PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL CAPACITY, HOMELESSNESS, AND CRIME AND ARREST RATES.

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    • Abstract:
      As a result of developments in pharmacology, stricter standards for involuntary commitment, and changes in public expenditures, there has been a dramatic decline in the capacity of public psychiatric hospitals to maintain America's most severely mentally ill. Psychiatric deinstitutionalization has led to an increased presence of persons with mental illness in urban areas, many “falling through the cracks” of community-based services. This is hypothesized to have contributed to homelessness, crime, and arrests. Individual-level research has documented disproportionate and increasing numbers of mentally ill persons in jails and prisons. It has also found higher rates of violence and arrest among persons with mental illness compared to the general population. This study takes a macro-level social control approach and examines the relationships between psychiatric hospital capacity, homelessness, and crime and arrest rates using a sample of eighty-one U.S. cities. I find that public psychiatric hospital capacity has a statistically significant negative effect on crime and arrest rates, and that hospital capacity affects crime and arrest rates in part, through its impact on homelessness. In addition, I find no crime-reducing effect of private and general psychiatric hospital capacity. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
    • Abstract:
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