Racial differences in the criminalization of the mentally ill

Bull Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 1994;22(3):411-20.


"Criminalization," the hypothesis that mentally ill persons are diverted to the criminal justice system, has been difficult to confirm. The few relevant studies have examined aspects of the mental health or the criminal justice systems, but not both. This study compares state hospital admissions with the admission of mentally ill persons to state prisons. There was considerable variation between counties. Counties sent more mentally ill members of their largest minority group to prison than expected. These results suggest that jurisdictions differ in their use of these two systems and that race is a factor in this difference.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Commitment of Mentally Ill / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Expert Testimony / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Hospitals, State
  • Humans
  • Insanity Defense*
  • Mental Competency / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / ethnology*
  • Mental Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Minority Groups / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Minority Groups / psychology
  • Personality Assessment
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Washington