Why is prison the worst setting for the seriously mentally ill?

Jails and prisons can be brutal places: suicide rates are at 84 per 100,000 compared with 11.3 in the community; homicide is 28 per 100,00 compared with 1.8 (Office of the Correctional Investigator, 2010). Slamming cell doors, fear and intimidation and frequent restraint in isolation increase symptoms in distraught mentally ill (Makin, The Globe and Mail, 2011); poor judgment makes them prey for victimization and bullying (Chaimowitz, The Psychoanalytic Digest, 2011). As conditions of deprivation increase, the likelihood of self-harm increases. Prison staff are not trained for this; there is not enough capacity, resources, or professionals to meet their increase in a system unintended for this (Office of the Correctional Investigator, 2011). Lacking capacity to conform to prison, they are unlikely to get parole. Released directly to the streets without treatment and few community services, they are at high risk of reoffending, beginning the cycle anew (Chaimowitz, The Canadian Psychiatric Association, 2011). In effect, in Canada today, mental illness is criminalized (Ottawa Citizen, 2012).