Stop warehousing the mentally ill in prisonz

Moorbey'z Blog

OPINION
CHARLES REX ARBOGAST / AP

Failure to prioritize mental health treatment reinstitutionalizes the vulnerable

June 3, 20152:00AM ET

On May 26, Chicago’s Cook County Jail appointed a clinical psychologist as its executive director. Some 25 to 35 percent of the jail’s “9,000 inmates suffer from serious mental illness, making it the largest mental health institution in the country,” Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart, said in a statement last month.

Over the last few years, the Cook County Jail has experienced a spike in the number of mentally ill inmates amid deep cuts to mental health services. Activists say the selection of a psychologist is part of a growing recognition for the criminal justice system’s unsuitability for those with mental illness. Given their difficulty adapting to the violent and rigid culture of incarceration, mentally impaired inmates are particularly vulnerable. And because correctional facilities are not…

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