People with serious mental illness are more likely to be arrested multiple times for the same crime, spend more time in jail before adjudication, serve longer sentences, and have higher recidivism rates than those without mental illness. Several conceptual foundations, such as the sequential intercept model and the risk-needs-responsivity model, have been developed to help communities address the overrepresentation of people with mental illness in the criminal justice system. The Stepping Up Initiative is a national effort to enlist counties to commit to reduce the number of people with mental illness in their jails. The 21st Century Cures Act has created opportunities to fund community treatment and help people with serious mental illness live a productive life in their community. Public officials may need to be shown the substantial cost savings likely to accrue from an investment in effective community treatment. The time to act is now.
Glenda Wrenn, M.D., M.S.H.P., Brian McGregor, Ph.D., Mark Munetz, M.D.
Psychiatric Services, April 16, 2018