For a long time now, prisons have become dumping grounds for the mentally ill. With inadequately trained staff and far too little resources, prison is not an appropriate place to throw people with psychiatric issues. Most inmates end up suffering from isolation, deprivation and violence while their mental health goes untreated.
Not only does prison stunt a person’s treatment but it often times makes their mental illness worse. Being ignored and forced into solitary confinement is the worst thing for people with disorders like depression disorders and schizophrenia.
Because prison guards have little training on how to handle people with mental illnesses, they often times result in violence to get inmates under control. A 55-year-old inmate with schizophrenia who charged a guard while accompanying him to the shower was tased twice causing him to fall to the floor. The guard then continued to try to reprimand the man by straddling him and pounding his face with his fist. The prisoner was taken to the hospital where they found he had 8 facial fracture that were similar to what one might get in a high-speed car crash.
Another inmate was beaten so badly after threatening a guard with a food tray that he couldn’t walk after. Six hours later he was taken to the ER where they found he had a shattered hip socket and a dislocated hip. Once returned to the prison he rarely received medical treatment for his hip because he was being disciplined or was deemed too dangerous because of his mental condition.
Many people who enter prison with a mental illness leave with a condition that is even worse. They also tend to end up going back to jail and the cycle never ends.
Photo by Bob Jagendorf