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Studies have shown the deleterious effects of prolonged solitary confinement on someone’s mental condition, and for those with serious mental illness, a prolonged stay in prison can cause crippling damage to their health.
“We don’t have a mental health professional in half the counties in America. Fuller of the Treatment Advocacy Center said at a panel in Washington, D. C., discussed the criminal justice system and the U. “We have a population of inmates behind bars in America today with mental illness that’s about the size of the city of Oakland, California,” Fuller stated, noting that an average of 5,000 people with “serious mental illness” are booked in jails per day.“Putting someone in jail with mental illness for even a few days and then releasing them – which everyone gets released – is not an improvement of public safety,” Leifman insisted at the panel.“Most of them have serious trauma issues, and jail re-traumatizes people.” “If you want to really improve your public safety, improve the community mental health system,” he added. Chase of the National Association of Counties pointed to the example of Leon County, Florida, which established a system where non-profits met officials at the jail at midnight to take in homeless individuals and inmates with serious mental issues.The Treatment Advocacy Center contracted with the University of North Carolina and North Carolina State University to gather and analyze data from five state hospitals.Their findings led them to believe that changes could benefit the system.Kianna Richardson, a correctional support specialist with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.
C., sees clients with arrest records, most of whom are “non-violent offenders.” She provides 60-day case management for those “with severe and persistent mental health diagnoses who are returning from Charles County detention center back to the community.” She insisted that “it’s crucial for them” to receive treatment.
The goal is to get the patients to engage in treatment with a psychiatrist, Ostlie said.
They also work to get benefits for the patients and to help them apply for the appropriate housing, such as a single occupancy room or a group home.
An estimated 40 percent of those with severe mental illness are incarcerated at some point in their lives.
Some 90,000 people in prison have been judged “incompetent to stand trial.” In all but three states, they must then be treated back to a competent state. housed far more people in mental hospitals, but starting in the 1950s, a push to “deinstitutionalize” the system – as well as federal cases brought against hospitals for horrific abuses there – led to budget cuts and the closing of hospitals rather than states working to reform them, Leifman said.
In Florida, for instance, where 120 inmates per month will need to be treated for illnesses before they stand trial, “if you divert two of them, the average bed wait drops from 12 days to 3 days,” Doris A. In Wisconsin, if eight beds were added to the state hospitals, the average waits for a bed would fall from two months to two weeks.