New law on forensic mental health care
A proposal for a new law has just been presented. With it, forensic psychiatric health care may be abolished as a penalty. The mentally ill will receive the same punishment as other criminals, according to the report, while others will not be liable at all. Ever since 2008, a new psychiatric law has been in the works. Recently, the investigative report was submitted to Göran Hägglund, Minister for Health and Social Affairs.
“As it is in Sweden today all individuals have the same responsibility for their actions—even those who are severely mentally ill. But some individuals are so ill that they can’t take responsibility for their actions and they should not be judged at all,” says Marianne Kristiansson, a specialist on the National Board of Forensic to daily Dagens Nyheter.

The new law doesn’t mean mentally ill criminals will be allowed to continue to roam the streets, they can still receive psychiatric care, but not as “punishment” for a crime. Continues Kristiansson: “It appears that many who have been sentenced to forensic psychiatric care had to stay put for a very long time, even those who committed less serious crimes.” However, Mikael Rying, a criminologist at Mid University in Sundsvall, is critical of the new proposal. “It’s not about me getting a less severe punishment, but these people need to be treated where there’s the best competence available. The prison and probation service simply can’t take care of these individuals,” he says. According to the thousands of investigations Rying has read about deadly crime, he is convinced you can’t “punish away” danger.
“A very large portion of these people is either mentally ill or they have a personality disorder. Regardless, these people are getting out in society some day and what’s important for the society then is to ensure they don’t relapse into crime, not the punishment per se.” In the mid 1970s two out of three murderers were sentenced to forensic psychiatric care, last year it was 13percent. “The question then is if it’s really necessary with a new law at all,” Rying says.