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Authors

William J. Rich

Abstract

Beginning with the premise that both the number and percentage of mentally ill inmates as sharply risen in recent years, this Article explores the path of mentally ill offenders in the American criminal justice system. It seeks to identify points of relief from the current crisis, in which a recent report stated that over 40% of state prisoners reported symptoms that met the criteria for mania. The challenge is exacerbated by the fact that prisons now provide a large share of the mental health treatment in the United States, taxing the resources of even the most progressive correctional systems. Part I describes three "typical" mentally ill offenders. The remaining sections discuss some of the problems these offenders face when encountering the correctional system, including: the importance of diagnosis and pre-conviction shortcomings, post-conviction shortcomings such as administrating medication and overcrowding, and issues surrounding re-entry and recidivism. The Article concludes with an assessment of opportunities for litigation and reform.

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