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As Mental Health Courts Grow, So Does Chance to Humanize Justice

Heather Cucolo

Huffington Post Article January 22, 2015

What is the relationship between the criminalization trend and need to humanize justice for persons with mental health disabilities? One only needs to turn to the extensive body of legal scholarship by internationally-recognized mental health disability law and human rights professor Michael Perlin for the answer -- sanism. As defined by professor Michael Perlin in his article "Sanism and the Law":

Sanism, an irrational prejudice against people with mental illness, is of the same quality and character as other irrational prejudices such as racism, sexism, homophobia, and ethnic bigotry that cause (and are reflected in) prevailing social attitudes. It infects both our jurisprudence and our lawyering practices. Sanism is largely invisible and largely socially acceptable.

According to Perlin, "This pattern of prejudice against mentally disabled individuals keeps them from receiving equal treatment under the law" (see The Hidden Prejudice).