Many Incarcerated Juveniles Have Mental Illness
Most incarcerated youths have diagnosable mental health disorders and are in facilities that cannot treat them, according to a report from the Coalition for Juvenile Justice. The coalition, which operates under a Justice Department grant, presents a report annually to the president and Congress. David Doi, the coalition's executive director, said that early detection and prevention might decrease the number of mentally ill juveniles who end up in jail. He added, "One of the problems is that services for early intervention or prevention of youth crime really has diminished over the past couple of decades with the large increase in the construction of facilities. ... There certainly could be services available for those young people even before they come in contact with the police." Doi said that with "cutbacks" in both the public and private sector, the "juvenile justice system has become the dumping ground for ... warehousing young people with mental health problems." Instead of incarceration, the "most effective" treatment for young people's mental health disorders is in community- and family-based settings, Doi said, noting that those options are not only less costly than incarceration, but also are safer (NPR, "All Things Considered," 12/5). To listen to the NPR report, go to http://www.npr.org/ramfiles/atc/20001205.atc.14.ram. NOTE: You must have Real Audio Player to listen to the report.This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.