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Article   |    
A Model Hospital Policy on Prosecuting Patients for Presumptively Criminal Acts
Kenneth L. Appelbaum; Paul S. Appelbaum
Psychiatric Services 1991; doi:
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University of Massachusetts Medical School, The Forensic Service at Worcester (Mass.) State Hospital

University of Massachusetts Medical School

1991 by the American Psychiatric Association

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Evidence suggests that violence by psychiatric inpatients, especially in public-sector hospitals, may be on the rise. The authors present a model policy developed at a state hospital for deciding whether to prosecute presumptively criminal assaults by patients. The policy addresses the circumstances under which it is ethically permissible to file a criminal complaint while emphasizing the need to use clinical interventions first and to consider the clinical sequelae of prosecution. The authors also review criticisms made of the policy, which reflect opposing views that prosecution is unjustified and that the policy unduly restricts the use of prosecution. In the first six months after the policy became effective, state hospital staff considered filing charges against five patients, but no case progressed beyond the first steps in the implementation procedure.

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