Prisons are ‘new asylums’ in U.S.
By Alan Johnson THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
- Reinforcing their role as the “new asylums,” U.S. prisons now house 10 times as many seriously mentally ill people as state psychiatric hospitals do, a new national report shows.
An estimated 356,268 seriously mentally ill inmates were housed in prisons and jails nationally in 2012, compared with about 35,000 patients in mental hospitals, according to a report released Tuesday. The Virginia-based Treatment Advocacy Center and the National Sheriffs’ Association released “Treatment of Persons with Mental Illness in Prisons and Jails: A State Survey.”
- In Ohio, nearly 10,000 inmates are on the mental-health caseload in state prisons, with 4,356 of them seriously mentally ill. Fewer than 1,000 patients reside in six state psychiatric hospitals. The largest hospital, Summit Behavioral Healthcare in Cincinnati, had 274 patients this week.
The state prison numbers do not include jails, the largest of which, Franklin County (2,200 inmates) and Cuyahoga County (1,765) “may each hold more individuals with serious mental illnesses than the state hospital does,” the report said.
Roughly 20 percent of the state prison population has mental illness, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction calculates.
- Behavioral-health experts say prisons and jails were not designed and are not equipped and staffed to handle the huge influx of inmates with mental illness. Yet, that’s where many mentally ill individuals end up as a result of the closing of psychiatric hospitals and cutbacks to community treatment and shelter programs. (thanks Gov Kasich!)
- Terry Russell, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Ohio, a veteran leader of the mental-health system, said he finds the idea of further stigmatizing the mentally ill by locking them in prison “repulsive.”
“The biggest problem with our mental-health system is the local community does not have the tools to treat these people effectively so they don’t get in harm’s way and end up in prison,” he said. “We see time and time again that there is a need for very ill people to get care immediately. The sickest of the sick just aren’t getting treatment.”
State prisons spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said the agency copes with the huge population of inmates with mental-health issues by doing extensive health screenings when they enter prison, providing treatment programs in four prisons, and offering psychotropic medication management and counseling for inmates who are leaving prison. email@example.com
So we’ve dealt with the isolation rooms for difficult or mentally impaired children in our school systems and it is indeed, heartbreaking, inadequate and cruel beyond words. It has been so difficult to see the damage governor Kasich and his deeply entrenched republican legislature has done to this rather nice state. Had been told it was a great place to live and raise a family. Came here after the dreadful Northridge earthquake of 1994 in which I lost about all my household possessions. My daughter-in-law couldn’t take it anymore and I trailed after them when they went to OHIO. Much has changed since our arrival. As a fairly liberal Californian who was thoroughly disenchanted with Reagan when he became our Governor, I had seen first hand how people suffered with this “Red-state” thinking. One of Ronnie’s first priorities was slashing everything he could including mental hospitals. Doors were opened and people were simply tossed out – seriously! No where to go and helpless, there were many tragedies. It’s unjustifiable. Didn’t like it then and even less now. At least Ronnie had a charm and wit which attracted people — can’t be said for our governor.
It is unforgivable the way Kasich dismantled our school system thru budget cuts and slash and burn at every turn. This small, but effective article shows you what I’m choking on presently so I don’t need to belabor it. It is very hard for me to see how this is alright with anybody. I thought this type of cruelty went out back in the middle ages and certainly was cleaned up by late 19th century. We are supposedly living in an enlightened age, but if we are not discerning, our world could just as easily fall back into dire gloom for many. We are each allowing too much to slip away including in our highest court of the land. Justice is not coming from those sacred halls. They are dismantling our very foundational truths and principles. The fox has been guarding the hen-house so long that we are now intimidated by the fox. But it is time to remember who we are and what we stand for. Either we are in this thing together as one nation, or we are lost already. No nation can stand when it is divided against itself.
While all these injustices are going on in Ohio, the slide continues as our governor seeks further tax cuts for our wealthy while continuing the cutting and slashing he started. Now they are after the “stand your ground law” seeing how successful it is in so many other states. This is a good thing? Maybe I’ve already lost it. I dunno. Jan)