Dr. Nneka Jones Tapia, the first psychologist to run a jail

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Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart calls the 8,000-person Cook County Jail the largest mental health institution in the country. Thirty percent of its inmates have diagnosed mental health issues, and the number with undiagnosed conditions is thought to push the true percentage much higher. So perhaps it’s not surprising that Dart chose Dr. Nneka Jones Tapia, a psychologist, to run it.

What is surprising is that Jones Tapia is the first mental health profession to run a jail. In this conversation, we talk about how the justice system looks when you begin with a mental health lens — how you balance punishment and treatment, how you think about personal responsibility versus mental instability, and how you manage the tension between what we use jail for and what we should use jail for.

Enjoy!

Books:

The Bible

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth by M. Scott Peck, M.D.

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