Date of Publication
Dr. Naomi R Williams, Department of African & African-American Studies
This study examined empirically-based studies regarding incarcerating individuals with mental health illness in the United States (U.S.) as a form of treatment intervention. Initially, the search for studies on the topic produced 2,715 results, closer examination of those studies reduced that number to 137 journals, abstracts, and sources. Further examination concluded that only 37 of those studies met the criteria for this examination. Many of the studies that were reviewed involved interventions which occurred after release from psychiatric hospitals. Based on the findings, the most referenced estimates of mental illness in correctional facilities is attributed to Paula M. Ditton’s 1999 Bureau of Justice Statistics report, which indicated, “in 1998, of the 283,800 mentally ill offenders who were incarcerated in the United States, 16% of state inmates, 7% federal inmates, and 16% of those in local jails who identified as being mentally ill,16%, or an estimated 547,800 reported that they had been hospitalized for mental illness in their lifetime (Ditton, 1999, p. 1). Although social workers in the United States “play a key role in educating the public about mental illness, in order to foster prevention” (Reichert, 2011, p. 162), they have not yet made the connection between how human rights, social justice, and social work values and ethics are all related to the population who are incarcerated. This investigation illustrates that, social workers in the United States have not fully incorporated human rights into social work practice (Reichert, 2011, p. 8). Social work professionals need to produce better research data and policy recommendations to reduce the number of incarcerated mentally ill individuals and provide them with quality medical and social service treatment options.
Morgan, Renee, "Incarcerating Individuals with Mental Health Illness in the United States" (2018). Senior Honors Theses. 232.