Civil Liberties

Cell Blocks Aren't Psych Wards

Even with the best of intentions, using jails to house the mentally ill is a bad policy.

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In April 2015, Jamycheal Mitchell, 24, was accused of stealing $5 worth of snacks from a convenience store. A Virginia judge ordered Mitchell, who had been prescribed schizophrenia medication, to be sent to a psychiatric hospital, but there were no open hospital beds, so he was put behind bars instead.

Five months later, Mitchell was found dead in his cell at the Hampton Roads jail, 36 pounds lighter and lying in a urine-soaked bed, according to his family.

In December, the Justice Department launched an investigation into civil rights violations in that facility. "All prisoners, including those with mental illness, have a constitutional right to receive necessary medical care, treatment and services," Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, said in a statement.

If the Justice Department intends to hold jails and prisons to those standards, it has many more cases to launch. Across the country, the mentally ill are routinely shoved into cells and denied proper care.

An investigation by the Sun Sentinel in Florida found the Broward County jail's contracted health care provider "left severely mentally ill inmates unmedicated and malnourished, despite having the authority to help them." Seven inmates have committed suicide or suffered extreme weight loss while in isolation at the jail since 2010, the newspaper reported.

There have also been four deaths just since April 2016 in the Milwaukee County jail, run by Sheriff David Clarke—reportedly on Donald Trump's shortlist for Homeland Security chief. One of those inmates was a mentally ill man who died of "profound dehydration."

A Huffington Post investigation found there were more than 800 jail deaths across the country, most of them unreported, from July 2015 to July 2016. About a third of those were suicides.

Ask any corrections official or beat cop, and he'll tell you the system arrests and holds the same troubled people over and over. Even with the best of intentions, using jails to house the mentally ill is a bad policy. When standards are lacking or staffers don't care about their wards, it can be a deadly one as well.

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  1. They make them worse and then release them back into society. So smart.

    1. Then they request a bigger budget to deal with the epidemic they created.

  2. Damn. I’ve been lucky.

  3. Five months later, Mitchell was found dead in his cell at the Hampton Roads jail, 36 pounds lighter and lying in a urine-soaked bed,

    Because crazy or because shitty jail?

    Seven inmates have committed suicide or suffered extreme weight loss while in isolation at the jail since 2010

    Because crazy or because shitty jail?

    One of those inmates was a mentally ill man who died of “profound dehydration.”

    Because crazy or because shitty jail?

    1. There appears to be a scratch on this record.

      1. Seems to me that one could make a better argument against shitty jails by not narrowing the scope to how they treat crazy people.

    2. I live in Hampton Roads. It can certainly be both.

      1. Indeed. The answer to the question is “yes.”

    3. All I know is a lot of those crazy people sleeping on the sidewalks downtown smell like pee.

  4. Have schizophrenia like a thug, die in jail over $5 worth of snacks like a thug.

    1. Back in my day store owners would just kick the guy in the ass if caught, scream to never come back or else and move on.

      Now they call in the cops for $5.

      Retarded.

      1. They do so because the law would throw them in jail today for acting against the guy caught stealing….

      2. Retarded

        Either ‘mentally ill’ or ‘crazy’ are the proper terms now.

        1. Retarded.

          1. I’ll say.

  5. What would Dr. Szasz say about this?

    1. Not much. He’s dead.

      1. Oh sznap.

        1. You’re so *crazy*!

  6. I don’t know the answer but it is indeed troubling since Kennedy deinstitutionalized psych hospitals in the 60s and 70s these people have ended up in jails instead or on the streets while their brains turn to Swiss cheese. Should we force people to take meds? That obviously violates their civil rights….but then unmediated they violate someone else’s rights by committing crime against them. So whose rights can be violated?
    Many hardcore antipsychotics can now be given via injection every 2 or 4 weeks and many of the schitzos when medicated agree they want it for some time. Maybe send nurses to them to inject with their clear thinking consent. Jails and the streets aren’t right for them obviously but surely any “solution” would be a mess on unintended consequences

    1. Ideologically speaking, one could argue that you cannot preserve the rights of one group by violating the rights of another group as a prophylactic measure. I mean, as far as libertarianism goes, anyway.

      1. Some places there isn’t a great libertarian answer for things, and you’re instead looking for least bad solutions.

        1. Woe to the republic.

  7. RE: Cell Blocks Aren’t Psych Wards
    Even with the best of intentions, using jails to house the mentally ill is a bad policy.

    Couldn’t agree more.
    The mentally are in Congress, the White House and the SCOTUS where they belong.
    What could possibly go wrong.

  8. I looked at the check for $8628 , I didnt believe that…my… father in law was like actualie taking home money in there spare time on there computar. . there sisters roommate haz done this for under 17 months and just cleard the morgage on there apartment and got a gorgeous Chevrolet Corvette . go to websit========= http://www.net.pro70.com

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