Like many cities, Indianapolis faced an overburdened criminal justice system involving a high rate of people with mental health issues. The city of Indianapolis has a program to help with emergency calls involving mental health issues. The city was looking for better ways to deal with the problems presented by substance abuse and mental illness and the burdens placed on the criminal justice system. So the city established Mobile Crisis Assistance Teams (MCAT) to address the issues head-on.
Mobile Crisis Assistance Teams
Each of the MCATs consists of a police officer, a paramedic, and a licensed mental health professional who is trained in how to de-escalate situations. The MCATs respond to crisis calls in the city’s East District involving mental health issues. These calls usually involve domestic violence, emotional abuse, or substance abuse. The MCATs dispatch themselves or show up at the request of first responders. The pilot program was established to help reduce the number of individuals brought to jail or the emergency room.
The program aims to divert people away from the criminal justice system and towards behavioral health providers and social services. This would lessen the burden on first responders and relieve them from having to handle complicated and time-consuming emergency situations.
Is the Program Successful?
Researchers from Indiana University Public Policy Institute’s (PPI) Center for Criminal Justice Research collected and analyzed data from the first five months of the program’s operation. The research found that 59% of the calls the MCATs responded to involved mental health crises, followed by drug overdoses and threats of suicide. In 2/3 of their runs, the MCATs were able to relieve other first responders. The study found that MCATs were significantly more likely to transport a person to receive medical treatment rather than arresting them, with only 2% of their calls resulting in an arrest.
While initial results from the program were very promising, the study noted that there was a still room for improvement. The most important factor that would help with the success of MCATs is the availability of long-term behavioral health treatment in the community for those individuals the teams encounter. Without these options, the impact of the MCATs can only go so far.
If you or a loved one has mental illness and has been arrested or convicted of a crime, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Elizabeth Kelley specializes in representing individuals with mental illnesses. To schedule a consultation call (509) 991-7058.
After a number of violent crimes in the news were alleged to have been committed by individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), including the school shooting in Parkland and others, many wonder if there is a link between autism and violent crime. There is a perception in the public that people with ASD are more prone to committing violent crimes. However, studies show that people with ASD alone are no more violent than the general population and that there may be other factors contributing to the association of ASD with violence.
There is a belief that because people with ASD may lack social skills or can be socially withdrawn that they are hostile. People with ASD appear to have limited or no empathy for other people, and there is a public perception that this can lead to violent propensities. While it may be true that people with ASD can have behavioral difficulties, this does not necessarily mean they are prone to violent behavior.
According to a study conducted in Sweden and published in the Journal of the Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, an ASD diagnosis alone does not increase the risk of violence. The study analyzed over 295,000 individuals, almost 6,000 of which had an autism diagnosis. Researchers tracked these individuals for violent crime convictions between the ages of 15 and 27 using criminal records. During the study, individuals with autism initially appeared to have a greater risk of violence, but the association was significantly reduced once the presence of other disorders was taken into account.
The study concluded that the presence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), conduct disorder, other psychiatric disorders, and substance abuse were better predictors of violent behavior. People with autism may have other disorders present which leads to the perception that autism is connected to violence. Once these other disorders were taken into account, the study showed that the rate of violence in people with only ASD was lower than the rate of violence in people without ASD. Therefore, the evidence indicated that having ASD may actually reduce the risk of violence.
If you or a loved one has an intellectual or developmental disability and has been arrested or convicted of a crime, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Elizabeth Kelley specializes in representing individuals with mental illnesses. To schedule a consultation call (509) 991-7058.
In 2002 court case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Atkins v. Virginia that executing individuals with intellectual disability violated the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. The Court reasoned that offenders with intellectual disabilities had impairments in their abilities to logically reason, process information, control impulses, and learn from experience. These factors made them less morally culpable and more susceptible to a wrongful conviction. In cases across the country, states have now been tasked with finding fair and accurate ways of determining whether someone has an intellectual disability.
The Texas Case of Bobby Moore
In 1980, Bobby Moore fatally shot a store clerk during a botched robbery attempt. A Texas jury convicted him of capital murder and sentenced him to death. Moore challenged his death sentence on the grounds that he was intellectually disabled and therefore not subject to the death penalty. A Texas habeas court found that pursuant to Atkins, and the 2014 U.S. Supreme Court case Hall v. Florida, Moore qualified as intellectually disabled and recommended that his death sentence be overturned.
