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Not criminally responsible plea an appealing option since 1992 amendment.

OTTAWA -- The defence of "Not Criminally Responsible on account of Mental Disorder" is a more appealing option for defendants and legal counsel since the Amendments to the Criminal Code of Canada in 1992. It's used more often than the earlier "Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity".

This is the finding of a study, A Follow-up Study of Persons Found Not Criminally Responsible on Account of Mental Disorder in British Columbia. The study was conducted by James Livingston, Derek Wilson, George Tien and Lynda Bond. They collected and analyzed profile information relating to people found NCRMD between February 1992 and February 1998. Data from community follow-ups were also collected and analyzed for a 24-month period following the subject's discharge from hospital.

During the 72 months following the changes to the Criminal Code, the appeal of the NCRMD defence seems to have increased as a substantially greater number of individuals were found NCRMD in B.C. compared with the number of person found Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity (the pre-amendment term) in B.C. between November 1975 and January 1984.

The study found that the average length of hospitalization for the NCRMD group was about 9.8 months which is "substantially shorter than the duration of the initial hospitalization" for the NGRI group which was about 49.9 months on average. As well, although very few NCRMD individuals were convicted of new criminal charges following their discharge to the community, almost half required psychiatric inpatient care mostly at forensic psychiatric hospitals.

Of the 276 individuals, who were identified as having been found NCRMD in B.C., 85.5 per cent were men while 14.5 per cent were women with the average age for all members of the group being 36 years and overall ages ranging from 16 to 81 years.

In addition, 80 per cent of the NCRMD group was white while 9.1 per cent were aboriginal and the rest were of East Indian, Asian and African heritage.

The study also found that prior to committing an index offence 76.5 per cent of the group had been treated in a psychiatric inpatient facility which was comparable to persons who had been found Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity prior to 1992. Further, 51.8 per cent on the NCRMD group had been admitted to a general psychiatric facility on four or more occasions. Slightly more than one third had a documented history of suicidal threats with 33 per cent having a history of suicide.

In addition, the majority of the NCRMD were financially supported primarily through social assistance or pension while 10.5 per cent had no means of financial support.
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Title Annotation:Justice System
Publication:Community Action
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Aug 18, 2003
Words:443
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