Sunday, July 19, 2009

There is one reality about mental illness that chills me to the bone. It is the fact that there are 5 TIMES MORE people with mental illness in prison than the general population. Did you know that up to 30 percent of prisoners have a treatable mental disorder?  This saddens me since people like my brother, who is now in a state hospital receiving care, will always have mental illness. He is not immuned to the possibility of ending up on the streets or even jail one day. As his family, we worry about all these possibilities because we love him and want him well, no matter what. Most people don't realize that someone with a mental illness does not belong in prison. It may allow the general population to feel "SAFE" but this fear is a direct result of propaganda (which is why I am fighting stigma). Those with mental illness deserve the same dignity, respect and treatment as any person who is sick, period. Could you imagine if your loved one was deprived of necessary treatment because his or her illness impairs judgement? I can tell you that in my experience, it if feels like your heart is being choked to death. I hope you can take a moment to read this very important and insightful article about imprisonment and mental illness. 


  1. I just wanted to tell you Amber that your brother is already in the mental health system so it's easier for him to stay there. If a person committs a crime before they get in the system, they do have a strong chance of going to prision. However, in the state of New York anyway, since he is already being treated for a mental illness he will stay in the system. The worst that could happen is he could go to a state hospital for criminals. I have a dear friend with a son in one of those. They treat him real good and in about a year he should be released. Where if he had served time in jail he would be in there for five more year. However, your brother doesn't seem like anyone who would committe a crime! I do worry about it for myself. I had nightmares in the beginning of my illness that I would be sent to prision. It's a fear I can relate with you on!
    Thanks with hugs,

  2. Thank Amanda,

    That eases some of my fears. My brother was imprisoned during his first break while in Italy. The issue was...since we were not there to see that he needed help, he wondered into a house because he thought it was our grandmother's house. Clearly, it was not and he was arrested. He claims to have been beaten and treated poorly, but I will post soon on this.

  3. Hi AC,

    I hope all is well.

    I've written a Question of the Week - Forced Treatment Versus Free Choice, at, that touches on the jails-as-hospitals syndrome.

    I wondered if you could read it and post a comment to it.

    As always I value your opinion.

    Would like to use you as a Guest Blogger at the Connection, possibly in the early fall 2009.

    Thank you for any assistance.


  4. Let it be known, the solution is eliminating sigma by education/ early detection and treatment , and support from family and community, and then successful recovery is possible. But the jails are already way over crowded in the first place.