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Crime and mental illness: an investigation of three Italian forensic hospitals

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Maximum-security forensic hospitals, or Ospedali Psichiatrici Giudiziari (OPGs), are the only facilities in Italy providing care and custody for mentally ill offenders. This article aims to describe clinical, criminological and psychosocial features of their population. The method was an assessment of 118 patients admitted to three forensic hospitals and a matched control group from community non-forensic services. Of the subjects, 72% had a diagnosis of non-affective psychosis, and 75.2% had committed serious crimes against other people; 54% of these crimes were homicide or attempted homicide. At the time of committing the index crime, 60% were being treated by a community service, and 68.9% had been compulsorily admitted previously. OPG inmates more frequently had a history of substance abuse, had committed more crimes and had lower social disability than controls. The needs and problems of this population seem quite specific and often fall beyond the scope of ordinary psychiatric services. The project was funded by the Regione EmiliaRomagna and by the Istituto Superiore di Sanità.
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Keywords: COHORT PROSPECTIVE STUDY; COMMUNITY SERVICES; CRIMINAL RECIDIVISM; FORENSIC HOSPITALS; ITALY; REFORM BILLS

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2001

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