Tina Tona

The Cycle

Policing, incarceration, and mental illness in America

This project is supported by a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge. More

This work was commissioned, produced, and edited by The Atlantic's editorial staff. Support for this work was provided in part by the organizations listed here.

A view of prison employees from inside a cell in the Secured Housing Unit at Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City, California, in February 2012
Jim Wilson / The New York Times / Redux

The Truth About Deinstitutionalization

A popular theory links the closing of state psychiatric hospitals to the increased incarceration of people with mental illness. But the reality is more complicated.

A monarch butterfly rests on a wire fence set into The Experiment’s image template.
Chris Melville / Shutterstock

The Experiment Podcast: What Makes a Murderer?

A widely criticized legal principle disproportionately puts youth of color and women behind bars. But is it the only way to hold police accountable when they kill?

A silhouette of a man from behind, against a grey background
Illustration by Cam Floyd; animation by Andrew Embury

The Tragedy of Mental Illness in American Prisons

At the time of his death, following a violent altercation with guards, Karl Taylor was one of thousands of mentally ill inmates who are confined to institutions that are supremely ill-equipped to handle them.