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Full-Text Articles in Health Law and Policy

Reducing Mass Incarceration: Lessons From The Deinstitutionalization Of Mental Hospitals In The 1960s, Bernard Harcourt Jan 2011

Reducing Mass Incarceration: Lessons From The Deinstitutionalization Of Mental Hospitals In The 1960s, Bernard Harcourt

Faculty Scholarship

In a message to Congress in 1963, President John F. Kennedy outlined a federal program designed to reduce by half the number of persons in custody. The institutions at issue were state hospitals and asylums for the mentally ill, and the number of such persons in custody was staggeringly large, in fact comparable to contemporary levels of mass incarceration in prisons and jails. President Kennedy's message to Congress – the first and perhaps only presidential message to Congress that dealt exclusively with the issue of institutionalization in this country – proposed replacing state mental hospitals with community mental health centers, a ...


An Institutionalization Effect: The Impact Of Mental Hospitalization And Imprisonment On Homicide In The United States, 1934-2001, Bernard E. Harcourt Jan 2007

An Institutionalization Effect: The Impact Of Mental Hospitalization And Imprisonment On Homicide In The United States, 1934-2001, Bernard E. Harcourt

Faculty Scholarship

Previous research overwhelmingly shows that incarceration led to lower rates of violent crime during the 1990s, but finds no evidence of an effect prior to 1991. This raises what Steven Levitt calls “a real puzzle.” This study offers the solution to that puzzle: the fatal error with prior research is that it used exclusively rates of imprisonment, rather than a measure that combines institutionalization in both prisons and mental hospitals. Using state-level panel data regressions over the period 1934-2001, and controlling for demographic, economic, and criminal justice variables, this study finds a large, robust, and statistically significant relationship between aggregated ...


From The Asylum To The Prison: Rethinking The Incarceration Revolution, Bernard E. Harcourt Jan 2006

From The Asylum To The Prison: Rethinking The Incarceration Revolution, Bernard E. Harcourt

Faculty Scholarship

The incarceration explosion of the late twentieth century set off a storm of longitudinal research on the relationship between rates of imprisonment and crime, unemployment, education, and other social indicators. Those studies, however, are fundamentally flawed because they fail to measure confinement properly. They rely on imprisonment data only, and ignore historical rates of mental hospitalization. With the exception of a discrete literature on the interdependence of the mental hospital and prison populations and some studies on the explanations for the prison expansion, none of the empirical work related to the incarceration explosion – or for that matter, older research on ...