America's Mental Illness

America's High Prisoner Population

America is renowned for having one of the highest prisoner populations in the world. According to Quanbeck (2014), there are roughly 7.5 million prisoners in American jails who are under guard. Numerous reasons, such as strict laws that mandate even minor infractions receive a jail punishment, have contributed to the large number of inmates present in the area's prisons and correctional facilities. The number of people incarcerated in prisons and enrolled in correctional facilities has also increased as a consequence of the rise in mental health cases.

The Growing Number of Mentally Ill Prisoners

According to Alfred and Chlup (2009), there are a growing amount of mentally ill prisoners. In 2012, the number of mentally ill prisoners was estimated at 8,213 while in 2017, the value increased by approximately 14% to 9,395 (Alfred & Chlup, 2009). The presented aspect has proven to be costly for the government in that the state is required to set aside funds to establish a correctional facility for the members of the population. The average prisoner cost is estimated at $35,253 on an annual basis. With the presented concern, people are driven to establish the relationship between the mental health and crime. It is impossible to deny the existing link between mental health disorder and violent acts. Golembeski and Fullilove (2008) argues that violence and psychosis are directly related. The researchers have further pointed out that people diagnosed with mental illness fall within the presented category since they reflect the outlined connection. It is also true that the rate of substance abuse has accelerated violence among people diagnosed with mental concerns hence the increased number of people in correctional facilities.

Schizophrenia and Criminal Behavior

Schizophrenia is one of the common mental health conditions which have driven people to engage in criminal behavior unknowingly. Bolton and Robertson (2016) provides that the condition is common in that it affects about a single person in a hundred people over different national boundaries. Currently, about 2.5 million people are diagnosed with the mental health concern in America. The situation is characterized by enormous financial and emotional costs of about $63 billion on an annual basis (Bolton & Robertson, 2016). Moreover, the persons suffering from the presented state are more likely to be a threat in that they can easily commit suicide or engage in other form of criminal activities such as unintentional murder. Although Schizophrenia disorder is evident in member of all socioeconomic groups, it is highly evident among the lower socioeconomic groups.

The Signs and Symptoms of Schizophrenia

The major signs and symptoms of the presented condition can be divided into four major domains. They include the negative, positive, mood, and cognitive indicators. The constructive symptoms are defined by psychotic symptoms such as deluded hallucinations alongside a disordered behavior and speech. The negative symptoms are characterized by a significant decline in an emotional range as well as an emotional range decline, loss of interest and drive and a high level of inertia. The presented factors provide an insight why any individual diagnosed with the concern is considered a threat to himself and to the public.

The Mentally Ill in Correctional Facilities

The mentally ill in the community has significantly resulted in the increase in the number of people available in correctional facilities. The presented factor stems from the notion that the members of the presented community are known to be violent in nature. According to Quanbeck (2014), many psychiatrists who interact with mentally ill patients have acknowledged the fact that most of the patients are naturally violent. The presented assumption originates from the fact that the patients will always engage in assault of the staff members or among themselves which increases the chances of crime perpetration by the members of the presented population. The fact that allowing the mentally ill to interact with people within a social setting increases their potential for crime development. As a result, such people are always eliminated from the public with the ones known to have aggressive behaviors taken to correctional facilities. The presented factor explains the rise in the mental illness conditions.

The Increased Risk of Violence among the Mentally Ill

Golembeski and Fullilove (2008) provide that the mentally ill are at an increased risk of engaging in violence in comparison to the other members of the community. The fact that the people from the identified population are not mentally stable provides an indication that they are highly likely to engage in criminal activities even without intending to. Also, the fact that they can easily be aggravated makes it easier for them to indulge in crime which makes them a risk to the public. With an aim of upholding public safety, mentally ill offenders are always put away in psychiatric wards and correctional facilities to prevent them from engaging in crime. Despite this, Alfred and Chlup (2009) note that the chances that a mentally ill person will engage in a serious mental health disorder are limited and rare.

Treatment of Mentally Ill Offenders

Despite the fact that a mentally ill offender may engage in a criminal activity without him being in his right mind, it is still clear that the law does not let them go free for their actions. For instance, in the case Kansas v. Hendricks, 521 U.S. 346 (1997), the court had to intervene in the presented case in that the petitioner was accused of being a threat and danger to his children. It is evident that no treatment was available for the petitioner's mental health state. Therefore, the court ruled that it was difficult for the petitioner to control his behavior, therefore being considered as a threat to himself and to his immediate family members. Despite the presented fact, it is still evident that the constitution has provisions which favor the members of the identified population. The constitution outlines a standard which ensures that the identified members of the population are not civilly detained. On the contrary, their rights should be preserved by having them enrolled in facilities and institutions which may help in reducing the dangers that they pose to themselves and the public.

Rights and Treatment of Mentally Ill Offenders

The constitution still advocates for the fact that the general health of the patients should be treated even when jailed for past misconduct. Quanbeck (2014) notes that if the society has a right to jail mentally ill offenders, they should also take the initiative to offer them treatment during the period when they are available in the correctional facilities. Such offenders are also required to show compliance with their medication at all times to avoid instances where they may engage or indulge in criminal behavior, which is majorly common when not under medication. According to the case Washington v. Harper, 494 U.S. 210 (1990), the court held that the state prisoner who is mentally ill and prone to violence when not on medication has no right under the constitution to have a competency hearing. Additionally, the court also approves the use of forced medication processes to ensure that the prisoner takes all the medication as recommended to prevent instances of violence.

Constitutional Rights of Mentally Ill Offenders

The fourteenth amendment to the constitution provides that mentally ill patients have rights under the constitution. The 14th amendment provides the identified members of the population with a right to humane treatment. Mentally ill offenders have similar rights and privileges to others in that they should be treated fairly and equally in federal courts like other individuals. As presented in the case Washington v. Harper, 494 U.S. 210 (1990), the state should implement due process to establish the mental health state of the offender before making recommendations that the person in question should be required to take antipsychotic drugs.


To conclude, mental health conditions have significantly resulted in increased crime, resulting in the growth of the population of inmates in correctional facilities. The presented factor stems from the notion that the mentally ill are known to be highly violent, especially when they are not taking their medication as expected to control their behavior. As a result, such people are considered a threat to themselves and to the public. The constitution does not allow mentally ill offenders to go free for their crimes. Despite this, the constitution still protects their rights by ensuring that even when under arrest, members of the population are provided with their medication as scheduled to reduce the chances that they will engage in criminal activities.


Alfred, M. V., & Chlup, D. T. (2009). Neoliberalism, Illiteracy, and Poverty: Framing the Rise in Black Women's Incarceration. Western Journal of Black Studies, 33(4), 240-249.

Bolton, D. J., & Robertson, L. J. (2016). Mental Health Disorders Associated with Foodborne Pathogens. Journal of Food Protection, 79(11), 2005-2017. doi: 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-15-587

Golembeski, C., & Fullilove, R. (2008). Criminal (In)Justice in the City and Its Associated Health Consequences. American Journal of Public Health, 98S185-S190. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2005.063768

Quanbeck, T. (2014). Preventing Partisan Commitment: Applying Brady Protection to The Civil Commitment of Sex Offenders. Case Western Reserve Law Review, 65(1), 209-249.

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