Judges' assumptions about the appropriateness of civil and forensic commitment

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



*Attitude to Health; Commitment of Mentally Ill; Data Collection; Forensic Psychiatry; Humans; *Jurisprudence; Massachusetts; Mental Competency; Mental Health Services


Health Services Research | Mental and Social Health | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology


The study examined judges' reasons for ordering pretrial forensic evaluation instead of civil commitment for persons with mental illness who are arrested. Fifty-five of 58 judges acknowledged having concerns about the adequacy of treatment or confinement in the civil mental health system, and 31 reported ordering pretrial forensic evaluations as a means of ensuring adequate treatment for patients who appear in their courts. Other frequently endorsed reasons for ordering these evaluations included lack of confidence in the ability to civilly commit mentally ill offenders and concerns about their being discharged prematurely. This study confirms suspicions that judges order pretrial evaluations to fill perceived gaps in the civil system.

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Citation: Psychiatr Serv. 1997 May;48(5):710-2.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Psychiatric services (Washington, D.C.)

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID