Lege Artis Medicinae

["Punishment-therapy” - chances of psycho-rehabilitation for mentally ill offenders under forced medical treatment]

BACSÁK Dániel, KRÁMER Lili

JANUARY 20, 2020

Lege Artis Medicinae - 2020;30(01-02)

DOI: https://doi.org/10.33616/lam.30.008

[When examining the life course of mentally disordered offenders it is unavoidable to take into consideration the legal definition of in­sanity that exempts an individual from ordinary punishment in the given context of criminal law. As technical as it is, legal language describes and prescribes institutional responses on how to deal with mentally disordered offenders - not being independent from the everyday societal stereotypes on mental illness. In Hungary, the definition of criminal liability consists of medical and legal elements. Thus, in practice court appointed psychiatric experts are solely relied upon in determining whether or not the accused are criminally liable - the formal decision is in the hands of the court. If no criminal liability is determined by the experts, the court has to acquit the accused. In some special cases this acquittal opens the way to criminal psychiatric detention that is maintained by the Hungarian Prison Service. The aims of criminal psychiatric detention are twofold: rehabilitation and punishment. We suggest that it is nearly impossible to serve both of the aforementioned aims simultaneously. Furthermore, our article argues that the philosophy of care is focused on punishment and biomedical treatment nowadays, rather than rehabilitation and holistic bio-psycho-social treatment. The approach of treatment in operation makes successful recovery of patient-detainees difficult. Moreover, there are systemic issues as well: limited effects of review proceedings, holes in the psychiatric-social institutional care system and the general societal stigmatisation of people with mental illnesses can unreasonably prolong discharging “guilty patients”, thus, they stay detained 4-5 years longer. ]

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