December 4, 2014, New York - Newsweek’s “Tackling the Mental Health Problem in New York City's Jails” (12/4/2014) states the very grim - and sadly well-known - fact that the United States has more people in prison than any other country in the world.
Worse still, the US’ astonishing prison population rate - second only to the tiny African nation of Seychelles (population 90,595) – is nearly six-times the incarceration rate of number two China; and one and a half times the Russian Federation’s third place ranking. (Source: The International Centre for Prison Studies)
Citing an April 2014 report from the Treatment Advocacy Center (TAC), Newsweek’s authors call out what few may realize, “There are 10 times as many individuals with serious mental illness in prisons and jails than in state mental hospitals.” More, TAC explains, inmates are actually undercounted for a variety of reasons - therefore, the ten-fold figure is actually conservative.
The criminal justice system has become a first recourse during crises involving mental illness sufferers. And once having been in the system, recidivism rates for the mentally ill are significantly higher.
Newsweek summarizes a number of the key elements in the Action Plan developed by the Mayor’s Task Force on Behavioral Health and the Criminal Justice System and released on December 2.
Similar concepts were also discussed in a US Department of Justice – National Institute of Corrections publication in June 2014: Mapping the Criminal Justice System to Connect Justice-Involved Individuals with Treatment and Health Care under the Affordable Care Act.
Mapping the Criminal Justice System to Connect Justice-Involved Individuals with Treatment and Health Care under the Affordable Care Act (US Department of Justice – National Institute of Corrections)