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Diversion of Offenders with Mental Disorders: Mental Health Courts

Web Journal of Current Legal Issues, No. 1, 2012

18 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2012 Last revised: 26 Feb 2012

Sarah Ryan

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Darius Whelan

University College Cork - Faculty and Department of Law

Date Written: February 24, 2012

Abstract

At present, if people with mental disorders appear before the criminal courts in Ireland, unless they are unfit for trial or not guilty by reason of insanity, the system governing their case will be the general one which applies to all criminal cases. In recent decades, a number of other common law jurisdictions have begun to set up mental health courts as a means of diverting some people with mental disorders from the criminal justice system and into more appropriate treatment. This article begins with a review of the background to mental health courts, focusing on the concept of diversion from the criminal justice system and the role of Therapeutic Jurisprudence theory as an inspiration for the establishment of mental health courts. The main features of mental health courts are identified and the features of those in existence in the United States are contrasted with those in Canada and England and Wales. Some of the main arguments against the use of these courts will be discussed, including the contentions that defendants' participation may not be truly voluntary and that their due process rights are not adequately protected. The question of whether a mental health court should be established in Ireland is considered.

Keywords: mental health law, mental health courts, therapeutic jurisprudence, criminal procedure

Suggested Citation

Ryan, Sarah and Whelan, Darius, Diversion of Offenders with Mental Disorders: Mental Health Courts (February 24, 2012). Web Journal of Current Legal Issues, No. 1, 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2010512

Sarah Ryan

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Darius Whelan (Contact Author)

University College Cork - Faculty and Department of Law ( email )

Cork
Cork
Ireland
+353-21-490 3000 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ucc.ie/law/

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