Sunday, May 23, 2010

Rosalynn Carter on Jails as Mental Health Facilities

Is it true, as Rosalynn Carter asserts, that jails and prisons are the largest mental health facilities in America? You can get money for incarceration, the former first lady says, but not - because of the lingering stigma - for the treatment of mental illness.

Mrs. Carter has been at this for 39 years, advocating, raising awareness, and doing everything she can to shed the light of day on a major social problem that is still too often relegated to the shadows. Like her husband, she's still going strong. Earlier this month, she appeared on The Daily Show to discuss her new book, Within Our Reach, with Jon Stewart.

Her claim that 1 in 4 Americans is mentally ill is certainly open for argument. I suppose it depends on how one defines "mentally ill." But she's right, isn't she, about jails and prisons? Haven't they become a dumping ground for people with mental health issues?

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