Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Mental Health Concerns in the Administration of Criminal Justice

mental health img

The issue of mental health in our criminal justice system is severely under-represented. We have individuals both taking advantage of and getting lost in the system which gives neither the help they need. The issue of misdiagnosing is where the problem begins; we lack the research we need to complement the diagnosing methods of physicians. Stigma concerning individuals with intellectual disabilities, especially offenders, is also causing conflict in putting them through the system. Minority standing is, of course, the underlying factor in all of this, considering the majority of individuals with mental disabilities in the criminal justice system are part of a minority group.

The plea of temporary insanity (if successful) can prove little to no consequences from the criminal justice system, yet rarely is it truly insanity that drives these offenders to offend. People that are part of the majority, wealthy and white that have the resources to put together a team of excellent lawyers are more likely to use this defence than those that are obviously actually psychotic. The problem with this is it leaves criminals who only claimed insanity, out of the streets to re-offend. Many legitimate psychotic individuals do not even know what is best for them, yet they still have to decide their own fate and many refuse to allow their lawyer to mount an insanity case for them. As a result, they get stuck in the system without proper services to give them the assistance they need that would be provided in mental health facilities. This is one of the many issues with pleas such as these; the wrong people use them and the right people don’t know how to use them and aren’t receiving aid on their behalf.



The stigma we place upon individuals with mental disorders leads many people to brush them under the rug so to speak, because what can they contribute to society? What will it hurt me to accidently put them in jail instead of a mental health facility? It hurts them, it hurts their families and it hurts the community around them when mentally disabled offenders don’t get the treatment they need to not offend again. Jail is not the equivalent of therapy or medication, which is the only thing proven to keep these offenders from re-offending.


In order to stop this problem we need to conduct more research, continue to make better and more assistance programs available to minority groups and change the way people with mental disabilities are tried. Research will make diagnosing more accurate and valid, programs will prevent minorities from ending up in the criminal justice system to begin with and could also contribute to getting rid of prejudicial bias within the system. Changing the way people with Intellectual disabilities are tried is the most important way to stop them from being improperly put in the general jail population. If they cannot make proper judgements they should not and can not make proper decisions on these judgements and should not be forced to.

To close, here are a few last words about mental illness:

1. So how do we fix this problem besides more research and better methods for diagnosis?

2. How much of a factor is race, sex and/or social status in deciding where/how an offender is sentenced?

3. Do you know someone with a mental disability who has had to go through the criminal justice system? How did it work out for them?




Is Racial Discrimination a National Problem in the Criminal Justice System?


  Politics requires us to take a look at the big picture of current issues in order to solve them. Politics also considers similar historical evidence in much of its decision-making. In order to answer the question; is discrimination by race a national problem in the U.S., we need to look at some research. In Whitewashing Race, the Myth of a Color-Blind Society, Michael K. Brown and his associates presented three waves of social research that have been executed regarding discrimination in the Criminal Justice system. The first wave was implemented prior to the Civil Rights Movement, the results were that race did indeed have an impact in the system, such as in the courts and the police force. The second wave of research was completed throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s and was led by Alfred Blumstein of Carnegie-Melon University. Blumstein conducted research (with controlled variables) which compared African American rates of arrest for violent crimes with the imprisonment of African Americans. The results were this: “Blumstein found that about 80% of the difference between black and white imprisonment rates for crimes of violence had disappeared” (Brown, et al., 2004). The third and final wave mentioned in Brown’s article was done in the 1990’s and found that discrimination exists in the criminal justice system but in more indirect, complicated and sometimes subconscious forms. Why the sudden difference between wave 2 and wave 3? Robert Crutchfield can answer that question. Crutchfield pointed out that Blumstein’s national level of discrimination in the system did not accurately depict state rates (Brown, et al., 2004). There have since been several studies/research articles that confirm the theory that racial discrimination in the Criminal Justice system is a state-to-state problem, not a nationally universal one. This, of course, makes perfect sense since slavery was rooted in the South. Longstanding customs are culturally historic and some (like slavery) have an immense impact on the future. The three waves of research presented here tell us two important facts. One; discrimination in the system is declining over time and two: the problem is concentrated at the state level. Being aware of this problem is the first step, the next would be attempting to speed up the decline of discrimination until it is no longer a factor in our Criminal Justice System. To do this, I believe we cannot change the views of the people in our Criminal Justice System who discriminate unless we attempt to educate them. Just like many if not most people who discriminate, these offenders fall under the category of ignorance. Time too, I believe will aid in the dissipation of discrimination because these offenders soon will be discriminating against the majority, immigration will soon lead to a more racially neutral America.


  1. Do you think the problem of discrimination in the Criminal Justice system is universally national or state-wide?
  2. What could be done to rid our Criminal Justice System of racial Discrimination in our states?




(Source: Upper Southampton Patch, 2015, “And the Most Racist Place in America is…Closer Than You Think”)

            Brown, M., Carney, M., Currey, E., Duster, T., Oppenheimer, D., Shultz, M., & Wellman, D. (2004). Whitewashing race: The myth of a color-blind society. Choice Reviews Online.

