Students will confront the problems raised by the increasing presence of mentally impaired offenders in the U.S. criminal justice system. Locally, in Yuma County, approximately 20% of inmates in the county jail are diagnosed as mentally ill and receiving psychiatric medication. Nationwide, the problem is equally compelling.
Jails and prisons have become de facto mental institutions. When mentally ill inmates are released from prison, there is often no safety net for them — they are unable to obtain community mental health treatment and lack families to care for them. This leads to re-0ffending and re-incarceration, at enormous public and human cost.