Cal. to Consider Bolstering Mental Health Care in Prisons

| Thu Feb. 22, 2007 6:53 PM EST

prison.jpgCalifornia ushered in the dark trend of turning the mentally ill out to the streets to fend for themselves (leading to an explosion in homelessness). Perhaps the state can also pioneer a saner way of dealing with mental illness.

About a quarter of the state's immense prison population suffers from a major mental illness, but there is little mental health care available in prison. Mentally ill men are 10 times more likely to commit violent crimes. Ergo, the golden state is graced with the highest recidivism rates in the country.

A bill to be introduced tomorrow in Sacramento will call for a complete overhaul of prison mental health care. It might cost money, but it will also almost certainly save the state money in the end since a precursor program cut incarceration rates by 72 percent.

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