Pin It
Favorite

Book Review 

by Suzanne Schreiner & r & & r & Crazy by Pete Early & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & T & lt;/span & he first good advice Pete Earley gets after his delusional son Mike breaks into a house is from a cop, who tells Earley to lie to the doctors, to tell them that Mike has threatened to kill him -- because that's the only way Mike can be compelled to get treatment. If he doesn't pose an obvious danger to himself or others, says the law, he has a right to be crazy.


But that's just nuts, right? He should be placed in a state mental hospital where he can get the right treatment for his brain disorder. Earley, a former reporter for The Washington Post, discovers that jails and prisons have become our de facto mental institutions in the wake of the deinstitutionalization movement, which was trying to solve another problem -- the abuse of the mentally ill in those state-run institutions. (Think Frances and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.)


Observing inmates on the psych floor of the Miami-Dade County jail over the course of a year, Earley attacks the shortsightedness of trying to deal with mental illness on the cheap. In fact, prisoners housed in psych wards are far more costly than others because they spend six times longer in jail, even when charged with identical crimes. Put it down to the still pervasive stigma of mental illness, says Earley, which makes judges and prosecutors afraid to release such prisoners. Because so many of them get caught in the revolving door of arrest, jail and just enough "treatment" to stabilize them for trial, the cost to taxpayers is enormous. At one point, the jail's psychiatrist encounters a prisoner whom he had first met as a medical school resident more than two decades earlier. Since then, the prisoner had been arrested 50 times.


But change is possible. One reform-minded Miami judge developed an innovative misdemeanor diversion program for mentally ill offenders. After one year of emphasizing treatment over jail, the judge tallied the results and found that the recidivism rate had plunged from 70 percent to an astonishing 7 percent.


In the 19th century, Dorothea Dix fought for the humane treatment of the mentally ill, who were routinely confined in jails, poorhouses, and prisons. Today, says the psychiatrist from Miami-Dade's ninth floor, we've actually gone backwards.


Earley's conclusion: The mentally ill need compassionate, long-term treatment for the chemical imbalances in their brains, and they shouldn't have to go to jail to get it. Now how crazy is that?

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Skunked
  • Skunked

    Why Spokane County Commissioners passed a temporary ban on new outdoor pot farms without telling anyone
    • Dec 8, 2016
  • Prisoner Problems
  • Prisoner Problems

    Computer errors continue to plague state Department of Corrections; plus, Washington ranked first in pro-charter-school policies
    • Dec 8, 2016
  • In Defense of Refugees
  • In Defense of Refugees

    In the aftermath of the presidential election, local residents seek ways to love and support their refugee friends
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed
Winter Glow Spectacular

Winter Glow Spectacular @ Spokane County Fair & Expo Center

Dec. 9-11, Dec. 15-23 and Dec. 26-30

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Unfinished Business

    Isaiah Wall wants to get his life on track. But first, he's gotta buy drugs for the police
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • Fake-News Nightmare

    The social media dream of the 2000s is fading, but we can reset the system by sticking up for the truth
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

Briefs


green zone


marijuana


trail mix


Comment


Readers also liked…

  • Trump vs. Jesus
  • Trump vs. Jesus

    Why my conservative Christian parents can't vote for the Republican for president this time
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • In the Spotlight
  • In the Spotlight

    Do you have the right to project your slogan on someone else's wall?
    • Apr 29, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation