Examining the high-risk accused designation for individuals found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder.

In 2014, the Canadian government amended the Criminal Code, allowing courts to designate some individuals found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder (NCRMD) as high-risk accused (HRA). As a result, individuals found HRA face significant new restrictions for transitioning through the forensic system. This study examined the relevance of the HRA designation by simulating the retrospective application of the legislative criteria to the National Trajectory Project (NTP) sample of 1,800 persons found NCRMD between 2000 and 2005 in Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia, followed until 2008. Focusing on all individuals who had committed a serious contact offense (part of the first HRA criterion) in the NTP sample, we selected variables from the NTP database based on the remaining legislative criteria. We found that an HRA designation could apply to up to 1 in 4 individuals found NCRMD. The HRA group had been under the supervision of the Review Board for a longer period of time than had the non-HRA group. The HRA group reoffended at rates similar to those for the non-HRA group. Our results suggest that the HRA criteria do not identify a subgroup of persons found NCRMD who present an elevated risk of harm to others. Moreover, the findings suggest that NCRMD-accused with serious personal index offenses were already conservatively managed by the Review Boards. As such, a HRA designation based largely on offense severity is likely to miss its mark in terms of improving public safety. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)