Carissa Jakobe, Criminal Defense Attorney At Mendoza Jakobe Law:
Mental Health Cases in Arizona Courts.
Over the years I have represented hundreds of clients with mental illness. Sadly, Arizona does not take mental health seriously. When I say seriously, I mean that Arizona does not offer enough services for those who cannot afford proper treatment; Arizona punishes the person and does not treat the illness – prison is not working people, only rehabilitation will end/reduce one’s cycle of acting out due to a mental health diagnosis; Arizona looks at mental health as an “excuse” and not a legitimate reason behind one’s actions; and Arizona does not consider mental illness to be so debilitating that a defendant cannot participate in the court proceedings or assist his/her counsel in a defense. In fact, I’ve had clients accused of “faking it” in order to get out of their current legal situation.
It is the last statement that I find the most offensive. All defense lawyers should find this assertion offensive when confronted by the State that a client is “faking it.” Our client’s daily struggles and how they feel and perceive the world around them go to the very core of who they are. To deny them of their feelings and struggles is stripping them of dignity and integrity. It is degrading. I have seen it countless times.
Until we all get over the stigma of mental health and stop labeling people as “Crazy”, having “issues”, or making “excuses” for their behavior that sometimes they cannot control, we will continue to mistreat, discriminate, disrespect, and imprison the most vulnerable people in the community.
Stay educated and stand up for others who sometimes have the smallest voice of all. They may be suffering and we can’t see it but it is very real to them. No one should have to bleed to prove they need help. I have always said, just because you can’t see it on an X-ray doesn’t mean it’s not real.