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2,383 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
PBS Frontline Addresses Mental Illness and Criminal Justice

On May 10, PBS will broadcast nationally a documentary on mental
illness filmed inside the Ohio state prison system. The broadcast
coincides with two national conferences being held in Columbus,
Ohio on May 11-12 on mental illness, law enforcement and the
criminal justice system, co-sponsored by the Ohio chapter of the
National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI).

"The New Asylums" is a thought-provoking film about the shift of
the burden of mental healthcare costs to jails and prisons -- going
deep into Ohio's prison system to explore issues that involve
nearly half a million people with mental illnesses incarcerated

The film includes unprecedented access to prison
therapy sessions, mental health treatment meetings, crisis wards,
and prison disciplinary tribunals. For more information, visit the
PBS Web site.

Frontline is always an excellent show. NAMI is an excellent organization. I think this will be important to see.

Just further illustration of the misconceptions and ignorance re: mental illness.

D 8)

· Registered
2,383 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·

More specific site. The whole site won't be up until the show airs on 5/10 apparently.

A lot of this deals with the lack of transitional care that we somehow "fogot about"? :shock: when State Institutions were emptied out in the 1960s.

Now the seriously mentally ill end up in prison where they don't get proper treatment, are treated badly, etc.

I'm very curious to see what sort of "treatment"/"therapy" they receive.


Hi Dreamer

It sounds like an interesting program. Unfortunately I won't be able to view it as i don't have a T.V. by choice.

Perhaps you or someone else may be able to give a synopsis of the highlights of the program here on the board or provide some links of reviews.

I left the state hospital here in California just before the Governor Reagan administration began emptying out the mental hospitals. Some of the patients I knew from the open ward I was on just prior to when I left I saw being interviewed on T.V at the time. They were pleading the hospital remained open. If I had stayed a few weeks longer I could very wel have been one of those interviewed. This must have been around 1967-68.

Some years later when Reagan became president there was a big push to get people off SSI psychiatric disablilty, something like every thrid person as I recall. Many of these people unable to work because of their disability and feeling there was no where to turn ended up taking their own lifes. So many in fact committed suicide that there was a public outcry and this policy was brought to an end.

The rationale for closeing the hospitals was to prevent patients from becoming insitutionalized (and of course to save tax payers dollars) and the SSI was supposed to help them provide themselfs with the bare neccesities of life outside the hospital and there was supposed to be local community help and support for the former patients. But as you are well aware this was simply a ploy which tried to justify the taking away of the structured environment of the state hospitals which provided many patients with a feeling of security. And fear from being abandoned out in the world where many were incapable of fending for themselfs.

It was a cruel system.

Now to put mental patients in a prison environment sounds like something straight out of hell, where they are likely to become the prey of a largely sociopathic prison population. I was in jail for some time in the past and when I finally ended up on a miximum security ward at the state hospital, the conrast I felt as though I had moved to a sort of country club by comparison. At least I felt safer in the hospital. Of course there are State hospitals for the "criminal insane" Like Atascadero which may be everybit as bad as state prisons.

But sentencing mentally ill people to prison just seems so wrong. And if the mental patients at time poses an actual temporary threat to society there are locked down maximum security wards in the state hospitals. No picnic but certainly better than a prison environment.

I hope there will be follow up info on this program posted on this board.

Thanks for the heads up Dreamer

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