Ambitious Plan to Reduce Mass Incarceration Focuses on Mental Illness
“For too many people who aren’t able to access lifesaving treatment, interaction with the criminal justice system has led to even greater injustice,” said the Treatment Advocacy Center
- Make assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) eligible for federal funding. AOT provides court-ordered treatment in the community for at-risk people with severe mental illness and has been shown to significantly reduce crime and violence among its target population.
- Fund mental health courts, programs proven to divert qualifying criminal defendants with mental illness from jail into community-based mental health treatment. Nationwide, less than 40% of the U.S. population lives in jurisdictions with mental health courts.
- Promote crisis intervention team training (CIT) for law enforcement. These teams consist of officers who are trained to respond to calls involving mental illness and are consistently found to reduce the arrest and incarceration of individuals with severe mental illness. Nationwide, only 49% of the U.S. population lives in jurisdictions where police departments are using CIT.
- Require reporting on the criminalization of severe mental illness, including reporting on homicides when individuals with mental illness are involved and the cost of treating severe mental illness in the criminal justice system.