The divide between mental health treatment and criminal justice

The divide between mental health treatment and criminal justice
The divide between mental health treatment and criminal justice

The divide between mental health treatment and criminal justice

Phillip Coleman is the man in the latest Chicago police video made public, and the way he’s treated is hard to watch. The video shows Coleman being tased repeatedly in his jail cell by a group of officers and then dragged down a hallway while in handcuffs. He later died after an adverse reaction to an antipsychotic medication. Coleman’s parents say their son was suffering a mental breakdown, and when police arrived on the scene, they asked that he be taken to a hospital for evaluation and treatment. The response from police: “We don’t do hospitals, we do jails.” As the video shows, things deteriorated from there, and critics say the way police interact with the mentally ill needs to change starting with that initial encounter. John Snook, executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center, a nonprofit dedicated to the effective treatment of mental illness, sheds light on the issue. He’s co-author of the new study that examines the role of mental illness in fatal law enforcement encounters. And we also turn to Amy Watson, associate professor at the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois-Chicago, who’s working at the intersection of mental health care and the criminal justice system in Chicago. She’s studying how the Chicago Police Department responds to mental health calls.