The management of mentally handicapped offenders has long been problematic. Three misconceptions of the relationship between mental handicap and criminality have been widely held since the turn of the century, despite there being no conclusive evidence in their support (Jackson, 1983). These are: that mentally handicapped people are more likely than others to commit antisocial acts in general; that they have a particular predisposition to commit serious crime, especially sexual crime (Robertson, 1981); and that they are unlikely to be deterred by normal sanctions. Misunderstanding breeds misapprehension. Sadly, in the past, many mentally handicapped people were admitted to hospital after committing only trivial offences. Moreover, one Special Hospital study (Parker, 1974) found that most “severely subnormal and subnormal” detained patients actually had IQs above the category to which they had been assigned.
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