Psychiatric Quarterly, Vol. 72, No. 1, 2001 Special Section Mentally Ill Populations in Jails and Prisons: A Misuse of Resources INTRODUCTION Paula G. Panzer, M.D., Nahama Broner, Ph.D., and Hunter L. McQuistion, M.D., Guest Editors The American prison system is intended as a method of incarceration and punishment, but by virtue of its population it is serving as an inadequate and inappropriate method to contain mental illness. Na- tional surveys show that between 6 and 15% of all jail inmates and 10 to 15% of prison inmates have a severe mental illness (1). Mentally ill individuals are admitted to jails at approximately eight times the rate at which they are admitted to public psychiatric hospitals, and there are now more people with severe mental illness in U.S. jails than in state hospitals (2). Approximately 70% also have a co-oc- curring alcohol and or drug abuse problem (5,6). Among this popula- tion, the incidence of poverty is high with a disproportionate repre- sentation of minority groups. For example, in New York City jails it is estimated that 20% of those arrested are homeless (3), and up to 85% are African American and Latino (4). This national trend has implications for
Psychiatric Quarterly – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 3, 2004
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