February 16, 2007

APA Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest (BAPPI) Statement Regarding 60 Minutes Segment "The Death of Timothy Souders"

In 2004, there were more than 2.1 million inmates in the nation's prisons and jails. In U.S. prisons, the rate of mental illness is three times higher than in the general population (Human Rights Watch, 2004). Almost 1 million people with serious mental illnesses are jailed each year. History of mental disorders is the second most frequent health problem reported by incarcerated populations, but mental health services within the corrections systems are woefully inadequate and correctional staff are not trained to provide for this population. In his Mental Health Report in 1999, the Surgeon General called for better mental health services for the incarcerated, more supportive transitional strategies and better post-incarceration services.

The American Psychological Association views the incidents depicted on the 60 Minutes segment "The Death of Timothy Souders" on Feb. 11, 2007 as documentation of the little progress made in assuring good mental health services for the incarcerated. It made clear to friends, family and policy-makers how devastating the impact can be. The APA Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest (BAPPI) praises 60 Minutes for presenting this story that draws attention to the need for all cities, counties and states to review their policies and adequacy of staffing to address the mental health needs of incarcerated persons.

The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, DC, is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 145,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare.