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National Alliance on Mental Illness
This advocacy group for all mentally ill people provides fact sheets and position papers on a variety of relevant topics. Click here for its position on the mentally ill in prisons, or search for "prison" using the site's search engine for a wealth of information.

Mental Health America
MHA (formerly known as the National Mental Health Association) is one of the country's oldest and largest nonprofit organization addressing all aspects of mental health and mental illness. Check out its fact-filled position statements on jail diversion, mental health court, and mental health treatment in correctional facilities.

National Commission on Correctional Health Care
A group committed to improving the quality of health care in prisons, the NCCHC has devoted a section of its site to mental health.

The Consensus Project
The project's 2002 report on the state of mental health care in the criminal justice system is one of the defining documents of the field. Also, check out its searchable database of programs aimed at helping mentally ill inmates and law enforcement agencies, or get facts on jails and mental illness.

The GAINS Center
From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: A clearinghouse of information on jail diversion programs with a focus on people with co-occuring mental disorders and substance abuse problems. Check out their map of programs around the country, wide array of publications, and report (PDF) calling for "fundamental transformation of the mental health care delivery system in the United States."

The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
The Bazelon Center advocates for people with mental disabilities. Its site contains a well-stocked section of information on mental illness and the justice system, including publications on mental health courts, recidivism, federal benefit, and more.

Treatment Advocacy Center
The center, which advocates timely treatment of the mentally ill, contains a wealth of information, including a list of legal resources as well as papers on law enforcement and people with severe mental illness, and the criminalization of Americans with severe mental illness.

Campaign for Mental Health Reform
A national partnership of organizations representing people with mental or emotional disorders, their families, service providers, administrators, and others, the campaign's goal to influence federal policy regarding the quality of mental health care services.

American Correctional Association
The ACA holds two conferences per year and gives out grants for programs to improve the state of jails and prisons in America. Its "Online Corrections Academy" also provides training in many areas, including a current slate of courses on ethics, female offenders, and supervising corrections.

The American Probation and Parole Association
APPA's journal, Perspectives, is available only to members, but there's plenty of other information on the site, including a current project on family support of inmates reentering society. APPA's site also has a comprehensive list of links to national, state, and local corrections agencies.

The Justice Policy Institute
The JPI is a non-profit working on some of the toughest issues surrounding incarceration and crime in America; take a look at the many reports available on its homepage.

The After-Prison Initiative
The After Prison Initiative, part of the Open Society Institute, seeks to "reorient the mission and resources of criminal justice and prison systems to maximize successful reentry and minimize incarceration." The initiative's strategies include shrinking prison populations and improving mental health care and other services for inmates reentering society.

The Sentencing Project
A non-profit promoting "reduced reliance on incarceration and increased use of more effective and humane alternatives to deal with crime," the project offers a number of useful publications on incarceration.

National Institute of Corrections
The NIC offers many resources for corrections officers who deal with the mentally ill. You can find a list of reports pertaining to mental health here, and more information on this page under the headings "Reentry" and "Special Offenders."

The American Psychological Association
The nation's go-to group for psychological professionals, the APA provides information on many types of mental illness. The group's "PsychCrawler," a search engine devoted to psychological issues, is currently under construction.


Human Rights Watch
In 2003, Human Rights Watch published Ill-Equipped, an extensive report on the status of the mentally ill in U.S. prisons. Its findings, based on two years of research and hundreds of interviews with prisoners, corrections officials, and mental health experts, concluded that American prisons are "dangerous and damaging places for mentally ill people," and that then illnesses are left "undertreated -- or not treated at all." The authors list detailed recommendations for how Congress, the public and the prison system can better assist and protect mentally ill offenders.

The Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project
Because they believe that no single group alone can solve the problem of the mentally ill in prison, members of the mental health and criminal justice systems, along with the Council of State Governments, have joined forces to create the Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project, a collaborative effort to change public policy. Their report, available here, provides 47 policy recommendations to government and community leaders for improving response to people with mental illness, as well as practical application for these policies and examples of successful community programs. The recipe for solving this problem, the report argues, is collaboration, training, evaluations, and effective mental health care.

Achieving the Promise: Transforming Mental Health Care in America
"The mental health delivery system is fragmented and in disarray ... lead[ing] to unnecessary and costly disability, homelessness, school failure and incarceration," declared the interim report of the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. Here, the commission's final 2003 report outlines policies for fundamentally transforming how mental health care is delivered in America. By improving the access to quality care, the commission envisions a system "that will allow adults with serious mental illness … to live, work, learn, and participate fully in their communities."

Mental Health Treatment in State Prisons, 2000
One in 10 inmates in the nation's state prisons receives psychotropic medications; one in eight receives mental health therapy or counseling, according to this 2000 report from the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics. The report assesses the quality of mental health care in the nation's 1,668 state prisons. See how your state prisons measure up.

Mental Health and Treatment of Inmates and Probationers
Also from the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics is this 1999 report detailing the characteristics of mentally ill offenders, including race, sex, age, criminal history, and type of mental health treatment.

Mental Health Care for Ohio State Prisoners: The View From the Director's Office
Following a deadly prison riot and a class-action lawsuit, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (DRC), underwent five years of court-monitored reform. In this article written at the end of that period, DRC Director Reginald Wilkinson describes its results: "… I have seen a metamorphosis from a marginal correctional mental health system, at best, to one that I would now characterize as among the best in the nation."

Mental Health in the House of Corrections
In 2004, the Correctional Association of New York published "Mental Health in the House of Corrections," a report on the quality of care for inmates suffering from mental illness in New York State prisons. The report is available at the top of this page. Through interviews with over 400 inmates, correction officers, prison psychologists and officials, expert chart reviews and a literature review, the Correctional Association found that mental health resources and treatment are inadequate, resulting in significant risks to the health and safety of inmates with mental illness. In addition to issuing detailed findings, the report makes extensive recommendations to improve the quality of mental health services.

Releasing Inmates with Mental Illness and Co-Occurring Disorders into the Community
The April 2005 issue of Corrections Today, the journal of the American Correctional Association, focuses on the issue of returning paroled and released offenders to their communities. This article, co-written by several experts, including the chief psychologist at the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, focuses on the reentry of mentally ill offenders and profiles seven of Pennsylvania's exemplary linkage programs. [Note: This article is in PDF format; Adobe Acrobat required.]

Engaging Communities: An Essential Ingredient to Offender Reentry
Also in the April 2005 issue of Corrections Today, is this article by Reginald Wilkinson, which describes the community resources necessary to make offender reentry a success. [Note: This article is in PDF format; Adobe Acrobat required.]

Court Documents Regarding the Mistreatment of Mentally Ill Prisoners
On its Web site, Human Rights Watch has compiled court documents, including expert reports filed by parties during litigation that provide striking insight into the conditions of confinement and the mental heath services provided mentally ill inmates.

Special Needs and Mental Health Care: A Closer Look
Neglecting to provide adequate care to mentally ill inmates may violate the 8th Amendment, argues William J. Rold, a private practice attorney in New York. He outlines this and other legal precedents related to the mentally ill in prison in this article for the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC).

Readings from the National Center for State Courts
This Web site has compiled hundreds of articles and links about the mentally ill in the criminal justice system. Read through the FAQ or browse the list of resources about mental health courts, civil commitments, mental disability law, and mental illness and substance abuse.

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posted may 10, 2005, revised april 23, 2009

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