Treatment, Not Jail: It’s Time to Step Up

By Mary Giliberti, J.D. | May. 05, 2015

Frequently, I travel around the country speaking at NAMI state conferences. I also get to talk with individuals and families from all walks of life who are affected by mental illness.

One of the top concerns they have—no matter whether it is in Arizona, Georgia, Massachusetts, Ohio, Texas or elsewhere—is what happens when a person living with mental illness encounters the criminal justice system. The stories people share should shock the conscience of America. Mothers tell me about sons who are put in jail for minor non-violent offenses and go without treatment. Fathers talk about daughters who have been arrested repeatedly, but are never connected to the help they need.

Individuals, who have survived encounters, talk about being thrown into solitary confinement—and being left alone hearing voices while praying to God to end their misery.

Taking calls on the NAMI HelpLine, I also hear from others who can’t understand how in the 21st century, so many people who are sick through no fault of their own, are abandoned to a cruel and inhumane system.

Each year more than 2 million people with serious mental illness are booked into jail. That number is equal to every man, woman and child in Houston, the largest city in Texas and the fourth most populous city in the United States. Half of these inmates get no treatment in jail—even though county jails today serve as the nation’s largest mental health facilities

The costs to taxpayers are high and the outcomes are poor. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize the absurdity of a system in which the cost of incarcerating a person with mental illness is three times the cost of incarcerating a person without one. Housing an inmate with mental illness in jail costs $31,000 annually, while community mental health services cost about $10,000. The difference could pay for a year of college for an in-state student.

One important reform leader is Sheriff Tom Dart of Cook County, Ill., who oversees one of the nation’s largest jails. One-third of the inmates have a serious mental illness. When I was in Chicago last year, Sheriff Dart’s staff gave me a tour of the jail. Sheriff Dart is one of the most compassionate and caring members of the law enforcement community, but he will be the first to say that the situation is heartbreaking—and an injustice. Jails are no place for mental health care. What I heard from him and inmates themselves echoed what I had heard from so many others.

Like Sheriff Dart, there are many people who are trying to change things. Criminal justice reform is one of NAMI’s top priorities for advocacy at all levels—national, state and local—and this week support for NAMI’s advocacy grew.

The National Association of Counties and Council of State Governments and numerous mental health and substance abuse organizations, including the American Psychiatric Foundation, have launched The Stepping Up Initiative to challenge county, state and local leaders to adopt reforms that can work in their communities. Launch rallies are being held in California, Florida, Kansas and Washington, D .C. NAMI is part of the coalition, bringing our unique voice and strength in grassroots mobilization.

Many reforms are needed. One is nationwide expansion of crisis intervention team (CIT) programs for law enforcement. CIT programs train police officers to respond more safely and humanely to individuals experiencing mental health crises by using “verbal de-escalation” skills and taking them to where they can get medical care rather than to jail. Today, there are approximately 2,800 CIT programs around the country, but they represent only 15% of police jurisdictions. It’s time for others to step up.

Many communities are making progress. In San Antonio, screening and diversion efforts have saved $10 million per year and reduced jail overcrowding. In Miami, reforms have saved $12 million and the number of inmates has fallen from about 7,800 to 4,800. Especially important of course is providing appropriate, effective mental health services in communities before crises ever occur.

Reform is possible. We need to build on success. Step by step, we can both save money and save lives The Stepping Up Initiative provides the opportunity for change. We can save lives and save money, but it is going to require everyone doing their part.

Learn more about Stepping Up and take a step today toward a better future where no one is punished for being ill and people with serious mental illness get treatment, not jail.

