America’s criminal justice system has, in many ways, become a substitute for the US’s largely gutted mental health system. You may have heard something like that before, but never has it been clearer than in this map from MetricMaps:
The map essentially tells two stories: the rise of mass incarceration and the collapse of America’s public mental health system.
From the 1970s through the 2000s, America began locking up a lot more people as part of the country’s broader shift to tough-on-crime laws to deal with skyrocketing crime.
At the same time, the country pulled back and defunded its public mental health system. This wasn’t, at the time, totally malicious — the system during the ’60s and ’70s was plagued with abuse and neglect, captured in popular media like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.