A Healer or an Executioner? The Proper Role of a Psychiatrist in a Criminal Justice System
Cleveland-Marshall College of Law Journal of Law and Health, Vol. 17, No. 2, pp. 169-216, 2002-03
49 Pages Posted: 22 Jul 2011
Date Written: March 1, 2002
This article argues that despite the benefits of ridding the criminal justice system of some uncertainty and ignorance with respect to mental health issues, the very close involvement of psychiatrists in the criminal justice system as practiced in the United States is not only illogical and bad policy, but also unethical from the viewpoint of medical ethics.
Part II of this article will lay the groundwork for the argument by discussing the history of the insanity defense, and of science's involvement with criminal justice; while Part III, will look into the association of science and the administration of justice in the modem world. Part IV will argue that the alternative methods of linking psychiatry and the criminal justice system, such as independent expert panels, do not solve the fundamental problem of psychiatrists working beyond their ethical boundaries. Finally, Part V will focus on the ethical principles that should guide a psychiatrist in his involvement with the judiciary.
Keywords: criminal justice system, psychiatry, psychiatrists, expert witnesses, insanity defense, medical ethics, mentally ill, science of medicine, criminally insane, questions of morality, battle of the experts
JEL Classification: K14, K19, K39, K49, I19
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation