Incarceration of The Mentally Ill Essay
1771 Words8 Pages
The United States criminal justice system has been continuously increasing incarceration among individuals who suffer from a sever mental illness. As of 2007 individuals with severe mental illness were over twice as likely to be found in prisons than in society (National Commission of Correctional Health Care, 2002, as cited in Litschge &Vaughn, 2009). The offenses that lead to their commitment in a criminal facility, in the majority of cases, derive from symptoms of their mental illness instead of deviant behavior. Our criminal justice system is failing those who would benefit more from the care of a psychiatric rehabilitation facility or psychiatric hospital by placing them in correctional facilities or prisons.
Mental…show more content…
This makes them extremely difficult to treat.
Theories of the incarceration of the mentally ill
The Clinical specificity hypothesis states that “psycho-pathological profiles determine different types of psychosocial functioning and lead to particular interactions with the social environment, especially with health care services use” (Côté G, Lesage A, Chawky N, et al., 1997, as sited in Dumais, Côté, and Lesage, 2010, p. 173). The legal status of and individual and whether they end up in a correctional facility or health care facility will determine what type of treatment they will receive. This reasoning can directly relate to individuals who suffer from mental illness and their interactions to the criminal justice system.
The criminalization hypothesis implies that within the criminal justice system those who suffer from a serious mental illness are over represented because they are arrested and committed for actions caused by their untreated mental illness (Litschge &Vaughn, 2009). This implies that the environmental obstacles faced by the mentally ill directly lead to their arrest.
Prevalence and Demographics
According to a 2006 Bureau of Justice Statistics report found that over half of the inmates in both prisons and in jails had a problem concerning their mental health (James & Glaze, 2006). The estimates in this report were separated by federal prisons, which contained 45 percent of inmates suffering from mental illness, 56 percent in state prisons, and
Mentally ill in jail
The articles inform that more mentally ill people are in jail than in hospitals. According to statistics 159,000 of mentally ill are presently incarcerated in jails and prisons, mostly of crimes committed because they were not being treated. Some of them become violent and may terrorize their families and neighborhoods. Tragically, most of those instances of incarceration are unnecessary. We know what to do, but for economic, legal and ideological reasons, we fail to do it.
The deinstitutionalisation of the severely mentally ill in the 60ties qualifies a as one of the largest social experiments in American history. In 1995, there were 558,239 severely mentally ill patients in the nations public psychiatric hospitals. In 1995, the number has been reduced to 71,619. The deinstitutionalization created an mental illness crisis by discharging people from hospitals without ensuring that they receive medication and rehabilitation services in the community. Consequently, 2.2million severely mentally ill do not receive any psychiatric treatment. Mental patients were released from psychiatric hospital in the belief that permitting them to live in a freer environment was more humane and would improve their well-being.
Instead, they turned up in prisons where they are virtually devoid of dignity and lack adequate treatment and understanding. Besides, even if they take medications and might get better in jail, there is no guarantee that they will continue with the treatment after they are released into the communities. And so the vicious circle goes on.
The solution to the problem is to provide sufficient funding to the community-based mental health system so people could be helped before they become part of the prison system. Services like medication therapy and monitoring, residential services, rehabilitation services and support services are successful in bringing the severely mentally ill back to communities. As a rule, community services are also less expensive. Instead, we see mental health agencies being closed and stripped of their budgets. As a result the mentally ill have no place to go for treatment and support.
According to the article When jails must treat and punish in the September 4, Plain Dealer The Director of Ohio Department of Mental Health, Mike Hogan does not think that the county has a problem with the mentally ill. He believes most of them have been successfully integrated in society, and disagrees that many have been jailed.
How very convenient for Mr. Hogan. Needless to say, such wishful thinking does not help the thousands who in addition to suffering from mental illness suffer from the unjust social system as well.
Senator Mike DeWine (R) and Democrat Ted Strickland are working on promoting federal legislation that would fund a pilot court program to direct mentally ill prisoners to treatment facilities instead of jail. They need all our support.
Word Count: 461