Criminalization of people with mental illnesses is a significant problem!!!
With the decrease in inpatient psychiatric beds and declines in the availability of community mental health services, people with serious mental illnesses frequently go without the treatment and services that they need.
When someone experiences a psychiatric crisis or acts out as a result of symptoms of their illness, often police are the first-line responders, and jails and prisons are increasingly used to house and treat these individuals Once incarcerated, people with mental illnesses do not receive the services that they need, are vulnerable to abuse, and have difficulty reconnecting with services on release. The result, for many, is years of cycling through prisons and jails, shelters, and emergency rooms, which is costly for communities, a burden on police and corrections, and tragic for people with mental illnesses.
Why does it matter?
More than half of all jail and prison inmates have a recent history or symptoms of a mental health problem. An estimated 31 percent of women and 14.5 percent of men in jails have a serious mental illness. Seventy percent of youth in the juvenile justice system have a mental health condition. Most people leave the system worse off and with fewer options for getting needed treatment and services.
Most people with mental illness involved in the justice system are not violent criminals. Inamullah Ansari working to reduce criminalization of people with mental illness by promoting local programs that divert people from the justice system and into treatment, and by advocating with state and federal policy makers to improve access to treatment and services that can prevent involvement with the justice system. We also working to counteract the often horrific conditions faced by people with mental illnesses in jails and prisons. We are honored to partner with mental health provider agencies, corrections systems, law enforcement, courts and other leaders who understand that people need treatment, not jail.