All writing is a form of prayer - John Keats

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Mentally ill moms and dads behind bars need you!

Old Arnie was mentally challenged, and never should have received a prison sentence. Once behind bars, he got into even more trouble. He was confused and didn’t follow directions. It was a hot summer when he got thrown into “the hole” for disobeying orders, and it was like getting locked up in a sauna. Then, the laughing guards pulled one more trick. They turned off the cold water, so all he had was hot tap water. 

That happened years ago, and marked my first experience with mistreatment of the mentally ill in a state prison. 

I raised hell. We’ve been complaining ever since. 

In 2014, after obtaining smuggled affidavits from prisoner observers in Huron Valley, we persuaded the US Department of Justice to investigate mistreatment of mentally ill women. Even that didn’t seem to bring about much change. 

In recent days, we received this shameful report from an inmate at Macomb CF: 

"When a prisoner is under observation for self-harm they are being treated like animals. Their food is put on wax paper no matter what it is. If the population is having chili for dinner, then the person on observation gets the same, just put on wax paper, and has to eat with their fingers. They call it finger food but it’s just the same as population gets, and there is no policy for finger food. Also, they are not given any thing to wash their hands with after using the bathroom. So, they have to eat with dirty hands." 

It's time for a change. Demanding decent treatment for mentally challenged people behind bars is long overdue. Serious mental illness has become so prevalent in the US corrections system that jails and prisons are now commonly called “the new asylums.” 

Prisons hold more mentally ill individuals than state psychiatric hospitals. 

According to the Treatment Advocacy Center of Virginia: 

-Mentally ill inmates remain in prison longer than other inmates.

-Incarcerating mentally ill inmates is costly.

-Mentally ill inmates are often isolated, because of behavioral management problems.

-Mentally ill inmates are more likely to commit suicide. 

The loved one of a Michigan inmate writes: “This is wrong in so many ways! These are human beings and not a piece of crap! These men are our brothers, fathers, husbands, friends, etc., and to treat them like this and humiliate them is sickening. It's not acceptable!” 

Every Michigan legislator has an email address. Send him/her the link to this article. 

Let’s do something!


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