People stricken with severe brain illnesses do not belong in jails. Disability Rights as usual missing the big picture – blaming the jails for not providing appropriate medical treatment instead of advocating for sustained care they need so they are not arrested for crimes due to symptoms of their illness.
KQED’s Lisa Pickoff-White and Julie Small recently reported that conditions the DRC report found in Sonoma County’s main jail are a reflection of what mental health experts say is a disturbing reality nationwide: After decades spent “deinstitutionalizing” the mentally ill — removing them from settings like state hospitals in favor of community mental health facilities that have rarely been adequately funded — correctional facilities are now de facto treatment centers for those suffering from acute psychiatric disorders.
A 2010 study found that in California, nearly four times as many mentally ill people were in jails and prisons than in hospitals.
The report, produced by the National Sheriffs’ Association and Treatment Advocacy Center, said that “in historical perspective, we have returned to the early 19th century, when mentally ill persons filled our jails and prisons.”
Experts say conditions like those in Sonoma County show jails are simply the wrong place to treat the mentally ill.
Read the DRC report: