IMPROVING CONDITIONS FOR MENTALLY ILL INDIVIDUALS IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

54 Am. Crim. L. Rev. Online 31

Destiny Howell* 

Deinstitutionalization, the process of moving the mentally ill out of large state-run institutions, was predicated in part on the assumption that individuals would be able to utilize community-based health care to meet their needs. Despite this belief, adequate funding for these resources never materialized, leading to the unprecedented incarceration of the mentally ill. Though a comprehensive solution to this pervasive problem will not be quick or inexpensive, the system needs reform. There are several possible routes for reform. One option is to promote diversion programs that reduce the number of those incarcerated and mentally ill. Another option is to promote programs designed to provide adequate levels of care and continuing support to the mentally ill already in the penal system to reduce recidivism rates. Both options have shown promise in states where they are used. However, until more states establish diversion programs with properly-equipped facilities, the most viable option is to make sure those already in the penal system are receiving proper care.

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