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House Arrest Secured for Mentally Ill Client

The criminal defense team at Kenny, Burns & McGill is pleased to report that a client charged with a gun crime has been granted house arrest instead of potentially spending decades in prison.

This client has suffered from severe mental health issues for the majority of his life, stemming from an abusive and neglectful childhood. He was arrested earlier this year and charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon; if convicted, these charges could carry up to a 20-year prison sentence.

Wanting the best outcome for their loved one, the client’s family reached out to the highly experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer Thomas D. Kenny. When Mr. Kenny met with the client, he found a man who deeply needed – and wanted – help with his problems.

Having spent decades working within the criminal justice system, Attorney Kenny understands just how damaging prison can be, especially to people with mental health issues. On top of the stress and harsh pressures of incarceration, the quality of medical and mental health care in prisons tends to be below the standard that a free person could receive. There may be little to no access to helpful medications, and prison counsellors tend to be stretched thin and deeply overworked.

With this knowledge, Attorney Kenny began to build arguments that would have the best chance at getting his client the help he needed.

In the US, our criminal justice system tends to be framed within the concept of rehabilitation. Ideally, a person is sent to prison with the goal of atoning for their crimes before being released as a functional member of society. However, in certain cases, a prison sentence has a low chance of resulting in a rehabilitated individual, and an incredibly high risk of making that person unlikely to be able to lead a normal life once released.

This is especially true of cases involving mental health issues. Given that this client’s mental health issues were the reason he was arrested in the first place, putting him in prison — a situation that would almost certainly make his conditions worse — is utterly counterintuitive.

Moreover, imprisoning people for the consequences of their mental illnesses essentially creates a system that criminalizes mental health issues. This criminalization, coupled with the knowledge that prison will basically never rehabilitate a person dealing with these issues, is more criminal and immoral than anything a mentally ill person could ever do on their own.

Mr. Kenny took all of this information to the judge: the client was severely mentally ill; the client was receptive to and excited about the idea of entering programs that could help him with his issues; and that the level of care that this client would need in order to get better would not be achievable from within a prison.

Thankfully, the judge on this case agreed with Attorney Kenny! Judges are an incredibly important part of the process to get a person the help they need, as they are the ones with the power and the discretion to keep people in treatment rather than in prison.

Mr. Kenny’s client was acquitted of his aggravated assault charges. The client was sentenced to 1-2 years of house arrest, followed by 15 years of probation. In addition to this, the client was also given court-ordered mental health treatment and drug/alcohol treatment. The fact that these treatments are court-ordered is an enforcement mechanism; unlike typical treatment programs that people may quit if they want, this client is compelled by the law to attend his programs or face additional consequences.

This was a great outcome for this specific situation. This was not a case of a judge “going easy” on a criminal; this was a case of a judge giving a sentence that best reflects this client’s individual needs. Instead of spending decades in prison without treatment, this client is being given an opportunity to treat the mental health issues that have plagued him for most of his life. Helping people get better helps them avoid committing crimes in the future, which should be a primary goal of any criminal justice system.

If you or a loved one have gotten in trouble with the law, call the talented criminal defense lawyers at Kenny, Burns & McGill today! (215) 423-5500

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