NAMI - National Alliance on Mental Illness Home | About NAMI | Contact Us | En Espanol  | Donate  
Find
  Advanced Search  
 

Sign In
myNAMI
Communities
Register and Join
Donate
What's New
State & Local NAMIs
Advocate Magazine
NAMI Newsroom
NAMI Store
NAMIWALKS
National Convention
Special Needs Estate Planning
NAMI Travel

  Special Needs Estate Planning
 Shared Interests
  Consumers
  Teens and Young Adults
  NAMI on Campus
  Families
  Daughters and Sons
  Veterans
  Criminal Justice
  Faith Community
  GLBT Consumers and Supporters

Print this page
Graphic Site
Log Out
 | Print this page | 
 | 
Criminal_Justice

For Immediate Release:

October 22, 2003

Contact:
Elizabeth Adams
703.516.7993

 

NAMI Calls for Action Following Report on
Brutal Mistreatment of U.S. Prisoners
With Mental Illnesses

 

NAMI, the Nation’s Voice on Mental Illness, is calling for federal and state legislative action in conjunction with the release of a report by Human Rights Watch documenting mistreatment and neglect of individuals with mental illnesses in U.S. prisons.

"The report is more than a wake-up call. It is the equivalent of a five-alarm fire," said NAMI legal director

Ron Honberg. "It documents brutal, appalling conditions and the denial of medical treatment of individuals who suffer from severe illnesses—who in spite of their incarceration are sick through no fault of their own."

"The report gives new urgency to passage of the DeWine-Strickland bill now pending in Congress, and other proposals for fundamental change in the nation’s criminal justice and mental health systems."

The 215-page report, Ill-Equipped: U.S. Prisons & Offenders With Mental Illness, finds that the more than 250,000 offenders with mental illnesses in U.S. prisons are:

  • Under-treated—or often not treated at all—because of shortages of qualified staff, lack of facilities, and prison rules that interfere with treatment.
  • Especially vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse.
  • Kept under harsh conditions, including isolation, that can "push them over the edge" into acute psychosis.  An estimated 70,000 prisoner suffer from psychosis on any given day.

Prisoners who have attempted suicide or self-mutilated have been punished for "destroying state property," Humans Rights Watch reports. Those who yell and kick cell doors because of hallucinations or smear feces in cells are punished, for "creating a disturbance" or "being untidy."

Human Rights Watch is an international non-profit organization that conducts regular, systematic investigations of human rights abuses in approximately 70 countries around the world.

"This is not a criminal justice issue. It’s not just about mental health care," Honberg said. "It’s about fundamental human rights and the example the United States should be setting for the rest of the world."

"It is about corrections officers being saddled with burdens for which they have not been trained, because the federal government and states have failed to build community-based mental health care systems designed to help people so that they do not even become offenders."

The report is available on-line at www.hrw.org/reports/2003/usa1003.

Read more about the DeWine-Strickland bill:

 

# # #

 

As The Nation’s Voice on Mental Illness, NAMI leads a national grassroots effort to transform America’s mental health care system, combat stigma, support research, and attain adequate health insurance, housing, rehabilitation, jobs and family support for millions of Americans living with mental illnesses. NAMI’s one thousand affiliates are dedicated to public education, advocacy and support and receive generous donations from tens of thousands of individuals as well as grants from government, foundations and corporations. NAMI’s greatest asset, however, is its volunteers—who donate an estimated $135 million worth of their time each year.


 | Print this page | 
 | 

Donate

Support NAMI to help millions of Americans who face mental illness every day.

Donate today

Speak Out

Inspire others with your message of hope. Show others they are not alone.

Share your story

Get Involved

Become an advocate. Register on NAMI.org to keep up with NAMI news and events.

Join NAMI Today
Home  |  myNAMI  |  About NAMI  |  Contact Us  |  Jobs  |  SiteMap

Copyright © 1996 - 2011 NAMI. All Rights Reserved.