If there are effective programs that will properly care for mentally ill people who may have violent tendencies, the U.S. would be cutting the cost of corrections spending. Also proper treatment would help people deal with their mental illness and will likely reduce or control their violent tendencies and any other criminal tendencies that result from mental illness.
Prisoners may a have mental illness because of being in prison instead of having a mental illness prior to being incarcerated. When a person is in prison they are confined to an uncomfortable bed, small spaces, and have to worry about the rest of the prisoners taking their stuff or harming them. All of these things combined can make a person go insane. There are many sexual assault cases in prisons that are not usually reported. These cases can contribute to a person having a mental illness such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Along with the sexual assaults happening in prison, the prisoners rarely, if ever, see their family and friends. It is not only missing your family and friends, it is that you may lose support or feel like you have lost support from them. When a person has lost support from the people they love and care about, they may turn more violent or have a mental breakdown. Prisons can be the problem instead of people already having mental illnesses.
There are many mentally ill people serving time in prison. Some of the people that are mentally ill can spend their parole in mental hospitals. Each year at the mental hospital the prisoner gets a trial that either qualifies them as mentally ill or sends them back to prison if they are not. This could be a way for prisoners to get out of prison or serve their time without being locked in a prison with many other people that want to hurt them or also to get out of doing work. Also, in the mental hospitals there are people that have not committed a crime that are being treated for a disorder and they are being treated alongside the people that have committed a crime. The fact is that people with mental disorders should be treated for the disorder, but not in the same way that someone that did not commit a crime and also has a disorder.
We should treat mentally ill people instead of them committing crimes and being thrown in prison where they get no help.
This video show the struggle and gut wrenching suffering of psychiatric patients in prison. They are serving jail time instead of being hospitalized and receiving proper treatment for their mental illness.
Anyone who wants to help reform America’s broken prison system needs to pay attention to the nation’s psychologists. “The prison population has rates of mental illness at least three times the national average,” reports the American Psychological Association. The connection makes sense: we have a serious lack of community mental health services in this country, and people who are left untreated are more likely to get in trouble with the law. Incarceration is not going to help these people. Psychologists have been studying the background of criminal behavior for decades, and theirs is a critical perspective if we want to actually lower crime rates AND lower prisoner rates. http://www.apa.org/monitor/julaug03/rehab.aspx
According to an article by Health Affairs, it states that “across the nation, individuals with severe mental illness are three times more likely to be in a jail or prison than in a mental health facility and 40 percent of individuals with a severe mental illness will have spent some time in their lives in either jail, prison, or community corrections.” It should be in our interest to provide inmates with the appropriate treatment because if mentally ill offenders receive the appropriate treatment they would be less likely to offend again. If they do not receive treatment, the harsh and violent environment of prison is likely to make their illness worse, which could leave them more susceptible to commit further offenses once they are released from prison. The justice system duty, of course, is to punish the offender but also to reduce the risk the offender poses to society. For some offenders, mental health treatment is more likely to achieve this than prison.
P.S. As a society, we should provide any sick person with the treatment they need. Healthcare is a basic and fundamental right that should not be abridged. But, our country’s lack of mental health treatment options is such an extreme problem that jails actually function as some of the nation’s biggest mental health providers. Listen to this NPR story from America’s largest jail, in Cook County, Illinois: http://www.npr.org/2014/01/20/263461940/mentally-ill-inmates-often-locked-up-in-jails-that-cant-help