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Mentally Ill Inmates

Powerful Essays
Wouldn’t it be completely irrational to sentence every mentally ill individual to jail purely because they suffered from a mental illness? Often, mentally ill people behave in an eccentric manner and allure the attention of police officers who do not differentiate the mentally ill from mentally stable people and immediately charge them with misdemeanors. There are approximately 300,000 inmates, with the number increasing every year, which suffer from a mental illness and do not receive proper treatment. Jails are not adequately equipped to care for mentally ill inmates, which can lead to an escalation of an inmate’s illness. Society has failed to provide enough social resources for citizens suffering from psychiatric illnesses in its community, transferring mentally unstable individuals between mental institutions and jails, when in fact adequate aid such as providing proper medication, rehabilitation opportunities, and more psychiatric hospitals in communities is a necessity to reconstitute these individuals. Many times people with an untreated mental illness behave in an abnormal manner that is disturbing to the public, causing them to be perceived as frightening and dangerous which attracts the attention of police officers. Harrington agrees that, “Without the medication they need to keep their illness in check, they sometimes lapse into psychophysics and behave in bizarre ways.”(Harrington) A mentally unstable individual’s perspective of what is, and what is not acceptable varies from that of a healthy person. Therefore, they are unable to comprehend proper public behavior. From public urination to public nesciences, they are charged with misdemeanors and sentenced to jail. Shannon Fiack emphasizes that “There is a fundamen... ... middle of paper ... ... the mentally ill people. Shannon Fiack. "The Mentally Ill Are Mishandled by the Justice System" by American Civil Liberties Union. Mental Illness and Criminal Behavior. Shannon Fiack, Ed. At Issue Series. Greenhaven Press, 2009. American Civil Liberties Union, "Mental Illness and the Death Penalty in the United States," ACLU, January 31, 2005. Reproduced by permission. In the article “The Mentally Ill Are Mishandled by the Justice System”, Shannon explains how there are approximately 3000 mentally ill inmates in a prison who are unjustfuly sent there. Many mental illnesses are cause by post traumatic experiences such as being abused as a child or being sexually abused as a child. She also explains how many times judges and officers do not fully understand why mentally ill people do what they do, therefore they misunderstand the person’s actions and send them.
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