Long-Stay Services in German Forensic Settings
In Germany, there has been a constant increase of patients in forensic psychiatric detention (Art. 63 of the penal code) for more than 30 years. Especially over the last 10 years, an extension of length of stay in hospitals has contributed substantially to this increase. Meanwhile, every third patient has continuously been living for 10 years and more in forensic care. Many long-term patients with small prospects of discharge have been diagnosed with severe personality disorders, intellectual disabilities or paraphilias and have been convicted for violent and/or sexual offences. In 2013, a law became effective necessitating an improvement and adjustment of patients’ living conditions for a different group of individuals, prisoners in preventive detention (Art. 66 of the German Penal Code), e.g. accommodation in single rooms. These legal requirements have been fulfilled only incompletely. The question if forensic long-term care is justified has been an ongoing issue of debate. In 2016, a new law took effect emphasising the principle of proportionality: only a substantial risk of severe offences may justify very long detentions. The law’s effects remain to be seen.
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