The Penrose Hypothesis

Mentioned briefly in one of our Wikipedia readings last week, the Penrose Hypothesis “proposes an inverse relationship between the relative number of psychiatric beds available to a population and it’s total number of prisoners”. Through various forms of research in many different countries, Mark Toynbee’s paper discovers that with a reduction of psychiatric beds comes an increase in prison population.

What questions does this bring up? For one, what is the relationship between our prison system and psychiatric facilities today? This paper examined data mostly from South America, but how does it apply in the United States? Why does this relationship exist (what makes a prisoner versus someone who goes to a psychiatric facility)?

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