The Universal Factors

Michael L. Perlin

in International Human Rights and Mental Disability Law

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780195393231
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199914548 | DOI:

Series: American Psychology-Law Society Series

The Universal Factors

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An examination of comparative mental disability law reveals that there are at least five dominant, universal, core factors that must be considered carefully in any evaluation of the key question of whether international human rights standards have been violated. Each of these five factors is a reflection of the shame that the worldwide state of mental disability law brings to all of us who work in this field. Each is tainted by the pervasive corruption of sanism that permeates all of mental disability law. Each reflects a blinding pretextuality that contaminates legal practice in this area. The core factors are: (1) Lack of comprehensive legislation to govern the commitment and treatment of persons with mental disabilities, and failure to adhere to legislative mandates; (2) Lack of independent counsel and lack of consistent judicial review mechanisms made available to persons facing commitment and those institutionalized; (3) A failure to provide humane care to institutionalized persons; (4) Lack of coherent and integrated community programs as an alternative to institutional care; and (5) Failure to provide humane services to forensic patients. In this chapter, each of these universal factors is discussed, and examples are offered from many regions of the world (not primarily from case law nor from sophisticated jurisprudential analyses but mostly from reports done by advocacy agencies and nongovernmental organizations).

Keywords: mental disability law; international human rights law; institutions; forensic facilities; psychiatry; psychology; counsel; Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; universal factors

Chapter.  10027 words. 

Subjects: Criminal and Forensic Psychology

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