Imposing criminal sanctions for medication noncompliance

In a 2010 study, E. Fuller Torrey and colleagues at the Treatment Advocacy Center found that a person with serious mental illness in the US is three times more likely to be in prison than in a psychiatric hospital. The authors discuss problems with housing the mentally ill in jails and prisons instead of mental health (MH) facilities including lack of access to appropriate MH care, increased risk of suicide, likelihood of returning to prison after release and difficulty handling such persons with standard correctional protocols. In addition to calling for more treatment beds for the seriously mentally ill, the authors conclude that Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT), which requires selected seriously mentally ill persons living in the community to take medication under court order, should be implemented on a larger scale.

Do you think that criminal penalties for failure to take medication will help or harm justice-involved persons with serious mental illness?