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Mentally Ill Prisoners May Get Help Through Mental-Health Courts

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The prison and jail system in the United States is constantly in debate - whether it is over the fact that too many people are kept in custody, or that doing so doesn't really address any real problem that will reduce crime once the inmates are released.  A new topic of debate centers on the fact that 50% of inmates suffer from some type of mental illness; and for women inmates, this statistic jumps to 73%.  The most common problem is depression, followed by bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, PTSD, and other anxiety or personality disorders.  Perhaps the most disturbing issue is that most of these inmates report never receiving mental-health treatment since being admitted to the prison or jail.  Activists are fighting to address this issue, and states have responded by instituting "mental-health courts."  These provide alternatives to incarceration by instead providing for therapy and treatment programs and allowing the person to return to "normal" life, although under supervision of the court for a number of years to track their progress and prevent repeat crimes.  The success of these programs seems promising, but needs to be examined further and tested in more states.

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