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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Not Criminally Responsible: The case for forensic psychiatry in reintegrating people with mental illnesses

                     
                     My new piece for The Walrus:

IN SEPTEMBER, a forensic-psychiatry patient at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health absconded during a scheduled outing. Thomas Brailsford had been found not criminally responsible for cutting off his mother’s head in 2010, so the news of his escape created, to put it mildly, some apprehension among the public.

During the twenty-four hours or so Brailsford was on the loose, media sensationalizing transformed Toronto into a modern-day Sleepy Hollow, with panicked Ichabod Cranes trying to evade a ghoulish headhunter. Quite naturally, many people wondered why Brailsford was left in a position where he could so easily vanish—it was the second time he’d gone AWOL from the centre within twelve months.

In the decade I worked at CAMH and its predecessor, the Queen Street Mental Health Centre, up until 2004, I saw some of the workings and causes of this type of dilemma...

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