Although in recent years it has become a bit easier to discuss mental health challenges in public, mental illness is still somehow viewed by many in the public as a moral failing. It is that underlying judgement, that unwillingness to look at the many sources that leads to profound misunderstandings by the public, particularly in the context of a criminal trial. In this article I examine these issues in that context in order to better identify, and come to a better understanding of where our shared biases get in the way of a reasoned view of such evidence. The article examines some broad policy questions regarding what we, as a society, do with our mentally ill, and then looks at public perceptions and their impact on criminal justice decision making.

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