Mental Health And Criminal Justice System Case Study

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Mental Health and Criminal Justice System The deinstitutionalization movement in the 1960s directly impacted the criminal justice system in Canada. The John Howard Society of Ontario (JHS) (2015) argues that the criminal justice system became a repository for those with mental health concerns because they found themselves in the community without adequate support and resources. Some common obstacles in the community include stigma, housing, employment, substance use as a means to self-medicate, and limited mental health services. As a result, there is an overrepresentation of these individuals in the criminal justice system and they experience disproportionate police contact and higher levels of arrest, criminal charges, and custody (JHS, …show more content…
For instance, the individual can receive strict bail or probation orders that can include conditions relating to mental health like participating in treatment, abstaining from illegal substances, or residing at an approved address (JHS, 2015). These conditions criminalize mental health because breaching any single one of them will result in a new criminal charge for 'failing to comply ' and will impact eligibility for release on bail again in the future (JHS, 2015). Most importantly, many people before the courts continue to agree to these conditions, despite the potential consequences because the only other alternative is to remain in custody (JHS, 2015). This results in a cycle of criminal involvement and illustrates that the criminal justice system does not recognize the unique needs of individuals with mental health concerns. Instead, the current system frequently embeds them into a cycle that they cannot …show more content…
Federally sentenced women are "... among the fastest growing sub-populations in federal corrections today" (Sapers & Zinger, 2014, p. 45). The dilemma that exists between protecting society or protecting individuals is increasingly apparent with this population due to their high needs and increasing vulnerability. Females in the federal correctional system have disproportionately higher levels of self harm (Borrill, Snow, Medlicott, Teers, & Patton, 2005). Furthermore, Sapers and Zinger (2014) indicate that 50% of these women have histories of self harming behaviour, over 50% of them struggle with addictions. 85% have experienced physical abuse, and 68% have experienced sexual abuse. Compared to male offenders, they enter the system with more previous hospitalizations for mental health concerns (Sapers & Zinger, 2014). The significant over-representation of female offenders with histories of self-harm and previous hospitalizations demonstrates that this population is in significant need of protection and support while in

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