About 14 percent of state and federal prisoners (about 200,000) and 26 percent of jailed inmates (about 190,000) have serious mental illnesses, according to a report last year by the U.S. Department of Justice. Prison and jail officials don’t have the resources to treat them, and many deteriorate behind bars.
By contrast, in some states those judged to be criminally insane receive better mental health treatment than practically anybody else — including people who have never committed a crime.
Oregon’s Psychiatric Security Review Board oversees the care of the criminally insane from the time they receive the verdict until they are discharged from state care. During that period, which can go on indefinitely for someone serving a life sentence, the board supervises the treatment plan and determines when a person is ready for a less secure facility and, eventually, conditional release.
In Oregon, that final stage includes not just clinical treatment but supportive housing and help with job hunting, transportation, budgeting and grocery shopping.
Oregon’s model of intense care and supervision is not cheap: Caring for a patient at the Oregon State Hospital costs between $383,000 and $437,000 annually, according to the Oregon Health Authority. Conditional release supervision costs between $30,000 and $157,000 a year.
It has, however, yielded impressive results. Over the past five years, the rate of recidivism for those on conditional release in Oregon after a verdict of criminal insanity is 0.47 percent. By comparison, one report put the recidivism rate among all Oregon ex-inmates, whether mentally ill or not, at about 18 percent.
From The Pew Charitable Trusts
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