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?




Final Blog: Race and Social class in the Criminal Justice System


The debate of whether or not race and class plays a significant role in the criminal justice system still remains a big question. You will get different answers from different people.  For example, if you talk to people who have been to prison or has been  part of the criminal justice system you will get a different answer than someone who just relies on the media and what they see. I am one of those who has experience in the criminal justice system. Not only because I am majoring in it, but because I have actually worked at a prosecutor’s office.  I would say yes. This is simply based on the patterns that I saw with in my time with the prosecutor’s office and some research. As for the question of whether or not class place a role in criminal justice system, I think the answer to that is it depends. I don’t think that the social class matters too much, but I think if you are a celebrity or a famous person you will get out of anything. . This question  is harder to answer, but at the end of the day, I think that it does not matter at all.

It is kind of unfortunate that this is even a subject that we have to study. It really kills me to say this, but the answer to this question is yes. Yes, race does play a huge role in the criminal justice system. The first time that the question arose for me was when I found out about few of my colleagues. Long story short, my white American colleagues got less time in prison for the same crime that was committed by my African-American colleagues. After doing some research, I found out that This occurs outside of the courtroom too. According to statistics. “Once convicted, black offenders receive longer sentences compared to white offenders. The U.S. Sentencing Commission stated that in the federal system black offenders receive sentences that are 10 percent longer than white offenders for the same crimes. To be more specific, 1 in every 12 African Americans in their 20’s are in the criminal justice system as prisoners (Morris, 1). The Sentencing Project reports that African Americans are 21 percent more likely to get arrested than their white counterparts. Students of color face harsher punishments in school than their white peers, leading to a higher number of youth of color incarcerated. Black and Hispanic students represent more than 70 percent of those involved in school-related arrests or referrals to law enforcement. Currently, African Americans make up two-fifths and Hispanics one-fifth of confined youth today. to be sentenced to prison.” the main argument here is that people of color get longer sentences than their white counterparts.


Social class plays a role in the criminal justice system. A  key reason why whether or not the social class in the criminal justice system is so hard is because it seems like the only rich people that get away crimes are the celebrities. This includes Wall street CEOs, Professional athletes, politicians and even Actors/Actresses. There are a lot of celebrities that get away with crimes. One example is the Donte Stallworth incident. Donte Stallworth was an ex-nfl player who played for Cleveland Browns. On March 14, 2009 Donte Stallworth got in a car accident which ended up killing a pedestrian. Mr. Stallworth did admit that he was drinking the night before. Three weeks later, Mr. Stallworth was charged with DUI manslaughter.His sentence was that he got 30 days in jail and 2 years of probation. This basically means that he cannot leave his residence without permission. That is a really short sentence as is, but what was even stranger was that Mr. Stallworth was supposed to pay the Reyes’ (Mario Reyes’ family) $2,500. The Reyes’ did not want the money. Instead, they wanted him to donated the $2,500 to the charity group Mother Against Drunk Driving (Philips,  A lot of people argue that on the other we have Aaron Hernandez’s case which is literally resulted in the exact opposite of how Donte Stallworth’s did. Mr. Hernandez got life in prison.

One issue that is probably not that important, but still kind of important enough is the body structure. Study shows that wealthier people tend to be slimmer because they tend to like running more than lifting weights and playing sports.  According to Lisa McIntyre’s book The Practical Skeptic: Core Concepts in Sociology, she describes 3 different body types. the first one is ectomorphs which is basically when someone is thin and fragile. The second body type is endomorphs which is when someone is short and fat. The final type of body type is mesomorphs which is muscular and athletic (McIntyre, 172). Normally people of higher social classes are ectomorphs and look pretty innocent while people who are poorer are either endomorphs or mesomorphs and look like they committed a crime.


Donte Stallworth at his trial

The question about whether or not the race plays a key role in the criminal justice system is still a debatable topic. This will always be one of the most debatable topics ever. There is really no one answer to this question. You can ask anyone you want, but you will get different answers from people. I maybe a little biased because as a  colored individual has who had their fair share of run ins with the criminal justice system. Not only that, but I have had experience in observing the criminal justice system. After doing a little research, I found that it is very common for race to play a key role in the criminal justice system. This also includes in the “criminal justice system” for schools. Meaning that colored students tend to get suspended or even expelled more than their white counterparts, leading to a higher number of youth of color incarcerated. Black and Hispanic students represent more than 70 percent of those involved in school-related arrests or referrals to law enforcement. It is obvious these numbers differ by state, county and even cities, but even working within the criminal justice system I saw similar numbers. I did notice the pattern at my place of work.

