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Criminal Justice Procedures in Civil Commitment
Ralph Slovenko
Psychiatric Services 1977; doi:
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Law School Wayne State University Detroit, Michigan

American Psychiatric Association

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Abstract

The actions of federal district courts and state legislatures in recent years have resulted in the growing application of procedures of the criminal justice system to the civil commitment process. Increasingly patients can be confined only if they are dangerous to others, and increasingly due-process procedures of the criminal law are required, to the detriment of the patient's treatment and his survival in the community. The author says that allegations of patients' being railroaded into hospitals are, with few exceptions, fictitious. Abuses that do exist should be handled through writs of habeas corpus and malpractice suits, remedies much more available now than in the past. The principal abuse in commitment occurs not when patients are admitted, the author believes, but at discharge, when so many patients are turned out into communities that lack proper services for them.

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