For example, they should be required to complete at least 20 hours of training on brain disorders. It is ideal if consumers and family members become part of the activity and process. It must also be emphasized that, in most cases, dangerous or violent acts committed by persons with these brain disorders are the consequence of neglect, inappropriate or inadequate treatment of their illness (NAMI).
The Alliance also contends that the unpopular insanity defense should be retained and should be tested according to both volitional and cognitive criteria or standards (National Alliance of Mental Illness 2006). At the same time, the Alliance opposes the adoption of laws or position on "guilty but mentally ill. Instead, it advocates systems, which will provide comprehensive, long-term care and supervision in hospitals and the community where such individuals are found who are "not guilty by reason of insanity," "guilty except for insanity," or similar laws concerning the insanity defense. The Alliance also pushes for the adoption of systems for helping these inmates and individuals suffering from serious brain disorders, who have served sentences and eligible for release on parole with appropriate treatment and services, which can help them get re-adjusted in the community. And the Alliance stiffly opposes death penalty for these particular offenders (NAMI).
The Alliance and the Public Citizens' Health Research Group released a 1992 report, entitled "Criminalizing the Seriously Mentally Ill (National Mental Alliance of Mental Illness 2006). The report said that the situation is worse today than ever before. It revealed increasing numbers of inmates with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other severe mental illnesses, who were abused in jails across the country. Most of these inmates ironically had not committed major crimes but only charged with minor misdemeanors or minor felonies directly related to or resulting from their untreated mental illness. Others were not charged at all. But their behavior deteriorated during their years of incarceration. The U.S. Department of Justice itself reported that 16% of all inmates in state and federal jails and prisons had schizophrenia, manic depressive illness, major depression and other severe forms of mental illness. These figures indicated that about 283,000 of them got behind bars on a daily basis. In comparison and contrast, there are only 70,000 patients with severe mental illness in public psychiatric hospitals and 30% of them are offender-patients. Furthermore, police also increasingly became front-line respondents to those with severe mental illnesses in times of trouble in the community. Needless to say, jail and prison conditions are terrifying to offenders with these illnesses and thus are not conducive to their effective treatment and handling. State facilities not only suffer from a lack of qualified mental health professionals who can recognize and respond to the needs of such inmates but also frequently respond to them by punishing, restraining or segregating them. These responses or acts render their symptoms worse. Inmates with severe mental illness likewise have no access to the newer state-of-the-art, atypical anti-psychotic drugs because of the expenses incurred. Federal and state prisons in general suffer from a lack of adequate rehabilitative services for these inmates' re-adjustment to their community when they are released. These trends can be gleaned from inadequate community mental health systems and services. In response, the establishment of widespread systems should effectively address their needs, such as assertive community programs, which would reduce criminalization in the country both by improving these services in the community and by providing appropriate treatment and support in the criminal justice systems (NAMI).
1. Amnesty International. (2006). The Execution of Mentally Ill Offenders. Amnesty International Library. http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/ENGAMR5002206
3. Fellner, J. (2006). A Corrections Quandary: Mental Illness and Prison Rules. http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/crc/vol41_2/fellner.pdf
4. Human Rights Watch (2006). Difficulties Mentally Ill Prisoners Face Coping in Prison. Human Rights Watch.org. http://www.hrw.org/reports/2003/usa1003/7.htm
5. Moss VM and Patton P (2000). The Need for Treatment of the Incarcerated Mentally Ill. Center for Justice. http://www.therapeuticjustice.com/programPDF/Mentally%20111%20in%20jail%20website%209-14-03.pdf
6. National Alliance of Mental Illness (2006). The Criminalization of People with Mental Illness. NAMI. http://www.nami.org/Content/ContentGroups/Policy/WhereWeStand/The_Criminalization_of
7. North Country Gazette. (2006). No Solitary Confinement for Inmates with Mental Illness. New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services. http://www.nyaprs.org/pages/View_ENews_cfm?ENewsID=5760