Vol. 9, No. 4, 2003 Page 8


"Law enforcement and corrections officers will tell you that they are at ground zero of our country's mental health crisis, 24/7. Here are just a few of the grisly statistics:

"25% to 40% of mentally ill individuals become involved in the criminal justice system; "In July 1999, the Department of Justice issued a Special Report announcing that at least 16% of [the population of] state jails and prisons, or 260,000 people, are individuals with severe mental illness. That is more than four times the number of people currently in state mental hospitals;

"The American Jail Association estimates that 600,000 to 700,000 bookings each year involve individuals with mental illness;

"On any given day, at least 284,000 schizophrenic and manic depressive individuals are incarcerated, and 547, 800 are on probation;

"By default, L.A. County Jail is now the largest mental institution in the United States, holding an estimated 3,300 mentally ill inmates on any given night.

"These statistics represent countless backwards steps that have been made in the name of progress. They remind me of what the governor of Virginia said when he expressed dismay that he was 'forced to authorize the confinement of persons with mental illnesses in the Williamsburg jail, against both his conscience and the law,' because of lack of appropriate services. That was in 1773."

U.S. Representative Ted Strickland, at a 2000
Congressional hearing on
"The Impact of Mentally Ill Offenders
on the Criminal Justice System."

Return to:
[Author Directory] [Front Page] [Issue Index] [Subject Index] [Title Index]