The Criminalization of Mental Illness

Crisis and Opportunity for the Justice System

Third Edition

by Risdon N. Slate, Kelly Frailing, W. Wesley Johnson, Jacqueline K. Buffington

Tags: Corrections, Law Enforcement, Policy, Psychology

Table of Contents (PDF)

Teacher's Manual available

560 pp  $75.00

ISBN 978-1-5310-0442-2
eISBN 978-1-5310-0443-9

10% discount and free ground shipping within the United States for all orders over $50

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For a myriad of reasons the criminal justice system has become the de facto mental health system in the United States. The third edition of The Criminalization of Mental Illness thoroughly explains these reasons, and describes in detail specialized law enforcement responses to people with mental illness (PWMI), mental health courts, jails and prison conditions, and discharge planning for this group. The third edition also includes examples of crises involving PWMI that end up driving policy, examines how therapeutic jurisprudence can be utilized to improve responses to PWMI and to ameliorate the inhumane and costly recycling of PWMI through the criminal justice system, and provides insight from criminal justice practitioners, in their own words, about the challenges both PWMI and practitioners face in the system and efforts to overcome them.

This edition also examines the tension throughout the system when attempting to balance public safety and civil liberties. The concept of defunding the police and the impact of the Affordable Care Act on PWMI are considered as well. Compared to the second edition, the third edition is streamlined, with 11 total chapters (down from 13). It includes updated data on PWMI involved in the criminal justice system, a discussion of important events that have taken place since the publication of the second edition, as well as descriptions and analyses of key policies and practices enacted since that time. In short, it is the most comprehensive and up-to-date volume for students, academics, and practitioners interested in these crucial issues.

The following Teaching Materials are available (Please contact Beth Hall at to request a copy, and specify what format is needed):
  • Teacher's Manual with notes and extensive test bank in Word/pdf formats
  • Test bank is available in separate files by chapter in Word and Blackboard formats. Other LMS formats may be available; let me know what you need.
  • Other LMS formats may be available through Respondus.

Upon adoption only, the following are also available:
  • 3 Videos. Upon adoption only. One video illustrates Crisis Intervention Team scenarios, another explores PTSD and the third video is of a lecture author Risdon Slate gave to law enforcement in training that describes his own personal story.
  • A set of 401 PowerPoint slides will be available upon adoption. Email for more information.

I am so grateful that I have decided on this book and the resources are amazing."

— Joseph C. Marinello, lecturer in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, UNC Charlotte (on classroom adoption of second edition)
Notorious criminal cases tend to drive public opinion and policy when it comes to how our criminal justice system deals with persons with mental illnesses. Drs. Slate and Johnson's book is a far brighter star to steer by. By most accounts, including the US Department of Justice, our criminal justice system is in crisis. In The Criminalization of Mental Illness the authors explain how our justice system has failed persons with mental illnesses, the public and its own self-interests. But rather than place blame, the authors focus on illuminating the history and anatomy of the problem and offering real solutions. Because they are based on careful scholarship, their proposals are authoritative and make sense. But it is their informed empathy for all the players involved in the tragedy—not just persons with mental illnesses—that makes this book a must read for anyone involved in the criminal justice system or simply interested in knowing the truth of how it is broken and can be fixed."

— Xavier F. Amador, Ph.D., Adjunct Professor, Columbia University, Author of the National Best Seller I am Not Sick, I Don't Need Help! and I'm Right, You're Wrong, Now What?
The book confronts myths and social/political policy failures directly; and with great honor recognizes those advocates whose work has moved social justice and mental health policy forward. [Their] dedication and passion to the subject of promoting human rights and recovery is evident in every word. It is a masterful, relevant and inspiring work."

— Ginger Lerner-Wren, the nation's first mental health court judge and member of the President's Commission on Mental Health
[This book] provides extraordinary insights into the manner by which people with mental illness are processed through the criminal justice system…. I thoroughly enjoyed this work and would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in issues involving mental illness and the criminal justice system. I have seen a few books in this area, but have never found one quite as comprehensive and well-researched. It is, without exception, one of the best academic books that I have read in many years."

— Penn State, Altoona, Professor Robert M. Worley in his book review for The Southwest Journal of Criminal Justice, Fall 2008

"This is a highly insightful and important book which corrections staff, academics, students, and the general public should know about."

— Ken Kerle, Ph.D, American Jail Association
Overall this very readable book provides a good survey of the various sectors of thecriminal justice system and their response to the substantive changes that have affected persons with mental illness during the recent past. These authors provide a valuable guide for mental health professionals interested in appropriate treatment and placement of persons with mental illness."
— Frederick J. Frese, Ph.D., Psychiatric Services: A Journal of the American Psychiatric Association
Without a doubt, it is the most comprehensive explanation of what has happened between the two systems during the past 40 or so years. It explains not only the crisis that exists and how we got here, but some interesting and innovative ways that local governments are providing solutions… [M]ore important than the chronicling of the impact of this social crisis, it demonstrates with pointed examples how the two systems intertwine with well-intentioned judicial and treatment policies. No matter how you view the issue of the mentally ill in prison, the book demonstrates that the person left out of the discussion is the defendant/offender/patient."

— Corrections Today

Comp Copy If you are a professor teaching in this field you may request a complimentary copy.