Jails Doubling as Hospitals

After the recession, Alabama struggled with the budget.  A plan to cut expenses was needed, so the legislators decided to cut funding to the Department of Mental Health by 50% over a 5 year period.

Hospitals were closed and the community resources that remained were stretched way beyond capacity.  People needing treatment would have to wait for 3 or 4 months, by then a minor problem could easily become a crisis situation.

People in need of mental health treatment didn’t just disappear, so what happened to them?  When faced with a crisis, some of them ended up in jail.  I was reading an article (WHNT.com) that stated 30% of the population in the Huntsville jail are there for mental health reasons.

The legislators are starting to notice the result of their decision years ago.  It cost a lot more money to house someone in jail then it does to treat them in the community or to care for them in a hospital setting.

A committee has been formed to discuss the current problem.  The legislators are concerned, not because of the amount of people whose lives have been ruined by the lack of treatment.  They are concerned, because it is costing them money.

 

6 thoughts on “Jails Doubling as Hospitals

  1. Sadly, in many ways, this has been playing out since states started closing large psychiatric hospitals in the 70s. I’m not sure they ever had a plan as to what to do with the people, many of whom made up our homeless population for years. I hope they have the foresight to get it right this time.

    Liked by 1 person

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