From the deinstitutionalization of mental health hospitals and asylums to mass incarceration of mentally ill offenders, our society has failed to treat mentally ill people and prevent systematic incarceration. In spite of many violent mentally ill offenders who are rightfully incarcerated, a significant amount of incarcerated non-violent mentally ill offenders need treatment and guidance. Incarcerating mentally ill offenders consistently is unethical due to lack of alternatives. The mentally ill are overloading prisons, which render progression useless since there are not many solutions to rectify their issues. Options for providing treatment and establishing mental health facilities will be discussed. Alternative solutions could include community-based mental health treatment centers, mental health courts, and long-term treatment programs. Finally, not all mentally ill offenders can safely reenter the general population after committing a particular crime. However, there are certain issues to be corrected within correctional facilities including staff and training, treatment teams, and punishment. Several solutions to improve prison conditions and help those that must be incarcerated have been recommended in this paper as well.
Treating Mental Illness Before Trouble Occurs
Because mental health hospitals and asylums are viewed as inhumane, mentally ill people are falling victim to their illnesses. When hospitals and asylums were shut down, community-based treatment centers were supposed to open but never received the funding to so do. Preventative treatment could be offered through these community-based treatment centers, which would ideally prevent criminal behavior by the mentally ill all together (Kempner, 2011). The ideal solution would be for communities to reinstate a mental health budget to fund treatment centers. If treatment centers were easily accessible and open to those in need, then it is possible that mentally ill people would seek out treatment prior to finding themselves involved with the criminal justice system.
Revitalizing the mental health hospitals and asylums is another alternative to preventing criminalization of the mentally ill. This solution would require a major shift in public policy, and many people would need to change their views to support this change. Although, if the public were aware of the harsh prison conditions, the lack of treatment, and could see how inhumane prisons actually are for the mentally ill, then maybe people would see that mental health hospitals and asylums are not as bad as they seemed. Reopening mental health hospitals and asylums would allow many non-violent mentally ill offenders to receive adequate, professional treatment and care.
Implementing Mental Health Courts & Diversion Programs
When an individual's mental illnesses cause them to commit a crime, there should be a mental health court available to deal with these types of people and offenses. A mental health...