| ----- Original Message -----
From: Taoss - Sherry Swiney
To: PATRICK Crusade
Cc: Prison Action List
Sent: Thursday, November 06, 2003 8:07 PM
Subject: Human Rights Watch report US Prisons
NAMI Calls for Action Following Report on Brutal Mistreatment of U.S. Prisoners With Mental Illnesses
NAMI, the Nation's Voice on Mental Illness, is calling for federal and state legislative action in conjunction with the release of a report by Human Rights Watch documenting mistreatment and neglect of individuals with mental illnesses in U.S. prisons.
"The report is more than a wake-up call. It is the
equivalent of a five-alarm fire," said NAMI legal director Ron Honberg.
"The report gives new urgency to passage of the DeWine-Strickland
bill now pending in Congress, and other proposals for
The 215-page report, Ill-Equipped: U.S. Prisons & Offenders With Mental Illness, finds that the more than 250,000 offenders with mental illnesses in U.S. prisons are:
Under-treated-or often not treated at all-because of
shortages of qualified staff, lack of facilities, and prison rules that
interfere with treatment.
Prisoners who have attempted suicide or self-mutilated have been punished for "destroying state property," Humans Rights Watch reports. Those who yell and kick cell doors because of hallucinations or smear feces in cells are punished, for "creating a disturbance" or "being untidy."
Human Rights Watch is an international non-profit organization that conducts regular, systematic investigations of human rights abuses in approximately 70 countries around the world.
"This is not a criminal justice issue. It's not just about mental health care," Honberg said. "It's about fundamental human rights and the example the United States should be setting for the rest of the world."
"It is about corrections officers being saddled with burdens for which they have not been trained, because the federal government and states have failed to build community-based mental health care systems designed to help people so that they do not even become offenders."
The report is available on-line at www.hrw.org/reports/2003/usa1003.