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Facts and data on mental health and law enforcement

Blacks were 10% of LA’s population, but 44% of those diagnosed with “serious  mental  illness.” - 2014 report to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discriminaton (CERD) Committee Review of the United States by Dignity and Power Now.  

Since 2015, 1,519 people with a history of mental illness have been killed by police in the US, according to the Washington Post—almost a quarter of all fatal police shootings. 

On average, 10% of law enforcement agencies’ total budgets and 21% of staff time are spent responding to and transporting persons with mental illness, according to the Treatment Advocacy Center, a Virginia-based nonprofit.

Calls to the new nationwide 988 mental health hotline will rise far beyond the 2.2 million calls the National Suicide Prevention Line received in 2018.

Through Crisis Response Helping Out On the Streets (CAHOOTS), Eugene, OR has diverted 20% of all 911 calls from police, says Brooklyn College’s Alex Vitale, a professor of sociology and coordinator of the Policing and Social Justice Project. “That’s a huge volume—and they saved $8.5 million just from that,” he says. 

In 2016, an estimated 10.4 million American adults lived with a serious mental illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. That same year, the number of state and county psychiatric beds hit 37,769, down from its peak of 559,000 beds in 1955, according to the Treatment Advocacy Center.

Three largest mental health centers in America: 

LA County Jail

Cook County Jail (Chicago)

Rikers Island Jail (New York)

Almost one-third of people with a mental illness get into the treatment system through an encounter with a police officer, studies show

Further information can be found at the Sozosei Foundation, the Treatment Advocacy Center and the National Alliance for Mental Illness.

Other sources:

(see pages 32-on for more solutions-oriented information)

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