MEDIA: NYT Book Review –
May 22, 2018 – In 1946, Life magazine published an exposé that declared most American mental hospitals “a shame and a disgrace.” The report, by Albert Q. Maisel, featured scathing anecdotes of routine abuse, starvation diets, overcrowded bathrooms and cynical charades of treatment that mocked the very word. “Through public neglect and legislative penny-pinching, state after state has allowed its institutions for the care and cure of the mentally sick to degenerate into little more than concentration camps,” Maisel wrote. Some 70 years later, the journalist Alisa Roth has written a chilling book that argues that American jails and prisons have become de facto warehouses for the mentally ill, and that conditions inside have hardly improved from the horrors Maisel uncovered.
More than half the prisoners incarcerated in America suffer from some kind of mental illness, Roth writes. She cites a federal study that says 75 percent of women locked up are mentally ill. Yet the American prison system is woefully unprepared to offer treatment or provide even basic mental health care to its wards. The poor conditions inside are in fact making the sick even sicker.