There are a number of individuals in the prisons and jails with mental illness, and this has stimulated a policy concern in every particular aspect of the justice system. The justice system is considered to strain especially when it is compelled to respond to the individuals with mental illness, and this should be in a manner which is considered to be therapeutic and clinical. One of the measures which can be taken by the criminal justice system in response to individuals with mental illness in the prisons entails the police practice which involves discretionary decisions which are made in the justice system. Based on the recent statistics, there is a huge number of individuals with mental disorder in prison. Such a number has been attributed to a variety of reasons.
Also, the individuals with mental illness are at a low income level hence they tend to commit huge crimes. The other reason is that an individual with mental illness usually consume more alcohol and this leads to addiction. The consumption of alcohol is one of the major factors for crimes committed and violence. The current justice system contains laws and policies which are used in the handling of individuals with mental illness in the prisons and theses are discussed in the paper as is indicated below.
There are a number of common law principles which offers rationale for the police to play a role in protecting the mental illness. Some of the principles include the authority and power which are both aimed at protecting the welfare and safety of the society and this also includes protecting the particular persons with disabilities. A key responsibility of the police is gatekeeping in which they make certain decisions relating to the mental illness who comes into the criminal justice system.
Often the society has had a negative attitude towards the mental illness, and this has therefore created social stigma which has been associated with discrimination and mental illness which makes it difficult for individuals with mental illness to recover from the illness. Also, the social stigma which has been associated with the mental illness have often resulted in discrimination among the individuals with mental illness in every particular aspect of their lives resulting to depression, anxiety and stress among others. Apart from the society which has caused the social stigma among the individuals with mental illness, the employers, friends and families have also contributed to the social stigma among the mental illness.
Based on the most recent study, it was found out that about nine out of ten of the individuals with mental illness have indicated that the discrimination and social stigma has resulted in certain negative implications in their lives. Generally, the individuals with mental illness cannot perform a number of activities like a normal individual does and these include, living in a decent house, being in a long-term relationship, getting employment and being socially included in the various activities of the community.
Treatment of Mentally Disordered Persons by the Society
According to Fairweather, Sanders, Cressler and Maynard (2017 p.34), the society, in general, has a variety of views on mental illness and this has various implications on different individuals with mental illness. For example, there are a number of people in the society who believes that the individuals with mental illness are dangerous and violent. It, therefore, implies that there are high chances of such individuals attacking or harming themselves than the other people in the society. Therefore discrimination and social stigma placed upon the individuals with mental illness could result into worsening of different problems related to mental illness. They may also lead to the delay in recovery and treatment of such a person (Goffman, 2017 p.50).
Factors such as poverty, unemployment, social isolation and poor housing are associated with mental illness. Apart from the above mentioned effects, social discrimination and stigma can cause a series of illness which may be difficult for a person with mental illness to recover from. The society must therefore change their perceptions on the individuals with mental illness (Cockerham, 2016 p.70). According to research which was conducted, one of the essential way to change the stereotype views of the society on the individual with mental illness would be first by contacting the individuals who have an experience with the problems associated with mental illness. Another way to change the views of the society concerning mental illness is through campaigns both at the local and national level should be carried out with the aim of changing the attitudes of the public on mental illness (Ross, 2017 p.100).
Treatment of Mentally Disordered Persons by the Criminal Justice System
The number of individuals with mental health has increased over the years, and this is based on the statistics of the criminal justice system. The mental illness condition has caused an increase in different costs such as health, fiscal and human resource. The criminal justice system should work together with the leaders of the mental health system to provide support with the aim of enhancing the outcomes of the individuals with mental illness while in prisons. The criminal justice system should allow people with mental illness in the prisons to access various mental health services (Torrey et al.2014 p.4). The services could be offered through the provision of care to the mental offenders which is to be done by the mental health professionals in the prisons who would come to check often on the progress of such individuals.
