Project #14734 - Legal Ramifications of Mental Health in the Community

Project is to research and write a short paper (4 to 5 pages, double spaced) on some more specific aspect of the legal ramifications of mental health in the community. Subject matter chosen is the treatment of persons with mental illness in the criminal justice system

You can use a combination of peer-reviewed and newspaper/magazine articles, and source documents. Make certain you cite your resources. APA format should be used for this paper:

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/ 

Here is an example of some research done from an Article regarding this topic and some history of mental illness that can help:

As a result of deinstitutionalization, mentally ill persons who were released from psychiatric institutions back into the community ended up back in local jails and prisons. Most importantly, the mentally ill persons who have committed minor crimes often are subjected to inappropriate arrest and incarceration (Bachrach & Lamb, 2001). The criminalistic behaviors are often a manifestation of their illness (Bachrach & Lamb, 2001). 

The article is titled, "County to begin mental health court in fall - Special court helps inmates with mental health issues through jail system", written by Joseph Basco on August  26, 2013. A Midland County judge by the name of Judge Elizabeth Leonard (238th District Court) in Michigan is working on starting a special court that will help the mentally ill get out of jail quicker, prevent them from entering the criminal justice system, and to get them the appropriate mental health treatment they need to lead a better life. She is requesting $120,000 for the special court to start this fall 2013 to serve people with mental illness and implement it as a pilot court process to begin. In order for the offender to enter this court process, the case is first referred to Mental Health Court, upon agreement of both attorneys and the defendant; the Mental Health Court Screener completes a mental health assessment on the inmate and a tailored treatment plan will be a part of their probation. If the defendant complies with the Mental Health Court conditions and has no additional criminal charges, the case can be dismissed. If this system is successful, she (Leonard) believes that it could pave the way to other special courts such as drug courts and DWI/DUI courts.

Mental health courts have been around since 2009, but I think that this article is very exciting news to see that more advocacy is being done to address and attempt to alleviate the issue of having the mentally ill in our criminal justice system (a system that may not be suitable for them) - especially when the person who is actually trying to make a change is a person who has that authority such as Judge Leonard. I think that we are taking the right steps especially if there has already been research done with mental health courts in which surveys have checked up on graduates of these courts and find that there was a lower level of repeat offenders compared to other courts. It was found that the inmates who participated in these courts had better opportunities for work, education, and treatment. The road to this issue is obviously going to be a long one, but there are people advocating for the mentally ill. Unfortunately, the mentally ill is not some kind of organized group with any lobbying power. It is our public responsibility and the responsibility of the government, the community, and the individual to ensure accessibility to mental health treatment, more education, and less stigma. In the article, Sheriff Gary Painter approves of the mental health court and states, "Leonard's (judge) direct assessment and direct involvement in the mental health court is going to save taxpayers thousands and thousands of dollars". Although the mental health courts cost a hefty amount of money and so does treatment, recidivism or the relapse of criminal behavior for jails and the untreated mental issues will cost even more in the long run. As an alternative to jail, I think that this effort to stop the repeated cycling of mentally ill people through our courts and prisons is deserving of much more support. 

Reference:

Basco, J. (2013, Aug 26). County to begin mental health court in fall. MyWestTexas.com. Retrieved from http://www.mywesttexas.com/top_stories/article_c0708a50-0eb0-11e3-8066-001a4bcf887a.html

 

Subject Law
Due By (Pacific Time) 10/18/2013 08:00 pm
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