Monday, May 16, 2005

Jail is No Safety Net: A Librarian at Every Table. No. 271.

Jail is No Safety Net

Each year, thousands of Americans with mental illnesses cycle in out of the criminal and juvenile justice systems, punished for the mental health system’s failure to provide crucial services and supports that can help them lead more successful lives in the community.

Last year, lawmakers and the President took an important step toward addressing this disturbing trend. “The Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act” (P.L. 108-414) was sponsored by Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH) and Representative Ted Strickland (D-OH) and signed by President Bush. Unfortunately, neither the President’s proposed budget nor the recently passed Congressional budget resolution sets aside any federal dollars to support this important initiative.

The Bazelon Center and our partners in the Campaign for Mental Health Reform need your help to secure funding for federal efforts to stop the dangerous, expensive and inappropriate warehousing of people with mental illnesses in our nation’s jails and prisons.
The mission of the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law is to protect and advance the rights of adults and children who have mental disabilities. The Center envisions an America where people who have mental illnesses or developmental disabilities exercise their own life choices and have access to the resources that enable them to participate fully in their communities.

Human Rights Watch Report:
Ill-Equipped:U.S. Prisons and Offenders with Mental Illness.
Somewhere between two and three hundred thousand men and women in U.S. prisons suffer from mental disorders, including such serious illnesses as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression. An estimated seventy thousand are psychotic on any given day. Yet across the nation, many prison mental health services are woefully deficient, crippled by understaffing, insufficient facilities, and limited programs. All too often seriously ill prisoners receive little or no meaningful treatment. They are neglected, accused of malingering, treated as disciplinary problems.

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