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Conditional release programs for persons acquitted by reason of insanity (not guilty by reason of insanity or NGRI) are designed to maximize public safety while meeting the courts' mandate that some individual liberties be protected. These programs developed as a result of the state and federal court decisions in the 1960s, which required that this population be provided with commitment procedures similar to civil commitment. Prior to these decisions, persons found NGRI were given an automatic, indefinite “life sentence” to maximum-security state psychiatric hospitals for crimes ranging from shoplifting to murder. Under the new laws, persons committed as NGRI had to meet the commitment requirements of civil patients—that is, mental illness and dangerousness. Their continued commitment had to be periodically reviewed, and if they no ...

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