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Health Law and Policy Commons

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Columbia Law School

Mental health

2011

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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 ...