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Across the country there are competent and committed mental health professionals who struggle to provide good mental health services to those who need them.
They face, however, daunting obstacles - including facilities and rules designed for punishment.
Then, in a tragically ironic twist, they may be confined in conditions that nurture, rather than abate, their psychoses." Somewhere between two and three hundred thousand men and women in U. prisons suffer from mental disorders, including such serious illnesses as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression.
An estimated seventy thousand are psychotic on any given day.
As another federal judge eloquently noted: All humans are composed of more than flesh and bone - even those who, because of unlawful and deviant behavior, must be locked away….
Mental health, just as much as physical health, is a mainstay of life.
They are neglected, accused of malingering, treated as disciplinary problems.
Society gains little from incarcerating offenders with mental illness in environments that are, at best, counter-therapeutic and, at worst dangerous to their mental and physical well-being.
Their misconduct is punished - regardless of whether it results from their mental illness.
Even their acts of self-mutilation and suicide attempts are too often seen as "malingering" and punished as rule violations.
Yet across the nation, many prison mental health services are woefully deficient, crippled by understaffing, insufficient facilities, and limited programs.
All too often seriously ill prisoners receive little or no meaningful treatment.
Prisons were never intended as facilities for the mentally ill, yet that is one of their primary roles today.