White Paper: Mental Illness, Access to Justice & Legal Solutions

Topics: Access to Justice, Efficiency, Government, Law Firms, Reports & White Papers, Thomson Reuters


The issue of providing adequate access to justice for people with mental illness has grown in importance as these situations continue to strain strapped state and federal budgets and public and governmental agencies try to work together to find solutions.

A new white paper, entitled How are Civil Courts Meeting the Challenge of Mental Health?, looks at ways mental health cases can be fairly and efficiently processed in the courts, while keeping in mind the health and safety of everyone in the community and the associated costs posed by people with mental illnesses.

The paper points out that the “percentage of inmates in U.S. state and federal prisons that have serious mental illnesses is three to four times higher than the rate of mental illness in the general population. These numbers have serious implications when it comes to allocating community resources to treat persons with mental illnesses involved in the justice system.”

The white paper also offers a case study of the courts in Norristown, Pa., and how those courts dealt with these vital issues.

Download a full copy of How are Civil Courts Meeting the Challenge of Mental Health?

Finally, the paper makes the case for collaborate, not only among public and governmental agencies, but with third-party solution providers who, by working together, may hold the key to successfully addressing these serious issues and ultimately providing better processing through the courts for those people with mental illness.

An excerpt:

Criminal justice and mental health professionals have explored ways to work together to help people with mental illnesses in the criminal and civil justice systems. One common collaborative approach is the mental health court model.

The mental health court model is based on justice and mental health systems partnering to conduct comprehensive assessments, develop treatment plans, and provide necessary services to improve community health and safety. The consistent coordination of services and information technology is absolutely necessary to address issues such as isolation and segregation of people with mental illnesses.

The county of Philadelphia, along with 400 other communities throughout the U.S., has created criminal mental health courts and programs to respond to the increasing number of people with mental illnesses caught up in criminal proceedings. These individuals can impose increased costs on the justice system, and may result in substantial harm to the individuals if they are not cared for or their cases are not managed properly. It is difficult to provide humane, just, and timely treatment to persons with mental illnesses in prisons and jails – as well as in less restrictive protective housing – while they await forensic examination and treatment. Treatment is aimed at restoring their competency to face criminal charges or reenter the community to live their lives.

You can also learn more about Thomson Reuters’ e-filing solution C-Track®, which was described in this paper.