Title

The experiences of people who have managed forensic patients within New South Wales prisons

Date of Award

2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Criminology and Justice (Honours)

School

School of Law and Justice

Faculty

Business and Law

First Advisor

Ms Sharan Kraemer

Second Advisor

Dr Ann-Claire Larsen

Abstract

In Australia, too many people with diagnosed mental illnesses are incarcerated into prisons. Of particular concern is the growing number of mentally ill prisoners labelled ‘forensic’ patients under New South Wales (NSW) mental health laws. This legislated term encompasses all people who have been judged as either unfit to enter a plea, or found guilty by reason of mental illness. To better understand why some forensic patients are managed in prisons and not in the community, theoretical insights focusing on the Utilitarian perspective of punishment, which justifies imprisoning offenders for the greater good of society, guides this thesis. In particular, the incapacitation theory further validates that to protect the community, certain offenders should be imprisoned to prevent future offending. For this qualitative research, semi-structured interviews were conducted with former NSW prison employees (n=10). Data collected from these interviews were then analysed to explore how these former prison employees perceived differences in managing prisoners as opposed to managing forensic patients. Also investigated were their perceptions of requirements for prisoner supervision processes and practices, including the prison’s daily routine and prison rules. Measures to improve how forensic patients are managed in prison and in particular, the need for additional and specialised training in dealing with mental health issues, were uncovered. Further assessments of existing workplace policies could also provide deeper insights into the roles and functions of prison employees required to manage forensic patients in prison.

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