Posts in News Commentary

South Carolina Legislature List

March 14th, 2014 Posted by Advocacy, Media, News Commentary 0 thoughts on “South Carolina Legislature List”

March 14, 2014

You can help us work for lasting mental health reform in South Carolina by contacting the state House Members and Senators. Below you can download and print out a PDF file with a list of the SC Legislature and the members’ contact information.

Download List of SC Legislature

You can also find your local SC legislator on the SC Statehouse website: Find Your SC Legislature

More Aid Urged for Mental Health

March 13th, 2014 Posted by Advocacy, Media, News Commentary 0 thoughts on “More Aid Urged for Mental Health”

Advocates rally for mental health improvements

March 13, 2014

An outpouring of over 100 supporters for mental health reform in the state of South Carolina occurred yesterday on the steps of the Statehouse. Mental health advocates and leaders from around the state met in the capital to advocate for solid, lasting mental health improvements. Local and state political officials showed up as well to show their support for reform. The time for change in the state of South Carolina is now.

Read the Full Article on The Greenville News Site

Tyler Pearson, a member of Gateway in Greenville, an agency providing programs for those in recovery from mental illness, says he enjoys mental health rallies because they show support for those in recovery.

“It means a lot,” he said Wednesday, minutes after a rally concluded on the Statehouse steps. “It’s a great opportunity.”

Pearson was among more than 100 people, including state and local officials, mental health professionals, friends and family members of those suffering from mental illness and those in recovery who gathered to hear lawmakers and state officials talk about the importance of mental health and plans they have for improving the system.

“We are here today to challenge our leaders and to educate them on the systemic failures of our broken institutions, and to encourage them to take action,” said Paton Blough, a Greenville mental health advocate.

“We’re here to come together and realize just how bad the mental health crisis is in South Carolina, and how much we desperately need more than lip service from our leaders.”

Blough and others, including some lawmakers, said they are watching the state Department of Corrections in the wake of a judge’s 45-page order in January finding the agency had violated the constitutional rights of mentally ill prisoners in horrific ways.

Paton Blough of Rehinge also spoke at the rally, offering a compassionate and impassioned speech about the mentally ill in our country. Paton talks about his history of mental illness and how he is working for reform in South Carolina. Paton encouraged the attendees to stand up and contact their local legislatures to request that they too work towards mental health reform.

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Read the Full Article on The Greenville News Site

Lawmakers Look to Expand Mental Health Courts

March 12th, 2014 Posted by Advocacy, Media, News Commentary 0 thoughts on “Lawmakers Look to Expand Mental Health Courts”

Lawmakers look to expand mental health courts

March 12, 2014

A number of lawmakers have begun looking at the possibility of expanding mental health courts in South Carolina. This a tremendous step forward for mental health reform in SC’s Corrections System if more mental health courts are opened in the state. Paton Blough has also been working to get these changes implemented. Paton worked to get information for Tim Smith from the Greenville News to make this article happen.

Read the Full Article on The Greenville News Site

Some state lawmakers are looking favorably at the idea of expanding mental health courts in the state as a tool to divert mentally ill defendants from jails or prisons where they cost taxpayers millions of dollars to house and don’t receive the treatment they need before their release.

The state currently operates mental health courts in Greenville, Columbia and Charleston, offering those suffering mental illness a chance to avoid jail or prison time.

Such programs, which operate like the state’s drug courts, not only can channel the mentally ill to better treatment options, advocates say, they also can save governments money that would be spent on jail or prison costs.

“The court is quite effective and really good,” 13th Circuit Solicitor Walt Wilkins of Greenville told The Greenville News. “I’m a big advocate for it.”

House Majority Leader Bruce Bannister of Greenville said lawmakers should look at expanding the mental health court after the success of drug courts.

“I would anticipate mental health courts would have the same type of success,” he said.

Read the Full Article on The Greenville News Site

Overcrowded, Underfunded Jail Tip of Issue

March 7th, 2014 Posted by Advocacy, Media, News Commentary 0 thoughts on “Overcrowded, Underfunded Jail Tip of Issue”

Sheriff Rick Clark gives The Progress exclusive look inside facility

March 6, 2014

Shocking information about the overcrowded conditions of the Pickens County Detention Center in South Carolina has come to light. Mentally ill inmates are being detained grossly past their completed sentences because hospital beds for the mentally ill are simply not available. South Carolina desperately needs more hospital beds available for mentally ill individuals.

Read the Full Article on The Easley Progress News Site

The housing of detainees for the Pickens County Sheriff’s Department is difficult enough, but when a lack of funding in the mental health system of the state makes matters worse, there are few options available.

In a 1970’s facility rated for 93 beds, equating to 93 inmates, the Pickens County Detention Center is faced with an overcrowding issue that goes beyond just housing inmates and extends to housing those awaiting beds at state mental facilities. As of March 4, there were 210 inmates being held by the Sheriff’s Department locally, more than double the capacity.

For some, the wait is indefinite.

