Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Treatment of Mentally Ill Teens in Prison


Video above is mother Lois DeMott advocating for her mentally ill son who entered prison at 15 years old. See Part 2 below.

I read an article this morning about the challenges that those with mental illness face when incarcerated. It was disturbing and left me feeling overwhelmed.

The article starts with a corrections officer finding a 19 year old (who entered the prison system at 15 years old) with known bipolar disorder, banging his blood-stained walls with his head. He was placed in solitary for up to 4 months. Sometimes without the medications prescribed by his psychiatrist.

This alone caught my attention, how is it that those with mental illness go without their medications while in prison? From my own personal experience, a person with a serious mental illness who is not receiving proper treatment can become defiant and in some cases destructive. But rather than treating the illness to stop the behavior, correction facilities use punishment, further escalating the prisoner’s unwanted behavior.

This past September, this prisioner was punished for damaging prison property when he ripped up his bed sheets to hang himself. Instead of treatment, he received a fine and loss of privileges.

These punishments can unfortunately lead to longer prison sentences and from my own belief, abuse of the mentally ill.

So who do we blame? Well we can’t directly blame the corrections officers who’s biggest job is maintaining safety. I understand that they’re overwhelmed with this difficult job.

I’m sure the blame can be assigned to many areas, but who will fight for reform?

His mother.

Lois DeMott is on a mission. According to the article, she cofounded Citizens for Prison Reform, a group that lobbies for legislative reform in Michigan.

I can only imagine the mountain she has to climb, but I’m so thankful that she’s fighting this fight for not only her son, but for many others that are facing prison time with mental illness.

* * *

Part 2 Video (discusses prison stay and treatment):


Detroit Free Press Article:
Jeff Gerritt: Mentally Ill Get Punishment Instead of Treatment

Humanity for Prisoners:

Detroit Free Press
By Jeff Garritt
Published: Feb. 5, 2012
Consulted: Feb. 7, 2012

Video Source:

Uploaded on YouTube by  on Aug 25, 2009

Uploaded by  on Aug 13, 2009

1 comment:

  1. Oh wow...what an awful scenario. Being imprisoned and mentally ill without any medication! That is appalling to me. Then to get made when the mentally ill person acts mentally ill you punish them! That is so vicious and stupid. I would have to be put in a padded cell if I were in a situation like that. That poor boy.