Back to the Asylum The Future of Mental Health Law and Policy in the United States

Back to the Asylum The Future of Mental Health Law and Policy in the United States
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  • ISBN-13: 9780195055207
  • ISBN: 0195055209
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, Incorporated


Durham, Mary L., La Fond, John Q.


Back to the Asylum explains why American mental health law and policy now emphasize "law and order" rather than individualized justice and civil liberties, and why mental health law is currently being reshaped to protect society rather than the mentally ill. The authors convincingly demonstrate how rapidly changing American values gave shape to two very different visions of justice for the mentally ill. They argue that from about 1960 to 1980 - what they call the Liberal era - Americans staunchly supported civil liberties for all, particularly for disadvantaged citizens like the mentally ill. In fact, criminal law itself provided ample opportunities for mentally ill offenders to escape punishment for their crimes. Moreover, deinstitutionalization and restrictive civil commitment laws made it difficult to hospitalize the mentally disabled against their will. However, from 1980 on - what the authors call the Neoconservative era - Americans, fearful of rising crime and the increasing number of homeless in their communities, demanded new laws to restore law and order. Today, it is much harder for mentally ill offenders to escape criminal blame and far easier to put other disturbed citizens into hospitals against their will. Back to the Asylum masterfully explains how this abrupt shift in mental health law and policy - a shift from protecting individual civil rights to protecting the community - impacted the mentally ill. It examines these legal changes in their broader social context and offers a provocative analysis of whether these law reforms had their intended effect. Finally it forecasts the future of mental health law and policy as America enters the twenty-first century.Durham, Mary L. is the author of 'Back to the Asylum The Future of Mental Health Law and Policy in the United States' with ISBN 9780195055207 and ISBN 0195055209.

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