Inmate Population Most Underserved for Healthcare
Mass incarceration takes its toll on the health of inmates and former inmates. At any one time in this country more than 6.9 million people are on probation, in jail, in prison or on parole. Each year more than 600,000 individuals are released from state and federal prisons. Roughly 1 in 28 children has a parent behind bars.
Recently, Supreme Court Justice Michael Boggs reported on the state of the Judiciary . Currently state-wide in Georgia one in 33 adults is behind bars. Since 1980 in Georgia the number of people going to jail has tripled, and the length of the sentence has increased by 160%. Twenty five percent of these inmates enter with mental health issues. Mental health inmates tend to stay 4-8 times longer in jail and at seven times the cost. They are 10 times more likely to be incarcerated than hospitalized and 19 times more likely to find a bed in the criminal justice system than in a state hospital.
The intersection of mental health and law enforcement creates a situation where more mental health care occurs in jails and prisons than in state-wide treatment facilities, taxing the law enforcement community and underserving those with mental health impairments as their primary condition.