Massachusetts Law Review

Massachusetts Law Review

Massachusetts Prison Mental Health Services: History, Policy and Recommendations

People who commit criminal offenses are often marginalized. The general population has expressed little interest in ensuring or financing their welfare. As a result, the needs of the incarcerated are often unmet. Similarly, our society stigmatizes individuals with mental illness. Historically, those with significant mental health needs were civilly committed to government-run sanitariums. In the 1970s, efforts were undertaken to "deinstitutionalize" the mentally ill and close state-run facilities in favor of community-based treatment settings.1 Unfortunately, deinstitutionalization was accompanied by a dramatic increase in the number of mentally ill individuals in the criminal justice system.2
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