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Bonnie Lauded by American Psychiatric Association

Richard Bonnie ’69 has been awarded the American Psychiatric Association’s Special Presidential Commendation in recognition of his contributions to the APA’s programs for more than two decades, especially to its Council on Psychiatry and the Law. The award was presented at the APA’s Convocation of Fellows in San Francisco May 19.

Bonnie, the John S. Battle Professor of Law, Professor of Psychiatric Medicine, and the Director of University’s Institute of Law, Psychiatry, and Public Policy, is a leading authority on law relating to mental health, substance abuse, and public health. Bonnie began his public service 30 years ago as Associate Director of the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse. He served as Secretary of the first National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse and then was Chairman of Virginia’s State Human Rights Committee, responsible for protecting the rights of persons with mental disabilities.

Professor Bonnie has served as an advisor to the APA’s Council on Psychiatry and Law since 1979, and received the APA’s Isaac Ray Award in 1998 for his contributions to forensic psychiatry and the psychiatric aspects of jurisprudence. “Among those contributions was his role as the architect of a consensus position on the insanity defense endorsed by the ABA and APA in 1982–1983, and eventually incorporated into the federal Insanity Defense Reform Act of 1984,” according to the APA.

Bonnie served as chief advisor for the American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Mental Health Standards Project from 1981–1988. He has also served on the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Mental Health and the Law from 1988–1996, and is currently participating in the Foundation’s Initiative on Mandated Community Treatment.

Bonnie is deeply engaged in issues involving psychiatry and human rights. In 1989 he was a member of the U.S. State Department delegation that assessed changes in the Soviet Union relating to political abuse of psychiatry, and performed a similar mission for the World Psychiatric Association in 1991. He is on the Board of the Geneva Initiative on Psychiatry.

In 1991 Bonnie was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and has since chaired multiple Academy studies on subjects from elder mistreatment to underage drinking. He received the Institute’s Yarmolinsky Medal in 2002 for his contributions to the IOM and the National Academies.

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