There is a lot of talk these days about how mental healthcare is essential to preventing crimes and violence. The opinion is that many crimes have a link to mental health issues. According to the American Psychiatric Association, the reality is that there are over two million people each year with mental health issues that end up under arrest.
However, the crimes they commit are generally minor infractions. Mental health, therefore, is not a prime factor in criminal behavior.
An issue that leads to more people with mental health conditions in the criminal justice system is that many law enforcement officers lack the proper training to recognize mental health issues in a suspect. They may not know how to approach the person safely. Actions of someone who is suffering from a mental condition may appear to be threatening, which can lead officers to react with deadly force out of fear.
In addition, since officers may not recognize the signs, they may put the person in jail instead of getting him or her the proper medical care. This leads to overcrowding issues in detention centers.
Crowding detention centers
Even when an officer realizes there are mental health issues in someone, they rarely take them to a hospital for care. Instead, these people end up in the system. They go to jail or another type of detention center where they cannot get the medical care they need. In fact, only about one-third of people in detention centers get adequate mental health care even though inmates have a one in five chance of having a severe mental condition.