Jails Are the Largest Mental Health Hospitals in the
Majid Ali, M.D.
Here are some stark stats from a
2006 Justice Department study and some other
official studies that define the scope of the
Mental health problems afflict more than half of
prisoners in the U.S.
out of four female inmates are so afflicted.
1955, there was one psychiatric bed for every 300
Americans. In 2014, there is one for every 3,000
than three times as many people with mental illness
are residents of jails as of hospitals.
are enormously expensive places to treat mental
needless to point out, are ineffective ways to treat
Psychotropic drugs usually cost more than $100 a
month outside jails. Of course, they are free in
Here is another stark fact: In
California, there are times when the state budget
for prisons exceeds that for education.
In the 1800s, far-reaching
reforms led to the establishment of mental hospitals
in various countries and campaigns against the
imprisonment of the mentally ill. That was then. Now
in 2010s, the United States is returning to the old
So, what is the answer? Letís ask some
politicians. So shall we pose this question to
mother nature who made the human nature so ethically
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