The mission of DueJusticeProject is to educate, to build a network of allies, to challenge the criminalization of severe mental illness.
What is the moral impetus behind this project?
Duejusticeproject does not protest the criminalization and punishment of individuals with severe mental illness on the basis of compassion for people who have distressing afflictions. Someone who engages in self-harm or harm to others on the basis of command auditory hallucinations or under automatism, for example, is not acting out “a crime of distress” or “snapping” emotionally – which is what most people conceive acts of violence perpetrated by ‘the mentally ill’ to be. Acting on clinical-level delusions within the context of consciousness disorder is a crime of nature, a neurological disaster. The ‘crime of distress’ is the concept that leads people to the position that mental illness is not an excuse for violence or that mental illness should not be an exemption for being held accountable for crimes.
Duejusticeproject is against criminalization on the basis of opposition to the imposition of strict criminal liability.
When a juror decides to render a guilty verdict based on the application of his or her own intuitive reasoning, upon the appeal of the prosecutor, informed by the testimony of expert witnesses who lack deep insight into the nature of psychotic illness, who conform to certain misguided orthodoxies and attitudes of a contingent of the forensic psychiatry profession, the system establishes an operating truth that strict criminal liability has not been imposed. The juror who does not comprehend the profoundly complex disease of Schizophrenia and its behavioral consequences and phases of other very serious medical disorders that afflict the mind can rarely sort out the common notions of “mental illness” from psychotic medical disorder.
The system has spent decades skillfully plying the behavioral consequences of psychosis from the disease condition of the brain. The misguided advocacy of elements within the disability and civil rights community have contributed to the dissociation of the disease condition from its deadlier consequences. Now, as a result our society has thousands upon thousands of people who are now just criminals with some mental illness on the side. We have GBMI, most often an immoral and unjust verdict. We have news media stories that pose the moral dilemma “punishment or treatment?”, meaning well in their reporting and editorializing, but failing to comprehend the fallacy of this proposed quandary. The most recent mantra of the criminal justice community that has infiltrated the public consciousness is that “you can be mentally ill and still know what you are doing”. This mantra is intended to recapture the heart and mind of the juror who may have become sensitized (in an atmosphere of increased attention paid to the topic of mental illness) to the plight of the ‘mentally ill’ in our society, and as such, this mantra becomes an appeal to ignorance. It is the “knowing” part, that requires examination within the context of neuroscience. This is why juries of a typical composition should not be charged with deciding who is “insane” under the law.
Regardless of the jury’s verdict, the neuroscience of psychosis does not adapt to the will and sentiments of the retributionist who believes that he or she has adjudicated on the basis of discerning good and evil. The severe cognitive disruption caused by illnesses such as schizophrenia or the consciousness disorder aspect of severe mental illness have a powerful impact on the human being’s capacity to self-audit and conform behaviors to the requirements of the law. The links page of Duejusticeproject refers to materials that strike at the heart of the aspects of psychotic illness that render legal tests such as M’Naghten’s Rule, or the Model Penal Code insufficient to illogical in judging criminal culpability in persons with severe mental illness.