We commonly hear that jails and prisons are loaded with mentally ill people. They aren’t. This illusion was created by flawed data and bad assessment, which actually harms the mentally ill who already struggle to find adequate treatment & escape stigma.
The legal system often struggles to define and manage mental illnesses in criminal cases, but personality disorders make the issue of definition and culpability even more complex.
The mentally ill are increasingly interacting with every level of the criminal justice system, even though this system was never designed to function in this role.
In this series, I cover several places and ways that the mentally ill encounter the legal system, starting with Part I: Law Enforcement & Incarceration
Although diagnosing mental illness can be challenging, mental health clinicians too often make reckless misdiagnoses. The consequences of misdiagnosis are wide-ranging, all of which include poor outcomes for patients. Clinicians need to return to simple, ethical best practices to solve this prolific problem.
Deinstitutionalization failed to deliver on promises to free the mentally ill from needless hospitalization. The lack of adequate planning, funding and availability of community resources led to many outgoing patients becoming homeless and/or incarcerated. Over time, the mentally ill have been interacting with the legal system at all levels at increasing rates. This has created strains on the legal system and poor outcomes for the mentally ill.