Is Our Treatment of Mental Health a Crime?

Happy Friday!

I recently came across an article that got me thinking. We know that our jails and prisons are overcrowded, but how much of the burden on the system is from those with mental illness?

The article I read explained that offenders who participated in a mental health court program were less likely to end up back in the system than those who went through the traditional criminal court system. The criminal offenders with mental illness, who participated in the mental health court, had lower occurrence of re-arrest and a longer time before re-offending. You can access the article here.

The authors suggested, based on the results of their study, that “keeping mentally ill offenders out of jail and in community treatment may have positive effects on recidivism, as may the increased attention and supervision they receive.” You can access the study here.

I believe that incarceration should serve as more than a deterrent and a punishment for breaking the law. I think that offenders should be rehabilitated and their mental health issues should be addressed.  By doing so, this will positively affect their outcome and prognosis. Whether behavioral health issues are addressed in community treatment settings or in jail or prison, this study highlights that mental health treatment must be a priority.

I hope future studies, legislation and policies can be aimed to better screen, evaluate and treat offenders with mental illness and substance use disorders. Not only will this provide needed treatment for individuals, it will possibly benefit everyone in our community if it lessens the burden on our criminal justice system.




Dr. Goldenberg
Happy Friday!

Matthew Goldenberg, D.O. Matthew Goldenberg D.O. is double Board Certified in Psychiatry and Addiction Psychiatry and is a certified Medical Review Officer (MRO). He is an expert in the evaluation and treatment of mental health disorders and is an addiction specialist for adults in his private practice in Santa Monica, California. Dr. Goldenberg also provides addiction psychiatry consultations to some of the nation’s top residential and outpatient treatment programs in the Los Angeles area and is experienced in the evaluation and treatment of professionals working in safety-sensitive positions. In addition to his clinical work, Dr. Goldenberg is an active author, researcher and invited speaker at local and national conferences. He also volunteers his time as a Clinical Instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at UCLA and is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.

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