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In the public interest? The role of executive discretion in the release of restricted patients.

Boyd-Caine, Tessa (2008) In the public interest? The role of executive discretion in the release of restricted patients. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

This thesis is a sociological analysis of the role of executive discretion in decisions about the release of restricted patients. Located in England and Wales, the thesis is an empirical study of the decision-making process, based on fieldwork conducted from 2005-2006 at the Mental Health Unit of the Home Office, and with non-government actors in the system including legal and clinical practitioners, and mental health and victim organisations Studying the intersection of mental health and criminal justice at the site of the restricted patient system, the mechanisms for preventive detention within mental health policy have implications for the increasing effort to control dangerousness within criminal justice. Using key areas of literature from criminology, sociology and socio-legal studies, the conceptual tools of analysis include contemporary analyses of penal policy, particularly concerns to control risk; legal decision-making: and constructions of public opinion and their effects on criminal justice policy. The thesis argues that, while the role of executive discretion was originally intended to meet the public protection agenda, much of the protection offered is symbolic, based largely on reassurance of public fears. The notion of 'the public' is constructed in opposition to the interests of patients, and through particular groups constitutive of the public, including victims of patients. The dominant conception in how the executive understands the public is as people fearful and at risk. This is a reflection of contemporary criminal justice policy which is increasingly looking for frameworks to control dangerousness in ways that the criminal law, because of its traditional reliance upon conviction and consequent sentencing, cannot offer; and whose objects are not only offenders, but other so-called risky individuals whose perceived threat to the public justifies an increasing range of mechanisms for containment.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sociology, Theory and Methods, Health Sciences, Health Care Management
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
Departments > Sociology
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/2957

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