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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

More Mentally Ill Persons Are in Jails and Prisons Than in Hospitals in USA!!

A mentally ill inmate shakes the bars of his cell and yells at guards in Delta ward
 of the Pinellas County Jail.
Photographer:John Pendygraft
source of photo:

According to a new research paper which you can read by clicking on the following link:
(you first need a program on your computer which can open and read PDF files):

 There are now more mentally ill persons living in jails in the United States than there are living
in Hospitals! In fact, if you read this document you willl find the following statement:

"There are now more than three times more seriously mentally ill persons in jails and
prisons than in hospitals."

Does anyone  see something wrong with this situation? Apparently, health care administrators and
prison administrators in the USA see nothing wrong with it!
Further, the authors of  this document go on to state the following incredible facts:

"Recent studies suggest that at least 16 percent of inmates in jails and prisons have a
serious mental illness. In 1983 a similar study reported that the percentage was
6.4 percent. Thus, in less than three decades, the percentage of seriously mentally ill
prisoners has almost tripled."

"These findings are consistent with studies reporting that 40 percent of individuals with
serious mental illnesses have been in jail or prison at some time in their lives."!!!

Why is this the case?

The authors of ths research paper suggest the following explanations:

1.It is now extremely difficult (in the USA)  to find a bed for a seriously mentally ill person who needs

to be hospitalized.

2. States have actually closed state mental hospitals and this has meant that "mentally ill" people have
"been pushed into jails!!!

As a consequence of these changes in how people with mental illnesses are treated these experts state
"In summary, national surveys and individual state reports both suggest that at
least 15–20 percent of jail and prison inmates are seriously mentally ill. We have thus
effectively returned to conditions that last existed in the United States in the 1840s."

It is interesting that the Government of the United States can find billions of dollars to send troops and
their equipment to Iraq and Afganistan, however it cannot find the dollars to help people who have
severe mental illness issues in the country!

Two key conclusions of this study are:

(1)"In 2004 in the United States, there were 100,439 psychiatric beds available in
public and private psychiatric hospitals and in the psychiatric units of general hospitals.
Since the population of the country was just over 300 million, that means that there was
approximately one psychiatric bed available for every 3,000 people. This contrasts to the
situation in the United States in 1955, when there was one public psychiatric bed available
for every 300 people. Thus, even not including private psychiatric hospital beds or the beds
on psychiatric units of general hospitals in 1955, an individual with a serious mental illness
was 10 times more likely to find a psychiatric bed for treatment in 1955 than in 2004.

(2)"Using a
statistical test, there was a very strong correlation between those states that have more
mentally ill persons in jails and prisons and those states that are spending less money on
mental health services (Spearman’s rho = 0.4974; p < 0.001). Among the ten states most
likely to be using hospitals, six were also among the ten states spending the most money
per capita. Conversely, among the ten states mostly likely to have mentally ill individuals
in jails and prisons, five were also among the states spending the least money per capita."

Is it any wonder that the experts who put this paper together state the following?

"Jails and prisons are not created to be de facto mental hospitals. They are not
structurally appropriate for patients, and the staffs are not recruited as psychiatric

Even more troubling is the following statement:

"Multiple studies have shown 

that approximately half of all inmate suicides are committed 

by inmates who are 

seriously mentally ill."

In effect for many of this mentally  ill patients who deserve to be treated in a hospital, their 

placement in a prison or jail is a death sentence!

These experts make the startling statement::

"The present mental health system appears to be bankrupt of ideas for fixing this

Let us hope that Government administrators read this document and start to implement some
of its recommendations (which you can read about in the document itself):

1.Use assisted outpatient treatment (AOT),  2.Use mental health courts,
 3. Conduct unannounced surveys, 4.Shift the funds, 5.Fix the federal funding system,
6.Reform the treatment laws

Mentally ill patients have enough problems dealing with their illness,and deserve to be
treated with dignity and respect,!



The problem is that mental illness isn't seen as an actual illness. mental illness is a health issue not a crime issue but as long as the prison lobbies are as powerful as they are, it wil be business as usual in a literal sense.

Wayne said...

Hi Israel,thank you for your insight into this situation. It is interesting that former lobbyist Jack Abramoff was jailed for fraud and tax- See: evasion

What is the What is the most profitable industry in America? "Weapons, oil and computer technology all offer high rates of return, but there is probably no sector of the economy so abloom with money as the privately run prison industry." See:

Corrections Corporation federal lobbying figures were recently released for the first quarter of 2010, and CCA was reported to have spent a quarter of a million dollars this quarter alone. According to Forbes (Associated Press, "Corrections Corp. spent $250,000 on 1Q lobbying," See:

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Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed

Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia

A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed

Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein

The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi

The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.