Sara Laniado


Throughout the United States are institutions abundant with violent offenders who have been found not guilty by reason of insanity (NGI). The decision to release these insanity acquittees into the community is a vital one, both for the patient and the larger community. While these decisions should be informed by evaluations that combine clinicians’ opinions with validated tools of assessment, no standard of care regarding such evaluations exists. Forensic specialists are thus often left to base discharge decisions on clinical judgment alone. This dissertation assumed a critical review of the theoretical and empirical literature relevant to conditional release decisions of NGI patients, including the research on structured assessment of risk of future violence. Based on this critical review, the author proposed recommendations for five standards to enhance conditional release decision-making for violent offenders in forensic settings: (a) Adherence to professional and ethical conduct; (b) documentation of patient progress; (c) incorporation of empirically-validated risk assessment tools; (d) creation of a comprehensive release plan; (e) verification of patient’s commitment to successful reintegration. This dissertation additionally examined the strengths and limitations of the critical review strategy, as well as delineated areas for research to empirically evaluate the recommended standards and promote improved quality of conditional release evaluation for NGI acquittees.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Psychology; Mentally ill offenders -- Rehabilitation; Forensic psychology -- Methodology; Mental health facilities--Admission and discharge.

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Laniado, Sara