Saturday, July 19, 2008

European states treat mental illness before it becomes prison problem


Tennessee Voices

If, upon arriving in Maastricht, Netherlands, on July 2 I had shut my eyes, I may have thought I had not left Nashville.

The temperature was in the high 80s with humidity to match, very "un-Holland"-like. But with my eyes open, I knew I was in an old European city.

I attended the 18th Conference of the European Association of Psychology and Law (EAPL), representing the Davidson County Mental Health Court over which I preside as a General Sessions judge. Also participating from Nashville were Dr. Roland Gray, representing the Davidson County Drug Court Residential Treatment Program, and Dr. David Patzer, a psychiatrist who works with both court programs.

At the invitation of EAPL, I presented a symposium with Gray and Patzer about the Mental Health Drug courts and a unique collaborative effort that will provide residential intensive drug therapy and mental health treatment for individuals in the criminal justice system who suffer from both serious mental illness and drug addiction. This program just received a federal grant for implementation. It appears to be the only type of program in the United States where separate courts are working together on these issues.

Seth Norman, judge of Davidson County Criminal Court Division IV, who founded and presides over the Drug Court Residential Treatment Program, was not able to attend the conference but provided a video presentation used at the symposium.

I am proud to report that the conference participants with whom I spoke, mostly European psychologists, university professors and students and some law enforcement personnel, were interested and impressed with the programs. However, a few people were curious as to why so many mentally ill people were in the U.S. criminal justice system.

It appears that a much higher percentage of people incarcerated in the United States suffer from serious mental illness than in some European countries. For example, I learned in one seminar that fewer than 5 percent of people arrested for crimes in The Netherlands suffered from schizophrenia. Yet, according to a 2006 U.S. Justice Department study, 24 percent of local jail inmates reported symptoms of a psychotic disorder.

Why this discrepancy? Certainly, there are many reasons. However, one reason may be access to health care. European countries have universal health-care plans; perhaps because of this access to treatment and medication, fewer people have mental health issues that deteriorate to a level where the police and courts have to become involved.

The Europeans may be attacking this issue on the front end, thus resulting in fewer people with mental illness winding up in jails. Just something to think about.


Irene said...

URGENT!!! My husband allegedly committed a simple battery in April. He's been to court 5-6 times since then (we we're in court on 9/2/08 to start a trial for a charge that,allegedly, happened 3 years ago. On 9/2 the judge revoked his bond for the case that we we're to pick jury for.
I blame the "SPECIAL PROSECUTOR" who is also acting as is paid attorney, hired by my husband (without the knowledge that the "SPECIAL PROCEUTOR" please Google the following line as is: "special prosecutor keith hammond pasco, fl" do not include quote marks. He is listed under criminal attorney in yellow pages but also works as a "SPECIAL PROCEUTOR" in a lot of murder cases (paid by the Counties of Pasco and Pinellas. As far as I'm concerned he does with those cases what ever the Judge wants to get the guilty verdict in approx 98 percent of those cases. How can he keep jumping the fence without getting snagged to the Judges side in his cases that clients don't know that he works for both sides. Call and ask him what a SPECIAL PROCEUTOR means, what he does for his client when he is a special prosecutor, and How does he switch from side to side. Does he defend the DEFENDANT or does he do what THE JUDGE WANTS IN FAVOR of the STATE of FLA. or the alleged or victim. How does he fight with all of his might to convict a murderer. Then get in his car and drive to my husbands court and again fight with all of his might, using all of his skills and knowledge and, yes, "favors for all those guys that went pro bono, and got sent to prison for long sentences or life" . Then he is able to defend an innocent, cash paying-up-the-wa-zu-fees. To keep reminding himself , that this is my paying not guilty guy and I want to win this case so I can sleep tonight. Also to use it as an example of similar cases where for no good reason someone accuses of a crime he would not, in his Christian heart, with the live of Jesus all over him, would ever commit. If he is found guilty it its because the "SPECIAL PROCEUTOR" spent my husbands time to fight the other cases for the JUDGE or the SPECIAL PROCEUTOR OFFICE. This is a crime that should be punishable with all the pain and grieving, that sent us financially to a point that we had to separate and my husband is now indigent and I live with my 80 year old mother.

Irene said...

The truely menaly ill, and they would have a past, showing that there is definent evidence to show that this person is and has been continulally treated for his illness. Sometimes it could take a lifetime to help this poor soul, that does not wanything but to live a simple life as a free man because his 12 years of prison only added to his illness.

His POA can have his medical records released to be suppenoed to prove that he is not a criminal that sometime flips out when all buttons are pushed and he may be off medication. Their are notes from his shrink that show the mental pain he is in. This effects his entire life, 2-3 friends, a swife that had to seperate from him for his own good, but is very much with him as a wife any time he needs her. A marriage that was starting to work again so that they could live together and that all they want. Not to be rich or lazy or unaccountable for their mistakes. But not to be wrongfully harmed by this trumped up charge, that someone has to pay for. Lessed they sue the county for wrong imprisonment. They don't want to sue anyone, just leave us alone.

REMEMBER THIS IS A CASE WHERE EVEIDENCE HAS SHOWN THAT THE ALLEGED VICTOM LIED DURRING DEPO'S, she has to blame him or her butt would be kicked first by her parents and now by the State for purgery.

rener said...

To Tennessee Person. I'm new to blogging but want to thank you for your coment. I want to know where in the us this is happening. my regular email is

So odd that my husban was born in Tennessee and his mom sent him to fl with his dad. He was 7. She kept his brother and 2 sisters.
but threw Donnie away. His dad was just a bitter person and made him work all his acreage in FL and he had plenty.He told Donnie if he would leave me he would leave him some land. Well we dont have any land. He died about 3 months ago and must have thought that by not leaving anything to his son, it would teach him. Well it taught him to be bitter and to hate the old man. I sold everything I had of value. If my mother knew that I sold all the Itailian gold jewelry that my grandmother gave me she will kill me. I was under complete stress. I paid so much for a lot of it retail. Very pretty and unique items. The gold buyers knew that I was desparate for money and gave me very little and gold is up in the markets right now. They may have well have just hit me over the head and stole it from me. I want to see if my Shrink can help me get it back. It was sooo much stuff and I only got $1,600. The day before I gave my husband all my junk gold and silver and he got $1,000 from the same dealer. I have some money now and want to see if the law can help me get it back. My mom gave $2,000 to help cover the bils that I sold the gold for in the first place.

They knew we we're two sad sacks and baited us but my gold was 10's of thousands retail. and they liked the peices they were going to sell them in their shop. You know it had to be good if they don't intend to melt it down. With him in jail I don't know how to find these people. My mom would rather help me now with a loan knowing I've always paid her back. I must seem so materialistic but my point was, I would have done better by shopping around for the highest buyer. And triple that money. I still have to clean up his financial mess, bad ckecks because he was locked up and can't work to fund the account. so even if he gets out they'll put him back for non-payment. You can't pay off your debt when you're locked up.

I feel like this hellish nightmare is never going to end. He was due to see his doctor on 9/16. They don't give the meds out that he was taking. I wish he would have ran I would understand. Prior to this he had 2 bond reductions, that means that they see he's been no flight risk. Then boom! they yanked him that day and I spoke out I addressed the Judge respectfully but the guards took me away and thretend me with jail for my "out burst". They are all so cold blooded. If you have a website or a phone number or anything reguarding the things in your blog, it would be so helpful. that has the info you wrote about please email me at Thank you for any info you can offer.