Why do Politicians spend $9 billion a year to Jail the Mentally Ill?

Brave New Films

“Instead of helping the mentally ill, police often put them behind bars. Watch how one police department is making a positive difference.

It’s simple. Diversion programs work better than incarceration – for everyone. In cities like Seattle, San Antonio, and Salt Lake City, we see that successful solutions are a viable option to help end serious social problems. These services alter the course of people’s lives in a positive way and save taxpayers huge amounts of money. We cannot continue to isolate and imprison people who suffer from mental illness, substance abuse, or homelessness. We must treat them with compassion and care to better serve our communities and our pocketbooks.

It’s time we got serious about pulling our money out of incarceration and putting it into systems that foster healthy communities. Hundreds of thousands of people are locked up not because of any dangerous behavior, but because of problems like mental illness, substance use disorders, and homelessness, which should be dealt with outside the criminal justice system. Services like drug treatment and affordable housing cost less and can have a better record of success.

This summer, news stories from around the nation provided the American people with a litany of issues about how police officers respond to community members. By highlighting programs like Crisis Intervention Training (CIT), Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD), and Housing First, OverCriminalized explores the possibility of ending incarceration for millions of Americans who, through successful intervention programs, can put their lives back on track.

OverCriminalized focuses on the people who find themselves being trafficked through this nation’s criminal justice system with little regard for their humanity and zero prospects for actual justice. They are victims of unwillingness to invest in solving major social problems, and the consequent handling off of that responsibility to the police, the courts, and the prisons. They are the mentally ill, the homeless, and the drug addicted. Sometimes they are all three.”

Brave New Films: “Why Are We Using Prisons to Treat the Mentally Ill?”

3 Responses

  1. Why do Politicians spend $9 billion a year to Jail the Mentally Ill?
    Because they first privatized the Penal System. The mentally ill are worth more to their first cousins and financial sources of support in jail than out.

    It also seems worse to me: My impression is that they do what they can to provoke any kind of outburst that can be used as an excuse for an arrest.

  2. I agree with jewelia. But the interesting thing is that, in response to very real problems of public;y-financed mental hospitals, those hospitals were closed down and their patients were put on the street. The intention was that outpatient programs would be instituted to help these people. But these programs never came into being. So a large number of not fully functioning people ended up homeless on the street. Some had to commit crimes (mainly theft) to survive, so they did. Now they sometimes assault police officers in cold weather so they could have a place to live in jail.

    US civilization at its best. 8-(

    • In America, it makes us feel more righteous to spend a billion to punish a category of bad person than to spend a million to reform him. “Righteous” is the illusion of being in control of one’s environment by exerting brute force against it, it seems.

Comments are closed.