Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Jails Down Under Are a Lot Like Home

“Our jails have become psychiatric hospitals,” reads a recent headline in The Australian.  A doctor in Australia was recently killed by a patient with schizophrenia he was trying to help. 

The story resembles a lot of what has been reported in the U.S. 

Despite evidence of acute psychosis by the patient, “he was held in a regular prison without psychiatric assessment or treatment and allowed to represent himself in court for seven months,” the paper reports. 

Starting to sound familiar?

Read on.

“Far from being an isolated case, it is at the tip of the iceberg of the over-representation of people with mental illnesses in the criminal justice system. Jails have become the largest psychiatric hospitals in Australia.”

Close enough to home yet?

"The magnitude of schizophrenia as a national calamity is exceeded only by the magnitude of our ignorance in dealing with it,” Dr. E. Fuller Torrey as quoted in The Australian.