Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice and Mental Health

Sad Prisoner with Sheriff Keys

Criminal Justice professionals have become aware that large numbers of suspects, defendants, and offenders suffer from mental illness. Many estimate that 25% to 40% of “low-level offenders” suffer from some form of mental illness. Treating individuals with mental illness in the traditional justice model–where arrest can lead to jail, conviction, and incarceration– has been expensive, ineffective, and inhumane in many cases. Justice system leaders in Minnesota have responded–both in urban and rural parts of the state–with creativity, intelligence, and collaboration. 

Best practices have emerged. However, there have been limited opportunities for communication and sharing across agencies and among criminal justice practitioners. The experience of the problem-solving courts suggests that by improving the ways practitioners collaborate, the resources and tools that are available to them can be used more effectively and recidivism can be reduced.

In 2016, the Robina Institute worked to foster collaboration among agencies by hosting a conference on criminal justice and mental health as well as workshops and ongoing dialogue with practitioners, lawmakers, law enforcement officials, academics, mental health professionals, and community stakeholders. 

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Criminal Justice and Mental Health

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Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice
Email: robina@umn.edu · Tel: 612-626-6600