Insane: America's Criminal Treatment of Mental Illness

Insane: America's Criminal Treatment of Mental Illness

by Alisa Roth


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An urgent exposé of the mental health crisis in our courts, jails, and prisons

America has made mental illness a crime. Jails in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago each house more people with mental illnesses than any hospital. As many as half of all people in America's jails and prisons have a psychiatric disorder. One in four fatal police shootings involves a person with such disorders.

In this revelatory book, journalist Alisa Roth goes deep inside the criminal justice system to show how and why it has become a warehouse where inmates are denied proper treatment, abused, and punished in ways that make them sicker.

Through intimate stories of people in the system and those trying to fix it, Roth reveals the hidden forces behind this crisis and suggests how a fairer and more humane approach might look. Insane is a galvanizing wake-up call for criminal justice reformers and anyone concerned about the plight of our most vulnerable.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781541646476
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 06/09/2020
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 348,884
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Alisa Roth is the mental health correspondent for Minnesota Public Radio and frequent contributor to various NPR programs. A Soros Justice Fellow, her work has also appeared in the New York Review of Books and New York Times. She lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Author's Note 13

Part I Ensnared: How We Got Here

1 Jail Is the Only Safe Place 21

2 The Largest Psych Ward in America 39

3 The Asylum Fallacy 73

Part II Locked Up: What Happens Inside

4 Jail as Hospital 97

5 Destined to Fail 111

6 Sanctioned Torture 131

7 Better Off Dead 151

8 Guilty by Reason of Insanity 175

Part III Breaking Free: Toward a Better Way

9 Inside Out 195

10 The Cycle 209

11 Shooting the Victim 229

12 The Good-Cop Solution 241

13 Disorder in the Court 259

Conclusion 269

Epilogue 283

Acknowledgments 287

Notes 291

Index 313

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