Monday, August 10, 2009

America, The (Not) So Beautiful

Sure, let's bomb Iran, after all, we have everything else fixed. I know, I know, we have the best of everything in this country, the best. Hell, if I'd known it was this easy I'd have smashed a few windshields & then set up some therapy sessions with the jail staff.
A public defender who specializes in juvenile mental health issues, said Eric had been arrested more than 20 times near his South Los Angeles home. Dr. Trupin worried that if Eric is released and arrested again, he will be charged as an adult and enter the Los Angeles County jail, the nation’s largest residential mental institution, with 1,400 mentally ill inmates.

In the 1960s and ’70s, the increasing availability of antipsychotic medications coincided with a national movement to close public mental hospitals. Many private hospitals barred psychotic patients, including juveniles. By the 1980s, juvenile justice systems had become the primary providers of residential psychiatric care for mentally ill youths.

But as cutbacks have worsened, the debate has intensified over what constitutes adequate mental health care. Often juvenile justice systems have very little to go on when attempting a diagnosis.


School records often do not arrive with arrested youths, nor do files often come from other corrections institutions. The lack of information is particularly problematic when psychiatrists try to prescribe medications. Joseph Parks, medical director for the Missouri Department of Mental Health and a national expert on pharmaceutical drug use in corrections facilities, said many juvenile offenders are prescribed multiple psychiatric drugs as they move from mental health clinics to detention halls to juvenile prisons.

A decade ago, it was rare to find juvenile offenders on two psychotropic drugs at once, Dr. Parks said. Now, many take three or four at a time, often for nonprescribed uses like helping the youths sleep.

“If you just give a kid a pill, the prison administration doesn’t have to do anything differently,” he said. “The staff doesn’t have to do anything differently. The guards don’t have to get more training.”

Census studies of child mental health professionals show chronic shortages. A 2006 study estimated that for every 100,000 youths, there were fewer than nine child psychiatrists. Dr. Penn of Texas said the state youth prison system there recently instituted a system of telepsychiatry sessions, conducting videoconferences between mental health professionals and youths being detained hundreds of miles away.

Inadequate mental health services increases recidivism. In a February report on psychiatric services at the Ohio River Valley center, Dr. Cheryl Wills, an independent mental health expert, found that officials were unnecessarily extending incarceration for youths who acted out because of their mental illnesses.

My emphases. Stop & ponder that a county jail is the largest mental institution in the country. Hell, who cares, let's start another war, it's easier.

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