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Mentally Ill Individuals in Jails and Prisons
Crime and Justice  (IF4.474),  Pub Date : 2017-01-01, DOI: 10.1086/688461
Edward P. Mulvey, Carol A. Schubert

Both targeted programs and wholesale changes are sorely needed in how individuals with mental illness are processed in the criminal justice system. Mental illness is not as directly related to criminal involvement or violence as is often assumed. Mentally ill individuals are nonetheless disproportionately present in jails and prisons. Efforts to reduce their numbers must take account of the heterogeneity of mental conditions and their changing nature. Understanding of the complex ways in which mental illness and involvement in crime and violence are related is a precondition for formulating realistic policies. The disproportionate presence of mentally ill individuals in jails and prisons will not be substantially ameliorated by new programs alone; these have limited reach and effect. Doing better in five respects is key: expand the reach of standard and innovative mental health services, divert mentally ill individuals early in the criminal justice process, enrich training of criminal justice personnel, use data more effectively, and promote interdisciplinary aftercare programs for people with mental illness when they are released from jails and prisons.