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View Diary: Watching As He Wastes Away: How a Kentucky Prison Let a Mentally Ill Man Starve to Death (31 comments)

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  •  Mother Jones' history of Deinstitutionalization (9+ / 0-)

    A LOT of players, Democrats and Republicans, were involved in deinstitutionalization and the consequence of criminalizing mental illness. Some actions intentional, some unintentionial in the sequence of events. I recommend you read the whole page.

    1963 President John F. Kennedy signs the Community Mental Health Act to provide federal funding for the construction of community-based preventive care and treatment facilities. Between the Vietnam War and an economic crisis, the program was never adequately funded.
    1967 The California Legislature passes the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act, which makes involuntary hospitalization of mentally ill people vastly more difficult. One year after the law goes into effect, the number of mentally ill people in the criminal-justice system doubles.
    1981 Under President Ronald Reagan, the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act repeals Carter's community health legislation and establishes block grants for the states, ending the federal government's role in providing services to the mentally ill.  Federal mental-health spending decreases by 30 percent.
    2004 Studies suggest approximately 16 percent of prison and jail inmates are seriously mentally ill, roughly 320,000 people. This year, there are about 100,000 psychiatric beds in public and private hospitals. There are more people in jails and prisons than in hospitals.
    Mother Jones' link

    •  Thank you (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Amber6541, Oh Mary Oh

      This research is very helpful.

    •  I worked in a state hospital (6+ / 0-)

      in Massachusetts in the 80's. By then all the mentally ill who could live in the community with supervision had been discharged long before, and we were charged with finding discharge plans for the rest. For many, this meant nursing homes, especially those burned out schizophrenics with tardive dyskinesia (sp?) and similar cumulative side effects of medication.

      Others simply could not be dealt with in the programs that worked so well for the earlier group of discharged patients. They just walked out or broke some rule that got them kicked out and ended up in limbo. Reagan also, remember, refused to reauthorize the community mental health act, so as more intensive programming became necessary, less money was available to do it.

      Now it is almost a given that there are more jail/prison beds than hospital beds available for the mentally ill.

      Now I have a son with mental illness, and I see all this from the other side. It's even scarier here.

      Being attentive to the needs of others might not be the point of life, but it is the work of life. It can be ... almost impossibly difficult. But it is not something we give. It is what we get in exchange for having to die. - Jonathan Safran Foer

      by ramara on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 04:33:40 PM PDT

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      •  The family home is the new institution (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ramara, FarWestGirl

        As many of us in the disability studies world have been pointing out for awhile, the old institutions have been replaced by a new one, much smaller, with no oversight and very little financial or practical support: the family home. Parents are now expected to do the job that professionals used to (of course, they did a terrible job most of the time, and deinstitutionalisation was right, but dumping people back on their families isn't). Parents have little access to training, are easy marks for bogus therapy- and pill-pushers, and often either suffer abuse or dish it out (sometimes inadvertantly--it's damnably hard to physically manage someone who is larger and stringer than you when they are psychotic.) Parents have gone from being overtly blamed for mental illness, to being covertly blamed for it but still expected to control and contain it.
        And when the alternative is seeing your child in prison, you just do it, because that's no kind of choice.

        Political Compass says: -8.88, -8.67
        "We never sold out cos no one would buy."--J Neo Marvin

        by expatyank on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 10:13:38 AM PDT

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        •  It took a while (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FarWestGirl

          but I have reached the point where I can make it clear to my son that he cannot live at home because, while it might be good for him, it would not be good for me. It's not an easy thing to do.

          Being attentive to the needs of others might not be the point of life, but it is the work of life. It can be ... almost impossibly difficult. But it is not something we give. It is what we get in exchange for having to die. - Jonathan Safran Foer

          by ramara on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 02:31:25 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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