University of New Hampshire Roundtable asks: “What is a criminal?”
Donna Perkins is an associate professor of justice studies and UNH, and Blair Rowlett is the director of the Strafford County Mental Health Court.
Rowlett: (My) “work with Strafford County is to oversee the mental health court program. Essentially, what we are is a three phase intervention program where we try to do just that. We try to reroute individuals from the criminal justice system by trying to get them to, you know, engage in their own treatment, buy into their own treatment, improve their quality of life, reduce recidivism in our community, and also increase community safety and awareness.
“And when we look at the question, ‘what is a criminal,’ I consider a criminal someone that acts willfully and knowingly. And so when you think about someone struggling with mental illness, you take someone, for example, who has schizophrenia and has auditory and or visual hallucinations, is that person acting willfully and knowingly? And I think that’s something we really need to keep a close watch on when we’re dealing with people in the criminal justice system.”