Mental Illness, Addiction, and Incarceration: Breaking the Cycle

  • David BeckmannEmail author
  • Keris Jän Myrick
  • Derri Shtasel
Part of the Current Clinical Psychiatry book series (CCPSY)


The criminalization and mass incarceration of communities of color is a by-product of structural racism and has a complicated and intertwined set of relationships with mental illness, substance use, and homelessness. This chapter describes (1) the history of institutionalization, deinstitutionalization, and the context of transinstitutionalization; (2) the evidence for the disproportionate arrest and incarceration of racial minorities, and how they relate to the legacy of slavery and chronic oppression (i.e., incarceration is slavery codified); (3) the “War on Drugs,” its racist origins, and how it contributed to mass incarceration of racial minorities with substance use disorders; (4) the role of the prison system in the problem of transinstitutionalization; and (5) strategies for comprehensive criminal justice reform as it relates to advocating for evidence-based treatment of psychiatric and substance use disorders, rather than incarceration.


Criminalization mentally ill Racism and mass incarceration Transinstitutionalization War on drugs Criminal justice reform 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Beckmann
    • 1
    Email author
  • Keris Jän Myrick
    • 2
  • Derri Shtasel
    • 1
  1. 1.Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.National Alliance on Mental Illness, Project Return Peer Support NetworkArlington CountyUSA

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