A Letter to the Governor about Problems with the Juvenile Justice System

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The Honorable John Smith Governor of the State of California Office of the Governor 123 Main Street Hometown, CA 00000 Dear Governor Smith: I am writing in regards to your proposition to allow those who are over the age of 17 to petition to be tried in juvenile court under specific circumstances. I find this bill favorable and hope that it passes into law. Currently, a large percentage of those that are incarcerated suffer from some sort of mental illness. These inmates often fall through the cracks of preexisting mental health systems. According to a guide released by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (1993): A sample of 1400 NAMI families surveyed in 1991 revealed that 40 percent of family members with severe mental illness had been arrested one or more times. Other national studies reveal that approximately 8 percent of all jail and prison inmates suffer from severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorders (forward). Although these statistics do not say whether or not these people are capable of understanding the long term consequences of their actions, it does show that our current system is failing to give these people proper treatment. There are a large number of people who suffer from mental illness and the system is not large enough to accommodate all those who need help (Nieto, 1999, pg. 4). Our current judicial system does make accommodations for those with mental illness, but the services can cost the states millions and

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