California Prison Suicides on the Rise
​The suicide rate inside California prisons is one of the highest in the nation. New data now shows that the suicide rate jumped to a new high in 2018 and remained high in 2019. This is despite efforts to fix the system.
High Suicide Rate
In 2018, an average of three California prison inmates died by suicide each month in state prison. This resulted in 34 total suicides out of a total of 129,000 inmates. The annual rate of suicide is 26.3 deaths per 100,000 inmates, which is considerably higher than the national average of 20 per 100,000. This rate has increased steadily over the past four years. Given the numbers so far, 2019 is on trend to be even higher. 
Could Norway's Mental Health Focus Help the U.S.?
​Norway may serve as an example to the United States on how best to balance government spending between criminal justice and mental health services. Norway takes a more rehabilitative approach to criminal justice and, as a result, has a much lower rate of recidivism. The country has been recognized internationally for its rehabilitative success, while the criminal justice system in the United States remains overburdened and ill-equipped to handle the large percentage of mentally ill individuals.
Elizabeth Kelley
Criminal Defense Attorney
Elizabeth Kelley is a criminal defense lawyer with a nationwide practice specializing in representing people with mental disabilities. She is the co-chair of The Arc's National Center for Criminal Justice and Disability, serves on the American Bar Association’s Commission on Disability Rights, Criminal Justice Section Council, and Editorial Board of the Criminal Justice Magazine Learn more .
Further Reading
Elizabeth's new book titled "Representing People with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Practical Guide for Criminal Defense Lawyers" will be published by the American Bar Association this Spring. Topics include:
  • Co-Occurring Disorders
  • Testing
  • Competency
  • Risk of Violence
  • Mitigation.  
Autism diagnosis: 'I want 40 years of my life back'
For most of his life, Barney Angliss struggled to fit in. At the age of 49, he finally had a diagnosis that helped him understand why.

As a child, he remembers his family not allowing him to go to a new school. "They thought I would be bullied to death".

Although he was good with words he had few friends and - by his own admission - he lacked empathy and social skills.

By the time he had a home, a family and a job as a teacher, "catastrophic thoughts" were building up.
Arkansas inmate cites mental illness in death penalty appeal
LITTLE ROCK — An Arkansas death row inmate convicted of killing a state legislator's daughter was diagnosed with schizophrenia and should not be executed, his attorney told the state Supreme Court Thursday.

Justices heard arguments over Karl Roberts' appeal of his conviction and death sentence in the 1999 killing of his 12-year-old niece, Andi Brewer. Brewer's mother, state Rep. Rebecca Petty, has served in the Arkansas House since 2015.
Speaking out: The human side of mental illness
Mental illness, through the generations, has been misunderstood at best, and, at worst, treated as a curse. It seems our younger generation has a better understanding of mental illness and the openness to talk about it, and along with that find new ways to help. My connection to someone with mental illness involves the person in my life I have known the longest. We were introduced as kids because we are related, but the bond we forged over the decades stays solid through great memories.
Sweethearts Forever. Then Came Alzheimer’s, Murder and Suicide.
“They were absolutely soul mates.”

It began almost playfully, like tiny hiccups in her mind. She would forget she had already changed the sheets and change them again, or repeat a thought in the same breath.

Then the illness amplified.

She grew confused by everyday tasks. Became convinced her parents were still alive and insisted upon a visit. At social gatherings, she was anxious and fearful. She forgot how to sew and cross-stitch. Forgot the faces of her children.
Do California’s most severely mentally ill need more forced treatment?
Sightings of Mark Rippee on the streets of Vallejo are all over his sisters’ Facebook account.
Someone spotted him sleeping by a furniture store. Someone walked him to a gas station for coffee. Someone prayed for him at Nation’s Giant Hamburgers.

Rippee, 56, developed schizophrenia after a motorcycle accident more than three decades ago caused a brain injury and blindness. He has delusions that he’s an alien, or is being chased by the Ku Klux Klan, or can’t collect his lottery winnings, his family says.
Books & Videos
FREE E-Book! Families' Guide to Working with a Criminal Defense Lawyer

When your family member with a mental disability has been arrested or charged with a crime, it can be a confusing and challenging experience that leaves you unsure of where to turn for answers. Here are some key things families can do to help the defense attorney handling their case.
Representing People with Mental Disabilities: A Criminal Defense Lawyer's Best Practices Manual

Elizabeth’s book, Representing People with Mental Disabilities was published by the American Bar Association a little over a year ago. The response to the book has been overwhelming with many attorneys and activists happy to have such a resource. It has also resulted in many interviews and speaking invitations. Topics include Competency, Sanity, Neuroimaging, False Confessions, and Prison Conditions.