Mental retardation In prison and hospital

Only 47 offenders with a primary diagnosis of mental retardation were admitted to hospital from courts between 1997 and 1998. (l..03) Over the last 35 years there has been a major reduction in such court disposals in England and elsewhere, (112,113) though an unknown number may have dual diagnoses and be detained under the category of mental illness. The reasons for the fall in court-ordered admissions include changes in admission policies and in the nature of inpatient resources for the mentally retarded, new philosophies of care, and the treatability criteria introduced in the Mental Health Act 1983.

It is tempting to conclude that mentally retarded offenders now swell the prison population. (!14) Many studies confirm the prevalence of poor education and lower than average IQ in prison populations, but not the clinical diagnosis of mental retardation; full assessments of intellectual and social functioning (necessary to establish the diagnosis) are rare in prison-based research. The ONS study,(46,) using the Quick Test, found a mean IQ equivalent of 85 in the prison sample. Lower mean scores were found in remanded compared with sentenced prisoners, and in females within both these groups. Barely a handful of mentally retarded prisoners are transferred annually to hospitals under the Mental Health Act 1983, compared with about 400 to 500 with mental illness.

Patients with mental retardation (as the sole diagnosis) accounted for 16 per cent of high-security hospital residents in 1993 as surveyed by Taylor et al./!1,5) a further 4 per cent of the population had diagnoses of either schizophrenia or personality disorder in combination with mental retardation.

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