Department of Justice Study: Mental Illness of Prison Inmates Worse Than Past Estimates
Statement of Michael J. Fitzpatrick, MSW
Executive Director, National Alliance on Mental Illness
September 6, 2006
The release today of a study by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) showing than 64 percent of local jail inmates, 56 percent of state prisoners and 45 percent of federal prisoners have symptoms of serious mental illnesses is an indictment of the nation’s mental healthcare system.
It is both a scandal and a national tragedy. The figures are worse than those generally believed in the past, in which estimates of the total number of inmates with mental illnesses have been approximately 20 percent.
The study reveals that the problem is two to three times greater than anyone imagined.
What is even more disturbing is the number of these inmates that have served prior sentences, committed violent offenses, or engaged in substance abuse.
Link to the DOJ report at the end of the article.