Psychiatric prisons proposed for criminals

Regions suggest establishing separate institution for mentally-ill criminals to take pressure off jails and psychiatric hospitals

A new institution should be established to treat convicted criminals with psychiatric problems, suggests Bent Hansen, the head of Danske Regioner, the association in charge of forensic psychiatry, who believes the system to treat mentally-ill criminals has failed.

Despite efforts to prevent mentally-ill people from committing crime, the number of convicted offenders who end up having psychiatric treatment has tripled to almost 4,000 people in the last decade.

“We underestimated the scale of the problem. That's why the plan failed,” Hansen told Politiken newspaper.

Meanwhile, prisons are overflowing with hundreds of inmates suffering from severe mental disorders who are waiting for treatment, and some of them end up in psychiatric hospitals that are unprepared to deal with hardened criminals.

Following the Swedish model
Following a similar initiative in Sweden, Danske Regioner has proposed the establishment of a new type of institution to take the pressure off the prisons and the psychiatric wards.

Health minister Nick Hækkerup said he welcomed the regions' proposal, as the government will soon present a new plan to improve psychiatry nationwide.

But psychiatry has been insufficiently funded for decades, according to Thorstein Theilgaard, the head of the Bedre Psykiatri association, and the lack of treatment makes mentally-ill people turn to crime.

"We will look at Bent Hansen's proposal with an open mind," Theilgaard told Politiken. "But we can't support new prisons in disguise."

 





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