This report highlights the significant rates of mental illness found in US jails and prisons.
The authors share literature describing rates of mental illness in US jails and prisons since the 1970s, providing the background for their own study to determine what the odds are that an individual with mental health needs will be in jail or prison rather than a psychiatric hospital. In their study they found that the odds of such an individual being in jail rather than a psychiatric hospital were 3.2 to 1. Their study also analyzed states to ascertain what characteristics lead to higher rates of individuals with mental illness in jail. They conclude with a few recommendations for fixing this problem, including, but not limited to, increasing use of outpatient treatment options and reforming treatment laws.