Prisoners Transferred to Mental Hospitals
It is becoming commonplace for the United States Supreme Court to cite social science research when it decides cases of relevance to the criminal justice (Ballew v. Georgia)1 or mental health systems (Addington v. Texas).2 Against this background, the first thing to strike a social scientist in the Vitek 3 prison-to-mental hospital transfer case is that the Court cited not a single piece of psychological or sociological data. This lack of attention to research on “social facts” (Saks, 1980) regarding prisoners who are transferred to mental hospitals bespeaks no general retreat by the Court from the incorporation of social science in judicial decisions. Rather, the more probable explanation is that the justices and their clerks simply could find no relevant empirical data on which to rely. Indeed, in our extensive search for material for this chapter, we have found very few studies directed explicitly at the topic of prison-to-mental hospital transfer. We shall, therefore, consider in some detail the results of our own recent national survey (see Introduction), as well as an in depth interim study of transfer procedures in six states.
KeywordsNational Health Service Prison Population Inmate Population Mental Health Facility Male Prisoner
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