June 24, 2006

Prisons - The New Asylums (News Report)

There is a very good in-depth report by Public Broadcasting Services (PBS) on how in the USA prisons have been turned into the new mental asylums. We encourage you to view the entire video and explore the entire web site. Perhaps some outraged family members and/or citizens can motivate some changes to the system - as Pete Early is working on. The report explains:

Fewer than 55,000 Americans currently receive treatment in psychiatric hospitals. Meanwhile, almost 10 times that number -- nearly 500,000 -- mentally ill men and women are serving time in U.S. jails and prisons. Why are so many mentally ill behind bars? Who's to blame? What can I do as a citizen? Why is Ohio at the forefront of dealing with this issue?...

An interactive map displaying statistics on the mentally ill in state prisons and contact information in each state.

A look at the legacy of closing America's mental hospitals ... the push for mental health diversion courts ... why so many mentally ill cycle back into jails and prisons after being released.

In the total US jail system approximately 738 people were locked up for every 100,000 residents. This rate is approximately 500% higher than in any other developed country - in England the rate is approximately 140 people per 100,000 residents.

Visit the Web site, watch the entire internet video series, and read more:

Prisons; The New Asylums (web site)

Watch the Series of Internet Videos: The New Asylums

For more information relevant to this story - see:

New Book: Crazy: A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness

How Much Mental-Health Care Do Insurers Have to Cover? Why is Coverage so Poor? What you can do

Excerpt from The New Asylums report:

We are the gatekeepers of a lot of persons who are mentally ill, and that's not something we relish. ... We don't like the idea that we're being charged with fixing a lot of the woes of our communities," says Reginald Wilkinson, director of the Ohio Department of Corrections. "In addition to being the director of the Department of Corrections, I became a de facto director of a major mental health system."

In "The New Asylums," FRONTLINE goes deep inside Ohio's state prison system to explore the complex and growing issue of mentally ill prisoners. With unprecedented access to prison therapy sessions, mental health treatment meetings, crisis wards, and prison disciplinary tribunals, the film provides a poignant and disturbing portrait of the new reality for the mentally ill.

"It was surprising to see how much treatment was going on inside Ohio's prisons," say FRONTLINE producers Miri Navasky and Karen O'Connor. "And while the prison system is doing a commendable job, you are still left with the feeling that prison is not the answer to this very large social problem."

As the rising number of mentally ill inmates shows no sign of abating, those working inside the nation's prisons are struggling with a system designed for security, not treatment. Corrections officers now have the responsibility of not only securing inmates, but also working with mental health staff to identify and manage disturbed prisoners.

"Providing effective psychiatric care in a maximum security prison is extraordinarily difficult," says prison psychiatrist Gary Beven. "If you have untreated manic depression or bipolar disorder, untreated schizophrenia, somebody might be hallucinating and extremely paranoid. If you don't identify the fact that [a] person has schizophrenia, if you don't provide them with the proper medication, if you don't place them in an environment that allows them to function at an adequate level, then it's just a matter of time, perhaps, [that] something aggressive might occur."

Visit the Web site, watch the entire video series, and read more:
Prisons; The New Asylums


Glad to see you picked up on the link i posted re 'the new asylums.'
It's ok i'll let you claim the credit.

Tim Capricorne

Posted by: Tim at June 24, 2006 05:16 PM

Tim - Thanks for finding the story. Its rather hard to tell who posted it when they don't leave their name. If you use one name to identify yourself consistently - we're happy to give credit where credit is due.

Posted by: szadmin at June 24, 2006 10:21 PM

Post a comment

Please enter this code to enable your comment -
Remember Me?
(you may use HTML tags for style)
* indicates required