Community Development, Homelessness, Reports and Publications

Imprisoning Those With Mental Illnesses Imposes High Costs for CT


A joint study conducted by various universities and state agencies exposed the large costs to Connecticut caused by the incarceration of those suffering from mental illnesses. The report found that costs for treating those with from a diagnosable serious mental illness (SMI) were significantly higher for those who were incarcerated - about $49,000 per person - compared to those outside the criminal justice system, for whom services cost approximately $25,000 per person. 

This study underscores the need for more investment in private and non-profit psychiatric community based services as these methods likely to be more efficient and cost effective for treating SMI when compared to a prison environment.

The study examined the population of CT individuals who suffer from a SMI being served by the CT Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS). The researchers then matched data records of individuals with SMI to data from the CT Department of Corrections (DOC) to further study those who were also involved in the criminal justice system. The CT data showed that almost half, 43%, of individuals with SMI were arrested for minor, nonviolent offenses. Often times these individuals were incarcerating simply due to a lack of other options.

A result of this practice is that these mentally ill individuals who are incarcerated are costing the system twice what they otherwise would if they were not involved in the criminal justice system.  Mentally ill individuals who were never involved with the criminal justice system and were treated outside the criminal justice system cost about $25,000 per person. However, those who were involved with the criminal justice system incurred mental health treatment costs in addition to criminal justice costs, bring the total system cost to about $49,000 for incarcerated individuals with SMI.

For the full report click here
An article from the CT Mirror on the report is available here


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