The purpose of the Division of Law and Psychiatry is to investigate the legal systems for mentally disordered offenders and their administrations and current situations in Japan and other oversea countries, and to provide education and training in the field of forensic mental health. The research activities of this division up to the present time are summarized below.
I. Medical Treatment and Supervision Act
Various problems have been pointed out about the treatments of mentally disordered offenders in Japan.
The "Act on Medical Care and Treatment for Persons Who Have Caused Serious Cases Under the Condition of Insanity"
(Medical Treatment and Supervision Act; hereinafter MTS Act) was enactment in July 2003, came into effect on July 15, 2005.
The MTS Act is to provide proper medical care and supervision for mentally disordered offenders who caused serious harm due to insanity or quasi-insanity (diminished responsibility)
and to achieve rehabilitation without re-offending through relapse prevention.
The Division of Law and Psychiatry is involved with the following to ensure proper implementation of the MTS Act:
- Analysis of the current administration of the MTS Act
We analyzed the data which the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare were making public, and the results showed marked regional differences in the District courtsfdecisions of applying the MTS Act. Also, as part of Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare scientific research that will be mentioned later, we visited designated medical facilities for inpatient treatment opened till March 2007 and conducted an interview survey.
- Standardization of psychiatric examinations
Mentally disordered offenders are psychiatrically examined from two perspectives: whether they are criminally responsible for their crimes; and whether they require medical care under the MTS Act. These two types of psychiatric examination need to be standardized. In terms of criminal responsibility, we participate as collaborators in Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare scientific research. The research group has published "Guidelines for preparing psychiatric reports on criminal responsibility", which can be downloaded from the center's website.
- Communication between legal professionals and mental health professionals
While the importance of communication between law and psychiatry has been emphasized, no discussion about actual cases has involved practicing legal professionals and psychiatrists. The Psychiatric Examination Study Group and MTS Act Study Group (each meets 3 times annually) review actual cases with judges, prosecutors and rehabilitation coordinators and have published reports. Also, we have held lectures at the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office and the Research and Training Institute of the Ministry of Justice (probation officer training) to promote forensic mental health.
- Collaboration among mental health professionals in various fields
Under the MTS Act, medical care is provided through collaboration of multiple agencies and groups, such as designated medical facilities, probation offices and mental health welfare agencies. The MTS Act Study Group reviews actual cases with judges, prosecutors and rehabilitation coordinators.
Once a year, we host a meeting for the Chiba Forensic Mental Health Conference by inviting judges, prosecutors, mental health officers, rehabilitation coordinators and mental health professionals working at designated medical facilities and inpatient institutions for psychiatric examination of the MTS Act in Chiba and neighboring prefectures. Proceedings have been published.
Lectures are being held for rehabilitation coordinators of probation office.
- Education and Training of forensic mental health professionals
With regards to the training of forensic mental health professionals, as a member of the planning committee for forensic mental health professional training, we have been involved in the design and creation of training and teaching materials and gave lectures for psychiatrists who will work under the MTS Act.
At the university, the Forensic Mental Heath Study Group was formed to provide education and supervision for the psychiatric examinations and to facilitate psychiatric examinations for the MTS Act at the university hospital.
- Protection of human rights
As for the "Research of human right protection in the administration of the MTS Act" (Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare scientific research), we have formed a research organization involving lawyers to examine medical care within the MTS Act and human rights protection, and have conducted questionnaire surveys and interviews.
II. Citizen-judge system
The citizen-judge system will go into effect before May 27, 2009, and court decisions in this system are made by a collegiate court comprising 3 judges and 6 citizens. As trials are held on consecutive days and citizen judges are involved, psychiatric examination reports that are easily understood by the public will need to be prepared. We have been attending study groups with the Supreme Public Prosecutors' Office and Chiba District Court to examine psychiatric examinations within the citizen-judge system.
- Yoshito Igarashi, PhD (Professor)
- Aika Tomoto, PhD (Assistant Professor)
Hirofumi Nishinaka, PhD (Research Fellow)
Kazutaka Nomura, PhD (Visiting Research Fellow)
Noriko Kitagata (Secretary)