Mental disorder and sentencing: Resolving the definitional problem

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Mental health problems affect the majority of people who face the sentencing process. The fact that a convicted offender has mental health problems may be taken into account in various ways: it may mitigate or aggravate the penalty, or may affect the type of sanction that is imposed or its conditions. At present, sentencing judges use a two-stage process to determine the effect (if any) that an offender's mental health problems should have on the sentencing determination. First, they ascertain whether the offender has a relevant mental health problem. If they find that he or she does, they then decide what effect that mental health problem should have on the sentencing determination. This article compares recent approaches that have been taken to the first stage of this process in Australia and Canada. It highlights difficulties with both approaches, and recommends replacing the current two-stage process with an integrated, single-stage approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-169
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Law and Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


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