I have written before about this very serious problem in our society of incarcerating people who have serious behavioral health problems which is inappropriate, unjust, and costs the taxpayers inordinate amounts of illspent money.
Dorthea Dix campaigned in this country to free the mentally ill from prisons, and here in the 21rst century after a couple of centuries of reform, we are back in the same boat.
Linked below is a good article in the January, 2004 issue of The Psychiatric Times about a recent report by Human Rights Watch released in October, 2003. It seems ironic that we can spend billions of dollars in the Middle East to fight a war over human rights while right here in our own country hundreds of thousands of our citizens are mistreated evey day by a system hell bent on getting tough on crime and seeing treatment as a warm fuzzy do gooder boondogle of feel good liberals. Well it turns out that humane treatment for our suffering brothers and sisters is what is at stake. What kind of people are we that we can't provide decent behavioral health care to our citizens who are suffering because of mental illness and drug addiction?
"On any given day, it is estimated that about 70,000 inmates in U.S. prisons are psychotic. Anywhere from 200,000 to 300,000 male and female prison inmates suffer from mental disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression. Prisons hold three times more people with mental illness than do psychiatric hospitals, and U.S. prisoners have rates of mental illness that are up to four times greater than rates for the general population.
These are the findings of a report by Human Rights Watch, released Oct. 22, 2003. Many of the statistics cited by the organization have been released by various organizations and agencies, but the 215-page report provides a more complete picture of the U.S. prison system as the nation's primary mental health care facilities. The complete report is available on their Web site."