The percentage of Americans diagnosed with a mental illness is staggering. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 43.7 million adults suffer from a mental illness of some kind.
In a 2012 study it was found that 22 percent of females and 14.9 percent of males, roughly 18.6 percent of the total population, suffered from some form of mild to severe mental illness.
The cost for managing mental illness is astounding for those in the general public and for those incarcerated persons who suffer it is even higher. In fact, the number of inmates suffering from mental illnesses in the prison population is ten times that of the mentally ill residing in psychiatric institutions. How are these inmates being paid for? Where does their treatment come from? And are those responsible for guarding prisons up to the task of dealing with such a population?
The mental health of inmates, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, is of great concern. They sight a study by the Department of Justice regarding the mental health of inmates in both Federal and State Correctional Facilities finding that in 2004, 44.8 percent of the federally incarcerated population and 56.2 percent of state inmates suffered from some sort of mental illness. Local jails house considerably higher rates of mentally ill inmates at 64.2 percent. These statistics beg the question, “Who is responsible for their care?”
The ACLU has done an outstanding job of outlining the rights of inmates. In reference to mental health care, those who fail to provide adequate assistance are in clear violation of the eight amendment rights of the incarcerated mentally ill. All too often prison officials show deliberate indifference to inmates, especially those suffering from mental illness.
This is a clear violation of the eighth amendment. Recently the case of Darren Rainey (which gained national attention), a mentally ill inmate in the Dade Correctional Institution (located in Miami Florida) put a spotlight on the deliberate mistreatment of the mentally ill.
Darren was involuntarily placed in a scalding hot shower as a method of discipline. Despite his pleas for help, no one took heed (so far over 30 prison guards have lost their job in Florida in 2014 throughout the state because of abuse). Eventually he collapsed and then passed away.
Darren, like many others, was willfully disregarded by the prison system. His death served as a wakeup call regarding inmates with mental illnesses. All too often the pleas for help by the mentally ill are ignored or, worse, labeled as desperate attempts for attention by untrained prison guards.
The rights of mentally ill inmates are just as significant as those of other incarcerated individuals. They have the right to proper mental health screening and their treatment must be more than just segregation from the general population and providing scrutinized supervision.
The corrections facility must provide an adequate staff of mental health professionals specifically trained to treat the needs of the mentally ill. Finally, for those inmates requiring prescription medication, administration must be done in an accurate measure. Over medicating is never an option.
Glenn Painter is an author who is valiantly writing on behalf of the unjust and mistreated incarceration population. His latest thriller Beyond The Sentence highlights the case of Jason Bishop who was savagely mistreated by the justice system. He is currently hard at work on Handicapped Injustice, the second installment of his beloved Jason Bishop series.
Here we find Jason that has witnessed such an atrocity in the county jail in Broward County Florida where a mentally ill prisoner was placed in a single cell, stripped of all clothing. After numerous pleas to see medical to staff members, he was removed from the cell, restrained with handcuffs, hooded, thrown to the floor, and repeatedly kicked to death by numerous jail officials.
Jason Bishop, was incarcerated in a general population cell next door. He witnessed the incident and came forward explaining what transpired. A full investigation was launched.