The Criminal Defense Role: Our Part, And The Help We Need: by John Landon, from the KY Department of Public Advocacy
The Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy, our state’s public defender program, represents clients suffering from mental illness on a daily basis. We have clients undergoing evaluations for criminal responsibility, we represent clients at competency hearings, and we represent many clients undergoing civil commitment procedures. In short, most of our attorneys know the intersection of mental illness and the criminal justice system. The Fayette County Office of the department set up a team of lawyers specializing in mental health issues to address some of the problems faced. However, we often see a lack of structured support for clients once their criminal cases have been resolved, leading to re-cidivism. Also, sometimes this lack of support becomes a factor when we attempt to negotiate a favorable resolution.