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.

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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.

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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.

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