Response#16 LSJ 375 - in the right direction. However, I...

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Response: Mental Health Courts Because of the high percentage of mentally ill inmates, our low-level criminal justice system has been transformed into a housing structure for the mentally ill. Watons, et al. argue that this population is a direct result of “changes in mental health law, the declining public hospital census, and limited access to services”. Across the country, mental health courts are being established to address and combat this factor in prison overcrowding. These courtrooms address not only the criminal aspect of the defendant but also the factors that may have contributed to his/her incarceration. The courtroom workgroup coordinates with local social service organizations to address defendants’ housing, medication, and drug-treatment needs. In addition, mental health courts utilize alternative sentencing tactics as an incentive for corrective action. I do agree that the use of mental health courts within the criminal justice system is a step
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Unformatted text preview: in the right direction. However, I fail to understand why we are addressing a mere ten to fifteen percent of the prison population. What about the disproportionate number of African Americans within our prison population? What about the failed methodology of correcting people only after they have committed a criminal offense? The argument presented by the defense attorney in class lecture rings true - large scale results require large scale change . The solution to this problem is not more courtrooms but instead greater all-around access to services (job rehabilitation, housing, and social services). We must concede that the round em up method is a failed approach in criminal justice. Addressing the root causes of crime (inadequate social services, deindustrialization, etc) will effectively prevent crime before it occurs. Mental health courts are nothing more than mutation of a failed system....
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This note was uploaded on 10/21/2008 for the course LSJ 375 taught by Professor Herbert during the Fall '07 term at University of Washington.

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