The scandal of preventable incarceration of individuals with psychiatric disabilities continues to careen of out of control. The American Psychiatric Association estimates that 20% of all prisoners, about 550,000 individuals suffer from a severe mental illness. With the number of inpatient hospital psychiatric beds nationally now down to about 40,000 (from over half a million in the 1950s), prisons and jails have become a de facto–and wholly inadequate and inappropriate–long-term institutional care solution. The latest issue of Behavioral Healthcare takes on this important issue in a fulsome article entitled “Up to one in four incarcerations should be prevented“. Here’s an excerpt:
“At least half a million Americans in prison today wouldn’t be there if they had instead been ordered to treatment for their substance use or mental health problem,” says Pamela Rodriguez, president of Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities (TASC), a statewide Illinois organization that advocates for alternatives to incarceration for non-violent offenders (NVOs). That figure doesn’t count those detained in the state’s county jails, many of whom are awaiting sentencing.”
To read the entire article, click here.
To read the National Sheriffs Association/Treatment Advocacy Center report (“More Mentally Ill Persons Are In Jails and Prisons Than Hospitals–A Survey of the States’), which is mentioned in the article, click here.
To see all of PsychOdyssey’s recommended articles, click here.