentally ill offenders, mental health diversion and problem-solving courts.
Results: Canadian and American MHCs have similar practices. However, American MHC’s have more robust screening measures and typically admit more participants with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder into their programs compared to Canadian MHCs. MHC participants in both countries typically had lower recidivism rates compared to regular docket court participants.
Conclusions: MHC research should inform public policy. Additional research should move in the direction of discovering the predictors for why MHCs reduce recidivism.Read more
Structured Professional Judgment Tool in Assessing Fitness to Stand Trial
In this letter, the authors review briefly the concept of assessing fitness to stand trial and the benefit of developing a structured professional judgment tool.Read more
Vicarious trauma and occupational hazard for forensic mental health professionals
Vicarious trauma or vicarious traumatization is the effects on a health-care worker that results from the empathic engagement or therapeutic relationship with clients or patients and their reports of traumatic experiences. The term was coined in response to the experience of psychotherapists working with trauma survivors and is widely attributed to McCann and Pearlman 1990 . They developed a constructivist self-development theory discussing therapist reactions to clients’ traumatic material. They described that vicarious trauma can be understood as related to the graphic and painful material trauma clients portray to the therapists as well as the therapists unique cognitive schemas or beliefs and assumptions about self and others . This theory has developed, has subsequently been described as compassion fatigue and has been subject to a considerable amount of research since this early description [2-18]. It has also focused on various professionals, including mental health professionals, and their vulnerability from working with a variety of clients or patients [4-6,8-10,12-14,19]. In this context, forensic mental health professionals are not specifically mentioned, although it is quite clear that the nature of the work that they do would make them vulnerable to vicarious trauma and “compassion fatigue.”Read more
Examining the use of the recovery model with individuals found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder: Revealing tensions between risk management strategies and recovery
In providing the care and control of individuals found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder (NCRMD), forensic psychiatry attempts to balance the protection of society with the treatment of mental illness. A new approach in mental health care is the recovery model, which centres on the understanding that there should be a recovery in, not a recovery from serious mental illness. In clinical practice, this means that treatment decisions should be made in collaboration with patients and include their personal circumstances, such as criminality and aspirations. Concepts that intersect with these goals are elements like choice, hope, personal responsibility and empowerment. This paper examines the implementation of the recovery model in forensic mental health settings and provides an in-depth exploration and evaluation of the model as it is practised at a forensic psychiatric outpatient clinic with individuals found NCRMD. Ten participants, including both individuals found NCRMD and psychiatric professionals, took part in semi-structured interviews. Qualitative data analysis of the interview transcripts identified the following six themes: choice, recovery, hope, responsibility, agency, and risk. This paper examines the experiences, perceptions, and challenges of implementing the recovery model in a forensic psychiatric setting and compares its strategies to the predominant risk-based forensic practices. The analysis suggests that it is difficult to implement the recovery model in a forensic setting without compromising either the recovery model or the risk management approach.Read more
Psychiatric admissions: The first law in Saudi Arabia
The Mental Health Care Law in Saudi Arabia was passed in 2014. This paper focuses on the articles of the law that are related to psychiatric admissions both voluntary and involuntary. The mental health-care law is similar to the laws in western countries. However, these articles and subsections are curtailed to the limited health systems and to the local culture. As the mental health-care system and culture evolves, the mental health-care law will be modified in the future.Read more
Kratom-Induced Psychosis: Case report and literature investigation
Substance use disorder is a major concern for public health. Legal substances are often misused to get high. Beside the risk of developing subsequent mental health and physical conditions, one of major risk is related to behavioural changes leading to criminal behaviour. Some of these substances need regulation to ensure public as well as individual safety. This article is a case report describing Mitragyna speciosa (Kratom) induced psychosis in a patient suffering from Schizophrenia. We hope this article can bring attention to regulating bodies about the risks associated with readily available “legal” drugs like Kratom.Read more
Offering group mental health programs in a maximum-security correctional facility: Observations, outcomes, and recommendations
In the following article, the author discusses psychoeducational groups offered in a men’s maximum security prison by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s (CAMH) Forensic Early Intervention Service (FEIS) in partnership with correctional services staff. The author shares observations and experiences facilitating mental health programs with clients in custody and explore related challenges, risks and opportunities. Outcomes and feedback from group participants are reviewed and recommendations for others interested in offering similar programs are presented.Read more