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Sat Feb 9, 2013, 08:51 PM

Why Addressing Mental Health Issues Means Reforming The U.S. Prison System


Why Addressing Mental Health Issues Means Reforming The U.S. Prison System

In the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings, national mental illness debates have taken center stage alongside gun regulation conversations. Liberals and conservatives alike have acknowledged that our current mental health system is highly flawed — currently, millions of Americans are unable to access the care they need, instead forced to bear the burden of their illnesses alone and without treatment. Yet little attention has been paid the role our criminal justice system plays in this web of issues.

Over half of the U.S. prison population is mentally ill, and people who suffer from mental illnesses are represented in the criminal justice system at rates between two and four times higher than in the general population. Given that studies find people with mental illnesses to be no more prone to violence than those without mental illnesses, the root of this overrepresentation in prison clearly lies in our mental health system’s shortcomings. Instead of treating the underlying biological and environmental causes of these disorders, we are criminalizing and incarcerating the mentally ill:

“Most people (with mental illness) by far are incarcerated because of very minor crimes that are preventable,” says Bob Bernstein, the Executive Director of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. “People are homeless for reasons that shouldn’t occur, people don’t have basic treatment for reasons that shouldn’t occur and they get into trouble because of crimes of survival.”

The U.S. boasts the highest incarceration rate in the world; we imprison more of our own citizens than any society in human history. Of the 2.3 million people that occupy our jails and prisons, over 60 percent of inmates are nonviolent offenders. These are people who pose no threat to society and would benefit much more from rehabilitation programs, mental health treatment, and/or other social services than from spending years behind bars.

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Full article here: http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/02/08/1561341/mental-health-prison-reform/



A Good Read.

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Reply Why Addressing Mental Health Issues Means Reforming The U.S. Prison System (Original post)
Tx4obama Feb 2013 OP
Squinch Feb 2013 #1
Tuesday Afternoon Feb 2013 #2
Paranoid Pessimist Feb 2013 #3
patrice Feb 2013 #4
area51 Feb 2013 #5

Response to Tx4obama (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 08:56 PM

1. K&R

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Response to Tx4obama (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 08:58 PM

2. DU Rec

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Response to Tx4obama (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 09:34 PM

3. If they aren't mentally ill when they first go in, . . .

they will be by the time they get out. The amount of social stress, the constant sexualized violence, the absolute requirement to have a gang affiliation for self protection, all could drive anyone crazy. The fact that there are people who do get through it without becoming psychotic recidivists is a near miracle.

But our upper eschelon people won't ever agree to enable prison reform. They hate poor people, especially ones of color, and believe that the punishments of prison is deserved. It is a belief they will never voluntarily surrender their mean spirited self righteousness.

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Response to Tx4obama (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 09:36 PM

4. KICKING!

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Response to Tx4obama (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:07 AM

5. 5th Rec.

But this is actually tied in with the fact that people don't have access to mental health services for the same reason they don't have health care access; it's not considered a basic human right in the US.

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