Essay on Community Problem Solving
Number of words: 1116
Although the criminal justice system in the United States is often seen as fair and equitable, several issues still need further attention. There is always space for improvement, as in everything. Most organizations lack the resources to make the best choices for managing individuals with special needs in the criminal justice system. Consequently, many individuals with unique needs, such as those suffering from mental health problems, are treated the same as everyone else, regardless of whether or not they require urgent care. Psychiatric patients and those who are emotionally disturbed, according to criminologists, are more prone to decompensating while in prison. When people refuse to take medicine or have restricted treatment options, their symptoms worsen. An innovative community problem-solving program that has been proved effective in the hometown of Honolulu, Hawaii, will be discussed in this article. According to this paper, a particular issue in the community and the city of Honolulu was identified and resolved due to an effort through a law enforcement program.
HONOLULU DIVERSION PROGRAM
Almost all state jails and prisons hold more mentally ill inmates than the nation’s largest state mental health facility. The number of inmates being detained there exceeds the number of inmates getting treated at the facility. According to research conducted in 2004–2005, mentally ill individuals are kept in jails and prisons at a rate more than three times higher than in hospitals. Individuals in crisis who meet law enforcement personnel may turn to the Honolulu Emergency Psychological Services and Jail Diversion Program, one of the best programs of its kind in the nation, for help. An attempt was made with this program to reduce the number of individuals with mental illnesses or emotional disturbances who are detained and sent through the criminal court system (Fijnaut, 2017).
Police officers often encounter situations in which mentally ill or temporarily emotionally disturbed people are involved. Still, there is no proof of a crime or a willing victim to press charges against them. The Honolulu Emergency Psychological Services and Jail Diversion Program trains police officers to act as a gateway for people suffering from symptoms ranging from auditory hallucinations to severe drug addiction, among other things.
The program collaborates between the Houston Police Department, the state health department, municipal emergency services, the Institute for Human Services, and area hospitals. The counseling is provided by Christopher, who has a contract with the HPD and has been doing so for 11 years. The program’s objective is to divert such people to treatment for their mental illness or emotional distress while ensuring public safety. The program also educates officers on dealing with individuals in distress and provides access to a police psychologist 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Individuals in distress are also evaluated to see what kind of care and assistance they need when they encounter law enforcement personnel. They can also get medicine to help with their problems if that’s what they need.
To help those in need, the program brings together different organizations that collaborate on projects. The Honolulu Police Department, the Department of Health, the Emergency Medical Services, the Institute for the Homeless, and three local hospitals are represented. In this approach, each agency plays a specific function. The program complies with Justice Department and Health and Human Services Department standards. Federal case law, Hawaii Revised Statutes, and the rules of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health America have all been considered, as well as the Criminal Justice or Mental Health Consensus Project and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PROGRAM
A police psychologist at the Honolulu Police Department (HPD) came up with the idea for the Honolulu Emergency Psychological Services and Jail Diversion Program, which was officially launched on October 1 of that year. A psychologist at the time saw a void in the market. To assist individuals who find themselves in the criminal justice system due to a mental illness or drug addiction, Dr. Michael Christopher decided to utilize his expertise, experience, and talents in police psychology. During his time as a police officer, he witnessed many individuals be jailed for various reasons, like being mentally ill, not taking their medicine, being homeless, or otherwise causing a disturbance. He was seeing far too many individuals in prison who needed to be hospitalized for the most part. That is when he had the bright idea for a treatment diversion program for those with mental health issues.
He and two other psychologists would be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to help police officers deal with individuals who may be experiencing mental health issues. In addition, the police received intensive training, which included real-world situations, classroom instruction, and e-learning, to better prepare them for dealing with individuals who have mental health problems. According to Christopher’s annual evaluation of the program’s accomplishments and shortcomings, on-call psychologists have helped police with phone consultations in over 30,000 cases involving over 15,000 distressed people since 2007. A person in crisis is often escorted to a hospital for involuntary psychiatric evaluation or therapy, where they may be detained for up to 48 hours.
According to Freudenberg and Heller (2016), the program aimed to alleviate the criminal justice system’s financial woes in Honolulu by providing individuals who don’t belong in the system with the treatment they so badly need. With the program’s implementation, all government agencies and departments were able to reduce the burden on Hawaii’s overcrowded jail and prison populations.
According to the program’s current report, it has helped thousands of individuals suffering from mental disorders over the last ten years. According to the Department of Justice, congestion in jails and prisons has decreased year after year since the program’s commencement, allowing the government to save money that might be put to better use elsewhere in the criminal justice system if the program were continued.
In conclusion, many people all around the world suffer from a range of mental health issues. Other departments and agencies should use the success of the Honolulu Emergency Psychological Services, and Jail Diversion Program as a model for their diversion programs since the program’s efficacy has been shown. In the Hawaiian capital of Honolulu, a communal problem-solving effort was deemed a success. In Honolulu’s area and across the city, a law enforcement operation was launched to address the problem discussed in this article.
Fijnaut, C. (2017). Criminology and the Criminal Justice System. A Historical and Transatlantic Introduction, Cambridge, Intersentia.
Freudenberg, N., & Heller, D. (2016). A review of opportunities to improve the health of people involved in the criminal justice system in the United States. Annual review of public health, 37, 313-333.