Comments
Cameron Floyd
My name is Cameron Floyd. I will make this as short as possible. I live in tbe stare of Georgia in Lakeland that's Lanier County. I have been arrested twice both times trying to protect myself or for trying to stand up to someome who cyber bullied me. He said I made terrorist threats to him after he got on my Facebook page when I was posting trying to get the help and support of what few friends I had. I was having an episode of depression and had just broke up with an ex when her step dad got on my post calling me an add hole, fake and bar shot crazy. I felt really suicidal that day and said some things back to him because of how upset I was and couldn't think clearly at the time for my depression was clouding my judgment. I have PTSD from childhood abuse as well so if someome threatens or mistreat me especially during an episode of depression then I'm gonna say things back because I don't deserve to have my good name soiled by some jerk to all my friends like he did me. So some things about me are like I said I have PTSD, sever social anxiety, panic attacks, major depressive , bipolar disorder, OCD and Asperger's syndrome or now called high functioning autism and I have to fight it everyday. I was abandon by my family as a young 7 year old boy and have no help or support so I've been having to try to learn how to survive and take care of myself ever since with absolutely no help. That man who bullied me on the internet he called the cops who had a warrant ourt for my arrest. I was arrested and nearly went crazy. I had a panic attack so great they had to get the EMTs with my blood pressure up 187 over something can't remember all can remember is the parametic said if it stayed like that I would die and during that time in a holding cell while still in cuffs one of the cops thinks it's a good idea to press his hard knuckles onto my small little chest and I'm 5 ft 5 so I'm really small for a man and it got so bad I passed out and he does it again while I'm coming to and he said that's what you get for faking passing out. when I was moved to coffee country jail I started feeling really suicidal, I started cutting myself and asked to be put in the lock down chair willingly because I couldn't control the want to cut myself with my nails or to kill myself. I seen a judge 3 days after I was put in a cell. She let me out on OR bond and told me to go to the Archibald center. My doctors spoke to magistrate who said they were done with it but then I started worrying if Supream will get it and went to city hall because those bad people were after me again after I got out of the hospital. I heard a cop and the clerk of county says that someone called and dropped a case. I was talking about it with a cop and so I assumed they ment me but now I worry what if it wasn't and what if it was another case they were talking about and the cops was just the arresting officer etc. I have no help for any of this. I live of disability and am very poor. Someone if you can please help.
8/28/2018 2:05:50 AM

Noemy
Why we leaving messages about our family members with mental problems not one is listening not one hear us
8/26/2018 11:10:21 AM

Connie Pico
I am a friend to a family that has a 34 year old that suffers from mental illness ,we live in San Jose vs he needs a program in which he can stay.it seems if he is not incarcerated he stays in a program for a few weeks and then homeless if his.family or friends take him in he has violent episodes the jail released him no parole no medical either he was 5months without meds no one would take him his mother sent him to his brother in texas now he is having problems plz help.us
8/15/2018 5:36:05 PM

Lisa
My son was set up to hit someone. He had been saying for months, they try to put him in jail. he said people were trying to fight him and they were doing things toward him. He has a serious mental illness. Yjey was adding court dates that should not be up. the judge denied him bail because he said he did it without a trail.
8/1/2018 3:28:33 AM

Joshua oliveira
Hi I was hoping u can help me? I'm a 2 time felon n have court on June 13 for gun charge that's Bs. I would just like some treatment,I've been to prison twice by never on probation. Also prison took a toll on my mental state.please help me
5/31/2018 2:37:58 PM

Elisha Walker
My son is incarcerated and it all started with his PTSD and bipolar. It led to drug use and a serious of crimes he didn't commit but was with the wrong crowd at the wrong time( I actually had papers from a Dr appt my son was at when 2 of his accused crimes were committed) but the courts are so crooked and about money he was convicted anyways. Well recently he started back with the drug battle to hide from the pain and dropped dirty then in bad detox state and panic attack ran from rehab home where he felt safe of course I made him do the right thing and turn himself in but now he is facing prison time and asked for mental health care but was basically laughed at by jail guards instead they keep finding reasons that he is in trouble. My son has talked suicide, said his mind is crazy and he cant control his emotions. I don't know what to do to get him help in the county jail before something bad happens to him or someone else
5/13/2018 12:35:57 AM

Phoenix Owens
Hello, I have a son whom has been diagnosed with Scizophrenia, Autism Spectrum, PTSD. He had an episode. His dad called and told me that he did not know what to do. I called the police at the Savannah Police Department. I explained throughly with a police officer that me son had this diagnoses and he would need trained police officers to assist my son and help him to a mental hospital. His dad said,"they arrived, and threw him violently to the ground and they hurt him real bad. Then a female police officer took his brand new glasses that were just purchased so that he can see, held them up in front of him and broke them into. I feel she was taunting him to become even more angry so they could do worse to him. These officers were not trained. Months prior to this we stopped at a hospital in Savannah where a police officer told my son and I, that he had been to Vietnam and had severe post tramatic stress and that he was aloud to work as a police officer. He then held my son down physically and had the hospital staff put him into a straight jacket. All of these police officers can go into the deepest darkest hell their is and rot. They love hurting kids, teenagers and adults. They absolutely get off on it and congratulate themselves in their prideful hearts. Time magazine has an article where they mention all the mentally disabled people in Rykers Jail in New York, who are humiliated day in and day out by the inmates while the guards and staff turn their heads and go about there business for the day. I am grateful for a kind and loving Heavenly Father who will take these officers down to the level they really are on. Their is a judgment day and how grateful I am for this day to come. All those police officers and judges, and district attorney's who know within themselves that their ***** does not stink will reap the whirlwind. They do not grasp the power God has, because believe me, a persons or persons who have that much hate against another human being that God says protect and they use the law in this way to hurt and suppress those who are innocent before God will on no uncertain terms with God be brought to a reality that will make them most uncomfortable in heaven. Please God bring it on. It cannot be soon enough for me.
5/3/2018 10:35:26 AM

Johnnie Mae Tate
My daughter is in the Women prison hospital in Raleigh, NC. No one called to tell me she was thete, and when I called the Randolph County jail,everyone acted like she was still in the jail. She shouldn't been in the first place. She is bipolar and pregnant. She was in group therapy at a local organization, working and had gotten a studio a week before this nightmare happened. The Asheboro NC police were called and they took her to jail instead of the hospital. I told them that I was trying to get her to Moses Cone Health in Greensboro because had been to the local hospital twice. I called the emergency Mental Health Care twice that morning when the police came. I had spoken to them about 7 times before and they seemed to be reading the same script, but I hoped that they woulld arrived soon to help. The police arrested her under a $10,000.00, let her get back into her car and within minutes she ran into the street afraid and the police were running behind her. They then shackled her legs and cuffed her hands. They took her back to jail and the bond is now $20,000.00. She had never committed a crime and is a day care teacher. Now, I have not heard from her or seen her in a week. I have spoken to jail and courthouse magistrates before and after seeking help, but they seem like people who don't care or understand . It makes me feel that part of their job is to entrap sick people and get them in an unfair system where family members have to dish out money to resue their loved ones instead of saving them. They knew I was reaching out for help. I need help to find out what to do next. My daughter does not have me on her contact list, because she thinks this is my fault. The last time I spoke to her is when a jailer called me and said she needed to be in a hospital and not a jail. He told me to go speak to a miigistrate, but he was the one I had spoken to the day before this had happened He was on duty and he laughed about how bad the hospital was in the town. I spoke to Kiara after I spoke to the jailer and she said, "momma please get me out of here." So now she is almost 2 hours away from her family locked in a women prison hospital. I can imagine what this whole thing has done to her and her unborn baby. All she needed was help here and I was seeking help for her. A bed was waiting for her at Moses Cone in Greensboro, NC, yet the process all went wrong. I don''t know how she and her unborn child are. Her sister, who also didn't know she was sent to the state Women Prision Hospital was not told anything either and she is tbe contact. Is the system so inhuman and heartless that it is build to crush people and their families? On top of that I was fired because, I was took 2 half days to help my daughtet. Please help. I can't do this alone. Thank you. Sincerely, Johnnie Mae Tate
4/24/2018 7:12:09 AM

Noah Novacek
Minnesota Minneapolis
4/20/2018 8:15:07 PM

Tammy Davidson
My daughter was sent to prison because a 14 yr old boy Rd his bicycle to her home and they fooled around. He told someone yrs later and she was sent to Ypsilanti. She is equivalent to a 9-10 yr old.. Due to get out very soon. where is there help out there near Kalamazoo? She's been put on alot of drugs in prison and can't have those kind if withdraws ... She needs a long term place to live... It's terrible in prison. She's been in her room for a yr straight now!!! Out for only 15-30 mins a day... So cruel.
4/17/2018 11:20:33 AM

