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Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science

Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science

Specialty

Psychiatry

Advisor

Dr. Stephanie English

Abstract

ABSTRACT

Any nation is obligated to keep its citizens safe and properties secured. Citizens must be held accountable when laws are violated. Accountability is crucial in delivering justice. Within the criminal justice system, and with due process, individuals are punished as deemed necessary and appropriate by the court of law. But should everybody be held with the same standard for accountability? The coexistence of drug addiction and mental illness increase the likelihood of committing crimes. A serious mental disorder (SMI) such as schizophrenia, known for delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized thought, is a marginal contributing factor to the increasing population of incarcerated inmates across the United States. Drug addiction is a chronic problem that encompasses three separate phases. Those phases are interwoven and have the capacity to trigger an inter-synergistic transient but explosive effect of euphoria and craving need for more. Our society has gradually over the years shifted from the conventional psychiatric hospitalization treatment approach to deinstitutionalization for drug addiction and mental disorder in the context of criminality. Individuals living with coexisting drug dependence and mental illness are now presently overrepresented in our prison and jail systems instead of being in mental institutions. Those affected individuals are perceived, not as being sick, but as morally weak with a high propensity for violence, and little hope for recovery. More focus on incarceration rather than treatment has led to significant recidivism among this group of offenders. Incarceration of such individuals, in many respects, has led to aggravation and escalation of their mental disability, and therefore, their recurrent involvement in criminal activities. Test running the idea of more treatment and less punishment, especially for minor felony crimes perpetrated by these drug-addicted mentally ill individuals, will do more good than harm in all ramifications.

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