Prof. Levenson publishes op-ed on civil rights of mentally ill defendants

Professor Laurie Levenson published the op-ed, "Circuits at Odds over Civil Rights of Mentally in the National Law Journal.


This is tough. One of the greatest challenges for police and our criminal justice system is dealing with the mentally ill. Just last year, two police officers in Fullerton, Calif., were acquitted of murder and manslaughter in the beating death of a mentally ill homeless man, Kelly Thomas. This year, a divided U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that police officers can be found liable for violation of Fourth Amendment rights if they do not make reasonable accommodations for a mentally ill suspect who barricades herself in her apartment.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimates that one in five Americans suffers from some type of mental illness and the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that 1.26 million prisoners are mentally ill. These statistics strongly suggest the need for a much closer examination of how a suspect's mental status affects his or her Fourth Amendment rights.

Read more the complete op-ed.