A major Commission forum on how people with mental health issues and cognitive impairment fare in the justice system attracted leading academics, public servants, legal practitioners, mental health advocates and current and former NSW Ministers to Parliament House on 27 July 2017.
The core of the event was the launch of a key report by the Commission, Toward a just system: Mental illness and cognitive impairment in the criminal justice system.
The report argues that failure to provide appropriate services for people with mental illness and cognitive impairment who commit crimes is taking a huge social and financial toll on the State. At least half of adult prisoners and 87 per cent of young people in custody have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder and between 8 and 20 per cent with an intellectual disability (with some overlap between the two). Without proper support the majority will reoffend.
However, research shows that improvements to health and disability services could interrupt the cycle of reoffending and improve public health and safety as well as reduce the prison population and the burden on taxpayers.
The report was tabled in the Parliament of NSW on Wednesday 26 July.
Also presenting at the forum were:
- Associate Professor Kimberlie Dean of UNSW, who, with Commission assistance is compiling a highly detailed database of forensic patients: those individuals who are found not guilty of a crime by reason of mental illness. When fully analysed, the data will provide in-depth insights into the background, treatment patterns and prospects of this group. View summary:
- Dr Leanne Craze, who has been funded by the Commission to investigate how forensic patients and staff at their facilities view the adoption of a trauma-informed approach to treatment. View summary:
- Professor Tony Butler of the Kirby Institute who with funding from the Commission is developing a major psychosis and crime research data set, which combines data from NSW Health, the Bureau of Statistics and NSW Corrective Services to investigate the impact of psychosis on offending behavior.