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China mulls regulating facilities for mentally ill offenders
Last Updated: 2016-06-09 01:03 | Xinhua
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China is drafting a law that would allow the establishment of special psychiatric institutions under the jurisdiction of law enforcement authorities, to take care of mentally ill offenders.

The draft regulation, published by the State Council on Wednesday to solicit opinions from the public, says that facilities taking in psychiatric patients institutionalized by courts should be managed and supervised in the same way as other police detention centers.

Under China's Criminal Law, offenders deemed not criminally responsible due to mental illness may be exempted from criminal penalties but should receive medical treatment supervised by his or her guardians. If necessary, the government will force them to be institutionalized.

In practice, however, institutionalization is loosely enforced due to lack of facilities and detailed protocols. Mentally ill offenders are sometimes sent to normal psychiatric hospitals. Incidents of assaults committed by such patients, fatal in some cases, have been reported from time to time.

The draft regulation clarifies the responsibilities and power of psychiatric detention facilities.

The facilities are allowed to place patients under confinement or use constraints when they may harm themselves or other people, but it should be done for medical reasons rather than as a punishment, according to the draft.

They are banned from forcing patients to work or conducting surgeries on them.

If the regulation enters law, patients will be reviewed within 30 days after the first-year term at the facilities and reviewed again every six months. If they are considered stable and harmless, the facilities will apply to the court for releasing or transferring them.

If a patient dies during detention, the court and police should be informed along with the patient's guardians. Police will investigate the cause of death, and the guardians and families can go to prosecutors if they disagree with the investigation outcome.

Individuals and organizations can upload their opinions about the draft document at www.chinalaw.gov.cn before July 7.

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