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Back arrow to return to all resources page All resources Addressing a Criminal and/or Civil Charge Caused by a Medical Condition

  • Criminalization
  • Letter

A disproportionate number of people who are incarcerated have current or past medical conditions, including chronic conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes, infectious disease, substance use disorder, or mental illness. People with a mental illness are 2-4 times more likely to be incarcerated  compared to the general population. Rather than receiving appropriate treatment for their conditions in the community, people who are incarcerated often experience chronic stress exacerbated by social isolation, violence and lack of support that can worsen underlying conditions.  Ultimately, this can have a harmful effect on an individual even after re-entry into the community and over the entire lifecourse.

This letter can be used to advocate for a patient whose criminal offense is in large part a result of an underlying medical condition or mental illness, whose physical and/or mental health is at risk of worsening if incarcerated, and who would benefit from community medical and behavioral health services.


  1. Court Advocacy Letter Template

Next steps

The letter(s) should be given to the patient’s case manager/advocate or lawyer.