Texas has nearly eight times as many people with serious mental illness in prison as it does in psychiatric hospitals, according to a new study by the Treatment Advocacy Center and the National Sheriffs’ Association.
The researchers set out to determine the odds of a person with a serious mental illness being in jail or prison, as opposed to a psychiatric hospital. They assumed that 16 percent of the country’s jail and prison inmates are seriously mentally ill — a well-accepted figure.
They found that the odds for all 50 states averaged to 3.2 to 1 in 2004-05 — meaning, during that time period, that there were more than three times more people with mental illness in jails and prisons than in psychiatric hospitals.
In Texas, the odds were 7.8 to 1 in that time period, the third-worst odds for the mentally ill, following Nevada and Arizona.
The only state where the odds were 1 to 1 was North Dakota, meaning people with mental illness were just as likely to be in a psychiatric hospital as they were in prison.