13 JIJIS 171 (2013)
Legitimacy of Corrections as a Mental Health Care Provider: Perspectives from U.S. and European Systems

handle is hein.journals/jijis13 and id is 183 raw text is: Peterka-Benton & Masciadrelli 171

Daniela Peterka-Benton & Brian Paul Masciadrelli*
State University of New York at Fredonia
Large numbers of seriously mentally ill persons are being incarcerated because their
disturbed behavior is criminalized. The criminal justice system is struggling to manage
the needs of these mentally ill persons in correctional settings. This article examines
the problem of the incarcerated mentally ill in terms of whether or not the correctional
setting is an ethically legitimate place to house and treat these persons. First, it briefly
summarizes how we arrived at this problem in the U.S. Then, it examines the problem
today in the U.S. and comparatively in European nations. Finally, it closes with
recommendations for establishing treatment outside correctional settings and how to
best address the issue of mental illness within correctional settings.
The public system for responding to serious mental illness in the United States is
in a state of dysfunction. The largest psychiatric institutions in the nation are
not hospitals, but instead correctional facilities (Torrey, 2008). This is not a
new state of affairs in America. Some one hundred and seventy-five years ago the
United States was faced with a similar situation, as the majority of poor mentally ill
persons found themselves confined to poor houses at best, and to jails or prisons at
worst (Grob, 1966, 1973). The situation seemingly has come full circle today. In the
intervening time the United States witnessed the development and widespread
establishment of large public psychiatric institutions for mental health care. More than
a century of medical and social change led to the disbandment and
deinstitutionalization of these large institutions in favor of community-based mental
health services, and subsequent implementation problems led to the failure of these
community-based services to meet the demands placed on them. After both past
successes and failures, the seriously mentally ill are once again frequently confined to
jails and prisons. In order to understand how we arrived at the present situation, it is
necessary to review what led us here. The following is a short historical description
of American mental health care and is not intended to be a comprehensive study of it.
Elaborate discussions can be found in the works of Grob (1973, 1983, 1994) and
Torrey (1997, 2008, 2014), among others.  Subsequently this paper will look at
mentally ill inmate populations in U.S. prisons and jails by introducing estimates on
this particular inmate group and how correctional facilities deal with them. Then a
comparative analysis of mentally inmates in European penal institution will follow
before concluding with a discussion of findings and formulation of possible solutions.
@ 2014 by authors. reprinted here by permission. Correspondence concemine this article should be
addressed to DanielaPeterka-Benton @fredonia.edu.

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