TA Coalition Webinar: Criminal Justice, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and People with Mental Illnesses

This resource was selected by SMI Adviser content partners and approved by the SMI Adviser clinical expert team for inclusion in the knowledge base.

There is universal acceptance that people with mental illnesses are over-represented in the criminal justice system. Across the nation, municipalities frequently encounter people with mental illness in every stage of the justice system. Police are regularly called to intervene with individuals who are regarded as being in mental health crises. In other instances, people with mental illnesses are arrested for behaviors associated with their disabilities, including failures to appear that generate warrants and other minor, non-violent offenses. Those arrested often end up in jails, where they represent a significant portion of the inmate population. Within jails, inmates with mental illnesses tend to fare poorly, and they spend longer incarcerated than do similarly-charged individuals without mental illness. This challenge has sparked many reform efforts, but often these efforts fail to focus on the broader systemic problems that have led to this reality. This webinar brings that systemic focus to the problem through the lens of the Americans with Disabilities Act’s integration mandate and lessons learned from systematic mental health systems reform. The webinar discusses how mental health, criminal justice, and correctional programs can work together to meet ADA obligations and ensure an array of services that reduce the likelihood that people with mental illnesses will enter the criminal justice system.

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