Evaluating conditional release in not guilty by reason of insanity acquittees: a prospective follow-up study in Virginia

Law Hum Behav. 2014 Aug;38(4):346-56. doi: 10.1037/lhb0000071. Epub 2013 Dec 30.


Detailed research on treatment and risk management approaches with not guilty by reason of insanity acquittees (NGRI) during their conditional release is needed as states increasingly use community-based services for these individuals. Grounded in case law, and supported by follow-up studies demonstrating low recidivism rates, states have been encouraged in their efforts to conditionally release NGRI acquittees. The authors evaluated a state-wide sample of 127 NGRI acquittees released into the community after spending a mean of 61.63 months (SD = 76.54) in the hospital. One hundred individuals were committed to the hospital for lengthier treatment (M hospital time = 77.23 months, SD = 79.84), but 27 individuals were released to the community after a relatively short hospital stay (M hospital time = 5.60 months, SD = 3.01). Regarding release, 96 individuals (75.6%) maintained their conditional release. After evaluating a host of demographic and standardized risk data, the following variables predicted revocation on conditional release: previous failure on conditional release, nonadherence with hospital treatment, dangerousness to others, and previous violent charges. A multivariate survival analysis determined criminal behavior and previous failure on conditional release predicted time to revocation. The results of this study demonstrate the importance of considering standardized risk variables in the community-based management of forensic patients. In addition, the data are supportive of continued attempts at moving insanity acquittees from the hospital to the community via conditional release.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Commitment of Mentally Ill / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Insanity Defense*
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recurrence
  • Virginia