Violent crimes committed by the mentally disordered attract academic and public attention. They raise issues of moral responsibility and public protection. This study systematically analyses the principles underlying those legal and medical devices which enable the courts to make special arrangements for the mentally disordered. Buchanan examines three fundamental precepts in criminal law: justification, excuse and mitigation. A defendant who has been proved guilty can usually have his or her sentence reduced only where one of these three principles applies. The way that the courts interpret notions of responsibility and choice may influence the outcome considerably. For mentally disordered offenders, the matter becomes even more complicated - this is where the psychological and psychiatric aspects of justification, excuse and mitigation come into play. The author combines a jurisprudential analysis of the above with a discussion of current legal provision for mentally disordered offenders in England and America. This thought-provoking book will be of particular interest to a wide range of professionals in the forensic field, as well as to academics specialising in mental health law and the philosophy of psychiatry.
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