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Professionalising release management for mentally disordered perpetrators: Benefits in terms of recidivism rates—Results from a study within the Austrian prison system

Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health

Published online on


["\nAbstract\n\nBackground\nIn Austria, mentally ill perpetrators not guilty for reasons of insanity are committed into a custodial measure to receive treatment. The rate of these detainees returning after their conditional release because of reoffending or revocation decreased significantly over a period of 15 years.\n\n\nAims\nThis study aims at examining this system and the adjustments made over a period of 10 years, in order to identify changes responsible for the observable decline of the recidivism rate.\n\n\nMethod\nTherefore, a quantitative study of 807 prison and court files was conducted, extracting information concerning former detainees either released in 2001 & 2002 (n = 67) or 2011 & 2012 (n = 134) and subsequently comparing the groups. Additionally, expert interviews were conducted.\n\n\nResults\nAs one major change, the data revealed improvements regarding the preparation and management of the time on parole. The possibility for detainees to test their readiness for life outside the confinement through temporary interruptions of custody was enhanced, as were post‐release housing opportunities in care facilities. Additionally, the courts issued more directives concerning measures such as medication or abstinence from alcohol.\n\n\nConclusion\nConcerning mentally ill offenders, this study highlights the importance of a comprehensive preparation and management of the conditional release, providing support and treatment as well as a certain level of control.\n\n", "Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, EarlyView. "]