Capacity to Attend to the Needs of Persons with Dual Diagnoses in the Criminal Justice System: Views of Mental Health and Criminal Justice Professionals
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Currently, individuals with intellectual disabilities are overrepresented within the Criminal Justice System (Griffiths, Taillon-Wasmond & Smith, 2002). A primary problem within the Criminal Justice System is the lack of distinction between mental illness and intellectual disabilities within the Criminal Code. Due to this lack of distinction and the overall lack of identification procedures in the Criminal Justice System, individuals with disabilities will often not receive proper accommodations to enable them to play an equitable role in the justice system. There is increasing evidence that persons with intellectual disabilities are more likely than others to have their rights violated, not use court supports and accommodations as much as they should, and be subject to miscarriages of justice (Marinos, 2010). In this study, interviews were conducted with mental health (n=8) and criminal justice professionals (n=8) about how individuals with dual diagnosis are received in the Criminal Justice System. It was found that criminal justice professionals lack significant knowledge about dual diagnosis, including effective identification and therefore appropriate supports and accommodations. Justice professionals in particular were relatively ill-prepared in dealing effectively with this population. One finding to highlight is that there is misunderstanding between mental health professionals and justice professionals about who ought to take responsibility and accountability for this population.