RE: Civil Division Case No: 2015-024067 CA 01,
West Court Condominium vs. George C.
Human Rights Activist Faces Foreclosure
When I became a human rights activist upon learning of the scalding death of Darren Rainey in the
state prison psychiatric unit where I once worked, I was unprepared for the
personal and financial sacrifices that would confront me in the three and a
half years that followed. In deciding that the humane treatment of the mentally
ill would be my life's work, I passed the point of no return long ago. Florida
Unfortunately, I've been unable to pay maintenance on my condominium with any regularity. I am some $3000 behind and am facing a court date on February 18th to start the foreclosure process. I am not asking for your pity. I am only asking for the understanding that I have no choice but to continue to make a difference in the lives of those suffering mental illness. As a psychotherapist, I can't imagine not doing this important work. For me, human rights is not a hobby—it's full-time 50 hours a week work. And that's a light week.
If everyone who read this blog donated just $10, my campaign would be funded through the summer—$20 might sustain me to the end of the year considering my bare-to-the-bones cutbacks. I've provided an address where checks may be sent and a link to PayPal for those who prefer a credit card. Please share this blog with your friends.
I am desperate. I need your help to continue to be the voice for those who have no voice. I can't sit by while severely mentally ill men and women continue to be brutalized in our jails and prisons. Three days ago I was contacted by a woman whose brother had been murdered by correctional officers who made it look like a suicide. This is the third such suspicious death within the last 12 months that I've been personally informed of by grief stricken relatives. Hearing these and other accounts of brutality leave me no choice but to carry on.
For those interested, I've provided a framework below to explain more specifically what my human rights campaign is trying to accomplish.
Thank you for your generous support,
is experiencing a mental health crisis of unprecedented magnitude. Ten times
more severely mentally ill people are incarcerated than are in state
psychiatric hospitals. Forty percent of all individuals suffering severe mental
health issues will have spent time in lockup. Those suffering severe mental
illness are three times more likely to end up in prison than in a mental health
treatment facility. The mentally ill are leaving our prisons and jails
significantly worse off than when they entered. If they make it out! United States
The lack of a strong national mental health policy has resulted in a de facto return to the Middle Ages. The severely mentally ill are being rounded up and thrown into prisons to be tormented, beaten, gassed, electrocuted, tortured, and killed. Closures of psychiatric and community mental health facilities beginning in the 1960s combined with no follow-up plan for the severely mentally ill resulted in a mass transition to prisons layered with institutional brutality. The mentally ill are subjected to conditions far inferior to the atrocious psychiatric wards of yesteryear.
My campaign will strive to end mass incarceration of the severely mentally ill by encouraging legislators to enact money saving legislation that will provide humane, meaningful mental health treatment. The cost of incarcerating the mentally ill is roughly double that of accommodating them in residential treatment centers. Equally important, funding community mental health programs reduces our bloated prison population.
As a result of recent high profile coverage of police and prison brutality, the public has never been more receptive to hearing from those who have witnessed prison brutality firsthand. I intend to capitalize on this opportunity by educating citizens about the horrific treatment mentally ill inmates receive and the means to improve conditions of confinement. Every single day, the mentally ill suffer wholesale maltreatment and cruel and unusual punishment.
To cut the supply of the severely mentally ill into our prisons, I will encourage lawmakers to fund state and community mental health facilities in addition to enacting school based initiatives. Early treatment in children's lives increases the probability of successful outcomes. Matching at-risk youth with appropriate mental health treatment is problematic given very few school systems provide these essential safety nets. Every child helped is one who avoids a justice system that criminalizes mental illness.
Treating the mentally ill in prison is last ditch effort that will never compare favorably with community based treatment unless strong measures are taken to provide humane treatment alternatives within our prison systems. Navigating layers of prison complexity is difficult for anyone. For the severely mentally ill, prison can be a frightfully overwhelming experience. Many patients on my caseload suffered the withholding of food, taunting, tormenting, and beatings. Excessive and malicious violence by prison guards jeopardized treatment outcomes and sabotaged my work as a psychotherapist.
Despite attempts by the Florida Department of Corrections to improve conditions, meaningful mental health treatment is a shaky proposition at best given the entrenched culture of brutality. In order to provide safe and effective mental health services to those already in our prisons, a new approach is necessary. To facilitate humane mental health treatment, carefully tailored institutional interventions to transition the mentally ill into specially designed facilities must occur. Every man or woman who has a successful treatment outcome is one less likely to end up back in prison.
Currently, there are too few jail diversion and drug court programs available to divert the mentally ill and those with co-occurring substance abuse issues into community mental health treatment facilities. Diversion programs in
San Antonio, Miami, and
have reduced local jail populations to the point that jail closures have saved
millions in tax dollars. Every major populated county in our country should
have diversion programs based on successful models already in existence. These
programs would provide yet another win-win outcome by saving tax dollars while
reducing the mass incarceration of the mentally ill. Ft. Lauderdale
In summary, efforts to reduce the mass incarceration of the mentally ill in our prisons and jails require simultaneous action on a number of fronts. It is of paramount importance to focus on strengthening and providing treatment to the mentally ill before they come in contact with the criminal justice system. School and community based programs are essential to providing early intervention to children and young adults whose chance of positive outcomes is greatest. Jail diversion programs and drug courts can provide local community treatment alternatives to incarceration. Those already incarcerated would benefit from humane treatment programs that would increase the odds of recovery while reducing recidivism.