Reversing Criminalization of Mental Illness

Reversing Criminalization of Mental Illness - Crime...

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http://cad.sagepub.com/ Crime & Delinquency http://cad.sagepub.com/content/49/1/62 The online version of this article can be found at: DOI: 10.1177/0011128702239236 2003 49: 62 Crime & Delinquency Alina Perez, Steven Leifman and Ana Estrada Reversing the Criminalization of Mental Illness Published by: http://www.sagepublications.com can be found at: Crime & Delinquency Additional services and information for http://cad.sagepub.com/cgi/alerts Email Alerts: http://cad.sagepub.com/subscriptions Subscriptions: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsReprints.nav Reprints: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav Permissions: http://cad.sagepub.com/content/49/1/62.refs.html Citations: at GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY on September 11, 2010 cad.sagepub.com Downloaded from
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ARTICLE Reversing the Criminalization of Mental Illness Alina Perez Steven Leifman Ana Estrada In 1972, a federal court reinforced the deinstitutionalization of state psychiatric hospi- tals when they held that people with mental illness have a constitutional right to treat- ment ( Wyatt v. Stickney , 1972). Although many states released patients and closed hos- pitals in response to this decision, they neglected to provide adequate community-based treatment resulting in the unintended reinstitutionalization of this population into our state and local jails. Recently, many state and local stakeholders have come together to address this situation. This article will discuss how the criminal justice system has become a primary mental health provider and strategies being utilized to reform the cur- rent system. Keywords: jail diversion; diversion programs; criminal justice; mental health THE LAW: RIGHT TO TREATMENT In 1972, in the case of Wyatt v. Stickney (1972), a district court for the Mid- dle District of Alabama took the unprecedented step of recognizing a consti- tutional right to treatment for people with mental illnesses. 1 Prior to the 1960s, people with mental illnesses were °stored± in large state hospitals, often under deplorable conditions without regard for their health, safety, or habilitation. 2 The court in Wyatt recognized that many individuals ware- housed in these facilities did not require long-term institutionalization but rather needed effective treatment. The court found that mere custodial care 62 ALINA PEREZ : Miami-Dade County Court 11th Judicial Circuit, County Court Mental Health Projects. STEVEN LEIFMAN : Miami-Dade County Court 11th Judicial Circuit, County Court Criminal Mental Health Projects. ANA ESTRADA : J.D. candidate, University of Miami School of Law. All inquiries and correspondence should be mailed to the following address: Alina Perez, 1351 N.W. 12th Avenue, Room 104, Miami, FL 33125. CRIME & DELINQUENCY, Vol. 49 No. 1, January 2003 62-78 DOI: 10.1177/0011128702239236 ' 2003 Sage Publications at GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY on September 11, 2010 cad.sagepub.com Downloaded from
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did not guarantee °the constitutional right to receive such individual treat- ment as will give each [individual with mental illness] a realistic opportunity to be cured or to improve his or her mental condition± ( Wyatt v. Stickney , 1972). Accordingly, the court ordered the appropriate state actors to cease
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