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Navigating the Justice System: What You Need to Know

Calling the Police

After An Arrest

  • Working with Public Defenders: Q&A with Stephen Bush
    When an individual living with mental illness is arrested, often his or her only advocate in the justice system is the public defender. This resource helps individuals and families understand the role of the public defender and answers common questions about how family members can work with public defenders more effectively.
  • After An Arrest: Understanding the Courts
    Attorney Catherine Cerulli tells you what to expect if you or a loved one need to appear in court

  • A Guide to Mental Illness and the Criminal Justice System
    This guide offers consumers and family members basic information about how to navigate the criminal justice system.
  • Criminal Justice Self-Advocacy FAQ
    Designed as a companion to the Guide to Mental Illness and the Criminal Justice System, this resource answers common questions such as what are my rights while in jail or prison? How can I help my loved one who is being mistreated in jail or prison? What programs can help my loved one get transferred from jail to treatment?

Probation, Parole and Re-entry

  • Working with Your Probation or Parole Officer: A Q&A with Eilene Flory
    If you are under supervision of a probation or parole officer, it's important to follow the rules and build a good relationship with your probation or parole officer. Our expert tells you how.
  • Coming Home: A Guide to Re-entry Planning for Prisoners Living with Mental Illness
    Returning to the community after prison is especially challenging for people living with mental illness. Our new re-entry guide walks you through getting health care, ID, housing, benefits and other necessities to help you succeed.  

State Specific Guides

Contact your NAMI State Organization for state-specific information. Here is a selection of state-specific resources for navigating the criminal justice system.

  • California: NAMI California
    NAMI California maintains extensive resources for individuals and families in jail and prison in California.