John Cowlishaw Sr
He has previously been on life support 2 times in the past 4 months for suicide attempts, has been I three different one week tdo mental health hospitals in the past 4 months and just completed over a 1 year mandatory drug screening program along with psychotherapy. I know he deserves to be taken out of society for a while but not for decades. He is gay and has always been a target. What can I do to see that he doesn’t spend his life in prison?
4/8/2018 12:37:59 AM

cheryl blansett
My son Ian incarcerated right now charged with trafficking but he was not he has a sever drug problem. He suffers from ptsd bipolar multiple personality manic depressive disorder anxiety and chronic pancreatitis. They only see him as a criminal and want to give him prison time, I see him as a disturbed child that need help with his mental illness s to overcome the drugs. Is there anything I can do cause the courts won’t listenbor understand
3/6/2018 1:33:45 PM

Kristine L Park
My cousin is a good compassionate and giving woman who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder but unfortunately like so many others with this illness once her medication has her feeling "normal" she stops taking it. Problem is she has NO support system at her home because they're barely making it themselves. I can't help her because I'm currently financially destitute, seeking assistance from my state and face being homeless EVERY month. I'm wondering if there's a program where they help her with housing but is like a "community" where she's not confined but is monitored regularly concerning her medication, mental health, and ability to feed herself and possibly continue her education so she can feel like she is bettering herself for a stable future. Right now she feels the only thing she's good for is "whoring" her words and they just about shattered my heart when she said them. As like so many others she turned to drugs and has been in and out of jail more times than I can remember but she's always just released and given no guidance as to what to do or where to go to get the help she's desperately in need of. As of right this minute her Dad called me because she was once again released from prison and is freaking out and being violent towards everyone so chances are she'll be back in prison before the night is over and the viscous cycle will continue until something happens to change it for the better. I'm in NJ and don't think there's any place like that in the state but need be, relocation isn't something that wouldn't be considered if it helps. Anyone know where to go from here with this? I'd appreciate any advice on the matter. Thank you
KPG
2/28/2018 3:16:23 PM

Alice
My name is Alice I had a question cause I am in drug court we have urine test I'm disabled for PTSD and bipolar. I need to get back on my meds but they are refusing them cause it can effect my urine test. All bipolar meds effect the test what I wanted to know if I am disabled for mental health can I be refused for my medication that I need to function in the world as a normal person well some what. I know when you go to jail the flat out refuse your mental health meds I have been feeling like I'm spiralling out of control in my mind I really need to get back on my medicine so is there a law where if I'm disabled I can get my meds while in Drugcourt
2/21/2018 4:46:15 PM

Patsy
How do we get help. My son was perfectly normal 2 months ago, successful business owner... then something happened in his brain, phsycosis I imagine, though he seems possessed. Long story short he's in jail, when he needs mental help. I haven't talked to him since he got in there, he hasn't made a visitors list, hasn't called...I did put money in his account so he could call. I only imagine they probably have him in some padded room and probably thinks we abandoned him. I call that prison every week, the social worker too, who never calls back. Today I left messages with the public defender to see if they could help. The officer who arrested him had been nice enough to call when there is a hearing, unfortunately every time there is a hearing, it's continued for psych evaluations... well as least the prison is doing that, I suppose... I'm just a worried mom...
2/16/2018 4:15:14 PM

Trina
I need to get some advice and info.,my son in a health facility, For a month I write 3x a week no response back,,,I don't know how he's doing,they won't tell me,,I dont even know if he's getting my letters,,please can you tell me what to do I need to know how my son is doing, I need to talk to him,,they say he's not signing the medical release form,, but I dont believe that,,,he can't use phone and I haven't received any letters,,,so I'm home dont know what they doing my son because of some form,,,Please Help
2/16/2018 3:37:43 AM

carolyn smith
Wow, I am surprised to see so many people dealing with the same issues. I too have a son who suffers from mental illness. He can not or will not follow the rules of society. It is so hard and so painful. Not sure if its worse when he is incarcerated or when he is not, there is never any peace for us that love him including his 7 year old son who idolizing his dad. of course he takes pills drinks and does whatever it takes to kill the pain. That pain is a mystery to me i don't know the source how to help how to stop it. I am beginning to believe that mental illness cannot be cured cannot be help. My prayer is for him to be miraculously cured I need a miracle, because even though he sought help he did not get help. I thought if i could just get him in to get help that would be it they would put him in a program and on medicines that would make him well. I did and they did not. Maybe we can all pray for each other and see where that goes. I am sorry for all of you as for myself and my family and hope something miraculous happens for all.
2/9/2018 1:25:34 PM

