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US: Criminal justice system missing opportunity to address mental health needs

31st July 2012

A report by The Vera Institute (USA), Closing the Gap: Using Criminal Justice and Public Health Data to Improve the Identification of Mental Illnessinvestigated the prevalence of mental illness in almost 3,000 people who were arrested by the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia during June 2008. The Vera Institute research found that one third of those arrested had some form of mental health need, but a gap existed between government agencies' knowledge of the cohort's needs . While the criminal justice agency was aware of 83% of this group's mental health needs, the Department of Health only knew of such needs in 59% of that group. The report recommended using the early identification of mental health needs as an opportunity to initiate strategies of support and continuity of treatment for those who need them. 

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