Few options left
At the threshold of the 21st century, a disturbing trend has become evident. As the number of hospitalized adults decreased during the second half of the 20th century, the number of prison inmates with serious mental illness was on the rise. In fact, the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reports that the number of inmates in jails and prisons with mental illness quadrupled in just six years — from 283,000 in 1998 to 1.25 million in 2006. This surge coincided with the closure of the last of the hospitals.
The magnitude of the problem is evident upon examination of prison statistics in Connecticut, where the adult population of people incarcerated with moderate to severe mental illness has increased from 2,200 in 2000 to 3,700 in 2005, or from 12 percent to 20 percent.
With few inpatient beds and no law that allows for assisted outpatient treatment, the citizens of Connecticut with severe mental illnesses aren’t left with many options.