“One of our inmates has waited for 568 days for a bed, and although he is finally in Columbia, that’s a year and a half when you do the math,” Jail Administrator Captain Keith Galloway explained. “We have another that’s waited 544 days. These are not just people waiting for evaluations, these are people who need medical help, and we can’t give that to them here.”

Read the Full Article on The Easley Progress News Site

Prisons Department: Almost $900K Spent Defending Lawsuit

February 12th, 2014 Posted by Media, News Commentary 0 thoughts on “Prisons Department: Almost $900K Spent Defending Lawsuit”

February 12, 2014

South Carolina has spent almost $900,000 on defending the Department of Corrections for their mistreatment of mentally ill inmates. Judge Baxley has already ruled for the state to develop a plan to improve the state’s handling of mentally ill prisoners, but the state is currently trying to appeal this ruling—spending more and more tax payer money to not correct the problem. Help us fight back against this appeal by signing our petition! You can also take the time to read Rehinge’s mental health reform proposed changes to the SC Department of Corrections.

Read the Full Article on the Greenville News Website

COLUMBIA — The state has spent almost $900,000 with a private law firm since 2005, defending the Department of Corrections against a lawsuit asking for better treatment of inmates with serious mental illness, the agency has confirmed.

Circuit Judge Michael Baxley last month found that the state’s prison system has repeatedly violated the rights of the seriously mentally ill, in some cases resulting in their deaths, and ordered the agency to develop a plan of improvements within six months.

His 45-page order included individual horror stories, including cases in which inmates were placed in solitary for years, strapped into restraining chairs in painful positions and left naked and in filth in cold, empty cells.

Sen. Karl Allen, a Greenville lawyer and a member of the Senate Corrections and Penology Committee, said the amount spent on defending against the suit is “almost borderline ridiculous.”

Later in the article, Paton Blough was interviewed by the Greenville News:

Paton Blough, a Greenville mental health advocate, had asked the prison system for the amount it spent defending itself from the lawsuit.

“I think it’s a tragic waste,” he said of the money spent. “Now that we see it’s such a waste and now that Bryan Stirling is saying we’re trying to do most of these things and they are making changes, why are we spending another dime on lawyers?”

Read the Full Article on the Greenville News Website

SC Senator Stands Up to Corrections Director Over Mentally Ill Inmates

February 7th, 2014 Posted by Advocacy, Media, News Commentary 0 thoughts on “SC Senator Stands Up to Corrections Director Over Mentally Ill Inmates”

New SC senator won’t be muzzled – defies committee chairman to ask about mentally ill prisoners

February 6, 2014

South Carolina Senator Marlon Kimpson of Charleston confronted SC Corrections Director Brian Stirling over the recent ruling of Judge Michael Baxley. The ruling found that many mentally ill inmates in SC’s prisons were grossly abused by the corrections system. During the recent Senate Corrections and Penology Committee hearing, SC senators were told to not ask Director Stirling any questions about Judge Baxley’s ruling. Senator Kimpson refused to keep quiet though, and boldly questioned Director Stirling about the ruling.

“With all due to respect to the chair’s opening comments, I can’t sit here in good conscience and not ask you about the disturbing 40-odd page order by Judge Baxley,” Kimpson told Stirling. Kimpson’s tone was polite but firm.

To read the full article and the questions Senator Kimpson asked, please visit The State News’ Website.

There is still hope for South Carolina to improve their treatment of the mentally ill in their prisons. If you would like to help fight for the mentally ill in our state, please sign our petition to stop SC’s appeal of Judge Baxley’s ruling. Also take the time to read Rehinge’s SC Prison Mental Health Reform Proposal, and present it to your local legislators. Thank you for your support as always!

NAMI Spotlight of Paton Blough

January 20th, 2014 Posted by Articles, Media, News Commentary, Published Media 1 thought on “NAMI Spotlight of Paton Blough”

January 20, 2014

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has spotlighted Paton Blough on their website, where he has detailed his life’s story. Paton talks of his struggles with Type 1 Bipolar Disorder and how he has worked to overcome it along with the help that NAMI has given him.

You can read the full article on the NAMI website.

When I was 26 years old, I believed that I had created the picture-perfect life with a family and thriving business. But my life took an abrupt turn when I had my first series of manic episodes in 2002. The disruption and turmoil led to the breakup of my marriage. I was angry and confused that something like this could happen to an upbeat guy like me.

But I was able to work out a simple doctor-and-pill treatment plan that did the job for a few years. My business, focused on disaster recovery, continued to grow, and at least outwardly, my life seemed to be getting back on track. But I continued to keep the delusions that I had during my manic episodes hidden from my doctor and everyone else.

Then in 2005 I was working on a $2.6 million storm clean up job for the city of Meridian, Miss., which was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina, when my third full blown episode of mania took hold. I thought there was an entire good ol’ boy network out to get me after I had accused government officials of fraud in regards to the FEMA-backed clean up contracts.

