It cannot be news: “At their maximum census in 1955, the state mental hospitals held 558,922 patients. Today, they hold approximately 35,000 patients, and states are continuing to close beds to reduce that number. In 2012, there were estimated to be 356,268 inmates with severe mental illness in prisons and jails. There were also approximately 35,000 patients with severe mental in state psychiatric hospitals. This means that there are ten times the number of persons with serious mental illness in prisons and jails than in state psychiatric hospitals.”
Yet it continues. Does anyone out there notice? Care? Can anyone out there speak up and get heard?
A college professor and a policy analyzer have discovered major differences between actual punishment and how the inmates perceive punishment. They investigated numerous factors, broke them down into graph form for us, and made suggestions to prison staff about improving the prison environment by understanding the inmates’ perceptions. These findings should be shared with all prison staffs. The consequences could make a positive difference in staff lives and safety.
Since the Reagan administration, states have closed homes for the mentally ill, saying churches and private groups would step up and care for the mentally ill. Well, we know now, for a fact, that they haven’t stepped up. Indeed, looks like they are retreating into their sanctified churches and safe homes. They leave the mentally ill to the criminal justice system instead. How can a society allow the mentally ill to get arrested (for epilepsy, Tourette’s Syndrome, anger issues, etc.) and placed in prisons, where they face criminals and people who harm rather than help them?
I don’t know about you, but if the medics who oversaw my medical visits–14 times within one month–didn’t realize my very flesh was being eaten, I’d change doctors. Then again, I’m in the Free World and can. Inmates can’t. That’s why this Washington case is so, so sad: after months of pain and a string of medical visits, Ricardo Mejia was taken to a free-world hospital, where he died an unnecessary death . The lawsuit said, “While in state custody, Ricardo Mejia’s medical providers ignored obvious signs of infection and serious illness and he literally rotted to death under their care through negligence and deliberate indifference.” Even that negligence didn’t allow the court to find any one person actually guilty of neglect. What does it take?
When you are in prison in a wheelchair, you don’t have many options. Certainly you can’t pick your doctor or health care system. But things got out of hand for Texas inmate Donald Eubanks. He asked and asked for help; filled out grievances; was turned down and way repeatedly, with minimal care. So finally he’s filed suit–because he lost his legs and a testicle, for instance, and part of a colon, etc. Thank goodness a judge agreed to allow a jury to review the facts. Generally, the “deliberate indifference” standard is so high that no facts can reach it. Indeed, plenty of personnel in this story were already relieved of any liability. But one doctor-Dr. Kokila D. Naik– will face trial over this disaster