May 22nd, 2015
The Huffington Post has published a piece on the cruelty and injustice in US prisons towards inmates with mental illnesses. Paton is featured in the article where he talks about his experiences with the justice system and prisons as a person with bipolar. The article and Paton also takes the time to talk about CIT training and how it can help aid law enforcement when dealing with mentally ill individuals.
Human Rights Watch has released a report, Callous and Cruel, on the “unnecessary, excessive, and even malicious force” used in jails and prison to control inmates with mental illness. It’s an issue that NAMI has long been concerned with, except that it’s more than an issue or a concern.
It’s an outrage that should shock the conscience of America and we need your help to change it.
People unfortunately often end up in jail or prison when they don’t get effective treatment for mental illness. In another report this year, Incarceration’s Front Door, the Vera Institute of Justice found that more than two million people with mental illness are booked into county jails alone, but as many as 80 percent don’t get treatment after they arrive.
Better outcomes include recovery and wellness.. NAMI South Carolina leader Paton Blough’s story serves as inspiration. At the age of 26, he was jailed after onset of a manic episode. Over three years he was arrested six times and every time, he was convinced police intended to murder him. He received two felony convictions for actions while incarcerated — spitting on a guard and threatening a public official. Financially he was ruined. He lost his home in foreclosure, his marriage and contact with his children.
As part of recovery, Paton had to overcome the stigma he himself internalized. His actions weren’t a reflection of bad character, but instead medical illness. Today, he helps train police officers for CIT programs.
Paton’s most dramatic moment in recovery came when 30 police officers applauded him after his first presentation–including one who previously had arrested him.