Thursday, September 17, 2009

MIWatch - Loathsome prison conditions for mentally ill


With one psychiatrist for every 1,000 inmates, and more than two dozen current investigations into civil rights violations, America faces a human rights crisis in its jails and prisons. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill) called current practices of incarcerating people with a mental illness "loathsome, indefensible." Durbin chaired yesterday's congressional hearings, "Human Rights at Home: Mental Illness in U.S. Prisons and Jails."

The United States has the world's highest rate of putting people behind bars, and in the federal prisons, 45 percent of them have a mental illness. The rates are higher in state prisons (56%), and local jails (64%) said Sen. Durbin who lamented the country has taken a "step backward in time." He noted a "growing public revulsion."

Testimony of seven witnesses spelled out details, starting with the intake of inmates who have a mental illness or substance use disorder. Also noted are:

    •solitary confinement for symptomatic behavior;
    •lack of on-site psychiatrists;
    •revolving doors of psychologists and psychiatrists;
    •high rates of suicide;
    •the transfer of youngsters to juvenile justice system to enable them to receive mental health treatment……
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A two-hour webcast is available (perhaps temporarily), as is testimony at the website of the Senate Judiciary Committee

MIWatch - Loathsome prison conditions for mentally ill

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