Target: Rick Raemisch, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Corrections
Goal: End the practice of warehousing mentally ill prisoners.
According to news outlet RT, more than half of the population of Colorado’s prisoners held in solitary confinement are mentally ill. Prison budgets have been cut, and treatment funding for mentally ill prisoners is often one of the first things on the chopping block. A spokesperson from the ACLU states that the practice of warehousing mentally ill prisoners in solitary confinement is “costly, cruel, and unlawful.”
RT further reports that mental illness in prisoners is made markedly worse by solitary confinement; even prisoners who are mentally healthy prior to their time in segregated housing often suffer from delusions and psychosis. For these reasons, members of the medical and human rights communities have declared that solitary confinement is a cruel and unusual form of punishment and is thus unconstitutional. Colorado is locking far too many of its mentally ill inmates in environments that will only serve to exacerbate their illness.
Even prisoners deserve mental health treatment. Tell the Colorado Department of Corrections to stop warehousing mentally ill inmates in solitary confinement.
Dear Rick Raemisch,
More than half of the solitary confinement population in Colorado prisons suffer from mental illnesses. Medical professionals and human rights groups have stated that the isolation and deprivation inherent to the environment in segregated housing units only serve to exacerbate the symptoms of mental illnesses. If the conditions of solitary confinement can cause mentally healthy prisoners to “bang their heads against the wall to drown out the voices they are hearing,” then these conditions must also certainly amplify the symptoms of inmates already plagued by severe depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD and schizophrenia.
Even inmates deserve proper mental health treatment. Because mental health services are lacking, symptomatic inmates are often said to be held in solitary confinement for their own benefit, as well as for the benefit of others. Human rights organizations such as the ACLU believe this to be untrue; the isolation fuels the mental illness, increases agitation, and that this can lead to “criminal and antisocial acts once the prisoner is released.” This suggests that neither the inmates nor the general public benefits from the warehousing of mentally ill inmates.
If better mental health services are needed in your prisons, then find a way to fund them–perhaps by cutting administrative salaries– instead relying on solitary confinement to isolate a sick population. Many inmates are guilty of serious crimes, but mental illness should not be one of them.
[Your Name Here]