Also, the mental illness offenders are to be placed together with the others, and this is to help in avoidance of social discrimination and stigma which could worsen their state by resulting in different effects such as depression, anxiety and stress. Additionally, the criminal justice system provides adequate conditions in the prisons for the mental illness offenders with the aim of ensuring that such persons are given a decent and humane mental health services which would help them to recover fully from the problem once they are out of jail (Peters, Wexler and Lurigio, 2015 p.10). With the current criminal justice system, the discriminatory punishments and practices have been eliminated. For example in the past, the persons with mental illness were subjected to unfair treatment and also abuse in different stages in which they came into contact with the both the criminal and juvenile justice systems. It entailed the conviction of the youths to life imprisonment without taking into account those offenders with mental health problems
Currently, the criminal justice system looks into such issues and hence provides the mental health treatment facilities within the prisons who takes care of the mental illness offenders.
Further, the criminal justice system takes into account the legal practices involved which have an impact on the mental health conditions in a variety of stages involved in the conviction of an individual with mental illness (Skeem, Steadman and Manchak, 2015 p.920). Another fundamental way in which the criminal justice system treats the individuals with mental illness is through diversions of such individuals, and this is done to minimise a variety of costs such as financial, human and health. The diversion aspect of treatment of an individual with mental illness generally involves a reduction in practices which are coercive and encourage engagements which are voluntary, and this helps in providing conditions which are good for the recovery of the mental illness offenders (King and Murphy, 2014 p.2720).
Effect of Drug Use on Deviant Behavior and Mental Health
There are drugs which are psychoactive which affect an individual's mood, and such drugs include alcohol, cannabis and heroin. Generally, there are two effects of the drugs, and these are arousal of different emotions and dampening of such emotions. The changes in behaviour which is a result of the use of drugs also tend to change the brain which is the main element which is controlling the mental health of a person (Hall and Degenhardt, 2014 p.43). Whenever an individual consumes drugs, there is often interference with various chemical in the brain which has an adverse effect on mental health and also the messages sent by the chemical are affected.
There are both the short and long-term effects of drugs on the individual who takes drugs, and this is especially on their mental health. The impacts of the drugs are often long-lasting, and this may interfere with the mental health of an individual.
Long-Term Effects on Mental Health
Some of the long-term effects are based on the type of drugs which is consumed by different individuals. A critical effect of drugs on mental health is the schizophrenia. Such an effect is considered as a severe mental illness which causes an individual to hear certain voices in the head making them believe that they are under control or even harm by another person. The critical drug which has been associated with such a mental condition is the cannabis. It has been found out that the use of cannabis exposes a variety of individuals to various elements of mental health (Tyler, Kort-Butler and Swendener, 2014 p.100).
The tetrahydrocannabinoid is one of the key elements contained in the cannabis which are the same as endocannabinoids found in the brains. Such chemicals control a bigger aspect of the brain, and therefore due to the similarity of the two chemicals, the chemical found in cannabis will eventually take over the control of the brain functions thus interfering the mental health of a particular individual. The other long-term effect is depression which is caused by ecstasy. The ecstasy generally makes the brain to produce a larger amount of serotonin, however after using the drugs the level of serotonin will automatically drop to a much lower level than the normal. The absence of serotonin results in depression which is a condition which affects negatively mental health of an individual (Van Ouytsel et al.2017 p.120).
Short-Term Effects of Drugs on Mental Health
There are various shirt effects on the use of drugs by an individual on mental health. One of the effects is a drug-induced mood disorder, and this is expressed through various signs such as being sad, tired, depressed, restless and irritable. The other signs could be having racing thoughts, impulsive behaviour and delusions (Dunne, Bishop, Avery and Darcy, 2017 p.500). The mood disorder has been associated with certain drugs such as heroin, methadone and cocaine among others. The other effect is the drug-induced psychosis which is associated with certain psychoactive drugs. Such drugs often cause delusions and hallucinations where an individual tends to see and hear certain things which do not exist in reality (Lyndon et al.2016 p.5). Another short-term effect of drugs on mental health is the anxiety disorder where an individual who consumes drugs tend to have periods of panic attacks. Such periods are associated with severe anxiety which entails an increase in heart rate, fear of losing control, shortness of breath and sweats among others. Additionally, such an individual may also feel like he or she could be losing his or her sense of reality and even personal identity.
