Alternatives to Incarceration

23 minutes 2015 9.27/10 based on 11 votes

We’re living at a time in which being homeless, being on drugs, or being mentally ill are crimes that can send you to prison. This film presents three promising and much less expensive alternatives that can actually improve people’s lives while at the same time save taxpayers’ dollars:  Utah’s Housing First program, LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) in Seattle, and San Antonio’s 40-hour CIT (Crisis Intervention Training) for law enforcement officers.

In 2014, one hundred cities in the United States banned sitting down or lying down in public places. The big question is: where are homeless people supposed to go? Since when is not having a home a crime?

Chronically homeless individuals are adults who have been living on the streets for a year or more or a total of four times in three years. Many of them also suffer from some type of mental illness. The way in which homeless people are treated in most of the United States is inhumane and expensive. Calculations show that it costs taxpayers about $20,000 per year per homeless person in cities where the only solution is to slap them with a prison sentence. Housing programs are the best way to help solve homelessness. Once a person gets a roof over his or her head, a heavy burden is lifted off his or her shoulder and they can then focus on getting themselves clean and in shape to move on with life.

In 2012 in Washington State, 10, 672 persons were arrested on drug charges. Most of these people were repeat offenders that were getting arrested over and over again every few months and in some cases with just days in between. Clearly, spending a few nights in jail was not the solution.

Each year about nine billion dollars are spent locking up mentally ill people.  In 2012 about 356, 368 severely mentally ill persons were imprisoned. Jails have now become the number one mental health facilities across the country as the mentally ill continue to be criminalized without receiving any treatment. It can take an officer between 8 to 14 hours of waiting in an emergency room after arresting a mentally ill patient. Now this program allows the person to be dropped off at the restoration center directly where qualified staff knows exactly what to do.

Officers receive specialized training that helps them identify and talk to the mentally ill patient in crisis in order to get them the help they need. Billions of dollars are being saved every year by offering solutions other than handcuffs and jail time. Watch this film now.

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9.27/10 (11 votes)

Discuss This Documentary

3 responses to “OverCriminalized”

  1. Dave Grigsby says:

    everyone, including our civic leaders and police should watch this video. it can change our cities and do so much good.

  2. Maria Swanson says:

    I have such a deep personal connection to this epidemic. This film offers effective and positive solutions for people in crisis. I live in South Florida and the system here is awful. I wrote an article about my own personal experience that was just published in a magazine here. People like me and so many others need help, not incarceration. First responders hold the key and need to be equipped with more than a gun and handcuffs. Give them education and training. In 1 year there has been documented real change.

  3. Hisham Saber says:

    And the Obama administration in 2016 approved 1.2 Trillion dollars to ‘modernize’ our nuclear missiles, make them more smaller and usable. 1.2 Trillion folks ! I’m not even talking about the over 600 Billion spent on ‘defense’, i.e Pentagon, gets every year, btw, on September 10, 2001, one day before 9-11, Donald Rumsfeld had a press conference at the Pentagon where he stated that there are 2.3 Trillion dollars unaccounted for in the Pentagon budgets and no sign of where the money went. And the lame presstitute media reporters didn’t even really ask any questions. On top of that injury, is the insult of the Obama team giving Israel 38 Billion so they can kill more Palestinian civilians. Imagine, what 1.2 Trillion + 600 Billion + 38 Billion (Israel gets 5 Billion a year, on the books that is) can do for the benefit of the American people and all humanity for that matter.

    U.S. cities are decaying, infrastructure falling apart, tent cities for the homeless in every town and city. Entrenched poverty with 50 + Million people on food stamps, mentally ill shoved into prisons and jails. Out of sight, out of mind I guess. Some 80 + Million Americans living at, or below the national poverty line. I could go on and on.

    Charles Dickens once said ‘ You can judge a society by entering its prisons’. So true.

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