Mental Health and Criminal Justice

Mental health training should be a requirement for criminal justice professionals (cops, firefighters, EMS, guards, troopers, even judges/magistrates), and mental health professionals should be essential staff in every jail and prison. There are so, so many issues that arise both out in the community and within correctional facilities that truly would benefit from a trained mental health clinician, and this is something that can be funded by the state. In addition, most staff members should have basic mental health training to prevent a wide variety of unnecessary issues.

This is an important issue for many reasons. Many of the people who get booked into jails everyday are citizens with mental health issues. It is essential that those people have proper care while in the custody of whatever justice facility they are in, and it would make communication issues much less frequent, as well as cut down on outbursts and potentially dangerous situations for both the citizen and the professional. Additionally, criminal justice workers often encounter critical situations in which someone with a mental health issue may be presenting as a danger to themselves or others. It would be incredibly beneficial for all criminal justice professionals to know how to handle these situations safely.

My ultimate argument is that mandatory mental health training for all criminal justice professionals would greatly benefit many different aspects of the field. Many different situations that occur in the criminal justice field would benefit from having mental health professionals available for intervention as well as well trained staff for day to day interactions. A study was done in 2019 by R. Shively discussing the importance of mental health training in the corrections field, and another study was done the same year discussing the benefits of having mental health staff in crisis situations that occurred during ride alongs (Shively 2019, White & Weisburd 2019).

Think of all the different things that would be affected just by staff members having basic mental health training. They could reduce altercations, intervene in high risk situations, and be of assistance in crises.

References

Shively, R. (2019). The Importance of Staff Training in Mental Health. Correctional Health         Care Report20(3), 37–43. Retrieved from             http://search.ebscohost.com.postu.idm.oclc.org/login.aspx?  direct=true&db=i3h&AN=135305905&site=ehost-live&scope=site

White, C., & Weisburd, D. (2019). A Co-Responder Model for Policing Mental Health Problems at Crime Hot Spots: Findings from a Pilot Project. Policing: A Journal of Policy and  Practice, 12(2), 194-209

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