This report focuses on the societal and economic costs of holding mentally ill offenders in jails and prisons, how mentally ill offenders are processed in the criminal justice system, and several promising criminal justice interventions and policies for mentally ill offenders.
This policy brief was developed in the wake of the tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut by Christine Leonard, Director of Vera’s Washington DC office, and Mary Crowley, Vera’s Director of Communications. It is designed to share the research-based perspectives and recommendations of Vera experts on some of the complex and challenging issues raised by this tragedy.
The Bazelon Center argues that jurisdictions should increase investment in community-based mental health service providers. This document describes services that, based on the evidence they’ve compiled, are necessary components of strong mental health systems.
Traditional efforts in treatment for mental illness and substance use disorder for justice-involved individuals has been concentrated on providing tools and training for criminal justice professionals and was expensive and ineffective. Re-focusing on providing knowledge, skills, and training about justice-involved individuals to behavioral health providers helps them to provide community-based services to this population effectively and at reduced cost.
The overrepresentation of people with serious mental illness in the criminal justice system is a complex problem. A long-standing explanation for this phenomenon, the criminalization hypothesis, posits that policy changes that shifted the care of people with serious mental illness from psychiatric hospitals to an underfunded community treatment setting resulted in their overrepresentation within the criminal justice system.