The lack of adequate services is pushing more mentally ill individuals into jails.
The Wall Street Journal this week declared jails “the new asylums” for mentally ill Americans.
The newspaper survey of states found that the proportion of jail and prison inmates with a mental illness ranges from 10 percent to half. In Virginia, 24 percent of jail inmates in 2012 had a known or suspected mental illness, up from 18 percent in 2007, according to the State Compensation Board. That’s 6,300 men and women, or slightly more than the number admitted to a state mental health institution in the same year. At the Western Virginia Regional Jail, an average 221 out of 707 total inmates in 2012 had a mental illness.