THE GROWING INCARCERATION OF THE MENTALLY ILL

05/31/07 Robert Lorei
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In this hour we featured an interview with the author of the new book: Crazy In America: The Hidden Tragedy of Criminalized Mentally ILL by investigative reporter Mary Beth Pfeiffer. In the book she tells the stories of six people whose mental illness thrust them into the arms of police and into jails, prisons and juvenile facilities that were ill prepared to care for them. The shocking results were, suicide, self-mutilation, death at the hands of frightened poorly trained police.

Two stories in the book are of Tampa Bay area men who died in struggles with police, Peter Nadir and Alan Houseman.

Some key facts from the book below:

While the share of mentally ill in prisons in 16 percent, the share in solitary confinement units is usually much higher: Oregan, 28 percent; California, 32 percent; Washington, 29 percent; Massachusetts, 33 percent --State correctional agencies

The average time that inmates are kept in solitary confinement is 5.2 years in Texas, 4.2 years in Massachusetts and 3 years in New York. The average stay in punitive solitary confinement in Canada is one week. --Human Rights Watch, Massachusetts Department of Corrections, Correctional Association of New York, Correctional Service Canada. FMI http://www.crazyinamerica.com

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