Douglas: Not criminally responsible is a phrase that conjures up fears fuelled by vast media coverage of high-profile cases in which individuals with severe mental illness have committed violent offences. Yet these cases are rare occurrences; they are exceptions to the norm within the NCR system. As a long-term study which examines the actions and experiences of individuals declared not criminally responsible has found, the truth is much less sensational. The study found that the recidivism rate among people found NCR, including all types of offences, is about 17 percent. “The recidivism rate of people found NCR is generally lower than reoffending rates among people who are convicted under the criminal justice system,” says Dr. Crocker.
The study also found that serious violent offences make up only a
small proportion of the offences that lead individuals into the NCR
system. Seven percent of individuals found NCR had homicide or attempted
murder as their index offence – the offence for which they were found
NCR –and the study shows that these individuals have a low likelihood of
re-offending. The study also indicates that three out of four individuals who were
found NCR were known from the general mental health system. This means
that we also have an opportunity for risk management and education on
the prevention of criminality within the general mental health care.