Ramona Bauer
My son was subjected to mental abuse abd filth in prison. He is now in a re-entry program but still incarcerated. He has a mental illness, the guards only give him his medication when they decide to. He isn't getting it as prescribed.
2/8/2018 8:20:43 PM

Lori
My husban was racially slanderedin a mental ward by another patient and he hit him
So anyways hes been in jail since jan.1st i need help with what to do next
2/3/2018 2:43:52 AM

Jody Herrera
This is a very good program NAMI. Im in
1/21/2018 6:50:37 PM

Alicia Ann Hogg
I REALLY NEED SOMEONE TO HELP ME.MY SON GOT ARRESTED WHEN HE WAS 17 FOR ROBING A STORE BUT POLICE NEVER FOUND A GUN.MY SON HAS A MENTAL ILLNESS WITH STARTED AT THE AGE OF 16 YEARS OLD .HE IS A GOOD KID BUT BYE HIM HAVING THAT MENTAL ILLNESS PEOPLE WAS TAKING HIS KINDNESS HER START STILLING CARS, THEN SOMEONE GAVE HIM A GUN TOLD HIM TO GO ROB THE STORE.AND HE DID.DUE TO HIS MENTAL ILLNESS AND DRUGS USE.I HAVE BEEN BEGGING FOR HELP I WANTED THEM TO LOCK HIM UP BECAUSE HE WAS TALKING ABOUT ROBING FOR WEEKS I BEG THEM TO LOCK HIM UP SO WE WOULD NOT GET KILL ON THE STREES.SO WHEN HE ROB THE STORE I TRUN HIM IN SO THAT HE WOULD NOT BE ON THE STREETS.I WANTED THEM TO GIVE HIM HELP NOT 15 YEARS IN JAIL HE PLAYED FOOTBALL HE REALLY WAS A GOOD KID BUT BYE HIM NOT KNOWING HIS ILLNESS AND UNDERSTANDING HE DID NOT KNOW.THEY GAVE HIM A TWO YEAR PILED IN JAIL WITH HE TRUN DOWN.SO I SAY THIS TO SAY I DON'T THINK THAT WAS FAIR TO HIM TO EVEN MAKE THAT DECISION I EVEN TOLD THEM HE WAS NOT IN HIS RIGHT MIND TO MAKE THAT DECISION.I JUST THINK THEY DID US WRONG ALL AROUND.I SHOULD HAVE MADE THE DECISION FOR HIM.I JUST WANT HIM TO BE IN A LONG TREM TREATMENT PROGRAM.I KNOW IF MY SON DON'T GET OUT OF JAIL THEY ARE GOING TO KILL HIM IN THERE.THAT WAS HIS FIRST TIME EVEN DOING A CRIME.I JUST NEED SOME HELP WITH THIS
12/24/2017 3:25:55 PM

Trina
Please help,,my son had done a gear in twin towers downtown California,, he got out he wasn't the Sam,he has mental disorder,,,they were medicating him strongly too much,,,when he got out. He was talking to himself,laughing out loud,my son never was that bad,,,,he was home 2weeks without meds,,,the day I got his meds,,,is the day he went back to jail for stealing a shirt,,,,, his mind wasn't right he wouldn't put hisrlf back after that miserable year,,,,they messed up my son,,,,they gave him another year for that,,now he's in prison,,,he's a non violent,,due date was 10/31/17 then he got 2write ups for defending himself,, then due date 3/31/18,,,,I looked Bk to Chk,,it moved to,9/18,,,,I just chj now its. 12/18,,,,,he says he dont know why they added all this time but its not fard,how the system. Is,treating mentally I'll this way,,,,something has be done and I'm do all I can to fight for my son if I Have call newspapers,,,they are treating our sons like animals and daughters,,,this is terrible,,,,how you find out about 7 write up at one time ,,he didnt even know about,,only 2,,,,,keep adding on more time. God help us,,,my son is loving very well loved,,,happy funny,,,and this isn't fair
12/15/2017 12:10:08 PM

