Relationship Between Mental Health, Crime and Justice

Relationship Between Mental Health, Crime and Justice


This paper seeks to determine the relationship of terms mental health, crime, and justice by using plausible examples. Notwithstanding, mental illness or disorders have been associated with people doing things that someone ordinary mind would consider absurd. Some of the action that mentally ill people undertake or the behavior they exhibit may violate the laws and leads them to their arrests and prosecution.  For example, is a mentally ill person kills a person; this act may be regarded as a crime. Nevertheless, the criminal justice system has established laws to decide on such cases as some of the individuals have no idea of what they are doing and this means their actions cannot be entirely blamed on them but rather their condition. Information hereby is obtained from researches and case study of mentally ill individuals. The paper consists of various examples that show the relationship between the three mental health, crime, and justice.

Relationship Between Mental Health, Crime and Justice


Mental health refers to our behavioral, cognitive and emotional wellbeing and is about the way we think, feel and behave. Crime is an action or not doing something deliberately which is deemed as an offense and is usually punishable by law. Justice is a concept on laws and ethics that ensure people live a certain way which is by following laws. Mental, health, crime and justice are three different phenomena that are conjoined in one way or another. For example, a person suffering from depression may relapse while driving and kill an innocent person. As required by the justice system this person must be arrested for the crime committed. If he pleads that he experienced temporary insanity, he will have to go through a series of psychiatric tests to prove his condition. After this, the court will look for an appropriate solution such as recommending the person to a psychiatric ward. The objective of this paper is to determine whether there is an established relationship among the three terminologies.

Schizophrenia is a non-common chronic and severe mental disorder which affects the thinking, feeling, and behavior of an individual. In research conducted to determine crime and violence associated with schizophrenia, it was noted that most of the participants were not implicated in violent or criminal behavior. However, it was pointed out that one in four individuals who have schizophrenia had been involved in a criminal offense (Short et al., 2013). It was also recorded that one in ten of the charged patients were found guilty of a violent crime. This number was higher compared to that of normal people since 10% were charged and only 2.4% found guilty of criminal violence. Individuals with schizophrenia were found to be more than as twice likely as normal people in the community to be charged guilty of a crime even after control for substance-use and gender disorders was done.

With the differences being huge for both violent and nonviolent crimes, schizophrenia patients had a notably higher tendency of committing offenses compared to the general community and were also more likely to commit violent crimes. The information is supported by other birth cohort studies and robust case linkages which state that schizophrenia patients are approximately two to five times prone to engage in criminal violence than other community members. The research indicates that it supports the view that individuals suffering from severe mental illness are faced with plenty of problems in relationships with their close ones and that family is most of the times victims of violent crimes (Short et al.,2013). To top it up, schizophrenia was found to have a relatively higher impact on violence in women than in men.

Witt & Fazel, (2013) conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to bring clarity to the association of risk for violence in people with psychosis. They had a sample of 110 eligible findings on 45,533 people. Notably, 8, 439(18.5%) showed violent behavior, 39, 995 (87.8) were found to be with schizophrenia, 209 (0.4%) tested positive for bipolar disorder and the rest 5,329, (11.8%) were diagnosed with other psychoses. Certain characteristics were recorded from the individuals which included hostile behavior, non-adherence with psychological therapies, recent drug abuse and poor impulse control whose scores were high (I (Witt & Fazel, 2013). It was also discovered that the individuals in the sample had a previous criminal history. The researchers concluded by associating increased risk in violence in individuals with psychosis.

In a case study by Prins, (2005), a car salesman aged twenty initially did a good job, and his employer saw him as energetic, bright and one who showed enthusiasm. It was not before long that the salesman’s behavior started to seem queer. He would send exaggerated and very dramatic letters to car manufacturers, and his behavior changed rapidly with him hardly sleeping (Prins, 2005). One night the salesman gets angry with his employer whom he seems as unsympathetic, returns to the car showrooms and smashes the windows doing devastating damage to the expensive cars. After appearing in court, he is remanded for psychiatric reports and eventually ends up being sent to a mental hospital (Prins, 2005).

It is clear that the salesman had a mental illness. Such people consider themselves capable and that their odd and wild ideas can be put in to practice. Such patients refuse to take medication which obliges the nurses to use extra force. The fact that they can appear lucid and rational makes their behavior very perilous to those around them (Prins, 2005). They can be hostile and physically angry to those who want to restrain them. Individuals affected by hypomanic states are often dangerous people as there the degree of impairment prevents them from realizing they are on the wrong side of the law. Notwithstanding, other sane criminals use it a scapegoat to proof whether they committed the crime knowingly or unknowingly.

When it comes to prosecution of cases involving the charged being mentally ill, there is a difference as compared to normal cases. A crucial area in health and criminal justice policy comes in better handling of individuals with mental disorders charged by the criminal justice system. Mentally ill people are likely to be arrested by police rather than get help from healthcare. Due to this reason, 64 percent of people serving sentences have a mental disorder. Officials and concerned parties find it difficult in responding to such cases. However, legislatures are keen to know how specific policies can bring about a better result for both the individuals and the justice system. Police officers have been trained to deal with individuals with mental disorders caught in a crime. In some instances, the justice department has allowed the mentally ill criminal to receive, and this has helped in dispensing justice accordingly.


From the various researches and case study, it is evident that there is a strong relationship between individuals with certain mental disorders and crimes most of which have been said to be violent. As in almost all of the mental disorder cases, patients tend to depict a certain behavior of violence, and it can be concluded that they are indeed very able to commit crimes. For example, in the case where a mental illness like schizophrenia affects one gender more than the other. Women are more affected by the disease than men meaning the number of crime cases out there involve more women being charged than men. Accordingly, it is also important to note that the criminal justice system has realized the need to treat cases involving individuals with mental illness in a different way from the rest ensuring fairness in their trials. Due to this realization, patients who have mental illness are given medical attention such as psychiatric treatment before joining correctional institutions.



Prins, H. (2005). Mental disorder and violent crime: A problematic relationship. Probation Journal, 52(4), 333–357.

Short, T., Thomas, S., Mullen, P., & Ogloff, J. (2013). Comparing violence in Schizophrenia        Patients with and without comorbid substance‐use disorders to community controls. Acta         Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 128(4), 306–313.

Witt, K., & Fazel, S. (2013). Risk Factors for Violence in Psychosis: Systematic Review and Meta-Regression Analysis of 110 Studies. PLoS One, 8(2), e55942