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Process analysis of judges' commitment decisions: a preliminary empirical study
Am J Psychiatry 1986;143:170-174.
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Abstract

The current debate over the "police powers" versus parens patriae rationales for involuntary hospitalization of the mentally ill underscores the need for empirical study of the process of judicial decision making in civil commitment and determinations of competence. The authors report the ratings on 26 descriptive variables made by five Massachusetts district court judges for 35 patients in civil commitment hearings. Nearly all of the hearings resulted in commitments. These findings suggest that psychiatrists may be setting too high a threshold for petitioning for commitment. Experienced judges appeared to be sensitive to the kinds of clinical issues that earlier studies have shown to contribute significantly to the psychiatrist's decision to petition for commitment.

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