There are approximately 383
There are approximately 383,000 individuals with mental illnesses in jails and state prisons, 20 percent of those inmates are in jail and 15 percent of those inmates are in state prisons (Carroll). These individuals are carrying out their sentences just like every other inmate in that jail, an important factor to take note of. Most people today like to argue that the Justice System does not consider a person’s mental illness could be to blame for the crime itself, but most do not realize that the mentally ill are not that different from the average offender. It has been proven that most mentally ill offenders understand the difference between right and wrong and if they plead not guilty by reason of insanity, they are claiming they were already aware that they were insane, meaning that they should have already sought out proper treatment and should not have waited until they were technically considered an ‘offender’ (Melamed). The U.S. criminal activity committed by a mentally ill individual should be seen as no different as another offender committing a crime. Because of this, mentally ill offenders should face jail time because by incarcerating them, it allows them to fully understand the consequences of their actions.
To begin, it is important to fully understand what a mental illness truly is, given the fact that everyone’s personal definition differs. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a mental illness is considered as “… a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling, or mood… the conditions may affect someone’s ability to relate to others and function each day”. Research suggests that there are multiple, interlinking causes for the reason as to why people who may share the same diagnosis have different experiences. These causes vary from genetics, to their environment or their lifestyle and can combine to influence whether someone may develop a mental health condition (My Parents’ Support Shaped My Recovery). The general categories that most mental illnesses fall into are eating disorders, mood disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, psychotic disorders or post-traumatic stress disorders. The more commonly known disorders include: bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, anorexia, depression, et cetera. The majority of the time these disorders and other factors can play roles in determining the individual’s personality and attitude, meaning criminal activity can result from these. People then believe that after a mentally ill person commits a crime, the best idea would be to send that offender off to treatment for rehabilitation but fail to realize that even though it does not seem the better of the options, prison is better than the stereotypical outlook set on it. Prisons are actually known to provide more treatment than most people think, and at the same time are helping them learn from their mistakes which may actually help psychologically. For Jay Pomerantz even states, “Currently, a good deal of treatment is being provided for mentally ill inmates within the prison system, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) of the US Department of Justice… Also nearly 10% of all inmates (an estimated 114,400 inmates nationwide) were receiving psychotropic medications” (Pomerantz). Prison may not look like the best option for someone who is dealing with these difficult disorders due to its stereotypical image, but they will receive treatment and are given the potential to learn the consequences to their actions.
In addition, another reason mentally ill offenders should be sent to prison instead of treatment is it has been proven through previous studies that regardless of mental health criminals know right from wrong and that “violent people should be treated as criminals rather that as patients” (Samenow 5). With saying mentally ill offenders know the difference between right and wrong,