The prosecution of violent psychiatric inpatients: one respectable intervention.
Bull. Amer. Acad. Psychiatry & the Law
22(2): 239-47, 1994.
Is arrest and prosecution an acceptable response to assault committed by a psychiatric inpatient? The
first reported case of such a response was in 1978, and the second not until seven years later. Soon
after, an inconclusive debate over the propriety of prosecuting patients, with additional illustrative
examples, took place in the psychiatric literature. The present author adds three more case reports
in this communication, as well as outlines what actually occurs in his state. Three very recent
publications have clarified the conflicts and ethical issues in this still-delicate discussion. It is
concluded that predatory patient behavior should, in selected circumstances, correctly lead to the
imposition of criminal sanctions, whether initiated by victims or clinicians.