Effects of Drugs on Deviant Behavior
Deviant behavior refers to behavior which diverts from the societal norms, and there are a variety of factors which have contributed to such behavior in the society. A key factor is the use of drugs and alcohol by different individuals in the society and this unacceptable hence punishable by law (Patterson, DeBaryshe and Ramsey, 2017 p.33). The use of drugs and alcohol results in addiction which is considered as a social deviant. Being a social deviant entails breaking the accepted norms of behavior. The individuals who consume alcohol and other drugs tend to have deviant behavior, and this is one of the fundamental effects of drugs and alcohol among different individuals. Further, with a high level of consumption of drugs and alcohol, there would be formal deviance in behavior and some of such behavior entails, assault, murder, theft, rapes and robbery with violence (Moffitt, 2017 p.88).
The Legislative and Procedural Background to the Practical Application of Mental Health Law by the Police
The mental health care is regulated by the federal and provincial legislation. Based on the constitution, health is a provincial matter while the federal legislation deals with the criminal law. The mental health care system is also looked into by the forensic and civil regimes, and this is done with the aim of providing support to the mentally ill individuals within the society.
Mental Health Act
The mental health act aims at providing treatment, care and even protection to the individuals who have mental illness and this entails certain other purposes. Under the mental health act, the police are charged with certain roles and responsibilities, and this is in regards to the transport of involuntary patients and evaluation of the individuals with mental illness (Kramer, Kinn and Mishkind, 2015 p.265).
Transportation of Involuntary Patients
According to the mental health act, the police are expected to transport the involuntary patients who are unwilling to seek medical assistance. In relation to the transport of the involuntary patients, the police are required to transport a number of individuals on the following basis as is indicated.
Transportation of Absent minded Individuals
According to Mikula, Abraham and Townshend (2018 p.50), during the transport of such absent minded persons by the police, a long list individuals is to be provided, along with an authorized doctor, authorized mental health practitioner and an administrator of a mental health service. When a police officer is requested to do the transportation, the specific reasons for transport must be stated too.
Apprehending of Individuals absent from the Interstate Mental Health Service
The mental health act also empowers the police officers to carry out an apprehension to the individuals who could be absent from the interstate mental health service without permission. Such an apprehension aids in the prevention of severe harm to another person who is not mentally ill (Crocker et al.2015 p.100). However, the mental health law does not allow the police officers to make clinical judgments regarding the mental state of another individual while carrying out the apprehension. After the apprehension, an arrangement will be made by the police officers to have the person handed over to the mental health practitioner or even the registered medical practitioner for cross-examination. A public hospital is preferable for the cross-examination of the individual, and hence the police officer should take him or her to such a place.
Based on the mental health law, the police officers are also allowed to use bodily restraint, and this is especially when the person is mentally ill and has to be transferred to or from particular mental health services. The critical circumstances in which a bodily restraint could be used by the police officer include when there is a need for prevention of certain serious harm to the individuals or another particular individual. Also, when the other reasonable options have been tried and found not to be suitable compelling the police officers to use the bodily restraint (Spector and Kitsuse, 2017 p.100).
The mental health law also guarantees the police officers the seizure and search powers. Such powers allow the police officers to carry out a search on the individual transferred to a particular mental health service. When it is suspected that the person is carrying anything which could pose a danger to the person or another individual, it will be seized from him or her (Melton et al.2017 p.1). However the police officers must give the reasons for searching, and they have to be reasonable reasons.
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