The Review Board Systems in Canada: An Overview of Results from the Mentally Disordered Accused Data Collection Study

4. Conclusion

The results of this data collection process answered a considerable number of policy and operational research questions. Some of the more pertinent findings include:

  • Review Board caseloads have been increasing over the last decade and are expected to continue to grow substantially over the next decade;
  • Although Aboriginal people do not appear to experience the same level of over-representation as they do within the traditional criminal justice system, it does appear as though they spend substantially more time under the control of Review Boards;
  • Nearly half of NCRMD/UST accused appearing before Review Boards at their initial hearing have never been convicted of a prior criminal offence;
  • NCRMD/UST accused have generally committed very serious violent offences such as murder, attempted murder, assault, sexual assault, criminal harassment, threats and arson;
  • Approximately three quarters of those within the Review Board systems have been diagnosed with schizophrenia or an affective disorder, such as bi–polar disorder, schizo–affective disorder or major depression;
  • One in five cases that are processed by the Review Boards are released (e.g., found fit, given an absolute discharge) after the first hearing; and
  • Almost one–quarter of NCRMD/UST cases are spending at least ten years in the Review Board systems and some have been in for significantly longer.

There are still a number of additional questions that will be answered based upon more detailed analysis of these data in subsequent studies. For example, more detailed analysis will be performed on the data so that we can understand changes in dispositions and the conditions imposed on NCRMD/UST accused over time. As well, more analysis will be completed to better understand factors that may impact on Review Board decision–making including criminal history, the seriousness of the offence and other related factors.

In addition, there are other questions that cannot be answered with the existing data. For example, since these data were not linked to hospital files or community program files, little is known about how NCRMD/UST accused manage after Review Board hearings in terms of following conditions, adhering to treatment plans and re–engaging in criminal behaviour. Additional data collection is still needed to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the forensic mental health system in general.

Date modified: