Mentally ill prisoners in Ohio are more likely to get into trouble and end up back in prison after they are released because state officials turn them loose without the follow-up care they need.
A lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati, asked a judge to order the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and the Ohio Department of Mental Health to provide the care necessary to help keep mentally ill offenders from returning to prison.
Advocates for prisoners and the mentally ill said they are suing to help not only the released prisoners, but also the taxpayers who must pay tens of thousands of dollars a year to keep them locked up when they commit new crimes and are sent back to prison.
They say the cost of providing treatment to a mentally ill person in the community is about $7,400 a year, compared to the $25,000 a year it costs to incarcerate them.
But instead of treatment, the lawsuit claims, ex-convicts with mental problems get $65 to $75, a bus ticket and two weeks of medication upon their release. The suit said many of those former inmates soon move into homeless shelters or drug-infested neighborhoods, where their mental health quickly deteriorates.
“Dumping prisoners with mental illness at homeless shelters creates a revolving door phenomenon,” said Bess Okum, staff attorney with the Cincinnati-based Ohio Justice and Policy Center, which filed the suit on behalf of nine current and former prisoners. “Many of these former prisoners commit new crimes because of their untreated mental illness.”
Like the great state of Ohio gives a damn about civil rights or how they waste taxpayers’ money.
When it comes to wasting taxpayer dollars on warehousing the criminally insane, you can count on most American politicians – in their pinheaded intellects – to choose the opportunism of being “tough on crime” because it guarantees more votes than sorting the mentally ill and saving money.
And our favorite ignorant electorate will march in lockstep down that always-safe middle of the road.