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Law enforcement responses to people with mental illnesses are among the most complex and time-consuming calls for officers, threaten the safety of officers and residents alike, and have the potential for tragic outcomes. And when people with mental illnesses and co-occurring substance use disorders who could be safely treated in the community are incarcerated, the impact on their lives is staggering. The research is clear: People with mental illnesses who are referred to behavioral health treatment by law enforcement officers experience fewer subsequent contacts with the criminal justice system than those who were not referred to treatment. Law enforcement and behavioral health agency leaders across the country are increasingly partnering to develop Police-Mental Health Collaboration (PMHC) programs as part of a comprehensive approach to improve outcomes for this population, but also to help communities prioritize resources to have the greatest impact on public safety.
Jails have become warehouses for people with mental illness. Nationwide, nearly half a million inmates with mental illness are in local jails, and an estimated 10-25% have a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia. In Los Angeles County alone, at least 3,200 inmates with a diagnosed severe mental illness crowd the jails on a typical day, which constitutes about 17% of the jail population. These numbers capture only the number of inmates with a diagnosed severe mental illness: the actual number may well be higher. Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca has called L.A.'s jail system "the nation's largest mental hospital." The war on drugs and other law enforcement policies have resulted in mass incarceration of low-level drug and other non-violent offenders, many of whom are arrested for behaviors related to a mental illness. In L.A., roughly 1,100 inmates with mental illness are behind bars on an average night for charges or convictions for nonviolent offenses. And many of the behaviors that lead to such charges are rooted in mental illness. According to the Vera Institute of Justice, drug offenses make up the largest portion of charges for this inmate population, nearly 27%. "Mental illness frequently becomes de facto criminalized when those affected by it use illegal drugs, sometimes as a form of self-medication, or engage in behaviors that draw attention and police response."
"The following is a framework that seeks to draw out what “prosecutor organizing” looks like with an abolitionist lens. The first section outlines principles to hold us accountable to each other, so that there is shared agreement about what abolition means in organizing around prosecutors. The second section is a resource for organizers looking to put these principles into practice in their local prosecutor organizing campaigns."
Government is often thought of as a place where good ideas go to die. We who work in local government know this is not true. We also know, however, that cities' current set of approaches and solutions won't be enough to address our most pressing challenges. We need more and fundamentally different ways to deliver public value, and to understand and address wickedly complex problems. This guidebook is intended to give local leaders a practical, action-oriented framework for breakthrough innovation: a set of approaches and practices out of the startup and municipal innovation worlds that help practitioners break out of deeply embedded assumptions about how government is supposed to operate and open new possibilities for problem-solving and impact.
Millions of Americans have one or more forms of mental illness. These conditions have wide-ranging health, economic, and social consequences. For example, mental illness is a major factor in homelessness and incarceration. And serious mental illness - defined as a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder that causes significant functional impairment that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities - costs the country about $200 billion in lost earnings annually.
There is growing public recognition that the number of people diagnosed with serious mental illness in the U.S. criminal justice system has reached unprecedented levels. In 2007, there were more than 2 million jail bookings of people with serious mental illness. Although prevalence estimates of serious mental illness in jails and prisons vary widely depending on methodology and setting (jail or prison), recent research estimates that approximately 15 percent of men and nearly one-third of women in jail settings have a serious mental illness and that rates of serious mental illness in state prison populations are at least two to four times higher than community populations. This reality places a significant strain on institutional and community resources, including increased expenditures on incarceration. And it sheds light on why so many formerly incarcerated people face daunting prospects for successfully reintegrating into society. Seeking to mitigate these corrosive outcomes, local and state governments have developed a range of programs over the past two decades to serve people with serious mental illness in contact with the criminal justice system.
In recent years, cities have become the drivers of government innovation. As urban growth has exploded over the past half century - increasing from a third to nearly 60 percent of world population today - local officials have been forced to solve problems and generate new ideas, policies, and approaches. From New York to Medellin to Copenhagen, mayors and city managers are finding novel ways to address some of the biggest challenges facing society, whether combating entrenched poverty, financing new infrastructure projects, or protecting the environment.
Hate crimes are devastating events, both for the victim and for the community in which they occur. How we respond to them, as transgender advocates and allies, is very important. This manual provides you with some of the tools to create an effective response to a hate crime after it has happened in your community. This manual is designed to help you develop a comprehensive and integrated response to a hate crime. This involves working with the victim, friends and family, and the media; educating law enforcement officials; and coordinating with local activists, concerned community members, and sometimes with national organizations. Addressing each of these areas is essential in order to respond effectively to hate crimes. The manual includes model meeting and event planning worksheets, press kits, and other resources advocates will need to raise awareness in the general public.