Since 1999, the Department of Justice has released two reports dealing with the issue of mentally ill inmates. It found that 16% of the people in the nation’s corrections systems were mentally ill, but that only 60% of those reported receiving any mental health treatment. In 1994, Ralph Tortorici, a 26-year-old New York psychology student, took a college class hostage.
A paranoid schizophrenic convinced that the government had planted tracking devices in his body, he was charged with assault, kidnapping, and attempted murder. His mental illness was apparent, but his treatment needs and how the courts should deal with him were not. FRONTLINE examined the controversial case in interviews with his family, defense attorney, prosecutor, and judge. After looking at this case and watching this video, in addition to researching any other information you find relevant, how do you think the courts should handle mental health issues in the criminal justice system?