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Persons who have committed offenses due to behavior caused by a brain disorder require treatment, not punishment. Prisons and jails never provide an optimal therapeutic setting for persons with severe mental illnesses. Public and private health systems have an obligation to develop and implement systems of appropriate care for individuals whose untreated brain disorders may cause them to engage in inappropriate or criminal behaviors.

The following resources are available from NAMI on Criminalization:


    NAMI's Where We Stand Paper on Criminalization

    NAMI's Public Policy on Criminalization

    NAMI's Model Law to Reduce Criminalization - - NAMI has developed -- Omnibus Mental Illness Recovery Act (OMIRA), a new initiative targeted to state legislatures and state governments. It is designed to build a more comprehensive service delivery system by replicating evidence-based program interventions. NAMI's OMIRA addresses the need to establish jail diversion programs (see item #7) and includes NAMI's federal policy agenda to pursue the enactment of jail diversion legislation (also item #7).

    Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Information - - programs designed to train police officers who come into contact with people with severe mental illnesses in the community to recognize the signs and symptoms of these illnesses and to respond effectively and appropriately to people who are experiencing psychiatric crises.

    The following is a list of some of the CIT Programs that exist across the Nation:

    • Memphis, TN (The Nation's 1st CIT Program)

    • San Jose, CA
    • Waterloo, IA
    • Albuquerque, NM
    • Portland, OR
    • Houston, TX
    • Logan, UT
    • Seattle, WA
    • Fort Wayne, Indiana
    • Ithaca, NY
    • Akron, OH

    In addition, CIT Programs are being developed in many locations, including the following:
    • Lee's Summit, MO

    Publication Alert -- The Bureau of Justice Assistance of the United States Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs (BJA) recently published a report entitled: Memphis, Tennessee, Police Department's Crisis Intervention Team (October 12, 2000). The report is available in the publications section of the BJA Web site.

    Mental Health Courts - - special courts created to hear cases involving individuals with severe mental illnesses charged with misdemeanors or non-violent felonies for the purpose of diverting individuals charged in these cases away from criminal incarceration and into appropriate mental health treatment and services.

    The following is a list of several of the Mental Health Courts that exist across the Nation?

    • Broward County, FL (The Nation's 1st Mental Health Court)

    • Anchorage, AK
    • San Bernardino, CA
    • King County, WA

    In addition, Mental Health Courts are being developed in many other locations, including the following:
    • DeKalb County, GA

    Recently Enacted Federal Legislation - on November 13, 2000, President Clinton signed into law landmark legislation (S. 1865) that establishes a national mental health courts demonstration program for nonviolent offenders with severe mental illnesses. Review the recently enacted Mental Health Courts law, Public Law 106 - 515.

    Publication Alert -- The Bureau of Justice Assistance of the United States Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs (BJA) recently published a report entitled: Emerging Judicial Strategies for the Mentally Ill in the Criminal Caseload: Mental Health Courts in Fort Lauderdale, Seattle, San Bernardino, and Anchorage. The report is available in the publications section of the BJA Web site at

    Publication Alert - The Nation's First Mental Health Court, Broward County, Florida - 1998 and 1999 Mental Health Court Progress Reports.


Brad H., et al., v. The City of New York, et al.

Texas Criminal Procedure and the Offender with Mental Illness - - a book written by Brian D. Shannon and Daniel H. Benson, Professors of Law, Texas Tech University School of Law, published by NAMI-Texas through a grant from the Texas Bar Foundation. The book provides an excellent analysis of relevant Texas criminal procedure and laws and is designed to benefit judges, prosecutors, lawyers, law enforcement officers, mental health consumers, family members and others interested in better understanding how the Texas criminal law applies to alleged offenders and offenders with mental illnesses.

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