Author Affiliation

Department of Social Work, Minnesota State University, Mankato

Document Type

Policy Advocacy Brief

Publication Date


Issue Statement/Executive Summary

Many of the people caught up in the criminal justice system are non-violent offenders struggling with mental illness, which cannot and should not be addressed through incarceration. Our jails and prisons are ill-equipped to provide effective mental health services. Incarceration compounds the problem by contributing to increased psychological distress. We are relying on the criminal justice system to respond to mental illness, rather than investing fully in the spectrum of mental health care from prevention to recovery. Minnesota must invest in diverting people affected by mental illness away from the criminal justice system and into community-based treatment, services, and supports that promote wellness, recovery, and stability.


Social Work



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