Forensic Mental Health Tribunals: A Qualitative Study of Participants’ Experiences and Views

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Abstract

Decisions pertaining to the liberty of people adjudicated “not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder” (NCRMD) principally rest with forensic mental health tribunals, called Criminal Code Review Boards (RBs) in Canada. Using qualitative description, individual interviews examined how RB processes were perceived by 26 people found NCRMD, 13 family members, and 16 professionals in 3 provinces. Thematic analysis produced 5 themes: involvement of people in RB hearings (constrained voice), treatment of people during RB hearings (respectful process), diverse interests and agendas (balancing interests), RB decision-making ([un]expected outcomes), and time spent under the RBs’ jurisdiction (feeling stuck). Although, people found NCRMD and others were generally perceived to be treated respectfully and fairly during RB hearings, the participants also identified opportunities for strengthening procedural justice. Further work is needed to understand the influence that RB hearings and perceived procedural justice exert on the recovery and reentry of persons found NCRMD.

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