Book Review: Mental Disability, Violence, and Future Dangerousness - Myths Behind the Presumption of

Over 50 years ago, President John F. Kennedy signed the law closing most of this country’s facilities that warehoused people with mental disabilities. Sadly, his and others’ dream that this population would live independently, supported by community-based treatment, has not come to pass. Instead, deinstitutionalization has become transinstitutionalization — that is, people who otherwise would have been institutionalized are now in America’s jails and prisons. Estimates vary, but anywhere between 40 and 60 percent of inmates have some sort of mental illness or intellectual/developmental disability, and the number is higher for juvenile facilities. Penal institutions have become de facto mental institutions, and corrections officers are often the first to admit that this is costly and dangerous.