Olmstead at 20: Using the Vision of Olmstead to Decriminalize Mental Illness

Technical Assistance Collaborative TACIn March 2019, the Technical Assistance Collaborative convened top thinkers from around the United States to examine the criminalization of people with mental illnesses, focusing on the Supreme Court case Olmstead v. L.C.—which held that unjustified segregation of people with disabilities constitutes discrimination in violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act—as a framework for reform.

Based on insights from that group, the resulting brief applies key elements of Olmstead law to the challenge of reducing the vastly disproportionate number of people with mental illnesses in the U.S. criminal justice system and surveys how the landscape of criminalization of mental illness has changed in the 20 years since the law’s implementation.