Criminalization and Criminal Justice Issues
A report issued by the United States Department of Justice in 1999 revealed that 16 percent of all inmates in state and federal jails and prisons have schizophrenia, manic depressive illness (bipolar disorder), major depression, or another severe mental illness. This means that on any given day, there are roughly 283,000 persons with severe mental illnesses incarcerated in federal and state jails and prisons. In contrast, there are approximately 70,000 persons with severe mental illnesses in public psychiatric hospitals, and 30 percent of them are forensic patients. Additionally, police are increasingly becoming front-line respondents to people with severe mental illnesses experiencing crises in the community.
NAMI's Position on the Issue:
The Criminalization of People with Mental Illness - WHERE WE STAND
Dealing with the Criminal Justice System
Dealing with the Criminal Justice System - (Spanish)
NAMI CIT Resource Center
Crisis Intervention Team programs – Information, Resources, Tools and News
Juvenile Justice, Child Welfare and Custody Relinquishment
Parental Placement and Relinquishment to Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare to Access Mental Health Services
Persons with Serious Mental Illness and the Death Penalty
The use of solitary confinement of people with mental illness
Understanding the Issue:
Solitary Confinement: Like Gas on a Fire: NAMI Testifies Before the Senate Judiciary Committee 6/20/2012 The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) submitted testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 19, warning that placing individuals with severe psychiatric symptoms into solitary confinement in prisons is "akin to pouring gasoline on a fire."
NAMI Testifies on Solitary Confinement 4/03/2012 NAMI testified about damage that solitary confinement in prisons can cause to people living with mental illness. As Illinois considers closing the Tamms Supermax prison, NAMI weighs in with facts about how conditions at the prison devastate prisoners.
Improving Responses to People with Mental Illnesses: Tailoring Law Enforcement Initiatives to Individual Jurisdictions 6/20/2010 This new guide from the Council on State Governments explores the program design process, including detailed examples from several communities from accross the country. It is meant to assist community leaders to select or adapt program features from models that will be most effective in their communities.
2011 MIOTCRA Fact Sheet 3/12/2010
Background Information on the Recidivism Reduction Act 6/23/2009 Read more background information the Recidivism Reduction Act.
House Passes S. 1994 The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed S. 1194, the "Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act of 2004".
Contact Your Representatives Use our online advocacy tool to send a letter to your congressional representatives right now and make your voice heard on this issue. Use our suggested text or compose a letter of your own.
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Decriminalizing Mental Illness: Background and Recommendations The NAMI National Board of Directors has released a report calling for more jail diversion, improved services for people at risk of criminal justice involvement, and better collaboration between criminal justice and mental health professionals.
Decriminalizing Mental Illness: Background and Recommendations: An Executive Summary Read the Executive Summary of the NAMI National Board's new report on criminalization of mental illness.
A Guide to Mental Illness and the Criminal Justice System This guide offers consumers and family members basic information about how to navigate the criminal justice system.