During National Mental Illness Awareness Week a Judge Writes on How the CJ System Responds to Those with a Mental Health Diagnosis
Date:  10-09-2018

Alternatives to incarceration sought to break the system of incarcerating people with mental disorders
From Oregon Live:

In more than 40 years as a defense lawyer and trial court judge -- including two years as Multnomah County's Chief Criminal Judge -- I've seen firsthand how easy it is for someone in a mental health crisis to end up in jail. I've also seen how hard it is for them, once in custody, to get the services they need. Our failure to provide meaningful help to people experiencing mental illness remains one of the justice system's most pressing challenges.

We have made progress in recent years by establishing and supporting important services such as mental health court and diversion programs. But there is no simple solution. As Mental Illness Awareness Week arrives again, it's a reminder we still have more work to do.

Time in jail can destabilize someone, making it more likely they'll remain in custody and languish in a place that's far from the therapeutic environment needed for recovery. Defendants vary in their needs, skills, risk to the community, and willingness to engage in treatment. Our traditional response to those defendants was fragmented, costly and particularly ineffective for those facing low-level offenses. Cases moved slowly and involved pricey experts. Some defendants spent weeks or months in jail, waiting for one of few psychologists to determine their fitness for trial. Others were committed to the Oregon State Hospital at great expense. Even then, they ended up back on the streets without helpful intervention. Continue reading >>>