On The Nation, following on from last week: Perpetrators or patients?
More than 90 percent of prison inmates have a diagnosis of mental health or substance abuse disorder – so is New Zealand doing enough to divert these people away from jail?
Mike Wesley-Smith investigates, in association with the Mental Health Foundation.
In part 2 of
@MikeWesleySmith‘s investigation into mental health in the criminal justice system, he’ll look at the courts.
How experimental new courts could lead to lower re-offending rates for those suffering from mental illness.
Michelle Kidd gets up early every day to bring food to homeless people, she says some beg to go to prison for a good night’s sleep.
2700 people last year ended up getting a health appointment in a place of detention.
Sir Ron Young says sentencing people with mental health issues to prison is pointless.
The New Beginnings court has reduced reoffending rates by 66%, number of homeless reduced from 16 to 3 in 6 months.
That sounds impressive. It’s worth expanding.
There are 3 therapeutic courts in New Zealand: 2 in Auckland and 1 in Wellington within the criminal District Court system.
Therapeutic courts aim to reduce reoffending, alcohol, drug use, and addiction. They try to help a person’s health and well-being so they can move on with their lives. If someone appears before a therapeutic court, they’re sentenced in the same way and the same laws apply as in other New Zealand courts.
You can’t choose to appear before a therapeutic court. You or your lawyer can ask a judge to go through the court but a judge may say you can’t. Therapeutic courts are for people who have committed less serious offending and who have admitted their guilt. This court does not hear serious offences like sexual offences.
Alcohol & drug courts
The Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Courts are at Waitakere District Court and Auckland District Court. They’re designed to supervise offenders whose offending is driven by their alcohol and other drug dependency.
New Beginnings & Special Circumstances court
The New Beginnings Court Te Kooti o Timatanga Hou is aimed at homeless people in Auckland. The Special Circumstances Court is aimed at homeless people in Wellington.
If you get accepted into one of these courts, you can get help to address issues in your life that contribute to your offending.
This is a voluntary court. People going through it can choose to withdraw and be returned to the normal court system at any time.
Part 3 of
@MikeWesleySmith‘s series will look at people with mental health issues in prison… tune in next week