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Coordination and Communication are Key to Improving Mental Health and Criminal Justice in America

Mental health and criminal justice are a tangled mess in communities all across the country. Rather than supporting health from childhood through old age, our social systems show hardly any signs of understanding mental health at all. We don’t systematically recognize or have the capacity to respond to early indications for concern, and instead rely upon law enforcement to intervene …

The Burden of Mental Illness Behind Bars

Today, about 14.5 percent of men and 31 percent of women in jails have a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, major depression, or bipolar disorder, compared to 3.2 and 4.9 percent, respectively, in the general population. While estimates vary, the prevalence of serious mental illnesses is at least two to four times higher among state prisoners than in community …

How mass incarceration harms U.S. health, in 5 charts

The evidence is clear: Mass incarceration is a public health scourge in the U.S.   Most people who die in jails are not convicted. Suicide rates for incarcerated individuals are three to four times higher than rates for the general public. In 1980, fewer than one percent of American children under 18 had a parent in prison or jail. By …

In Defense of Risk-Assessment Tools

It may seem weird to rely on an impersonal algorithm to predict a person’s behavior given the enormous stakes. But the gravity of the outcome—in cost, crime, and wasted human potential—is exactly why we should use an algorithm. Read the full article here.

Too Many People Are Calling 911. Here’s a Better Way.

A committee of civic, healthcare, and faith leaders launched a program called Rapid Assessment Decision And Redirection (RADAR). For weekday daytime calls that are very likely to be non-emergent in nature, Memphis partners with a faith-based organization, Resurrection Health, to steer residents away from the ER and send healthcare providers directly to them. For calls redirected to RADAR, Memphis dispatches a …

Era of Mass Expansion: Why State Officials Should Fight Jail Growth

One out of every three people behind bars is being held in a local jail, yet jails get almost none of the attention that prisons do In terms of raw numbers state prison reform is the larger prize, but embracing the myth that jails are only a local matter undermines current and future state-level reforms. Read the full article here.

A Fresh Take on Ending the Jail-to-Street-to-Jail Cycle

A “frequent flier” is someone who has cycled in and out of jail on mostly low-level charges. “Frequent fliers” are expensive: between jail, shelters, and the emergency room, they end up costing a lot more in taxpayer dollars than your average resident. In New York, giving these individuals an apartment and treatment support services costs the city $16,000 less per person per …

Emptying the ‘New Asylums’: A Beds Capacity Model to Reduce Mental Illness Behind Bars

Emptying the ‘New Asylums’: A Beds Capacity Model to Reduce Mental Illness Behind Bars reports the findings of a mathematical model built to project whether relatively modest selected changes to the status quo could break this logjam. The Takeaway: Relatively small changes in common policy and practice could dramatically reduce pretrial bed waits and the mass incarceration of individuals with …

Mass Incarceration is the Enemy of Economic Opportunity

Bridgespan’s report is part of its “Billion Dollar Bets” series, which identifies six areas of philanthropic investment that could have outsized impacts on improving “economic opportunity for every American.” These include three criminal justice reform investments. Read the full article here.

Unnecessary incarceration costs U.S. taxpayers $20 billion a year, Brennan Center study says

Many of the country’s inmates shouldn’t be imprisoned, the Brennan Center concluded. In particular, nearly 40 percent of the country’s inmates are being incarcerated “without a sufficient public safety rationale. They include low-level offenders who should never have been jailed, according to the center, and violent criminals whose sentences are too severe. If those 576,000 prisoners were released, taxpayers would save about …