Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Improving Interactions Between Law Enforcement and the Mentally Ill

A recent issue of Newsweek magazine reports on programs aimed at improving police officers' response to persons with severe mental illness ("Cops and the Mentally Ill," July 31, 2008). The law enforcement community is on the front lines in addressing the needs of those with severe mental illness, given the shortage of services and treatment facilities.

The article points out two interesting studies:
  • A 2005 study by researchers at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University suggested that persons with serious mental illnesses are 11 times more likely than the general population to be victims of violent crime, with perhaps as many as 1 million crimes committed against those with serious mental-health issues each year.
  • According to a 2000 report by the federal government's National Institute of Justice, once a mentally ill person is arrested for disorderliness, that person is labeled a "criminal" and will likely continue to be arrested when acting out in the future, rather than receive treatment.

Read the full article here.

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