Volume 32, Issue 3 (May 1987)
The Mariel Refugee and the New York Criminal Court
In the spring of 1980, the Mariel Boat Lift brought refugees from Communist Cuba to the shores of Florida. Most refugees came seeking political freedom, but many were sent by the Cuban Government directly from its prisons and mental institutions. Literal rejects of their own society, they arrived in this country and spent many months interned in refugee camps. As they moved out into local communities, their behavioral problems began to come to the attention of local authorities. This paper describes the “Marielitos” seen in the Forensic Psychiatry Clinic for the Criminal and Supreme Courts of New York between mid-1980 and mid-1985. It explores how their reactions to their new environment may be affected by their past psychiatric and criminal histories, their language barrier, and the stress of the emigration experience.