There aren’t many community treatment options available when it comes to the relatively poor and mentally ill in Oregon. Often, they end up seeing prison as one of the few options available to them, prison or the state mental hospital where more than 65% of patients are there after being found guilty except for insanity, according to this Oregonian article.
When mental hospitals were abandoned several decades ago in favor of more humane treatment for the mentally ill, no one could have foreseen the problems it would cause today. That’s not to say the old approach should have stuck around, merely that locking them up in prison isn’t any better.
Mental illness spans from major depressive disorder and schizophrenia to bipolar disorder and anxiety. And while many of these issues are best treated with therapy and medication, many people can’t afford such options. For them, life is a daily battle with their mind.
Sometimes the mentally ill lack the self control that you and I have to keep them from committing crimes. Other times they may make a conscious decision to get help through the courts. Regardless of the motivation, it’s a shame when someone has to go to prison to receive assistance for illness they can’t get on the “outside”.
While mounting an insanity defense in criminal court can be an uphill battle, there are other options. For one man, pleading guilty except for insanity seemed the best route. Now, locked behind doors for the majority of his days he says “It’s not worth it; not worth it at all.”
When you are facing charges of a crime and you have mental health issues, it can be difficult to get sympathy from the courts. It often seems as if people are judging you, like you may be trying to “work the system” by claiming mental illness. The truth is that mental illness can play a role in the motivations behind criminal behavior and mental health treatment (or lack thereof) can have a major impact on your life in general.
Though hospitalization or mental health programming in prison might not be a first choice, there are mental health programs available to people who have been put on probation as well. If you are facing criminal charges and in need of help for your mental health problems, your defense attorney can help you weigh all of your options and discuss the possibility of getting you some treatment.
Whether you struggle with mild depression or severe schizophrenia, you need an advocate in court when you are up against criminal charges in Oregon. Contact our offices today for a consultation on your case.