In Oklahoma, thousands with mental illnesses get to go to jail, not medical treatment


Click to enlargeChris Landsberger/The Oklahoman

❝ A monthslong investigation by The Oklahoman, including the examination of hundreds of pages of jail inspection reports, found that jail staffs across Oklahoma are tasked with attempting to be mental health professionals, often with little or no training…

❝ Since statehood, Oklahoma has grappled with how to create a sustainable, comprehensive mental health system. The state has spent among the least in the nation on mental health care, all while filling jails and prisons with people who wouldn’t be there if they could afford and access basic health care for their brain disorders.

Imprisonment is not only the least effective form of “treatment” but also the costliest.

The cost of a year of state-funded mental health treatment: $2,000.

The cost of a year in prison for someone with serious mental illness: $23,000.

At last count, 60 percent of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ population — 17,000 people — have either symptoms or a history of mental illness…

Often, before these Oklahomans are sentenced to prison, they spend months, if not years, cycling in and out of county jails.

I won’t try to precis this excellent article down to the size of a blog post. The article reflects the first two of a four-part series on Oklahoma’s lousy excuse for mental health care. I think a mirror image approach to the state’s mediocre criminal justice system would show the same.

Hypocritical ideologues run the state. They care not for science, modern medicine, current concerns and remedies to substance abuse or mental illness. They run Puritan jails the way they run a Puritan legislature. RTFA. Make up your own mind.

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