When it comes to the American criminal justice system, much of the story has already been written for people trying to cope with mental illness, addiction and trauma. Approximately 40% of people who are incarcerated have a history of mental illness, two-thirds have an active substance use disorder and nearly all have a history of trauma.
Help for those conditions over-incarceration is especially hard to attain for Black and brown people. This story has been a big part of my life.
I was 8 when more than a dozen police officers pounded on every corner of my family’s North Carolina home, then burst inside and arrested my father for minor marijuana-related crimes.
During my freshman year in college, a psychology textbook instructed me that young Black people with risk factors like mine were “doomed.”
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