The idea that there is some relationship between mental illness and crime is a popular theme when violent crimes are sensationalized in the media. People with mental illness live everywhere. So, it is unsurprising that some individuals accused of committing crimes in California also suffer from mental illness.
Mental Illness and Crime
According to a study conducted by David B. Kopel and Clayton E. Cramer, only a small minority of seriously mentally ill people commit violent crimes. However, close examination of mentally ill patients reveals the following:
- Mentally ill patients comprise a large fraction of the jail and prison population;
- Mentally ill people are disproportionately victimized by violent crime;
- Some forms of mental illness increase the risk that a person will perpetrate a violent crime;
- Untreated severe mental illness is significant in homicide cases; and
- On a month to month basis mental illness treatment is more expensive in a hospital rather than prison.
San Diego Mental Health Collaborative Court (MHCC)
Since November 2016, San Diego county has offered a mental health collaborative court program to assist incarcerated people successfully reenter the community at the end of their jail or prison term. Assessments begin while the incarcerated person is still in jail and services start as soon as the individual is released.
A team of court personnel, social workers, nurses, psychiatrists, and counselors work with the incarcerated person between the ages of 18 and 59 who have been involved in or are transitioning out of correctional facilities. The individual receives a personalized treatment plan, medication management, peer support counseling, a housing subsidy, and educational or vocational services and training.
Individuals are referred to the program directly by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. To be eligible for the program, the incarcerated person must be:
- 18 or older;
- Probation eligible
- A U.S. citizen or contain lawful resident or temporary resident status;
- Mentally competent;
- Diagnosed with a serious mental illness;
- Voluntarily participate in the program; and
- Non-serious criminal charge.
Charged With a Crime in California?
A criminal case usually starts with a police arrest report. The prosecutor then decides what criminal charges to file. Some cases go to a grand jury for a preliminary indictment, where a jury decides if there is enough evidence to proceed. If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges in California, contact a San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney.