CQ Researcher Prisoners and Mental Illness v.25-11

Post date: Aug 28, 2015 12:42:1 PM

Thousands of people with schizophrenia, severe depression, delusional disorders or other mental problems are locked up, often in solitary confinement. While some committed violent crimes and remain a threat to themselves or other inmates and prison staff, many are incarcerated for minor offenses, simply because there is no place to send them for treatment. The number of mentally ill inmates has mushroomed in recent years as states have closed their psychiatric hospitals in favor of outpatient community mental health centers that typically are underfunded and overcrowded. In an attempt to reduce the influx of mentally ill inmates, some 300 specialized mental health courts have diverted them into court-monitored treatment instead of jail. Yet, many participants re-offend, and some experts say psychiatric treatment alone won’t prevent criminal behavior. Meanwhile, courts in more than a half-dozen states have declared solitary confinement unconstitutional for those with mental illness. However, some corrections officials say solitary is necessary to separate dangerous prisoners, even if they are mentally ill.CQ Researcher Prisoners and Mental Illness v.25-11