According to some health experts, jails and prisons are the new psych wards – ones ill-prepared in handling mental illness. Enter the Criminal Mental Health Project – a Florida initiative intended to reduce the number of prisoners with mental health issues and getting them the help they need.
Our attorneys understand that mental illness may have been the underlying cause of the accused criminal activity. As your attorneys, we may use mental-related defense strategies to effectively argue for your placement in a mental health facility as opposed to a State or Federal jail.
The Criminal Justice System & Mental Illness
The statistics from the National Alliance of Mental Health are grim in terms of our criminal justice system and mental illness:
- Twenty-five percent of people who’ve been arrested have a serious mental illness.
- More than 2 million people with serious mental illness are arrested every year.
- In 2017, it cost the United States $48 billion to incarcerate people with serious mental illness.
- People with mental illness are nine times more likely to be arrested and incarcerated than hospitalized.
- Those who suffer from mental illness will stay four to eight times longer in prison than someone without a mental illness for the same charge.
If you or a loved one are suffering from mental illness, we can craft a defense with the goal to seek mental treatment-instead of jail time. Our attorney understands that their illness may have been the root cause of their arrest. We can help –call 24/7 to speak with a Florida board-certified attorney.
What’s Happing in Florida
The responsibility of those affected with mental illness has largely been transferred to our criminal justice system, where instead they should be deinstitutionalized in mental health facilities. This is a problem as most jails are not adequately prepared to treat serious mental illness.
A Florida university study, of primarily men diagnosed with schizophrenia and usually with a substance abuse disorder, was conducted over a five-year period. Over this time, the participants were arrested 2,200 times and spent 27,000 days in county jail. Compared to 13,000 days spent in a psychiatric facility or emergency room. This is an extremely small percentage of mentally ill people who have been arrested in this country.
If left unchecked, prison overcrowding could happen causing the need for more taxpayer-funded prisons to be needed to accommodate the growing population. Our defense attorney is committed to doing our part to help people suffering from potentially untreated illnesses in the criminal justice system. Call our top-rated South Tampa law firm to speak with a board-Certified attorney.
Criminal Defense Strategies
In some cases where the prosecutor’s evidence is strong, you may be able to enter an alcohol and/or drug programs such as the DACCO or Operation Par drug treatment programs as a substitute for any jail or prison time. For military members, we’ve successfully placed clients in the Substance Use Disorder (SUD) treatment at the VA. Attorney Ben Stechschulte has had several cases where our client was able to get the help they needed at a residential and/or outpatient alcohol/drug treatment facility.
In Our Experience…
We understand your legal issue didn’t just likely start with a lapse in judgment, it may be related to a co-dependent issue. In some cases, PTSD may cause you to use alcohol or drugs as coping mechanisms. Our Tampa defense attorneys have had success in getting clients into residential and/or outpatient alcohol/drug treatment programs. Our focus on mental treatment helps clients move in the right direction after an arrest.
At Stechschulte Nell, our Tampa lawyer has successfully argued this in many cases where the facts were against our clients. A top-rated criminal defense and DUI lawyer is available 24/7, contact Stechschulte Nell Law. Our veteran legal team can help achieve the most favorable outcome possible.
Florida’s Criminal Mental Health Project
It’s not just our defense attorneys who are trying to make a difference for those suffering from an array of mental health issues and illnesses. Others in Florida including judges, prosecutors, and other defense attorneys are committed to making an impact. One of the ways has been jail-diversion programs, like the Criminal Mental Health project started in Miami-Dade County; the success of the CMHP has expanded to other counties in Florida.
These alternative and community-based treatment and support services divert eligible, non-violent and low-level defendants away from the criminal justice system and into the treatment they need. Criminal mental health programs in Florida are generally comprised of three different components:
The Prearrest System:
Police are trained to identify people with mental illness, how to deescalate a situation, and what treatment can be used instead of arrest.
Post Arrest Diversion Program:
Those arrested on a misdemeanor charge are out in three days if they meet the criteria of a serious mental illness, specifically a schizo-affective disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, and PTSD. They are on “criminal hold” and transferred to a crisis stabilization unit where they will stay for up to two weeks to stabilize, reestablish relationships, and gain the will to accept treatment and take medication.
Competency Restoration Alternative Program:
In addition to mental illness, the program now includes nonviolent felonies such as burglary and drug possession. Once stabilized, the defendants stay at the crisis facility and undergo therapy until their court date. This is intended to restore competence to stand trial and integrate them back into the community.
Get the Help you Need
At Stechschulte Nell Attorneys at Law, we believe these programs help people get the rehabilitation they need. We fully support redirecting mentally ill, low-level offenders out of the criminal justice system. If you or a loved one are suffering from mental illness, we can craft a defense with the goal to seek mental treatment.
For information on our criminal defense law firm in Tampa, Florida, please contact us today at (813) 280-1244.