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JALE3924 - Mental Health and Criminal Justice

Criminology Unit


One trimester



Credit points: 



Successful completion of four(4) X level 200 units 

Mode(s) of delivery:




Unit Objective

This unit explores the intersection between mental health and the criminal justice system in Australia and examines current debates surrounding outcomes for people interacting with the CJS who are classified as exhibiting mental illness.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between mental illness and offending behaviours
  • Describe forensic mental health services available in Victoria and understand the processes of case assessment
  • Critically discuss challenges faced by law enforcement professionals when dealing with mentally disordered offenders
  • Recognise best-practice principles for treating mental health disorders in prisons
  • Critically discuss the relationship between mental health and institutionalisation
  • Demonstrate an understanding of case management for persons assessed as exhibiting mental health disorders

Unit Content

The criminal justice system is populated with a large proportion of offenders who have a mental illness, and who – due to the nature of the system – are at risk of remaining untreated, or of receiving inadequate treatment. There has been a growing awareness of the responsibility of society and the government to these offenders. Many reports, initiatives and action plans have been implemented as a result, with improvements seen across many systems and jurisdictions. This unit canvases the breadth of the problem of mental illness in the criminal justice system, and outlines the multidisciplinary approach developed to address the needs of this population. It also examines the vulnerability of persons with mental illness as victims of crime and the history of classification of behaviours as mental illness. This unit then explores the classification of offenders as mentally disordered in the context of police, courts, sentencing, prisons and the community, and responses to mental illnesses and special populations. Students should develop a broad understanding of the relationship between mental illness and offending, and the risks and services associated with case management.

Unit Workload

1 x 2 hour lecture and 1 x 1 hour tutorial each week for 12 weeks. The workload for this unit is 9 hours per week

Assessment summary

Assessment information provided at the commencement of the unit in the online class space


This unit outline may be updated and amended from time to time. To ensure you have the correct outline please check it again at the beginning of trimester.