New York City Mayor De Blasio: We Need to Address People with Mental Illnesses in Jail

NEW YORK—At a Thursday press briefing on the Department of Correction’s planned reforms of jail conditions at Rikers Island, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Corrections Commissioner Joseph Ponte expressed that their biggest challenge is how to provide for mentally ill inmates. The mayor said the high proportion of inmates with a mental illness—at 40 percent…

The Inhumanity of How We Incarcerate

The Inhumanity of How We Incarcerate

North Carolina man Anthony Michael Kerr’s, who died of dehydration in solitary confinement, is only the latest horrifying story we’ve heard in recent months. You may recall Darren Rainey, the mentally ill Florida inmate whose skin was boiled off his bones when guards locked him in a scalding shower as a punishment. Former employees later alleged that staff at that Dade County facility made a “sport” of brutalizing the mentally ill. Or Jerome Murdough, who died of heat exposure after left unattended for hours in a cell in a Rikers unit for mentally ill patients. This, despite the fact that prison officials knew a heating unit malfunction had raised the temperature in those cells to dangerously high levels. Or Christopher Lopez, a schizophrenic man in Colorado who suffered two seizures and died on the concrete floor of a prison cell while guards allegedly mocked and laughed at him. Prison officials waited a year and a half before bothering to report his death.

Mental illness and prisons

A Psychotic Episode Shouldn’t End in a Jail Cell

The following blog post, entitled “A Psychotic Episode Shouldn’t End in a Jail Cell,” on mental health services in this country comes from the ACLU. The post underscores that the state of mental health care in this country has failed on all fronts, noting that we use prisons and jails in place of treatment facilities…

Leon Benson | Shakespeare in the SHU | Wabash SHU Solitary Confinement

Voices from Solitary, Analyzing Isolation

This post is the next in a series of pieces Solitary Watch is publishing as part of a project calling for people held in solitary confinement to write on various proposed themes. Our second suggested theme, “Analyzing Isolation,” calls for writers to provide their analyses of solitary, discussing ways in which the practice is harmful and counterproductive. …

Pepper spray and restraint chairs: “Use of force” at Colorado’s supermax

June 12, 2013 | By Alan Prendergast | Denver Westword Blogs The year began with Manuel Rodriguez being strapped into a restraint chair. It ended with Rodriguez back in the chair. At Colorado’s state supermax prison, inmates get into confrontations with guards — over food, hygiene, privileges, a refusal to “cuff up” or whatever — out…

As Mental Health Services Have Disappeared, The Prison Population Has Skyrocketed

April 30, 2013 | Tara Culp-Ressler | ThinkProgress The Great Recession led to the biggest cuts to mental health services in this nation’s history. According to a report from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, states slashed more than $1.8 billion from their mental health services between 2009 and 2011. That funding decision has had some serious consequences —…

Federal court denies California’s request to lift oversight of prison mental health system

April 9, 2013 | Jenny Jiang | What the Folly?! A federal judge has denied California’s request to lift the court’s oversight of the state’s prison mental health system, citing “ongoing constitutional violations”. “Systemic failures persist in the form of inadequate suicide prevention measures, excessive administrative segregation of the mentally ill, lack of timely access…

Federal judge rules California officials violated rules of ethics in Coleman v. Brown

April 8, 2013 | Jenny Jiang | What the Folly?! California officials and their consultants violated the rules of ethics when they interviewed mentally ill prisoners without permission and used the information collected to justify state’s request to terminate federal oversight of the state’s mental health system, a federal judge ruled on Friday. U.S. District…

Judge rejects California’s bid to end U.S. court control of prison mental health care

April 6, 2013 | Denny Walsh and Sam Stanton | The Sacramento Bee In a sharp rebuke of Gov. Jerry Brown, a federal judge Friday rejected his administration’s bid to end federal court control of mental health care in California’s prisons, finding that treatment has not attained a constitutional level and “systemic failures persist,” which are leading to…

Federal judge: ‘Constitutional violations remain’ in California prison system

April 6, 2013 | Shannon Vitiritti | Examiner A federal judge struck another blow against California’s beleaguered prison system on Friday. The judge felt the mental health care of inmate in California prisons had not improved to a level sufficient to end 17-years of judicial stewardship over the prison system. On January 7, Gov. Jerry Brown filed a motion with…

The Prison Problem

Elizabeth Gudrais provides a good description of the dysfunctional state of US prisons in the following article, which was published in Harvard Magazine. In it, she points out the alarming rates of incarceration (2.2 million) and recidivism (half of offenders return to prison). Gudrais also discusses the connection between incarceration and certain sociological factors, including race, education and…

Report Outlines Abuses by California Prison Staff

Originally posted on Prison Reform Movement's Weblog- America: Land of the Free, Home of the Incarcerated:
English: Image is similar, if not identical, to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation patch. Made with Photoshop. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) A California parole agent was accused of soliciting one of his parolees to kill another. Numerous…