New Study shows that Medications keep Mentally ill out of Jail

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. (Sept. 11) -Sept. 11, 1996--The Mental Health Association in California (MHAC) today hailed the release of a new report as evidence that appropriate mental health medications and treatments keep individuals with mental illness out of jail and reduce costs to the state's corrections and criminal justice systems. The study, released today by the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy (PRI), illustrates the fiscal impact -- $1.2 billion to $1.8 billion annually -- mental illness has upon the corrections, law enforcement and court systems in California. "For the first time, all aspects of correctional and criminal justice spending on persons with severe mental illness have been examined," said Rusty Selix, executive director of the Mental Health Association in California. "We now have documented proof that many of those who do not receive appropriate mental health treatment wind up in the criminal justice system. Up until now, there has been no documentation of societal costs associated with criminalizing the mentally ill." According to the study, more state, county and city government funds are spent providing mental healthcare to those in the criminal justice system than to those who do not come in contact with the law. The PRI study also indicates the 95 percent of arrestees suffering from a severe mental illness were not receiving any mental health treatment at the time of their arrest. "This suggests that many crimes might not be committed if effective mental health treatment were made available to those who need it, " said Selix. According to Selix, California has one of the most under-funded public health systems in the nation including a restrictive Medi-Cal formula that puts initial cost before medical effectiveness (i.e. older less-effective medications versus new breakthrough medications that have fewer side effects). "This study should serve as the stepping stone for further debate regarding the benefit of proper medical treatment and services for those who have a serious mental illness," said Selix. The PRI study was coauthored by Lance Izumi, Senior Fellow in California Studies at PRI, Mark Schiller, M.D, PRI Senior Fellow in Health Care Studies and assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UC San Francisco, and Steven Hayward, Ph.D., PRJ Vice President of Research.

CONTACT: Mental Health Association in California Rusty Selix, 916/557-1167 or The Perry Group Kassy Perry, 916/658-0144

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