Week 2 Discussion #2: Symposium: Utilitarianism, mental health, and the criminal justice system

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Please read the description above and/or watch the video explaining the symposium and its requirements. If you are still unsure about how to proceed with the discussion, please contact your instructor.

This week, we will consider how utilitarianism applies to the criminal justice system’s treatment of individuals with mental illness.

Please read/watch the following resources to help you formulate your discussion and position on the topic:

  1. Mental health and criminal justice | Crystal Dieleman | TEDxMoncton

2. ‘Insane’: America’s 3 Largest Psychiatric Facilities Are Jails


Lee, C. (2007). The judicial response to psychopathic criminals: Utilitarianism over retribution. Law and Psychology Review, 31, pp.125-136. Retrieved from Ashford Library

This symposium is a chance for you to discuss together the ethical issues and questions that it raises, your own response to those, and whether that aligns with or does not align with a utilitarian approach. The aim is not to simply assert your own view or to denigrate other views, but to identify, evaluate, and discuss the moral reasoning involved in addressing the best ways to approach mental health recovery from a utilitarian perspective consider the following questions:

What are the treatment options other than prison? What is the moral and ethical responsibility of all of us to ensure that all people have the resources, supports, services, and opportunities they need so that we can build healthy and safe communities for all people, as Crystal Dieleman proposes in her TedTalk (Tedx Talks, 2015). What is our personal responsibility to help treat those with mental illnesses?

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