Mentally Disordered Offenders

What is the Mentally Disordered Offender Program?

The Mentally Disordered Offender law applies only to prisoners whose crimes were committed on or after January 1, 1986. The statutes governing the program are contained in Penal Code (PC) Sections 2960-2981 which requires that a prisoner meets six specific criteria, which are listed below. The prisoner shall be ordered by the Board of Parole Hearings to be treated by the Department of State Hospitals as a condition of parole. The patient is paroled on the condition that he or she receives treatment.

When the hospital treatment team believe a patient can be safely and effectively treated on an outpatient basis, the Department will recommend transfer to outpatient treatment in Conditional Release Program. The patient's parole and treatment by the hospital will be reviewed by the Board of Parole Hearings every year.

The patient may remain in the treatment program, either in the hospital or in outpatient treatment, throughout his time on parole, depending on his progress. Parolees are generally required to remain on parole for three years.

At the end of parole, the patient may be civilly committed to further periods of hospital treatment, if the court finds that the patient's mental disorder still meets certain criteria.

Criteria for Certification as an MDO patient:

The Board of Parole Hearings can impose mental health treatment as a condition of parole when it finds that the inmate/parolee meets the following criteria:

  1. The prisoner has a severe mental disorder;
  2. The prisoner used force or violence or caused serious bodily injury in one of the prisoner's commitment crimes;
  3. The severe mental disorder was one of the causes of or was an aggravating factor in the commission of the crime for which the prisoner was sentenced to prison;
  4. The prisoner's severe mental disorder is not in remission or cannot be kept in remission without treatment.
  5. The prisoner had been in treatment for the severe mental disorder for ninety (90) days or more within the year prior to the prisoner's parole or release; and
  6. As a result of the severe mental disorder, the prisoner represents a substantial danger of physical harm to others.