Opposition to mass incarceration has entered the mainstream. But except in a few states, mass decarceration has not, so far, followed: By the end of 2014 (the last data available), nationwide prison population had shrunk only 3% off its (2009) peak. Jail population, similarly, was down just 5% from its (2008) peak. All told, our current incarceration rate - 7 per 1,000 population - is the same as in 2002, and four times the level in 1970, when American incarceration rates began their rise. Our bloated prisoner population includes many groups of prisoners who are especially likely to face grievous harm in jail and prison. In particular, well over half of American prisoners have symptoms of mental illness. And the most recent thorough analysis found that an astounding 15% of state prisoners and 24% of jail inmates "reported symptoms that met the criteria for a psychotic disorder." In addition, to 10% prisoners have a serious intellectual disability. Prisoners with mental disabilities face grave difficulties in prison and jail; they can have trouble adapting to new requirements and understanding what is expected of them, getting along with others, and following institutional rules. In the absence of treatment and habilitation, they are more likely both to be victimized and to commit both minor and major misconduct. Prisoners with mental disabilities are not alone; there are other groups of prisoners who are similarly vulnerable-prisoners with serious chronic illnesses and physical disabilities, gay and transgender prisoners, juveniles in adult facilities, elderly prisoners, minor offenders, and so on. Each group faces higher-than-usual probabilities of victimization and harm behind bars.
Schlanger, Margo. "Anti-Incarcerative Remedies for Illegal Conditions of Confinement." U. Miami Race & Social Justice L. Rev. 6 (2016): 1-30.