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Telling the bad from the sad

19 October 2007

Any lawyer in the criminal justice system (CJS), other than the favoured few who knock about with witty fraudsters, knows that very often we deal with the sad and not the bad. The reality of the system is that disproportionate numbers of troubled, ill and desperate citizens are washed into the courts and into prisons.

The statistics are alarming. According to the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (NACRO) in its recent report, ‘Effective mental healthcare for offenders: the need for a fresh approach’, at any one time 5,000 people with a serious mental illness will be in prison; psychosis rates among male prisoners are between 7 per cent and 10 per cent compared to 0.5 per cent outside, with a higher rate of 14 per cent among women prisoners on the same comparator. Personality disorder figures are even higher with 78 per cent for male remand prisoners compared with approximately 10 per cent to 13 per cent outside, and 45 per cent of all prisone...

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