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
Item Holds
RC451.4.P68 K87 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



This passionate book documents the incredible circumstances of incarceration for the mentally disturbed and calls for appropriate services and rehabilitation. Prison Madness is a shocking inside look at the horror of the mental health crisis in prisons today, and is a deeply compelling call for specific reforms to prevent violent, inhumane treatment of mentally ill prisoners. This is a high level inquiry into one of society's most disturbing problems and is a fascinating, original piece of advocacy.

Author Notes

Terry Kupers, MD, is a forensic psychiatrist who has been involved in many class-action suits on prison conditions.

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