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Problem Analysis:The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world and of that over sixty percent of jail inmates reported having a mental health issue and 316,000 of them are severely mentally ill (Raphael & Stoll, 2013). Correctional facilities in the United States have become the primary mental health institutions today (Adams & Ferrandino, 2008). This imprisonment of the mentally ill in the United States has increased the incarceration rate and has left those individuals medically untreated and emotionally unstable while in jail and after being released. Better housing facilities, medical treatment and psychiatric counseling can be helpful in alleviating their illness as well as upon their release. This paper will explore the increasing incarceration rate of the mentally ill in the jails and prisons of the United States, the lack of medical services available to the mentally ill, the roles of the police, the correctional officers and the community and the revolving door phenomenon (Soderstrom, 2007). It will also review some of the existing and present policies that have been ineffective and present new policies that can be effective with the proper resources and training. The main objective of this paper is to illustrate that the criminalization of the mentally ill has become a public health problem and that our policy should focus more on rehabilitation rather than punishment.

A huge factor in the prevalence of mental health problems in United States prison and jail inmates is believed to be due to the policy of deinstitutionalization. Many of the mentally ill were treated in publicly funded hospitals up until the 1960’s. Due to budget cuts and underfunding of community mental health services we …

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…aluating mental health courts as an ideal mental health intervention. Best Practices in Mental Health, 21-37.

Lamb, H. R. (2004). Mentally ill persons in the criminal justice system: Some perspectives. Psychiatric Quarterly, 108-126.

Markowitz, F. E. (2011). Mental illness, crime, and violence: Risk, context, and social control. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 36-44.

Raphael, S. &. (2013). Assessing the Contribution of the Deinstitutionalization of the Mentally Ill to Growth in the U.S. Incarceration Rate. The Journal of Legal Studies, 187-220.

Rock, M. (2001). Emerging issues with mentally ill offenders: Casues and social consequences. Administration and Policy in Mental Health., 165-180.

Soderstrom, I. R. (2007). Mental illness in offender populations: Prevalance, duty, and implications. Mental health issues in the criminal justice system., 1-17.

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