December 10, 2015
Mental health courts could relieve prison pressure
Prison reform advocate Kim Workman says far too many people with mental health problems are filling up the prisons, and a specialist mental health court is called for.
The former Rethinking Crime and Justice director says the prison muster now stands at over 9000, well ahead of forecasts.
Much of this is low level repeat offenders whose problem is not their criminality but their mental health.
He says existing courts can’t deal with the problem, and what’s needed is a court where mental health professionals can assist in finding community-based alternatives to prison.
"One of the solutions is instead of treating people in the community which is a fraction of the cost of sending them to prison, is they tend to send people to prison because it's an easy out," he says.
Kim Workman says prison reform is an area iwi could get more involved in as they start looking at tackling social issues, but they would need to demand proper funding for alternatives.
TO LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW CLICK HERE: KIM WORKMAN
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