Sentencing offenders with mental impairment: the case of arsonists with intellectual disability

Curtis,A, McVilly,K and Day,A 2014, Sentencing offenders with mental impairment: the case of arsonists with intellectual disability, Journal of intellectual disabilities and offending behaviour, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 78-87, doi: 10.1108/JIDOB-05-2014-0005.

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Title Sentencing offenders with mental impairment: the case of arsonists with intellectual disability
Author(s) Curtis,AORCID iD for Curtis,A
Journal name Journal of intellectual disabilities and offending behaviour
Volume number 5
Issue number 2
Start page 78
End page 87
Publisher Emerald Group Publishing
Place of publication Bingley, England
Publication date 2014
ISSN 2050-8824
Keyword(s) Arson
Case law
Criminal justice system
Fire setting
Intellectual disability
Mental impairment
Summary Purpose: Offenders with intellectual disability (ID) who commit arson and other acts of fire setting are over-represented in the criminal justice system in Australia, as in many other jurisdictions. The purpose of this paper is to provide insight into the judicial considerations that influence sentencing in these cases. Design/methodology/approach: Case law was utilised to locate and analyse judges’ sentencing remarks for offenders with ID found guilty of an offence of arson. These data were subject to Inductive Content Analysis to establish the major judicial considerations in sentencing. Findings: Seven common issues emerged: general deterrence, seriousness of arson, rehabilitation, sentencing options, moral culpability, protection of the community, and punishment. Judges noted that they handed down reduced sentences to persons with ID relative to the severity of their offending, that they considered people with ID to have low levels of moral culpability, and that these offenders did not provide good examples for community deterrence. Originality/value: The current study highlights the need for judges to have available a range of sentencing options, including diversion and treatment/rehabilitation programmes for persons with ID, particularly for those involved in more serious offences such as arson.
Language eng
DOI 10.1108/JIDOB-05-2014-0005
Field of Research 170199 Psychology not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 920410 Mental Health
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2014, Emerald
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Document type: Journal Article
Collections: Faculty of Health
School of Psychology
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