Toward a useful standard for hospitalizing pretrial jail detainees [2017]

Severely mentally ill jail detainees require an adequate spectrum of mental health services during detainment. For some this means a limited period of treatment in a mental hospital, just as some mentally ill individuals in the community occasionally require hospital treatment. Unfortunately, this appropriate level of treatment is often denied or neglected for jail detainees with adverse consequences for them. Among the reasons for this neglect, may be standards for hospital transfer that are no longer practical and can be easily skirted by policymakers and administrators with little interest in ensuring this level of care for mentally ill jail inmates. A more realistic standard and justification would recognize the need for hospitalization for the mentally disordered detainee who because of psychotic anosognosia refuses appropriate treatment including medications and/or whose severely decompensated condition is worsening or failing to improve despite attempts at treatment in the jail.

Alan R. Felthous

International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, Volume 52, May–June 2017