Friday, December 21, 2007

The only place that can't refuse to take you

“Prior to 2000, the Alabama Department of Corrections didn’t consider mental-health treatment part of our mission,” [said Corrections Commissioner Richard] Allen

Yet now that is a primary responsibility. The results have been pretty horrible.

Allen noted something stunning in his presentation to a legislative committee. Of the 25,000 people in Alabama's state prisons, 20% (5,000 people) need treatment. Yet

"4,400 of those people would be considered outpatients were they not also
convicted of crimes."

So if Alabama were using outpatient treatment to intervene BEFORE these people committed crimes, the number of people needing treatment behind bars would be reduced dramatically … to less than 3% of the prison population instead of 20%.

That would save not only lives, but money.

Allen said the state prison system budget will fall short by $31 million this
year, and the cost of treating mental illness has contributed to that.

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