---from The Last Psychaiatrist:
Worse, much worse, is how many people I see that I say are competent and still wind up recommitted for two months. Six months. A year. Think I'm kidding? It is impossible to even estimate how many charts I have read that indicate no psychiatric contact-- not medication, not therapy, not psychiatrist-- for the entire duration of their commitment. And why should there be? The treating psychiatrist doesn't see anything to treat.
At least they aren't using psychiatric treatment as part of the punishment. I believe the US is massively fucked up in important ways, but this doesn't mean this is anywhere near the worse country in history.
You're probably thinking about murderers and rapists; but the majority of these cases are theft, assaults, drug possessions. Can anyone explain to me what possible justification exists for locking up a guy charged with possession for eight months, no trial? And I'll pretend the guy is whacked out of his nut psychotic. Ok? Any justification at all?
I'm not saying you can't sentence him to eight months-- cane him, for all I care; I'm saying you can't jail him for eight months without a trial. Is anyone listening to me?
From the comments:How about a deaf girl kept in county jail for a year (and had been returned there many times for vagrancy) because she didn't qualify for any programs of help and there were no resources to so much as communicate with her!! Once someone who practiced sign language was incarcerated along with her she was able to tell of being diagnosed with all manner of psychiatric problems including schizophrenia and medicated for it and kept locked up because she couldn't document a place to live or go if they released her. But, **No one could talk to her to explain what was needed*** so she stayed in jail unaware of what needed to be done!!! Arghh!. And though I'm no psychiatrist, it was clear this was someone very much in fear and isolated to an extreme but with little indications of mental health problems. She was amazingly tough, resigned to her condition and clearly badly affected by how "the world" was treating her, no trust whatsoever for anyone. Who can blame her. The best that could be done was urge her to get out of the state and go somewhere where they would at least talk to her. What about that jail's psychiatrist?!?! No moral or ethical issues at all as far as he was concerned, even agreed it was a "population management" issue nothing else.
 That last is a holdover from a conversation with a friend who's come to believe that the US has used torture and it's a bad thing, but needs to keep saying that other countries have been worse.
Link thanks to dglenn.