Sunday, September 29, 2013

"A Canary in the Coal Mine of Deinstitutionalization"

"California was the first state to witness not only an increase in homelessness associated with deinstitutionalization but also an increase in incarceration and episodes of violence. In 1972 Marc Abramson, another young psychiatrist working for San Mateo County, published a landmark paper entitled 'The Criminalization of Mentally Disordered Behavior.' Abramson claimed that because the new LPS statute made it difficult to get patients admitted to a psychiatric hospital, police 'regard arrest and booking into jail as a more reliable way of securing involuntary detention of mentally disordered persons.' Abramson quoted a California prison psychiatrist who claimed to be 'literally drowning in patients. . . . Many more men are being sent to prison who have serious mental problems.' Abramson’s paper was the first clear description of the increase of mentally ill persons in jails and prisons, an increase that would grow markedly in subsequent years."

Salon publishes an excerpt of E. Fuller Torrey's American Psychosis: How the Federal Government Destroyed the Mental Illness Treatment System.

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