Steve Chapman on the Terrible Way We Treat the Mentally Ill


Credit: Rikke68,

A Bronx man died in police custody last week after police responded to a 911 call. An Iraq combat veteran in El Paso, Texas, serving a two-day DWI sentence died after being subdued by guards. A woman died after being Tasered by sheriff's deputies in a Fairfax, Va., cell. 

What they had in common, besides expiring abruptly while in the hands of law enforcement officers, is mental illness. We used to warehouse the mentally ill in overcrowded, unsafe asylums. As Steven Chapman observes, now we warehouse them in jails and prisons, where their conditions are often even worse.