Advancing Equity at the Intersection of Race, Mental Illness, and Criminal Justice Involvement


Among the new books that Jenkins continuously incorporates into its collection is a recent addition entitled Advancing Equity at the Intersection of Race, Mental Illness, and Criminal Justice Involvement (2023).

Published by the American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section, this book helps attorneys understand the “prevalence of mental illness and racial inequity in the criminal justice system” (p. xvii), provides practice tips for recognizing mental illness and mitigating stigma, and addresses ways in which both prosecutors and defense attorneys can advance equity. 

The author, Deanna M.Adams, “has dedicated her career to improving legal and life outcomes for the people most severely impacted by the criminal justice system” (p. ix). Calling the book her “passion project” (p. vii), Adams draws upon her varied experiences working with people who have been incarcerated, collaborating with health and social service agencies, and training state and local governments to better respond to people who have mental illness.

Adams begins by introducing foundational tenets of the book – including the concept of intersectionality – and describing the terminology – such as “people of diverse backgrounds” – that she chose to use throughout. Adams also discusses ethical pathways and practical tools for advancing equity such as cultural competency, trauma-informed lawyering, and attorney self-assessment. Each chapter ends with a list of tools and resources that build on the book’s key concepts, allowing attorneys to further “develop their own personal equity framework and approaches to their legal practice” (p. xvii). 

Advancing Equity at the Intersection of Race, Mental Illness, and Criminal Justice Involvement is meant for any attorney who handles criminal cases, whether or not they are already familiar with its key concepts. Jenkins members can borrow it for a two-week loan. Check it out!

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