Target: California Governor Jerry Brown
Goal: End practice of imprisoning the mentally ill in California jails
At any given time, Los Angeles county jail holds about 3,000 prisoners that qualify as mentally ill, diagnosed with a mental illness. About 1500 of them are housed with the general public because there is no more room for them in the areas segregated for mentally ill prisoners. Bunks are even squeezed into the common dining area to accommodate the prisoners. Sheriff Lee Baca has claimed that he runs the nation’s largest mental hospital, a cruel joke from a Sheriff known for his deliberate indifference to conditions in the jail.
Prisoners diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, crippling depression, and various delusional disorders rot away in the jail, sometimes awaiting court hearings for months. Most of them have been through the jail at least once before. Because of the crowded conditions of the jail, inmates rarely if ever have quiet or privacy to meet with therapists or concentrate on their mental wellbeing.
These prisoners get locked up, over and over again over periods of years to decades, and it isn’t solving any problems, for the prisoners or for society. The men and women in these facilities continue to commit petty crimes when they’re released, often as a result of their harrowing mental illnesses, and they continue to turn through the revolving door prison system.
We demand that the governor of California institute comprehensive reforms of the prison system and their protocols when dealing with the mentally ill, favoring community treatment centers rather than imprisonment for these people. Please sign this petition to improve conditions for prisoners in California, and to urge Governor Jerry Brown to end the practice of imprisoning the mentally ill.
Dear Governor Jerry Brown,
The Los Angeles County Jail houses over 3,000 mentally ill prisoners, about half of which are mixed with the general population due to the deplorable over-crowding conditions of the jail. Many of these prisoners are jailed time and again due to petty crimes they commit often as a result of their various mental illnesses. This is unacceptable. The mentally ill deserve better treatment than being pushed through a revolving door prison system.
You must institute comprehensive reforms that favor community treatment centers over prison sentences for people diagnosed with mental illnesses. You must add funding to these centers so that they are able to accommodate the influx of new patients. These reforms must be instituted immediately to prevent the barbaric and disgraceful practice of imprisoning the mentally ill from continuing.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Jacob Kearns via Wikimedia Commons