Monday, February 25, 2008

Imprisoned because of psychosis

After stealing a car in 1995 and violating parole by making harassing phone calls in 1998, Carl Scherer was sent to prison for seven years. Not surprisingly, the symptoms of his paranoid schizophrenia worsened while in prison.

His records indicate that the medications were constantly being adjusted or changed, such that at no time was he stable for any lengthy period of time," Gottlieb wrote. He also reported that Carl often refused his medication, which led to repeated cycles of psychotic behavior.

Just before Carl was released on parole in 2001 he became so ill he was sent to Cresson State Correctional Institute. Shortly after, Carl’s parole was revoked. Carl was to be kept in prison- a place never meant as a treatment facility- to get treatment for his schizophrenia.

"They took away his only opportunity to get the care he needed and left him in there, not because he didn't meet the criteria for being paroled, but because he has a mental illness. I mean, it's outrageous in my mind. …

"That's not the point of the correctional institutions — to house individuals with mental illness."

Shortly after Carl was returned to the general prison population, he was killed by his roommate.

Carl Scherer was apparently too ill to be paroled, but not sick enough to be kept in treatment.

Why are we relying on prisons to provide psychiatric care? Better yet - Why wasn’t Carl getting treatment long before he was entangled in the Pennsylvania prison system in the first place?

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