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Book Review about ‘Insane: Criminal Treatment of Mental Illness’ by Alisa Roth

Some books are hard to read and even harder to review because of the highly sensitive issues they touch. This book review on ‘Insane: Criminal Treatment of Mental Illness’ by Alisa Roth explains why the problem of treating mentally ill people in the criminal justice system should be of concern for all Americans. Along the way, it is a vivid example of an open-structured book review that our essay writers can craft upon request.

‘Insane: Criminal Treatment of Mental Illness’ by A.Roth Book Review Example

Mental diseases or illnesses are behavioral patterns that severely affect a person’s functionality. The feature might manifest itself as a recurrence, remission, or as a single event. In many nations, mental health problems are frequent and ubiquitous. Intellectual disability, for example, impacts around 54 million Americans (Forrester et al., 2018). There are many people with mental illnesses in the criminal justice system.

Aside from race and income, mental illness is a significant aspect of mass imprisonment. In the book ‘Insane: America’s criminal treatment of mental illness‘ Alisa Roth explored how America imprisons some of its most vulnerable citizens and why they are persecuted so rigorously. In recent years, the total number of convicts has declined dramatically, but the fraction of those convicted with mental problems has climbed. Remarkably, people imprisoned in big cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle have high rates of mental illness. They are more likely to require antipsychotic medication while incarcerated (Sugie & Turney, 2017).

Statistics show that one in every two Americans with a severe mental illness is arrested at some point. The unfortunate fact is that the United States has the resources to treat mental illness with care, effectiveness, and compassion. Americans, on the other hand, have decided to oppose it as a culture. Current policies aim to prevent people with disabilities and mental illnesses from being institutionalized by constructing community health centers for outpatient treatment, allowing them to build relationships, gain compassion and acceptance from their neighbors and families (Stockdill, 2015). The state has closed “dementia camps,” and patients with major mental diseases are increasingly released into the community. As a result, these patients are frequently sent to local jails, despite the fact that confinement exacerbates illness.

Roth states in the chapter ‘Fate to Fail’ that the criminal court system “accepts not just a significant number of persons with mental illness, but also the sickness, that is, those who are most in need of urgent treatment” (Roth, 2018). Patients respond best when therapy is initiated as soon as possible. Illnesses that go untreated usually worsen over time.

Furthermore, three-quarters of convicts with mental illnesses reported substance abuse issues, for instance, self-medication with alcohol or illicit narcotics. Ross goes on to explain that the jail is run correctly through management and coercion. The reverse is happening in terms of what good therapy entails for persons suffering from mental illnesses. As a result, psychological issues are frequently aggravated in jails and prison settings.

Also, Roth emphasizes that keeping children out of the juvenile and criminal justice systems allows medical practitioners to conduct health evaluations and develop treatment programs in compliance with legal standards (Lamb & Weinberger, 2017). Prisons have distinct features that are critical for the treatment of patients with intellectual impairments. Even though it is difficult to offer appropriate therapy for various prison systems, authorities must ensure that inmates with specific impairments receive the best possible care.

As the number of inmates increases, so does the number of mental health complaints in US jails. Policies and efforts have been proposed to address how offenders with mental health problems should be treated in jails across the world. For instance, offenders could be subjected to insufficient punishment and solitary incarceration for the sake of their health. Providing rewards to convicts who suffer from mental illnesses aids in keeping them well (Lamb & Weinberger, 2017).

Roth’s compelling narrative exposes the actual cost of holding mentally ill people in prisons and jails. She visited many correctional facilities. She documented heartbreaking stories of mentally ill people who were continually jailed and frequently abused by the prison system. She met with reformers and psychiatrists who have a keen understanding of what needs to be done to fix the situation but are sadly lacking the political will of their country’s leaders. This book is a must-read for anybody engaged in the care and treatment of people with persistent mental illnesses since it demonstrates how the American jail system has evolved into the country’s largest mental health hospital.


Forrester, A., Till, A., Simpson, A., & Shaw, J. (2018). Mental illness and the provision of mental health services in prisons. British Medical Bulletin.

Lamb, H. R., & Weinberger, L. E. (2017). Understanding and treating offenders with serious mental illness in public sector mental health. Behavioral sciences & the law35(4), 303-318.

Roth, A. (2018). Insane: America’s criminal treatment of mental illness. Basic Books.

Stockdill, J. W. (2015). National Mental Health Policy and the Community Mental Health Centers, 1963-1981.

Sugie, N. F., & Turney, K. (2017). Beyond incarceration: Criminal justice contact and mental health. American Sociological Review82(4), 719-743.


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