Thursday, December 4, 2014

Treatment rather than punishment: Let's Do This in Knoxville, Tennessee! @Treatb4Tragedy @TreadmentAdvocacyCenter

New York City Announces Plan to Overhaul Criminal Justice System for People with Mental Illness

(Dec. 4, 2014) New York City announced a plan Monday to overhaul the way its criminal justice system interacts with people who have a mental illness. The emphasis will be on treatment, rather than punishment (“New York City unveils unprecedented overhaul of mental health care for inmates,” ThinkProgress, Dec. 2).

billdeblasioThis plan comes at a critical time for the city and the country.
In the last year, jails and prisons across the nation have come under increasing scrutiny for their treatment of mentally ill inmates. Two of the most high-profile deaths occurred in New York at Rikers, involving one inmate who “baked to death” in a cell and another man who sexually mutilated himself after spending seven consecutive days in a cell.

It has also been long known that incarceration does nothing to help people with serious mental illness, but instead often exacerbates their symptoms.

The plan, announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio, will include efforts to keep people with mental illness out of jail in the first place, but also include better training for corrections officers and treatment for people with behavioral health problems who are already behind bars.

The proposed changes will also provide support for people who are transitioning from jail back into the community to reduce recidivism. “We see these frequent fliers, people who commit relatively small low level offenses, cycling through the system over and over and over again,” said Elizabeth Glazer, the mayor’s criminal justice coordinator.

"[This plan] means a lot to me," said Alma Murdough, the mother of Jerome Murdough, a mentally ill inmate who died in Rikers earlier this year. "Knowing that Jerome's death was not in vain."
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