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Prison Mental Illness…

It was one of those incidents I experienced during my 20+yrs of incarceration in the American Gulag.  Periodically, the rate of imprisonment out-stripped the available bed-space. Big Bubba Clinton started a furious drive to build more prisons, meanwhile…

MentalPrison-002On this occasion, the prison unit had some 20 extra double bunks in the common area where we usually sit around and watch TV in the evening off-hours.  One of the side 2-man cells was vacant in order to serve as a bathroom.

On one of the top bunks crowded into the common area lay this tall, lanky white guy propped-up on his elbows.  He was maybe 30 with longish hair.  He never spoke and we noted that his elbows, when he got down off the bunk, were literally worn down to white bone.

He could take simple directives—enough to dress himself, go to meals and such, otherwise he was barely mentally competent.  Every so often one could hear, “Oh shit!  There he goes again!”  He would apparently get a notion, lie back, take out his Johnson and start whacking off.  He was totally in his own world.  Retarded?  Mentally ill?  Whatever.  If this was a fake, it was a damn good one. But to what purpose?

One afternoon I heard hollering, “Hey!  Get this crazy muthaf**ka outta here!”  Lanky had decided he was gonna use the bathroom.  The problem was, this black guy was already on the crapper reading a newspaper.  We don’t rate locks or keys to the doors.  Ol’ Lank had simply walked in and was standing in front of the guy.  Ignoring or otherwise oblivious to his hollering, Lank stood there for a few moments then took out his Johnson preparing to take care of business.

MentalGraph-001As the guy kept hollering and the stream hit the newspaper, he jumped up and ran outta the room, still screaming a stream of curses.

Later the guy explained, “Man, fighting crazy people just ain’t part of the plan.  They gotta take care of these muthaf**kas!”  Fat chance.

In the February 2007 issue of Harper’s Magazine, I noted a statistic in “Harper’s Index.”  Citing the Bureau of Justice Statistics (a division of the Department of Justice) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, they compared the percentages of American adults in prison and mental institutions for the years 1953 and 2007 respectively at 0.67 and 0.68.  A virtually dead heat, statistically.

The differences between those years was that in 1953 those in mental institutions numbered 75% of all total incarcerated.  By 2007, the percentage in prison was 97%.

Mental health and social welfare had simply been criminalized.  Easy enough to do, simply ignore them until they break a law, then convict and imprison them.  Figures for those in prison with a mental illness run as high as 50%.

There are literally tens of thousands of the mentally ill in similar circumstances—I’ve witnessed more than my share….

Dr. Publico (Nick Medvecky, PsyD) May 2010…

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4 Responses
  1. ypsigirl says:

    Dr. Publico- thank you for sharing your experiences with the rest of us. It is so sad how our system is set up- from personal experience it makes me not trust and not believe in justice- Would love to have you on our public access show if there where ever a way to do so without you getting harassed by the man.

  2. Sidney Gendin says:

    You are off to a good start. I hope you have a program that allows automatic notification of your postings via e-mail.

  3. […] American Tribune prison experience connections regarding this subject, please click on “Prison & Mental Illness,” and “Judges & Prosecutors…and […]

  4. Toby says:

    Thank Regan for it. He cut funding for mental hospitals in California when governor then went nationwide when president. I believe his logic was it’s cheaper to keep them on the street or prison if they get in trouble then it is to keep them in hospital. You know, greed!

    Glad you’re out! Just found your site today, I’m going to read it cover to cover.

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