By the end of the 1960s, anti-institutionalism had extended beyond mental health and bled into prison reform. This chapter tracks the rise and fall of efforts to find alternatives to prisons. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, changes in psychiatry, politics, and the law led to a deinstitutionalization in both mental health and corrections policy making. Not only did politicians and advocates look for alternatives to mental hospitals, they also sought alternatives to prisons. They expanded probation, parole, and furlough and created community corrections initiatives such as halfway houses and work-release programs. The number of people in prisons and jails fell, even during a time of increased policing. These reforms came under attack, however, as politicians depicted people in prison as dangerous criminals and ushered in harsh sentencing reforms. A law and order politics that relied on racial discrimination halted efforts to deinstitutionalize prisons. By the mid-1970s, after more than a decade of decline, new prison construction began and the number of imprisoned people nationwide rose. These changes had a devastating effect on individuals with mental health conditions. Many of them were caught in the web of this new era of mass incarceration.
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