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Medical News & Perspectives
August 4, 2004

Efforts Grow to Keep Mentally Ill Out of Jails

JAMA. 2004;292(5):555-556. doi:10.1001/jama.292.5.555

New York, NY—Putting seriously mentally ill people who commit crimes behind prison bars is not only a major public policy scandal, it also costs communities more than treating these offenders, according to speakers at a forum on reversing the criminalization of the seriously mentally ill at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) here in May.

The broad and rapid release of patients from state mental hospitals that began in the 1950s and the concomitant failure to adequately fund the community mental health system led directly to the overpopulation of individuals with mental illness in adult and juvenile justice systems today, said Marcia Goin, MD, PhD, of the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, immediate past APA president.