Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mental Illness and the Police

As both a criminal defense attorney and a civil rights attorney, I interact with a number of clients who have been diagnosed with serious mental illness. I also believe that I have represented many more clients over the years who have an undiagnosed mental illness.

Mental health issues are very important in my area of practice.

Just this morning I read about an officer in Washington State who was convicted of beating a man to death diagnosed with schizophrenia.

This is just one example of the police and mistreatment of those that are extremely vulnerable. Certainly better training would help but as we know many of our police departments are facing cutbacks of resources.

I firmly believe that one area that we should not skimp is in the area of mental health services. However, as we know many of our government officials ignore the strain that lack of resources in mental health have on our criminal justice system. Therefore, we continue to do the best we can in representing our folks and unfortunately get prepared to see more examples of mistreatment like that of Mr. Zehm in Washington.

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