NIU Professor To Use Fulbright To Study Mental Health Services And Jail Rate Data In Finland

Jan 22, 2020

NIU Professor of Sociology Fred Markowitz
Credit Guy Stephens

A Northern Illinois University professor is looking at ways to reduce incarceration rates for those dealing with mental illness. Professor of Sociology Fred Markowitz will continue his research in Finland thanks to a Fulbright research grant.

Markowitz said both Finland and the U.S have seen an increase in the number of mentally ill in jail as they cut back local treatment programs. He said in the U.S., it’s difficult to get good information on the impact of those cuts, or programs that might prevent jail time for those grappling with mental illness.

“We have a patchwork system,” he said. “Some might say a highly fragmented system of services -- for-profit, not-for-profit.”

Markowitz said that’s not true in Finland.  

“They have a much more streamlined health care system,” he said. “And they keep better data on the capacity for treatment, both inpatient and outpatient.”  

Markowitz said that makes it possible to gather data from different places and compare them meaningfully. Housing, education and health care costs are also much less an issue there than in the U.S. He’s hoping all that will make it possible to come up with answers that can work in both countries.