Individuals with serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar, and major depressive disorders are being disproportionately relegated to US prisons and jails instead of community-based mental health clinics. They enter a system designed for criminal offenders. It is estimated that 10% to 20% of jail inmates and 25% of prison inmates have a serious mental illness; the proportion of affected jail inmates is estimated to be 3 to 6 times the rate in the general population.1 A significant percentage of these individuals are not receiving the psychiatric care they need and deserve. The lack of psychiatric beds in the United States likely contributes to this problem.2
Hirschtritt ME, Binder RL. Interrupting the Mental Illness–Incarceration-Recidivism Cycle. JAMA. 2017;317(7):695–696. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.20992
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