|CONTACT: ||Robert Gunn|
| August 7, 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Judge Peter J. Garcia of the 22nd Judicial District Court was recognized with the 2018 Sam Cochran Criminal Justice Award presented by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) during its annual convention in New Orleans. Judge Garcia is the first Louisiana recipient of the Sam Cochran Award.
The Sam Cochran Criminal Justice Award is named in honor of the founder of the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training program and recognizes outstanding work in the criminal justice system, specifically the fair and humane treatment of people with mental illness. In 2011 Garcia worked to establish the Behavioral Health Court at the 22nd JDC, and for many years has advocated for the needs of those with mental illness in the criminal justice system.
“It is our duty to point out the defects in the criminal justice system that further stigmatize mental health issues as criminal behavior,” Garcia said. “Mental illness is not a crime and we must advocate for those most unable to advocate for themselves. Illness is illness, whether of the body or the mind. It is our duty to use our positions of authority to point out the stigma of mental illness and the intolerance faced by those with mental illness.”
Garcia uses his platform to speak at numerous events to promote awareness, and has served in leadership roles with the St. Tammany chapter of NAMI. He received the Criminal Justice Award from NAMI Louisiana in 2014, and in 2015 was further recognized by the 22nd Judicial District Attorney during National Recovery Month for his work on behalf of people with mental illness in the criminal justice system.
NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.
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