Retrieved from:

How race and social class ties into mandatory minimum sentencing

For my blog I wanted to tie race and social class into mandatory minimum sentencing. Mandatory minimum sentencing laws are ultimately a set minimum sentence you have to serve regardless of the circumstances. This sentencing law prohibits any and all leniency from judges. No matter how small the crime is, whether or not you have a family, or even if its your first offense if it falls under the mandatory minimum sentence laws you must serve the time set for it. Majority of the mandatory minimum sentences apply to drug offenses, but some of the other crimes it applies to are possession of certain guns, pornography, and economic offenses in some circumstances. Another popular form of mandatory minimum sentencing comes from the three strikes law. For this law you have three strikes, commit two of them then on the third one you will face a specific minimum sentence for your felony. Similarly to mandatory minimum sentencing, the judge is not allowed to shorten the sentence no matter how small the third crime is.

What is a better method of deterrence compared to mandatory minimum sentencing?
Do you think mandatory minimum sentencing was made to help the society or to hurt it?
Should judges have more input to cases regarding mandatory minimum?
Are mandatory minimum laws effective or ineffective?1035x623-20140102-pot-laws-x1800-1388687052

In regards to race, in 2011 Hispanic accounted for 38.3% of offenders convicted for a mandatory minimum penalty, while African Americans had 31.5%, Whites had 27.4%, and other races composed of 2.7%. When these men and women are sentenced to prison, they often leave behind jobs they had, spouses, and children. When things as such occur due to mandatory minimum sentence, their absence does not go unnoticed. The significant other is stuck raising a family struggling which is where social class comes into play. Anyone could be effected by mandatory minimum sentencing, it hit African Americans and other races much harder due to the circumstances. At the time the crack cocaine disparity was at 1-100 ratio. Meaning you could have this tiny amount of crack and get a high sentence when a person with cocaine could have a higher amount and get less or no charge. This applied to race in the sense that African Americans and people from the low class were purchasing crack because it was cheap and primarily white and upper class were purchasing cocaine which was the same thing but not condensed. This issue continued to spiral out of control and as times got harder and black unemployment rates increased, people looked for quick easy money which usually involved buying and selling drugs. Seeing how many individuals relied on selling drugs and ultimately ended up in the system, as mentioned earlier families truly suffered. Seeing how the head of household role was commonly empty because a mother or father could easily be imprisoned youth felt obligated to take on their role and would often do the same things their parents did for money.

Mandatory minimum sentencing is so strange to me. Like someone could commit all these off the wall crimes like kidnapping, assault, and everything else bad but their sentence could be less than an individual that had the smallest amount of drugs due to mandatory minimum sentencing. What’s really crazy is how marijuana is commonly recreational and legal and for countries and people are serving ridiculous sentences due to the mandatory minimum laws. It would be ideal for offenders to have the opportunity to plea their case to an organization or something and give them the chance to be released especially if it was their first offense. Mandatory minimum isn’t doing anything but over populating prisons honestly. The U.S. prison population has grown by almost 800% since the 1980’s. That being said, there’s no reason to not regulate use of drugs but perhaps give judges their discretion of reasonable sentences that are appropriate for their crime. picture

Picture Source1: “The Nation’s shame: The injustice of mandatory minimums” Source2: “Reducing racial disparities in drug sentencing: an analysis of the fair sentencing act, 2015”

How to make a post!


How to make a post!

(Source: Mountain Harvest Organics, 2012, "Danielle pickaxing the trenches for our french drainage system")
(Source: Mountain Harvest Organics, 2012, “Danielle pickaxing the trenches for our french drainage system”)


  1. Log in.
  2. On the left hand side, click “Posts.” (Not Pages!)
  3. Add new post.
  4. Your post must include your “cultural artifact,” usually by way of a link (but see below). It must also include your two questions for the class to consider. It MAY also include text by you explaining your perspective, etc.
  5. Rules for posting!
    • Categories. Always add at least one category from the Site Categories. If it fits under the umbrella categories, great. Often though, this will be insufficient to capture the essence of the post. This is where tags come in.
    • Tags. Each category (e.g., militarization) also functions as a tag. To make a new tag, look to the right hand side of the screen while making a new post. Click University Tags and add it! You can also search existing tags and use those.
    • NO hotlinking (i.e., just linking directly to a picture)! Other websites find this irritating and may refuse to host your picture. If you WANT to post a picture, download it first and upload it from your computer. Do this by using the “Add Media” icon in the upper left part of the New Post page.
    • When you DO post a picture, you still need to SOURCE it. (See above.) People like credit for their work. Even Mountain Harvest Organics.
    • Videos are okay as-is.
    • Posts can also include links to journal, newspaper articles, tweets, or other public social media postings. Your buddy’s dickish comment yesterday on the Perez Hilton article you posted doesn’t count.
  6. Once you’re finished posting, Preview the post. Makes sure it looks the way you want and PROOFREAD for stupid grammar mistakes.

    (Source: Buzzfeed, although they clearly don't own the content.)
    (Source: Buzzfeed, although they clearly don’t own the content.)
  7. In the “Publish” tab in the upper right hand corner, are useful options such as “Save Draft” that can make your life easier.
  8. After PROOFREADING your post THOROUGHLY, then you can hit Publish. Your page now exists on the interwebs!
  9. THE FINAL STEP is to post a link to your page on the Facebook page that we’ve started. This will enable other students to comment on your post!