The criminal justice system in the United States has in effect become a second public mental health system. A large percentage of persons in U.S. jails and prisons have serious mental illness, substance abuse issues, intellectual disabilities, or a combination of these. In many states, jails in large cities house more persons with serious mental illness than can be found in state mental health facilities. A principal reason for this expansion of persons with mental illness in the criminal justice system stems from inadequate resources at the community and state levels for public mental health care. Although some persons with mental illness commit serious crimes, often individuals with mental illness are arrested for an array of nonviolent offenses such as trespassing, loitering, minor drug offenses, ...

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