14 September 2013

Letter to the Editor: Reform Prisons

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has selected her chief of staff to be the next director of the state’s prison system. Source: WLTX

Published: The Post and Courier, Sept. 14, 2013

I was glad to see that reducing recidivism rates was a reason for Gov. Nikki Haley’s recent appointment of Bryan Stirling as the new S.C. prisons chief.

The disappointment came when I read no mention of the mentally ill who are living behind bars. Any spending targeted at helping inmates read just to civilian life without addressing this issue is, in my estimation, mostly a waste.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics found in a 2006 study that over half the prison population in our country has a mental illness — 1.25 million is a staggering number.

Further research suggests that the mentally ill population is two to four times overrepresented in our correction system in the United States.

All residents of South Carolina need to wake up to the fact that ignoring these problems will only bring more pain and expense.

Mr. Stirling and Gov. Haley should provide the bold leadership to do what is necessary to reform our corrections system and make South Carolina an exemplar for the rest of the nation.

Paton Blough

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