“The Desperate and the Dead”

The Boston Globe takes on the issue of mental health courts and mental health services in a “Spotlight” story, “The Desperate and the Dead”, finding that:

“Court personnel are, in the main, poorly equipped to deal with those with mental illness. Judges, probation officers, and lawyers alike admit they often lack the expertise, the resources, or the time to help people whose conditions can be hard to diagnose and can complicate the assessment of their intent in alleged criminal acts.

The state has been slow to launch special courts designed to address these defendants’ circumstances and needs. That consigns many of those with mental illness to regular courts or sessions designed primarily to deal with defendants addicted to drugs.

“I don’t think we as a court have a sophisticated understanding or protocol when it comes to dealing with people with mental illness,” said Judge Mark Coven, the first justice of the Quincy District Court, one of the few in the state to hold sessions specifically for defendants with mental illness.”

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