It is estimated that close to half of those incarcerated in state and federal prisons display some symptoms of mental illness. These men and women are more likely to return to prison after their release, and to stay longer once in prison than their fellow prisoners.
Correctional facilities are not equipped to provide the levels of care and treatment necessary to adequately serve prisoners with mental health needs. There, too many of these men and women are warehoused and forgotten, with little attempt to treat the underlying cause of their behavior.
The U. S. Senate recently passed the Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act of 2015, which promises increased support for veteran’s treatment courts, re-authorization of mental health courts, more resources in jails and prisons, and innovative training for law enforcement. The same legislation is currently before the House of Representatives.
To maintain the positive momentum for these reforms, however, the bill needs to come to the House floor for a vote. Congress needs to know that there is support for treating all the men and women behind bars with respect and a belief that rehabilitation is possible for the estimated 2 million prisoners who struggle with mental illness.
Let your representative know that you support mental health reform in the federal corrections system. Prison Fellowship provides an easy-to-use advocacy tool that allows you to contact your elected officials and encourage them to support the Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act. Click here to find your representative and let them know that there is a better way to treat mental illness in our prisons.