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Beyond The Balance Sheet Podcast

Mar 29, 2023

Elizabeth Kelley, a criminal defense lawyer and editor of the book, Representing People with Dementia, A Practical Guide for Criminal Defense Lawyers, is our guest today. Elizabeth has her finger on the pulse of what is happening with people who commit crimes and have mental health issues. Unfortunately, the statistics on our preparedness in our prison system are pitiful. Elizabeth discusses the problems and has recommendations for families with a loved one experiencing these issues.  Don’t miss this enlightening episode of Beyond the Balance Sheet. 




  • [01:46] Elizabeth Kelley tells why she wrote her latest book and refers to a “silver tsunami”
  • [03:14] The spectrum of cognitive decline manifests itself in many disturbing ways. Prisons now have an aging population and don’t have the proper tools to service those who have mental disabilities
  • [07:53] Elizabeth states that jails and prisons are the worst settings for these individuals
  • [10:21] A person who has mental health issues is not exempt from the law. Therefore the family needs to monitor their behavior with counseling, testing, and some restrictions before the person does something wrong and is found criminally responsible
  • [15:00] Loved ones caring for a patient need to reach out for assistance so they don’t suffer from caregiver trauma
  • [19:16] Elizabeth discusses the restraints placed on criminal defense lawyers and the unfair consequences often experienced by the offender and the victim




  • The prison population is getting older. And unfortunately, inmates with mental illnesses are not getting the treatment or placement they need. 
  • Adults who may have once been pillars of society may do things they would have never thought of doing before they became ill. Unfortunately, they will not get better.
  • The mental health system is unprepared for the onslaught of older adults suffering from mental illnesses.




Beyond the Balance Sheet Website


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Representing People with Dementia, A Practical Guide for Criminal Defense Lawyers 




Elizabeth Kelley is a criminal defense lawyer based in Spokane, Washington, with a nationwide practice specializing in representing people with mental disabilities. She is the editor of four books published by the American Bar Association (ABA): Representing People with Mental Disabilities: A Practical Guide for Criminal Defense Lawyers; Representing People with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Practical Guide for Criminal Defense Lawyers; Suicide and Its Impact on the Criminal Justice System (with Francesca Flood), and Representing People with Dementia: A Practical Guide for Criminal Defense Lawyers. She chairs The Arc’s National Center for Criminal Justice and Disability Advisory Board, served three terms on the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) board, and serves on the ABA’s Commission on Disability Rights and the Criminal Justice Council. In addition, she is a member of The Federal Lawyer Editorial Board.