How does mental health relate to criminal law?

Often those in our society who suffer from mental health problems are institutionalized in our criminal justice system. In particular, over the last few years, the state has continued to cut the mental health budget. This has led to fewer services available for people in crisis, and more people being arrested rather than treated. As a society, we should put an emphasis on treating those with mental health problems, educating the public (including law enforcement) and providing services for those in crisis.

The unfortunate consequence of not providing proper treatment and education are cases like that of Moses Trotter.  Mr. Trotter was charged with murder for a tragic incident that occurred during a mental health crisis.  He pled to voluntary manslaughter, as the Sacramento District Attorney’s Office recognized Mr. Trotter’s mental health impaired his ability to form a specific criminal intent.  But if proper mental health services had been in place, this tragedy could have been avoided altogether.