When Indigent Defendants Have Mental Health Disorders


A new study is aiming to help develop guidelines and resources for indigent defense attorneys to use when representing clients with mental health disorders.

For the two-year study, which began on Jan. 1, researchers from the Vera Institute of Justice are conducting interviews with 250 defendants with mental health disorders and their defenders during jail intake screenings; analyzing criminal justice administrative records describing charges, criminal histories and case outcomes; and analyzing the costs of different indigent defense models.

Issues that researchers in The Bronx and an upstate New York county are examining, include: the relationship between type of representation and case outcomes for people with mental health disorders, and the extent to which defenders understand mental health issues.

After the study is completed, Vera intends to issue a series of recommendations for improving the effectiveness of public defense services for defendants with mental health disorders and assist in the creation of better indigent defense services.

Fore more about the study, click HERE.

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