Publication date: January–February 2019
Source: International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, Volume 62
Author(s): Valentina Lombardi, Antonello Veltri, Claudia Montanelli, Francesca Mundo, Giuseppe Restuccia, Daniela Cesari, Mauro Maccari, Franco Scarpa, Alfredo Sbrana
In Italy the Law 9/2012 prescribed the total closure of forensic psychiatric hospitals (OPGs) and the conversion to a care model based on residential units in the community employing only clinical personnel (Residenze per l’Esecuzione delle Misure di Sicurezza – REMS) and fully integrated in public mental health services. The aim of this study is to report sociodemographic, clinical and criminological characteristics of patients admitted in Volterra REMS since it opened on 01/12/15 up to 31/12/17.
Sociodemographic and clinical information was collected from official documents (clinical files, ward reports) and from patients’ personal health records. Psychiatric diagnoses were made by REMS psychiatrists according to the DSM-5 criteria. Criminological information was obtained from patients’ criminal records.
Volterra REMS patients’ characteristics are similar to those of samples of OPGs patients (unmarried socially disadvantaged males with an average age of 40, no offsprings, low education, high rates of Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders and medical comorbidity). However, the REMS model presents a very high turnover rate: during the study period 61 patients were admitted while 32 were discharged. Being assisted by public mental health services before committing the crime increased the probability of discharge. In non-EU patients long acting injectable antipsychotics were used more frequently than in community ones. Substance-Related Disorders are the main psychiatric comorbidity and resulted as being more frequent in bipolar patients than in other patients.
Due to the high patients’ turnover, we expect a progressive change in sociodemographic, clinical and criminological features of the REMS population. The REMS model provides a return for mentally disordered criminals to the care of local public mental health services which are recovering after many years some of their most challenging patients ensuring their deinstitutionalization and reintegration into society.