What Incarcerated People Think

October 29, 2020

Here is a summary of an article from the Marshall Report. They surveyed incarcerated people asking them what interventions would have kept them out of prison.  What would it take?  Here is their answer:

Our second survey of incarcerated people this year asked what interventions would have helped them stay out of prison. Their number one response: mental health counseling. A close second: access to affordable housing. Formerly incarcerated people are 10 times more likely to be homeless than those who have never been to prison. Meanwhile, almost 90 percent of incarcerated Black men support the idea of moving funds from the police to social services like mental health or after-school programs. Three-quarters of incarcerated White men agree, including 64 percent of Republican White men. That’s amazing. In the general population, only 5 percent of Republican White men want to move funds away from the police. Published together with Slate, this story and our previous survey in March are the first comprehensive efforts to ascertain the political opinions of people behind bars. Read some of their responses here.

When advocates and activists speak about "defunding the police", one of things they mean is transferring money from law enforcement to support an array of mental health services. The percentage of incarcerated people with some mental health illness is significant. We have seen this year what happens when the police are called to intervene with a person on the street who is threatening and out of control. Force is applied and sometimes the offender is killed. This is what happened this week in Philadelphia.  An out of control man who was threatening others with a knife was shot and killed by police officers.  The victim had a long history of mental illness. Trained mediators were needed to calm the threatening man. Instead force was applied and another black man is dead.  

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