Mental illness is a health issue, not a police issue

A statement of a judge in the Supreme Court in Florida claims that forty percent of the adults with serious mental illnesses in the USA will come into contact with the criminal justice system during their lives. Each year, 2 million of them are booked into jails. Most are charged with minor misdemeanor crimes and low-level felonies directly tied to their psychiatric illnesses. They remain in jail four to eight times longer than people without mental illnesses charged with the exact same crime. That suggests the need for special treatment to accused with psychosocial disabilities and mental health illness. The author claim that the responsibility for the seriously mentally ill should be shifted away from police and put it back to where it belongs: on social service agencies and the medical community. For this purpose, should be created a crisis line for emergency calls for mental health-related calls; to be formed a team of “Controllers” consisted by mental health professionals and a peer that should be the first point of contact in cases involving mental health problems, while the police should be involved only in extreme situations.

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