Community Mental Health Journal

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 185–195

Are jails replacing the mental health system for the homeless mentally ill?

  • John R. Belcher

DOI: 10.1007/BF00757136

Cite this article as:
Belcher, J.R. Community Ment Health J (1988) 24: 185. doi:10.1007/BF00757136


The author explores the process of how homeless mentally ill persons become involved with the criminal justice system. The unique demands of homelessness and chronic mental illness were specifically examined in this naturalistically based study. The author concludes that a combination of severe mental illness, a tendency to decompensate in a nonstructured environment, and an inability or unwillingness to follow through with aftercare contributed to involvement with the criminal justice system. Changes in the mental health system that would prevent the criminalization of the homeless mentally ill are suggested.

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • John R. Belcher
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Social Work and Community PlanningBaltimore