Monday, October 15, 2007

The new mental institutions

Today's Roanoke Times explores an alarming reality of today's forensic system. When the mental health community abdicates its responsibility to treat people with severe mental illnesses, the responsibility too often falls on those who can't say no - jails and prisions.

We really are doing a disservice to our people when we put them in jail," said Bill Farrington, president of the state chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness…

Even if there's bed space available, the civil commitment process can be so time-consuming that police officers who encounter the mentally ill are often reluctant to use it, Farrington said.

"They recognize that it's a mental health issue, but they also recognize that 'I brought this person in three times before for the same thing' " on a civil commitment order, he said. "So the easier thing to do is to take them to jail and let the jail deal with it."

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