Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Mental health treatment in prison

On May 22 in the LA County Jail a man strangled his roommate to death. Kurt Karcher has bipolar disorder and was being held in the LA County jail because he was facing trial for a similar slaying that had occurred in the state prison.

In a report regarding this case, released on June 29, the grand jury recommended, in part:

“…developing a program to better train mental health professionals who provide jail services.”

As reports continue to call for increased mental health staff and services for the criminal justice system, there is little doubt jails and prisions are acting as our country's de facto mental health system. Is it really prudent to wait until someone has committed a crime to provide treatment, and is prison really the best place to be getting it?

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