The UK's prison problems, with many inmates suffering from mental illness, are mirrored around the world. In America there are thought to be three times more psychiatric patients in prison than in hospital. BBC correspondent Aleem Maqbool was given special permission to film inside Cook County Jail, Illinois, and to speak to the prisoners at this Chicago prison.
Watch the video below and answer the questions.
1. What is the percentage of American inmates suffering from mental problems?
2. What has Robert been charged with?
3. How many inmates live in the same room?
4. How much bigger is the percentage of incarcerated people with mental problems compared to patients in mental hospitals?
5. What are some of the words André uses to describe the hard life in prison?
6. Is there some provision for psychological treatment in the prison?
7. How can the problem of the massive number of inmates with mental problems be resolved?
This is what checking into America's largest mental health institution looks like. It's not its official role, but when 30% of people being shuttled around from cell to cell and locked away in this jail are thought to have psychiatric problems, that, by default, is what it's become.
We watched as this man was processed into the jail, having his mugshots taken. He was charged with criminal trespass, sleeping on someone else's property 42-year-old Robert is homeless and he has schizophrenia. We saw as he shuffled off into what is a tough world.
In parts of the jail, up to 400 inmates are kept in a single room, where they eat, sleep and live all together. Many, of course, have committed far worse crimes than Robert. Those we spoke to complained of the conditions they lived in, but didn't want to be recorded for fear, they said, of repercussions. But the number of those among the prison population with mental health problems appears to be ever-increasing. It's now thought there are more than three times the number of psychiatric patients incarcerated in America than are in hospitals.
People like Andre. He's been locked up because he stole groceries that he said he needed to eat. He, too, is schizophrenic.
Being incarcerated is no way to live. Not only being kept from your freedom, but surrounded with the people that's here, the people that's here, the violence, the ignorance, the incompetence, the mentality of the individuals that you're locked up with. It can really get hard, it can be dangerous.
There are some areas of the jail that do have the look of a treatment center. Those running this facility have at least recognised that mental health provision needs to be a huge part of what they do. The new warden of the jail is even a psychologist. But what they can't change is a system that means so many people who should be treated in the community end up being in a place like this.
We have people who are sick, not criminals, they’re sick, no different than if they had diabetes, but they have a mental illness. It’s not being treated. Why isn’t it being treated? Well, guess what States throughout the country, throughout the United States, have decimated the mental health programmes, so there are none, people scramble to find anything. So where do these people end up then in mass, in the jails, in prisons. And it's been going on now for decades.
There does seem to be recognition that too many people in America are going to jail, particularly those with psychiatric problems. That can only be resolved with fundamental changes in the justice system here and improved mental health provisions outside prison. But both those things feel a long way off.
Aleem Maqbool, BBC News.
2 criminal trespass, sleeping on someone else's property
3 up to 400 inmates
4 three times bigger
5 violence, ignorance, incompetence, mentalityof the individuals
7 by introducing changes in the justice system and improving mental health provisions outside prison