Crazy in America: The Hidden Tragedy of Our Criminalized Mentally Ill
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Crazy in America: The Hidden Tragedy of Our Criminalized Mentally Ill

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  104 ratings  ·  20 reviews
Crazy in America shows how people suffering from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, clinical depression, and other serious psychological illnesses are regularly incarcerated because alternative care is not available. Once behind bars, they are frequently punished again for behavior that is psychotic, not criminal. A compelling and important examination of a shocking human ri...more
Paperback, 312 pages
Published May 15th 2007 by Basic Books (first published May 4th 2007)
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Virginia
This is a good companion to the (PBS) Frontline Documentary "The New Asylums." The author profiles six mentally ill inmates and their encounters with the criminal justice system. As is becoming increasingly clear, prisons are becoming the new holding centers for our nation's mentally ill - a job that the corrections system was not designed for (and, one could argue, SHOULD not be designed for).

The level of detail made the cases compelling, but I gave it only 4 stars because I sometimes tired of...more
Jason
Considering the promise of its topic and introduction, not to mention an ongoing need for good writing that deals with problems of modern prison systems, this book was a disappointment. The author presents a meager understanding of the purpose and structure of journalistic writing (corroborated by a short survey of her previous newspaper work), which only further defies the effectiveness of longer essays. Although the case studies she chooses to elaborate are indeed compelling, their description...more
Courtney
This is such an important topic that I was disappointed by the examples chosen and style of writing. Several of the cases chosen seemed to be ambiguous situations of people who had early substance abuse, which often makes it nearly impossible to distinguish whether the behaviors are related to the substances or a primary mental illness. The author even seemed to, at times, defend the poor person's right to abuse a few substances and get incensed that the law would hold someone accountable for th...more
Nicki
Mar 27, 2009 Nicki added it
This book tells the stories of several young people who, when they were unable to get the right treatment for their mental illnesses, ended up going to jail or prison instead. The crimes they committed were usually direct results of their untreated mental illnesses, and when they were treated as criminals and incarcerated, their mental illnesses became even more unmanageable. Apparently this is pretty common, and it shows how otherwise regular, happy families can easily find themselves in a nigh...more
Emily
A well-written case study account of mental illness in modern prisons. After the move to close most of America's psychiatric hospitals, it turns out that the burden has just been transferred to the department of corrections. Case studies of 6 people with mental illness who were then "treated" by the criminal justice department. Spoiler alert (the author warns you early on): 5 of the 6 end up dead, the other one a victim of sickening self-mutilation. Sounds depressing (& it was) but interesti...more
K-tron
This book was an intense portrayal of our American custom to punish the mentally ill. The author gives us a glimpse into the lives of six unfortunate souls who battled mental illness, who crossed paths with the criminal justice system, and who lost their lives in solitary confinement. The book continually raised the questions, "Who are we?" and "What are we doing to protect some of our most vulnerable citizens?"
Meaghan
Jan 09, 2008 Meaghan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: politicians and psychology/sociology students
Six case studies of adults with severe mental illness who were imprisoned, abused, denied medical treatment and usually killed by "the system." These stories are illuminating, meticulously researched and certainly an eye-opener. I have heard similar stories before but I was taken aback anyway. Everyone in Congress should read this book.
Alicia
UGH. It started out really good. For the most part, I really enjoyed all the stories. However, the last 15 pages dragged on so much that I couldn't even bare those last few, horrible pages. She just repeated herself over, and over, and over again. Interesting book, for the most part though.
Zoe
Mar 12, 2008 Zoe added it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book shows the horrible consequences of closing mental hospitals with no alternatives. Mentally ill people frequently end up in prison, with really horrible consequences. The book mostly consists of six case histories and is very readable - also extremely sad. Highly recommended.
Jill
I read this a while ago, but it is so good! I really enjoyed the stories.. Seeing where the system didn't offer the support needed for the individuals and what consequences that had. Helps me remember to be fully present in my daily work.
Mary
Jul 27, 2009 Mary marked it as to-read
This book is very well written; interesting and gripping, I have trouble putting it down. The stories within are tragic. Anyone with any common sense could see that something needs to be changed, and soon! But how . . .
Dana
Brings up some interesting issues and written with compassion. But feels more like sensationalized journalism than a review of social problems. Case studies get repetitive. Warning: graphic descriptions of self-mutilation.
Luna
This book tells about how the mentally ill are not being handled correctly by our criminal justice system. Sad and poignant. A must read for anyone who is or knows someone with any mental illness issues.
Marie
An in depth historical review of how mental illness is treated by US criminal justice system. I'm still reading this one but I highly recommend it to anyone with interest in this area.
Ronan
Jun 27, 2008 Ronan marked it as to-read
want to read this because the Irish criminal justice system follows many of the same patterns as the US system. The treatment of people with mental health problems seems to be similar also.
Betsy Reznicek
An interesting read for those interested in the topics of incarceration or mental healthcare in America.
Stacy
Great book! If you have any interest in mental health at all READ THIS BOOK!
Krystle
very insightful and disturbing at times. quick read.
Kimberly Simpson
Saddest most depressing book I ever couldn't finish.
Amy
Disturbing. and Important.
Sam
Sam marked it as to-read
Aug 26, 2014
Kaitlyn
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Aug 25, 2014
Emily Higgs
Emily Higgs marked it as to-read
Aug 06, 2014
Jennifer Autry
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Jul 31, 2014
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Jul 18, 2014
Katherine Lawrence
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