A new report by the John Howard Society of Ontario (JHSO) calls for increased funding in provincial support systems to decrease the percentage of people with mental health issues in correctional facilities. The report, “Unlocking Change: Decriminalizing Mental Health Issues in Ontario,” states the provincial government needs to discontinue relying on the justice system and provide more resources to those with lived experiences of mental health issues. It found that the correctional facility population of those with mental health issues is two to three times higher than in the community. Jails are often a vulnerable atmosphere for people with lived experience of mental health because of the isolation incurred.
“Common practices in our courts and jails often inadvertently further criminalize those with mental health issues,” said Jacqueline Tasca, Policy Analyst at the Centre of Research, Policy & Program Development at JHSO. “Our legal and correctional systems are designed for punishment and accountability, not therapeutic intervention.”
“Unlocking Change” lays out a number of recommendations which emphasize prevention and early intervention through the provision of meaningful mental health care and social services, as well as calling for changes to current police, court and correctional practices, and the importance of de-stigmatization and public education.
For more information about the report, visit John Howard’s website.