We Should All Be Ashamed

For those suffering from severe mental illness, this is the worst of times.

The most dispiriting moments in my entire life have been spent visiting solitary confinement units in state and federal prisons. Many of the inmates have obvious psychiatric symptoms, talking to themselves, screaming and/or pacing agitatedly back and forth; some even smearing excrement all over the walls and on themselves. And walk the streets of any city and you will find multitudes of the mentally ill left homeless to fend as best they can for themselves.

Because of inadequate treatment and housing, the mentally ill are extremely vulnerable to arrest for avoidable nuisance crimes — it is as simple as stealing some food from a store, sleeping on a bench in a public park, or shouting back at voices in the middle of the night. Police have learned that it is a waste of their time to take the person to an emergency room — they will have to hang around for hours after which there is no bed available, no timely outpatient appointment, no housing solution. So their default position has become an arrest — turning someone who should be a patient into a prisoner.

It doesn’t have to be —> Read More Here


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