The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world and of that over sixty percent of jail inmates reported having a mental health issue and 316,000 of them are severely mentally ill (Raphael & Stoll, 2013). Correctional facilities in the United States have become the primary mental health institutions today (Adams & Ferrandino, 2008). This imprisonment of the mentally ill in the United States has increased the incarceration rate and has left those individuals medically untreated and emotionally unstable while in jail and after being released. Better housing facilities, medical treatment and psychiatric counseling can be helpful in alleviating their illness as well as upon their release. This paper will explore the increasing incarceration rate of the mentally ill in the jails and prisons of the United States, the lack of medical services available to the mentally ill, the roles of the police, the correctional officers and the community and the revolving door phenomenon (Soderstrom, 2007). It will also review some of the existing and present policies that have been ineffective and present new policies that can be effective with the proper resources and training. The main objective of this paper is to illustrate that the criminalization of the mentally ill has become a public health problem and that our policy should focus more on rehabilitation rather than punishment.
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.
Prior to taking this course, I generally believed that people were rightly in prison due to their actions. Now, I have become aware of the discrepancies and flaws within the Criminal Justice system. One of the biggest discrepancies aside from the imprisonment rate between black and white men, is mental illness. Something I wished we covered more in class. The conversation about mental illness is one that we are just recently beginning to have. For quite a while, mental illness was not something people talked about publicly. This conversation has a shorter history in American prisons. Throughout the semester I have read articles regarding the Criminal Justice system and mental illness in the United States. Below I will attempt to describe how the Criminal Justice system fails when they are encountered by people with mental illnesses.
The mentally ill prison population presents unique challenges for prisons systems. The United States has the highest rate of adult incarceration among developed countries with nearly 2.2 million currently in jails and prisons. According to Human Rights Watch, the staggering rate of incarcerated mentally ill is a result of under-funded, disorganized and fragmented mental health services (2006). Prison systems need to address the needs of the mentally ill population. As Reginald Wilkinson, Director of the Ohio Rehabilitation and Corrections noted, Correction agencies will have to deal with this population sooner or later. Prisoners have a constitutional right to mental health care while incarnated and many systems have been sued for what the plaintiffs consider to be lack of mental health service delivery” (Gaseau 2004). Gradually over the past several years as the number of mentally ill offenders has drastically increased some states such as Ohio and Maryland have recognized that this is a large population that needs to be better managed and have begun to reform the treatment programs and care for the mentally ill; however, not all states have been as proactive at addressing the problem. Dealing with the mentally ill prison population is another major problem that needs to tackle by all state and federal prisons as this population continues to grow.
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.
The purpose of jail is to control criminals, decrease crime rates, decrease recidivism, and by the end of the inmate 's sentencing individuals are expected to return to society as if everything were “normal”. However, the majority of individuals who are incarcerated is because they did not pay fines, they were not able to post bail, or because they have a mental health diagnosis. Who knew jails were the new models of psychiatric facilities. It’s been proven that people with mental illness often experience worsened symptoms, recidivism, and abuse while incarcerated. Which poses the question of is jail the place individuals with a mental health diagnosis should be?
United States of America is governed by set of rules and regulations that sentences, defends, prosecutes and punishes individuals convicted of crime. Without this system, the world will be difficult to live. That is why a critical look must be undertaken to make sure individuals convicted or suspected of crime are put in their right places. The current criminal justice system has been known to incarcerate individuals who after serving their time ends up back to prison or more often engage in the same offense that ended them up in prison (Lehrer 26). Most mentally disabled inmates are kept under little or no supervision and live with inmates who has no mental illness. Others are locked up with these mentally
Even if the Mental Disorder Defence does not work for a mentally ill offender, their mental illness should be taken into consideration when they are being sentenced. Many forms of punishment would be ineffective for a mentally ill offender, so alternative punishments should be considered based on one’s mental illness so that the justice system can work with the health system to rehabilitate the offender back into
Thousands of people statewide are in prisons, all for different reasons. However, the amount of mental illness within prisons seems to go unaddressed and ignored throughout the country. This is a serious problem, and the therapy/rehabilitation that prison systems have do not always help those who are mentally ill. Prison involvement itself can contribute to increased suicide (Hills, Holly). One ‘therapy’ that has increased throughout the years has been the use of solitary confinement, which has many negative effects on the inmates. When an inmate has a current mental illness, prior to entering into the prison, and it goes undiagnosed and untreated, the illness can just be worsened and aggravated.
The statistics says that In 1955, approximately 560,000 Americans were receiving treatment for mental illness in state hospitals. Today, fewer than 55,000 people are being treated in state mental institutions. This process called deinstitualization, which was a failure. Especially, in jails because of the crowded state and local jails, and left untreated patients to fend for themselves on city streets. As a result, when they are not get their treatments,