Diane
My brother was diagnosed in prison with mental illness and now they're trying to take him back into prison because his mental illness is bad he met the wrong person this girl was nothing but that news from the start and because of her he is going now to prison for 16 years for carrying her purse full of drugs because mental illness does not let you think and see people that they are bad people with mental illness they just want help and want to be loved and understood but our society does not understand and rejects them especially if they've been in prison and gone back are system needs to change and help these people to give them a chance to live in the real world with help they need instead of putting him in prison give the people with mental illness that help that they need.
11/29/2017 3:01:16 PM

Mirna.
I'm struggling. My son is bypolar he is 36 year old on July he has maniac episode. I tried tu put him in the hospital and he refused. He get worse starting using cristal met. Make him more crazy. He is in jail. Can please help me how he can recibe treatment and be transferred from jail
To a Rehabilitación. He is a father of 12 years old girl. l need him back. He was a college student at the time his episode started. Is tragedy for our family l pleaded to the lawyer to help. They don care they send mental illness people to the streets. I leave in Los Angeles.
11/15/2017 12:58:11 PM

Teri
It is so sad that the system is so screwed up. My son was recently incarcerated, and shut down. He was already severely depressed and in a bad state of mind, and we were in the process of helping him get psychatric care before he was arrested. He's not eating in jail and having paranoid thoughts and hallunications. Its so sad that he is not being evaluated and treated like he should be. The system needs alot of work and improvement to defend the mentally ill
7/15/2017 3:47:03 PM

Joanne Coleman
It's all empty talk. Ten years my son has been in the "system". Schizoaffective bipolar diagnosis. Long history of noncompliance. Conserved twice. Last three years in San Francisco he's been in jail most of the time for misdemeanors. It's all "voluntary" ... can't force, he has rights, he has to buy into it, he's making the choice etc etc. It's beyond comprehension... beyond inhumane.. beyond a racket .. no funding .. no housing... tent cities everywhere .. anyone notice how many homeless people there are on the streets? Certainly a lot more than 5, 10, 20 years ago! Why? What's going on? All this talk means nothing. Nothing will change. It's disgusting. Yet, we can talk ad nauseam about issues that really aren't all that important. Republicans and democrats have done nothing to address mental illness. I won't stop advocating but I certainly don't have faith.
7/11/2017 12:11:07 AM

Susie
I am one of those mothers heart broken seeing my son in and out of jail due to mental illness. None of his crimes are violent. His last incident with the law the media posted his picture on every newspaper & fb saying why he was arrested. Innocent until proven guilty??? He lost all his friends & the love of his life. Humiliation & dehumanization!!Pure evil.

I am lost as I am not a lawyer but this just dissent sound legal.
7/2/2017 5:45:21 PM

antonia l banks
My son is going through a bad situation now we have court tomorrow, for 2 felony strangulation charges and 1 felony of assault I placed a TDO for my 19 year old son to go to Chesapeake general hospital for psychosis schizophrenia which has a critical care unit for mentally ill and he was sent to eastern state and afterwards va beach psychiatric hospital after he was released we found out about the charges that say he assaulted a police officer and a security card it's almost like a set up you call them for help ur family member not in their right mind police either kill ur family member or press charges against a person who would never act this way if their weren't suffering from mental illness just wanna know what do we do why does society seem to treat mental illness as a crime I feel like we need a better choice than dealing with police officers for help with mentally ill
5/30/2017 9:26:05 PM

Keith McGee
What are the statistics or the percentage of the inmates in prison or jail with mental illness are from drug or alcohol addiction?
4/11/2017 11:32:48 AM

Lisa
I call crisis line(suicidal ideation), officer arrested me for not obeying orders really! 6 hours laying on cement floor in jail,charged with a crime. Police are annoyed responding to mental health calls,they are not trained for mental health calls. Mentally ill asking for help are criminals to police. This is Wrong. Mentally ill are abused by police,never call police for help. Stepping up is a right wing Trump supporter. SAD
3/19/2017 1:06:38 PM

