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Attorney Carilyn Ibsen's Blog

about Criminal Defense in North Carolina and South Carolina

 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Criminal Courts & The Mentally Ill

The Charlotte Observer ran a piece today highlighting the lack of resources for mentally ill children in North Carolina. The article does not specifically address the criminal justice system, but does briefly mention how they often intersect. However, any criminal defense attorney in Mecklenburg county will tell you there is a correlation between lack of services available for mentally ill patients and criminal behavior.

The article mentions the effects of budget cuts on available services for mentally ill children. With very few places for patients to stay, many are forced into environments that pose a high risk to family members and often result in criminal conduct. The young adult is then taken into custody and a criminal case ensues.


Mecklenburg County does have mental health court. Similar to drug courts, defendants are placed on probation, have probation officers and are required to come to court regularly to speak to the judge about their progress. Many find success in this structured setting. However, some individuals have such severe diagnoses, they require secured placement. This does not exist. Most placement facilities are forced to  have a revolving door policy;  New Hope of Carolinas is a short term facility- young adults are admitted, once they are stabilized, they must be released.


It is an ongoing issue I see regularly in both criminal courts and incompetency/guardianship proceedings. Finding solutions for these issues is an ongoing effort. I'm glad the Observer chose to highlight the issue today. 

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