BH: Our Outrage Can Drive Decarceration

NYAPRS Note: Increasingly, we are discussing the decarceration movement – the push for the release of persons with mental health and/or substance use conditions who are currently being warehoused for non-violent offenses in our jails and prisons.

Our friend and colleague Ron Manderscheid of the National Association of County Behavioral Health & Developmental Disability Directors believes that our outrage can fuel that movement, and that our community’s continued incarceration violates our most fundamental human rights.



Our Outrage Can Drive a Decarceration Movement


by Ron Manderscheid, PhD


“Only a single word—outrage—is even close to adequate to describe the inappropriate criminalization of those who have a mental or substance use condition. We should not remain silent at the inhumane treatment and the lack of urgent care suffered by those with these conditions who are so unfortunate that they become incarcerated in jails and prisons. On his recent trip to the United States, even His Holiness Pope Francis showed us the way by reaching out to disabled persons when he visited the Philadelphia City Jail.”


“At the [National Dialogues in Behavioral Healthcare], powerful support was expressed for development of a short action plan to move this agenda. This plan must be prepared quickly; it must be direct and clear; it must be the product of many partners assembled from the criminal justice and behavioral health communities, the public and private sectors, and peers and family members; and it must commit to urgent, but achievable action.”