Thursday, March 21, 2013

People With Mental Illness in Criminal Justice System Incur Higher Costs

Costs for people with mental illness who are involved with the criminal justice system are nearly double those for individuals without such involvement, according to a study of state mental health records in Connecticut. Of the 25,133 adults served by the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), 6,904 had been arrested and convicted of a crime or were in prison, on parole or probation, in a jail-diversion program, or spent time in a forensic psychiatric setting. They were diagnosed with schizophrenia (37 percent) or bipolar disorder (63 percent), and 65 percent had a substance use disorder.

The researchers added up costs from the DMHAS and the state judiciary, the Departments of Correction and Public Safety, and Medicaid. The justice-involved individuals each incurred total costs of $48,980 on average, compared with $24,728 per person for those not involved with the criminal justice system, said Jeffery Swanson, Ph.D., and colleagues, writing in Psychiatric Services in Advance. The study’s findings should help state health officials better plan, coordinate, and deliver services to these populations, the researchers concluded.

To read more about issues concerning people with mental illness in the criminal justice system, see Psychiatric News here.

(Image: Valeriy Evlakhov/


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