Prison is no place for people with mental illnesses

Prison is no place for people with mental illnesses

By DarRen Morris
Posted: 12/10/2010

Today is international human rights day, and one thing we can do in the United States to honor it is to stop incarcerating persons with disabilities.
I was the young, urban teen ribbed for wearing thick glasses and hearing aids. I was placed in special education classes. I fought a lot. And I ended up in the juvenile justice system, where about 70 percent of us had mental health disorders.
I am now a man with a floating diagnosis of schizophrenia and bi-polarity.
And at age 17, I was sentenced to life in prison and quickly ended up in solitary confinement, a condition that added to my mental suspicions, my fears and my frustration at not being able to hear or see well.
You, as a taxpayer, now pay $30,000 a year for my care.
Early, effective community mental health and diversion programs could have helped me become a non-threatening, productive member of society — and could have saved you a lot of money.
I don't deny that I should be punished for my crime. I do contend it did not need to happen.
We need to provide access to treatment services for all people. We need to evaluate disabilities early and help families understand the need to get help for their special- needs children. We need programs to help these families pay for the treatment and glasses or hearing aids or other adaptations that their children need.
We need to step beyond the stigmas of mental illness and disability. We need better communication among treatment providers, our courts and corrections.

 Three paintings by DarRen Morris,a prisoner in a maximum security prison. He was waived into adult court as a juvenile, was severely mentally ill and has become wise and mature, a leader and teacher helping the younger prisoners survive their prison ordeal. see his blog: http://darrenmorrisartist.blogspot.com/


gaautoglass.com said...

A special place is made for them not a traumatizing prison.

Alliance Bail Bonds said...

Great blog :)

Anonymous said...

I take a course at DOC MN- LINO LAKES. It is an inside - out project/criminology course.
The inside students/inmates are terrified of the mentally ill inmates. They mention how unpredictable the mentally ill inmates can be. The Inside student/inmates are on edge when crossing paths with a mentally ill person.
I agree that prisons are not the proper place for the mentally ill. But it is cheaper to keep them in prison than to allow them to wander the streets and having to house them at a homeless shelter. A majority of the homeless population, do suffer from some form of mental illness. Life isn't fair sometimes, but the government does things that they think is a suitable solution. Even though we may not always agree with how they go about doing things.

Anonymous said...

They are trying to put me in jail after I went to mental hosptail for some thing I never said they are charging me for arson/threats never did it what can I do to stop this I go to jail I never make it I have big mouth help

Anonymous said...

They charged me with 3 counts of arson/threat,,,disoldly conduct,,,,,dispering peace how can i fight this i didn't threating note like that help

Anonymous said...

My son is 17 years old and is locked up for armed robbery my child has a learning disability and don't now the right and wrong of certain things with out it being carefully told to him of what the problem may be I thought by me letting him to go stay with his dad he'll have more time to keep an eye on him but i was wrong now I'm running back and forth from state to state for my child and I want him here with me to get him back on track with the help he will need now that he has a child of his own please can someone tell what me what else can be done to save my child when I'm Gone....Concern MOTHER

Assisted Living for Mentally Ill said...

Thank you. This is a nice and useful article.

A Hope Bail Bonds Las Vegas said...

I agree with you in general, but surely there are some with mental illness that deserve to be in jail. Mental illness covers a wide spectrum, and the main function of prison is not a rehabilitative one in my book.