Spring 2024 - CRIM 314 D100

Mental Disorder, Criminality and the Law (3)

Class Number: 7537

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 8 – Apr 12, 2024: Thu, 2:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    CRIM 101. Recommended: CRIM 131.



Critical examination of the impact of psychiatry and related clinical professions on the criminal justice system. Relationship between institutions of mental health and legal control. The relevance of psychiatric theory and decision-making for the processing of mentally disordered offenders. The role of forensic clinicians in the courts, prisons, mental hospitals and related agencies. Specific issues addressed in this course will include psychiatric assessment, criminal responsibility, fitness to stand trial, prediction of dangerousness, treatment of mentally ill criminals and the penal and therapeutic commitment of the insane.


This course will examine the relationship between mental disorder, violence, and crime, and legislation and policies that apply to people with mental disorders who come into contact with the criminal justice system. The course will involve a critical exploration of police interactions with people who have mental disorders, mental disorder in the courts, and the treatment of people with mental illnesses in the correctional and forensic mental health systems. This course is designed also to introduce students to the study of the sociological, criminological, and socio-legal theories of mental health and its relations to criminal punishment. The course will also study the effects of psychological phenomena on actors in the criminal justice system. The course will examine public perceptions of mental disorder and initiatives that address the social and structural stigma associated with mental disorder and criminality.


  • Demonstrate understanding of the interface between the mental health and criminal justice systems, and the relevance of psychological theory and decision making to the processing of persons with mental illness in the justice system.
  • Explain key concepts related to the interface of mental health and criminal justice (i.e., stigma, deinstitutionalization, criminalization of mental illness), and explain the relationship between mental disorder, violence, and crime.
  • Explain the role of forensic clinicians in the courts, correctional institutions, forensic psychiatric institutions, and related agencies.
  • Explain and critically evaluate legal responses to persons with mental illnesses (i.e., civil commitment, fitness to stand trial, criminal responsibility) and alternative approaches (e.g., therapeutic jurisprudence, restorative justice).
  • Demonstrate familiarity with psychiatric assessments, risk assessments, dangerousness assessments, and treatment interventions for persons with mental illness who commit crimes, and the strengths and shortcomings of each.


  • Seminar Participation 20%
  • Midterm 30%
  • The end of term exam 20%
  • Term Paper 30%



REQUIRED TEXTS: There is no textbook or reader for this course. Instead, you will access all of the course materials online. You will be able to read all the assigned journal articles, legal cases and reports through the SFU Library website or the World Wide Web.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

If you have any Criminology course enrollment requests (course adds, course swaps), please contact a Criminology advisor. Please do not contact instructors for enrollment assistance as they will ultimately refer you to a Criminology advisor.

Criminology course enrollment requests should be sent to a Criminology advisor no later than the last day of the Second week of classes. Late enrollment requests are subject to approval and are not guaranteed. 

Enrollment requests for non-Crim courses should be directed to the advisor for the program offering the course. 

ATTENTION: STUDENTS WITH A DISABILITY: Please contact the Center for Accessible Learning, (MBC 1250 or Phone 778-782-3112) if you need or require assistance, not your individual instructors.  

  • N.B.: Students are reminded that attendance in the first week of classes is important. However, there are no tutorials in the first week.
  • ON CAMPUS COURSES ONLY: Assignments not submitted to the Professor/T.A. during class/office hours must be placed in the security box behind the General Office (SWH 10156), or submitted as per Professor’s instructions for courses taking place at Surrey Campus. The assignment drop box is emptied Monday to Friday at 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. only, with the contents date stamped accordingly. No other department’s date stamp will be accepted (e.g. Library/Campus Security).  For the Surrey Campus, assignments must be hand delivered to the General Office of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, located at SUR 5180, on Monday through Friday, between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30p.m., or placed in the assignment drop box located at the southwest corner of Galleria 5.  The Surrey assignment drop box is emptied Monday through Friday at 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., with the contents date stamped accordingly.  The School of Criminology is not responsible for assignments submitted in any other manner (e.g., slid under office doors).  The University does NOT accept assignments by fax or email.
  • A student must complete ALL aspects of a course (including assignments, exams, class participation, presentations, chat room components of Distance Education courses and other), otherwise they will receive a grade of N. 
  • The University has formal policies regarding intellectual dishonesty and grade appeals which may be obtained from the General Office of the School of Criminology.
  • Under GP18, the University has policies and procedures which respond to our obligations under the BC Human Rights Code to provide a harassment and discrimination free environment for the students, staff and faculty of this institution.  Members of this community have an affirmative obligation to safeguard the human rights of others.


Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html