One minute I was so high that my body and mind entered a nirvana-like state with feelings of ultimate power and supreme authority. And then in the next minute I felt so paranoid and scared that I thought my heart would thump out of my chest. The mania escalated to the level that I believed a police officer was trying to pull me over to murder me. I took the police on a high speed chase and was arrested for the first time in my life. A couple of days later, I believed I was waging nuclear war with China and President Bush was obeying my signals from my jail cell. I thought a microchip was implanted in my lung and the evil forces of the government were trying to control my actions. I was eventually placed in a mental health hospital and remained there for nearly a month.

You can read the full article on the NAMI website.

State urged to drop appeal of inmate mental health ruling

January 16th, 2014 Posted by Advocacy, Media, News Commentary 0 thoughts on “State urged to drop appeal of inmate mental health ruling”

January 16, 2014

Paton Blough and Dr. James Hayes, the president of the state board for NAMI, were interviewed by the Greenville News about their petition to stop South Carolina’s appeal against Judge Baxley’s ruling on mental illness in the state’s prisons. You can sign the petition yourself as well: sign the petition.

You can read the full article on Greenville News Online

COLUMBIA — A Greenville mental health advocate has collected more than 100 signatures from lawmakers, County Council members, mental health officials and others asking that the state drop its appeal of a judge’s order last week that the prison system develop a plan to improve its treatment of inmates who have serious mental illness.

Paton Blough of Greenville, a mental health advocate who founded the website rehinge. com, said he believes the state can only effectively focus on improving its care of the mentally ill in prison when it stops fighting Judge Michael Baxley’s ruling.

Dr. James Hayes of Greenville, president of the state board for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, signed the petition and also said the state should drop the appeal.

“If we appeal this, it will be one more reason not to do some meaningful reform,” he told The Greenville News.

“It’s critically important that our prisoners with mental illness get the proper care. We would treat our animals in shelters better than prisoners with mental illness have been treated in the past.”

You can read the full article on Greenville News Online

Judge: Prisons Mistreat Mentally Ill

January 9th, 2014 Posted by Advocacy, Media, News Commentary 0 thoughts on “Judge: Prisons Mistreat Mentally Ill”

January 09, 2014

Read the full article in the Greenville News.

COLUMBIA — The state’s prison system has failed its inmates who have serious mental health illness, according to a scathing, 45-page ruling by a state judge who detailed cases in which inmates were placed in solitary for years, put naked into restraining chairs in painful positions and left naked and in filth in cold, empty cells.

Circuit Judge Michael Baxley ruled Wednesday that the South Carolina Department of Corrections had violated the constitutional rights of prisoners with serious mental illness.

The agency late Wednesday issued a three-sentence statement saying it would appeal Baxley’s decision.

“Mental health is not just a corrections’ problem, it’s a national problem that all sectors of society are working to address,” the agency said in its statement.

The agency didn’t address any of the specific allegations.

Baxley meticulously detailed a host of allegations about the treatment of the prison system’s mentally ill in his ruling, including the transfer of Jerome Laudman into a solitary cell in a maximum security prison in February 2008.

Read the full article in the Greenville News.

Judge: SC Corrections Dept. Must Improve Inmate Mental Health

January 9th, 2014 Posted by Advocacy, Media, News Commentary 1 thought on “Judge: SC Corrections Dept. Must Improve Inmate Mental Health”

January 09, 2014

WSPA
Original video from WSPA Channel 7 News.

Watch WYFF4 News Coverage

Paton Blough, founder of Rehinge, is interviewed by two local news agencies about Judge Baxley’s ruling that gives the State of SC 180 days to come up with a plan for major prison reform.

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About Rehinge

Rehinge exists to provide hope, education, and spiritual inspiration for all people affected with mental health issues and to fight stigma while pushing for global mental health reform.

Learn More »

What People Are Saying

  • “It has been one of my greatest rewards as NAMI Greenville, SC Program Director to see your recovery from when we first met to your award as NAMI South Carolina’s Recovery Person of the Year to your appearance on the same stage with author Pete Early. I hope your book is every bit as successful as his has been.”

    Brian Lewis
    • Fletcher Mann
    • Program Director NAMI Greenville, SC
  • “It’s incredible. If you aren’t sure, always go for Cast. I don’t always clop, but when I do, it’s because of Cast. I made back the purchase price in just 48 hours!”

    Patrick Bates
    • Patrick Bates
    • CEO, SouthCentral
See all
  • “It has been one of my greatest rewards as NAMI Greenville, SC Program Director to see your recovery from when we first met to your award as NAMI South Carolina’s Recovery Person of the Year to your appearance on the same stage with author Pete Early. I hope your book is every bit as successful as his has been.”

    Brian Lewis
    • Fletcher Mann
    • Program Director NAMI Greenville, SC
  • “It’s incredible. If you aren’t sure, always go for Cast. I don’t always clop, but when I do, it’s because of Cast. I made back the purchase price in just 48 hours!”

    Patrick Bates
    • Patrick Bates
    • CEO, SouthCentral
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