I. Introduction

The purpose of this e-resource is to offer information and increased understanding to individuals and families who have been impacted by a crime committed by someone who is mentally ill. It focuses on victims’ experiences and explains the hospital/forensic mental health system to persons who are entering the system for the first time. Victims of such crimes have identified that one of the biggest hurdles in their understanding of the process is that while the accused physically committed the crime, he/she is not held accountable in the way that other offenders are in the criminal justice system. The person who committed the crime is diverted into the forensic mental health system, not a prison. The individual you know as the offender becomes a patient, not an inmate, and is treated by nurses, social workers and psychiatrists. In different regions of the country, the person who committed the crime may be referred to as “the patient” or “the accused” or both.

Throughout this document, information is provided about provincial and territorial Review Boards (Review Boards), the dispositions imposed (which can include detention in a mental health facility and treatment) on the accused, or patient, as they are now referred to in many jurisdictions, and the victims’ rights and roles within this system. As well, frequently asked questions are answered, and information is provided to help victims find assistance and access supports near them.