Navigating the Justice System: What You Need to Know
Calling the Police
- Ask a Cop: What Should I Say When I Call 911 for a Loved One?
No one wants to call the police in a crisis. If you have to, it's important to be prepared and what to say to help ensure a safe outcome.
- Ask a Cop: Avoiding Arrest During a Mental Health Crisis
Ask a Cop is an occasional column produced byNAMI’s CIT Center, answering common questions about law enforcement and mental health issues.It features expert advice from Sr. Corporal Herb Cotner, of the Dallas Police Department and Sherry Cusumano, president of NAMI Dallas.
- Ask A Cop: What to do in a Crisis if Your Community Doesn't have CIT
If you have to call the police in a crisis, the key to a safe outcome is sharing information up front with the officer. Our experts provide tips for managing this stressful situation.
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.
- Connecticut: NAMI Connecticut's Understanding the Criminal Justice System
NAMI Connecticut published this guide to the criminal justice system in Connecticut for adults with mental illnesses, advocates and families
- Maryland: Beyond Punishment
NAMI Maryland's guide to navigating the criminal justice system. The information in this book was written specifically for Maryland residents, but may be helpful for others as well.
- Massachusetts: NAMI Massachusetts' A Roadmap through the Criminal Justice System for Persons with Mental Illness and Their FamiliesThis guide provides step-by-step instructions for individuals and families on preventing involvement with the justice system and coping if a loved one is arrested.
- Minnesota: Advocating for People with Mental Illnesses in the Minnesota Criminal Justice System
NAMI Minnesota’s new guide to navigating the Minnesota criminal justice system provides an excellent example for states and communities interested in creating similar guides to their local criminal justice system.
- New York: How to Help: When a Person with Mental Illness is Arrested
This guide, co-written by NAMI New York State and the Urban Justice Center, is designed to help New Yorkers with mental illness and others navigate the criminal justice system.