Criminal Justice Mental Health Project in Africa
Lead Researchers: Dr. Samuel Adjorlolo and Dr. Kofi Boakye
Individuals caught up in the criminal justice system (CJS) are often perceived as vulnerable groups, mainly because of their deprived background, adverse life experiences, early childhood deprivations, and age, in the case of young people. Compounding these vulnerabilities is the prevalence of severe mental health problems such as psychosis, bipolar mood, and depression in the prison population, a phenomenon that is regarded as a major public health challenge confronting policy makers, practitioners and researchers globally. Evidence from global research shows that all categories of individuals involved with the justice system such as juveniles, female offenders, and inmates on the death penalty are often afflicted with severe mental health problems. Importantly, although emerging evidence suggests that offenders with mental health problems are overrepresented in the CJS in low and middle-income countries, there appear to be a lack of systematic investigations in these countries to produce consolidated knowledge on the phenomenon to inform criminal justice reform initiatives. The aim of this project is to investigate prevalence and challenges of mental health problems in the criminal justice system in Africa with the view to proposing context relevant and evidence-based reforms of the criminal justice system in Africa to help address the mental health needs of individuals trapped in the system.