New research has found that U.S. jails are de facto mental health institutions and access to affordable care and behavioral health treatment in the community lessens the jail population size.
The findings were made available in BMC Health Services Research.
The researchers involved studied jail populations of more than 3,000 U.S. counties. Their data is pertinent to local, state, and federal level policy makers, demonstrating that reducing unnecessary use of local jails may be useful for improving outcomes, but not in all situations.
According to the findings: “Counties with smaller populations, larger percentages of individuals that did not graduate high school, that have more health-related issues, and provide fewer community treatment services are more likely to have higher jail population per capita.”
“Increasing access to services, including mental health providers, and improving the affordability of drug treatment and healthcare may help reduce incarceration rates.”