Two weeks after New York City police officers fatally shot a mentally disturbed man they thought was armed with a gun, Mayor Bill de Blasio launched a task force aimed at improving city responses to emergencies involving the mentally ill. Police responded to 160,000 calls last year involving mental illness.
The lack of adequate alternatives to jail or prison to help mentally troubled individuals who run afoul of the law is a “horrible American tragedy,” judges and prosecutors from around the country were told at a New York University School of Law conference.
For lack of alternatives, thousands of mentally ill individuals are trapped in the justice system. In a conversation with TCR, Alisa Roth, author of “Insane: America’s Criminal Treatment of Mental Illness,” says change will only happen when we reexamine our attitudes towards mental illness.
Last year was the deadliest year in the history of the state’s prison system, but a spike in suicides this year may top even that. Authorities blame rising violence inside the prisons. A writer for Charleston’s Post and Courier also points to inadequate mental health care for inmates—and a troubling lack of attention from officialdom.
Giving former inmates better health care through Medcaid and other coverage can “enhance public safety, reduce recidivism, and more efficiently use public resources,” says a new guide from the Urban Institute and the law and consulting firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.
Yoselyn Ortega fatally stabbed two young children in her care in 2012. Will the rarely successful insanity defense help her avoid a conviction? The defense worked in New York murder cases only a half-dozen times in a decade.
Little has been disclosed about whether Jeffrey Yao gave signs that his apparent mental illness was worsening before he used a kitchen knife to kill Deane Kenny Stryker, 22. Should he have been committed to a psychiatric hospital?
After the school shootings in Parkland, Fl., President Trump has revived an intense debate about building or reopening mental institutions. “When people are going back and forth from prisons to hospitals, that’s a sign they might have benefited from longer-term treatment options,” said Dominic Sisti, a medical ethicist.
California was the first state allowing judges to take guns away from people whose family members or guardians said exhibit warning signs of violence. No such measure was available in Florida, where school shooter Nikolas Cruz showed many indications he could pose danger.