Photo of the Mead building lobby, Yankton State Hospital, S.D. Photographer Christopher Payne visited state mental institutions across the country, many of which were abandoned. His book, Asylum: Inside The Closed World of State Mental Hospitals, captures what he found.
Credit Courtesy of Judge Leifman
For the past decade, Miami-Dade County Judge Steve Leifman has fought to get treatment for people with mental illness and keep them from ending up in jail.
Credit Courtesy of the Travis County Sheriff's Office
Sheriff Greg Hamilton runs the Travis County Jail in Austin, Texas.
Three hundred and fifty thousand: That's a conservative estimate for the number of offenders with mental illness confined in America's prisons and jails.
More Americans receive mental health treatment in prisons and jails than in hospitals or treatment centers. In fact, the three largest inpatient psychiatric facilities in the country are jails: Los Angeles County Jail, Rikers Island Jail in New York City and Cook County Jail in Illinois.
In the 19th century, the mentally ill were often sent to horrific asylums. Today they fill the nation's jails; the conditions aren't much better. Last year, almost 1.1 million people with serious mental illnesses were arrested nearly 2 million times.
It's those old asylums — mostly closed, often abandoned — that have fascinated photographer Christopher Payne. A few years ago, he put together a book of images from those buildings, titled Asylum: Inside The Closed World Of State Mental Hospitals.