Kali White VanBaale

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Iowa's most shameful ranking yet

Kali White VanBaale is an Iowa-based novelist, creative writing professor, and mental health care advocate. Find more of her work at kwhitevanbaale.substack.com (where this essay first appeared) and www.kaliwhite.com.     

In late January, the Treatment and Advocacy Center released an annual report, “Prevention Over Punishment: Finding the Right Balance of Civil and Forensic State Psychiatric Hospital Beds.” It says in part:

The number of state psychiatric hospital beds for adults with severe mental illness has continued to decline to a historic low of 36,150, or 10.8 per 100,000 population in 2023, with a majority of state hospital beds occupied by people who have been committed to the hospital through the criminal legal system. This strategy of prioritizing admission of forensic patients effectively creates a system where someone must be arrested to access a state hospital bed in many states.

Other key findings:

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