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U.S. Jails Forced to Hold Mentally Ill People

Sep 8th, 2011 | Category: Uncategorized

Over 350,000 mentally ill Americans are reportedly held in US prisons, underlining the fact that more individuals in the country supposedly receive mental care inside prisons than in medical or psychiatric institutions. (This is also true of local jails, like the jails in Houston, Dallas and all 245 county jails in Texas! D. Claitor)

Los Angeles County Jail, Rikers Island Jail in New York City and Cook County Jail in Chicago are America’s three largest psychiatric treatment facilities, where a great portion of the country’s mental patients have been confined, the US-based National Public Radio (NPR) reported Sunday.

“We have a criminal justice system which … was never built to handle people that were very, very ill, at least with mental illness,” said a US Judge Steve Leifman.

The number of mentally ill people ending up in US jails skyrocketed when the US government began shutting state-run hospitals in the 1980s.

Pointing to the structural flaws in the country’s criminal justice system, Sheriff Greg Hamilton of Travis County in Austin, Texas, added his voice to the criticism, emphasizing that “it seems to me that we have criminalized being mentally ill.”

This comes as the United Nations released a report in early June, confirming allegations of serious rights violations that women face inside American prisons and other correctional facilities.

“Inadequate access to health services in prison and detention facilities is characterized by delays, neglect, and mistreatment of inmates and detainees,” the UN report said.

Shahrzad Mir-Qolikhan, an innocent Iranian woman imprisoned in the United States for three years, has also described how she has been forced to undergo horrible conditions in American jails and subjected to both physical and mental torture.

In an Interview with Press TV, Mir-Qolikhan described US prisons as a “garbage can,” saying she has been forced to witness obscene sexual acts and stay in close proximity of women infected with sexually transmitted diseases.

Meanwhile, US prisons are widely known to hold more per capita inmates than any other country in the world.

Despite holding just five percent of the world’s population, the prison population in the US accounts for nearly 25 percent of all of the world’s prison inmates.

Via PressTV

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