Saturday, April 01, 2006

Mentally ill in prison

I just watched the Frontline episode "The New Asylums" looked inside Ohio's prison mental health treatment. I had seen it before, it is always an eye-opening program, even to me, and I have fairly extensive experience with the mentally ill in several different criminal justice systems.

Jail is becoming the place to hold the mentally ill. Judges know that, there are no alternatives, so although they may not like it, they feel like they have no option. But many jails, even if they are the 'best' of the worst options, they are not suitable at all. Many corrections officers are not trained or suitable to handle these sorts of inmates, nor are the police that must see them on the streets.

It is ridiculous that, as in Ohio, even when people get stabilized through aggressive treatment, when they get out in the community they have to be hyper aggressive and vigalent to get and maintain treatment. These are people who have serious mental health problems, yet they are not supported in the community, meaning that many of the 500,000 mentally ill people in the nations prisons will be coming right back.

What about Florida, according to Frontline:

14.9 percent of Florida's 71,616 inmates in custody were in counseling, and 10.8 percent were receiving psychotropic medications as of 2000. Among the state's 106 correctional facilities, 88 provided counseling, 88 distributed psychotropic medications, and one provided 24-hour mental health care.

That means 18 facilities do not provide counseling or distribute meds. The ideal answer would be not lock up people who need treatment. But if we aren't going to do that, then we must improve treatment in prison.


Anonymous Daniel Haszard 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

5:06 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home