A report by Human Rights Watch about mental illness in American prisons concludes:
–One in six prisoners is mentally ill, suffering from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or major depression.
–There are three times as many men and women with mental illness in U.S. prisons as in mental health hospitals.
–The rate of mental illness in the prison population is three times higher than in the general population.
“Prisons have become the nation’s primary mental health facilities,” said Jamie Fellner, director of Human Rights Watch’s U.S. Program and a co-author of the report. “But for those with serious illnesses, prison can be the worst place to be.”
Meanwhile, another nonprofit advocacy group, the Correctional Association of New York, reported that nearly one in four New York State prisoners who are kept in punitive segregation — confined to a small cell at least 23 hours a day — are mentally ill.
According to the New York Times, “Despite graphic evidence that the most acutely ill prisoners in punitive segregation, or lockdown, often grow only more troubled and violent, the state Department of Correctional Services, which runs the state’s 70 prisons, rarely does anything to help them, said the report.”