Before making its decision, the habeas court heard evidence from Moore's family, former attorneys, and some court-appointed mental health professionals. The evidence established that Moore had serious intellectual deficits beginning at an early age. Even as a teenager he had trouble telling time and following the days of the weeks. Moore eventually dropped out of high school and began living on the streets. The court consulted medical diagnostic standards and based its finding of intellectual disability on three accepted factors: 1) intellectual-functioning deficits (based on an IQ score—Moore’s was 70.66); 2) adaptive deficits (the inability to learn basic skills and adjust behavior to changing circumstances); and 3) the onset of these deficits while still a minor. Based on these factors the habeas court found that Moore was intellectually disabled.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) disagreed with the recommendation of the habeas court because the habeas court relied on a medical standard of establishing intellectual disability rather than the standard the CCA had set out in case law. The standard used by the CCA was based on an older medical standard and required that an offender’s adaptive deficits be related to his intellectual-functioning deficits. The CCA believed Moore’s adaptive deficits could be the result of his difficult childhood and history of drug abuse. The CCA also assessed Moore’s IQ score to not be low enough based on some tests he had taken where his IQ was higher than the 70 point cut off.
In 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the CCA’s decision, finding that the CCA’s standard of establishing intellectual disability was flawed because it was not in line with current medical standards and the Supreme Court’s decisions. The case was sent back to the CCA for another determination on whether Moore was intellectually disabled.
In June of 2018, the CCA upheld Bobby Moore’s death sentence, finding that he still did not meet the definition of intellectually disabled. The CCA used current medical standards for determining intellectual disability. The CCA found that Moore did not have enough adaptive deficits, citing the fact that he learned to read and write in prison and was capable of purchasing items from the prison commissary. The CCA put a great deal of weight on Moore’s progress in the contained death row environment where adaptive skills are not as necessary as they would be outside of prison. Moore will likely appeal his case back to the Supreme Court but, based on the current makeup of the Court, the likelihood of his death sentence being overturned seems slim.
If you or a loved one has an intellectual disability and has been arrested or convicted of a crime, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Elizabeth Kelley specializes in representing individuals with mental illnesses. To schedule a consultation call (509) 991-7058.
Parole can be a stressful time for any former inmate.
Adjusting to life outside of prison can be an uphill battle of trying to find a job and housing, and attempting to reestablish relationships with family and friends to be a productive member of society. For someone with a mental illness, if they are not receiving the right treatment and support, parole can be even more difficult.
Research shows that mentally ill offenders are overrepresented in parolee populations. Those with mental illness have more risk factors for parole revocation than a typical former inmate. If they are released from prison without a mental health referral or assistance with housing, the outcomes are not favorable. Parolees with a mental illness diagnosis and substance abuse issues are more likely to have their parole revoked due to either a technical violation or the commission of another crime.
Corrections agencies are supposed to provide support and assistance for people reintegrating into society. But many of these agencies don't have the required resources to help everyone sufficiently, especially those with a mental illness that need extra assistance. Community-based programs can help fill in the gaps and provide specialized support with mental health treatment and housing placement. With this assistance, former inmates with mental illness may have better outcomes and a lower rate of recidivism.
Parole Support and Treatment Program
In response to this crisis, New York City’s Project Renewal has the Parole Support and Treatment Program (PSTP)to assist parolees with mental illness to adjust to life outside of prison. The program recognizes that parolees with mental illness face unique challenges such as dealing with the symptoms of their illness, finding suitable housing, and mending fractured relationships with friends and family.
PSTP was established to help parolees with mental illness cope and adjust as they made the transition to life outside of prison. PTSP staff work with former inmates helping them find counseling and mental health treatment. They also provide life skills training and housing placement to assist the former inmates in reintegrating back into society. According to PTSP, 89% of the participants in their program move into permanent housing.
If you or a loved one has a mental illness and has been arrested or convicted of a crime, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Elizabeth Kelley specializes in representing individuals with mental illnesses. To schedule a consultation call (509) 991-7058.