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July 01, 2013 7:04 AM The Crisis of Jail Inmates with Mental Illness

By Keith Humphreys

Following the informed debate generated by my post about deinstitutionalization of mentally ill patients, I am passing along this short, powerful PBS segment. Some people with mental illness who used to be in state hospitals are now in independent or semi-independent housing, but others are in the worst place imaginable for them: Behind bars. This segment’s account of a psychotic inmate who is released without support onto the street and immediately harms himself and threatens public safety is as powerful as it is sadly familiar.

Watch Prisons and the Mentally Ill on PBS. See more from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.

And here’s a save the date for you if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area: We plan to debate these issues further at the Stanford Health Policy Forum on October 10 from 11:30-1:00pm on Stanford campus. Our guests will be L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca, Stanford Psychiatry Department Chairman Laura Roberts and University of Chicago Professor Harold Pollack, whose piece in the Washington Post was the kicking off point for my original post. Forum events are free and open to the public; room information will be available closer to the date on the Stanford Health Policy Forum website.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-based Community]

Keith Humphreys is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine.