Sunday, May 19, 2013

Crime Down; Imprisonment Up

Are jails and prisons kept full by withholding psychiatric drugs from acute mental patients so they will get extra time on their sentences after psychotic episodes? That appears to be happening in Fresno County Jail, according to a report by "Community Alliance - the voice of the progressive movement since 1996."
Mentally Ill People Need Dog Justice

HOW are jails and prisons kept full? Crime is actually down. Christian Science Monitor reports: "Recessions can be the perfect storm for crime. Yet preliminary crime figures from the Federal Bureau of Investigation for 2009 show that the crime rate is falling across America, across all categories. Violent crime was down 5.5 percent and property crime down 4.9 percent between 2008 and 2009, according to FBI statistics . . . Crime in every category decreased, says FBI spokesman Bill Carter. Murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault all declined in 2009, he said. Robbery – which tends to boom in bust times – dropped 8.1 percent."

Are jails and prisons kept full by withholding psychiatric drugs from acute mental patients so they will get extra time on their sentences after psychotic episodes? See an excerpt from an article by a team of reporters at "Community Alliance."

Freefall into Madness: The Fresno County Jail’s Barbaric Treatment of the Mentally Ill

For the past six years, in an effort to cut costs, the Fresno County Jail has repeatedly denied mentally ill defendants the anti-psychotic medications prescribed to them by their outside doctors—medications needed to keep them sane.

As a result, according to Fresno County judges, former nurses, correctional officers, doctors, lawyers and the families of the defendants, the jail medical staff is triggering psychotic breakdowns in people suffering from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

The Fresno County Jail
The prolonged mental breakdowns are causing some defendants to languish in isolated confinement for years at a time, they say, creating a system of mental torture at the county jail. Denied their usual medications, defendants suffer paranoid delusions and mania so debilitating that some have tried to commit suicide multiple times in jail, slashing their throats or wrists with county-issued razors.
[Please continue to read the in-depth report at this link:

Disarming Realities: As Gun Sales Soar, Gun Crimes Plummet
According to DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. gun-related homicides dropped 39 percent over the course of 18 years, from 18,253 during 1993, to 11,101 in 2011. During the same period, non-fatal firearm crimes decreased even more, a whopping 69 percent . . . Pew researchers observed that the huge amount of attention devoted to gun violence incidents in the media has caused most Americans to be unaware that gun crime is “strikingly down” from 20 years ago. In fact, gun-related homicides in the late 2000s were “equal to those not seen since the early 1960s.”

Americans are continually plummeted with violent scenes on the evening news, but little to nothing is reported about the nation's falling crime rate. Whereas the reduction in crime is good news for the average citizen, it is not good news for prison investors or for municipalities that signed contracts with private prison companies, guaranteeing them a certain occupancy rate. Therefore, I repeat the question in paragraph 1:

Are jails and prisons kept full by withholding psychiatric drugs from acute mental patients so they will get extra time on their sentences after psychotic episodes? That appears to be happening in Fresno County Jail, according to a report by "Community Alliance - the voice of the progressive movement since 1996."

~ The members and friends of Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill strongly object to withholding psychiatric drugs to induce lunacy in order to lengthen sentences of wrongly imprisoned mental patients, who should be either in mental hospitals or community care programs. 

~ We object to crime and punishment becoming an business enterprise that reduces people to commodities that are bought and sold on Wall Street. 

~ We object to privatized correctional institutions and feel the quest for success of such facilities led to mass incarceration for Americans, regardless of their innocence or mental illness. 

~ We submit to you that the War on Drugs is actually a war on middle-class and indigent Americans who are either recreational drug users or addicted to hard drugs. 

We urge everyone who is committed to prison reform to recognize this: There were no overcrowded prisons and jails and therefore no need for private correctional facilities until the mentally ill were "de-institutionalized" and evicted from mental hospitals and community psychiatric services suffered budget cuts. Mentally ill people in America are the backbone of the private prison industry, which grosses billions per year. Crime is declining, including violent crime, which generates the longest prison sentences. With the loss of "business," the mentally ill are at greater risk than ever of suffering long prison sentences to satisfy the greed of prison investors, who include judges, defense attorneys, prosecutors, and lawmakers.

America's reduction in violent crime has not generated the cheers one would expect, because it could mean less money for prison owners and investors. This places targeted populations (minorities, the mentally ill, and whites who lack wealth) at greater risk for excessive sentencing and wrongful convictions. Three examples happened recently in Florida and Louisiana: 

~Marissa Alexander is a Florida woman who had just given birth and feared serious injuries from being beaten by her ex-husband, who caused her to be hospitalized from a previous beating. As he cornered and threatened her, Alexander fired a warning shot. She was wrongly sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for firing one shot into the ceiling. Petition: "PARDON Abused Mother Marissa Alexander for Standing Her Ground"

~Sharmeka Moffitt,woman in Louisiana, allegedly set fire to herself, causing third degree burns, and falsely claimed she was set afire by a white supremacist group. Obviously, if Moffitt did this, one should question her mental state. Instead, she faces "terrorism" charges and could be imprisoned for decades for hurting herself. See "Setting Oneself on Fire - Mental Illness" in this blog at

~Kiera Wilmot, a teenage Florida girl, was expelled and faced felony charges for her science experiment when her mixture of common household products caused the top to pop off a water bottle. Nobody was hurt. Due to an outcry by people nationwide and a successful petition that gathered nearly 200,000 signatures, the charges were dropped. See "Charges Dropped against Kiera Wilmot"

Both women and the teen are black females, which matters more than it should in this land of "liberty and justice for all."

How far will prison owners and investors go with their "quest to arrest"? For the first time in centuries, debtors prisons are making a comeback. For the first time in America, the White House has the option under NDAA to point out any person or group of people and demand their arrest in military concentration camps without naming any crime or allowing trials. The love of money led to slavery in the 1600s, an institution that has made a comeback in America. This is particularly hard on those who through poverty or mental illness are our most vulnerable citizens.

“This county [Fresno] doesn’t care about its treatment of mentally ill behind bars or otherwise,” said Susan Anderson, the recently retired supervisor who watched her colleagues on the board implement cut after cut to the county’s mental health budget until, she said, there was nothing left but skin and bones.

“If the Board of Supervisors wanted mentally ill defendants to get their anti-psychotic medications in jail, all they would need to do is direct the sheriff, the health officer and the jail doctor to do it,” Anderson said. “But the thinking of the board, the sheriff’s [office] and the rest of the criminal justice system here is not about prevention or humanity. It’s all about punishment.”

See also "U.S. Crime Rate Down: Six Key Reasons" 
(This is the tenth(10th) link in this article.)

Homelessness, prison and death must not be America's answer to acute mental illness. No one deserves punishment for having a health crisis, especially one caused by lack of treatment. Thank you for coming to give

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