The new asylums


The second story in the Pro Publica series on the best reporting on mental health in prison was called The New Asylums. It examined the dilemma facing corrections official in Ohio, considered a model for treatment of mentally ill prisoners. People like me who work in mental health know that the prisons prove most of the mental health care in America.The New Asylums followed a group of prisoners up and down the mental health ladder.

One salient fact is that due to conduct violations n prison, it is common to serve far longer than the stated prison terms mandated by the courts. thus, one could be imprisoned for many years on relatively minor crimes due to behavior issues related to one’s state of mental health.

Do not expect a lot of person first language in the video. Most of the men who were interviewed had a diagnosis of schizophrenia.  They were labeled as “schizophrenics in the narration. iIt was jarring to view often articulate men talking about their hopes for recovery juxtaposed with pictures of them being being tackled by squads of SWAT type guards trained to enforce rules. An angry, naked man attempts to resist authority and receives the full force of the prison authority.He may face the same terror up and down the corrections system resisting less restrictive prison environments and going all the way up to maximum security. There was also a hospital attached to the prison when mentally ill prisoners were referred to help them with conduct adjustment.

People would be offered supports that helped clear their minds enough to be able to transfer them back to the general population. All of them men eventually were granted parole and every single one returned shortly afterward for another violation. Will the circle be unbroken? One man facing parole said that he hoped to be locked up for the rest of his life because the thought of living in a less restrictive environment terrified him.

What do you feel about this cycle of temporary recovery, stabilization, breakdown and re-incarceration? write your responses below.

 

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