County looks to reduce number of inmates with mental illness

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform (PfCJR) CORE ISSUE: Decriminalization of mental health and addictive disorders.

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)– Within the past year, the Eau Claire County jail has seen a drastic rise in inmates brought in with a mental illness.  Mark Ruddy, chair for the Criminal Justice Reform Team says too many people with a mental illness are being taken to prison.  Highlights:

  • “It is a problem and it is an increasing problem. Our local issues are just a reflection of our national issues. Our jails are the largest mental health institution in the country,” says Ruddy.
  • Ruddy believes those inmates should be taken to a hospital or specific treatment crisis center.
  • The Eau Claire County Judiciary and Law Enforcement Committee is working on a way to change the way someone with mental issues is put into the jail system. “We need to find a way in our society to keep mentally ill people from being in prison. They can’t get appropriate treatment there,” says Ruddy.

Read the entire article at WEAU.com

Click here to JOIN PfCJR as a physician or allied member as we advocate for criminal justice reform.

As city jail deaths rise, will reforms help?

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform CORE ISSUE:  Provision of adequate access to physical and psychiatric health care for current inmates.

According to an article in the Daily News section of www.philly.com:

* Seventeen inmates have died already this year, the most since 2007, when 20 died. This year’s dead included one man murdered allegedly by his cellmate, two men who committed suicide, one man whose cause of death remains undetermined and 13 others whose deaths were ruled “natural,” caused by health problems or addictions. The decade’s toll: 168 inmate deaths since 2005, according to prison records.

*  Meanwhile, the inmate population has fallen from a peak of nearly 10,000 in 2009 to about 8,000 today. Philly still has the highest incarceration rate of the nation’s 10 largest cities.

*  Six inmates who died this year – most charged with misdemeanors – could have gotten out of jail for $500 or less, including Parks and another alleged shoplifter, Erin O’Malley, who was held a week on just $100 cash bail, records show.

“The bad luck of the draw is that some people can’t afford to pay even low bail. So then they stay there not because we think they’re too dangerous to be released or won’t show up at trial, but because they can’t afford to pay even a low bail. For those people to die [in custody] is really problematic,” said attorney David Rudovsky, a leading prison reformer.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20151103_As_city_jail_deaths_rise__will_reforms_help_.html#eJowdpUB1flwXlbC.99

Police Leaders Join Call to Cut Prison Rosters

More than 130 police chiefs, prosecutors and sheriffs — including some of the most prominent law enforcement officials in the country — are adding their clout to the movement to reduce the nation’s incarceration rate.

Asserting that “too many people are behind bars that don’t belong there,” the officials plan to announce on Wednesday that they have formed a group to push for alternatives to arrests, reducing the number of criminal laws and ending mandatory minimum prison sentences. Members of the group are scheduled to meet Thursday with President Obama.

The group includes the police chiefs of the nation’s largest cities, including William J. Bratton of New York, Charlie Beck of Los Angeles and Garry F. McCarthy of Chicago, as well as prosecutors from around the country, including Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney.

Read the entire New York Times article by clicking HERE.

Study finds gender disparities for inmates with HIV

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform CORE ISSUE:  Provision of adequate access to physical and psychiatric health care for current inmates. In the largest study of inmates with HIV receiving antiretroviral therapy, Yale researchers uncovered significant differences in HIV treatment outcomes for men and women in the justice system. Their findings point to the need for gender-specific HIV prevention strategies for incarcerated individuals.  Click HERE to read the full article. Study available at: “Sex-Related Disparities in Criminal Justice and HIV Treatment Outcomes: A Retrospective Cohort Study of HIV-Infected Inmates.” American Journal of Public Health. e-View Ahead of Print.