03 May 2006

Prisons As Psych Wards

Mentally ill people convicted of felonies are rarely released on parole, and frequently reoffend. What they don't get very often is the mental health treatment that they need:

The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates there are 300,000 people suffering from mental illness in state and federal prisons, compared with 70,000 in state psychiatric facilities. "Our jails and prisons are our largest mental-health facilities now," says U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine, a Republican from Ohio who has co-authored bills to create federal programs to improve services for mentally ill inmates.

Time and time again, my mantra is that we have a responsibility to prevent predictable disasters. Mentally ill felons who don't receive mental health treatment are predictable disasters. But, keeping them in prison for disproportionately long sentences is not the humane, reasonable, or cost effective response.


Anonymous said...

Appreciate your blog,mental health consumers are the least capable of self advocacy,my doctors made me take zyprexa for 4 years which was ineffective for my symptoms.I now have a victims support page against Eli Lilly for it's Zyprexa product causing my diabetes.--Daniel Haszard www.zyprexa-victims.com

Anonymous said...

I have a son whos been in and out of jail since he was 14.Now 20.I can't seem the court system to put him a place that will make sure he takes his meds and help him funtion with everyday tasks.I show the courts by documents stating my son needs to be in a place that understands his illness and with locked door.He is homeless and his mind he beleaves theres nothing wrong and this is just life.He only has 8th grade education and can't hold onto a job.I don't understand why the court system lets him out of jail and think he will play by the rules like someone who is considerd a normal thinker.He does not live in this world as you might say.His mind does not work the way a normal person might think whats right or wrong.I wish that there was some way to help those people with the mental illness to get the help they need and live a fulfilling life.