June 2nd, 2015
Newt Gingrich and Van Jones wrote an excellent article for CNN about how mental ill people need to be treated by appropriate mental health providers, and not be locked up in prisons for their actions. Paton and his person story of dealing with bipolar are highlighted in the article. Please take the time to read this piece.
Before Paton Blough got his bipolar disorder under control, it nearly cost him everything.
The Greenville, South Carolina, resident was arrested six times in three years, each for an episode related to his illness. Instead of receiving treatment, he was thrown in jail. In the rough prison environment and without proper treatment, he ended up with two felony convictions for crimes committed while incarcerated.
Blough managed to find a path to treatment. That makes him one of the lucky ones. Today, mentally ill Americans are disproportionately more likely to be arrested, incarcerated, suffer solitary confinement or rape in prison and commit another crime once released.
Quick: Name the largest provider of mental health care in America. If you guessed “our prisons and jails,” you would be right.
A 2006 U.S. Department of Justice study found that three out of four female inmates in state prisons, 64% of all people in jail, 56% of all state prison inmates and 45% of people in federal prison have symptoms or a history of mental disorder.
America’s approach when the mentally ill commit nonviolent crimes — locking them up without addressing the problem — is a solution straight out of the 1800s.