Persuasive Essay On Prison Reform

776 Words4 Pages
Today, it seems almost incomprehensible that so many people with serious mental illnesses reside in prisons instead of receiving treatment. Over a century and a half ago, reform advocates like Dorothea Dix campaigned for prison reform, urging lawmakers to house the mentally ill in hospitals rather than in prisons. The efforts undertaken by Dix and other like-minded reformers were successful: from around 1870 to 1970, most of the United States’ mentally ill population was housed in hospitals rather than in prisons. Considering reformers made great strides in improving this situation over a century and a half ago. Granted, mental hospitals in the late 19th and early 20th century were often badly run and critically flawed, but rather than pushing for reform of these hospitals, many politicians lobbied for them to close their doors, switching instead to a community-based system for treating the mentally ill. Although deinstitutionalization was originally understood as a humane way to offer more suitable services to the mentally ill in community-based settings, some politicians seized upon it as a way to save money by shutting down institutions without providing any meaningful treatment alternatives. This callousness has created a one-way road to prison for massive numbers of impaired individuals and the inhumane warehousing of thousands of mentally ill people. Nevertheless, there are things that can be done to lower the rate mentally ill persons are being incarcerated. Such
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