The ‘Double-Edged Sword’ of the Insanity Defense

A Vanderbilt Law School professor says evidence of mental impairment could be a useful tool in a reformed justice system that focused on rehabilitation rather than blame. But, he argues in a recent study, under the current system, neuroscience can be used by both prosecutors and defense, and has only limited value in assessing guilt.

health care

Pew Study Calls for Better Monitoring of Prison Health Care

State corrections authorities spend more than $8 billion a year on health care programs for prisoners, but are they cost-effective? A study by Pew Charitable Trusts says the aging of America’s prison population adds renewed urgency to monitoring—and improving—efforts to treat prisoners’ special health needs both during and after incarceration.


Medicaid Expansion Tied to Reduction in Crime

States which exercised the option under Obamacare to expand Medicaid eligibility experienced a 3% decrease in the annual rate of reported crimes compared to non-expansive states, according to a University of Illinois/Urbana-Champaign paper. The decline saved taxpayers an estimated $400 million annually.

Rikers Island

How the Mental Health Industry Fails the Mentally Ill

A new book argues that mental health authorities’ failure to address the public safety challenge posed by individuals with serious mental illness unfairly shifts the burden to police and the courts. DJ Jaffe, the author, explains why in a conversation with The Crime Report.

Judge Holds MD Officials in Contempt Over Psych Beds

A judge ordered Maryland officials to open dozens of beds at state psychiatric hospitals by the end of the year. The court said acting Health Secretary Dennis Schrader had failed to follow court orders to place criminal defendants in state psychiatric hospitals. Some mentally ill defendants have languished in jails for weeks waiting for a bed at a state hospital.

10K ‘Forensic’ Patients are Held in Psychiatric Beds

More than 10,000 mentally ill people who haven’t been convicted of a crime are involuntary confined by psychiatric hospitals. They have been found not guilty by reason of insanity or have been arrested but found incompetent to stand trial. Critics say states ignore a Supreme Court ruling that such patients must be both mentally ill and dangerous to be hospitalized against their will.

Cops and the Mentally Ill: Finding a New Approach

Police around the country are learning how to step back from confrontations that can lead to tragedy. But additional reforms are needed to help divert individuals with serious and untreated mental illness from the justice system.