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Saturday, March 19, 2016

How America's criminal justice system became the country's mental health system

By German Lopez
Originally published March 1, 2016

Here are two excerpts:

It's a terrifying statistic: Someone with an untreated mental illness is 16 times more likely to be killed by police than other civilians approached or stopped by law enforcement, according to a 2015 report by the Treatment Advocacy Center.


If people were getting comprehensive care and support, police most likely would not need to get involved in many of the circumstances that end up in horrible tragedies. But very often in the US, that's not happening.

Before Kevin broke into a neighbor's house and was arrested by police, Pete tried to take steps that would have prevented the whole encounter. Kevin had just suffered a psychotic episode in 2002, and Pete raced Kevin to emergency care to hopefully get Kevin into some form of long-term care, potentially against Kevin's will if necessary.

But doctors said they couldn't do anything because Kevin, an adult, didn't appear to pose a threat to himself or others in the four hours they sat in an emergency room. So he was let free, and within 48 hours, he went through the episode in which he broke into the neighbor's house.

The article is here.