TRIAD’s first national survey of NAMI members showed that the criminalization of mental illness is a fact of life in this country. Forty-four percent of the individuals with a mental illness represented in the survey have been arrested or detained during their lives—29 percent of them in the last year alone—13 percent of all respondents. Jail diversion services were not available to most of those detained by the police in the last year—only 35 percent reported receiving services or supports to prevent arrest or detention. Most, but by no means all, received needed mental health treatment following arrest or detention in the last year, 60 percent saying yes, but more than one-third responding no to this question.
The impact of incarceration without appropriate treatment can be devastating as shown in the story of Jo.