The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

A Road Map through the Criminal Justice System for Persons with Mental Illness and Their Families

Date: 
08/01/2013
Author: 
NAMI, Massachusetts

From the introduction to the guide:

"This guide is for people with mental illness, their families and their loved ones. In times of crisis, far too often families are uninformed and lose the opportunity to help prevent arrest, jail, and even prosecution, when their loved one is experiencing a psychiatric crisis. In these instances, what may look like wrongful behavior is really a symptom of their illness and a cry for treatment rather than criminalization. 

There are three common situations that people with mental illness may find themselves in with respect to the criminal justice system: 
i. Those which belong out of the criminal justice system altogether 
ii. Those where treatment not criminalization is needed, but nonetheless 
entering the system can be the catalyst for long-resisted acceptance of treatment, and finally 
iii. Some cases where true criminal activity is involved and criminal prosecution is inevitable

This guide explains the essentials of the criminal justice system, less to resign yourself to it, but to help you find a way out, or to treatment within, almost always with justice personnel whose job it is to prevent unnecessary entanglement of people with serious mental illness.

In all three of the situations listed above, having an advocate will help ensure that your loved one receives the appropriate level of treatment and the compassionate care they deserve. This guide will help aid you in being an advocate for your loved one no matter where in the criminal justice system they may be." 

Click the "Go to Website" link below to download the guide from the National Alliance on Mental Health - Massachusetts website.


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