Mental Illness Harder To Handle As Jail Crowding Rises


Publish Date:
September 18, 2015
Daily News Journal
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The Daily News Journal quotes a paper by SLS Lecturer Michael Romano and Professor David Mills on the causes of high numbers of mentally ill inmates in American prisons.

Look at any 10 inmates of the Rutherford County Adult Detention Center. It’s likely that two of them — 20 percent — are being treated for some sort of mental illness.

Doesn’t seem like that many, does it?

The increasing number of mentally ill inmates is a phenomenon that began in the 1980s, when President Ronald Reagan deinstitutionalized and defunded mental health institutions across the country, according to Darrell Steinberg, David Mills and Michael Romano, who published a paper about the issue for Stanford Law School’s Three Strike Project.

The idea was to move the mentally ill out of asylums and into better, and less expensive, local treatment centers.

“Although deinstitutionalization was originally understood as a humane way to offer more suitable services to the mentally ill in community-based settings, some politicians seized upon it as a way to save money by shutting down institutions without providing any meaningful treatment alternatives,” they stated in the paper.

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