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Are Pretrial Commitments for Forensic Evaluation Used to Control Nuisance Behavior?
Kenneth L. Appelbaum; William H. Fisher; Zamir Nestelbaum; Anne Batemen
Psychiatric Services 1992; doi:
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University of Massachusetts Medical School, 55 Lake Avenue North, Worcester, Massachusetts 01655; Worcester (Mass.) State Hospital

University of Massachusetts Medical School, 55 Lake Avenue North, Worcester, Massachusetts 01655; Massachusetts Department of Mental Health

University of Massachusetts Medical School, 55 Lake Avenue North, Worcester, Massachusetts 01655; Harrington Memorial Hospital in Southbridge, Massachusetts

University of Massachusetts Medical School, 55 Lake Avenue North, Worcester, Massachusetts 01655; Northeastern University in Boston

1992 by the American Psychiatric Association

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Abstract

The shift to dangerousness-oriented civil commitment criteria has led to speculation that mentally ill persons who do not meet those criteria are being hospitalized under criminal commitment statutes. Using data on patients' psychiatric symptoms at admission to a state hospital in Massachusetts, the authors retrospectively assessed whether patients charged with minor criminal offenses who were committed for evaluation of competence to stand trial would have met civil commitment criteria. The data suggest that most mentally ill patients who were criminally committed could have been civilly committed. However, a relatively greater proportion of persons with substance abuse, mental retardation, or other conditions who did not meet civil commitment criteria for mental illness were committed for pretrial evaluation.

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