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No Place for the Mentally ill:  In an article published in The Hill, Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey laments the predicament facing many law enforcement agencies, particularly in larger cities: a hefty percentage of the homeless and people arrested for crimes are mentally ill.  "And this is usually not a one-time event, as mentally ill people are frequently arrested repeatedly, but are rarely connected to the help they need.  Every year over a million people with serious mental illness are booked into jail."  While she doesn't say, we assume this is for LA County. The District Attorney makes the case for a mental-health diversion program she has implemented which attempts to connect mentally ill arrestees with community mental health services.  The problem is, there are not enough service providers to meet the demand, and often the client needs more than the short-term care than providers can give.
A paper by Kimberly Amadeo published in The Balance, details the elimination of long-term state mental institutions between 1955 and 1994. Driven primarily by mental health experts who argued that most patients could be treated with new drugs and out-patient counseling, and the cost and stigma associated with maintaining "insane asylums," mental hospitals across the country were closed down, reducing the number of beds for the mentally ill from 558,000 in 1955 to 43,000 in 2010.  She cites a 2004 study finding that 16% of jail inmates (320,000) had serious mental illnesses, while there were only 100,000 psychiatric beds in hospitals nationally that year.  In other words, county jails were dealing with three times as many mental cases as hospitals.  While there is a very real need for mental institutions providing long-term treatment, the courts have made it almost impossible to commit anyone against their will, regardless of whether it is for their own safety or for that of others.  Ms Amadeo's piece contains much more valuable information than can be posted here and is very much worth a read.

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