The Criminalization of Mental Illness: Crisis & Opportunity for the Justice System Risdon N. Slate, Ph.D. Professor of Criminology Florida Southern College
Prevalence of Mental Illness in the Criminal Justice System • Jails and prisons in the U.S. hold three times more persons with mental illness than do psychiatric hospitals in America (Human Rights Watch Report, 2003). • Jails comprise the 3 largest inpatient psychiatric facilities in the country. • Estimates are that around 16 percent of jail and prison populations in the U.S. are comprised of persons with mental illness (Ditton, 1999). (Compare to James & Glaze, 2006 BJS/DOJ study).
“Mental illness is not a choice. It is a medical disease.” (Greenberg, 2001, p. 43).
The Sequential Intercept Model viewed as a series of filters Source: Munetz, Mark and Griffin, Patricia. “Use of the Sequential Intercept Model as an Approach to Decriminalization of People With Serious Mental Illness.” (2006) Psychiatric Services 57:544-549.
Criminal Justice System Responses • Law Enforcement (CIT, CSOs and Mobile Crisis) • Mental Health Courts • Discharge Planning: Diversion & Re-entry
The True Solution Lies In More And Better Mental Health Services • Evidence based practices, including: • Assertive Community Treatment (aka FACT) • Integrated mental health/substance abuse treatment. • Supported Employment • Supportive Housing • Peer services and supports • Acute care beds and/or crisis stabilization services
Does Diversion Work? • Does It Save Money? • Does it Reduce Crime? • Does it Help the People Intended to Benefit?
As noted by Kathryn Power of SAMHSA, Lord Kelvin, a Scottish Mathematician of the 1800s, once said: “When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, then you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meager and unsatisfactory kind.”
2007 RAND STUDY Allegheny County, PA Total Cost Savings of $9,584.00 per participant for a ½ Million Dollar Savings Over 2 Years
Crises Often Drive Policy In The Justice System • Crisis Intervention Training – Memphis PD • Eugene Gregory & Alan Singletary • Aaron Wynn • Brad H. • Andrew Goldstein • Seung-Hui Cho • Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (Parity)
Hippocrates • “A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings, and learn how by his own thought to derive benefit from his illnesses.”