Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mental Illness in Jail Due to Cutbacks

I read another story about how state cutbacks are affecting the mentally ill by placing them in jail for long periods of time without their medication while they wait for a bed to open up in state mental hospitals.

These stories hit me deep in my gut. I don’t know if it’s the mistreatment of those with mental illness, the injustice of our system or deep down a fear that my son will face this in his future. Whatever the source, I wish there was something I could do to change it.

The article shares that the number of people with mental illness landing in jail has increased nearly 50% in the past 6 years. It takes an average of 3 to 6 months in jail before a bed becomes available in a mental hospital. During this time these people are frightened and without their meds, as a result, their illness becomes worse.

This makes me sick. How can we protect our children from this fate? One of the challenges shared is that some individuals lose services that were once available to them as children once they become 18 years old. Now they’re on their own and without services. How do these people get help?

Read what one mother shares in the story:
Green, a registered nurse, says her daughter has been sick since she was a little girl – at the age of four, she tearfully told Green that she didn’t want to be alive anymore. By six, she was hearing voices. Now her family watched, helpless, as she waited in jail, off her medication and increasingly lost in her delusions.
 “I guarantee that with no help, she will end up dead or in the system,” Green said

This story is just devastating. My heart aches for this mother and all those who have lost their children to this system of injustice. I pray this doesn’t happen to any of our children.

Read the entire article here:,0

* * *

California HealthCare Foundation
Center for Health Reporting
By Jocelyn Wiener,0
Originally Appeared in The Modesto Bee
Date Published: May 21, 2012
Date Consulted: May 24, 2012


  1. This makes me sick as well. People are supposed to go through a triage when they are booked into jail and kept on whatever meds they are on while there- but I guess that falls through the cracks.

    The flip side of this article is that in some areas jail/prison is the only place adults without assistance can get mental care health. There are documentaries about how jails are becoming the new mental health facilities due to lack of mental health resources and that people who can't get meds in day to day lives due to so many mental health facilities closing finally get the help they need in jail/prison.

    I guess it just depends on what jail you land in.

    Sad all the way around. And a really sad comment on our society in general. In America we have the highest per capita rate of incarceration of any country in the world. We build more prisons than we do schools :(

    1. You’re right about what this says about our society in general!

  2. I think people are not aware about mental illness in generally. Everyone is turning head in other direction when that is in question. People forget that we live in hard times...