Muhammad Kaleem Arshad MD | Mentally Ill in Criminal Justice System

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Muhammad Kaleem Arshad MD | Mentally Ill in Criminal Justice System

Muhammad Kaleem Arshad MD

Muhammad Kaleem Arshad MD, former President of Louisiana Psychiatric Medical Association discusses issues pertaining to individuals afflicted with mental illness and their involvement in the criminal justice system. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. This has created a public health crisis.

Prison rates in the United States are the world’s highest at 724 people per 100,000. This is partially related to the unnecessary incarceration of mentally ill individuals. County jails are filled with inmates who suffer from mental illness. The three largest mental health facilities in the United States are jails. Nearly 15 percent of men and 30 percent of women booked into jails every year have a serious mental health condition. The majority of these individuals are not violent and are waiting for trial in most instances.

The overwhelming majority of these patients are arrested for “crimes of survival,” such as stealing food and supplies or breaking and entering, in order to find a place to sleep.


Hospitals with Muhammad Kaleem Arshad

M Kaleem Arshad MD, says that state hospitals in the latter part of eighteenth-century were built, in part, to remedy the maltreatment of mentally ill individuals in prisons. In the 1970’s, a movement towards deinstitutionalization led to the mass closure of state hospitals. States have been more enthusiastic to close these old institutions without providing adequate alternatives for the treatment of patients suffering from serious mental illness. An increase in the population of mentally ill patients returning to prisons and jails resulted from this movement.

Muhammad Kaleem Arshad MD — who has directed several psychiatric hospitals and programs in New Orleans area — states that most of the mentally ill inmates do not receive adequate mental health services. At least 83 percent of jail inmates cannot access the treatment they need. They are at serious risk of getting worse and cannot adequately defend themselves. Thus, many of them serve longer jail sentences than their counterparts without any mental illness.

When released, many mentally ill individuals cannot access appropriate services due to lack of resources and benefits, homelessness, and unemployment related to their criminal records. They are at risk of getting even worse, often repeatedly returning to emergency rooms, psychiatric hospitals, or jails. Furthermore, Arshad was deemed a distinguished life fellow of the American Psychiatric Association


Mentally Ill in Prison

Muhammad Kaleem Arshad MD — who previously directed a major psychiatric emergency room in the New Orleans area — indicates that mentally ill individuals are overrepresented in jails and prisons. Unfortunately, across the nation, law enforcement personnel have often become primary responders to mental health crises instead of trained mental health providers in the community. Correctional facilities have become a frontline for mental health care.

M Kaleem Arshad MD — who is board certified in adult, geriatric and addiction psychiatry — says that almost one in five adults in the U.S. experience some form of mental illness requiring treatment. However, less than half of these people actually receive treatment.

Muhammad Kaleem Arshad MD states that the vast majority of children and youth in the juvenile justice system have histories of exposure to trauma and mental health issues that are frequently ignored. This results in the exacerbation of mental health problems and the risk of long-term involvement in the criminal justice system.

In these cases, pre-booking diversion is necessary to keep these youth in schools. This allows communities to break the neverending, inhuman cycle which is damaging millions of individuals and families. As a society, nation, and community, we have a responsibility to take proper care of our mentally ill youths. Furthermore, we must refrain from depending on a coercive punitive justice system to provide care. 


Comparison Between Mass Shootings and Mentally Ill

Muhammad Kaleem Arshad MD  has practiced psychiatry in New Orleans since 1990. He talks about mental illness and the misconceptions regarding violence and mass shootings in the country. He says it is deceptive and hypocritical to directly connect the wave of recent mass shooting simply to mental illness.

Making connections for political convenience, without any sound factual basis. Excluding suicide, mental illness is a minimal part of violence in society. Only 4 percent of violent crimes in America are related to serious mental illnesses. Explaining mass shootings and gun violence as a function of mental illness is rather disingenuous. By and large, mental illness is not a major factor either in gun violence or mass shootings. Making this connection only serves to further stigmatize mental illness.

M Kaleem Arshad MD, who has testified in Louisiana legislature, acknowledges some of the nationally publicized incidents. These are related to untreated mentally ill patients. However, mentally ill individuals are far more likely to be victims of violence rather than perpetrators of violence.

This includes a higher incidence of violence committed by police officers towards mentally ill individuals. Nonetheless, the comorbidity of mental illness with substance abuse does actually indicate an increase in the risk of violence. The varying degrees of neighborhood safety — as opposed to symptoms of psychiatric disorders — account for some of this correlation.


Wrapping it up with M Kaleem Arshad MD

Muhammad Kaleem Arshad MD suggests that a partnership amongst law enforcement, lawmakers, and mental health professionals may be beneficial. This assists in addressing the crisis of mentally ill population within the criminal justice system. Such a strategy may assist in diverting seriously mentally ill individuals away from the criminal justice system. Instead of placing them into community-based treatment programs.

This may eventually reduce the financial burden within the healthcare system. In addition to lessening the serious toll on human life and psyche. This can be related to the involvement of the criminal justice system with mental health care. In conclusion, mental illness assistance is lacking in today’s judicial system. Each and every day we see more fatalities due to inadequate health care services. Therefore, it is my mission to make that change.


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