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Mental Illness in Prisons, Immigrants and Language, and Voters and Non-Voters

Here's one of the appalling statistics about our prison system nationwide -- according to the US Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics, 56 percent of state prisoners, 45 percent of federal prisoners and 64 percent of local jail inmates suffer from some form of mental health problem. Significant numbers include major depression and psychotic disorders, including hallucinations -- and rather than getting treatment, they end up in our prisons.

Contrary to the hysteria of some anti-immigrant campaigners, a new study co-written by Douglas Massey of the Princeton Woodrow Wilson School shows that Spanish-speaking immigrants rapidly become primarily English speakers by the second and third generation. In fact, by the third generation, any facility with Spanish is largely extinguished-- itself a problem for a nation that would benefit in the global economy from more multilingual Americans.

Voters and non-voters are often very different-- and in California, the non-voting adults are far more diverse and poorer and have very different policy priorities from the more limited number of those participating in elections in that state, according to a new report by the Public Policy Institute of California. As the report emphasizes, "the fact that a relatively small group of voters is making the decisions about elected representatives and public policy can raise serious questions about the legitimacy of the democratic system."