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  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: December 2009

11 - People with intellectual disabilities who are at risk of offending

from Part II - Psychopathology and special topics

Summary

Introduction

In the past, particularly during the eugenics era, people with intellectual disabilities (ID) were often considered to be especially likely to break the law (Goddard, 1912; Clarke, 1894, quoted in Brown and Courtless, 1971). This belief probably led to a great many people with ID and/or mental health needs being incarcerated in hospitals and prisons for unjustifiably long periods (indeed some of the people detained probably should not have been there at all). At times, this became alarmingly clear, as in the well-known Baxstrom case, in which the US Supreme Court ruled in 1966 that 967 people (amongst whom there were disproportionate numbers of black southern migrants), detained in two hospitals for the ‘criminally insane’ in New York State, should be released, since all had been detained for longer than the maximum sentence for their original conviction (Steadman and Halfon, 1971). Following release to civil hospitals, most were later discharged to the community and extremely few re-offended, only 21 of the 967 people being returned to the secure hospitals in the first four years (Steadman and Halfon, 1971). Cases such as these, together with the advent of normalization (Emerson, 1992), the civil rights movement and the ‘ordinary life’ philosophy (Kings Fund, 1980; Department of Health 2001) have led to a changing attitude to people with ID and/or mental health needs who break the law.

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Psychiatric and Behavioural Disorders in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
  • Online ISBN: 9780511543616
  • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511543616
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