Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Inside a Mental Hospital Called Jail

That is the title of this article click on the link to read the whole story. “The largest mental health center in America is a huge compound here in Chicago, with thousands of people suffering from manias, psychoses and other disorders, all surrounded by high fences and barbed wire.  Just one thing: It’s a jail. The only way to get treatment is to be arrested.  Psychiatric disorders are the only kind of sickness that we as a society regularly respond to not with sympathy but with handcuffs and incarceration.  And as more humane and cost-effective ways of treating mental illness have been cut back, we increasingly resort to the law enforcement toolbox: jails and prisons. More than half of prisoners in the United States have a mental health problem, according to a 2006 Justice Department study.  Among female inmates, almost three-quarters have a mental disorder.” That is a drag when the only way to get treatment is to go to jail.  What about the regular inmates the ones that do not have a mental illness.  You have enough doing your time than you have to worry about someone who has a mental illness to.  When I went to jail from the state hospital no one messed with my stuff do you know why because I had a mental illness and they did not know what I would do if they stole or did anything to me yes they were frightened.
You have games in the state hospital now in jail and prisons too.  You just want to do your time and get out. “People are not officially incarcerated because of psychiatric ailments, but that’s the unintended effect. Sherriff Dart says that although some mentally ill people commit serious crimes, the great majority are brought in for offenses that flow from mental illness.  One 47-year old man I spoke to, George, (I’m not permitted to use last names for legal reasons) is bipolar, hears voices and abuses drugs and alcohol.  He said he had been arrested five times since October for petty offenses.  The current offense is criminal trespass for refusing to leave Laundromat.  The sheriff says such examples are common and asks: ‘How will we be viewed, 20, 30, 50 years from now? We’ll be looked on as the ones who locked up all the mentally ill people. It really is one of those things so rich with irony: The same society that abhorred the idea that we lock people up in mental hospitals, now we lock people up in jails.’”  They should not be there in jail for petty crimes.  It seems like there are far too many not getting the treatment on the streets that they need.
The article goes on to say: “ A few data snapshots: Nationwide in America, more than three times as many mentally ill people are housed in prisons and jails as in hospitals, according to a 2010 study by the National Sheriffs’ Association and Treatment Advocacy Center.  Mentally ill inmates are often preyed upon while incarcerated, or disciplined because of trouble following rules.  They are much more likely than other prisoners, for example, to be injured in a fight in jail, the Justice Department says. Some 40 percent of people with serious mental illnesses have been arrested at some point in their lives.  In the 1800s, Dorothea Dix led a campaign against the imprisonment of the mentally ill, leading to far-reaching reforms and the establishment of mental hospitals. Now we as a society have, in effect, returned to the 1800s. In 1955, there was one bed in a psychiatric ward for every 300 Americans; now there is one for every 3,000 Americans, the 2010 study said. So while more effective pharmacological treatments are theoretically available, they are often very difficult to access for people who are only borderline.” I am different if I ever was in trouble again I would want to go to jail if I am medicated.  I’ve been to both the state hospital and jail.  I did not like jail unmedicated but would prefer it if I was medicated.
Ending the article: “TAXPAYERS spend as much as $ 300 or $400 a day supporting patients with psychiatric disorders while they are in jail, partly because the mentally ill require medication and extra supervision and care. ‘Fiscally, this is the stupidest thing I’ve seen government do, Dart says.  It would be far cheaper, he adds, to manage the mentally ill with a case worker on the outside than to spend such sums incarcerating them.  Cook County has implemented an exemplary system for mental health support for inmates. While in jail, they often stabilize.  Then they are released, go off their medication and cycle repeats.’”  They need the stabilization out here.  When a jail becomes a mental ward we need help.

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