Mental illness and gun violence

October 01, 2013

During the past two years our nation has witnessed horrible gun violence by people with mental illnesses. These shootings have forever linked mental illness and violence in the minds of many Americans.

Yet most mentally ill people who are arrested are arrested for misdemeanors, and many police officers will take a mentally ill misdemeanant to a diversion program if one is available.

Thus, when you focus on the few cases where mentally ill people have been violent, you should also examine the tens of thousands of arrests each year that occur because there is not adequate psychiatric treatment for large numbers of mentally ill people, many of whom want to access the system.

It is not right to talk about ways of forcing someone who is mentally ill into treatment while not providing treatment for those who want it.

Daniel W. Phillips III, Columbia, Ky.

The writer edited the volume "Mental Health Issues in the Criminal Justice System."

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