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Note from the editor

“Canadian penitentiaries are becoming the largest psychiatric facilities in the country,” according to a 2010 report from the Office of the Correctional Investigator. But these facilities don’t provide adequate mental health services, so inmates who need care are simply being warehoused in prisons, where the environment itself can exacerbate existing problems.

Between 10 and 12 per cent of offenders entering the federal prison system have a mental health problem, according to the report. Some also have substance use problems. They’ve ended up in prison because the criminal justice system doesn’t recognize the complex nature of their needs. Instead, we criminalize people with mental health and substance use problems.

Yet these people are often the victims of crime, not the perpetrators. Early this year, a man targeted and attacked people with mental health issues in Parkdale, a Toronto neighbourhood with a high consumer population. One beating victim died.

The stories in this issue call for rehabilitation, not punishment. We examine steps along the pathways to care and justice, from diversion programs like drug treatment court to specialized inpatient forensic services to aftercare. We also cover police training, prison gambling and FASD in the criminal justice system.

As always, I invite you to send us comments and ideas so that we can continue to cover the issues that interest you.

Hema Zbogar
tel 416 595-6714
[email protected]

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