In California, the U.S. district court has ordered that tens of thousands of prisoners be released to reduce overcrowding. The case, Schwarzenegger v. Plata, was argued this past Tuesday and the transcript is online.
This is relevant to a psychiatry blog because one of the arguments used in support of the releases is the contention that overcrowded facilities reduce access to mental health and medical services and that overcrowding causes mental deterioration and breakdown. The APA filed an amicus brief in the case, but the brief isn’t available online yet. (Keep an eye out for it here.)
The challenge with this case is that there is no (or extremely little) actual research to support the link between overcrowding and psychological problems. Correctional systems have spent a lot of time litigating issues — and experts make a fair amount of money working on these cases — without actual data. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Shrink Rap*