Towards a just system
Mental illness and cognitive impairment in the criminal justice system
27 July 2017

Under the Mental Health Commission Act 2012, the Commission is charged with considering the interaction of people with a mental illness with the criminal justice system. This is a Report on that issue under Section 14 (1) (c) of the Act.

When examining this issue it is equally important for the Commission to consider the needs of individuals with a cognitive impairment, due both to the legislative structure and the overlapping needs of these groups.

We know that people with a mental illness or cognitive impairment are much more likely to come into contact with the criminal justice system, and are overrepresented within the prison population. There have been many previous research studies and government reports looking at the reasons why this occurs and recommending pathways forward.

Building on the Commission’s work in Living Well: A Strategic Plan for Mental Health in NSW 2014-2024, this report provides a high-level synthesis of this evidence with the aim of providing a useful framework for ongoing discussion and planning across government about how to alter the trajectory of individuals with a mental illness or cognitive impairment away from the criminal justice system.

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Last updated: 1 November 2017