In an announcement of a conference on the criminalization of mental illness at U-MI on Nov. 5 (post links to details), Corpus Callosum makes this essential point about why it’s not just the costs of putting mentally ill people behind bars that should concern us:
Furthermore, the problem is so complex that it is difficult to conceptualize. Consider the three main issues: homelessness, mental illness, and substance abuse. There is considerable overlap, but they are not synonymous. Then consider the many other factors that impinge: developmental disability, poverty, domestic violence, head trauma, compassionate conservatism, malnutrition, employment insecurity, dementia, the war on drugs, and more.
So when we talk about the criminalization of mental illness, we are not talking about a unified or homogeneous problem. We are talking about a complex network of overlapping problems.
I won't be able to attend the conference, but I do know one thing about the subject: we will not make progress on this until everyone accepts the simply fact that these problems could happen to anyone. That means you. Homelessness. Mental Illness. Substance abuse. Anyone.