Deinstitutionalization is a policy that was introduced by the government with the primary focus of moving the mental health patients from the insane asylums to the community mental health care centers. It is a policy introduced in 1960 as a way of introducing improvements and treatment of people who are mentally ill. A large number of mentally ill people were released from the facilities from 1960 to 1994, and even some of the facilities were also closed down. In our prisons, the number of patients who are, mentally ill is about 16 percent. The paper will lay a focus on the deinstitutionalization.

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Impact of deinstitutionalization over the past 35 years on criminal justice

At first, deinstitutionalization reduced the number of psychiatric beds that were available. A large number of people who had mental conditions were not treated. This has led to a lot of problems to the criminal justice system. The worst challenge is that currently, the numbers of people who are in hospitals are many compared to the people who are in the hospitals (Yohanna 886). Some of the key factors associated with deinstitutionalization are the fact that the society started to accept people who were mentally ill to be treated instead of being locked indoors. Deinstitutionalization has significant impacts on the criminal justice systems. It is an approach that has seen many mentally ill inmates being released to the community so that they can be reformed. The primary motive was to ensure that the mentally ill are not locked in the cells for the petty crimes, while they can be helped so that they can reform and turn to be useful people in the society (Yohanna 886). This has had a double impact on the criminal justice system. The ideology of deinstitutionalization has improved the criminal justice system (Yohanna 886).

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In addition, deinstitutionalization has played a very critical role in helping the criminal justice systems, to achieve its purpose. It has been a great way of providing supporting and reintegrating the offenders so that they can be accepted back to the community and even making our society safer. This is very critical as it protects people in the society since the people who have been incarcerated will be treated and they will not be a threat to the society again (Yohanna 886). On the other hand, a large number of individuals who are mentally ill end up in prisons again after they commit other crimes in the society. The society has transferred the problems that existed in the mental health centers to the streets. The mentally health people are now loitering in the streets. Many of them are starving and they end up committing crimes so that they can find refuge in jails. Even though deinstitutionalization has eased pressure in our cells, it has created more problems to the criminal justice system.

Advantages of deinstitutionalization

One of the advantages of deinstitutionalization is that it was a way of giving back the mentally ill people their rights that had been lost. Before the introduction of the deinstitutionalization, it was found that the people who were mentally ill had been forgotten. The various conditions such as Downs syndrome were not properly diagnosed (Amadeo 1). They were categorized as mental illnesses, but the inmates were not accorded the right treatment. However, deinstitutionalization was of great help. It enabled many people to get their rights back. It was possible to get treatment for the mental disorders in a more organized way. Deinstitutionalization also allowed the family members to be closer to their loved ones even if they were under treatment (Amadeo 2).

These were the rights that were not allowed before the deinstitutionalization was introduced. On the other hand, it is possible for the family members to monitor the people who are mentally ill. It is possible to provide them with help anytime they need help. In addition, some of the rights such as education rights were also restored (Yohanna 886). Children who could not be allowed to go to school were also given a chance to educate themselves in the institutions. The adults were also enlighted on how the society operates.

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Another advantage that arose from the idea of deinstitutionalization was that it provided better treatment than the old systems of institutionalization (Amadeo 3). The concept of deinstitutionalization allowed the use of the community resources in providing the best care to its people. The introduction of medicines helped in easing the symptoms, and this increased the resources used in treating people with different mental conditions (Frazier,et al. 9). Deinstitutionalization led to a closure of the state institutions, but it brought localized care.

The deinstitutionalization is known as an effective approach that laid a focus on addressing a condition that was seen as untreatable. It is an initiative that was formed to save and help the people who had been forgotten in the society. These are the people who were considered as untreatable, but deinstitutionalization was a significant step in providing treatment for these people. Deinstitutionalization led to a focused perspective on treatment. It allowed the community to focus on the best approaches that they could use to treat people who were seen to be untreatable (Amadeo 1).


Even though the family members are given a chance to offer treatment to the mental ill, there is a lot of distrust among the family members. The family members do not trust the mentally ill patients who have committed crimes. They are not ready to accept them as part of their family. This is because of the unpredictable nature of the mentally ill people. Their family members fear that the mentally ill patients have unpredictable triggers which may make them react violently. Another disadvantage is that the mentally ill patients refuse to take medicine. They are not under strict control, and thus they may neglect drugs (Amadeo 1). This is because they have a feeling that they are well and cured.

A large portion of the Americans is not getting the right care. There are more than 2 million people who have not been treated for the psychiatric conditions. It has also been found that a large number of inmates are under the category of severely mentally ill (Amadeo 2). This is an indication that even after deinstitutionalization; it is like that we have just changed from one system to another (Frazier,et al. 9). In addition, it was expected that deinstitutionalization would help a lot in resolving the existing issues on the health of the mentally ill (Amadeo 3). However, this has not worked. Many of the mentally ill people who do not have family members are still in the streets, and they have not received any form of treatment.

Another demerit of deinstitutionalization is the fact that many of the people who were put under the program were not fit for the deinstitutionalization. Some of them had schizophrenia, and this was not well diagnosed. It was so hard for the community to deal with the condition since they had no resources for coping with the disease.

How mental health issues should be addressed

One of the ways of addressing the mental health issues in the prisons is to ensure that the prisoners are provided with the right mental facilities. The inmates have a right to treatment, and they should always be accorded with mental healthcare that meets the minimum standards. The clinical services should be provided without a compromise to the ethical standards.

One of the worst challenges that face the correction facilities when they are dealing with the issue of mental health is the lack of funding. There should be adequate funding for psychiatric units so that they can handle a large number of inmates who are suffering from mental conditions. Psychiatric units should be set in the prisons with a purpose of providing the acute care in the correctional facilities (Yohanna 886). By setting up acute health centers in the correction facilities, it will be easy to resolve the health issues that arise among the mentally ill inmates (Frazier,et al. 9). It is also possible to offer specialized treatment and even involuntary medical administration to patients who might be a threat.

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Another way of addressing the mental health issues is by coming up with methods that will ensure that the suicide cases are prevented. Suicide is a significant issue that faces the patients suffering from mental health issues (Yohanna 886). It is important to come up with the right measures of preventing the cases of suicide. Segregation is also another approach that can be applied in addressing the mental health issues in the cells (Frazier,et al. 9). There should be the creation of the segregation units to handle the patients who have serious mental health issues.


In conclusion, deinstitutionalization was seen as one of the most effective ways of helping the mentally ill patients. The main intention was to remove the people who were mentally ill from the asylums that were segregated for them. They mentally ill people were reintroduced to the communities where they could receive a more personalized care. Its advantages are that it restored the rights of the mentally ill patients. They could access their family members. However, some of the disadvantages are that a large number of mentally ill patients have not been receiving the right medical care.


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