What I Wish the Legal System & Law Enforcement Knew

Produced by Robin’s Hope PRS interns Kay Bradley, PRS & Natalie Selles, PRS

This first video in our series “What I Wish They Knew” addresses the legal system and law enforcement. Here’s what Robin’s Hope participants wish the legal system and law enforcement knew:

“Working with you makes me feel less than human, this is a detriment to my recovery.”

“There is a difference between respect for authority and respect for humanity. When you say, “If you don’t respect me, I won’t respect you,” it means different things.”

“If engaging with treatment involves interacting with law enforcement, I will be less likely to engage in treatment.”

“I would prefer to communicate with people whose jobs are to uplift rather than to punish. I may need treatment for my mental health or substance use disorder, instead of being arrested.”

“If you are trained to help us in a helping way, rather than a punitive way, I would feel more at ease speaking to you.”

“I would feel more comfortable talking to someone educated in the mental health field or a PRS (Peer Recovery Specialist) rather than a police officer about my mental illness.”

“When a police officer approaches me and I’m in mental health distress, it has been triggering for me due to past interactions with law enforcement.”

“People in uniform make me more anxious even when I’m not experiencing mental health challenges.”

“I wish the legal system did not immediately punish people with substance use disorder and put them in the never ending process of the revolving door to incarceration, but instead used this opportunity to help us access therapy and other treatment for substance use.”

“Putting more funding into mental health crisis teams when someone is experiencing crisis.”

“Continuing to pass legislation such as the Marcus Alert system to create a more collaborative relationship between law enforcement and mental health professionals when someone is in crisis.”

– Robin’s Hope Participants, 2021

For more information about Crisis Intervention Teams and how you can advocate for change, check out:

CIT – Information on Crisis Intervention

Virginia Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Services – CIT and Jail Diversion

National Alliance on Mental Illness: Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Programs

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