New York Times Columnist Writes that Jails Have Become the New Mental Hospitals

Nicholas Kristof, pulitzer prizewinning columnist for the New York Times
Nicholas Kristof

On February 8th, two-time Pulitzer Prizewinner Nicholas Kristof used his column in the Sunday Review section of The New York Times to publish “Inside a Mental Hospital Called Jail.” His column outlines how the “de-institutionalization” of mental illness in America has actually led to patients ending up in jail, with more than 50 percent of prisoners actually having a diagnosable mental illness.

Mr. Kristof’s first column of 2014, on January 4th, was titled “First Up, Mental Illness. Next Topic Is Up to You.” He invited readers to submit their suggestions for issues meriting media coverage that are neglected. He began with his own first choice―mental health―and Sunday’s column was a reflection of that choice.

In regards to jails seconding as mental health hospitals, the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation honored a very strong advocate for rectifying this situation with their Productive Lives Award in 2012. The Honorable Judge Steven Leifman, Miami-Dade County Court Criminal Division, has dedicated himself to transforming Florida’s criminal justice and mental health systems and has become a tireless advocate for mental health treatment (rather than incarceration). Watch Judge Leifman’s inspirational acceptance speech from the 2012 Foundation National Awards Dinner.

Read “Inside a Mental Hospital Called Jail” from The New York Times.