Misfits of deinstitutionalisation ? How competing ideologies contributed to chaotic service provision for mentally-ill criminal offenders in Auckland, New Zealand, 1972-1988


Kate Prebble, PhD and Claire Gooder, PhD
(School of Nursing, University of Auckland)

Mentally-ill criminal offenders have historically been shunted between justice and health systems. In Aotearoa/New Zealand in the late-20th century, fluctuating policy positions had devastating consequences for forensic psychiatric patients, their families and members of the public.  Murders by ex-psychiatric patients, deaths and assaults in mental hospitals, and escalating suicide rates in prisons, led to public outcry and resulted in numerous government inquiries – opinions were polarized. In Auckland, public opinion was further divided by the setting up of a Māori unit within the city’s main psychiatric institution. An increasingly chaotic situation culminated in the Mason Inquiry of 1988 and the subsequent establishment of a network of forensic psychiatric services. Drawing on archival sources and oral history interviews, this presentation examines circumstances that led to these dramatic events with particular attention to contested ideologies that underpinned policy, hospital administration, and individual health professionals’ actions.  In a period of ‘open door’ policies and deinstitutionalisation, the question of what to do with mentally-ill criminal offenders became the focus of broader ideological debates.

12.45 pm – 2.00 pm. Thursday, 14th May 2015.
Venue: LG9, Keppel Street Building