Jail is the new state mental hospital.
and Florida is one of the worst places.
If its “our money” we’d like to keep it and not waste it on housing people. We need a real solution. Stop wasting our money on a solution that doesn’t work and hurts people.
Here is a TC Palm Editorial I found from Feb 2013
“During the 1960s, there were well-intentioned public policies to close most mental health institutions, some of them dens of abuse and neglect, and replace them with community mental health centers, which could dispense medication to people who needed it. But states failed to follow through with either sufficient community mental health centers or funding for treatment.
As a result, many states, including Florida, shifted the burden of dealing with the mentally ill to counties, which lacked appropriate treatment options. Ultimately, jails became the first resort for people whose mental illness contributed to their commission of crimes.
As a result, county jails have become de facto mental institutions at massive costs to taxpayers without resolving long-term problems of the ill, Treasure Coast sheriff’s spokesmen agreed.
Nationally, about one in five inmates suffers from a diagnosed mental illness. Those numbers are even higher on the Treasure Coast, local officials said. And, the numbers have been climbing, in part because of the economic downtown as well as the rise in pain killer addictions.
The St. Lucie County Jail is the largest mental health institution in the county, housing about 240 mentally ill inmates daily. Over the past year, the jail housed 9,452 inmates with mental health issues, compared to 5,431 five years ago.
St. Lucie contracts for health, mental health and dental services at an annual cost to county taxpayers of about $4 million. Meantime, the mentally ill stay five times longer and cost six times more than other inmates, he said.”
And, while those with mental problems may stabilize with medication in jail, many cannot afford to medicate when they are released and find no other place for treatment.
“This causes havoc with the judicial system,” Tighe said. “The courts have no place to send them. It’s just a vicious cycle.”
Officials acknowledge that what’s happening in these wards is reminiscent of the mental asylums of the last century. But they say the only other option is to lock the mentally ill in solitary confinement for weeks on end.
This is, after all, a jail. And this is one of the few in the country with doctors and nurses, psychologists and correctional officers trained in how to handle psychotic episodes. And there are rules: Inmates can only be forcibly medicated with a doctor’s orders. Leather restraints and padded rooms have time limits.
“Sometimes I would even commit a crime just to make sure I would get my meds,” says inmate Joseph DeRiggi. “Here, there’s a little more understanding because they know us: ‘OK, DeRiggi, we know what you’re on. You’re good.’ That’s just the way it is.”
But jail is an expensive place to get medication. It costs almost $200 a night to house a mentally ill person here; health clinics cost a fraction of that.
Plus, their cases clog the courts with largely minor offenses. That lengthens jail time for everyone. The average stay is now eight days longer than it was a few years ago. Adding eight days costs county taxpayers $10 million more every year.
The Community Mental Health Act of 1963 (CMHA) (also known as the Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act, Mental Retardation Facilities and Construction Act, Public Law 88-164, or the Mental Retardation and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act of 1963) was an act to provide federal funding for community mental health centers in the United States.
The CMHA provided grants to states for the establishment of local mental health centers, under the overview of the National Institute of Mental Health. The NIH also conducted a study involving adequacy in mental health issues. The purpose of the CMHA was to build mental health centers to provide for community-based care, as an alternative to institutionalization. At the centers, patients could be treated while working and living at home.
Only half of the proposed centers were ever built; none were fully funded, and the act didn’t provide money to operate them long-term. Some states saw an opportunity to close expensive state hospitals without spending some of the money on community-based care. Deinstitutionalization accelerated after the adoption of Medicaid in 1965. During the Reagan administration, the remaining funding for the act was converted into a mental-health block grant for states. Since the CHMA was enacted, 90 percent of beds have been cut at state hospitals.
The CMHA proved to be a mixed success. Many patients, formerly warehoused in institutions, were released into the community. However, not all communities had the facilities or expertise to deal with them. In many cases, patients wound up in adult homes or with their families, or homeless in large cities,but without the mental health care they needed.
Essentially we are spending a lot of money to house people when we could spend smarter money to treat people. In this day and age with all the good medications we have these folks could get jobs, have a life, be a part of the world. Instead they are ignored and live in a world which is really no better than the state hospitals that closed down. Another example of our legislators wasting our time and money and not advocating the people who must be advocated for.
Food for thought when we are all binge watching “Orange is the New Black.’
Excellent video about CIT (Crisis Intervention Team Training)
Which is great but we have to have a place where people are bought that not jails.
“Diversion programs work better than incarceration – for everyone. In cities like Seattle, San Antonio, and Salt Lake City, we see that successful solutions are a viable option to help end serious social problems. These services alter the course of people’s lives in a positive way and save taxpayers huge amounts of money. We cannot continue to isolate and imprison people who suffer from mental illness, substance abuse, or homelessness. We must treat them with compassion and care to better serve our communities and our pocketbooks.”
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