Statistical response to Interested Party
To the person questioning the statistics of the article: Perhaps the article should have been clearer, but, There is a difference between average number of persons in jail on an average day, how many mentally ill persons are booked into (through) jail in a year, and how many total are booked into (through) jails in a given year. Of the 2 million mentally ill persons booked into jails per year, many only stay for a few months or weeks so they get incorporated into the total number per year. Not sure where you got the 2 Million persons in jail nationally number but the Bureau of Justice gives numbers on our incarceration rates and they show 10.9 million admissions per year (2015), with 721,300 average on any given day; so the 2 million Mentally ill patients quoted by this article represent about 18% of the inmate population over the course of the year, which seems to be consistent with other articles I've seen. https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=5872 Search Bureau of Justice dot gov "jail inmates in 2015" if the link doesn't work.
1/19/2017 10:17:21 PM

Estella Berkley
My son who is mentally ill, took a ride with someone from Texas to California. Since he has been here, he has been homeless, beaten and stabbed, tazed in the head by the LA police, arrested several times. He has a crime committed using his identification card and the only reason he was not originally charged with that crime was because he was incarcerated at the time of the incident, but that crime is still attached to his name.

He has been constantly arrested and the last time (September 2016) he was released to go to a voluntary facility which he stayed only a short time. At that time I thought he was remitted to a mental institution. I hadn't heard from him in months but thought that he couldn't call until he'd completed some sort of mental health process.

Someone contacted a relative through facebook and said that someone should come and get him because he was walking around in a very bad condition and could not be put on a bus to Houston unattended.

I drove from Houston to LA on the 2nd of this month. When I got here to LA, I stopped at the local police department to fill out a missing person's report for help in locating him. When the LA policeman ran his name, he found that he had been arrested the day before (1/2/2017) for shoplifting in Santa Monica, CA. The officer called and discovered that my son would be going to court the next day. When they brought my son out and the judge and public defender discussed his offenses and his not completing the program that was assigned to my son and then made deliberations, my son just sat there oblivious of all that was going on between the judge, da, and defender. When they gave him the paper, he said, 'I don't know what yall talking about.' He was totally confused with the whole process.

The public defender talked to me and told me that my son did not finish the program that they placed him in and I asked her if the program was voluntary and she said that it was and that he should have completed it. I asked her how could he if he was not mentally capable of understanding that the program was crucial to his freedom and she said that she he could make the decision. It was obvious to me that the defender had no clue of the difficulty of reasoning in a mentally ill individual. He is being treated as if he can process and understand.

Watching his treatment at the hands of the justice system has been horrifying. I don't know what to do. I came hoping that I could find him and take him home. But his trial was set for the 18th of this month and I can't afford to stay and must get back to Houston this weekend to get to my grandchildren. Hopefully someone knows of resources that I can contact before I leave.

Estella
1/5/2017 3:51:16 PM

Melanie Videc
My son is severely mentally challenged and is in jail at the Sauk County jail in Baraboo WI. He is being mistreated and neglected and refused his medications that he desperately needs. The medical staff are very rude and snotty. They also are refusing his request to see the doctor that only comes in once a week. If any one knows who to contact about this please let me know. My email address is, videcmelanie8@gmail.com.with any resource information that would help. Thank you
10/28/2016 6:40:23 PM

Donna Jackson
My son has been in jail off and on half his life he's 42 due to mental illness disorders at TWIN towers Facility los Angeles ca they keep putting him on probation/parole he NEED help not JAIL
6/1/2016 7:24:50 AM

Informative Party
In response to Interested Party: as someone who works in the county courthouse, there is a difference between number of people booked per year and number of people currently serving time in prison or jail throughout the year. About 10 million people are arrested (i.e. booked) each year. Some are released, some are temporarily moved to hospitals, some stay for days, while some stay for longer periods. At any given time there are only about 2.1 million people in jail/prison serving time or awaiting trial but there are a lot more being filtered in and out throughout the year. 2 million people (20% of people arrested each year) actually appears to be a conservative estimate because the number of people in jail with serious mental illnesses at any one time is usually closer to 30% for jails. Speaking from my own experience handling people being arraigned on criminal charges, way more than 20% even 30% are suffering from psychosis.
3/27/2016 8:56:19 PM

Interested Party
You say "Each year more than 2 million people with serious mental illness are booked into jail." But how can this be so? We have 2.1 million people in jails and prisons nationally, all of them are not mentally ill. You need to be careful with your statistics. This makes me doubt the rest of your information.
10/9/2015 10:39:09 AM

