Mentally Ill More Likely To Spend Time In Prison


In today’s prison system, the mentally ill are more likely to spend their time in jail than getting help for their condition. And the prison system has failed its inmates with mental disorders more times than not.

Mental Illness in U.S. Prisons

jail cellAbout 400,000 inmates in the U.S. prison system are estimated to be mentally ill. Many times, the person’s disorder is responsible for landing them in prison, and then they continue to go without treatment. This cycle can continue on repeating itself for years without the proper treatment.

People who are mentally ill are ten times more likely to be incarcerated than hospitalized. During a panel discussion hosted by the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., it was stated that the mentally ill inmate population is equivalent to the entire population of Oakland, California. It was also stated that an average of 5,000 people with serious mental illness are booked into jails per day.

These people end up getting arrested for crimes ranging from small to large, such as trespassing or violent felonies. The most common mental illnesses in U.S. prisons are schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, which will only get worse without the proper care.

Post-jail treatment

When mentally ill inmates are released from jail they are at a higher risk of being convicted of another criminal offense. Housing and employment are the biggest challenges for the mentally ill when they are released from prison. What these people really need is a place to learn how to cope with their illness so they can survive in the real world.

The best solution is to get them to work with a psychiatrist after being released from jail who can help them get a job and find a place to live. Programs like that are what’s lacking from the system.


Photo by David Quigley

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Options for Mentally Ill Offenders That Don’t Involve Jail


Many Americans with mental illness end up in jails and prisons each year. They also tend to spend longer terms in prison and end up back in prison costing local jurisdictions more money. They are typically jailed for nonviolent reasons and end up lacking the treatment they need. So what are other options for the mentally ill offenders that doesn’t involve incarceration?

Mental health options in Phoenix: Community corrections

police motorcycle enforcing mentally ill lawsCommunity corrections is an alternative to prison for nonviolent offenders. The mentally ill can benefit from these programs because they provide several treatments aimed at helping mental disorders and substance addiction. Phoenix House offers a community treatment program as an alternative to prison. This program costs less than prison and offers significant help in a clinically supportive environment. Phoenix House provides a number of treatments:

  • Assessment and evaluation services: Phoenix House provides individual assessments and evaluations of substance abuse and mental disorders that can be requested by individuals, families, schools and the Criminal Justice System.
  • Mental health services: Phoenix House provides treatment programs specifically designed to treat mental illnesses in kids and adults short term and long term.
  • Sober living and recovery support: Phoenix House offers a safe transition space before fully returning to independent living or an alternative to residential treatment depending on the situation.
  • Mother and child residential services: Phoenix House offers professional services for pregnant women and women with young children in a residential setting.
  • Adult outpatient services: Adults have the option of receiving outpatient services that provide a comprehensive array of substance abuse and mental health programs. All programs use evidence based practices that are safe, supportive and accredited.
  • Adult residential services: Phoenix House’s residential treatments are catered to each individual and create solutions to meet each individual’s needs. Stay lengths are flexible and programs meet any treatment needs.
  • Adult detoxification and stabilization: Phoenix House offers medical and social detoxification and stabilization services that helps individuals detox safely and then connects them to the next level of care.

Photo by John O’Neill

Posted in Arizona, Arizona Laws, Mental Health Defenses | Tagged , , , , |