Human Rights Implications of Confining “Dangerous Persons with Severe Personality Disorders” (DSPD)

By Christiaan Bezuidenhout.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Confining individuals on the premise that they are ‘dangerous’ because they display severe personality disorders is undemocratic and offends basic human rights. It is therefore unclear why some governments such as the United Kingdom (UK) proposed a policy to confine Dangerous People with Severe Personality Disorders (DSPD). Before any government implements contentious legislation the pros and cons of the legislation should be thoroughly considered. There are important factors that a government should consider before this type of legislation is proposed and promulgated. It is risky to rely on current methods when predicting dangerousness and future behavioural manifestations of human beings. Despite the inadequacy of current methods to serve as prediction tools politicians usually rely on the predictions of behavioural scientists to justify their proposed policies. Adding to the complexity of this issue is the difficulty to define ‘dangerousness’ as it is a difficult to understand concept. Even when disregarding the vagueness of the concept ‘dangerous’ one would have thought that a government’s motivation in proposing this type of legislation on DSPD would be clear. However, the rationale behind these policies seems to be ill defined and more related to some government’s nervousness that they might be losing authority and control over the populace. DSPD currently has no legal or medical basis and many behavioural scientists regard it as a political invention. This paper challenges the model to indeterminately confine dangerous individuals without proper cause (Critical Psychiatry Network, 2002:1).

Keywords: Prediction of Dangerousnous, Policy, Human Rights

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp.425-434. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 549.714KB).

Dr. Christiaan Bezuidenhout

Senior Lecturer, Department of Social Work and Criminology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa

I’ve been teaching Criminology on post- and undergraduate level for 14 years at the University of Pretoria. I hold the following degrees: BA (Criminology), BA Honours (Criminology), MA (Criminology), DPhil (Criminology). I also have an MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of Oxford (2003/2004). I’m comfortable with qualitative and quantitative research and have a keen interest in the functioning of the Criminal Justice System, youth misbehaviour, hate crimes and theories of crime. I supervise students on Masters and Doctorate level. Currently I teach contemporary criminology (e.g. human trafficking; risk society etc.), psycho-criminology (e.g. profiling; terrorism; mental disorders and crime etc.) and methodology on under- and postgraduate level. I have developed several other courses in all the different sub-fields in Criminology on post- and undergraduate level. I’ve initiated and implemented several crime prevention projects and generated funding from different role-players. I’m very passionate about Criminology and would like to see the science grow even more in future. I’m the vice president of The Criminological and Victimological Society of Southern Africa (CRIMSA). I’ve attended several International Criminology Conferences.

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