Jayblue
Patients NOT prisoners.
7/10/2015 5:04:22 PM

Sadie
This article is 'soft' it just hits the surface & offers no solutions. CIT is a good step but the issue is also on the Justice systems because the police have nowhere to take a Mentally Ill person if they get into trouble. What happened to Mental Health Courts? I hear that some exist but they seem elusive, I can't find any info that they're being used. My schizoaffective son got arrested on a misdemeanor charge & spent 4 months in Jail, it took me that long to convince the court to release him to treatment but they wouldn't drop the charge, so now he has a record which negatively impacts his ability to find work/ housing. Hospitals are useless, they won't admit someone with MI unless they're a danger to themselves or others, what happens to those that don't meet this criteria & can't get treatment in overcrowded MI clinics? The article states it costs 10K a year for treatment, that's a low number, it costs me 25k a year.
I haven't read a good article on MI that looks into all the problems / solutions in the justice system. Yes, everyone knows the jails are human storage facilities for the mentally ill, but no one addresses the options.
6/25/2015 1:23:03 PM

Cathy Pietrzyk. this is so encouraging!
What a refreshing article to read! Being a RN who has worked in a county jail on the mental health pods and witnessed people being incarcerated that should have been in a different type of facility to address their REAL needs. Their mental health needs not being met or barely being addressed was a heart wrenching fact to deal with on a daily basis. I have a mental health diagnosis and I would think to myself 'there for the Grace of God go I'.The entire situation is sad and it is so deep rooted that we cannot point fingers any longer, the best thing to do in my opinion is to move forward with initiatives like this one. I think it is wonderful and I hope I can be a part of it, any part of it would be beautiful!
6/24/2015 10:03:05 PM

Diane Townsend
My loved one is 63 years old. He is a business owner, Marine Corps Veteran, Father, and community member of 40 years. His life took a turn and he fell into depression and despair. In his attempt of suicide, law enforcement officers arrived at his home and in their untrained efforts, managed to get themselves injured. My Love one is now serving a 10 year sentence because law enforcement officers were injured. This Man is a loving and caring man who was in the need of mental healthcare, not 10 years sentenced to sadness..
Thank You NAMI for your fight for mental healthcare!
6/24/2015 8:26:46 PM

Marlena Morton
I was arrested and confined to the county jail in Gadsden County, Florida. No one was receiving psychotropic medications although many had bipolar disorder. The sheriff explained that "they are too expensive." I have schizoaffective disorder and was experiencing a psychotic delusion that I was in protective custody. After, finally, seeing the forensic psychologist I was given Haldol and started to come out of my delusion. I was found unable to stand trial and released. It was the ordeal from hell. I can't believe that jails don't have to provide medication for people with mental illness. I feel that they should be mandated by law to do so. Hopefully, I will never end up in jail again, but what about all the others suffering with no medication?
6/18/2015 3:09:12 PM

Vernessa
My 18 yr old son was thrown in prison here in Oahu,HI In March of this year.
My heart is breaking knowing he is there alone struggling without the help he needs.
Is there anyone out there that I can meet with to put pressure on our lawmakers here on Oahu ?
Please help.
5/29/2015 2:37:57 PM

CECILIA Bush
Thank you so much for this article. Texas will hopefully catch up with the rest of America in
the understanding of the power of mental illness and start to try, sentence and treat people
accordingly.
5/12/2015 3:55:36 AM

Jay Gilpatrick
Glad to hear NAMI is joining the Stepping Up campaign. I believe there are alternatives to arrest and incarceration for non-violent offenses. CIT are a part of the solution. Mental Health Courts are a part of the solution. Community service is also. Along with ending homelessness. Negotiation between parties in non-violent cases can also help. Peers have a role to play in diversion programs helping to prevent arrest and helping to reintegrate people into society after an arrest or incarceration. Time Magazine stated that 40% of the population of jails and prisons are people who have a mental illness. I agree with you it is not right. Ms. Giliberti, I am happy you support this campaign for social justice!
5/7/2015 7:59:17 PM

Liz Belile
YES. This. Thank you. I'm in. When can we launch here in Texas?
5/7/2015 12:35:53 AM

Subscribe
 Security code