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Discretion and the Release of Mentally Disordered Offenders (From Exercising Discretion: Decisionmaking in the Criminal Justice System and Beyond, P 139-163, 2003, Loraine Gelsthorpe and Nicola Padfield, eds. -- See NCJ-202489)

NCJ Number
Katy Holloway; Adrian Grounds
Date Published
25 pages
This chapter explores discretionary decisionmaking within the United Kingdom’s mental health system, specifically on Mental Health Review Tribunals and their powers to release detained patients who are deemed a potential threat to others.
Mental Health Review Tribunals were introduced in the United Kingdom in the Mental Health Act of 1959. Their primary role as a judicial body independent of the detaining authority is to safeguard patients from unjustified detention in a hospital. This chapter investigates the decisionmaking process of Tribunals in restricted cases and analyzes the process by which such patients are being released. It attempts to examine how effectively Tribunals are fulfilling their role as a safeguard for patient’s liberty through both a qualitative and quantitative analysis. Results of the study suggest that Tribunals are failing in their fundamental duty to safeguard some patients from unjustified detention in a hospital. The majority of the problems were observed in the decisionmaking process, as well as with the Tribunals’ powers, the rules governing the Tribunal process, and the evidence upon which their decisions were to be based. However, the broad approach to decisionmaking was generally highly conscientious. Recommendations and proposals are presented and discussed. References