Forensic psychiatry and criminal responsibility in Santiago, Chile
St. Denis, Emily Elizabeth
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Mental disorders are among the most prevalent of chronic diseases, and high rates of these disorders have been consistently found in jails and prisons. This study was a retrospective case series that described the population of adults charged with a criminal offense who were court ordered to undergo a psychiatric assessment within the Medical Legal Service in Santiago, Chile from 2005-2006. Chi-square tests were used to assess differences in the distribution of variables by sex and by criminal responsibility. Exploratory analyses using polytomous logistic regression were conducted in order to assess variables that might be predictive of the outcome of criminal responsibility as recommended by the psychiatrist. Of the evaluated offenders, approximately 84% were considered by a psychiatrist to be criminally responsible for their crime, 7% were regarded as having diminished criminal responsibility, 4% were considered to be not criminally responsible for their crime, and 4% were cases where criminal responsibility was not applicable. The following variables were found to be significant in the exploratory model: sex, age, occupational status, psychiatric pathology, recommendation of treatment, and recommendation of hospitalization. An offender determined by the psychiatrist to have a psychiatric pathology had the highest increase in odds of being considered to have diminished criminal responsibility or of being considered not criminally responsible. Results from this investigation will contribute to international knowledge about forensic psychiatry and mental health in Latin America.