Mental Health within the Criminal Justice System Essay

2591 Words 11 Pages
This essay intends to address the role that state agencies, both within the Criminal Justice System (CJS) and more broadly the institutions of education, employment and health, play in supporting and implementing diversionary programs for offenders with mental health problems. Mental health is clearly one of the most critical issues facing the Australian and New South Wales (NSW) CJS with research indicating that offenders with mental health problems constitute the majority of those within the prison system. The current strategies for diversion will be critically evaluated in order to determine their effectiveness with regard to the delivery and production of justice, cultural sensitivity for Indigenous Australians will also be considered. …show more content…
48). Also for any mental disorder the inmate prevalence rate was almost three times the rate of the Australian population (15% vs. 42% among inmates) (Butler & Allnutt 2003, p. 48). These statistics clearly demonstrate the critical nature of the mental health issue within the NSW CJS and in particular the prison system.

The social construction of mental illness limit an individual’s life opportunities as they are labelled “psychotic stalkers, comic figures, neurotics who do everything to excess, or sometimes as sympathetic characters” (DeVoe 2003-2004, p. 926) rarely are they viewed as competent members of society as illustrated by Howard Geld experience, “many years ago, I was diagnosed manic depressive psychotic and ever since then I have tried to live up to it.” (Howard Geld cited in DeVoe 2003-2004, p. 925). However events such as NSW Mental Health Month (October) which emphasises the promotion of social and emotional wellbeing by encouraging people to maximise their health and increase their mental health literacy provides a great opportunity for reducing the fear associated with this group by raising awareness of mental illness which over time serves also to eliminate the stigma associated with