Decriminalizing Mental Illness

Section 1, Fall 21

Schedule Information

Enrollment: 7/12
Credits: 3
Day Time Room Start Date End Date
  • R
  • 1540-1740
  • SL131
08/26/2021 11/18/2021

Course Description

This seminar will explore the policy landscape of laws and policies aiming to reduce the involvement of persons with serious mental illness in the criminal legal system and the effects of these initiatives on relevant outcomes. Special attention will be paid to the challenge of assessing and measuring relevant outcomes. The seminar will be open to students from the Medical School's Department of Public Health Sciences, the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and, possibly computer science students from the School of Engineering. It is also likely to be coordinated with a study mandated by the Virginia General Assembly. Topics covered will include formal legal rules that preclude criminal prosecution or punishment of persons with serious mental illness (such as barring adjudication in cases involving defendants found to be incompetent to stand trial and precluding punishment of defendants found to be not guilty by reason of insanity), as well as discretionary processes of diverting persons with serious mental illness from the criminal process after charges have been filed but before adjudication or after pleas of guilt. The course will focus particularly on an innovative proposal to divert cases soon after arrest to a formal process for civil commitment. The seminar will be integrated with legislative consideration of proposals for reforming the applicable statutes in Virginia as well as elsewhere.

Course Requirements

Exam Info:
Final Type (if any): None
Description: None

Written Work Product
Written Work Product: Students will be required to write a substantial research paper due via EXPO by noon on the last day of the exam period, or students can opt to write three shorter papers (due directly to instructor, not via EXPO, with deadlines to be announced). Students who write a substantial research paper and want it to satisfy their upper-level writing requirement must submit the "special request" e-form to SRO by Sept. 29th.

Other Work

Other Course Details
Prerequisites: None Concurrencies: None
Mutually Exclusive With: None
Laptops Allowed: No
First Day Attendance Required: No
Course Resources: To be announced.
Course Notes:

Graduation Requirements

*Satisfies Writing Requirement: No
**Credits For Prof. Skills Requirement: No
Satisfies Professional Ethics: No

*If “Yes,” then students are required to submit a substantial research paper in this course, which means students do not need to submit any form to SRO for this paper to meet their upper-level writing requirement. If “No,” then students must submit a “special request” e-form to SRO (available via LawWeb) no later than five weeks after the start of the term for a paper in this class to be counted toward the upper-level writing requirement.

**Yes indicates course credits count towards UVA Law’s Prof. Skills graduation requirement, not necessarily a skills requirements for any particular state bar.

Schedule No.
Law No.
Modified Type
Cross Listed: No
Cross-Listed Course Mnemonic:
Concentrations: Family Law
Public Syllabus Link: None
Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Opens: Tuesday, November 23, 12:01 AM
Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Closes: Friday, December 03, 11:59 PM