PREVALENCE OF MENTAL HEALTH DIVERSION PRACTICES
A Survey of the States
The criminalization of mental illness is nothing less than a national disgrace.
A 2010 study by the Treatment Advocacy Center found that more than three times as many severely mentally ill persons in the U.S. are doing time in jails and prisons than receiving treatment in hospitals. Other studies indicate a near-tripling over the last 30 years of the percentage of U.S. inmates who suffer from severe mental illness, to a current level of at least 16%.
The primary mission of the Treatment Advocacy Center is to promote mental health laws and policies which, if fully implemented by state mental health systems, would minimize – if never fully eliminate – the tragedy of people with severe mental illness falling into the clutches of the criminal justice system. In this report, we look to how state criminal justice officials are responding to the colossal failure of their mental health counterparts to meet this challenge.