Millions of medically vulnerable and socially marginalized people cycle through the criminal justice system each year due to serious structural problems entrenched in American society. The absence of a coherent and effective social safety net means that people lack access to physical and mental health care, social services, and housing options in their communities. This report details the cultural divide among system actors that amplify and sustain these problems and offers recommendations on how law enforcement policymakers and practitioners—in collaboration with public health officials and harm reduction advocates (who use a range of strategies to reduce the harmful consequences of risky behavior, particularly drug use) —can enhance both public safety and community health.
By working with public health stakeholders, police can improve how they respond to people living with substance use and mental health needs by incorporating principles of health promotion and harm reduction into their mission, as a means to improve community health while protecting public safety.
Against the backdrop of the largest expansion of the criminal justice system in U.S. history, police officers have found themselves routinely serving as de-facto street corner psychiatrists and frontline mental health workers.
Fear of arrest and incarceration can deter people with drug addictions from seeking treatment. Untreated addictions can lead to poor health, resulting in the spread of infectious disease within a community.
Successful partnerships between police and harm reduction programs—for example the LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) program—show how these two groups can work together to prevent the spread of disease and the over-incarceration of vulnerable communities.
10% of all police interactions involve people with a mental illness, according to studies.
2/3 of Americans believe that government should focus on providing people who use heroin and cocaine with access to treatment rather than prosecuting them, according to a 2014 poll.
How Connecticut Reimagines Prison for Young Men
It is extraordinary that in less than two years, many of those ideas became a reality in Connecticut. Over the past 9 months, Vera has been proud to partner with CT DOC to design and implement this pilot unit for incarcerated young adults 18 to 25. It changes the culture of corrections by drawing on lessons from American juvenile justice, internati...
“Just Call Me Bala”
Remembering Malar Balasubramanian, 1976 - 2017
While Malar will be remembered for her generous and infectious spirit, she also serves as a reminder that mental health can be a lifelong struggle. Understanding issues concerning suicide and mental health is an important way to take part in suicide prevention, help others in crisis, and change the conversation around suicide. If you see warning si...
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian Reporter is the newsletter of The Guardianship Project (TGP), a demonstration project of the Vera Institute of Justice. In this newsletter you will learn about TGP staff and how the project is expanding in New York City. Readers will also learn about issues affecting adult guardianship as a whole, such as Falk’s Law, and the Elder Abus...