Mental illness is not a crime. Yet far too many individuals receive their first diagnosis of mental illness in jail or prison, an avertable tragedy that is a result of multiple system failures, stigma, discrimination, and systemic racism. Moreover, the services available in jails and prisons are often woefully inadequate to meet the mental healthcare needs of many who are incarcerated with a mental illness. When systems then fail to meet the healthcare and related needs of people upon their release, the outcome is an endless cycle of incarceration for many.
Despite this complex web of factors, the Foundation believes an opportunity exists to make measurable progress to decriminalize mental illness by supporting, evaluating, and elevating the most promising programs and practices. To do so demands creativity, experimentation, collaboration, and a dedicated practice of using data and evidence to continuously course correct.
Through our annual Sozosei Summit, grantmaking, funder convenings, and webinars, the Foundation is eager to engage in dialogue with all stakeholders and work collaboratively to move the needle to decriminalize mental illness in the United States.