LSCJ 5343: Mental Illness and the Criminal Justice System
According to the U.S. Department of Justice website, in 2009 16.9 percent of the adults in a sample of local jails had a serious mental illness. That’s three to six times the rate of the general population and would suggest approximately two million bookings of a person with a serious mental illness occur every year. That’s a pretty scary figure when you consider that the percentage three decades ago was just 6.4 percent, according to Mental Health America.
By gaining a better understanding of the issues and responding to the mental health needs of offenders, the health and quality of life for both offenders who have mental disorders and other offenders who must live with them can be vastly improved. In Mental Illness and the Criminal Justice System, students will explore issues involving the high rate of individuals with mental illness in the criminal justice system, and learn that addressing the needs of people with mental disorders reduces recidivism and helps create better adjustment to community life after prison.
During the course, students review the unique issues and best practices for each component of the criminal justice system – law enforcement, the courts and jails/prisons. Student will study a wide range of topics including the psychological and social effects of violence on individuals and environments and the psychological effects of secondary trauma and compassion fatigue that criminal justice professionals often experience.
Mental Illness and the Criminal Justice System places particular focus on viewing mental health within the criminal justice system as a public health issue, ultimately underscoring the need for both criminal justice and community organizations to work together to address the needs of all individuals with mental disorders.