Comments about ‘Study calls prisons, jails America's 'new asylums'’

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Published: Thursday, April 10 2014 7:35 p.m. MDT

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Olympia, WA

As a society, our approach to dealing with fellow citizens with mental issues, is penny wise and pound foolish. It seems to be a "Liberal" cause to help the homeless and mentally ill before they end up doing something that causes criminal complaint. It seems a very "conservative" decision to give them help only after they end up committing a crime or endangering the public. When we have one political party calling for tax dollars to fund outreach and mental help centers, and the other political group calling for lower taxes, reduced government help for the homeless and mentally ill, and more prisons, then we get what we have now. We treat the less fortunate this way, because of some political choices.

Robert F. Smith
Provo, UT

The true issue here is financial, even though state legislators seem unaware of that fact. It simply costs far more to incarcerate a mentally ill person in a jail or prison than in a psychiatric facility. Quite aside from the damage done to that mentally ill person. Half of the homeless are mentally ill, and half of all crime is committed by mentally ill persons trying to fund self-medication -- with the wrong sort of drugs. Back in the quiet 1950s we housed such people in large psychiatric facilities. We later closed them down nationwide, claiming (falsely) that this was compassionate and would save us money. It did neither. We have fobbed the mentally ill off on the very expensive law enforcement and prison systems. We have been penny-wise and pound foolish, and our chickens have come home to roost. We have learned nothing, while we are now the nation with the highest incarceration rate in the world. Congrats.

Vince Ballard
South Ogden, UT

Sorry, "Itsjstmeagain", Reagan didn't do this, it started in the 1950's with the development of anti-psychotic medications. Then, groups like the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill lobbied for a "turn them all loose" policy on grounds that the mentally ill needed their civil liberties, come what may, and also told the politicians that this way would save money. Of course, that got the politicians attention, and so the laws and institutions which handled this problem have vanished. Many tragedies have resulted. Some folks need outpatient supervision or, in severe cases, confinement in some sort of facility. In reading the replies to this article, many people have reported tragedies and travesties similar to the many I could name if there was space brought on by this sort of activism. It is time for N.A.M.I.to admit past mistakes and realize than it is unmerciful to both the mentally ill and their families to pursue the current course.

Clearfield, UT

Some reasonable posts on here. I was expecting the typical right wings response such as they are just faking mental Illness so they can have a free place to stay. Mental illness is a huge problem in our society. Unfortunately we tend to ignore the plight of those who are the most vulnerable. I drive a UTA bus. I deal with the mentally ill every day. Many need to be in a care facility where they can receive proper care. Caring for the homeless and mentally ill should not be a political issue. Unfortunately that is exactly what it is.

Federal Way, WA

That's what happens with deregulation and the enacting of private prisons. It's gotten worst since doing these two things. The mentally ill do not belong in prisons. They won't get the help they need and they put the other population in danger by just being there. Can you guess who started the deregulation's epic and the changing from public to private?

bountiful, UT

i worked for utah state prison for 20 years. this article is no exaggeration corrections and it's officers are not equipped to handle the number of mentally ill inmates..

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