More Americans receive mental health care in prisons than in hospitals.
“If you think health care in America is bad, you should look at mental health care,” says Steve Leifman, who works as a special advisor on criminal justice and mental health for the Florida Supreme Court.
Fifty years ago, the U.S. had nearly 600,000 state hospital beds for people suffering from mental illness. Today, because of federal and state funding cuts, that number has dwindled to 40,000.
When the government began closing state-run hospitals in the 1980s, people suffering from mental illness had nowhere to go. Without proper treatment and care, many ended up in the last place anyone wants to be.