Another issue that should be addressed is whether or not social class plays a key role in the criminal justice system. After doing some research, I found a common theme. That theme was that the only time social class plays a role in the criminal justice system is if they are a celebrity/ famous person. Other than that. people who are wealthier do have a slight advantage because they can pay themselves out, but other than that, it does not play a big  role in the criminal justice system. Even on occasions, their celebrity status does not matter. An example of this is the Aaron Hernandez case. He was a former NFL receiver who got life in prison. Although, like i said earlier, most celebrities get off pretty easy.



  • Cole, D. (1999). No Equal Justice. New York, New York: W.W. Norton and Company.
  • Mauer, M. (2007). Uneven justice:states rates by incarceration by race and ethnicity. The Sentencing Project.
  • Stallworth Charged in man’s Death. (2009, April 1). Retrieved December 14, 2015, from
  • McIntyre, L. (2006). The practical skeptic: Core concepts in sociology (3rd ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

Beyond the Bad Hair: Similarities in Trump & Hitler?



Deportation: Just the Beginning?

Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler shouldn’t be sharing political rhetoric. I mean, honestly, no one wants a modern Presidential Candidate sharing a similar line of thought with one of the world’s most hated dictators. But, the line Donald Trump is walking on is thin. Donald Trump wants to purge America of illegal Mexican immigrants and their children, most of whom would be considered American Citizens by birth. Donald Trump has a plan of massive deportation, clearing out all illegal immigrants in the short time span of 18 months to 2 years. Realistic logistics aside, this would create a nation wide man hunt, turning people on each other in order to essentially keep America clean.  Even Trump’s own website, describing his deportation plan, paints Mexican immigrants as criminals/rapist/thieves/. The plan even details how cities who do not cooperate in returning their Mexican immigrants will be cut off from Federal Funding.Trump will be initiating an “us against them” policy for all Americans, and it’s already working. With this political platform, Donald Trump is rallying those who are prejudice against Mexican people, people who fear that Mexican immigrants are stealing their jobs and those who simply don’t like people of a different color.

Widespread racism is also what guided Adolf Hitler’s rise to power. It’s hard to not draw a connection between Trump’s view of Mexican’s to Hitler’s view of the Jews. While being antisemitic was not new in Germany, ( or Austria, where Hitler was raised), and they provided an easy scapegoat for Germany’s problems. Most of the blame was placed on the Jews for the economic state of Germany, while there was no factual base behind this. Hitler rallied the nation’s racism of the Jewish people and catered to this ideology, gaining him popularity.  In June, 1940 the German Government created the Madagascar Plan, which detailed how Germany would deport all of it’s Jewish citizens to the island of Madagascar. It eventually become clear to the German Government how this plan wouldn’t be as simple as previously hoped, and was tabled. The plan was replaced by the Final Solution, which was the extermination of the Jewish population by mass genocide.

While I’m aware that Donald Trump is not proposing the mass extinction of illegal Mexican immigrants, neither was Adolf Hitler at first for the Jews. Perhaps the fact that Donald Trump is proposing an action that is frighteningly close to Hitler’s initial deportation of the Jews should scare us as is. Both Trump and Hitler proposed these plans in order to make their countries “great again”, believing this extermination would resolve their countries issues. Too close for comfort yet? What is further disturbing is that Donald Trump didn’t stop his race war with Mexican immigrants, he continued on to attack Muslim Americans, in a similar Nazi fashion.

First and for most, Donald Trump is rather bad at giving direction answers (Hitler had him beat there, the man was direct). Trump has a habit of mentioning ideas, and then dancing around questions that are posed later about that idea. He was done this sort of behavior with the idea of keeping track of Muslim Americans and Syrian Refugees (who are mostly Muslim). Donald Trump mentioned the idea of having a data base, to keep track of refugees and Muslims. Since saying that, Trump has been questioned by numerous reporters, asking for clarification. Trump dances around the answers, but addresses it in his rally in Birmingham, Ala (if you watch the rally, you’ll see that on this topic he largely makes no sense, continuing the dance around any certainties, but the crowd digs it), he says that he does want a database of Muslims/Refugees coming in, and surveillance on some American mosques. He concludes this statement with saying that “database is okay”, so in a grand fumble of words, he did side with a database on Muslim Americans. Keeping track of certain races does fall into line with Hitler’s ideology, considering he registered Jews and made them wear self identifiers.

Donald Trump would still have a ways to go to completely emulate Hitler’s political ideology. Although, the extremist behavior in Donald Trump’s campaign cannot be ignored. Even though the likelihood of Donald Trump being the next American President is slim to none (We can only hope), the fact that his racist and extremist ideology has following is disturbing. What does this say about a chunk of the American population? Would we be swayed into cruel politics against our fellow man as the German citizens once were, in the name of “Making America Great Again”? Could we start to scapegoat Mexicans/Muslims for all of America’s problems, as the Jewish people were to Germany? Perhaps in the 2016 election, our biggest fear in our candidates shouldn’t be if they share rhetoric with Adolf Hitler.