Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A good idea

The Law Commission has released its report into Mental Impairment Decision-Making and the Insanity Defence [PDF], and recommended a significant change to the way people found mentally unfit to standing trial or not guilty by reason of insanity are treated. Currently, a judge decides whether these people need to be indefinitely committed. But subsequent decisions on their temporary or permanent release are made not by medical professionals, but by the Minister of Health. There is obvious potential for such decisions to be politicised (especially with the "hang 'em high" brigade waging public campaigns against the release of any prisoner, ever), which is not good for justice. So the Law Commission has recommended the decision be taken away from the Minister and put in the hands of a specialist tribunal, who can make the decision based on the needs of the patient and of justice, rather than any personal need for votes.

Its a good idea, and I hope the government enacts it. But with justice policy ATM seemingly being made by the Sensible Sentencing Trust, I don't think its likely.