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Mental Health Behind Bars

Too often, people living with a mental health condition don’t get the help they need and end up in jail. There, they go from being potential psychiatric patients to being inmates — expected to comply with orders or face consequences, even when their conditions make this difficult or impossible. WITF is exposing conditions at jails and prisons in Pennsylvania, showing how people who need help are often hurt instead.  And WITF is looking for solutions — highlighting areas where law enforcement and mental health professionals are trying humane alternatives. 

Additional coverage:

Through the Cracks

Featured Stories


Jails fail to accommodate people with mental illness. In some cases, it’s a civil rights violation.

Conditions in some corrections facilities are a a moral failure that also costs taxpayers millions.

By Brett Sholtis

 Michael Rubinkam

Pennsylvania lawmakers weigh in on need for reforms after investigation into county jails and mental health

Prison oversight boards and funding for jails are among the ideas presented.

By Brett Sholtis

 Mixed media by Tom Downing

In Pa. county jails, people with mental illness are routinely met with pepper spray and stun guns

A WITF investigation finds that Pennsylvania county corrections officers use physical force on people who may be unable to comply with orders due to a mental health condition.

By Brett Sholtis

Pennsylvania mental health advocates hopeful for funding increase

Funding for county programs has been flat since 2007, while costs and demand have gone up.

By Brett Sholtis

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