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From Asylum to PrisonDeinstitutionalization and the Rise of Mass Incarceration after 1945$
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Anne E. Parsons

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469640631

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469640631.001.0001

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(p.151) Epilogue
From Asylum to Prison

Anne E. Parsons

University of North Carolina Press

The epilogue reflects on the contemporary crisis of mass incarceration in the United States, which has particularly affected people with mental health conditions and substance abuse disorders. It argues that today’s crisis is deeply rooted in the past history of mental health policy and offers a few main lessons for people working to make change. First, restrictive environments such as prisons and mental hospitals are inappropriate places to hold people on a mass scale. Second, it cautions people who are working to decarcerate prisons today. The history of deinstitutionalization proved that that cost-cutting cannot be the main reason for change, as it led to inadequate resources. People invested in prison reform should also be cautious that decarceration does not lead to new forms of restrictive environments, which happened during deinstitutionalization.

Keywords:   decarceration, deinstitutionalization, lessons, mass incarceration, mental health policy, mental hospitals, prison reform, restrictive environments

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