Mental Health, Addiction and Incarceration
The is growing awareness and concern at the high rates (50 to 60 percent) of mentally ill people inside our jails and prisons. What is the appropriate response to an individual with mental health challenges who commits a crime? Does it depend on the crime? What is the role of addiction and mental illness? To what degree are mental health problems emerging because of the atmosphere in our criminal justice system?
Let's Get Started!
Why We're Here (~10 min)
Share your name, where you live, what drew you here, and if this is your first conversation.
How We'll Engage (~5 min)
These will set the tone of our conversation; participants may volunteer to take turns reading them aloud. (Click here for the full conversation agreements.)
- Be curious and listen to understand.
- Show respect and suspend judgment.
- Note any common ground as well as any differences.
- Be authentic and welcome that from others.
- Be purposeful and to the point.
- Own and guide the conversation.
What We’ll Talk About
Optional: a participant can keep track of time and gently let people know when their time has elapsed.
Getting to Know Each Other (~10 min)
Each participant can take 1-2 minutes to answer one of these questions:
- What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?
- What would your best friend say about who you are and what inspires you?
- What are your hopes and concerns for your community and/or the country?
What are your thoughts on Mental Health, Addiction and Incarceration? (~40 min)
One participant can volunteer to read the paragraph at the top of the web page.
Take ~2 minutes each to answer a question below without interruption or crosstalk. The group may choose to have everyone answer: A) whichever question speaks to them individually or B) the same question with an option to pass. Once everyone has answered, the group may take a few minutes for any clarifying or follow up questions/responses. Continue exploring with other topic or related questions as time allows.
- How should we balance the needs of community safety with the needs of the mentally ill and/or indigent who are arrested, their family and others?
- What is an appropriate level of community-provided support for mentally ill, addicted and indigent individuals?
- How do we provide, when appropriate, alternatives to jail for mentally ill, addicted and indigent individuals?
- Where is mental illness and community safety on your top-10 community focus list? Why?
Reflecting on the Conversation (~15 min)
Take 2 minutes to answer one of the following questions:
- In one sentence, share what was most meaningful or valuable to you in the experience of this Living Room Conversation?
- What new understanding or common ground did you find within this topic?
- Has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?
- Name one important thing that was accomplished here.
- Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?