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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 221694 Find in a Library
Title: Justice Is in the Eye of the Beholder
Journal: Journal of Offender Rehabilitation  Volume:45  Issue:1/2  Dated:2007  Pages:47-54
Author(s): Michael Weaver
Date Published: 2007
Page Count: 8
Type: Case Study
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: An inmate tells the story of how difficult is was to receive appropriate mental health services while incarcerated, and how today he is an advocate for adequate mental health services and for the proper treatment of those incarcerated in prison and suffering from a mental health disability.
Abstract: Despite the increasing knowledge about mental illness, there appears to be increasing confusion. Treatment manuals abound, but judges, defense attorneys and prosecutors lack the time to really understand mental illness. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder for 20 years, a man, 36 years of age encountered the courts and incarceration for the first time. During a stressful time in his life and after reading a book emphatically stating that psychotropic drugs were poisonous and toxic, he stopped taking his medication, lithium. This launched him into a severe mania of life and eventually incarceration. When first incarcerated, he was told he was not bipolar by the prison psychiatrist and denied medication. Once this diagnosis was realized to be false, he began receiving lithium, but only saw a psychiatrist twice for the duration of his incarceration. His mental health treatment consisted of exhaustively looking for books that could encourage him. His release from prison was met with more difficulty with the lack of governmental or community programs to support him. The lesson he learned after his release was that if society invests in a correctional system that aims not to just warehouse inmates, then society will benefit with communities that are not at as much risk for violence and criminality. It is society’s job to make sure that fellow citizens with mental illnesses are afforded a recovery environment. Today, with the help of advocates, such as himself, mental health courts are springing up across America. Judges and attorneys who are knowledgeable will conduct these courts. As part of the Mental Health Association, it is now his job to educate the public. His experience in jail and prison has made it easier to communicate with those who are experiencing the painful realities of having mental illness.
Main Term(s): Probation conditions
Index Term(s): Corrections effectiveness; Deinstitutionalization; Mental disorders; Mental health; Mental health services; Mentally ill inmates; Offender advocates; Psychiatric services
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