Advocates & Activists

Mental Illness & Criminal Justice | Video

Roughly one-third of inmates in California’s jails suffer from serious mental illness. (info via

 70% of youth in juvenile justice systems have at least one mental health condition and at least

20% live with a serious mental illness.

 Individuals living with mental illness are overrepresented in the criminal justice system, which
do not provide appropriate treatment or supports.

 Law enforcement is often the first responder in situations that involve people living with a mental health condition.

 California has made significant progress in recent years in training law enforcement to respond
appropriately to situations that involve mental illness, including passage of SB 11 & SB 29 (Beall)

 About 2 million American with mental health conditions are admitted to jails each year-most for non-violent crimes.


We should expand on the success of proven diversion models, including mobile crisis teams and
mental health courts.

 It is important to encourage partnerships between behavioral health entities, criminal justice/law enforcement, families and consumers.

 Law enforcement training and jail diversion programs rely on community partnerships and networks of mental health treatment programs. We encourage training of additional first
responders, including EMTs and dispatchers.

 Diversion programs must include treatment and supportive services, such as housing.

 Decriminalization of mental illness starts with reducing the high cost of jailing people living with mental illness, by investing in policies and funding to ensure that people receive care in a more
appropriate and supportive setting.

By Eve Reiland

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