Cover image for Prison madness : the mental health crisis behind bars and what we must do about it
Prison madness : the mental health crisis behind bars and what we must do about it
Kupers, Terry Allen.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
San Francisco : Jossey-Bass, [1999]

Physical Description:
xxxii, 301 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library RC451.4.P68 K87 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



A Disturbing and Shocking Expose-A Passionate Cry for Reform

Prison Madness exposes the brutality and failure of today's correctional system-for all prisoners-but especially the incredible conditions Andured by those suffering from serious mental disorders.

"A passionately argued and brilliantly written wake-up call to America about the myriad ways our penal systems brutalize our entire culture. Dr. Kupers not only diagnoses the problem, he also offers a set of solutions. I hope this book will be read by all concerned citizens and voters, for it conveys truths that are vitally important to all of us."
? James Gilligan , Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, and author of Violence: Reflections on a National Epidemic

Author Notes

TERRY KUPERS M.D., a psychiatrist and professor at the Wright Institute in Berkeley, is cochair of the Committee on the Mentally Ill Behind Bars of the American Association of Community Psychiatrists. He has served as an expert witness in more than a dozen class action lawsuits concerning the conditions of confinement and the adequacy of mental health services in jails and prisons. Kupers has also served as a consultant to the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and to Human Rights Watch.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Kupers, a forensic psychiatrist experienced in the court system and with mental health in prisons, asserts that "prisons and jails have become the largest mental asylums" in the country. Also, persons with various mental problems have been deinstitutionalized with very little planning for follow-up care and have often become homeless or been driven to commit crimes. The prisons themselves seem almost designed to push the borderline individual over the edge into mental illness. The problem, therefore, is twofold, and Kupers and Toch explore both aspects. Besides providing general descriptions, they draw on many case histories that may upset and infuriate some readers. For instance, the most ardent law-and-order proponents believe that providing mental health services for prisoners amounts to coddling them and that maximum security institutions, lengthy solitary confinement for those acting oddly, and increased restrictions on prisoners' lives are necessary for a safe society. Such attitudes, this book argues, verge on the inhumane and increase both recidivism and costs. (Reviewed March 15, 1999)0787943614William Beatty

Library Journal Review

Kupers, a forensic psychiatrist and psychology professor at the Wright Institute, has been an active observer at county jails for 25 years and has served as an expert witness in court cases involving treatment of prisoners. Here he delivers a powerful and constructive criticism of the attitudes prison professionals hold toward inmates and the way inmates are physically handled, especially the mentally disturbed but also women and racial minorites. He focuses on abysmal physical conditions, unsanitary and often physically threatening overcrowding, the traumatization and debasement of prisoners, worker burn-out, and woefully inadequate inpatient, psychiatric, or counseling services, contributing to increasing individual dysfunction and financed by taxpayers. Kupers concludes his cogent presentation by suggesting strategies for a quantum shift in mindset (madness no longer seen as badness) to realize a climate of, at least, support for the basic constitutional and human rights of prisoners. Highly recommended for academics and professionals.ÄSuzanne W. Wood, SUNY Coll. of Technology, Alfred (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Forewordp. ix
Prefacep. xv
Acknowledgmentsp. xxxi
Introductionp. 1
Part I The Mental Health Crisisp. 7
1 The Mentally Ill Behind Barsp. 9
2 Why So Many Prisoners Develop Mental Disordersp. 39
3 The Failure of Current Mental Health Programsp. 65
Part II What Goes on Behind Barsp. 91
4 Racism: a Mental Health Hazardp. 93
5 Special Problems for Womenp. 113
6 Rape and Posttraumatic Stress Disorderp. 137
7 Lack of Contact with Loved Onesp. 157
8 Prison Suicidep. 175
Part III An Immodest Proposalp. 191
9 The Possibilities and Limits of Litigationp. 193
10 Recommendations for Treatment and Rehabilitationp. 217
11 The Folly of Law and Orderp. 257
Endnotesp. 275
For Further Readingp. 287
About the Authorp. 291
Indexp. 293

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