Criminal Justice and Forensic Mental Health Systems​

https://www.porticonetwork.ca

 

Developmental Disabilities in Ontario's Criminal Justice and Forensic Mental Health Systems: Using Data to Tell the Story

What is the issue?

There is concern that there are many adults with developmental disabilities in the Ontario criminal justice and forensic mental health systems. These individuals have many physical and mental health issues and use high rates of health care. However, there has been a lack of data showing the extent of this issue in Ontario, which has inhibited the ability of service providers and policy makers to make evidence-based decisions regarding appropriate strategies to support individuals with developmental disabilities in Ontario’s criminal justice and forensic mental health systems.

How is H-CARDD helping?

This study aims to address the existing gap in data so that more attention can be paid to how individuals with developmental disabilities can be best supported before, during, and after involvement with criminal justice and forensic mental health systems.

The study is interested in answering questions such as:

  • How many people within Ontario’s criminal justice and forensic mental health systems have developmental disabilities? We have found that people with developmental disabilities are over-represented in these systems relative to the general population. Whereas the prevalence of people with developmental disabilities has been found to be between 0.7% and 0.9% in the general population, their prevalence has been found to be as high as 17% among forensic inpatients, 8% in community mental health justice programs, and 2% in both provincial and federal correctional facilities.
  • What are the sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of people with developmental disabilities in Ontario’s criminal justice and forensic mental health systems, and how are they different from those of the general population within these systems? People with developmental disabilities within criminal justice and forensic mental health systems, compared to those without, tend to be younger, from poorer neighbourhoods, have more physical and psychiatric illnesses, and use more health care services.
  • What are some potential solutions for the current over-representation of people with developmental disabilities in Ontario’s criminal justice and forensic mental health systems? The addition of various supports and services catered towards individuals with developmental disabilities could help improve the current situation. These services could include preventative community supports prior to system involvement, increased availability of tailored developmental disability services and supports within these systems, improved training of forensic mental health and criminal justice officials, and investment in services and supports for the transition out of these systems to prevent re-entry.

For more information, please contact:

Yona Lunsky, PhD, C. Psych

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)

Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto

Phone: 416 535 8501 x 37813

Email: yona.lunsky@camh.ca

 

Tiziana Volpe, PhD

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)

Phone: 416-535-8501 x 30751

Email: tiziana.volpe@camh.ca