Mental Health And The Juvenile Justice System

Better Essays

The number of people with mental illness in the criminal justice system is one of the most pressing problems facing law enforcement and corrections today (Cuellar, McReynolds, & Wasserman, 2006). The Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health estimated that about 20% of children and adolescents in the general population have mental disorders with some degree of at least mild functional impairment (USPH, 1999). Subsequent research has found much higher rates of serious mental health problems among youth in the juvenile justice system. Among youth who have been arrested, one study found that 31% of youth had received services from the mental health system (Rosenblatt, Rosenblatt, & Biggs, 2000). Two studies of youth in juvenile detention found that between 60% and 68% met the diagnostic criteria for a mental health disorder (Teplin, Abram, McClelland, Dulcan, & Mericle, 2002; Wasserman, Ko, & McReynolds, 2004). Once youth with emotional disturbances enter the justice system, repeated arrests are common through the remainder of childhood and into adulthood. Recidivism rates for individuals with a serious mental illness are nearly double those in the general population (Baillargeon, Binswanger, Penn, Williams, & Murray, 2009; Constantine, Petrila, Andel, Givens, Becker et al., 2010). In an analysis of juvenile trajectories, youth with emotional disturbances in their late adolescent years were more likely to fall into the high arrest trajectory class and much

Get Access