Skip to Content

Mental Health and Criminal Justice

Background

In the US people with mental illnesses are 14 times more likely to be incarcerated than hospitalized. Treating people with behavioral health challenges and substance use disorder has been proven to be more safe, effective and humane than incarceration. Below are speeches, articles, and studies that explore this issue.

The Present and Future of Correctional Health and Mental Health Care

In the January/February 2016 issue of Correctional Mental Health Report, Steve Rosenberg, the president of COCHS, writes about how our behavioral health care systems and correctional systems must be re-engineered to more appropriately respond to the needs of offenders suffering from behavioral health disorders.
View article...

Community Supervision and Community Health: ACA and Changing Landscape of Community Supervision

In the Fall 2015 issue of Perspectives, The Journal of the Probation and Parole Association, Dan Mistak, COCHS’ general counsel, explores how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is changing community supervision. This change will integrate public safety goals with the goals of public health . Read more (Dan’s article starts on page 50)…

The Affordable Care Act and the Excellence Act: An Evolving Terrain to Meet the Needs of the Neediest

In Cornerstone, the magazine of the National Legal Aid & Defender Association, Dan Mistak, COCHS' general counsel, explains how two tectonic shifts in the health care world have poised legal aid lawyers and defenders to better advocate for community solutions to client needs: the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Section 223 of the Protecting Access to Medicare Act (otherwise known as the “Excellence Act”). Read more...

Excellence in Mental Health Act Improves Behavioral Health Resources for Public Safety

Too often individuals end up in the criminal justice system because of a lack of access to behavioral health care in their communities. The Excellence Act has the potential to change this cycle. Read more...

Ending the Criminalization of Mental Illness

In a speech to a meeting of Prosecutors Against Gun Violence, Judge Steven Leifman talks about his experience being a judge in Miami-Dade County. At the time of his election, he did not realize he would become the gatekeeper to the largest psychiatric facility in the State of Florida: the Miami-Dade County Jail. Judge Leifman proposes ten essential elements to improve the care of individuals suffering from mental illness and behavioral health challenges. Read more...

Disparities in Mental Health Referral and Diagnosis in the New York City Jail Mental Health Service

Research shows that significant health disparities exist for incarcerated persons of color, including the occurrence of infection, violence, and mortality. Because persons
with mental illness have longer lengths of stay than others, they now represent approximately 38% of persons in jail. In New York City, both non-White and young patients appear to be less likely to enter the jail mental health system and more likely to enter solitary confinement than their White and older counterparts. Read more...

Behavioral Health Treatment Opportunities for Health Care and Criminal Justice Cost Savings

A PowerPoint presentation, by David Mancuso, details a study from Washington state that shows arrests decline significantly after alcohol/drug treatment. Read more...

State Sued as Mentally Ill Defendants Face Long Waits in Jail

In California hundreds of criminal defendants declared incompetent to stand trial are sitting in county jails around the state awaiting transfer to state facilities for mental health treatment. Commenting on an ACLU lawsuit concerning this practice, Dan Mistak, COCHS general counsel,said the lack of treatment beds dates back decades to when California began deinstitutionalizing mentally ill people . . . “There hasn’t been a social safety net for these folks and what’s happened is the jail has actually stepped in in order to make up for essentially what’s been a lack of these services everywhere else,” Mistak noted. Read more...