Recommendations for improved care for mentally ill offenders

There are options other than incarceration for mentally ill persons who come into conflict with the law, such as police diversion to hospital before they are charged, court support workers, mental health courts. These options draw on the principle of “therapeutic jurisprudence”, namely that the law should be used whenever possible to promote the mental and physical well-being of the people it affects (Chaimowitz, Canadian Psychiatric Association, 2011). Other approaches include

  • a “Housing First” approach to homelessness;
  • collaboration between government levels and departments for the treatment of those in prison, and their reintegration support;
  • urgent revitilization of Canada’s mental health sector, for the sake of everyone in the community: one economic analysis has shown that for every dollar spent establishing a secure treatment unit for some prisoners, three dollars could be saved in hospital, court, jail and social service costs.

See also the Report of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, 2012, and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario’s Select Committe on Mental Health and Addictions, Final Report, 2010.