Announcing Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill
Personal tragedy sometimes gives rise to important new legislation, organizations, and programs promoting social change that benefits Americans, like the Amber Alert, America's Most Wanted, and others. In response to the secret incarceration and wrongful death of Larry Morris Neal, his family is establishing AIMI, an organization to advocate for the decriminalization of mental illness in America and increased availability of inpatient psychiatric services. (See http://wrongfuldeathoflarryneal.com.)
Larry was a mentally ill heart patient who was secretly arrested in mid-July 2003 and incarcerated until his fatal heart attack on August 1, 2003. For the 18 days of Larry's detainment on some misdemeanor connected with his mental disability, his family and social worker searched for Larry as a missing person. The jail falsely and repeatedly reported that neither Larry nor anyone meeting his physical description was detained in that facility. As an unidentified inmate, Larry presumably did not receive his vital prescription heart and psychiatric drugs. Sadly, Larry's story is not unique; the mentally ill in America suffer many hardships resulting from inadequate or no care. Thousands of acutely mentally ill Americans who cannot orient themselves into society are jailed, homeless, or warehoused in substandard hospitals where many die each year.
Presently, only the mentally ill who seek and/or willingly accept psychiatric treatment are serviced or hospitalized, unless or until patients prove to be a danger to themselves or society. People who are too sick to recognize their own psychosis are left largely to their own devices. Here is a secret Larry's family learned during years of visiting Larry in mental institutions and having met many sick patients: Most mentally ill people simply do not know/believe/accept that they are sick. Ironically, the movement to deinstitutionalize the mentally ill in America was led for the most part by ex-psychiatric patients who had themselves been institutionalized.
Rejoining society undoubtedly worked well for those who were capable of the self-discipline and presence of mind to launch this movement, many of whom went on to pursue psychiatric careers, themselves. However, deinstitutionalization was a tragic development for people like Larry and thousands of other sick people presently incarcerated, having only swapped hospital care for jail cells. That is why this mental health system based on voluntary treatment has failed and our humanitarian decision of the 1970's to deinstitutionalize the mentally ill has resulted in a growing prison population of mentally ill detainees. How human is jailing sick people?
Other side-effects of our "patients in charge" mental health system are overcrowded jails, an overtaxed criminal justice system, increasing homelessness, and a more dangerous society. Both the Texas woman who drowned her five children and the Virginia Tech student who killed 32 people on a violent rampage were mental patients who needed better treatment and control. The same is true of the man who recently held Senator Clinton's New Hampshire office staff hostage. We must free our nation's law enforcement to get back to the business of fighting crime rather than acting as psychiatric caretakers.
Americans generously give to organizations that address social ills partly caused by inadequate care for those with acute mental illness, like homelessness. This Holiday Season, AIMI is asking people to prayerfully consider giving to establish this organization which will address one cause of these problems. AIMI believes that chronically mentally ill people should be hospitalized, not jailed for their disabilities.
Interested persons may see how to support our efforts by emailing email@example.com. Also, visit online at the Care2 link below:
Care2 Page: http://www.care2.com/c2c/people/profile.html?pid=513396753
AIMI at Care2 http://www.care2.com/c2c/group/AIMI