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date: 06 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article explores the impact of psychiatric theories and practices in the administration of criminal justice systems, largely in the Anglophone West. It focuses on the increasing use of psychiatric testimony in criminal trials, the struggle by doctors to expand the utility of this testimony beyond the strictures imposed by the M’Naghten Rules governing the insanity defense, and the increasing resort to psychiatric assessments at both the pretrial and posttrial stages to stream those deemed patients out of the prison system. By the interwar years psychiatric assessments and treatments were also being used extensively in prisons in some jurisdictions to govern decisions about parole and release. By the 1960s, however, a backlash against psychiatry and a loss of faith in rehabilitative strategies had curtailed its impact, although it remains an important element within most Western criminal justice systems.

Keywords: psychiatry, M’Naghten Rules, diminished responsibility, psychopath, moral insanity, moral imbeciles, eugenics, rehabilitation, criminology

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