As another federal judge eloquently noted: All humans are composed of more than flesh and bone - even those who, because of unlawful and deviant behavior, must be locked away….Mental health, just as much as physical health, is a mainstay of life.
Yet across the nation, many prison mental health services are woefully deficient, crippled by understaffing, insufficient facilities, and limited programs.
All too often seriously ill prisoners receive little or no meaningful treatment.
Offenders who need psychiatric interventions for their mental illness should be held in secure facilities if they have committed serious crimes, but those facilities should be designed and operated to meet treatment needs.
Society gains little from incarcerating offenders with mental illness in environments that are, at best, counter-therapeutic and, at worst dangerous to their mental and physical well-being.
A federal district judge, referring in 1999 to conditions in Texas' prisons, made an observation that is still too widely applicable: Whether because of a lack of resources, a misconception of the reality of psychological pain, the inherent callousness of the bureaucracy, or officials' blind faith in their own policies, the [corrections department] has knowingly turned its back on this most needy segment of its population.